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.
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 it..so 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.
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.
…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).
I 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??!!
When the price is right, you have to go for it..but I think these last two will do it for now.
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.
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 modulated..by 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.
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.
Lin Plug, a fantastic plug in company from Germany, has decided to discontinue support for their Drum Module,the RMV. I first started using it when it was the RMIV and it was a great resource for interesting and innovative drum sounds.
The RMV upped the ante with a larger library and many other features that should have taken the world (at least Dance/Hip Hop) by storm.
The $ 64,000 Question is…how to make it LOUD (competitively) without destroying the mix?
The newest contender for me is from Melda Productions, a software company based in Prague, Czech Republic. They make a complete line of audio plug ins as well as a few synth based ones. The one that I had to have was the M Multiband Limiter.
It can be a tricky beast to tame (LOTS of control and parameters) but the starting presets are excellent. This one is sitting on my master bus now (along with Fab Filter and PSP Xenon).
A fellow engineer showed me this plug in by Goodhertz called the Vulf Compressor. It’s a unique piece that combines a compressor with “wow” (as in warbly like an old turntable) and a “lo-fi” module. The main page:
Elegant in its’ simplicity, it sports a “wet/dry”slider on the bottom for blending your sonic mayhem with your original audio (if so desired).
So far, it’s been living on my drum bus (along with the PSP Old Timer) but I know it’s going to find a place on individual tracks as well.
If you are so inclined to go “under the hood” for some more detailed tweekage, Goodhertz has given you the option:
I’m glad that plug in manufacturers are taking this approach. The Fab Filter Pro L Limiter has a similar layout (but with additional “help” pop ups). Great plug in for brickwall limiting with excellent metering and built in ISP indicator.