Andrulian's blog

Creating sounds | Making music | supporting fellow musicians | reflections in time

Brainworx announces bx_console_e – a flagship plugin based on the classic E series mixing consoles — September 20, 2017

Brainworx announces bx_console_e – a flagship plugin based on the classic E series mixing consoles

bx_console E title.jpg

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY: industry-leading pro audio plugins developer Brainworx is proud to announce availability of bx_console E — their trailblazing flagship plugin that pairs a 72-channel emulation of the high-end, hit-making British E Series console complete with comprehensive COMPRESS (compressor/limiter), full-featured EXPAND(expander/ gate), powerful four-band parametric EQ, and wide-ranging (high pass and low pass) FILTERS, together with incredibly flexible signal routing (just like the original console), and much more besides — exclusively from Plugin Alliance.

bx_console E is available for purchase — as an AAX Native & DSP-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting plugin for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) — exclusively from Plugin Alliance typically priced at $299.00 USD. (A fully-functional, 14-day trial is available to anyone registering for a free Plugin Alliance account here )

Note that the proprietary Plugin Alliance Installation Manager means users can select, download, and install only the products and formats needed for their system.

For more in-depth information, including several superb-sounding audio demos, please visit the dedicated bx_console E webpage

Watch Plugin Alliance’s tantalizing trailer for bx_console E here

Watch Plugin Alliance’s teaser trailer for bx_console E here

The bx_console E is based on classic British mixing desks such as the SSL 4000 E. However, it is not a direct emulation as such because Brainworx have added further modifications based on consideration of different EQ revisions, adding additional software functionality and used their patent pending TMT – tolerance modelling technology. This effectively considers the inherent tolerance in electronic components such as capacitors and resistors. If you’ve ever built electronic circuits or used an analogue synth, you’ll probably know that tolerance of components can vary widely from 0.1% up to about 20% which can affect timing circuits such as oscillators and produces differences in sound between two exact same models of the same analogue synth. This means that on analogue mixing equipment no two channels sound exactly the same and it is these variances that TMT simulates. bx_console E has 72 channels – each of which sound slightly different and collectively they (re)produce all the complexity, depth, nuance, and width which high-end analog consoles are held in such high regard for. It is also possible to randomise one channel or all channels for increased variations.

The additional functionality makes bx_console E stand out from being just another SSL strip plug. These include 2 modelled VCAs for the compressor – the original E series and one from the later G series; 2 different EQ modes – the original ‘brown’ and later ‘black’ revision which can be used pre- or post the dynamics section or routed to the dynamics sidechain; an adjustable noise floor to add vintage character along with THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) for extra presence and texture; parallel compression, high pass filtering and a second release time on the compressor; the filter section has x3 and /3 settings which expands the frequency range considerably.

The bx_console E has a great GUI which is clean and easy to use. The top section has presets, copy/paste undo options etc.

The main part of the display is effectively split into three sections. The left hand side has filters at the top with compress / expand beneath.

bx_console E filters.jpg

The middle section is the EQ section

bx_console E EQ.jpg

The right hand side has the VU meter, input / output gain, stereo mode and randomise channel options.

bx_console E VU.jpg

For someone like me who is learning new and different mixing techniques, considering the complexities of the plugin it’s very easy to use and get to grips with. There are a number of presets for different instruments – bass, drums, vocals, guitars etc. and whilst very good in their own right, they also provide an excellent starting point for you to further sculpt and fine tune your sound.

My main experience with mixing is using Neutron by iZotope. This has intelligent features and a degree of automation where it can ‘listen’ to a track and suggests settings. The main drawback with this approach is that you can sometimes rely too much on the suggested settings and less on your ear. Conversely, you do sometimes need a reference to ensure that your ears are working along the right lines.

Comparing the two on a drum bus, there was very little if any difference in sound quality, both bx_console E and Neutron are excellent. The track assistant settings in Neutron produced a sound with more top end but this was easily replicated by adjusting the EQ slightly in bx_console E.

Using the two on a bassline, the bx_console E ‘bass synth a’ preset produced a much warmer and more vibrant sounding bass than the track assistant in Neutron. On a synth, the same preset also produced a warmer, more vibrant sound. Clearly you’re not limited to only using the track assistant in Neutron, the suggested settings can be adjusted.

It feels like bx_console E produces a more vibrant analogue sound whilst Neutron produces an ultra modern, tighter more compressed sound. There’s no right or wrong between these two, sometimes one will be more suited to the style of music that you are producing.

In summary, this is a powerful and flexible plugin that can be used as a channel strip or as a mastering tool. It does an excellent job replicating the sounds you’d get from an analogue mixing desk whilst offering additional, useful and essential functionality. It produces more of a classic sound than a modern compressed sound and that’s exactly what Brainworx set out to do. How they’ve packed all of the functionality into an interface that is clean, easy to navigate and simple to use and which produces such an excellent sound is a fantastic achievement. It may also encourage you to dig a bit deeper into techniques to improve your mixes which is never a bad thing.

Advertisements
Schmidt-Synthesizer announces availability of Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer (25 units) — September 18, 2017

Schmidt-Synthesizer announces availability of Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer (25 units)

schmidt_logo.png

LANGENAU, GERMANY: Schmidt-Synthesizer, makers of the no-expense-spared namesake Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer thoroughbred, is proud to announce that it is taking orders on a third batch of 25 units — with upcoming availability in both black and white colour finishes.

schmidt_two.jpg

That no-expense-spared Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer was, without doubt, a showstopper when namesake hardware and software designer Stefan Schmidt’s hand-crafted first prototype unit debuted at Musikmesse 2011 in Frankfurt, Germany. Subsequently supported by e:m:c (electronic music components) — German distributor of several key electronic musical instrument brands (including Mellotron, Moog, and Vintage Vibe), Stefan Schmidt’s ‘one-off’ dream machine made it into production as a sound designer’s dream — albeit bravely built as a limited 25-unit batch of what was quite possibly the most expensive analogue eight-voice polyphonic synthesizer the world had yet seen and heard! However, a cursory glance at its complex four-oscillator structure clearly convinced even the most skilled synthesists that the Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer was capable of creating complex timbres that go way beyond the capabilities of conventional analogue synthesizers, so Schmidt-Synthesizer’s first batch (slowly) sold out… onwards and upwards, ultimately, a second 25-unit batch was billed as being the last.

Who better to put this third batch of 25 (unplanned) units into its rightful perspective, then, than Schmidt-Synthesizer Product Manager Axel Fischer: “Last year we assumed that the second batch would also be the last. The Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer’s sound engine electronics are mainly of ‘old school’ stock, with through-hole mounting technology, and pricing for those components have been rising steadily for years. Yet since the second batch of 25 units — ultimately, we ordered some extra components, so there were actually 27 — sold out within 14 months, those component prices are acceptable. So since the Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer still enjoys serious support, we’re happy to announce that additional units of this wonderful instrument will be available in 2018. At the moment, we’re still finishing fulfilling orders for the second batch, but orders for the third batch can be placed as of now.”

No need to necessarily order one (or more) in black, though. This time the Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer is back in black, but also available to order in white, which looks stunning — sounds stunning, too, with the same seriously well-specified feature set as the original. Oscillator 4 is worth highlighting, however; thanks to its chain of five ring modulators fed by six pulse-waves, each with different pulse-widths, it can create colder, wavetable-like sounds — despite being fully analogue! These truly unique features are unavailable in any alternative analogue synthesizer out there, let alone any alternative analogue polysynth! Subtractive synthesis clearly knows no bounds here, helping to make the Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer a shining example of no-expense-spared synthesizer design, deploying discrete sound generation circuitry throughout — no integrated oscillator/filter circuits on a single chip, for instance, in keeping with the highest possible production standards. Still better, each and every parameter is directly accessible via dedicated controls on a seriously spacious front panel with adjustable angle and user-adjustable coloured LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes).

Back in black and white, the Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer sounds and looks like the sum of its pricey parts. Put it this way: this is synthesizer history in the making. Making one is a tall order. Making 25 more is subtractive synthesis manna from heaven!

Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer pricing remains stable at €19,900.00 EUR (including German VAT) for a black unit, with white weighing in at €20,900.00 EUR (including German VAT). Either way, e:m:c (electronic music components) are accepting orders here: info@emc-de.com

For more detailed information, please visit the dedicated Schmidt Eightvoice Analog Synthesizer website here: http://www.schmidt-synthesizer.com

Review of Stage stereo toolkit effect by Fiedler Audio — September 11, 2017

Review of Stage stereo toolkit effect by Fiedler Audio

stage is available for purchase — as an AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting plugin for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) — exclusively from Plugin Alliance typically priced at $179.00 USD. (A fully-functional, 14-day trial is available to anyone registering for a free Plugin Alliance account: http://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/registration.html)

Note that the proprietary Plugin Alliance Installation Manager means users can select, download, and install only the products and formats needed for their system.

SANTA CRUZ, CA, USA: Plugin Alliance, a new ‘Über-standard’ supporting all major plugin formats and uniting some of the best-known international audio companies under one virtual roof, is proud to announce availability of stage — seriously enhancing the inherent ambience in any source signal by applying advanced spatial and stereo panning algorithms, adding valuable texture, depth, and nuance to stems, mixes, or masters as the plugin premiere from Plugin Alliance partner fiedler audio.

In essence stage gives control over width, panning and m/s balance; provides modulation options with LFOs and has a ‘colour’ module with 4 intelligent filters. The technical explanation is that stage utilizes sophisticated spatial processing techniques to take a good mix or master and make it better. By using sophisticated stereo panning, delay lines, and phase modulation, stage smoothly serves up what would otherwise require routing schemes of a confusingly complex nature and multiple plugins to achieve. As such, stage waves goodbye to copying tracks and setting up the Haas effect delay — when a sound is followed by another sound separated by a sufficiently short time delay (below the listener’s echo threshold), the listener perceives a single fused auditory image with a perceived spatial location dominated by the location of the first-arriving sound while the lagging sound also affects the perceived location (though its effect is suppressed by the first-arriving sound) — or panning stereo tracks within a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) while using another plugin to control stereo width. By bringing these tried and tested techniques under one virtual roof, stage enables efficient stereo workflow with maximum flexibility and accuracy… all of which yield greater perceived width with new levels of musical clarity.

With stage, stereo imaging is fatter without sacrificing dynamic range, and individual tracks can be positioned with extreme precision — perfect for instantly intensifying substance and adding tactility to the user’s sound. Stylish, thanks to its gorgeous GUI (Graphical User Interface) implementation, and benefitting from low CPU (Central Processing Unit) consumption, stage seeks to take centre stage as a go-to plugin for satisfying spatial augmentation and manipulation needs. Needless to say, stage is needed by anyone and everyone involved in music and audio production… professional or otherwise!

It’s very easy to use, the GUI is clean and well designed using 5 separate sections with a flow of left to right.

Input section

stage_in.jpg

This has a gain input slider, tilt control which corrects the difference between left and right channels and an MS control which determines whether the mid, side or blend between the two is sent to the output.

Panorama section

stage_panorama.jpg

Pan control to adjust the stereo position and width to adjust the distance between 2 channels all the way down to mono. Pan delay determines whether amplitude is used to delay the signal or internal delays are added. Pan wet invert reverses the direction of panning and the pan dry bypass routes the dry signal from the input direct to the output so pan section only affects the wet signal.

Ambience Section

stage_ambience.jpg

Allows you to adjust the 3d properties of the sound.

Size changes the internal delay time.

Feedback controls the internal delay circuit increasing the subtle reverb / delay effect.

There are 2 coupled LFOs (left and right) which modulate the size of the ambience delay circuit. Frequency controls the speed, amount controls the modulation depth and phase adjusts the offset between left and right LFOs.

The colour section has 4 adaptive filters designed to adjust the spectrum. Brilliance adjusts the top end, presence adds more grit / warmth, body adds fullness and bass adjusts the low end.

The output section contains a wet gain control, a wet on/off for A/B comparison and a similar dry on/off.

I have been using a couple of Soundspot plugins to adjust stereo width and m/s panning. These gave ok results but I found that Stage gives a much better sound, you can definitely hear the 3d properties and spatial separation. I’ve used it whilst mastering my last 3 albums and I was delighted with the results.

 

 

 

I have to also say this is definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Whilst I was delighted with the stereo enhancement properties, this is the polite, cultured side of Stage. Exploration of the LFOs reveals that it can also be somewhat of a beast, producing more extreme modulations and effects which were completely unexpected. It can produce offset delays, rotary type effects, flangers, ‘dark room’ and slap types of reverb, resonance, vocoder and a dub type delay with a speed up / slow down effect.

Initially I was using it on the master strip but it is light on CPU usage and is versatile enough to be used as a channel strip or send/return effect.

 

Because there isn’t a direct comparison or before and after with the above albums as examples, I’ve created a couple of demo tracks above which use as Stage as the only VST to give an idea of its potential. I’ve used a clean intro and then processed sounds with stage as an insert effect and also used it on the master strip for these processed effects. I’ve used sample loops from Terry Grant Dark Dub Odyssey, Mode Audio’s Lost Archive and the Ghosthack free female vocals pack.

Review of Vortex sample pack by Mode Audio — September 5, 2017

Review of Vortex sample pack by Mode Audio

vortex.jpg

 

Mode Audio has introduced Vortex, a 426Mb collection of royalty free ambient loops and stab samples ideal for a wide range of ambient, downtempo and minimal styles available in Wav, Rex2, Reason (also contains 4 NN-XT presets and 5 combinator effects patches) and Ableton Live pack (also contains 1 Ableton Live 9 set and 5 audio effect racks) available from Mode Audio’s Website (£18 regular price).

This review is for the Wav sample pack which features 150 loops ranging from 80 – 124 bpm and 60 stab samples arranged in 3 folders.

‘Vortex kits’ contains 4 sub folders comprising ‘Ambiences’, ‘Noise’, ‘Rhythm’ and ‘Subs’ each of which contains 20 samples which are tempo labelled;

‘Vortex Loops’ contains 2 sub folders comprising ‘Ambiences’ and ‘Atonal ambiences’ each of which contains 35 loops which are tempo labelled;

‘Vortex stab samples’ contains 60 samples in total.

Vortex kits

ambiences have a great warmth and saturation. There’s a variety of cinematic, string, synth and piano type sounds with a subtle movement and a great tension..

Noise

A variety of crackles, hums, hisses, rain type sounds, percussive and glitchy type sounds

Rhythms

These are excellent rhythmic loops, some of them are drum sounds but not your typical drum loops, these are excellently processed with saturation to give a unique sound. There are also found sound or percussive impact sounds which give further variety.

Subs

Again these have excellent processing, a subtle movement in the sound and a great bass presence.

All of these layer together really well to give a great sound with interesting variety and movement.

The Vortex loops have a variety of cinematic sounding string, synth and piano type sounds with a really good selection of tonal qualities. The atonal loops have a great edge of tension and dissonance to them.

The Vortex stab samples are very similar sounds to those in the loops – string, synth, piano, sub and percussive sounds with a short decay which add an excellent element to the loops.

Verdict

This is an excellent value sample pack which contains a variety of sample loops and stab sounds with a warm, saturated sound which have a kind of nostalgic quality. The sound quality is excellent and by focussing on ambient sounds the samples layer and mix together really well giving inspiration for a huge range of sounds.

These loops lend themselves to being used in samplers or as a starting point to create something new and original through further processing, manipulating and mangling. They can be used as is although I found that I needed a reverb or delay to provide a natural sounding decay which is to be expected. I really enjoyed using these loops and experimented with further processing to produce an EP titled ‘the white ship’ which was created using only sounds from the pack and is embedded above.

This album was inspired and is named after the short story ‘The White Ship’ by H P Lovecraft. I’ve recorded the album in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock III using a number of the inbuilt samplers including U-drone, x-fade looper, grain voyager, groove mangle and processed these with various VSTs –

Ultratap (Eventide)

Outer Space (Audio Thing)

Incipit, Litote, Amalgame (Inear Display)

Teufelsberg Reverb (Balance Mastering)

Hornet Spaces (Hornet)

Dreamscape (Minimal System Group)

I’ve also used a couple of third party samplers – Polygon (Glitchmachines) and Dust (Soundmorph)

The songs were mastered in MuLab 7 using Overtone (Soundspot), Stage (Fiedler Audio) and Neutron (iZotope).