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SounDevice Digital Plamen — A Mix Product of the Week

Plamen is a multi-band saturator from the Czech-based developer SounDevice Digital designed to target and tailor saturation.

United Plugins/SounDevice Digital Plamen

New York, NY (September 14, 2023)—Plamen is a multi-band saturator from the Czech-based developer SounDevice Digital (distributed by United Plugins). It’s designed to target and tailor saturation in specific frequencies rather than apply it uniformly over the signal. That allows you to warm up a track selectively and emphasize particular frequency zones, almost like an EQ.

Plamen has an intuitive, one-screen GUI for controlling its five parallel saturation bands. All the bands feature adjustable crossovers plus individual controls for Input and Output gain and the amount of Saturation (the Mojo knob).

For each band, you choose one of five saturation modes. The first three, British, American and German, emulate saturation from iconic consoles built in those countries. The manual describes British as “fat sounding,” American as “high-mid-punchy,” and German as from a vintage tube console.

The other two choices are Magnetic, which models tape saturation and Clip, an emulation of digital distortion from an A/D converter. Individual bands feature Mute and Solo buttons and one called AGC Boost, which adds 10 dB of gain to boost the saturation.

Plamen also provides global knobs for Input and Output gain, Dry/Wet, and simulated Tape Wow. If needed, you can switch on a Limiter on the main output.

United Plugins/SounDevice Digital Plamen
United Plugins/SounDevice Digital Plamen

To help prevent aliasing when creating heavy saturation, the plug-in features 2x, 4x, or 8x oversampling. The higher the Oversampling setting, the greater the CPU usage and latency.

Because of the latter, SounDevice Digital points out that Oversampling isn’t recommended when using Plamen live. In such situations, you probably also want to switch off the Linear Phase crossover mode in favor of the Analog 6/dB per octave mode.

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Although Product of the Week isn’t supposed to be a review column, I’ll break format to say that I highly recommend Plamen. I’ve been using it quite a bit over the last couple of weeks and found it capable of improving any source. I tried it on Drums, vocals, electric guitars and basses, and all sound bigger and fuller with some strategically placed saturation. It also sounds excellent on full mixes.

In case you’re wondering about the name, SounDevice Digital explains it as follows:

Plamen [plah-men] is a Czech expression for “flame” – yes, the thing that makes other things warmer. Although some would say the word “Plameny” (plural) may be more suitable for a multi-band plugin.

Plamen is available on the United Plugins website for a $20 introductory price until October 10, when it will go up to its regular price of $96. You can try a fully functional version for 15 days.