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Products by SKnote

Latest reviews of SKnote products

Disto
Reviewed By AxxxxDxx
October 2, 2015

I bought this several days ago and tried only a few drum loops, they go from lifeless and dull to tube warmth to full on compression like an 1176, Coupled with a Certain tube EQ its a serious channel strip, I can only give it an 8 because Ive never tried a real one, its a little difficult on the know how but the sound justifies the meager asking cost. Its a must for grit and distortion with some seriously powerful dynamics coding that can tame even the most difficult transients that appear on drum hits such as snares, kick drums and hi hats. People say I have too FX much this and too much FX that, however there are some processors that are a must have regardless, this is one of them. In short you would be insane not to end up owning the "other" products from Quinto such as SDC and the MEQ similar to Disto, as combined altogether they are fast becoming my new mastering FX chain.

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SDC - Stereo Double Compressor
Reviewed By AxxxxDxx
September 24, 2015

SDC.

The dynamics and tone as you would expect, character and flow, smooth and gritty, its a serious piece of software and insane for the price. The only problem is the size of the GUI but I guess this is acceptable given the quality and depth of graphic interface. Its one of the best character compressors Ive come across for the money and its even better when used in a chain with the Tube EQ. I own several Sknote products, at first I didnt rate them due to hype over the cost this and design that, but now the sound quality at the end has made me think twice.

-3 for size of the GUI alone and restrictions as a serious mastering compressor, not for tracking.

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MCAudioLab EQ1
Reviewed By
October 7, 2013

  • Never tried hardware version, but tried a lot of Eqs and tube Eqs as plugins, for the money this does exactly as its description implies and does it extremely well. The added harmonics from each version are definitely its best selling quality. I was stunned after running a drum loop through at its richness and warmth in depth, especially in the low end, this is not your average go to EQ, neither is it one you will constantly use, but, and this is a a big but, this is one serious characterful EQ and if you are after sheer deep lo end and warmth, even better in Mid/side mode, then it is a must have. The two modes each offer various tonal artefacts and for me it is sheer brilliance for taking a poor sample such as a kick drum and or drum loops and running them through as though it were some expensive outboard, the results then speak for themselves. To date I think this is SKnote's best plugin yet, and it beats some of my far more expensive ones too, recommended.
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XTrim
Reviewed By Eirikur
June 22, 2013

It's a stereo-field manipulation/pitch adjuster/phase-fixer, and more, made to look like a vacuum-tube era studio device. It's sort of a console-strip in a different form-factor.

Functional Art

XTrim works very well and retains all of its skeumorphism as it does. Rotate the knobs and the specular highlights (bright spots) stay in place as the knob rotates very, very precisely, meaning hundreds of images were made for each knob. Despite the incredible skeumorphism it provides extremely precise adjustments.

Narrowing and Panning

One piece of its functionality that I use is the stereo field narrowing and panning. Many physical and virtual synthesizers produce exaggerated stereo (which sounds good in the music store, or in a demo) which becomes difficult in a mix. Imagine serveral different instruments, each with its own idea of the stereo field. You can't meaningfully move them to toward the left or right. You can merge to mono, and then pan, but the phase shifts that create the stereo field then become phase cancelations that greatly alter the tone and behavior. What you need, and what this tool does, is to narrow the stereo field of each instrument to taste and then be able to move the instrument to where you want it. After I saw this thing, I had to have it, just looking at the images, but it is extremely useful just for this one of its features. This is just one (two, really) of its features. I could implement these features now that I understand the idea, using serveral different plugins with different user interfaces and different ways of storing settings. I certainly won't do that when Sknote offers this lovely piece of work for $19.99 US. If I want to, I can use one on each instrument in a mix.

Copy Protection that doesn't leave you stranded

The copy protection is unintrusive and allows you to make backups.

One possible improvement

What do I think could be improved? The labels are deliberately fairly low contrast against the background. The graduations around the knobs are fine, but at the standard fixed size of the GUI, the labels are hard to read, and made harder by the acronyms. I think the labels need to be a bit brighter. The acronyms are standard ones and should be kept for space reasons as on the original devices.

The company

Sknote.it

Quinto Sardo of Sknote answers email quickly and provides excellent customer service.

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Verbtone
Reviewed By Brother Charles
November 12, 2012

SKnote VerbTone - Plate Reverb a la Deluxe

Looking for "expensive" sounding plate reverb without it costing as much as a typical week's worth of groceries? I have some GREAT news for you! Spending only $20 US dollars at www.sknote.it will get it done. No dongles required. No call/response protection mechanisms. Within 12 hours of time-of-purchase, a direct download link is sent to your email inbox. Mr. Quinto Sardo concentrates on creating VHQ plugins without spending precious programming efforts on arduous licensing schemes or layers of bothersome piracy protection. The one caveat? No downloadable demo. The plus? SKnote's VerbTone is an excellent, well-modelled Plate reverb plugin.

Many professional recording engineers will tell you that plate reverb continues to be the "Go To" reverb type for great sounding vocals and snare tracks. Quality plate reverb used to cost a lot of electricity, a considerable area of space, and could weigh up to 600lbs. This very well modelled plugin only requires about 2MB of space on your hard drive.

For those whom are not exactly sure what a "Plate" reverb is, here is a wonderful definition that I've borrowed from bsidebeats.com:

"It's a matter of sending an audio signal to some type of transducer (in this case a speaker) which vibrates a piece of sheet metal (the plate). The vibrations travel though the plate as waves – like ripples from a pebble dropped in a pond – from the speaker at the centre to the edges where they're picked up by another transducer (in this case 2 piezo buzzers). These convert the wave – it's shape now altered by the plate – back into an electrical signal and returns it as reverb to be blended with the original sound."

Again, I tell you: SKnote's VerbTone is an excellently modelled Plate reverb plugin.

In order to get the "what's the catch" question answered right away, I'll start with the one quirk that I wish wasn't inherent in this very high quality product.

In a word, latency.

"Oh NOOO!" "We doesn't like nasty orks's latency, does we, precious?"

How much latency? I'd guesstimate it to be around 20ms - 30ms. Does it impose a difficulty that can't be well-managed? For the most part, No. If, like me, you maintain the industry-accepted "Best Practice" of putting reverb plugins on a send track (sometimes called an Aux bus), the latency is correctly reported to your DAW/host. Your DAW compensates the latency automatically, and the latency becomes undetectable. Using VerbTone as insert effect still permits the latency to be correctly reported to your DAW/host.

However, there is one plugin/latency quirk that I have experienced while using a multi-out VSTi, such as EZ Drummer. When I add VerbTone as an insert effect on a "child" track (of a multi-out VSTi channel), the latency does not get reported to the DAW/host. It throws the timing of the child track off by 30ms-/+

I use Acoustica's Mixcraft 6 exclusively. Perhaps I should reinstall Reaper so I can better test this little quirk. I haven't any other DAW installed on my system. I like this reverb plugin very much, and thus I simply "bounce" or "Mixdown" the snare track to a new audio file. This allows me to use VerbTone as my insert reverb effect of choice on snare tracks. I repeat the process for toms, when necessary. This is a few extra steps, and does negate some of the ease of using a convenient "multi-out" VSTi, such as EZ Drummer. However, the sound quality of this Plate reverb plugin makes it very worthwhile.

Visuals:

The SKnote GUI offers pleasant, eye-appealing charm at a moderate size of approximately 600 pixels wide, 400 pixels high. The silver/grey background and shadowed 3D"ish" appearance of the buttons lend themselves to a polished look that gives the visual impression of a truly professional product. The text is easily legible, albeit a little bit small. The buttons are smoothly controlled with your mouse. The button movements result in smooth, graduated changes to the signal processing.

The upper portion of the interface resembles a shiny metallic plate complete with electric transducers and wires. With your mouse, you can "TAP" on the plate to hear its sound while configuring a new reverb and changing parameters.

Stereo Imaging and Depth Perception:

Your ears will delight in the magnitude of perceived stereo width and depth that this little reverberation plugin is capable of. This well-modelled plate reverb is certainly diverse in its configurability. You can modulate the reverb tails, by varying degrees, if you are looking for the famous "Lexicon ish" effect. The "Width" knob will facilitate tightly focused effects when set to minimum, or envelop your aural senses with incredibly wide, surround-like resonance when fully engaged.

The initial transients of the reverberated source remain intact. They are not "swallowed up" in messy, invasive reverberation. When applied to a vocal track, ear-pleasing depth and "space" is perceived without unwanted 'ringing' or ehcoey mush. The reverb is very rich and can be set to sound very deep, wide, and dense, but it does not sound as though it is simply "riding on top" of the vocal track or thickly blanketing it. VerbTone is rich and deep - not obnoxious.

Tonal Quality:

I am particularly impressed with Quinto's attention to detail in regard to the variance of the plate's "dimensions" (thickness and weight). The "Sound" and "Tune" buttons alter the effect of the Plate's "thickness" and "weight", respectively. If you want a bright, crisp sounding (thin, shiny sheet of metal) plate reverb, you keep the knobs set at their minimum values. To get a fuller, more dense sounding plate (heavy, thick sheet of metal), simply turn the "Sound" and "Tune" knobs clockwise. From bright and "airy" all the way down to thunderous and dark - VerbTone delivers!

Like SKnote's other fine quality reverb plugins, you won't hear any metallic after-effects. Even when the reverb's length is set to its maximum of 5 seconds, the tails remain clear, rich, and smooth. What you will hear, however, is a very believable-sounding plate reverb effect. Your ears will hardly trust your noggin, that they aren't "really" hearing the lofty warble of an actual, shiny sheet of electrically charged sheet metal.

Arguably, the best practice is to apply high and/or low pass to the input stage of any reverb/delay send track. However, for those who would rather color or control the equalization of the reverb effect itself, VerbTone provides effective, smooth-sounding low and high pass filters.

Configuring VerbTone's effect level and density is somewhat unusual. In most cases, a user expects the ratio of dry/wet sound to be controlled with a "mix" or "blend" knob; or perhaps with independent dry/wet knobs. VerbTone departs from this convention in that it provides control of the reverb level by means of the "Gain" knob. When the "mix" knob is set to "dry", you have the maximum level of dry signal, but the signal will still have plenty of reverb in it, unless you turn the "Gain" knob to 0. Turning the "mix" knob fully clockwise to "wet", removes all of the dry signal and only the processed signal is heard. It is the "Gain" knob that controls the level (or volume) of the reverb effect. The "mix" knob simply determines how much of the "dry" signal you retain.

CPU Consumption:

I would describe this plugin as "Moderately CPU Friendly". On a modern i3, i5 or equivalent AMD processor, you can easily run 6 or 7 instances of this robust, high quality reverb at a time with negligible CPU load. Obviously, this number increases on a higher end quad core (or greater) system.

PROS:

- Affordable.

- High quality, modelled Plate reverb.

- Very smooth sounding.

- Exceptional stereo imagery and perceived depth.

- Fun, attractive, functional user interface.

- Included high & low pass filters.

- Cool modulated reverb available.

- Deep, wide sound stage.

- Very broad range of plate types.

- Perfectly suited for snare and vocal tracks.

- Friendly, professional product support.

- No dongles, call/response challenges, nor invasive piracy protection overhead.

- 32 & 64 bit

CONS:

- Some latency.

- No downloadable demo.

I will be reviewing SKnotes' Necklace reverb plugin in the very near future. Have you read my review of SKnote's StageSpace reverb?. Keep an eye out for those reviews as well.

Why 9 out of 10? - The 30ms-/+ of latency. Mind you, as long as you are using this fantastic plugin on a "Send" track or Aux bus, you won't notice the latency.

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Stagespace
Reviewed By Brother Charles
November 7, 2012

SKnote StageSpace - Lush Ambience and Reverberation for the Masses

Firstly, let's get your attention with the extremely affordable price point. $20 US dollars will get this incredibly lush-sounding and immersive ambience effect into your plugin folder. No dongles required. No call/response protection mechanisms. Within 12 hours of time-of-purchase, a direct download link is sent to your email inbox. Mr. Quinto Sardo makes it simple and easy without arduous licensing schemes or layers of bothersome piracy protection. The one caveat? No downloadable demo.

Many home recording enthusiasts and studio professionals anticipate spending much higher prices to facilitate their DAWs with deep, lush, pleasant-sounding reverbs. We read reviews and download demo plugins promising professional grade results with the foreknowledge that it will cost $150 - $250. There are the exceptions – ValhallaRoom excludes itself from that list. Yet, the quest for top-drawer, expensive-sounding ambience effects remains high on most self-starting producers' lists.

I'm very happy to introduce a product that will provide you with that elusive, rich sounding reverb – without requiring you to dine on Mr. Noodles for the next month in order to pay for it. Italian developer, Quinto Sardo, aka, SKnote, has recently unleashed such a component in the heavy weight class - enter StageSpace.

Over the past 12 months, I have greatly admired three very notable reverb plugins. 112dB's Redline Reverb, EaReakon's EAReverb, and 2CAudio's Aether. While opinions and preferences vary, most nearly all home recording people will nod in agreement that these three are certainly very respectable reverb plugins. I am embarrassed to confess, that when I was first introduced to StageSpace, I wasn't expecting to be 'wowed'. It didn't occur to me that perhaps this was a plugin that could competitively enter the same octagon cage as its much higher priced counterparts. I was wrong.

Now, please settle in with your favorite coffee mug and let's talk about what $20 will get you.. .

Visuals:

The SKnote GUI offers pleasant, eye-appealing charm at a moderate size of 620 pixels wide, 420 pixels high. The silver/grey background and shadowed 3D"ish" appearance of the buttons lend themselves to a polished look that gives the visual impression of a truly professional product. The text is easily legible, albeit a little bit small. The buttons are smoothly controlled with your mouse. The button movements result in smooth, graduated changes to the signal processing.

Stereo Imaging and Depth Perception:

Wide. lush, deep and rich. Imagine having meticulously recorded Impulse responses of the finest halls and spaces. Create an algorithm that carefully emulates those same spaces, intact with organic, natural-sounding modulations and smooth, detailed reverb tails. What do you call it? StageSpace. Looking for extreme modulated ambience effects? It's there. Looking for an exceptionally affordable means of creating a "Lexicon-style" lightly modulated reverb decay? It's there. No, I'm not calling it a Lexicon clone, but StageSpace shares some similar qualities where modulating tails are concerned.

This plugin is at ease with intimate hall sounds and can easily create an aural canopy of immense, wide space. You've heard clichéd' catch phrases like "wraps itself around the sound source". StageSpace does just that. This reverb opens up your sound. It doesn't mush it up and blanket it with discordant, metallic ringing. I enjoy the vast degrees of stereo width that StageSpace can maintain. The width control is very manageable and can be configured to fit into many kinds of mix. The "Width" knob makes full use of the Mid/Side spectrum, and does it very, very well. SKnote does not list smiles as one of the many StageSpace features, but he should.

A common failing often observed in less expensive reverb plugins is a lack of perceived depth. Inexpensive reverb may sound as though it's 'swallowing' the sound source, or is simply 'riding on top' of it. StageSpace does neither. StageSpace sounds very natural and organic – even at more extreme settings. It is an amazing feat to create a plugin that tricks the listener's ear into believing that the source was recorded smack dab in the center of a wide, deep, acoustically correct, space. StageSpace comes very, very close to making you forget that you are listening to a reverb plugin.

Creative use of the "Early", "Body", and "Size" knobs will take you to the far concrete wall under the bleachers in an arena, if you want.. .

No nasty metallic after-effects here, folks. This is one smooth reverb. Even the longest multi-second tails remain clear, rich, and smooth. Dark or bright. Dampened or crisp. StageSpace delivers consistent quality and massages the listener's ears with smooth, spacious reverb.

Would I call this plugin a ultra realistic room/hall reverb DSP? No, not quite. However, when tweaked without its modulation effects engaged, this plugin will come very, very close. It doesn't offer actual diffusion settings, but it does provide you with a unique implementation of early reflection control.

Tonal Quality:

Arguably, the best practice is to apply high and/or low pass filtering to the input stage of any reverb/delay send track. However, for those who would rather color or control the equalization within the reverb effect itself, StageSpace provides smooth-sounding low and high envelope configuration. These controls are essentially low and high pass filters that affect the signal at the input stage. Even-tempered damping and coloring controls give a great range of ambience tone shaping. Whether you're looking to create a dark, cavernous atmosphere or a crisp, bright room ambience, StageSpace will aptly provide.

This reverb can indeed sound very, very dense. However, the density of the reverb is easily reduced with the "Sparse" knob.

Create subtle, cool, modulated reverb tails using the "Detune" and "Mod" knobs. This does not actually create a chorusing effect, but rather, sends a periodically pitch shifted signal to the reverb. The modulation velocity is controlled with sinusoidal fades. Very Smooth. Smooth like an ounce of Bailey's poured over tinkling Christmas ice.

CPU Consumption:

I would not describe this plugin as "CPU Hungry", but it does have a healthy appetite. On a modern i3, i5, i7 or equivalent AMD processor, you can easily run 3 or 4 simultaneous instances of this robust, high quality reverb with negligible CPU load. I use most reverb plugins on a send track, and very rarely as an insert effect. In a perfect world, we'd get this quality with no CPU load, but instead, we get a fantastic, unassuming reverb with slightly higher-than-average CPU consumption.

*Latency*

This plugin induces approximately 30ms of latency; fortunately, the latency is correctly reported to the DAW/host, and the latency is most nearly indiscernible during mixing and playback. Bearing this in mind, this plugin is not suitable for tracking purposes.

PROS:

- Affordable.

- High quality, natural space algorithmic reverb.

- Very smooth sounding.

- Exceptional stereo imagery and perceived depth.

- Attractive, functional user interface.

- Included high & low pass filters.

- Capable of both subtle and interesting modulated reverbs.

- Wide, lush sound stage.

- Very broad range of ambient space emulation.

- Very well suited for room or hall reverberation.

- Friendly, professional product support.

- No dongles, call/response challenges, nor invasive piracy protection overhead.

- 32 & 64 bit

CONS:

- Slightly higher-than-average CPU load.

- No downloadable demo.

I will be reviewing SKnotes' VerbTone and Necklace reverb plugins in the very near future. Keep an eye out for those reviews as well.

Why 9 out of 10? - The slightly higher-than-average CPU load. Mind you, U-he Diva users remain faithful, even with Diva's well documented high CPU demands. ;)

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Presence
Reviewed By jam92189
May 4, 2012

okay the theme of my reviews lately have been about subtlety. this one takes the cake.

now if you want a change that will turn day to night this can do that but in a natural way. meaning its effect is very smooth and subtle. the high end i find really never sounds harsh the harmonics it makes are very clean low end just seems to get a smooth boost high end gets just a more cut through the mix sound and the modes it has are nice for when you want to A make the original signal just boost B mix the new and old together (B is my favorite) or C just replace the harmonics there. its easy clean and almost no CPU hit. what you wont hear is a harsh ear splitting boost that just sounds like a super narrow eq boost. what i use it for is actually helping add just a touch of whatever is not coming out as much as i would like. Lets say you have noise hum or hiss that you cant get rid of and a eq boost just adds more noise this is the tool just a small bit of it really helps bring out the parts you want. that and the smooth hi pass filter and tilt knob make this one of the best exciters i have used. also the most natural. i don't know about you but I don't do a mix so that people can pinpoint what i used and this is like a stealth tool.

as for cons non that i can think of. maybe that it at times seems a little to subtle but that's the real strength of this tool. Its just like cooking. You don't want everything to be over seasoned then it will just taste bad

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Presence
Reviewed By bduffy
May 4, 2012

The best thing about Presence is that it's simple. You can insert this, twist a couple knobs and make your source sound better right away. I find this particularly useful for dead-sounding mixes, but can be just the thing for drums, acoustics, vocals and the typical targets that benefit from exciters.

The GUI is pretty straightforward: Low & High gain, input/output gain and a very-welcome low-cut filter (this is great because you can augment the lows with the exciter, but roll off unwanted subs with the filter). A unique feature is the "Tilt" dial, which can be used to shift the whole spectrum to more highs or more lows. I find you can really dial in a nice, professional high end on a master with this. I'm not sure if this is just a simple "tilt EQ", but usually things are more dynamic with SKnote's stuff. At any rate, it does not sound harsh, even on significant boosts!

I do have to take some points of the GUI for a reason that plagues most of SKNote's "grey" line: the grey-on-black text is very hard to read, and I just have to wonder why he doesn't punch of the whiteness a few notches. Overall, I love the GUI, but I just cannot read the font on my smaller monitor.

I like to follow up Presence with SKnote's Roundtone tape emulation plug-in. This can help soften any harsh tones from the boosts in the exciter, for a more natural sound.

All in all, it's hard not to recommend this plugin! I would say it doesn't quite clear up the midrange elements like a BBE or Aphex, but is one of the best I've heard for high and low end. Another interesting and appealing release from SKNote, again featuring his unique approach to plug-in design, at a very low price.

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