VST Effects

Equalizer

BaxterEQ – transparent mastering and mix buss shelving EQ

What it does

The BaxterEQ is an incredible smooth shelving EQ.

Tips & tricks

  • For easiest workflow it’s recommended to always start in L/R mode, link both channels control sets and apply overall shelving and cutting as needed.
  • Then, unlink both control sets, switch to mid-side mode to refine EQing per channel and adjust the output volume control per channel as well.

Ressources

BootEQ mkIII – Musical sounding mixing EQ

BootEQmkIII

What it does

BootEQ mkIII is a musical sounding mixing EQ and pre-amplifier simulation. With its four parametric and independent EQ bands it offers special selected and musical sounding asymmetric and proportional EQ curves capable of reproducing several ‘classic’ EQ curves and tones accordingly. It provides further audio coloration capabilities utilizing pre-amplifier harmonic distortion as well as tube and transformer-style signal saturation. Within its mkIII incarnation, the Preamp itself contains an opto-style compression circuit providing a very distinct and consistent harmonic distortion profile over a wide range of input levels, all based now on a true stateful saturation model.

Tips & tricks

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Dynamic processing

ThrillseekerVBL

vintage, broadcast, limiter

What it does

Thrillseeker VBL is an emulation of a “vintage broadcast limiter” following the classic Variable-Mu design principles from the early 1950′s.

Tips & tricks

The Sweet Spot The plug-in includes a preset called “LA Sweet-Spot” and one can safely insert this on almost everything just to add a little more mojo. Just drive the unit with a proper “IN GAIN” amount so that the overall compression and distortion fits to the source. Increased Stereo Imaging If ThrillseekerVBL is used on stereo program material, I would recommend to use the TRAFO option to have the most prominent stereo imaging effects. Also, if there is just a little gain reduction amount applied, I would prefer the “DUAL M” option opposed to “STEREO” linking. And I would always use the “DUAL M” option on sources like vocal groups, panned rhythm guitars and stuff. VBL as a Mastering EQ One common mastering trick to open up a rather flat/dull track is to dial in a slight but broad 5kHz boost with an analog tube equalizer. Due to the tube circuit also higher order harmonics are generated and the whole stereo image opens up. This can be replicated perfectly with ThrillseekerVBL: Move the “BRILLIANCE” screw to its top most position and set the “AMP” knob to 0.68. If distortion is too much now, just back it off by dialing in some compression and/or lowering the input gain. If the EQ effect amount is too much, just use the “DRY:WET” option. Also make sure that the trafo is in and prepare for pure awesomeness. Some Shorties
  • Avoid pumping: Dial in some more “EMPHASIS”.
  • More HF focus: Turn the “BIAS” screw clock-wise.
  • Upward compression style: Dial in some dry signal amounts (just a little).

Ressources

ThrillseekerLA – digital stereo leveling amplifier with truly analog qualities

What it does

I’m bringing sexy back:  ThrillseekerLA not only introduces way smooth gain riding capabilities but first and foremost features a non-linear amplifier stage which is based on a non-linearity with memory yielding creamy signal coloration duties.

Tips & tricks

  • To just use the interstage disortion section turn the RANGE knob all the way to the left – this way there is no compression applied and just the 3rd order harmonic distortion can be dialed in.
  • Utilizing gain reduction ranges as follows:
    • 0 – 2dB of gain reduction – the gentlemen compressor. Just polishing the peaks can already make an awesome shiny finish. Use faster attack times and slower release times to obtain a Fairchild sort of feel.
    • 2 – 6dB of gain reduction –  the typical working range for almost all kind of duties. Pacing this range the compressor is able to achieve both: longterm RMS level smoothing and fast short-term peak management w/o any obtrusive gain riding artifacts. This works on virtually any material and especially also on difficult to handle content: Whether it’s a vocal or brass take or even a slap bass with huge and fast dynamic changes – the program dependency is able to deal with all that without any intervention by hand.
    • beyond 6dB of gain reduction – drum smashing and audio effect compression. One might be concerned with deeper gain riding affairs in other compressor devices and used to slow down release timings to avoid distortions. In ThrillseekerLA there is no need to worry about this. Just dial in a 30ms release time if the situation demands it and the compressor takes care of the rest.

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Density mkIII – Smooth and versatile bus compressor

What it does

Density mkII was primarily designed to work in a typical stereo audio group mixing situation or for summing and to glue all things together in an unobtrusive way.

Tips & tricks

  • use the limiter mode to manage difficult audio dynamics – it does not operate in a brickwall design but offers a more strict handling of dynamics
  • utilize the RANGE functions for each channel while working in M/S mode – this makes it a little easier to get M/S compression right

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Channel Strips

NastyVCS – Virtual console strip

NastyVCS

What it does

Built around an entirely new opto-electric style compression unit, NastyVCS offers everything you need to shape your channels dynamics and tone. It offers a dedicated input stage featuring crunchy pre-amp saturation and a brickwall safety limiter in the output stage. Everything is set up to work in zero latency and so be available for hassle free tracking and mixing. Two dedicated filters can be used in either the audio path or in the compressor’s sidechain which can be external as well. Whether pre or post compression, the equalizer section offers four interacting coloring tools with well-selected musical sounding curves. The concept gets rounded off by a phase alignment tool which can be used for coloring purposes as well.

Tips & tricks

  • NastyVCS really shines when all the three dynamic tools are properly combined. Condense the dynamics in some small amounts right in the input stage, apply some smooth compression without affecting the punch/transients and then let the limiter eat some peaks at the output
  • NastyVCS contains a phase alignment tool which can be used for coloring purposes as well – use that in combination with the input stage or the compressor or both

Ressources

preFIX – getting those alignments done

What it does

preFIX is a pre-mixing and audio alignment tool which typically takes place upfront the mixing process. It provides a clever tool set to clean-up, fix and align audio tracks (typically taken from recordings) concerning overall frequency correction, phase alignment, spatial stereo field corrections and routing. It contains a complete gate/expander solution with a dedicated and comprehensive sidechain filtering path as well.

Tips & tricks

Improving the stereo field perception

Beside the stereo field rotation option in the scope section the phase alignment is the ticket. Just apply this alignments to just channel 1 (or 2) with the switch on the top. Dial in some subtle phase alterations and check stereo field behavior visually with the scope. Check for mono compatibility with the mono routing option. Works great with vocal groups or rhythm guitar sections!

Focusing the spectrum and tonality of all tracks

Applying high- and low-cuts to each and every track is a well known rule of thumb before starting mixing. Though, this should be considered with care especially for acoustic recordings. Some audio lowend content might actually be the frequency body of an instrument and the HF typically contains the overtone structure. So, choose all cuts with care. preFIX provides two filters dedicated for this task in the first EQ section.

Dealing with gate release tail distortions

Might be a difficult task if the audio content is sensible to distortion artifacts, e.g. as with release tails of toms. Utilize the HOLD timing option of the gate in this case or tweak the sidechain EQ to better focus the detector for the gate. Soft knee is also a good option.

Dealing with fast gate attack timings and distortions

If fast attack timings are needed but attack transition becomes a problem try to utilize the pre-open feature of the gate to move the gates opening upfront the audio event itself.

If the track needs some “balls”

Then the EQ is the ticket: Use highpass and shelving filter altogether to boost the LF department while cutting the very lows the same time.

If the track needs some “air” or “shimmer”

Just dial in the pristine sounding Baxandall HF shelving filter – you can’t go wrong.

Align stacked recordings

The phase section is the right place to look: Just apply this alignments to just channel 1 (or 2) with the switch on the top of the section.

Getting those tight (electronic) drum tracks

Use the gate, Luke! Use it on the kick, the snare, the hi-hats, on everything. Use it on single tracks and the drum sub-groups. Set each tracks focus with the main EQ filter section on top. Always check for mono compatibility.

Mixing a stereo track into mono

Check out the mono* option for this task which gives you the opportunity to adjust each channels mixing level before everything is converted to a mono signal.

Workflow: separate track alignment from mixing

Start first to check all tracks and if mixing is feasible with them. Some might not match the quality and needs to replaced. Some just need some basic alignments. Do all creative decisions and treatments later during the mixing process. Mixing is always context dependent.

Alignment does not mean restoration!

If you prepare a track and something like “where is my damn 64dB/octave brickwall filter?” comes to your mind then this might be because your are not upfront any mixing process but are working on audio restoration instead. Or the sources just might be crap. Always remember: garbage in, garbage out.

Ressources

Special signal processors

ThrillseekerXTC mkII – bringing mojo back

ThrillseekerXTCmkII

What it does

It’s a contemporary exciter build around a true parallel analog style equalizer design. Thrillseeker XTC is all about adding weight, vibe and attitude back to the sound. It delivers all the character of an analog signal path and provides what digital processing usually is hard pushed to, including a rich low-end experience and that vibrant ‘expensive’ top-end.

Tips & tricks

  • use it on multiple individual tracks and on the 2bus
  • don’t hesitate to boost and drive the unit
  • add mojo on tracks that sound sterile

Ressources

FerricTDS mkII – Tape dynamics simulator

FerricTDSmkII

What it does

This device simulates some dynamic effects as can be obtained with some high quality tape gear.

Tips & tricks

  • works great on VA synths to add some slight crunch and presence
  • use it in the chain for electric guitar: Subtle compression (Density II) > Fender style ampsim > FerricTDS {Dynamics high, Saturation low, SC high, rest to taste} > optional FX with slightly different settings it works for crunch amps, too. suddenly ampsims come alive and “feel real” – what a breakthrough ! (Tip by susiwong)

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TesslaSE mkII – Analog goodness in subtle doses

TesslaSEmkII

What it does

The Tessla audio plugin series once started as a reminiscence to classic transformer based circuit designs of the 50s and 60s but without just being a clone stuck in the past. TesslaSE is not a distortion box but rather focuses on bringing all those subtle saturation and widening (side-) effects from the analog right into the digital domain.

Tips & tricks

  • don’t use this in a single instance on just a bus or master but use it here and there as the mix demands it – the subtle effects will sum up to obtain a more consistent and vibrant mix
  • use the transformer option to obtain a fancy low-end
  • increase the stereo dimension even further with the DIM knob
  • control HF harshness with the AIR option

Ressources

  • more background info is available in the manual

TesslaPRO mkIII – The magic is where the transient happens

TesslaPROmkIII

What it does

The PRO version has been made for mixing and mastering engineers working in the digital domain and always missing that extra vibe delivered by some highend analog devices with ease. TesslaPRO brings back the subtle artifacts from the analog right into the digital domain. It sligthly colors the sound, polishes transients and creates depth and dimension in the stereo field to get that cohesive sound we are after. All the analog goodness in subtle doses: It’s a mixing effect intended to be used here and there wherever the mix demands it.

Tips & tricks

  • TesslaPRO is internally oversampled to minimize digital aliasing artifacts.
  • Like the analog paragons, it might appear rather subtle in some situations.
  • The device is not phase linear which prevents dry/wet mixing the output.
  • The modeled effects are very typical for transformer coupled tube circuits.
  • Use the BOOST option for further mix glueing and overall peak management
    sort of effects.
  • Use the device on all tracks that miss some elegant analog vibes or on the
    mixbus as well.

Ressources

Rescue – Analog style modelled signal designer

Rescue RescueAE

What it does

The Rescue plug-in is a gadget which offers envelope dependend signal amplification and saturation in a mid/side configuration. In ANALOG mode it offers some addtional signal alterations similar to hardware. It comes in two versions: Rescue and RescueAE (anniversary edition) – the latter one performs interanl oversampling and adds an output limiter function.

Tips & tricks

  • use the WIDTH knob to obtain some subtle but natural widening effects on stereo program material

Ressources

Delay and Reverb

NastyDLA mkII – A classic chorus echo device with tape-delay simulation

What it does

  • classic chorus and echo effects
  • authentic signal path coloration
  • tape-delay style feedback and saturation

Tips & tricks

  • use this device as an audio insert effect to take advantage of the input stage saturation and coloring for the whole signal and not only the wet portion
  • if more straight saturation from the delay feedback loop is desired then switch the ducking mode on. This turns the internal compressors sidechain straight to the plug-ins input and so it does not react anymore on the feedback loops signal. Now the saturator has to do the job on its own …

Ressources

epicPLATE – Classic reverberation simulator

What it does

epicPLATE delivers an authentic recreation of classic plate reverberation. It covers the fast and consistent reverb build up as well as that distinct tonality the plate reverb is known for and still so much beloved today. Its unique reverb diffusion makes it a perfect companion for all kinds of delay effects and a perfect fit not only for vocals and drums.

Tips & tricks

  • not only for drums: instead of using full reverbaration try the GATE mode when smaller room impressions are needed or too much reverb information does not blend with a mix – this features just the initial reverb build-up which is sometimes enough and better for a cleaner mix
  • Utilize the DRIVE (amplifier) feature to glue the dry/wet blend altogether

Ressources

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