Sonimus Sweetone by joe_04_04
- Plugin: Sweetone Equalizer
- Developer: Sonimus
- Formats: AU/VST/VST3/RTAS/AAX - Win/Mac, 32/64-bit
- Price: 32 USD
- DRM: Authentication script
- Demo Restrictions: No demo
- Website: Sonimus
The Scope: Sonimus Sweetone is a tilt-style equalizer that was built to make simple broad-stroke equalization tasks super fast. Despite its simplicity, Sweetone can actually deliver a variety of tonal flavors.
Disclaimer: Going into this product review, I wasn’t sure how useful Sweetone would prove to be, mostly because I don’t tend to reach for tilt EQs as much as my more complex and surgical EQs, but after some hours of experimentation, I have really begun to love this tool. Though the simplicity of the design may lead one to the assumption that it isn’t flexible enough to perform more than a few types of tone-shaping adjustments, after acquainting myself with the plugin for some time, I have found this to be entirely untrue. Actually, a good amount of equalization tasks can be achieved with this sleek unit. I think Sweetone may have changed my perception of tilt-style equalization in a positive way.
Sound Quality - 5/5: As with all Sonimus products, Sweetone sounds excellent and is very simple to use. The boosts and cuts sound very natural and smooth and the filters are top-notch. The high end boosts on this unit in particular sounds great. I think it is safe to assume that because it is a tilt EQ, special attention was paid to the “fine tuning” of the low and high shelves and how they interact when moving the “Tone” knob. Having the “Normal” / “Sweet” frequency mode switch at your disposal allows for some further tuning of how the unit sounds. When in “Tilux” mode, having the frequency switch set to “Sweet” puts the center frequency at around 2 kHz. Turning the “Tone” knob to the right will increase frequencies above 2 kHz while simultaneously decreasing frequencies below it and vice versa if you turn it to the left. This mode is great for adding shimmer to sources or removing some top end on shrill sources. If you set the frequency switch to “Normal,” the center frequency changes to 650 Hz. I find this mode useful for adding more “bite” that comes with the now included mid-range in the boost of the high. Changing the mode to “Loud” changes the curve from a boost/cut or cut/boost topology to a boost/boost or cut/cut topology. Turning the “Tone” knob to the right will result in fatter, rounder low ends and shimmery highs, while turning it to the left will result in a reduction of both ends. The “Normal” and “Sweet” settings seem to change which frequencies get boosted in both ends. This mode is my favorite as boosting in this mode and compensating the output actually results in a mid-range dip that’s useful when removing “muddy,” “cloudy,” and “hazy” characteristics in a mix. I go into further detail in how I use this mode later on in the Workflow Tricks and Audio Samples section. With Sweetone, changing a source subtly or drastically becomes a fairly effortless process.
Ease of Use - 5/5: Along with all of Sonimus’ products, Sweetone’s ease of use factor really shines. Half of the enjoyment of using Sonimus’ products comes from the simplicity in the design, with the other half of the enjoyment comes from tool’s sound quality factor. The plugin only has four knobs and six switches, following Sonimus’ design philosophy of keeping it simple. There are no sweepable frequency selections to make in regards to the tilt EQ function, those are already chosen and can be changed via the switch for “Normal” and “Sweet” options. The second factor that helps keep the plugin simple to use is its 6 dB adjustment limitation, which keeps you from overdoing the effect. This makes the plugin super friendly to newer mixing engineers who may tend to over process their audio tracks due to a lack of experience.
Features - 5/5: Sweetone offers only a handful of features and creative controls:
- Easy to use/streamlined graphical user interface
- High Pass filter knob (10 Hz to 2 kHz) with either a 6 dB/oct or a 12 dB/oct.
- “Blow” switch that engages a resonant bump on the high pass filter
- Tone knob with +/- 6 dB of desired effect (effect changes depending on mode)
- “Loud” / ”Tilux” mode switch - “Loud” being more of a “smile” EQ curve, boosting both the lows and highs or cutting both the lows and highs. Tilux is more of a classic tilt EQ curve that boosts one end of the spectrum and cuts the other, depending on which way you turn the “Tone” knob.
- “Normal” / “Sweet” mode switch - This switch changes the frequency points in both modes. In “Tilux” mode, “Normal” has a lower center frequency, while “Sweet” has a higher one. In “Loud” mode, “Normal” tends to have shelves that dig more into the mids more when boosting or cutting the smile EQ curve than “Sweet” does.
- Low Pass fitler knob (22 kHz to 2 kHz) with either a 6 dB/oct or a 12 dB/oct.
- Additional preamp switch to engage preamp for added saturation
- Final gain output used to adjust output or drive preamp if the preamp is engaged
*I would like to point out that there is an additional “easter egg” to be found within Sweetone, a secret mode that changes the sound of the unit. I’ve decided to not explicitly state how to turn this mode on, as finding it is half of the fun.
Additional features that deserve mentioning would be the super low CPU of this plugin and the flexible licensing system used by Sonimus. I ran 50 instances on mono tracks in Pro Tools 10, which resulted in a 13 percent processing usage on my 2.5 gHz quad core Intel i5. For the licensing, you can run as many versions of the plugin as you want on any machines you own, as long as you are not running them simultaneously (I.E. two people running the plugin at once on separate machines). I think this is a very honest and flexible licensing system.
Bang for Buck - 5/5: At 32 USD, Sweetone seems to be an almost no-brainer. Sonimus sells all of their products at reasonable prices, especially when you compare them to other larger audio developers, so their products can reach a wide variety of engineers, from “bedroom” mixers to massive platinum-selling studio owners. The addition of the preamp saturation option at the end of the path makes Sweetone an even better deal, as you can insert it onto your tracks and use the preamp solely to saturate and break up the audio even if you don’t want to use the EQ portion. As a home studio enthusiast, I really appreciate companies who have been marketing and pricing their products to accommodate “the little guys.” It wasn’t that long ago that the only plugin options came from large name brand developers who had total control over the market; buying a new plugin would cost a few hundred minimum, but more and more small companies are entering the market these days with extremely humble product pricing, Sonimus seems to be one of those companies.
Workflow Tricks and Audio Samples:
As stated in the disclaimer, I wasn’t sure how much use I would get out of Sweetone, as tilt EQs don’t tend to fall into the category of EQs I reach for first, but Sweetone has proven itself to be extremely useful to me. I’ve used it successfully on kick drums, snares, overheads, bass, vocals, and surprisingly, even on the master buss of a song. I’m sure that there are even more cases that I haven’t tried that it would work on also. I’ve included a few samples of cases in which I thought the EQ worked really well, but I did push the settings in each sample a bit to make the effect more dramatic and obvious.Verdict: All in all, Sweetone is a very nice simple EQ that is great for quick broad-stroke adjustments. It’s capable of doing a quite a bit of tonal shaping, much more than I honestly expected, and even offers saturation in the preamp section, making it a very useable and useful coloring box. If you are a home studio owner, or even a professional studio owner, who doesn’t have a tilt EQ at all, I’d highly recommend you to pick this up and give it a whirl. There isn’t a demo for this product, but it has the same great design philosophy as Sonimus’ other offerings and sounds just as good, so if you own and enjoy another product of theirs, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- Bypassed at 0 seconds
- Activated at 5 seconds
Kick Sample settings:
*The 6 dB boost may seem like a lot, but remember, the boost becomes a mid-range cut after volume matching, so I’m actually doing a heavy notch here.
Master Buss Sample:
- Bypassed at 0 seconds
- Activated at 10 seconds
- Bypassed at 19 seconds
- Activated at 28 seconds
Master Buss Settings:
As with the previous sound samples, I’ve noticed myself using the “Loud” mode more than the “Tilux” mode, so much that I’ve developed a little quick trick for removing the cloudy mid-range or elements with it. On tracks that exhibit “muddy” or “cloudy” characteristics, try this:
- Opening up new instance of Sweetone
- Flip the mode to “Loud”
- Boost the “Tone” knob up to liking
- Compensate the output to match volumes of bypassed and active state
- Switch between “Sweet” and “Normal” to see which one suits the track better.
What this does is effectively carves a little mid-range out of your track. The “Loud” mode is more of a “smile” EQ curve that works by boosting both ends or cutting both ends. By boosting both ends and compensating the output volume, it changes the additive low and high end boost into a subtractive mid-range cut. This tends to work very well on kick drums and full masters that are lacking a bit of high end and low end and are “cloudy” or “muddy” sounding.
With kick drums, you can choose to take it a step further from there by dialing in a little bit of a high pass filter to remove any sub frequencies (20-40 Hz); removing these ultra low frequencies can actually make a kick drum more punchy and pronounced. Use the “Blow” switch to add a resonance bump near the high pass cutoff frequency to add even more “ooph.”