New York, NY (January 6, 2023)—Every year, the editorial team of Mix looks back at the most recent amazing advancements in pro-audio technology with its annual Gear of the Year summary. Some incredible tools were released in 2022, so we’re taking the opportunity to gather up just a few of the must-haves, new aspirational choices and updates that came our way over the previous 12 months. Peruse through and see if you overlooked something crucial, or even whether you agree with us as we take in the Gear of the Year 2022. Don’t miss Gear of the Year 2022 Part 1!
PSPAUDIOWARE PSP SATURATOR PLUG-IN
Michael Cooper writes: PSPaudioware was one of the first developers to produce a convincing emulation of the sonics produced by vacuum tubes. Two decades later, the company’s new PSP Saturator plug-in lets you drive virtual tubes and diodes, a digital clipper and—best of all—simulations of magnetic tape and tape recorder responses that are so realistic you’ll be wondering where they hid the metal reels. But it gets even better: Place the Saturator in series with the new super-smooth PSP Impressor dynamics plug-in, and you have a killer combo for making individual tracks and full mixes sound huge without blowing them up.
SHURE AD600 AXIENT DIGITAL SPECTRUM MANAGER
Keeping the future of wireless in mind, Shure designed the AD600’s tuning range to support frequency bands from 174 MHz to 2 GHz, which includes and expands on the frequencies where AXT600, its predecessor, is operable. Compared to AXT600, AD600 boasts faster scanning that finds available frequencies and analyzes RF spectrum in real-time, streamlining site surveys and spectrum management. AD600 also provides the ability to listen to analog signals as well as Axient Digital standard and HD Modes, a new DC power option for remote production, USB connections for external data storage of scans, event logs and other data, as well as Dante connectivity for advanced audio monitoring.
SOLID STATE LOGIC ORIGIN 16 CONSOLE
SSL has released a number of quality products in the past couple of years, both hardware and software. Origin 16, introduced in October at AES, offers the same features, hybrid workflows and SSL sound quality as its larger 32-channel predecessor, including a simple signal flow and layout, while also providing features such as channel direct outputs, a fully balanced electronic architecture and precision bar-graph meters. Other features include SSL’s PureDrive mic preamplifier and classic SSL E-Series “242-type” 4-band parametric EQ design. There is also a built-in classic SSL bus compressor with sidechain access and HP filter.
SOLID STATE LOGIC THE BUS+
This deluxe version of SSL’s iconic hardware bus compressor maintains the circuitry and controls that have made previous versions of the product so influential, popular and often imitated, while adding modern features and more control. For example, although the signal path is all-analog, the Bus+ knobs are digitally controlled. Also new: D-EQ, an analog dynamic equalizer with low- and high-frequency bands and compression and expansion modes for each channel. Unlike its predecessors, Bus+ offers four different working modes, giving the unit the flexibility customarily found only on plug-in emulations. Classic Stereo; ∑ S/C Stereo (Sigma Sidechain); Dual Mono mode; and Mid-Side.
SMAART V9 (BY RATIONAL ACOUSTICS)
Rational Acoustics has provided a major version upgrade to the acoustic measurement software platform, with Smaart v9 incorporating a number of new features and improvements. The release also marks a shift to an edition-based product structure. The four editions are Smaart Suite, Smaart RT, Smaart LE and Smaart SPL. Designed for professional users, Smaart Suite is the flagship edition and includes all three Smaart measurement modes: Real-Time, Impulse Response and SPL, all with no functional limitations. Also, for the first time, Smaart will be available in a subscription-based model.
SONIBLE SMART:LIMIT PLUG-IN
A “Content-Aware” peak limiter plug-in, Smart:Limit is infused with AI, and it lets you master your music to comply with loudness targets for streaming music and video services and broadcast. Smart:Limit’s intelligent limiter analyzes your song as it plays and creates a custom setting. You can then alter the results with its four-parameter Sound-shaping Panel. The Style knob adjusts the aggressiveness of the limiter’s behavior. Saturation increases the perceived loudness while maintaining the peak levels. You get loudness readings in True Peak and LUFS, and you can adjust the main Limit and Gain controls to tweak your master where needed to get in compliance.
Barry Rudolph explains: ListenHub is analysis software to measure, compare or reference an in-progress stereo mix in your DAW to any other stereo source, all in real-time. It can measure an Internet stream or a .wav file playing in your computer, but its primary task is to measure and monitor two critical audio specifications: Loudness in LUFS (Loudness Units relative to Full Scale) and PSR (Peak to Short-Term Loudness Ratio). The plug-in measures your music’s dynamics with an approximate rating in preparation for streaming services that apply loudness normalization to uploaded, mastered audio files.
SONY C-80 CONDENSER MICROPHONE
Sony has been getting back into the mic market. The C-80 is a unidirectional (cardioid) condenser mic that combines the capsule used in the C-100 with the same diaphragm material used in the iconic C-800G. The dual-diaphragm configuration is designed to tame proximity effect, providing consistent low-frequency response even when used up close, or when a singer does not maintain a consistent distance from the mic. While the C-80 is intended for vocal and voice recording, it can also be used on a range of acoustic instruments, as well as for podcasting, webcasting and vlogging applications.
SOUND PARTICLES ENERGY PANNER
This innovative plug-in uses the intensity of a sound to control its movement automatically, providing any sound professional with a tool that combines dynamics with spatial definition. Key features include: Stereo, Surround, Ambisonics, Immersive and Binaural Outputs; Dynamic Movement, to set how the sounds move, from custom points, speaker positions or to specific directions; Sidechain, for using external signals to control the effect of the plug-in; Visualization Dome, for tracking every movement the sounds are making; Randomization, an option that outputs new results each time you click; and Timing, where you can use attack and release to control how fast you want the movement to happen.
UNIVERSAL AUDIO VOLT 476P AUDIO INTERFACE
Mike Levine writes: With its four inputs and outputs (and compressor and vintage mode for added spice), you could use the 476P as a killer standalone preamp feeding another interface in a multi-input session. The headline here is that the 476P, the new Volt flagship—and the Volt line in general—offer UAD’s analog modeling and interface technology for a lower cost per channel than you’d have to pay for an Apollo. If you want UAD plug-ins to go along with it, you can get a subset of them via a Spark subscription. Between Volt and Spark, the price of entry into the UAD world has dropped significantly.
VANGUARD AUDIO LABS V13 GEN2 TUBE MIC
Rob Tavaglione writes: The V13 gen2 is simply a fantastic mic with smart design, quality construction, nearly limitless versatility and a balanced tone that seems to slightly flatter just about any source. I can recommend the V13 as “your first top-shelf mic” for its price/ performance ratio, or as an addition to “complete mic closets.” It might soon be your favorite vocal mic, bar none. Vanguard has hit the bullseye with this one, as the V13 gen2 checks all the boxes of performance, affordability and quality in what might just be the best overall workhorse-of-a-mic that I’ve tested to date.
VOYAGE AUDIO SPATIAL MIC DANTE
This hybrid analog-digital second-order ambisonic microphone builds on the success of the company’s Spatial Mic USB, but brings with it a premium rugged design with a locking Neutrik etherCON connection. With Dante audio networking built-in, there is no need for complex multi-microphone and preamp setups—plug in an ethernet cable and focus on recording immersive audio for VR, surround sound, Atmos, spatial and stereo music, concerts and live broadcasts. Included is the new MicNet control app that lets you remotely adjust connected microphones on the network. The Spatial Mic Converter plugin (VST & AAX) now works for post-processing the entire Spatial Mic family.