SoundMagic Neo Loudness Review
This one shares the interface design of its brother, Neo Preamp. It looks good and sounds good (In this reviewer’s estimation). As the name denotes, this jobbie can definitely get your final mix nice n’ loud. However, in contrast to most ‘maximizers’ and volume-increasing brickwall limiters, this one promises to retain musical dynamics and transparency. I enjoyed what I heard in my listening tests and I found that it upholds its promise quite well. It’s very worthwhile to note that this wonderful performer also comes with a dedicated M/S version which works wonders towards lovely, spacious-sounding aster tracks.
Part of the Neo Series Giveaway, here on Reviewer's Revival!
You can choose three modes of operation; Limiter, Compressor, and Maximizer (Loudness). In compressor mode, you can select from an SSL 4000G styled mode, or an API 2500 based mode (called BQJ 2500 for copyright reasons). The limiter offers a non descript ‘default’ mode or the famous EMI TG125. In all three operation modes, Neo Loudness maintains low Total Harmonic Distortion levels with fewer odd harmonics than many other plug-in compressors.
A two millisecond “Look Forward” feature can be enabled, during mixdown or for mastering that allows the compressor/limiter’s peak detection to be even more accurate. Variable, fast attack times starting at 0 ms, ensure that transients won’t slip through unnoticed. Release times range from 0 ms all the way up to 2 full seconds. There is an ‘auto release’ button. I found that while enabled, it helped to keep the mix clean without any noticeable, unwanted ‘pumping’ effects.
SoundMagic have worked hard at further refining their RMS detection. In my own testing, I found that it works well. RMS length determines the length of RMS detection, so it's quite important to the final sound.
Neo Loudness is written in tightly-optimized ASM (Assembley) code. Its low CPU usage and fast response time make Neo Loudness great for real-time dynamic processing.
Soft or Hard knee compression is selectable. Switching between typical brick wall limiting and “Neo Loudness” peak suppression is also selectable.
Sound Magic’s Neo Loudness algorithm is based on the study of psychological acoustics and it does indeed seem to let a maximized mix keep a “live” or “breathing” quality intact. I am not confident that this plug-in should cost the present list price of €69/$90 (USD). By my estimation, SoundMagic are a little aggressive with their pricing. However, this is quite a good product and certainly worthy of consideration. It is a much more attractive purchase when bundled with its sister product, Neo Dynamics at €99/$128 (USD).
Brother Charles is a freelance writer, Gospel artist and minister. Charles had been a professional touring musician during the nineties; working primarily as a lead guitarist in the Canadian country music industry. Brother Charles is also involved with music production and quality home recording.
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