I spent some evaluation time with DeVerberate and I came away smiling. Acon Digital continues to pursue excellence across their whole product line. I can honestly report that this plug-in does indeed accord a tremendous degree of control over the amount of perceived ambience heard in any audio clip. I found that it was entirely possible to remove offending "room" noise from less-than-optimal vocal tracks. This plug-in makes it easy to edit a live club or large hall recording and bring "focus" to the music whilst greatly lessening unwanted, "boomy" reverberation.
DeVerberate performs well and achieves better results than relying on transient shaping plug-ins for controlling ambience on prerecorded material. Priced at only $99, it deserves serious consideration in comparison to similar products costing three or four times as much. Of course, Acon Digital strive to improve all their audio-software on a regular basis, so future upgrades will assuredly keep this excellent "secret weapon" in the top tray of many engineers' tool boxes.
My one niggle with Acon Digital plug-ins is that although you can manually type/enter values, this feature doesn't work in one of my favorite DAW's; "Mixcraft Pro Studio 6". Keyed in values are accepted in a couple of other DAWs that I've tested.
Generally light on CPU/Memory.
Excellent price vs. performance ration.
Attractive GUI (Buttons are a little difficult to manipulate).
Easy to read and simple, straight-to-the-point workflow.
A FULL, Exhaustive review, complete with screen shots and much greater detail, can be read by clicking the link at the the bottom of this article.
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, audio-software fans of all ages, welcome to Reviewer's Revival; one of North America's most beloved audio-related web dugouts. Now batting for the Norwegian Acon Digitals, Acoustica 5 Prem-EEEE-umm."
Settle in with your favorite libation. We're in for an edge-of-the-bleacher, nine inning, exhaustive review of one of Europe's most underrated competitors. If you're an antsy, 5000 words-or-less review fan, then you may not have the endurance for this one. If you're in it for the joy of the audio game, you're gonna LOVE IT! Ready? Ok, let's go.
Sound Forge Pro, Sound Forge Audio Studio, Audition, Wavelab, Wavelab Elements, Audacity, Waveosaur, Gold Wave; what to do, what to do? The upper crust of these products requires a deeply indrawn breath, a flush bank account, and a commitment to pro-calibre audio editing. The lower range of available audio editors provides decent audio-editing features that will appease novices or those who only want/need to make simple changes. If the user is not concerned about achieving professional results, or hasn't a need for pro features, then a freeware or inexpensive audio editor will suffice.
What if you 'need' professional features, but can't quite bite off the 'professional' costs associated with the upper range audio-editing software packages? You take a look in the direction of team Norway. Since 1987, Acon Digital has been diligently refining their powerful, affordable product-line. Heading up the roster is team captain, Acoustica 5 Premium.
With a MSRP of only $119 (USD), it is entirely plausible that Acon Digital's Acoustica 5 Premium is poised to win gold as THE BEST audio editing software package within its price range. Competing products (in this price range) DO NOT offer the extensive, powerful features that Acoustica 5 Premium provides.
Acon's stats are well-earned and should never be relegated to the 3rd sting, warmer's bench. For example, competing speciality audio restoration packages will typically cost $325 or more. Acoustica 5 Premium *includes* the capable "StudioClean" restoration bundle. What's more, you can put these powerful VST plug-ins into play within another DAW or host on your system. Not to be mistaken for junior-league pinch hitters, these seasoned warriors of the digital field are strong, fast, and capable. These have helped bring home the cup more than once.
Acoustica 5 Premium is FAST and POWERFUL. This muscular audio champion is laden with an abundant, BEST-IN-CLASS feature-set.
Installation & Setup:
Everything about Acon Digital's software is FAST and efficient; including the simple, intuitive installer. On the six year old dual-core laptop that I used to bench-test this sweetheart of audio app, it installed in about a minute. No exaggeration – it only took about one minute... .
If you're looking for bloated, pretty graphics, you ain't gonna find them in this bull pen. Acoustica Prem 5 is about power and speed; not fluff n' cutesy-wutesy pictures. Don't get me wrong, boys, it has a cool, stream-lined interface that's easy to navigate and attractive in a minimalist kind of way. The blue-toned GUI is soothing on the eye-balls and won't require you to spring for a new pair of Ray-Ban shades.
Subtle, mouse-over highlighting effects give you a clear indication of where your mouse cursor is. A popup description of what each icon does is also seen while hovering the mouse cursor over the various toolbar elements. The default toolbar icons are quite small on large, high res monitors. Fortunately, the icon size can be made larger and still looks great... .
Editing & Basic Usage:
"Ok, huddle up and fall in, guys. We've got some fierce competition in the league this year, but this club is well on its way to seeing this season through; past the semi-finals. With its speed, power and agility, it is not an unreasonable expectation that Prem 5 can take home the cup for MVP!"
To get the ball rolling, let's first take a look at the obvious: basic audio editing. (As a quick sidebar note, these features are common to all three editions of Acon's Acoustica 5).
Thanks to the fast, smooth "zoom" control over a waveform, very precise insertion points and waveform selections can be made. The default vertical zoom of 100% can be increased up to a whopping 5000 percent!
Something about the editing of wavefom selection(s) that I'm particularly impressed with is the fact that volume adjustments do not result in annoying 'clicks' at the insertion points. With other audio editors that I have used, this has often NOT been the case.
For example, let's say that an engineer would rather subdue sibilance on a vocal track 'by hand' rather than relying on a DeEsser plug-in. I have found that by carefully selecting the "SSSS" segments and lowering the volume of those segments, the integrity of a vocal track was retained without it suffering from annoying editing 'clicks'. My experiences of performing these same editing tasks with other audio editors (including those costing $300+) were not as successful. The unwanted editing 'clicks' anomaly became pronounced once processing (such as compression) was applied to the track. 5 STARS to Prem 5!
Broad Range of File Types: Prem 5 can work natively with a diverse selection of file types (without requiring external codex): FLAC, Ogg, MP3, Wav, Wav64, AIFF (read-only), AAC (MPEG-4), WMA, and AU.
CD Track Import & Basic CD Cover Design: That's right, you don't even have to use an add-on or 3rd party application for importing CD tracks. This feature can come in handy, especially if you want to easily rip a track from a pro recording to use for comparison reference within your own project.
AN EXHAUSTIVE BREAKDOWN OF ALL FEATURES CAN BE READ IN THE FULL REVIEW, hosted on Reviewer's Revival.
The clean, digital processing quality of Acoustica Premium 5 is comparable to any high-end audio editor. Across the board, this championship-grade software produces amazing, crystalline audio results. The array of effects and features need not take a back seat to any. As a matter of fact, I'm going on record stating that I believe that it BESTS anything in its price range, by a wide margin.
Effects & Features:
Acoustica Premium 5 plays hardball with agility and grace. As the formidable, yet ingratiating host that it is, 'Prem 5' pitches seven, strong VST plug-ins squarely over the plate. It's hard to miss with this able-bodied back-line string available to you on whatever digital field you're playing. These digitally fit, all-rounders are: StudioCompressor (Multi-Band), StudioDelay, StudioDynamics, StudioEQ (6 Band ParaQ), StudioLimiter, StudioModulator and StudioVerb. These are in addition to the components that make up the Acon "Studio Clean" and "Studio Time" features that we've already been introduced to.
* What a breath of fresh air. I have a couple of very well-known, fairly pricey, audio editing applications installed on my system. One of them in particular, is as slow as cold molasses running uphill, in the middle of January, in Alaska. Sheesh! The thing takes up to two minutes to launch on my 2nd gen Intel i3. Not so with Acoustica Prem 5, buddy. No sir! This little fleet-footed digital shortstop is practically locked, loaded and ready to go before I get my finger off the mouse button.
Throughout this exhaustive, inspective almanac, I've brought to your attention the stupendous value that Acon Digital offers with Acoustica 5 Premium. I now mean to reinforce that finding. Dollar for dollar, I am confident that this deluxe audio editing champion will ably out-perform ANY similar product at its conservative price point.
Enjoyed this Mini-Review? You can read the FULL Review, complete with screenshots and much greater detail here:
Acon Digital Acoustica 5 Premium Review - Major League Quality, Minor League Price
Let me briefly give you a quick run down on one of my very best-est, favorite-est 'secret ingredient' EQ plugins.
I really like this EQ. It's light on system resources and is just plumb attractive (in an ol' skool, knobby hardware kinda way). I really like the rich, dark blue color. The knobs match the period that the 'real' Pultec EQP-1A originates from, authentically.
It sounds GREAT too!
Smooth controls. Nicely sized. Sounds great. I honestly do get a strong perception of authentic, analogue quality from this plugin. OverTone have indeed developed a GREAT Pultec emulation with this jobbie.
I've been in the habit of adding this EQ to kick drum tracks, lately. Have you ever heard of the "Kick trick"? Some folks call it the "Low end trick". In a nutshell, you simply dial in a moderate lowend bandwidth (I typically use a value of 2), set the frequency to 60hz, set the boost knob at 11:00 or 12:00. Set the low cut to 11:00 or 12:00. On the high end side, set HF at 3Khz or 4Khz. Boost by 3 or 4 dB. Attenuate by equal number of decibels with the attenuation selector set at 5Khz.
Now listen to that kick drum. Whomp!
I often follow the PTC-2A with my trusty DDMF IIEQPro, and add a narrow, negative 3dB decrement at 120hz. This is a nice "Nashville" technique to keep a bass guitar better defined in a mix.
I've also been using this plugin on certain piano tracks. In particular, NI Upright Piano samples. By using some creative push/pull on the upper frequencies, the piano begins to hop vibrantly in the mix. I don't touch the piano's low end too much. Especially on this type of instrument, the PTC-2A adds very pleasant EQ; full of analogue-like character. Honest, kids - My ears really are tricked into thinking that there are tubes in my computer. *grin
I also own IKM's Pultec emulator and while I like it very much, I tend to reach for the OverTone just as often. These funny, Linux-based, bunch of programming laddios from England, have captured "something" - the essence, if you will - with the sound of this nice little pluggie that just seems to massage my eardrums better than many of the other more costly Pultec clones that are availble.
A faithful, to-be-had emulation of the legendary Pultec EQP-1A.
Available in 32bit & 64bit for both MAC and PC.
Priced fairly at £25
Read more reviews of various independent developers' products here.
Many software developers have produced Leslie cabinet emulators for admission to the rotator roster: Amplitude's "Rotary 147", Native Instruments' B4 & Vintage Organs built-in Leslie sim, Guitar Rig's "Rotator", and "Spinner(LE)" from fxPointAudio are all worthy of mention. Most Leslie aficionados will nod in unanimous agreement that GSI's VB3fx has been "the bar" by which all other software Leslie clones must be compared with.
Xils Lab's new LX122 and LX122 Premium VSTs are, in this reviewer's opinion, the finest ITB virtual Leslie cabinet emulator(s) available to date. When I was first informed that this new heavy weight prospect was poised to enter the Leslie cabinet championship ring, I was dubious. As an ardent and faithful admirer of GSI's VB3, I was intrigued, whilst skeptical, that any product could possibly sound as good; let alone sound better. VB3's proven TKO record breaking run, due largely in part to it's built-in Leslie cabinet simulator, has struck a chord of wariness in any would-be contender.
Weighing in at the MSRP of 69€/$88USD, this upstart contender for the Leslie emu championship belt is available for a small introductory price of 45€/$58 USD. LX122 Premium is only available until December 5th, 2012, at this incredible welter weight price.
Stick n' stay. It will be exhilarating to see just how well this new entry into the illustrious championship VST ring fairs off. If you're a serious Leslie aficionado, you won't touch your browser's "back" button until you've carefully read this concise, 12 round review in its entirety.
My review exceeds the allowable word count, here on KVR. So I started a blog dedicated to this purpose.
Read the full review here: Reviewer's Revival - LX122 Premium Review
(Please right click and choose "open in new window" or "new tab" so you don't accidently leave the KVR web site.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.. .
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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. ;)
It seems that every time I need to perform any kind of surgical EQ tweak, SplineEQ has become my absolute GO TO plugin. Need to cleanly edit an acoustic upright bass track to retain rich sound while lessening "string buzz" or "click"? SplineEQ to the rescue. Need to bring out the 'shimmer' of a Hammond C3/Leslie combination? SplineEQ to the rescue. Need to tweak that nasty 'reverb ringing' in an otherwise nice vocal track? You guessed it! SplineEQ is a must have. Once you get accustomed to working within it's color-coded graphics assisted environment, your ears will become better trained (visual & auditory mental associations) and you can easily *find* offending frequencies.
Mr. M. Rouzic (aka "A_SN") contacted me back in the middle of June, 2012 and invited me to test and review his wonderful new Linear Phase EQ plugin, SplineEQ. I was honored that he thought well of my writing skills and audio engineering skill. Of course, I didn't apprise him otherwise. *wink*
I'd been very busy with work, ministry engagements and an overdue (3) week vacation and finally, at the end of July, 2012, I was at liberty to bench test SplineEQ. My findings are most nearly all positive. I will attest to my fellow KVR reviewers' testimonials that there can be quite a bit of latency induced if you operate this plugin at its higher quality settings. That aside, it does sound very, very clear and free of ringing, fuzziness, or other fatiguing audio artifacts. As such, this plugin shines brilliantly in a final mix/mastering scenario.
By default the full version gives the user (5) key frequency centers - 80hz, 253hz, 800hz, 2.5khz, 8.0khz. You can add as many frequency bands as you want from there, by simply double-clicking at an insertion point of your choosing. I've gotten into the habit of adding 42hz, 32hz, and finally 20hz bands to create smooth, downward-sloped low frequency cuts. SplineEQ is a great tool for cleaning out unwanted low end muddiness. The low end spectrum isn't "hauled away" with conservative use; it just gets cleaned up and balanced out. Once you add a good mastering limiter to the end of the mastering chain, you'll get the "oompphh" back on the bottom end, but it will sound clean and articulate. This process has kicked the quality of my final mixes up a couple of notches. I used to rely of Bootsy's BaxterEQ for this - SplineEQ does yield even cleaner results.
What particularly impressed me about this EQ plugin was its wonderfully CLEAN sound quality. The EQ curves are very smooth; even when adjusted in steep, narrow bands. SplineEQ's tonal shaping qualities are easily adjustable in very granular steps or in large swaths. Yet, the audio quality remains high and transparent. I like to describe this plugin as a 1st class tool to realize accurate and extensive tonal shaping without "coloration" or audio graininess.
This plugin is attractive and offers a nicely sized interface. I won't discuss these features as they were well-reviewed by Monk_Volcano previously. I agree with Monk_Volcano's comments on the gui design and that the vertical color-coded analysis bars greatly aid in locating "troubled" frequencies.
On a recent CD track for my upcoming Gospel album, I used Spline's lower resolution settings to make Acoustica's Pianissimo (Steinway Model D sample VSTi) really come to life, without noticeable latency, and without losing the warmth and character of the classic "Steinway" tone. When played at higher velocities, Pianissimo does somewhat over-accentuate sympathetic resonance and upper register "ping". When played at lower velocities, Pianissimo tends to become a little too "dark/mellow" sounding. Nevertheless, it really is a remarkably good sounding piano VSTi and it competes very well against sample libraries costing 2 or 3 times as much. By lowering the velocities of louder notes and enlisting SplineEQ as an insert effect on my piano track, I was able to balance the tone of Pianissimo to sit in the mix perfectly. It retained the warmth without sounding "boxy" or dull. The piano's upper register rung though cleanly and pleasantly without any shrillness. The mids were tamed nicely without losing definition.
** EDIT **
Using subtle high frequency increase @ 2k, 4k, & 8k (+1 dB, +2.4dB, +2.1dB respectively) made my favorite B3 VSTi absolutely come to life and "shimmer" with gorgeous, breathtaking clarity. We are talking about taking the sweetness of Gospel-style Hammond Organ "through the roof, people!" - SplineEQ used as an insert plugin in this instance. The VSTi in question? Genuine Soundware VB3
Any time I attempted to "fine-tune" Pianissimo (and some other VSTIs) using conventional (minimum phase) Parametric EQ or classic multi-band EQ plugins, I would sometimes hear slight grainiess or fuzziness on some note tails and decays. This issue has been entirely resolved for me since I started using SplineEQ.
I don't own FabFilter Pro-Q, EQuality, or any other expensive Linear Phase EQ plugin, but I can tell you this - SplineEQ is an amazing plugin that allows tremendous control over tone-shaping. It's very simple to use, largely due to its intuitive, attractive interface. If you don't presently own a high quality linear phase mastering EQ, I can guarantee that your mixes will benefit greatly by purchasing and using this professional, studio-grade plugin.
I rank SplineEQ way up there with other exceptional products such as ToneBooster's TB Barricade (Brickwall limiter), Klanghelm's DC8C (Compressor/Limiter), MeldaProductions VSTs, HollowSun samples, etc.. .
Yes, it's very, very good. It's also very, very reasonably priced.
Clean, transparent audio quality.
Ease of use.
Capable of extensive, equalization fine tuning.
Granular control (when needed).
Latency - it is linear phase after all. This type of plugin is best suited for mastering purposes.
When attempting to change resolution settings, during playback, it has caused my DAW to stop responding. I'm using Acoustica Mixcraft 6.0 b194. Otherwise, the plugin is very stable.
Like the original review post by jam92189 states, I too have recently purchased the Track Essentials suite of plugins. I had TB ReelBus and TB Barricade already, and since the quality of the ToneBoosters plugins that I already owned is so good, I bought the Track Essentials suite with confidence. Right off the bat I'll state that the pricing structure of Waves plugins, and similar, were out of reach for me at this time. I have not been disappointed with TB DeEsser as an affordable alternative.
I was "getting by" with the wonderful (FREE) SpitFish as my VST DeEssing plugin of choice. I will always have respect for Digital PhishPhones plugins, but I did need something a little cleaner sounding and a little more professional-grade. TB DeEsser easily hit the mark and has yielded very good results. The quality is very, very good and the fact that the plugin bundle is so affordable is a serious bonus. I've become an ardent admirer and supporter of ToneBooster plugins.
It's easy to dial in the correct "de essing" settings while retaining a clean, natural-sounding vocal track. The (2 band) setting really helps to take care of the sibilance and also the lower frequency "FF's" and "TEEs".
1.) Very high quality
2.) Very reasonable to Low CPU consumption
3.) Attractive, well laid-out GUI
5.) Regularly updated and well-maintained
6.) Easy to register and no "commercial" protection mechanisms (iLok, anyone?)
7.) Honest, and high integrity developer
As a summary, suffice it to say that ToneBoosters products are exceptional value for both aspiring home recording enthusiasts and also semi-professional home recording engineers.
This set of free VSTi's are two of the very best FREE (Donationware) VSTi's available. They emulate the original instruments incredibly well. Pure 60's tone, all done very, very authentically. I've opted to use Martinic's ComboV VSTi on the latest track that I'm working on. I chose it over the couple of sample libraries that I have. (N.I. Vintage Organs, Hollow Sun VoxConti).
This delightful little organ clone uses next to ZERO CPU and sounds very, very realistic. ComboV is to Vox Continental Organ emulation what GSI's VB3 is to Hammond B3 Organ. Amazingly good, folks. If you're ever looking for truly authentic Vox Continental sound, then I highly recommend that you give this VSTi an honest listen.
BTW, the ComboF Farfasia clone VSTi is just as good. *wink*
The drawbar settings really 'nail' the original hardware's tones and response. When "amped" through a good amp sim, this virtual machine really comes ALIVE. (Personally, I'm using Guitar Rig 5 Pro's AC-Box and the Roland RE-201 Space Echo "Tape Echo" to accomplish this.)
I've tried out other freeware VSTi's that are supposed to be clones of the old Vox Continental organ, but they were so sterile and synthetic sounding - a.k.a. "Cheap". This VSTi, however, is rich and organic sounding. (No puns intended). The vibrato is configurable and very pleasant sounding You can keep this instrument sounding controlled and musical, or take it all the way to 60's psychedelia with a few mouse clicks.
It's drop-jaw easy to place this instrument in your mix. It pans nicely and yet remains very full-sounding. It's tonal quality is very easy on the ears. Even when using a strong upper range drawbar setting, the sound remains warm and musical. You won't hear any brash, harsh synthetic cat scratching sound with Martinic's two organ clone VSTi's. Both the the Combo Model V (Vox Continental) and also the Combo Model F (Farfasia) sound deliciously authentic and true to the "real" thing. I've carefully compared this VSTi to sampled Vox C. sample libraries, and to be honest, I'll reach for this one each time.
You may court different gals, but when you find the 'right' one, ya marry her. Well, if Vox Continental organ clones were ladies, this is the one I'd propose to. ... lol.
You can hear this terrific organ clone on the 3rd track of my upcoming Gospel album: "The Gospel. .. Just a Little Bit Louder".
I've demo'd many freeware compressors, a few commercial offerings, and a few payware compressor VSTs. It should also be noted that I'm not typically one of the average impulse buyers who falls for every blurb of hype that surrounds any new release, upgrade item, etc.. That being said, I will state right off the top, that thanks to the good sense often shared by my KVR friends, I've acquired a couple of new VST plugins that I am very, very thankful for. The first, was the excellent TB Barricade brickwall limiter. It is now THE ONLY limiter that I use.
Next, I also bought TB ReelBus. I haven't as much use for that one, but still, it's very good and I do use it tastefully on a few channels. (*hint* - it does wonders for horn/brass sections). However, I'm an ardent admirer of Bootsy's plugins and I really like Bootsy's FerridTDS for effecting a nice, believable "analogue" vibe on a track.
Now then, the topic at hand is Klanghelm's recently released DC8C. In a word, this compression plugin is terrific! Its clear, clean, sound quality, attractive interface, and efficient programming all point this excellent plugin all the way to the top of my home studio's "GO TO" shelf. The transparent, manageable compression settings are an absolute pleasure to work with.
If I may, I'd like to describe this compressor's transparency quality as "invisible". Simply describing this highest-quality compressor as 'transparent' is actually an understatement. There will surely be many other forum members who can more aptly detail the character-shaping capabilities of this plugin, but I am extremely impressed with its ability to remain "invisible" and incredibly "clean". The oversampling capabilities of this plugin really help to keep your tracks at an optimum level of quality.
Very acceptable CPU consumption is another nice benefit of using this high quality compressor plugin. Even at 4x oversampling, my Intel i3 2330 only uses 1 or 2% more CPU. At 2x, which is still a great quality improvement over a non-oversampling setting, the CPU consumption is negligible.
I record and perform Gospel music and thus clean sound is really important. Folks involved with jazz and country are often especially concerned about keeping crystalline vocal tracks intact too. I keep some 'grit' on electric guitars, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, and Hammond sounds, but I like to keep vocals, bass and acoustic instruments super-clean and transparent. DC8C does this exceptionally well. I can honestly say that I have never heard a 'cleaner' compressor. Enabling the "smooth" function and the "S Curve" for even more subtle transient control is nothing short of stellar. The "amber" colored (lite) Saturation setting really adds a wonderful sonically-rich, classic FET compressor feel. This compressor "glues" my vocal tracks into the mix better than any other software compressor that I have ever used.
*Bro. Charles Quick Tip*
"In your vocal track's signal chain, follow the DC8C with Sonimus SonEQ or OverTone's PCT-2A. Oh yeah, classic 'analogue' sonic beauty to be heard, baby!"
I can't recommend this beautiful piece of software highly enough. It is well worth your next week's coffee money.
I really enjoy supporting independent developers who produce quality products and conduct their 'business' with honor and integrity. I've observed these qualities with ToneBoosters and now Klanghelm.
Some of my favorite developers providing affordable (or free) products at very affordable prices and very high quality.