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Dynamic Plugins - Do you prefer analog style or clean style?
Old 18th May 2007
  #1
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Dynamic Plugins - Do you prefer analog style or clean style?

Greetz to all!

I've been demo'ing quite some frequenly discussed plugins these days, and have found analog emulation far more desire than clean/digital style plugins, based on my amateur audio engineering skillz. I've been trying out McDSP, Waves, URS, Sonnox, Sonalksis as I frequenly see them being dicussed here. After the comparisons, I wanted to buy the URS stuffs but budget not allowed at this time, so I ended up buying Waves stuffs ,namely their SSL and Neve (ok, waves policy aside ).

I find many of the EQ doesn't sound desire to me, they sounded digital and cold of the way they did to the source. It seems that even McDSP and Sonnox has those filter ringing when boost and I can even hear some muddyness around the specific frequency when cut.

In comparison, URS and Waves SSL/Neve sounded desire and solid. When I want a 3dB boost/cut, they sounds really a solid 3dB boost/cut, of what frequencies I want, really impressive. Off all these plugins, and they seems to be the only EQ that'll do the filtering and especially high frequency boost that I want. Now, between the both, the waves SSL/Neve seems has some secret mojos, I can hear a desire harmonic distortion thing (subtle, but without increasing the volume like many other plugins did!) and the noise really add some "life" to the source. It's what makes me buy the Waves over URS. Some of the best EQ I've heard, (no doubt, hardware still better!) heh .

As for compressors, again I seems to keep coming back to Waves along with Sonalksis which is also desire for their compressors. While they're charactered compressors, they seems less pumping and retain more details than other compressors. Sonalksis is great for taming dynamics, while many said that it's a clean compressor I think they sounded warmer than Sonnox and McDSP. OTOH URS and Waves SSL/Neve has great character which desire on acoustic instruments and they manage the gain reduction very well too. But in the end it's all subjective since comp isn't as "direct" as EQ, I would say they're all sounded pretty close to each other quality wise and can get the job done without any problem.

Now the unique McDSP AC1. Maybe it's just me, but I do find putting them on master buss seems to round off the punch of the mix a little without much gain on pleasure, which makes me prefer not to use them. But, many people praise them, is there anything I'm missing due to my lousy view?

At the moment I haven't got time to try out the Massey plugins in detail. However the Massey comp sounded really nice too judging from quick fiddling on my test mixes! Gotta try them very soon since they don't have time limitation so I'll just spend my time on others first.

Hope to hear more opinions from you guys!

PS: I'm wondering how you guys define "warm"? To me, anything sounded smooth defined as warm, even a heavy distortion. I find many plugins doing "warm" thing (including tape emulation/warming) is just adding more lower harmonics (to my ears), and I find they'll sometimes make the track muddy in the mix. Even a track recorded with poor converter wouldn't gain much from these plugins IMO and worse it'll sometimes bring out the digital artifacts although the track seems to be fuller (especially guitar in this regards). What do you guys think?
Old 18th May 2007
  #2
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Bob Yordan's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigcat View Post
Greetz to all!

I've been demo'ing quite some frequenly discussed plugins these days, and have found analog emulation far more desire than clean/digital style plugins, based on my amateur audio engineering skillz. I've been trying out McDSP, Waves, URS, Sonnox, Sonalksis as I frequenly see them being dicussed here. After the comparisons, I wanted to buy the URS stuffs but budget not allowed at this time, so I ended up buying Waves stuffs ,namely their SSL and Neve (ok, waves policy aside ).

I find many of the EQ doesn't sound desire to me, they sounded digital and cold of the way they did to the source. It seems that even McDSP and Sonnox has those filter ringing when boost and I can even hear some muddyness around the specific frequency when cut.

In comparison, URS and Waves SSL/Neve sounded desire and solid. When I want a 3dB boost/cut, they sounds really a solid 3dB boost/cut, of what frequencies I want, really impressive. Off all these plugins, and they seems to be the only EQ that'll do the filtering and especially high frequency boost that I want. Now, between the both, the waves SSL/Neve seems has some secret mojos, I can hear a desire harmonic distortion thing (subtle, but without increasing the volume like many other plugins did!) and the noise really add some "life" to the source. It's what makes me buy the Waves over URS. Some of the best EQ I've heard, (no doubt, hardware still better!) heh .

As for compressors, again I seems to keep coming back to Waves along with Sonalksis which is also desire for their compressors. While they're charactered compressors, they seems less pumping and retain more details than other compressors. Sonalksis is great for taming dynamics, while many said that it's a clean compressor I think they sounded warmer than Sonnox and McDSP. OTOH URS and Waves SSL/Neve has great character which desire on acoustic instruments and they manage the gain reduction very well too. But in the end it's all subjective since comp isn't as "direct" as EQ, I would say they're all sounded pretty close to each other quality wise and can get the job done without any problem.

Now the unique McDSP AC1. Maybe it's just me, but I do find putting them on master buss seems to round off the punch of the mix a little without much gain on pleasure, which makes me prefer not to use them. But, many people praise them, is there anything I'm missing due to my lousy view?

At the moment I haven't got time to try out the Massey plugins in detail. However the Massey comp sounded really nice too judging from quick fiddling on my test mixes! Gotta try them very soon since they don't have time limitation so I'll just spend my time on others first.

Hope to hear more opinions from you guys!

PS: I'm wondering how you guys define "warm"? To me, anything sounded smooth defined as warm, even a heavy distortion. I find many plugins doing "warm" thing (including tape emulation/warming) is just adding more lower harmonics (to my ears), and I find they'll sometimes make the track muddy in the mix. Even a track recorded with poor converter wouldn't gain much from these plugins IMO and worse it'll sometimes bring out the digital artifacts although the track seems to be fuller (especially guitar in this regards). What do you guys think?
I guess, it is like, the high end is removed a bit & it has a slightly smeared/glued character. In opposite to digital sounding, that has a distinct high end (metallic sounds are sticking out of the mix).

My personal reflections :

The UAD plugs are rather good at adding warmth.

Duende SSL comp is kind of transparent + slightly warmth.

Sonnox Limiter plug, adds clarity & whole freq spectra transients transparency.

Sonnox Inflator plug, adds clarity + transparent saturation.


Best wishes
Old 18th May 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 

To answer the title of the thread: It depends. I don't care about if things are "analog", "OTB" and I hate definitions like "warm analog sounds" and "cold digital sounds". The "cold digital sound" TO ME is playing back the captured sound in a more true form, more as it is.

The analog sounding stuff to me is different kinds of distortion intended to smear out the sounds and ultimately make them what people refers to as "more glued together". Smearing, distortion... That's it.

I use smearing and distortion myself, tape emulators are really cool and make things often sound better. Analog Channel, Reel Tape Suite, Tape-head, all good stuff.

As for EQs and compression, I most often reach for the coloring types like the McDSP stuff, the only time I don't reach for them is when I want to go surgical and mostly not on acoustic guitars either (don't ask me why, that's just what I do). Oh, and for mastering I use clean compressors (Flux Solera).

And the master fader... In the past I've kept it clean, lately I've had Analog Channel or G Console there, and even Reel Tape Saturator. Sounds very good.
Old 18th May 2007
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Thanks for the replies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiff
As for EQs and compression, I most often reach for the coloring types like the McDSP stuff, the only time I don't reach for them is when I want to go surgical and mostly not on acoustic guitars either (don't ask me why, that's just what I do). Oh, and for mastering I use clean compressors (Flux Solera).
I believe when using an EQ to boost, most people will go for coloured EQ. Even that, when I need to sort out frequency problem I also use the SSL channel EQ to do the job cause I think they sounds more solid, unless a I need high Q to cut I normally use Digi III stuffs and they can get the job done.

By the way Filterbank from McDSP is coloured or linear? Do they emulate any analog gear? I find even they're coloured EQ, they still have an obvious filter ringing sound when boost. So this ringing is the character of clean and linear EQ? They sounds unpleasing, even the praised Sonnox EQ has that ringing sound. If Sonnox EQ is so called linear and clean, I find this type of EQ sounded very "cold" to me specifically when boost, I use stock Digi EQ and it'll get the surgical job done happily for me.

As for buss comp, I find SSL/V-Series comp is also more desire than clean style. They tend to give more life to the sound rather than plain and clean gain reduction. I would however insert linear multiband compressor after that...And of course, I didn't mentioned limiter cause IMO mastering should be as clean as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiff
In the past I've kept it clean, lately I've had Analog Channel or G Console there, and even Reel Tape Saturator. Sounds very good.
Funny that I'm on the opposite. While I'm using coloured master buss comp, I used to think saturation plugins on the master buss tends to sound better but one day I leave the master buss clean and I ended up getting a more open and cleaner sound, since then I never use any saturation plugins anymore.

Often they give the impression of everything sounded more warm but I find they're either compressed or EQ'ed. At first I think they sounded "warmer" but the emulated analog distortion sounded like "almost" clipping, and tends to smear the imaging too. I only tried things like vintage warmer, am-track in samplitude and recently AC2 from McDSP perhaps I should give a shot with dad Tape and Reel Tape (or perhaps tape head).

But in the end saturation plugins still don't give much desire results, they're still digitally calculated so they'll degrade the sound to a certain degree IMHO (at least those I've tried). Unlike colouring, saturation require much more calculation unless it's a great emulation (most likely will be a CPU hungry monster).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Yordan
In opposite to digital sounding, that has a distinct high end (metallic sounds are sticking out of the mix).
I think the metallic sounds refered to the sound that's badly converted using poor converter, the digital translation tends to receive less details so they just translate accordingly, hence more "digital" and "square" sounding. However, a source like that cannot be cure with any saturation/warming plugins IMO. In the end, getting the source right is the only way to achive good results.
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