Effects Plug-Ins | Keeping It In the Box

Mar 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By George Petersen



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The Virtual Console Collection from Slate Digital comprises two plug-ins: Virtual Channel (applied to mixing channels) and Virtual Mixbuss (applied to the master fader). Each plug-in lets users select from six meticulously modeled consoles, where the user’s DAW assumes the subtleties and nuances of an actual analog board. It supports Mac/Windows hosts on VST, RTAS and AU.

TSAR-1 from Softube is a modern stereo reverb algorithm with extensive user parameter control, as well as 41 well-designed presets categorized into a Modern and a Vintage set. It’s also bundled with the TSAR-1R, a simpler version with the same sound quality but control of just three reverb parameters—pre-delay, color and time—with the last being a single-control combination of multiple time parameters. It runs with any VST, AU or RTAS-compatible host application.

SoundToys puts all 11 of the latest V. 4 TDM plugs into a $1,195 bundle. TDM Effects V. 4 includes the new Decapitator analog saturator and PanMan auto-panner, as well as EchoBoy, SoundBlender multi-effects, Speed tempo/pitch control, FilterFreak resonant analog filter, PitchDoctor, PhaseMistress phase shifter, PurePitch, Tremolator and the reverse echo effects of Crystallizer. For Native Mac/PC users, the company has also assembled eight of those plug-ins (sans SoundBlender, PurePitch and PitchDoctor) into a Native Effects V. 4 package priced at $495.

Coming soon, SoundToys’ Juice is a virtual analog-input-channel-modeling plug-in based on classic and high-end consoles and mic preamps, with the intent of providing something a bit more subtle than its Decapitator plug. Juice’s simple interface includes presets with intriguing names like Los Angeles, London, Cambridge and Huntington—mated with drive, low-cut, phase reverse and tone controls. It will only be offered in Native versions (RTAS, AU and VST) for Mac and PC hosts.

SPL expands its Analog Code plug-in series with Passeq ($199 retail), which models the company’s high-end stereo passive equalizer in software form, retaining the look and 72 filters in three bands per channel design, including the full interactivity between filters of the original and emulation of the sound of its input/output transformers. The plug-in can display as a standard 2-channel interface or as a space-saving single-channel version, and a switchable M/S mode provides independent processing of mid and side signals. It supports VST, AU, RTAS, TDM and Avid VENUE on Mac and PC.

Designed for Universal Audio’s UAD-2 platform, this plug-in offers the warm tape-delay effects and specific behaviors of the EP-3 and EP-4 vintage Echoplexes. The plug-in is available as part of the new UAD Software V. 5.7 release or separately at $199. In addition to the EP-34 Tape Echo, V. 5.7.0 includes the officially licensed dbx 160 comp/limiter plug-in and performance enhancements for all Windows UAD-2 users.

Also for the UAD-2 format, UA’s Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder plug-in ($349) was modeled by UA with help from AES magnetic recording expert Jay McKnight. Perfect for adding some tape warmth to tracks, this plug-in faithfully models the entire tape path, including input, sync and repro paths and circuit electronics of the hardware, plus the sounds of four distinct tape formulae and calibration levels.

Phat C from URS is an analog-sounding compressor for individual tracks and buses, replicating the characteristics of many hardware compressors. Its input stage adds saturation to color, and affects the compressor’s response to different program material. The six saturation models (VCA, opto, FET, transformer, tape and tube) re-create vintage harmonics and soft clipping that affect transients before compression, while a Spank mode lets users hit transients even harder. It’s $99 and supports Native (RTAS/AU/VST) Mac/PC hosts.

Waves is now shipping its V. 8 plug-ins, which add the horsepower of the vintage-modeled V Series to select Waves bundles, and bring a fresh new look to several classic plug-ins: L1, C1, S1, Q10, DeEsser, TrueVerb and AudioTrack have all received makeovers. New technical features include an improved preset-management system, mouse-wheel control, and enhanced ICON and Automap support. For WavesLive Yamaha users, V. 8 provides MultiRack SoundGrid–flexible direct-to-DAW recording and sidechaining capabilities. In other news, Waves collaborated with Aphex to create a plug-in version of its vintage prototype tube Aural Exciter hardware units, and Waves is now offering more of its plug-ins for individual purchase.

The Final Step in Making Better Mixes

While we’re on the subject of mixing within the box, we couldn’t help but take a look at the new Pro-Codec, a cooperative effort between Sonnox and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (Fraunhofer IIS). After hours (or weeks or months) perfecting the ultimate mix (in stereo or surround), the concept of simply slamming it into a codec for encoding to an MP3/AAC file for distribution and then forgetting about it seems unthinkable. This new Pro-Codec plug-in makes it possible to audition codecs precisely in real time, allowing fast changes of mastering or mix parameters to optimize the file for any particular codec, without the need to encode it, preview it, make changes and then re-render.

Pro-Codec lets engineers audition up to five codecs within a DAW environment, tweak an optimized mix, and batch-encode to multiple formats simultaneously. All major codecs—including MP3, MP3 Surround, AAC-LC and HE-AAC—are supported, as are lossless codecs such as MP3 HD and HD-AAC. The plug-in is compatible with major DAWs and supports both Mac and Windows. It’s slated for delivery this spring at $499.

Mix executive editor George Petersen also operates a small record label.

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