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Product of the Week: Apogee Clearmountain’s Domain

Bob Clearmountain, the original hit-making engineer, worked hand in hand with Apogee in the design and feature set of his new signal-chain plug-in

Legendary mixer Bob Clearmountain has worked with everyone from The Rolling Stones to David Bowie to Bruce Springsteen to Nine Inch Nails to Sheryl Crow and many, many others. Apogee collaborated with Clearmountain to create a new plug-in that’s an emulation of his hardware effects chain, offering reverb, delay, pitch effects and more.

Clearmountain himself designed the presets, which are mainly re-creations of the effects settings from some of his most well-known mixes. These include the gated snare drum reverb from Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” the reverb from the Stones’ “Start Me Up,” the stereo slap delay from “Heart of Rock and Roll” by Huey Lewis, several settings from Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” along with a number of others.

Apogee designed the plug-in hand in hand with Clearmountain, who, along with Roger Robindore, Stephan Stenzel and Sean McAurthur, very carefully and extensively specified all the controls and functions of the software. with the idea that many users would start out with one of the iconic effects treatments and then tweak it to match the song. The sound quality is superb, as you’d expect from Apogee, and the architecture and design of the plug-in are impressive. However, the parameter control for each effect is not as extensive as you’d find on many individual delays and reverbs.

The plug-in features different modules for the various effects, in a fixed order, which is presumably the same as Clearmountain’s. There are two parallel signal paths, one for delay and one for reverb coming out of the Input module. Both start by going through a “pre-conditioning” section that lets you EQ and de-ess the signal before it hits the other effects.

On the Delay path, the signal next goes to a stereo delay section with separate Delay time, Offset and Spin (the SSL term for feedback) controls for each side. You also get buttons for several options, including one to link the offsets and one to route the Spin to the opposite side.

After that, the signal passes through Delay Blur, which is a saturation effect, and another EQ stage. The final effect on the Delay signal path is the Delay Pitch Shift, which has separate left and right controls for the amount of shift (you can adjust by cents or semitones, as well as a Random option). After that, the signal goes into the mixer, the last stop on the signal path before the output.

The Reverb chain consists of three different flavors, which can be mixed and matched to taste. These include Apogee Studio, which is a short reverb from Apogee’s own studio; Mix This! Chamber, from a room in Clearmountain’s studio; and a third reverb that lets you choose between several different types of short reverb, including a stairwell, two versions of a chamber, a bathroom and a gated plate. Each reverb can have its own pre-delay setting, and you can mix in the delay/pitch signal, as well. You can’t adjust the decay time on any of the reverbs.

The Mixer at the end of the chain is quite handy. It lets you set left and right levels for each of the effects and mute and solo them. You can also set the global Wet/Dry balance and the Output level.

Clearmountain’s Domain sells for $349. When it was released in October, it was for Mac only, but as of this week, Apogee added Windows support. Get more info at the Apogee site.