There's no shortage of music-software developers out there, and sometimes because of the glut of companies, it's hard to keep up with them all. This week I thought I'd mention a couple of recently released plug-ins from European developers that might not get as much notice as those from the more mainstream companies in the U.S. These aren't comprehensive reviews, but rather just my off-the-cuff impressions.
First up is a product called Magenta 4, which is a plug-in suite made by the Italian software maker Acustica (not to be confused with the U.S. developer Acoustica, which makes the Mixcraft DAW) that's been significantly revamped for this edition.
The Magenta 4 suite contains a channel strip that has a 4-band EQ, preamp section, and compressor/limiter section. All of its individual components can also be opened as separate plug-ins, and there are even separate low-latency versions. Also, all of the modules—including each individual EQ band—on the channel strip can be individually powered on and off.
Several different pieces of analog hardware were modeled for Magenta 4, including a couple of EQs, a compressor and several preamps. None of the models in Magenta 4 are officially licensed but were based on units from a well-known U.S. maker of tube hardware processors that rhymes with "Stanley."
Acustica uses its own proprietary modeling process, and the results are impressive. You can do some serious tone-shaping with Magenta 4, which sounds and feels more hardware-like than a lot of plug-ins I've used. The preamp section offers seven different emulations, which provide a lot of additional tone shaping. The compressor features a choice of dynamics processors, including a Vari-MU style compressor and limiter, an optical compressor/limiter and an FET compressor.
The suite's price is reasonable; a little under $200. And sure, there are a ton of channel strips out there, but there's something about this one that really caught my eye, or should I say, my ear.
The other plug-in on my radar today is called MixChecker Pro. It's made by Audified, a developer based in the Czech Republic. It's the sequel to the original MixChecker plug-in, which came out a couple of years ago. The way it works is you put it on your master bus, and it simulates the sound of your mix on various types of speakers, from studio monitors to mobile phones to tablets to car audio systems, earbuds and more.
MicChecker Pro is designed to let you hear how your mix translates on many systems from the comfort of your studio, so you don't have to check it in your car, on your living room stereo and so forth.
MixChecker Pro is a significant update from the original, with a lot of additional simulations. For example, on MixChecker you could choose a car-stereo simulation. On MixChecker Pro, you can select between positions in the car (driver or passenger, passenger front or back, minivan, sedan or combi, etc.).
They've even added a background noise option so you can simulate what it would sound like for, say, somebody to listen to a mix with car, street or subway noise in the background. Everything is adjustable and assignable. It's a massive jump from the original plug-in, and though I haven't had that much time with it yet, so far I'm quite impressed. The only downside is I won't get as much exercise if I no longer have to run downstairs to my car to listen to my mixes.