The installation went pretty smooth. I appreciate having the 2 free packs and an IR selection of VallhallIR as factory content. Minor thing: there are no presets but those often are a first step into understanding a plugin. Just add some (maybe show how some of the free IRs were made or show something uniquely to this plugin).
I immediately was surprised positively how straight forward the interface is. No uneseccary bling bling or glossy 3D models but pure information what's going on. It offers full control over the sound in a "What you see is what you get" approach, means each controls action is directly visible in a display or waveform. And there are many controls to shape the sound. Besides simple low/highpass the tilt is a neat feature; never saw bending but turned out with interesting effects; same for simply delaying in the stereo field.
The loaded IRs got sample rate converted and phase aligned automatically which already makes this plugin worth having installed imo. Latency and length is adjustable on the system page (which btw shows a whole bunch of useful extra information). Mixing up to 4 IRs with the x y pad was an easy task. Usually I only was mixing 2 IRs but having the option to just add some more worked out well and helped getting better results easily.
I'm not sure what this compare section is about. It's a whole subsection but effectively has 2 controls. Okay comparing your mixed IR to something else is one application but why is it then copied to a slot when consolidating? It's not clear to me what purpose this section has or even if it is already finished tbh.
But my biggest issue: I can't scroll inside the browsers. That + the view mode that lists all IRs in a folder and subfolders is not a good combination cause navigation relys soley on 2 buttons. That's a pita.
Some minor things I'd wish for: help texts or tooltips. Needing to read the manual to figure out what some buttons do is not optimal. A small tooltip at least saying the name of the control would already help much. Also an option to change the signal flow could be an idea. Like putting the EQ match as last step or first apply the output options and then compare it to something.
In conclusion I don't think it's a game changer but that doesn't make it less interesting. It definitely has unique features and I like the full control over the sound as well as the WYSIWYG approach. But it needs refinements in workflow and more clearing things up. Furthermore the price and its transparency need a rethink or otherwise pump that plugin full with features to make it really worth it. I feel like I already like it more than some other solutions that's why it still ended up getting 4 out of 5 points. Of course going to edit it if problems occur during further testing.
As I downloaded the installer for demoing MSpectralDelay I decided to take a look at other plugins too. Especially the ones that were hardly inspired by existing plugins since they often get attention and split opinions. I demoed MAutoAlign back then before there was a bigger update so I thought I'll give it a try again, especially because it's in sale right now. Its competitor is SoundRadix Auto Align.
Aligning recordings made with multiple mics is essential for true stereo experience and to minimize comb filter distortion. Unfortunately the smaller the delay is between 2 signals the more audible the effect gets. This means it's better to leave signals unaligned than to align them nearly. Both AA plugins offer a readout to see the results of the delay compensation. This made comparison between the two more easy.
Like many other users I experienced MAA to not work reliable on real projects. For example: I even got different results for the same audio signals depending on where I pressed play in the timeline or which DAW (FL Studio, Reaper, Studio One) I used. While SRAA compensated constant delay times every time, MAA jumped between multiples of the actual delay. The worse the input material was the better were the results of the SoundRadix plugin in comparison to MAA. In this case worse means for example: different mics for overhead left & right or snare, noisy signals, mics containing more room, recordings with more bleeding.
Compensating artificial delays (test cases with clean signals like impulses manually delayed) got processed correct by both plugins. There were few inputs where MAA only nearly estimated the right delay resulting in the effect described above. But I will not take this into account for the rating since this is not a use case these plugins were made for.
MAA's spectral phase compensation is a nice idea but with a few exceptions made the sound worse here. It added an unwanted phasey character most of the time. I don't know if this was a try to merge the functionality of SoundRadix PI into it.
A pro of MAA I found was the routing.
In conclusion: SoundRadix Auto Align can cover the majority of audio signals with satisfied processing while MAutoAlign may or may not work. In most projects it unfortunately didn't work like it should. MAA only costs a third of the SRAA's price but that doesn't mean it should only work on one third of the material (little joke at the end) :-D.
It's hard to rate in my opinion but there aren't much aspects to consider. It's not a creative plugin but one that has to solve a problem. It quite often didn't. So 2 stars because SRAA (would give it 4 stars) shows what it possible.
This was the first plugin from Meldaproduction I'm actually interested in. Their other free stuff is pretty basic "bread and butter" stuff but this seemed special.
Unfortunately MSpectralDelay is a real CPU hog. The bigger the fft size the more CPU it uses. I then experienced it needs higher fft sizes to sound good. Using some modulators in addition will result in even more CPU usage. I bet the latter can be optimized by ourself if you're into their system. I tried to dig deeper but after opening the manual I instantly closed it again. NI Spektral Delay (which was obviously the inspiration for this plugin) was not that hungry when using similar basic settings. Another difference is the smearing of transient material. This is more prominent in the melda plugin.
Some things other users experienced as well: randomizing settings blew up my speakers, audible distortion and artefacts in the higher frequency range "like mp3 codec noise". Downloading a big installer that copies many more files and presets than needed and AV warning aren't a good thing either. Someone wrote it runs out of sync but I couldn't reproduce this in real use scenarios. Registering at their website to get the free license is something I can understand.
A downside of the plugin is the ui and workflow (sorry I just can't get used to it, it doesn't make fun opening them) and their exaggerated marketing phrases.
IMO the problems are not acceptable from someone who "reinvented" the delay. It will not replace anything in my setup and it is not usable in production. I might use it offline for soundscapes or so. I'm sure there are users loving it, especially melda customers who are used to it. It is free but please understand that doesn't mean we can't criticize it.