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Gear and Technology

Review: Newfangled Audio Elevate Mastering Limiter

By Rich Tozzoli. The company describes this mastering plug-in as a “unique multiband limiter, human-ear EQ and powerful audio maximizer” that will increase the loudness of your mix while maintaining or improving its dynamic perception.

Started by 15-year DSP-writing Eventide veteran Dan Gillespie, this one came into my Pro Tools rig by word of mouth from my “network”—a group of well respected (I say that lightly) engineers, producers and mixers with walls full of audio trophies, who share information with each other. Created by Newfangled Audio and distributed by Eventide, Elevate is called a “unique multiband limiter, human-ear EQ and powerful audio maximizer.” How could you not want to check that out?

Since others have reviewed Elevate, I won’t get into every parameter. Instead, I’ll focus on the ones I find unique and most useful. First, it uses 26 filter and frequency bands, modeled from the human ear, altering the speed, transients and gain in real time. It uses artificial intelligence algorithms to help control the sound and increase loudness, while offering several ways to dig into audio specifics.

The Main Parameters page features a few key options such as Limiter Gain, Speed and Ceiling control. There’s also Transient Emphasis and Spectral Clipper, which is like a harmonic driver. I like the fact that each of the 26 bands is allowed to adapt to its own signal to an extent using the Adaptive Gain, Adaptive Speed and Adaptive Transient controls, which are also on the main page. What’s cool is that when these parameters are turned down, Elevate becomes a single-band limiter. When they are up, the artificial intelligence algorithm analyzes the signal across all the bands and adjusts the gain for each.

Related story: Rich’s Tozzoli’s Gear of the Year, Part 1, Nov. 6, 2017

Aside from the Main Parameters module, there are four sub-modules: Filter Bank, Limiter/EQ, Transient and Clipper. Filter Bank allows you to solo one or more of the 26 bands (which can be lessened to save processing power) and adjust just that band’s frequency; I use this feature all the time. As a longtime “in the box” mixer, I always use a master fader for my final output chain. With that in mind, I can click on one of the band’s sliders in the Filter Bank and hear the audio coming out of that band (or bands). If it’s too much, I can jump into the Limiter/EQ module and pull down those specific band sliders in the overall mix. Or I will go back into the individual elements of the mix and correct there.

For example, my Fender Precision outputs a lot of frequency around 126 Hz, which I’ve discovered through Elevate. Instead of cutting that frequency’s mastering band, I will notch that on the bass channel itself, which helps clean up the whole mix on the Elevate output. Also I will often push up a little bit of the higher frequency bands to add some overall sparkle to the final output. The point is, it helps you mix better because you can see and hear any trouble spots, allowing you to correct them however you choose.

Related story: Rich’s Tozzoli’s Gear of the Year, Part 2, Nov. 8, 2017

Another tab I use quite a bit, to my surprise, is the Clipper, with its Drive and Clipper shape. Basically it allows you to add harmonic distortion that sounds as close to analog clipping as I’ve heard in a plug-in. I find this especially useful on some of the harder-edge rock pieces I need to compose for sports and car-centric shows, as it’s like sending my final mix through a tube.

I’ve found that different limiters work best for handling different types of audio, be it hard rock, crime drama, orchestral or whatever. What I like best about Elevate is the fact that I can dig into the guts of it and make it work with every style, or if I choose to, quickly tweak a parameter or two on a rush job and still get the results I’m seeking. Simply put, Elevate does just what its name implies: naturally elevating your audio with punch, clarity, volume and attitude.

Newfangled Audio •

Eventide •