The recently launched United Plugins is a conglomerate of several different smaller European plug-in developers. The company hit the ground running with several new releases, including FireCobra ($145), an audio enhancement plug-in from FireSonic.
FireCobra offers several different algorithms that you can dial in, including Intensify, Smack and Analogize. Intensify, which the developer says includes “advanced” dynamics processing, is the default algorithm and the most impactful of the three. When you put it on an individual instrument, subgroup or mix, the effect is immediately noticeable. The track sounds more present and a little squashed (in a good, compressor-like way), and definitely warmer.
The Smack algorithm adds subtle harmonic distortion, and the Analogize provides some analog-like saturation. A Wet/Dry knob controls the overall effect, while each of the three processes has its own knob so that you can dial in a suitable combination.
If you have plenty of CPU to spare and latency isn’t an issue, you might want to turn on the Linear Phase option, which changes the filtering to the Linear Phase variety. United Plugins/FireSonic says that it thinks the default, minimum phase processing sounds the best but offers the Linear Phase option for those who might prefer it.
Also available are three different levels of Oversampling: 2x, 3x and 4x. This feature is designed to be used if you notice any aliasing artifacts from the processing. Like the Linear Phase option, it will add latency and work your CPU harder.
FireCobra sounds so good it makes you want to put it on every track. I noticed that when I tried that approach, I ended up overprocessing the mix, and had to dial the effect back a bit overall. But when used judiciously, it adds character and liveliness to almost any track.