Bx Consoles E & G Review
“With 72 subtly-different modelled channels reproducing the nuances of a large analog console, bx_console E as a mix tool is huge, powerful, and satisfying.”
Ask any experienced, old skool mix-engineer what his/her preference is, in regard to getting “that hit record sound”, and I expect that the answer will most nearly always be the same: “Use a studio-grade analogue recording chain.”. However, this is easier said than done. After all, how many bedroom producers and home studio enthusiasts have access to $150, 000(+) SSL, Harrison or Neve recording desks?
Great strides have been taken within the digital (and computer) domains to achieve some decent approximations of the hallowed large-desk-console sound. By my estimation, one of the first developers to really come up with something good was Waves; back in January of 2006. Mind you, the release price of Waves’ SSL 4000 Collection was steep --peaking the money meter at around $1200 USD! Ouch.
There have been others whom have produced some pretty good-sounding plug-ins: Metric Halo, Solid State Logic themselves, Universal Audio, and a few others. However, very few “real” mix engineers, who were well acquainted with the genuine article, were ever highly convinced by said console emulations plug-ins.
Then came Dirk Ulrich & the crew, from over at Brainworx, touting their new “Tolerance Modeling Technology” as (hopefully) the definitive solution to everyone’s console emulation quest. Superb “brain work” it certainly was indeed! Not only has Brainworx’s team of programming engineers painstakingly modeled each component in the respective SSL 4000 “E” & “G” series channel strips, they did so across 72 separate channels! The likes had never been done before.
This is an exciting development, friends. Stick n’ stay --let’s find out just how good these hopeful accessories are. At full MSRP, bx_Console E and bx_Console G each requires a debit of $299 (USD) from a buyer’s bank account. I realize that $300 bucks is far from cheap, but bundling these high end plug-ins together with other Plugin Alliance dandies will result in goodly discounts. It’s important to note that each one has been on sale for $179 (USD) respectively. Of particular interest, if you buy one or the other of bx Consoles, you can get the alternate version for a low "crossgrade" price of only $99 (USD).
Unfiltered Audio Sandman Pro Review
Don’t you just get all a-tingle when you find out about a new Krazy, Kool Delay plug-in? Of course you do! We all do. User forums are replete with tomes and scrolls of fanfare regarding all types of time-based and ambience plug-ins. For good reason. How bland and stale would our tunes be if we didn’t bring them to life with reverbs and delays? Perish the thought!
You know what I mean. There’s the vintage-inspired fare, there are pristine digital taps, there are virtual tape echo machines and most nearly everything else imaginable, available to us now-a-days. Unquestionably, there’s no shortage of delay/echo/multi-tap accessories to choose from.
But . . . just when you think that it’s all been said and done, Plug-in Alliance affiliate, “Unfiltered Audio”, unveils one of the vibe-y-est, and most interesting, delay/tap/echo thinga-ma-bob-a-roonies that has even been dreamt up.
As with most Plugin Alliance collectibles, Sandman Pro doesn’t exactly come cheap. However, considering that its basic “Classic Tape” mode alone sounds just as good as other dedicated tape delay plug-ins in the same price range, plus all the really, really cool alternate modes if offers, it makes for a very attractively-priced choice -- $99 USD.
What are these aforementioned “really, really cool alternate modes”, you ask? Stick n’ stay. Let’s open it up and see what’s inside . . .
Elysia Karacter Review
The question I immediately posed was: “Is this just another ho-hum, hum-drum distortion plug or is the name on its tin aptly deserved?” I’ve been bench-testing Karacter over a period of a few days, comparing it to other Saturation plug-ins that I have on hand, and I’ve concluded that it imparts smooth, controllable harmonic color and character – it does so very nicely indeed.
Karacter is not actually a single plug-in; herein are two iterations of the processor banded together. First, there’s the Mix variant tailored for individual track tasks. Its larger, more feature-laden compadre, Master, is geared towards BUS duties, or even full mix processing.
Maybe it’s just my age showing, or perhaps it’s all the time and effort that we engineers have put into trying to “clean” things up, but me thinks that $199 (USD)** is an overly aggressive price point for a Saturation/distortion plug-in. Stick n’ stay – hang out with yours truly for a few minutes, and let’s find out if the steep MSRP price tag is merited.
**Excluding Plugin-Alliances special sales and bundle offerings - which by the way, there’s a sale ongoing at the time of this publishing: Get Karacter for $129.
Brainwork Rockrack_V3 Review
This is in contrast to the popular and expected methodology of granting guitarists gads of tweaking options through the inclusion of many dozens of amp models, cabinet designs and microphone options. Rockrack Pro sported three über-carefully modeled amps – with a total of five distinct channels – and four cabinet models.
The amp channels were (and still are) discreet modeling of the following: ENGL 530 (Clean and Lead); Marshall JCM800 (Clean and Crunch); and Mesa Boogie Rect-O-verb (Clean and Lead). Gratifying cabinet impulse-responses of a “Marshall 1960 TV”, a “Mesa Boogie 4x12”, an “Orange 2x12” and a “Diezel 4x12” were loaded in – with varied mic configurations. BX Rockrock Pro was capable of delivering big, shimmering cleans, authoritative crunch, and screaming higher-gain leads. It tended towards minimalism and simplicity, yet offered plenty to take its rightful place on any home recordist’s “GO TO” shelf.
Fast forwarding to 2017, Brainworx unleashed the bigger, better, bad-assier BX Rockrack_V3. This grown-up, weightier, warrior of rock n’ roll marches onto your sound stage with an arsenal of EIGHT distinct amp channels and a battalion’s worth of cabinet impulses.
Some pertinent good news that I’d like to highlight immediately, is the fact that BX Rockrack V3 is very light on CPU – a very welcome advantage in its favor! A second piece of welcome intel, is that V3 hosts 40+ cabinet impulses/recording chains. Stick n’ stay ! Hang out with yours truly for a few minutes, and let’s find out if the $199 (USD)** price tag is merited.
**Excluding Plugin-Alliances special sales and bundle offerings.
** PS. There's a link to my full-featured video presentation of bx Rockrack V3 at the end of this article. You'll see it at the bottom of the page. ☻
SPL Attacker, DeVerb & MoVerb Microplugs Review
SPL’s “Transient Designer” and its utilitarian, little Microplug cousins have held the admiration of innumerable audio engineers for about 25 years. It’s no secret that Transient Designer more-or-less remains the de facto standard by which most nearly every other Transient-shaping dynamics tool is measured against.
I won’t bother you with rhetoric and pointless word-count, reiterating what is considered common knowledge. Suffice it to say that SPL’s original hardware units, and their precisely-modeled plug-in counterparts, don’t raise the bar – they *ARE the bar.
As first-time purchases, each of the Microplugs requires a healthy bit of weight in your piggy bank – Attacker Plus rings in at $99 (USD) with Mo-Verb and De-Verb closely taking up the rear at $79 bucks apiece. If you own licenses for the original versions, and are expecting enticing upgrade prices, Plugin-Alliance have slashed those amounts in half for you.
SPL DeEsser Review
Arghhh! The blessed vocal track is just about perfect. The tracking went well, the latest take is free of “pitchiness”, mic placement and EQ are bang on. You apply tasty compression by dialling up your favourite ’76 and 2A just right. That sweet vocal EQ couldn’t be better.
Then your ears are no longer being romanced – they’re raped by one of the recording vocalist’s most lethal foes – sibilance.
Nasty, in-your-face, brash, piercing SSSsibilance. You try the well regarded VST’s from yesteryear, you try EQing, you try a couple of current payware DeEssing offerings, but then the vocal ‘air’ is lost and the vocal track is very ‘flat’. . . . and at last, you find yourself carefully editing by hand in Wavelab, Sound Forge or Acoustica Premium.
It isn't any fun – editing out plosives and/or sibilance “by hand”. It’s time consuming and can result in audible editing clicks when the resultant editing is processed within your DAW. Sibilance has been the bane of many an engineer’s existence. Actually, nasty, piercing SSSs just plain suck!
Wouldn't it be just wonderful if there were a way to easily remedy sibilance with just one or two knobs, and keep the quality of a vocal track intact?
Guess what!? There is . . .
The $199 SPL DeEsser Collection plug-in can be properly reviewed with one, simple word. “Necessary.” If I were to end this review right now, without typing another letter on the page, the review could be considered complete. This set of powerful, specialized plug-ins is a worthwhile investment for any serious home producer. Nevertheless, it’s no fun to be a professional writer and not actually . . . write. *Smile. Stay with me. I promise, I won’t keep you long, but I really am very excited to share my experience and findings about the SPL DeEssers Collection with you. *Quick Note: Until July 15th, 2013, this plug-in is on sale for only $149.
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