I have been using the SC 226 for about a year now. Its has found a comfortable place on almost every track, as most tracks need some Eq and compression.
I find the GUI to be of good size and easy to manage.
The CPU hit is quite low.
The Compressor is very natural sounding. You have the option of peak and RMS. Both perform well. You do have to use your ears as the meter/parameter dials are not very acurate. Not a bad thing. Sometimes getting caught up in the numbers end up in a less musical result.
The HP filter section is a lil baffling. The numbers on the tabs dont accurately reflect what is happening. ie.20hz starts cutting way to early say upwards of 50 to 80hz. So where one wanting simply to apply a sub bass cut may be out of luck. However if you cut at 20hz then boost the low shelf quite a bit you can get some really cool push pull action for say a bass or kick. Again having to use your ears not what the numbers are telling you.
The Eq section is very usable and is sufficeint for most tasks (not a surgical eq). It offers two different Qs for the bells. Not really sure what the specs on those are. One is tighter than the other.
The AX7 tube warmer adds nice saturation if needed. I have found that about 3/4 treats transients nicely without getting overly crunchy or fizzy.
I have never really used the limiter on this so I cant comment either way.
Once I learned that the meter's numbers dont really apply (example straight up is more like -18db than -7 RMS), I was easily able to adapt. Forget the numbers ...listen and keep her massaging in a vertical position not to far past 12 oclock. Maybe thats part of the analog appeal (using your ears more and numbers less).
I really like the sound of this plugin, it consistantly adds warmth and life to what ever it is put on. Its is nice to have these tools in one place. It sounds MUCH better than a 7. It gets a three point deduction only for the filter and inaccurate metering. Has never crashed using Reaper 64 on Win7. Again the CPU hit is amazing for this sound quality.
Works well on vocals - the compressor is transparent enough that I can "set and forget" this on vocals. The EQ nicely notches out nasal vocal frequencies. Adding a touch of the 12AX7 emulation adds a touch of warmth without sounding wooly.
I find myself using it as a quick addition while tracking but it usually remains for the remainder of the production.
I've been using the SC-226 channelstrip since almost a year now in many situations and on many sources.
The user interface has a comfortable size, is clear and very intuitive and fun to work with. It's not a swiss army channel strip but can be the right tool for many channels of your mix.
The four band EQ does the job very well, especially the low band and the two mid bands. I personally never became friends with the high shelf for the reason that it has a thin and thus digital sound (due to it's slope). I only use it for very small boosts or set to "bell" instead of a shelving band. The low and high bands can be switched from bell to shelf. The two mid bands have either a wide or narrower Q.
Compared to the many other plugin compressors I have, I think the one in SC-226 does a very good job! It grabs the audio very well and can have a nice and punchy character (esp. when set to RMS mode, which it is by default). Definitely a musical sounding compressor that is able to glue your drum buss or other instruments very nicely.
The highpass section (which is selectable from 20Hz to 80Hz) is the only thing I can't give good credits for. The reason is that it's not set up correctly. Switching from off to 20Hz does not feel right because it starts cutting above the labeled 20Hz. To be sure I've analyzed it and got the confirmation that it starts near 80Hz. I have reported it to Nomad Factory, which they will hopefully fix.
The warmth section, which emulates tube saturation is a welcomed addition to this channelstrip. Using it at low settings sounds very "warm" and gets you a bit closer to that "warmth". At high settings it can get grainy/fuzzier (not in a bad way!) which is often exactly what the doctor has ordered.
Last but not least: You have a phase switch and a limiter built in.
The plugin hasn't crashed once in all this time. Besides the HP filter and the "digital" sounding high shelf, I'm liking the SC-226 a lot and use it in every mixdown because it's very easy to tweak and shape the audio. Also worth mentioning is that it is VERY (!) easy on my CPU.
If anyone here feels like their vocal (or other) recordings are lacking that certain something, yet can't afford the serious money needed to buy GOOD expensive outboard gear like a tube preamp with analog compression and eq, you could do a LOT worse than the Nomad Factory Studio Channel SC-226.
I did the 15 day trial, but within the first few minutes of use, I was sold, and had determined that I wanted to buy this plugin.
The SC-226 is adding a LOT of warmth and punch, not only to my vocals, but to my other tracks as well.
Direct from Nomad Factory, it's $149, but I found it from another online vendor for only $109.
So, with the sound I'm getting, and at that price, it was even MORE of a no-brainer for me.
Why do I love this plugin? Well, the difference is dramatic, but in a very good MUSICAL way. To my ears, with the right settings, The SC-226 colors the sound in a way brings out the best in the track.
I have often had that less-than-overwhelming experiences with other "analog" strips or tube emulation plugins. Especially the cheap/freeware stuff. I often listen to these and say, "Is that really adding anything? I can't tell."
Really, all that I want is that fat, warm sound you get from expensive analog gear.
Yeah, I know, crazy to want a killer $10K+ sound out of a cheap plugin. Who am I kidding, right?
But with the SC-226, I am TOTALLY getting "that" sound out of it, almost right out of the box. The controls are very (yet again) musical and easy to work with. If you understand analog eq and compression at all, you will feel right at home with this plugin.
I am in the middle of recording a CD of original jazz vocal material (think Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, and Tony Bennett), and this plugin INSTANTLY warmed up my vocal tracks with that vintage tube sound, and I didn't have to jump through a lot of hoops with the controls to get it. It was just "there".
In fact, it served as a much better sounding replacement for most of my vocal insert effects, simplifying things immensely. Now, it's just the SC-226 and a de-esser in my insert chain, with a little aux verb applied.
I have also applied this plugin to my piano and drum tracks, and again, the difference is very noticeable. And like the vocal tracks, I was able to pull out more complicated insert effects chains and replace them with the SC-226, yet get a MUCH better sound out of this single plugin.
I know a pretty UI doesn't necessarily mean that it sounds good, but in this case, the sound (vintage analog gear) seems to match the looks, making this one of the most intuitive and "musical" plugins I've ever used.
So, if you're reasonably experienced at recording and using DAW plugins, I recommend giving the SC-226 a chance with the free 15 day trial. For my needs, it certainly has that "wow" factor that I've been looking for.
A funny side note, when I did the A/B comparison for my wife, of the vocal tracks with and without the plugin, she said, "Ooooh! You need to buy that!"
You KNOW it's making a difference when your spouse wants you to spend money. :D
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Comments & Discussion for Nomad Factory Analog Signature Studio Channel SC-226