It may look familiar to some, but under the hood the ChickenHead is a completely unique processor on a completely unique platform.

McDSP engineering sought to leverage the high end analog components and most aggressive saturation circuit in the APB hardware to create a compressor with attitude. If you are looking for the rooster in the hen house of dynamic range processors, the ChickenHead is it.

The ChickenHead Compressor is an aggressive dynamic range processor, and is well suited for crushing tracks into submission. Dynamics controls include compression ratio, attack and release times, and a special ‘Sauce’ feature. The ChickenHead utilizes the most aggressive of the three custom saturations circuits available, imparting some serious attitude on to any track.
  • All analog compression and saturation stages

  • Secret Sauce mode

  • Side chain processing

  • Sample accurate automation of analog processing

  • Included with APB hardware purchase
  • AAX Native, AU, VST3
When you need to crush some drums and bring up the ambience of the room, the ChickenHead compressor is the ticket. Fast attack and release times and a user controllable ratio control make the ChickenHead ideal for such applications. Be sure to evaluate the SAUCE button when applying moderate to heavy amounts of compression. It makes for a ‘heavy sound’ when it comes to drums.
Thick chords and screaming leads can be hard to manage in a dense mix. The ChickenHead compression is very capable in dealing with signals with a high amount of signal transients. In fact, such input signals is what the ChickenHead operates best on.
When a two-fisted 88-key performance is on the line, the aggressive nature of the ChickenHead compressor can handle it. The SAUCE mode can also be useful for helping keep a robust bottom end to the sound.
Compression action can be triggered by the input channel (KEY button off) or a side chain channel (KEY button on). The signal triggering compression action is commonly referred to as the key input.
Compression Controls
Attack and release of the analog compression.
Amount of gain applied to the signal post compression, but pre saturation circuit.
Signal level at which compression action begins.
Amount of compression, expressed in number of dB of reduction for every 1 dB of input level above the selected threshold.
Low frequency bias in overall signal path.
An important aspect of any APB plug-in is that the plug-in is primarily a controller. The APB plug-in takes the input audio signal, combines it with a control signal, and sends both along a Thunderbolt connection to an APB unit for processing. The control signal sets up the analog components to do the selected algorithm with all the parameter values, and the audio signal is converted to the analog domain. The analog version of the audio signal is processed in the analog domain, and then converted back to the digital domain.

By operating the APB hardware from an APB plug-in in this way, all user controllable parameters are recallable and can be saved as presets. Furthermore, because the control signal is married to the input audio signal, parameters can be updating during playback with sample accurate automation.
Sound Examples
Acoustic Guitar
Vocals 1
Vocals 2
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Frequently asked questions about the APB.