The (New ) Soul of A Machine

Everything is running smoothy on your Mac (or PC)…you’ve put off updating for fear that programs and/or plug ins for your DAW won’t be supported and/or recognized, let alone your hardware. But those dazzling new features keep tempting you..and some of your older less glamorous programs like Pages (Mac’s Version of Word) won’t open documents that were created on a newer version.

So I was posed for a triple disaster:

Going from Mac Yosemite to High Sierra (cue up images of an old Western movie), Logic 10.3 to 10.4 and ProTools 11 to PT 2018. Add in the confusion of establishing a new iLok account for a new iLok (long story..iLok IS the DEVIL) and I was ready for “a world of pain”. The ProTools registration went first and had me running in circles with 17 Tabs open. Next came High Sierra..which I tried to down load and install 5 times, having it quit at the last step. It turns out that ProTools intalls a background app that you have to disable by rewriting the code in the “Launch Agent” that is buried deep in the hard drive. Thanks to You Tube, I was on my way and Logic was next.

The Logic Update went off without a hitch except…all sorts of new sounds and effects are looking for a happy home on my local SSD the tune of almost 100 gig. So this was a time to face the dreaded “disk clean up” and High Sierra has some great “manage storage” features that make it less painful.

So what’s the good, bad and ugly?

Some plugins got left behind, both Software Instruments and Audio Plug Ins. Nothing too tragic, although strangely, the Izotope Suite works still in PT but not in Logic.

New features in ProTools include Freeze, Track and Channel Presets and Midi Record Capture..all of which have been in Logic for ages. There is also some kind of “Playlist” enhancement that looks pretty underwhelming but I’ll take it for a spin.

Logic is sporting new Drummers and String/Horn Instruments as well as new EQ  and modulation plugins that are taken from Camel Space and Camel Phat…pretty great. Logic has finally implemented “Playlists” (they call it “Alternatives) that have been in ProTools forever; this is huge for me. Add in a new Reverb, new Drum Kits and more Loop Content (not something that I use often but nice to know it’s there) and it looks like a great update. My only gripes now?? EXS Sampler needs an update as Logic needs to implement a fast and better “Drag and Drop and Warp” sampler function in order to compete with Abelton “Live”…AND you STILL can’t move channel strips in the mixer window…but this must be some kind of huge rewrite issue, as people have been requesting this for years,

And High Sierra seems solid too. All in all, a positive update for two great DAWS that I lean on heavily every day.

Hip to the Hop…and you don’t stop..

Toontrack is one of my favorite plug in companies. High quality, fairly low CPU footprint, ease of use, commitment to development. They have a huge library of Genre Specific Drum and Percussion Kits that also come with style appropriate Midi Loops in song construction sections. This particular kit would have usually   been a hard sell to me as I have so many great sounds in this genre and really, how many 808 Kicks do you really need? The fantastic GUI lets you know that this plug in is as much about the esoteric percussion and real Drums as it is Machine Drums. Combine that with about 20 prebuilt kits to get you started and the ability to swap out individual kit pieces. My only gripe? I wish the mixer had more individual channels.

Simply Fab….

Fab Filter has just introduced a major upgrade to what was already one of the “Gold Standard” Limiters for Bus Limiting and Mastering.  It is one of the few that can truly live up to the term “Transparent”. They’ve added lots of new and useful metering options, True Peak Limiting, new algorithms and a “1:1” feature that let’s you hear what the limiter is doing without adding the hype of increased volume. This is not a new concept…Both the L1 and The Slate Mastering Limiter implement it. But I found that the feature in those plug ins revealed just how much damage they were doing to the audio. The Pro-L2 doesn’t flinch, even when pushed hard…essential and the one to beat.




This is the software piece that I’ve been waiting for….FG Stress.

It’s part of the Slate Digital family of plug ins that has a happy home in their Virtual Mix Rack (along with the usual suspects..EQs, compressors,etc). With every new release/update, the hordes of on line audio pros (and not so pros) hotly debate whether or not the software emulations of their favorite time honored gear have been done EXACTLY. I haven’t had enough “hands on” time with the Emprical Lab’s “Distressor” hardware unit to make that kind of judgement but I will say that it does something unique…and that I like a lot.

Extra punch on that kick? Tame a wild bass? Put that vocal up front?.. even..dare I say it..”glue ” a mix together on the stereo bus?


The original hardware manual is on line and explains how to get the best results from this unit.

Highly recommended.

Steven Massey

Steven Massey is the man behind Massey Plug Ins, a collection of some of the best audio tools for the ProTools DAW. I have been using his L2007 Mastering Limiter since I demoed it and quickly discovered why it is the “gold standard”. One of the artists that I am working with heard a demo of his “Tape Head” plug in on his track and fell in love with we bought it.

There was some confusion (on my end) about the plug in account and email delivery and Steven resolved it immediately.  I am just as impressed by his customer service as I am by the quality of his plug ins.

We have also purchased his CT5 Compressor and VT3 EQ. I have a feeling that we will eventually own all of them. My only complaint is that they are only available for Pro Tools…I wish I could use them on my Logic rig.

“It’s the most wonderful time..?”


Once a year, my subscription to the Slate “Everything” Plug-ins Bundle comes up and it’s right around the corner. It seems like much of the pro audio software is going in this direction and it makes sense. Manufacturers can keep track of their actual legitimate customer base and plan their budgets for developing and maintaining their software. Remember, every time that Apple does an OS upgrade (I think they’re coming about every seven minutes these days), software companies have to make sure that their plug ins and programs are up to date and compatible. And the entire plug in architecture can change over night..we now have AU,aax,VST.

So I think it’s a win-win. Instead of paying a crazy high price up front to own the plug ins, I can rent for a low monthly fee..and who doesn’t like getting new plug ins every couple of months? The down side for me is that Slate has licensed (as opposed to developing) some third party plug ins (such as ReLab’s 480 Reverb) and it seems that they’re discontinuing this item as part of the new bundle. This is bad news if you’ve used this on a lot of sessions and it’s no longer appearing. But the reality is that lots of software from other companies stops functioning after a while for various reasons..manufacturers go out of business or no longer support an OS upgrade. So I’m going to be thankful that we are in an era of amazing and affordable audio tools like the ones in this bundle..can’t wait for the Distressor emulation…here’s my credit card again,Mr.Slate.

All I Want Is Everything….



…so I took the plunge..the yearly “Slate Digital Everything Bundle” subscription. It was a tough call, as I had already bought the Virtual Mix Rack and the Virtual Bus Compressors. But the Virtual Tape Machine, as well as the Virtual Console Collection were beckoning; when they threw in the Relab 480 (an emulation of the famed Lexicon Unit), I had to dive in.

Everything sounds great and they’re adding new plug ins all the time. I tried out the Virtual Neve Preamp to add some drive to a vocal track and it really did the trick. I’m looking forward to the release of the Amp Modeler soon and will keep you posted on how it stacks up against the usual suspects (Line 6,etc).

Omnipressor Days

WillowMill PicI found this studio in the Virginia Yellow Pages when I was looking to record some original songs with my band. Local (about 8 minutes away) and priced right, this somewhat haphazard choice set the stage for my entire career path.

The owner and engineer Gilbert Jullien was as close to a genius as I have met. He had been given an Eventide Omnipressor that was supposedly unfixable (he jokingly referred to his broken unit as the “OmniDepressor) but, within 10 minutes of speaking to their tech department on the phone, Gil had not only figured out how to get it working, he had been offered a job with them on the spot.

He taught me (in the words of John Burr) “Everything you know but not everything I know” about recording. After about 3 months, he came to me while I was still finding my way around his studio and handed me the keys, saying “If you can figure it out, you can run it”. Thus began the first of the 10,000 hours.

So when Eventide offered a special price on their Ultra Channel Strip that included not only a software version of the Omnipressor but also a stripped down Harmonizer, I had to bite. One of the best features is the ability to drag any component within the strip into any order. Great emulation,great plug in..but why not throw a reverb in??!!

Ultra Channel


Black Friday

When the price is right, you have to go for it..but I think these last two will do it for now.

Magic AB

I first heard about Magic AB in a video by Dave Pensado. This is a handy plug in utility that sits on your stereo output bus and let’s you compare your current mix with up to 9 (!) different reference mixes..from any audio source on your computer AND while bypassing the other plug ins that you may have on that bus.

You can loop sections, adjust levels by ear or metering (Crest Factor included) and save playlists for easy recall ie. by genre if you do mix/master in different styles. Highly recommended.

On the more creative side, those mad professors from Warsaw at PSP Audioware got me again with the PSP N20. PSP_N2O

They offer a fully functional 15 day demo and installation is a breeze (no iLok!!!)..I took it for a spin..and was floored.

So what is this thing and why hasn’t it taken the world by storm? The GUI should be a clue to the answer to both questions. Here is a multi effect plug in that has just about everything you would need to be creative: large selection of audio effects (multi-mode filters/distortion/delay/pitch change/reverb/compression and more), 4 different ways to modulate them (LFO/2 ADSR Types/Step Sequencer) and a routing/modulation matrix that lets you put anything in any order and be everything. There are also assignable knobs that can themselves be assigned to midi controllers..whew!!

You might think that all of this power might be hard to put into an easy to use interface..and you would be right. The routing part looks alarmingly similar to the decidedly “un-user friendly” algorithms of the Yamaha DX-7. But a quick run through the included (and well done) presets help to demystify the inner workings of this monster plug in.

Other beefs..? No manual (Video only), sound tends to be a little “digital” in the distortion area and the actual tiny lettering and numbers seem to be in”typewriter” font….not exactly “warm and fuzzy” in the GUI.

But…this unit has some of the best elements of what PSP excels at such as compression/delay/eq….and it’s all about the sound.

Demo it for yourself. Unique and also highly recommended.


Is There An Echo In Here….?

PSP 608


They made me do it..they put it on sale at a ridiculous price for 72 hours and I couldn’t resist.

The PSP 608 MD is an amazing multi-delay with LFO Modulation, 8 Taps, Saturation and EQ and Reverb PER TAP and a great set of presets. I do love the Delay Designer in Logic (which has the additional “Pitch Transpose” parameter per tap) but I think that this baby is my new “Go To”. I had spoken to them about a simplified version of of this plug in but haven’t heard back in a while..I’ll keep you posted.