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Channel Strips Plug-Ins – Three Products of the Week

Three channel-strip plug-ins from Waves, Fuse Audio Labs and SounDevice Digital are our Product(s) of the Week!

(L-R): Fuse Audio Labs VCS-1; UniChannel; and Waves EV2 Channel.
(L-R): Fuse Audio Labs VCS-1; UniChannel; and Waves EV2 Channel.

Of late, we’ve seen the release of three channel-strip plug-ins for Mac and Windows: the Waves EV2, Fuse Audio VCS-1 and United Plugins/SounDevice Digital UniChannel. They’re all worthy, and they’re all quite different (as channel strips go). Rather than name just one as Product of the Week, I decided to spotlight all three.


Waves EV2 Channel

The EV2 Channel is an entirely new model of the legendary SSL 4000E console channel strip and is fully authorized by Solid State Logic. According to Waves, it offers all the functionality of the company’s previously released SSL Channel plug-in (which is also modeled from the 4000E channel strip), while adding useful additional features from the original board.

A mic pre/line input section is among the new features. Not only does it give you input-level control, but hitting it hard creates analog-modeled saturation. You can activate a -20 dB pad to allow for higher saturation without overloads. You can also switch between the classic Brown Knob and Black Knob EQ types, providing additional variety and sonic control.

As with the original channel, you also get Filters, Compressor and Expander/Gate sections, as well as an Output gain slider and input and output metering.  Also new are controls for adjusting the stereo width.

Waves is currently offering the EV2 at a “Black Friday Early Deal” introductory price of $29. It will list for $249.


Fuse Audio Labs VCS-1 Channel Strip

The VCS-1 features an intuitive GUI that offers Preamp, Filters, EQ, Compressor and Gate/Expander processing sections, flexible routing, sidechain access, and even a stereo width control.

Its preamp section offers three topology options, which the manual describes as follows: “DOA (discrete op-amp), BJT (discrete bipolar junction transistor amplifier) and FET (field-effect transistor amplifier).”

The 5-band EQ includes three fully parametric mid-frequency bands and semi-parametric high- and low-frequency bands. The compressor/limiter sports a comprehensive control set that includes Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release (with an Auto option), Knee, Make-Up gain, Stereo Link and Parallel (Dry/Wet) parameters. Other features include several signal-chain order options, a sidechain input for the dynamics processors and excellent metering.

The pièce de résistance is the Mixer View, which lets you view all open instances of the plug-in in a side-by-side, mixer-like configuration. You can even arrange the channels in up to 16 different groups.

Fuse Audio Labs is offering VCS-1 for an introductory discount price of $29 until December 12, after which it will rise to its regular $79 level.


United Plugins/SounDevice Digital UniChannel

You can mix and match vintage console components with UniChannel, which features interchangeable models of British, American and German channel strips.

The preamp section features Input, Output and “Mojo” (preamp color) knobs. The EQ architecture varies by model. One example is the American EQ, which has an API look and offers six bands and highpass and lowpass filters.

All the compressor models have the same global controls—Input, Dry/Wet and Output—but differing individual compression parameters. More important, each has its own sonic signature.

Both the EQ and Compressor sections can be switched off if you desire. You also have the option to step up the quality with a choice of 2x, 4x or 8X oversampling.

United Plugins, the distributor for SounDevice Digital, is offering UniChannel at an introductory discount price of $40. Its list price is $181.