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Plug-In Trends

With so many engineers and musicians now working in the box, there is a ready market for emulations of vintage audio hardware processors as well as new and unique effects plug-ins.

Softube Tube-Tech Classic ChannelBrainworx bx_dynEQ V2 With so many engineers and musicians now working in the box, there is a ready market for emulations of vintage audio hardware processors as well as new and unique effects plug-ins. It’s hard to keep up with the new releases. The following is just a selection of the audio plug-ins released in the first and second quarter of 2011.

The RS124 compressor from Abbey Road Plug-ins (abbeyroadplugins. com) emulates three of the best examples of the classic tube units—introduced in 1960 and still in use today— from the studios’ unique outboard collection. The plug-in, suitable for Mac OS X and Windows DAW systems, has been tested and approved by Abbey Road Studios’ director of engineering, Peter Cobbin, who describes the sound as “pure cream being drizzled slowly into and over a mix.”

Going beyond the original spec of the hand-built units, which were exclusive to the studios, Abbey Road Plugins has included SuperFuse, a “surprise feature” that is described as “wonderfully brutal and guaranteed to make your drums jump out of the speakers.” The RS124 release is reportedly one the world’s first dedicated Dynamics LCR plug-ins, allowing users to “stack” the three units on top of one another.

Antares Audio Technologies (antarestech. com) released the latest version of the granddaddy of all pitchcorrection plug-ins, Auto-Tune 7, in a TDM version at the end of 2010. Having taken Auto-Tune and integrated it with its proprietary modeling technologies, Antares has recently released early details of an upcoming plug-in for guitar— the ATG-6. The software promises to constantly monitor the pitch of each individual string and, regardless of finger position or pressure, or the physical limitations of the specific guitar, maintain the correct tuning. ATG-6, which incorporates the company’s new Solid- Tune Intonation system, will reportedly be intelligent enough to detect intentional string bends and vibrato.
SSL Duende NativeLexicon PCM Native Effects German company Brainworx (, along with SPL (Sound Performance Lab), announced an agreement with Universal Audio to become a third-party plug-in developer for the UAD Powered Plug- Ins platform. The new Brainworx bx_dynEQ V2 takes a new approach to dynamic equalization to produce results not available with any other EQ, according to the company. Actually a bundle that includes bx_dynEQ mono, bx_dynEQ stereo (L/R) and bx_dynEQ stereo (M/S) plug-ins, bx_ dynEQ V2 allows “cross-feeding” of the M/S signal such that the mid and side signals “trigger” each other. A new Inverse mode is also designed to produce new, fresh sounds.

Also new is the Brainworx bx_ XL, a low-latency M/S mastering limiter, designed for use across the stereo master bus or a stereo subgroup/ bus. The plug-in converts a stereo signal into mid (sum) and side (difference) signals internally, splitting the mid channel into both a high and low band. The three channels may then be individually limited and leveled. A crossover frequency slider on the low band allows separate manipulation of individual mix components such as the kick drum. The plug-in features a 3-band “psycho- acoustic” loudness maximizer with four automatable settings.

 Nomad Factory Echoes Harman ( announced that the sounds of the Lexicon PCM96 stereo reverb/effects processor are now available to a wider user base with the release of its PCM Native Effects plugin bundle (AU/RTAS/VST for Mac and Windows), which is now shipping. The hardware capabilities reproduced in the plug-in include dual delay, random delay, chorus/flange, resonant chords, pitch shift and multi-voice pitch shift. An all-new Stringbox algorithm provides users with 88 virtual strings resonating according to the audio input, and several tuning and panning options are also available.

Specific to the Merging Technologies platform, Final Check is a complete plug-in suite of metering tools for Pyramix Virtual Studio. Final Check includes all the essential measurement and display options for both stereo and 5.1 surround mixes in a single window, displaying bargraph VU, PPM (with DIN, Nordic, BBC and EBU presets) and True Peak (also known as Inter-sample Peak) meters. The Final Check loudness meter displays an ITU-R 1770- 1 compliant bargraph as well as the numerical value LUFS (Loudness unit, Full scale), and is fully compatible with the ATSC A/85 standard. A preset is also provided for Dolby dialnorm compliance.

Post -product ion DAW users of Minnetonka Audio Software’s ( AudioTools AWE digital audio asset batch processing software can now make use of three new surround encoding plug-ins in v1.6: SurCode for Dolby E Stream Player, plus SurCode for Dolby E Decoder and Encoder. AudioTools AWE is included at no charge as part of the SurCode for Dolby E Bundle (AU/RTAS/VST).

Echoes, from Nomad Factory (nomadfactory. com), is a new plug-in emulation (AU/RTAS/VST for Mac OSX; RTAS/VST for Windows; 32- and 64- bit) of five classic analog echo boxes, including the Echoplex 1, Echoplex 3, Tel-Ray Oilcan Delay, Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man analog delay pedal and Boss DM-2 analog delay stompbox. Nomad Factory has elected to streamline the operation of the plug-ins by keeping the controls to an absolute minimum.

Sweden’s Softube ( has started shipping its Tube-Tech Classic Channel bundle and Tube- Tech ME 1B for native platforms (AU/RTAS/VST/VST3). The Tube- Tech Classic Channel is designed as a dream channel, combining Tube- Tech’s classic compressor and equalizers. The Tube-Tech ME 1B midrange equalizer is especially effective on vocals and guitars.

The bundle combines the Tube- Tech Classic Channel, Tube-Tech CL 1B compressor, Tube-Tech PE 1C “Pultec” equalizer and Tube- Tech ME 1B EQ. An upgrade path is available for current users of any of the component plug-ins. Softube also recently added VST3 operation for all of its plug-ins (Mac and Windows).

Softube is not only concerned with emulations of vintage gear. Late last year, the company started shipping its TSAR-1 True Stereo Algorithm Reverb for native (AU/VST/ RTAS) platforms, which is built on a modern reverb algorithm.

Solid State Logic (solid-state-logic. com) may have discontinued its DSP-powered Duende plug-ins, but the company has now released Duende Native plug-ins (AU/VST; RTAS via supplied Fxpansion wrapper; 64-bit capable in suitable Mac and Windows OS), which are said to be functionally and sonically identical to the originals. Two bundles are available: Duende Native Essentials and the Duende Native Studio Pack. The former offers the EQ and dynamics processing of SSL consoles, while the latter adds the company’s Stereo Bus Compressor, the task-specific Drumstrip and Vocalstrip plug-ins, and the mastering grade X-EQ and X-Comp plug-ins, plus X-Verb reverb.

URS (Unique Recording Software; announced the public beta of its native Phat C plug-in (AU/RTAS/VST for Mac OSX; RTAS/VST for Windows) at the beginning of the year. A multipurpose, analog-sounding plug-in intended for individual tracks and busses, it replicates the characteristics of several types of compressors, offering six saturation models—VCA, Opto, Fet, Transformer, Tape and Tube— that introduce vintage harmonics and soft clipping. Controls include a saturation wet/dry mix slider, selectable ratios, two attack algorithms and three choices of high-pass filters.