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Blue Cat's Dynamics [read all reviews]
Reviewed By neilpullen [read all by] on 10th November 2007
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows.
Last edited by neilpullen on 10th November 2007.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Blue Cat's Dynamics processor is an "all in one" Dynamics effect which can be used as a compressor, gate, expander, limiter, etc. I mainly use it for compression, though don't underestimate its other functions as they can be extremely useful.

I enjoy using this plugin a lot because it can do lots of different things and rewards experimentation. If you want to do basic compression it can handle it no problem, but try turning a few dials, use the RMS/Opto/Peak modes (or different combinations of) and just see how pumping you can make that drum loop!

The visual representation of the curve and input is a massive help, and I'd recommend this to anyone fairly new to dynamics as you learn a lot from adjusting the controls and seeing the effects on screen.

The sound is fantastic, at a great CPU point -- and if you want to, you can oversample the sound when you're ready for rendering (or before if you're lucky enough to have a powerful machine!)

For features it's hard to beat. There's preset loading/saving, built in undo, switchable skins (for example if you're only going to use it as a limiter you have a limiter skin with just two controls). It's got MIDI learn and MIDI control, and used in conjunction with Blue Cat's Peak Meter it's a breeze to have sidechaining, or use an audio stream to control any parameter you want. This plugin begs to be experimented with!

The GUI is fine and functional, and has a neat opacity feature whereby you can make it transparent to see what's happening underneath the plug. All of Blue Cat's plugins are supported by a skinning language, so anyone can reskin the plugin to make it look like however they want. Blue Cat's site offers free skin downloads too, so if you're not keen on the GUI see what others they've got on offer!

The price is not too shabby at all, considering that you're getting more than a compressor, you're getting a full dynamics suite. If you were to buy a limiter, compressor, gate, expander of similar quality it would certainly come to more. Plus Blue Cat are very generous when it comes to previous customer discounts and the like.

The Blue Cat support is excellent. They are available through their forum or email and are active participants in KVR. They've always responded quickly and friendly to any issues I've had -- superb.

I've never had it crash on my, using either Ableton or Reaper with Windows Vista.

In summary, the key word here is flexibility. If you're in the market for a dynamics processor, or something to augment what you've already got, give this demo a spin and see what you come up with -- you might just surprise yourself!
Precision EQ [read all reviews]
Reviewed By neilpullen [read all by] on 10th November 2007
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows.
Last edited by neilpullen on 10th November 2007.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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NOTE: I've also reviewed KeyToSound's Vintage EQ. Several of the points of that review (ie. the GUI, support) also apply to the Precision EQ so I've duplicated the odd paragraph.

I demoed both the Vintage EQ and Precision EQ for a few days without restriction thanks to KeyToSound's non-restriction demo policy, and let me say that policy reeled me in -- by the time I'd finished they were all over my work in progress and I had no choice but to buy (not that I'm complaining)!

The Precision EQ costs $59 which is superb value for money. It differs from KeyToSound's Vintage EQ because its filters have steeper curves and it doesn't colour the sound. So it's for use mainly for precise, "surgical" EQ changes and cleaning up problem sounds without changing the tonal properties of the sound.

If you need analog style, colouring EQ, KeyToSound have the Vintage EQ available.

The CPU use is fantastic! I don't know how the KeyToSound people have done it, apparently there's some clever techie reasons for it, but this EQ can be used without much of a care for CPU.

The GUI, I feel, tends to be a love it or hate it affair. I admit looking at the screenshots before I used it I didn't like it, though now I've found it's grown on me. It's easy on the eyes which is great for long sessions.

I must also mention the nice little touches that make the EQ great to use, like draggable nodes and an inbuilt Spectrum Analyser. This is useful for immediately seeing problem spots in the audio, though I also find it nice to turn off the analyser every now and then -- this EQ I find rewards playing it by ear a lot. There's also MIDI learn, a further nice touch.

As for support, I haven't got a bad word to say about KeyToSound. Botkiller is one of their main support guys and he's very active on KVR (and not just on the KeyToSound forum), and he always is responsive and friendly towards and comments or suggestions. Top marks. The other KeyToSound guys are also present on the forums and they all seem very approachable.

There's an inbuilt preset saver/loader too, I don't use it but it might be useful to some. I've rated both presets and documentation 10 but I've never had to use either (which to me is a good sign, especially with the documentation as it means the EQ is easy to use without having to read up on it).

Stability -- it's never crashed Ableton or Reaper and I'm using Windows Vista. "Rock solid" is the phrase that comes to mind.

In conclusion, it's a precise transparent EQ which uses little CPU and is far cheaper than it should be. If you need such a thing in your arsenal (and who doesn't), you'd be a fool not to demo this. Happy EQing!
Vintage EQ [read all reviews]
Reviewed By neilpullen [read all by] on 10th November 2007
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows.
Last edited by neilpullen on 10th November 2007.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I demoed the Vintage EQ for a few days without restriction thanks to KeyToSound's non-restriction demo policy, and let me say that policy reeled me in -- by the time I'd finished this EQ was all over my work in progress and I had no choice but to buy it (not that I'm complaining)!

The price point is excellent, $59 (at the time of writing) really is a steal for this piece of kit.

So what does it do? Well, it's an EQ but it's a "Vintage" one which means it colours the sound of any audio signal passing through it, and in a very good way. Try it yourself, and try boosting too, sounds definitely benefit from being put through this EQ, the colouring is pleasing and sounds great. I've tried it on both mix tracks and the master track to excellent results.

Since it's a colouring analog-style EQ its filter curves can be gentler than other EQs, to keep the EQ's effect musical -- if you need precise EQ
changes, KeyToSound have the Precision EQ available.

And what's more, the CPU use is fantastic! I don't know how the KeyToSound people have done it, apparently there's some clever techie reasons for it, but this EQ can be used without much of a care for CPU.

The GUI, I feel, tends to be a love it or hate it affair. I admit looking at the screenshots before I used it I didn't like it, though now I've found it's grown on me. It's easy on the eyes which is great for long sessions.

I must also mention the nice little touches that make the EQ great to use, like draggable nodes and an inbuilt Spectrum Analyser. This is useful for immediately seeing problem spots in the audio, though I also find it nice to turn off the analyser every now and then -- this EQ rewards "playing it by ear" a lot as all good EQs should.

As for support, I haven't got a bad word to say about KeyToSound. Botkiller is one of their main support guys and he's very active on KVR (and not just on the KeyToSound forum), and he always is responsive and friendly towards comments and suggestions. Top marks. The other KeyToSound guys are also present on the forums and they all seem very approachable.

There's an inbuilt preset saver/loader too, I don't use it but it might be useful to some. I've rated both presets and documentation 10 but I've never had to use either (which to me is a good sign, especially with the documentation as it means the EQ is easy to use without having to read up on it).

Stability -- it's never crashed Ableton or Reaper and I'm using Windows Vista. "Rock solid" is the phrase that comes to mind.

In summary, if you're looking for a colouring EQ at a great price point and CPU usage, look no further!