Producao Audio 06/2012
Miguel Pinheiro Marques: "The xpressor is truly a swiss army knife when it comes to audio compression, because it can handle every type of instruments, groups or mixes in very transparent and musical ways. And the most amazing thing is that elysia made this incredible tool at a very affordable price, which makes it a no-brainer purchase."
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Keys 01/2012
Tim Schuldt: "The xpressor convinces in every aspect. It combines extreme flexibility with premium sound qualities. No matter if used on single, group or sum signals, the results are always positive and versatile. Because of the delivered quality, the price results in a very good value for money ratio. And the xpressor does not have to fear the competition of much more expensive units at all."
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Professional audio 11/2011
Georg Berger: "The rack version of the elysia's xpressor is a high-flying dynamics processor. Its construction and build quality are absolutely breathtaking. Looking at the qualities of the xpressor, elysia could have sold it for twice the price easily – and because they didn't, the value for money rating must be estimated as phenomenal."
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Studio Magazin 10/2011
Fritz Fey: "The xpressor meets the requirements for being used in professional environments in every single aspect, and it outperforms considerably more expensive competitors easily. Never before has such a high level of technology in combination with such a creative concept been offered for so little money. The xpressor defines a new value for money class which stands unequaled today..."
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elysia xpressor

by Daniel Škrášek
Music Store (Czech Republik) – September 2012

This test is reproduced with kind permission from our friends at Music Store Magazine.

Recently I was offered to test a product made by the relatively young company elysia from Germany. This brand has earned respect from engineers, producers and musicians worldwide, based on the quality and originality of their products. Until now, I only knew these processors from what other people had told me and from the (well done and entertaining) videos on the manufacturer's website. I did not have the chance to check out all the interesting and innovative functions with my own hands and especially ears, therefore I accepted the review with pleasure and anticipation.

The Company
elysia was founded in 2005. It is a German company directed by Ruben Tilgner and Dominik Klaßen, who have spent many hours in studios and at live productions, and who are both passionate musicians playing several instruments as well. This means they know both sides of the challenges in the audio production process.

Because of these broad experience, Ruben and Dominik have developed their very own philosophy. They design and build audio processors with a class-A topology, using high grade components, always combining tried-and trusted functions with some new and innovative features, packed into a beautiful and elegant outer design. The words “Quality and Creativity” seem to stand as synonyms for the elysia brand.

In this context, creativity also means the possibility to achieve the wanted results easily and without the typical accumulation of gear one would normally need. It seems that the company's goal (or the philosophy already mentioned) is met indeed – in spite of the two gentlemen's claim, that this would just be the “beginnings”.

So, the subject of my review is an audio processor named xpressor. It is a stereo class-A compressor, which promises to provide new potentials for dynamics processing both in the studio and live situations. My test was run during regular studio business, and I used the xpressor on six different productions of various musical styles.

The first task was to make single signals (drums, double bass, guitars, vocals, loops, samples, keyboards, brass) more compact. Later on, I also processed complete mixes, often under extensive use of the external sidechain feature. Finally, I also tested the machine for basic mastering jobs.

I think I need to mention my 'weakness' for creative deformation of audio signals here, especially when it comes to samples, loops and effects. I could achieve very interesting results with the xpressor in this regard, reaching from fine dynamic changes to total futuristic craziness which did not have much left in common with its original source.

Front Panel
The xpressor is meant to be installed into a 19” rack and takes one rack space (1U). The housing is completely made of aluminum – you won't find any plastic parts here. The mechanical workmanship is flawless.

The potentiometers have a nice grip, and the knobs are large enough and placed with reasonable space in between, so that even people with large hands won't have any problems. All pots are stepped for an easy recall of earlier settings.

The coloring of the unit is an elegant combination of grey, silver and blue tones. The labeling is white; the LEDS are red and orange. In the middle of the front panel there is the elysia logo with a white background illumination once the unit has been switched on.

The front panel of the xpressor has a total of eight controllers and four push buttons with LEDs as status indicators. Let's start with a look at the first four controllers on the left side. First there is the Threshold which tells the compressor when it should start processing. Then follows the Attack, which sets the starting time of the compressor, with a range from 0.01 to 120ms.

The third potentiometer controls the Release, which sets the time the compressor needs to return to unity, reaching from 5 to 1,200ms. The last controller in the first quartet sets the compression ratio from 1:x to 1:infinite. But (attention!) you can also set negative ratios here, which is not really a common compressor feature.

On to the right we find a block of four relatively small black push buttons. Interestingly, the first one is titled “Hit It!” – it is the Active/Bypass switch of the compressor, using an orange LED as its status indicator. The next button activates the so called “Warm Mode”, which lets you add some saturation. This way, the transparent class-A sound of the xpressor can be altered by slight coloration.

The third push button activates the Log Rel (Logarithmic Release) feature. The xpressor gives you the choice from two release curves. The linear release can be better for rhythmic instruments and drums, while the logarithmic one is well suited for complex signals like the mix bus. To be complete, there is also the Auto Fast function which is an automatic control of the attack time.

The middle of the panel features the circular elysia logo, followed by a meter consisting of 15 LEDs. The 14 diodes for displaying the amount of gain reduction light up red, while the activity LED for the Gain Reduction Limiter is shines orange. From here, let's proceed to the right side of the xpressor, where there is another set of four controllers.

SCF (Sidechain Filter) is the first one. This is basically a low cut filter in the sidechain (control) path of the compressor. It tells the compressor which frequency areas it should react on and which not. This filter is a great help in achieving a nice mix quite easily, as it prevents the low frequencies from having too much influence on compression, which could result in too much of a good thing otherwise.

GRL (Gain Reduction Limiter) tells the compressor the maximum amount of gain reduction the compressor is allowed to make. Then comes the make up gain controller for compensating the loss of gain caused by the compression process. At the end of the row there is the Mix potentiometer for blending the unprocessed signal with the compressed signal. This means the xpressor offers the great parallel compression feature right on board.

Back Panel
Here we have all the audio I/Os, the mains connector including a fuse holder, plus the power switch. Starting on the left side, there is the sidechain send (EXT 2), followed by two audio inputs and outputs for the right channel each (one XLR and one jack connector each).

In the middle of the back panel there is a switch for selecting the operating voltage (115/230V), a fuse holder, a standard power cable connector and a mains switch. Further to the right, there are the audio I/Os for the left channel and the sidechain return (EXT 1). This one is used for controlling the compressor by external signals, and the feature is activated when a jack plug is inserted into this connector. All connectors can be used with balanced and unbalanced cables.

By the way, the xpressor is a stereo compressor with two channels, but you cannot process two different signals signals at the same time.

Studio Operation
Working with the xpressor is instant fun, as it treats the signals it is fed with the precision of a scalpel and reveals new possibilities for processing dynamics at the same time.

It does the standard compression jobs with ease, which is something to be expected from a good compressor. On top of this, the xpressor lets you discover new aspects of audio processing. Of course it is up to the users to decide what they want to use this machine for in the end – no matter if it is the classic or the more creative path.

I have quite a lot of different hardware and software compressors in my studio. However, the xpressor is something new, something different, something interesting and something fascinating. Many times I found myself experimenting with different settings for hours, and sometimes it was really hard to decide what I liked better. Everything sounded good, all of the time, and sometimes the results can only be described as fantastic.

It is very striking how the transparent basic sound always remains intact, even when extreme settings are made, especially with the Log Release function activated. This is something I cannot say of many other compressors. However, you can also use the xpressor to “inflate” things nicely, which works especially well with complete mixes or subgroups of drums, percussion or other rhythmical instruments and loops.

When you're looking for a punchy, aggressive drums sound with a powerful attack – no problem for the xpressor. The same is true for other sources, including full mixes. The onboard parallel compression feature is a great benefit in this regard. And if you like to experiment, you will certainly enjoy the negative compression feature, which can of course be combined with other functions like Log Release, Auto Fast and GR Limiter.

Complex material can be handled easily because of the integrated sidechain filter, as it effectively tames the strong amount of energy appearing in the low frequency range. This way, the xpressor offers frequency-selective compression without being a multi band approach.

As it should be a standard with processors in this class, the mechanical build of the xpressor is exemplary. The pretty large knobs are easy to use; the push buttons could be a bit larger for my not so small hands. But this is already the only criticism I can think of.

By the way, if you are the proud owner of a 500 series rack, there is an identical module available: the xpressor 500. Finally I would like to thank Richard Tomanek and Alexander Vaněk for providing me with an xpressor for this review and for the fun we had in the studio. More information is available at www.hi-endboutique.cz and www.elysia.com.