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Tag: izotope

Hard to resist

There’s a well-known syndrome in audio circles called GAS, stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. As over the years we almost completely moved from analogue to digital, many hoped that this syndrome will simply disappear, leaving our bank accounts more happy, and ourselves less addicted. How blind we were… At first there was only a few plugins worth considering, but after a while clever and creative software developers produced a huge number of unbelievably powerful tools which can do things we never imagined we’d be able to do. As a result, we might lost one addiction, but rather, that syndrome only transformed into a very similar one, now in the digital world. We can call it PAS, Plugin Acquisition Syndrome.

As I see it, it’s even more dangerous. The iLok can hold several hundred licenses, we have some boutique shops on the net that offers really great deals on virtually every plugin, and to be honest, it’s very convenient to try everything under the sun. Just download it, install and fire up the DAW of your choice, ready to test the newcomer. No need to rent and deliver it, no need to find space in the studio, few clicks and you’re ready to test. This, of course made the syndrome much worse. No real effort needed to get what we wish, no need to even get up from your comfy chair in the studio.

As I see it, this trend made us less picky about our tools. What we like to a degree, or find it remotely useful, we simply buy it. Then it’s just sitting in our plugin folder waiting for its turn, but honestly these instant impulse purchases very rarely turn out to be useful ones. Most of the times at the end of the year we just staring at our long list of plugins, maybe have no idea why we bought some of them in the first place. That’s why I developed a very rigorous testing method and only buy the ones that pass my test 100%. This way I can keep my list smaller and buy only the best ones.

New kids on the block

Lately I haven’t had much time for testing things, but I’d like to try a few new ones that grabbed my attention.

McDSP Dialog processor. At first it seems like a multi-band deesser, but as I understand it is much more than that. I’ve heard some examples which surely made me want to test it. Without any prejudice, my only fear is that it’s too limited, meaning I cannot change certain parameters like the frequencies.

 

The other is iZotope’s final mix. The marketing of this plugin is a complete train-wreck. But the concept is very good and to be honest I’m really interested in a good dynamic EQ. My only problem is the price. Although it seems to offer a lot for your money, I bet most of us already has a great true-peak limiter and we cannot buy this thing as a stand-alone dynamic EQ. Surround support is very tempting though.

This is the reason I still love some forums. You discover new things, new companies. For me, the new discovery is Meldaproduction. It seems they’re a small company who are truly passionate about the plugin world. Innovative features, very friendly pricing. If the sound of their products is stellar, I think they’re facing a very shinny future in the plugin industry. From what I’ve read and saw, their dynamic EQ can superior to the iZotope’s one with more features and still half the price.

 

Plugin Alliance. Well, I must say I’m a bit biased. I love their business model, how they operate and how correctly they deal with support issues. And frankly they have some utterly amazing plugins in their arsenal. I already use some of it, but now I really want to test more. Even their brand new channel strip, yes, the Neve one. I have some vibey plugins already, but none of them are AAX DSP, and the Eucon implementation is poor, yes, I’m looking at Slate in this case.

BX neve

If their new Neve thing is on par with the best in the industry, I’ll surely buy it. Even their new technology called Tolerance Modelling Technology is intriguing.

So this is it for now, but I already know that we’re going to see very interesting things soon as there are plenty of very dedicated and creative developers out there. Of course, if you have deep experiences about some of the above-mentioned plugins then don’t hesitate to tell me via the comments or email. Thank you.

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Small Pro Tools tip #1

This is just a really small tip, a tiny helper to make your work more efficient. Often having impossible deadlines I find myself spending time with unnecessary tasks as analysing the finished mix with some offline loudness meter plugin. Couple of weeks ago though, I discovered that if I use offline bounce and leave the plugin open (on screen), at the end of the bounce I can see the result of the loudness measurement, including the whole show’s loudness graph.

insight offline bounce

This works beautifully with Izotope’s Insight, but it seems that it doesn’t work for example with Avid’s ProLimiter. But if you’re an Insight user, you’re in luck. Don’t miss the opportunity to streamline your workflow, bounce and measure at the same time. Enjoy!

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Preparing a live broadcast and record day 1

I thought it might be useful or interesting to see how we prepare for a live broadcast and record session here. This is the first day, which goes like this:

  • Make a Pro Tools session
  • check the session
  • save as a template for possible future use or refinement
  • mic up the stage (80 piece symphonic orchestra, 4 soloist)
  • soundcheck
  • refine the session and mix during the rehearsal

Pro Tools session

As I’m writing this, I’m already finished the Pro Tools session which comprise 60 mono tracks, 4 stereo tracks, 6 stereo aux sends, 4 stereo buses, 10 VCAs.
We have produce a live mix that adheres to the r128 standard basically. The refined specs for us for this even is to hit –23LUFS (+/- 1) with a TruePeak no higher than –3dBTP. Our studio not only produce the complete mix, but we record the multitrack and all the rehearsals, might come handy later if we need to fix some mistakes. Our mix goes to a HD OB van, supervised by LGM television as the finished product will be aired at Mezzo TV.

Let’s see the plugins I plan to use:
All input channels has a Trim and a Avid ChannelStrip inserted on it, later if I really need to go deep with something I might insert a few Fabfilter ProQ2 and/or some Sonnox Dynamics on a few. Usually the ChannelStrip is enough for the most part. The audio buses right now has the very same simple chain: 1 ProQ2 and 1 Sonnox Dynamics per bus. All bus plugins are set up, ready to process, but bypassed until I need them. The master section has the most complicated chain in this session. Note that although I have many plugins inserted, they all do small things, they are not there to solve all the issues. The first plugin is a ProQ2 followed by a Sonnox Dynamics, then a Avid ProMultiband, after that a Avid ProLimiter. On the master output I use an Izotope Insight to proper metering. For starter I use 3 stereo reverbs: 1 Exponential audio Phoenix reverb and 2 Exponential audio R2, one for chamber and one for hall.

Few words on plugin usage. The Trim and Channelstrip basically works as a conventional console, serving as board gain, eq, dynamics, nothing complicated. I like to use the ProQ2 and the Sonnox Dyn where more detailed process might be the solution. On the master bus all the plugins serve as a kind of final polish, no hard processing goes on there. If any of the master processors start to work hard, meaning I need huge cuts or boosts on the eq, or the comps start to attenuate too much, that means something wrong with the basic mix. The master bus is not the right place to solve these bigger issues. The hall and the chamber reverb is quite obvious. Although we have a fabulous hall here, sometimes we need to lengthen or reinforce the natural decay of the hall. The R2 seems to be a perfect candidate for this. It is interesting to note that I’ve tried to achieve a more natural result with the Phoenix verb, but the R2’s character seems to fit better for this. Probably the most interesting is the early reflection verb. Because of the picture we often need to go very close to the instruments, which is not the best thing to do in a classical concert. Apart from different mic techniques I generally use this early reflection reverb to add some depth, a touch of realness to the close miced signal. In the final mix no one’s going to notice it, but it really adds that depth what we need. Without it, every solo or close miced instrument tend to sound too sterile, too in-the-face which is very unnatural. I can’t praise highly enough Michael Carnes’ reverbs for the very sophisticated early reflection part, which by the way sounds phenomenal.

As I’m finishing this first piece, I’m ready with the session, saved a backup and a usable template session. I double-checked everything and the Avid S6 is ready to fly with the rehearsal. The surface for the whole broadcast-record is an Avid S6 M10 with 24 faders.

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