HARRISON Consoles enters the Cross-Platform Plug-in market

HARRISON Consoles out of Nashville Tennessee have been designing, developing and manufacturing ultra high end consoles for decades, with the company founder Dave Harrison introducing the "in-line" configuration of a channel fader and a tape return (baby fader) on the same channel strip. His now famous 32C console and the same-named EQ are synonymous with musicality and technical perfection. The company has been developing it's own DAW known as MixBus and I've lauded their products over the past few years both here on ToKwerX and also under my role with RMIT University's Sound Production program.

Harrison have ported one of their digital designs long available in their flagship consoles across to other formats to allow engineers access to these within the AAX, AU and VST systems and it appears this will not be the last; the AVA Mastering EQ.

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Unique in it's ability to create a flat curve between adjacent frequency bands this final stage EQ is designed to add the final touches to a mix or master. So far I've run this across some projects recently completed as a comparison and it's subtle ability to open up air in the top end, add presence to upper mid range and depth to subs in the 60-80Hz realm has proven wonderful. Harrison are offering a special price on this EQ so check out their site whilst this remains available. Harrison Consoles.

Strings @ ToKwerX...

Well, virtually. In the form of the EastWest Hollywood Strings library I am using for the track "UnRavel" by Erin Downie & Rebellious Bird. As recommended I've recorded the sections of the string ensemble separately, through some slightly overdriven API Vision strip (UAD) and some usual Valve analogue harmonic distortion (a la ToKwerX) then brought them back into the session as four stereo tracks. Oh Phükk! These are incredible. Don't get me wrong, I adore real strings, but the price tag of recording the 20+ players to produce the parts I've now written... that's way out of my budget. So for the first production using my new Christmas String Ensemble (thanx Santa) I am absolutely elated. Sincere apologies to my friends at the MSO.

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Free for a limited time: EQuivocate EQ

From the developers at Newfangled Audio, who have previously worked on Eventide plugins. EQuivocate essentially offers a Graphic EQ but allows unique scaling of bands, adjustment of centre frequency slope for each band, the number of bands and up to 26 discreet frequency targets. Add to this a default MEL scaling of frequencies shaped to our human non-linear responses or a Custom mode, a really easy Match EQ with side-chain learning, an Auto Gain control so your ears aren't fooled by changing levels and the ability to Solo each band.

Oh - did I mention for a limited introductory time it is FREE? 

Eventide: Fission

Eventide’s Audio division recently released a new entrant into the Transient Shaping collection of digital audio tools available to the modern engineer, although this processor is a lot more than just a means to emphasise the attack transient and shorten the decay elements of a sound.

I am loving “Fission.” This is practically splitting the atom when it comes to accessing the elements of the sound envelope and most importantly gives the engineer independent control between both, with a powerful library of dedicated effects assignable to each component: Transient & Tonal.

Sure, split a Tom hit and you can alter the balance between the attack strike and the decay of the shell - you can now even Tune the decay independently of the attack with the Pitch algorithm - but this is a sound sculpting tool, not just a Transient Designer of sorts. If you’d like to literally divide the sonic elements that are the DNA of your targeted sound and manipulate them both in beautifully musical (and non-musical) ways then check out “FISSION” by Eventide.

Eventide: OmniPressor

Imagine a Compressor than can reduce the gain of the higher input levels, but also acts like a negative Expander and raises the lower input signals ... well Eventide did, but they did it back in the 1970's and they called it the OmniPressor.

EVENTIDE Clock Works: OmniPressor

EVENTIDE Clock Works: OmniPressor

Thanx to the good folks at Eventide I am working my way through their digital processors currently available in the Anthology X bundle to include at RMIT Sound Production. What I love is the warmth of tone in all their plug-ins, which is unbelievably close to their famous hardware we all came across in studios decades ago - but could never afford. The sign of a successful studio was the presence of an Eventide HD2000 multi-processor! The HD3000 is also included in the Anthology X suite.

Eventide were never cheap processors. Hey, the company also make avionics so they're not messing around with their digital devices. Gladly the company are sharing their plug-ins with the world at prices even small studios can afford - check them out. Beautifully crafted tools.

iZotope Dynamic Delay: Don't Miss Out

Last week one of my fav' German software developers, iZoptope, offered a new plug-in - for Free! Their version of a Dynamic Delay is a breath of fresh air for those who want to have a delay that feeds off the input signal rather than just behave like a digital sampler with a time offset and number of repeats. I spent only a few minutes on this new processor to bring a 6/8 guitar to life, without cluttering the space around the part. I'm loving it. So, if you weren't one of the early up takers of this offer from iZotope I strongly suggest you don't delay...any further :)

Plugins Vs Plugins SHOOT-OFF #1

I recently posted a commentary on the differences between plug-ins; modelled topology from hardware versus emulations in the development of audio plug-ins. Colin McDowell's McDSP was the first I knew of to actually measure subtle voltage behaviours throughout a circuit depending upon the state of control parameters, embed those voltage curves into the math of plug-ins and this revolutionised the world of the digital audio engineer. Since then several other companies have entered the throng, with Universal Audio significantly raising the bar by measuring the voltage characteristics within the power transformers as well. 

So a discussion with fellow engineer and teacher Timothy Johnston lead to proposing a Shoot-Off between different manufacturer's versions of the same plug-in, and where better to start than the famous Al Smart designed Solid State Logic Buss Compressor. I am running the native versions from SSL themselves and also have the Universal Audio version available as a full-functioning demo with my UAD-2 PCIe system. Tim recently purchased these UA versions. We can then move on to compare these with the WAVES models. This will be fun and hopefully informative; stay tuned.

Self Oscillation

Analogue tape-based Echo units (or delays) had the unique ability to achieve self oscillation, where the looped signal would sum on the internal tape and feedback on itself. So cool, especially in classic Dub. For Christmas I bought myself a digital version of such a machine; the UA EP-34. Guess what? They have managed to get this bunch of algorithms to achieve self oscillation just like the analogue unit. Amazing! This is by no means an expensive processor so if you're running the UAD-2 platform run the demo on this incredible triumph in circuit modelling. The EP-34 will no doubt be present in my mixes, alongside my other great delay, the Timeless2 from Fab-Filter.

Universal Audio - Ocean Way

Finally afforded the purchase of Universal Audio's OCEAN WAY room emulation and dynamic-modelling plug for the UAD-2 series. With the ability to add to or replace my room sounds with the sonic depth of either Studio A or B from one of the world's best designed recording spaces, this plugin heralds a new chapter in architecture. These are not merely Impulse Responses but rather Dynamic models, that allow the manipulation of the space and the microphone position (and type!) to be altered. A step forward in digital modelling, yet again by one of the oldest companies involved in audio engineering. I have a jazz/rock project to mix and will no doubt be utilising the ambience of Ocean Way's wonderful rooms. For those of you running the UAD-2 platform in any one of it's incarnations I highly recommend this addition to your collection. Wonderful. 

SoundToys MicroShifter

For all the engineers who love Digidesign's (Avid) original TDM plugin "Pitch" for fattening up all manner of mix elements you'll notice Avid has not ported this to AAX-DSP. Although they stated clearly ALL plugs would be crossing to the new format there is still no sign of this classic.
SoundToys to the rescue with their newly released MicroShifter. In comparing the two plugins I think I prefer the SoundToys plug much more anyway. Thanx Avid but your hollow promises no longer affect me. A big rap for SoundToys. Check it out.

Plug-in Alliance BONUS

Many months back I alerted everyone to the collective formed by several iconic plug-in manufacturers, Plug-in Alliance. Well if you took my advice and opened an account you would have downloaded the excellent free plug-ins by now and perhaps purchased some wonderful processors. An added bonus appeared in my email today in the form of a direct offer to account holders only. Not open to the public and not to be posted in social media. I have just purchased the Transient Designer from Germany's SPL company - I have always loved it but at $200 it was not on the top of the list. Today I paid $79. See, it pays to follow my advice when it comes to these matters. Sign up now if you haven't done already. This is a great company and they totally support our audio engineering community in ways that actually assist.

Oh, and when I installed it on the ToKwerX HD rig I got another bonus ... it's TDM as well as RTAS!

UBK-1 by KuSh Audio NY USA

I am currently running a demo of the UBK-1 plug-in from Gregory Scott's KuSh Audio in NY, USA. This so reminds me of the textures and colours I can achieve with the UBK Fatso hardware unit in Studio 1 RMIT. Fantastic saturation, especially for bass and the low mid spectrum. Needless to say I love it, hence the post here. At $149 this is an absolute steal folks and I can't recommend it enough. All formats covered across both PC and Mac platforms. Check it out - like me I am positive you'll follow up the demo with a full license.

Massey DRT v2

Not long ago I posted on the brilliance of Massey's Drum Replacement Tool, in my opinion the most accurate transient seeking algorithm of it's type. These days the ability to either blend or replace not-so-good drum sounds is a must, with certain heavy music styles requiring this as a norm. Massey have now released version 2 with some excellent additions: A Noise Gate for eliminating problematic trigger candidates and impressively a Sample page for importing your own sound library directly into tracks (a la SoundReplacer but without the tedious post-editing required). So if you haven't already invested in an essential tool for your Protools system here's yet another incentive: The upgrade from version 1 is free. But, for one week only, version 2 will be sold at the version 1 price of $69. Thereafter, it changes to a mere $96.

Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb by UAD

Universal Audio astound me. Their modelling of the pinnacle reverb by Lexicon, the 224 is simply superb. Until you have heard one of these old beasts in analogue you won't truly appreciate just how good the UAD version is. In fact, it's better. Universal Audio's digital engineers have not only sourced the original algorithms but they have improved upon them, even discovering and allowing the correction of bugs in the Lexicon code. I run several reverb units as it is a unique effect, with every spatial codex possessing a particular character. Having said that - I think my use of previous devices may have just been truncated! Congratulations UAD, the Lexicon 224 for use on their exclusive UAD-2 systems is astounding.

Plug-in Alliance

So it took some time but finally audio software developers have cottoned on to the concept that we need a standardized approach to both formats, support and point of sale. The Plug-in Alliance sees several of Europe's best developers unite and the benefits are ours - the end user. Check out their site, create an account, get some free stuff and prepare for the next generation of AAX level plugs, most at 64bit. Occasionally there is some sense in the world; maybe only in the audio world?

SSL RTAS Discounts

Solid State Logic have finally succumbed to the Protools prevalence and released RTAS versions of their excellent Duende series of processors, offering significant discounts to celebrate this release until January 3rd 2012.The range features the classics such as: G Console Buss Compressor, Channel EQ, Reverb, Compression, Vocal Channel and a unique combination of processing called the Drum Strip.  I took this opportunity and purchased the Drum Strip. Wow! A Transient tool to alter the envelope of the attack very similar to SPL's Transient Designer, but with EQ, Compression, Gate and the ability to alter the processing order. For just over $100 AU this is an absolute bargain for any engineer, allowing the added "smack" for drums of all sorts. Check it out and maybe buy yourself an Xmas or New Year gift - I believe you'll love this little addition to your plug-in Stocking!