Log InCreate An Account
  1. Plugins
  2. »
  3. User Reviews

Product Reviews by KVR Members

All reviews by fese

Review Something or Find Reviews

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on October 13th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

This one has been under the radar of most people for a while now, quite unjustified as i think. Of course we all actually have too many compressor plugins nowadays, and there are many freeware and payware compressors compete for out attention. Why should anyone care?

Well, first, it is by the developer signaldust aka mystran here on KVR who has given us several freeware plugins and is a big time contributor to the DSP forum, and second: it is a good plugin at a very reasonable price.

So, let's take a deeper dive: As the description says, it is a VCA-style feed forward compressor. I might be wrong here, but one does not see those too often in plugin world apart from the occasional dbx16X emulation. It has all the features one expects from a compressor of that kind plus some more: There is a mix knob for parallell compression which is indispensable nowadays in my opinion, and also, a bit more uncommon, a range knob. What this does is limiting the amount of gain reduction to the set value, so for example if one sets it to 5db the compressor will never apply more than this amount of gain reduction to the signal (simplified explanation, the correct one is in the manual). Dancing Boy also features negative compression ratio for some weirder effect compression and the release behavior can be switched between "auto" and "fixed", allowing for either more natural or more character release behaviour.

Oh yes, the ratio. The way this is used here is a tad irritating at first, as you don't see the usual n:1 numbers when using the ratio, you see a percentage. So to get to your conventional notation, you have to do some calculation:

For values from 0-100%, it is 100/ (100-value), so a value of 75% gives you 100/ (100-75) = 4, a ratio of 4:1. For values from 101-200%, use whatever you like :-)

You can get used to this kind of presentation, but i personally think it is not necessary and a bit confusing.

Now, what can we use this compressor for? It shines on drums and percussive material where you can go wild on the settings and have fun with the extreme results (use mix or range if you need to get back to reality), but for more transparent compression with less gain reduction I also found it useful on guitars, vocals and other tracks. And why not try it on a bus or the master bus? It sure isn't a one trick pony, it looks simple but can do a lot.

All this comes wrapped in a nice, although unspectacular GUI which is quite usable and legible but still could be a little bit bigger. The CPU usage is low enough to use it on lots of tracks.

I deduct 1 point for the unusual ratio display but all in all it is a great compressor for little money. Try the demo.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on August 16th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

Guitar gadgets is, to put it in a nutshell, a neat idea well executed. A collection of several guitar pedals, sound wise mostly on the wild side, with nice graphics and some introductory lines what the chosen pedal does and maybe how to use it.

The quality and practical usability of the effects varies, though, the flanger is great, the cassette tape emulation fun, the reverb special, but the delay and slicer (SlicR in today's web speak) don't really appeal to me. This may be personal though, and others may find use for them. Apart from that, there are eleven pedals and the plugin is free, so no real criticism here.

Usability is good, as with most real world pedals there are only few knobs to tweak, plus there's the input gain which can change the way some pedals work, and an output gain to control the havoc. One could argue whether the nice pictures and text are too gimmicky and instead rather have the possibility to chain the pedals (that would be cool indeed), but nevertheless it is a nifty little plugin for all experimentally oriented guitar players and other weirdos.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on August 10th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

When I read that this plugin is supposed to be an emulation of solid state amps from Crate, I was a bit skeptical, because I had an amp from Crate when I started like 25 years ago and it sounded horrible.

After giving it a test run I must say that in this case digital sounds definitely better than analog, at least better than my first amp. It models three amp types, has three gain stages, a reverb and ambience effect and also a cab simulation which is not standard in the world of freeware amps sims. The GUI is, as always with AXP, not some 3D rendered simulation of the hardware which make no sense in the digital realm but a carefully crafted, very usable design with a logical layout, not too small and not too big. A real pleasure.

Playing with a Les Paul type guitar, I find that the 90's amp is better suited for clean playing as is has more twang in the high end, and the 2000's emulation seem better suited for distortion and hi gain sound, but this might probably be different with another guitar or playing style.

AXP has set up his own niche with his solid state emulations, as if to prove that with all these all tube guitar emulations around, transistors still have a reason to exist, and he delivers. Flextron is arguably the culmination of the previous efforts.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on August 5th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by fese on 5th August 2014.

This EQ is part of the Toneboosters Trackessentials Bundle where you get eight (!) excellent Plugins for 25€ - talk about bang for the bucks - and it the processor I use the most from that bundle, my go to EQ as it is very flexible though still easy to use.

Lets see what the main features are:

6-band EQ with 15 selectable curves for each band, fully parametric of course. This includes classic digital and analog peak curves, hi and lo cut and even pultec-style shelving filter with a dip/peak at the filter frequency dependent which way you shelve. If that is not enough, why not limit a band just to the left or right channel or to the sum or difference channel. Also in included is a configurable spectrum analyzer.

So there's features galore and enough to fulfill the majority of your EQ needs unless maybe you want a vintage emulation with saturation and whatnot. That it isn't, and it also doesn't sport a fancy rendered pseudo-realistic GUI to make you feel like a senior mix engineer in front of a large console. It has a no-nonsense but highly usable GUI with big enough controls and font sizes even for older people with deteriorating eyesight like yours truly.

Toneboosters is also a company that focus on customer satisfaction and this shows especially looking at the demo mode and copy protection. The demo is fully functional and unlimited apart from parameter saving in your DAW. On purchase you receive a personal license file that you simply drop into the same folder as the plugin - simple as that, no challenge-response, no dongle. For backup you just save your plugin folder and restore it on any other machine that you use. Totally non intrusive and user friendly, this should be a model for other vendors.

The only downside is the lack of documentation that can make it harder especially for beginners to fully grasp the power of this plugin. A bit of a shame, because price wise this makes a perfect starter kit for young aspiring musicians.

Nevertheless i can recommend this EQ highly to anyone who needs a robust workhorse equalizer regardless of musical genre. And then there's the other seven plugins in the bundle... Full ten points, there is no way around.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on March 22nd, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by fese on 22nd March 2014.

Some people claim that you cannot have enough EQs, while others say that one fully parametric EQ is usually all you need. I belonged to the later group for some time, because let's face it, there is not much you cannot do with those modern highly flexible EQ monster plugins. But this one has several arguments that speak for it:

  1. It has a nice, big GUI that is clear and legible and features friendly colors that say "Come on, use me, turn my knobs, it's fun and I don't bite!".
  2. It is limited to four bands, one shelving and one boost filter. No myriads of options, Q factors, M/S en/decoding or analyzers. Simple and easy.
  3. It has a "mastering" mode which emulates stepped knobs on a hardware device. Doesn't do much for the sound itself, but helps make fast decisions in my experience.
  4. "Keep gain" is a neat function that prevents your ear from believing something sounds better just because it is a tad louder.
  5. Sound. Well, there's an old but ongoing discussion about digital EQs and sound quality. Fact seems to be that programming digital EQs is not exactly rocket science and the sound of an EQ is mostly determined by its curves. Personally, I haven't found a modern EQ plugin that destroyed my sound, if at all, it is my fault for making the wrong decisions. So yes, I'll say this plugin sounds good...
  6. Cool name. "Luftikus" was the name of an old sailing boat my father once owned. Totally not important, but now you know it :-).
  7. And last but not least, it is free, it is even GPL which is still relatively uncommon in the plugin world. So you can download the source code and extend it, if you like (an can).

So what can one use it for? Well, the limitation to six bands and the broad Q clearly states that this is is a classic sweetening EQ for use on selected channels or on the stereo bus. Personally, I like it very much on the bus, just a slight dip on the 160 or 640 Hz can help remove some muddiness, add to that maybe a small increase at 20kHz and you're done.

Are there any cons? Well, considering you pay nothing, not really. The "analog" button's effect is kind of homeopathic in my opinion, I didn't really hear any difference. According to the dev, it adds a slight overall noise floor and a tiny difference between the left and right channel. Use it or leave it, it won't make your mix better or worse.

Personally I would have liked another band at around eight to nine-ish kHz for having the option to removing a bit of sharpness in that area, but then the next guy wants another band at 473 Hz and you have to stop somewhere.

All in all a very welcome addition to the freeware EQ world. Thumbs up.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on May 13th, 2013
Version reviewed: 1.3 on Windows

Charlatan is very limited:

  • It does not have 3 Oscillators with heaps of waveforms.
  • It does not have 64 modulation slots.
  • It does not have any effects.
  • It does not have an arpeggiator.
  • It does not have a photorealistic GUI with wooden sideparts.
  • It has only 16 knobs, 8 sliders and 31 buttons.

I like that.

When I first saw Charlatan, I instantly took to the GUI. It is extremely user-friendly, well layed-out, and all GUI elements are big enough so they can be easily handled with a mouse. And it is red, because red synths obviously sound better, according to "stanlea" from the official thread.

Once you get used to the limited feature set and remember that the elders of yore actually got some nice sounds out of their similarly limited minimoogs and pro-ones, you will discover that Charlatan is in fact quite versatile and capable of creating lots of different sounds. The limitations here need to bee seen as a feature, you are not overwhelmed by endless possibilities but can concentrate on creating good sounds that you can actually use in a song instead of just listen to in a preset.

All that would be useless of course if the sound wasn't good, but fortunately, it is. Charlatan has a very pleasant basic sound, nice and round with a beefy low-end, maybe not the last word in analogue emulation, but I don't think it is intended to be.

Charlatan may not be the most innovative synth, and especially nowadays where we soon have more virtual synthesizer plugins than ants on the planet, this seems a handicap. But as Charlatan has all the qualities of a good workhorse - good sound, ease of use and low CPU consumption - I am sure that it will find its way into many a song.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on April 28th, 2013
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by fese on 28th April 2013.

This is a very small plugin in many regards:

  • it uses about 2.5K of disk space.
  • its GUI size is 372x193px.
  • the number of GUI elements is just 5.

There is one thing that is not small, and fortunately that is the sound. This is one of those plugins that you throw on a mediocre track, say a simple synth pad, and it immediately comes to life. And then you turn it off again, but not for long.

But let's not get carried away and stay with the facts. The TAL-Chorus-LX is modeled after the on board chorus of the Juno-60. It is very easy to use as it has just two buttons for two different chorus modes which can be switched on separately or used together. Mode II is more intense than mode I, and if you want the full monty, you'd go for both combined.

Then there are three knobs for setting the volume, the effect mix level and the stereo with. This reduced control set makes the plugin so simple to use that even the most die-hard analogue stomp-box guitarist can handle it (and they should, as it works just as well on guitars as on synthesizers!). You don't have to step through long preset lists or twiddle many knobs, it just takes a moment to select the mode, dial in the correct amount and you are rewarded with a wonderful, lush and mellow chorus sound.

The ease of use combined with the sound and the fact that it's free makes this a perfect plugin.

[EDIT: it is free, but you can donate, and you should!].

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on April 27th, 2013
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by fese on 28th April 2013.

So, I am not a bass player. I rarely use bass guitars/bass samples in my songs. Why would I want to write a review about BOD?

Because you should be encouraged to try it on anything else. This plugin changes the sound of whatever you put in it quite drastically in the dirty direction.

Of course BOD is quite usable for a deep distorted bass guitar. Do that. But does your synth bass line sound weak and boring? Plug one instance of BOD on it, turn up the drive to, say, 2 o' clock, tweak the other params ays you like, and you have quite suddenly a dark, merciless bass with lots of character. Even a simple sawtooth or square waveform change sound drastically, in addition to the distortion the high frequencies get filtered in a pleasant way.

Or take some lame old 808 samples and feed them to BOD. Or your voice. Or some mellotron string samples. BOD always adds its destinctive sound qualities, which may not always be what you want. I wouldn't recommend it on jazz productions or lush pop sound, but if you are in need of some bad-ass dirtbag, BOD is there for you.

The GUI, although mostly pitch black, is nevertheless quite usable because the knobs have bright yellow indicators and are big enough to handle with a mouse. The blend parameter is very useful if you want just a bit of the sound, the two eq bands are nice, but should be used with care as they add maybe too much in most situations.

You can change the quality between "hi" and "lo", but the plugin's CPU impact is all in all quite negligible on a modern computer.

This might not be the most flexible distortion plugin you own and you might not want to use it on every track, but it has character, albeit a mean and dirty one :-) and that's what you need once in a while.

Reviewed By fese [read all by] on April 20th, 2013
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows.
Last edited by fese on 28th April 2013.

This is an EQ you feel comfortable putting on all channels, it just cannot sound bad. Of course this is not a precise EQ for cutting that 208.3 Hz resonance on your acoustic guitar with a notch filter, this is a classic "sweetening" EQ. Usually I find myself boosting the bands instead of cutting, and even if you dial the high band knob to the right, it never sounds harsh.

It is practically impossible to destroy a signal with this one, that is, if you don't use the drive to get some saturation or distortion on purpose. The usage of the drive parameter is a bit unusual though, you need too boost the input, the drive and the bass band together and fine tune those parameters, but the drive sound itself is excellent and ranges from subtle saturation to nice distortion.

Regarding the Pultec style bass band I am not sure about the 20 and 30 Hz frequencies. They may be historically accurate, but I have found no use for them so far, I'd prefer an extra 80 and 120 Hz band. The mid band is the most flexible one, ranging from 150 to 4000 Hz and lets you choose between a higher and a lower Q. The hi band is the most simple one, but perfect for giving some air to muddy guitars or vocals. The high and low cuts are a welcome addition to the Pultec concept and make the plugin all in all quite versatile.

And last but not least the GUI is well-designed and good looking and guarantees a good workflow.

soothing the frequency beast - An interview with oeksound founder, Olli KeskinenArtist Focus: Composer Gregory Reveret's Plugin Highlights