Nyrv Systems Agent by joe_04_04
Developer: Nyrv Systems
Formats: AU/VST/VST3/RTAS/AAX - Win/Mac, 32/64-bit
Price: 249 USD
DRM: Online Activation
Demo: 7 day demo
Website: Nyrv Systems
Sound Quality - 5/5: When it comes to sound quality, Agent itself doesn’t impart any changes onto your audio sources, unless you are using some of the build in modules that comes free with it. In fact, in order to test it, I printed a sine wave to an audio track and then duplicated the track. I then put Agent on one track and flipped the phase of the second track. The result - a perfect null when the two tracks summed together. This means that outside of the plugin instances you have inserted into the channel strip of Agent, nothing else is altering your tracks, which is entirely ideal when you are only using Agent to host plugins that are in a different format than your DAW accepts (I.E. Running AU inside of Pro Tools). This is extremely important to me, if I’m using a plugin merely to wrap another, I want it to be as sterile as possible, and Agent clearly succeeds at this.
Ease of Use - 4/5: Agent took my a little bit to fully grasp, in no way was it extremely difficult to get my mind around, but it took a bit of investigating to figure out how to run it and how to use it to its full capacity. Because it has more to offer than other standard real-time “wrapper” plugins, there was a little more to get lost in. I believe some of my initial confusion came with my own lack of understanding for what all the plugin could do. Initially, I just thought it was meant to “wrap” plugins of different formats and save various plugin chains, I didn’t realize that it was capable of building and creating plugins within it based off of parameters from other plugins. I also didn’t realize it had multiple routing options (serial/parallel), so the confusion came from me not entirely understanding the full range of capabilities. I’m giving Agent a 5/5 in this category because after I realized just what all it could do, it started to make sense and become more intuitive. It is cleanly laid out, having page “tabs” across the top. The “config” tab for loading plugins and creating your own, the “routing” tab for choosing how the routing between plugins is handled, and the “live” tab that allows you run your personal creations and tweak the plugins in the channel strip.
Features - 5/5: Agent offers the user a ton of flexibility over their current plugins. The obvious features include being able to save and load entire plugin chains at will and even loading plugins of other formats into just about any DAW (and running them in either them in either serial or parallel), there are other not-so-obvious features that are just as nice. One interesting feature is the “Smart CPU Saver” feature. This essentially is a dynamic plugin processing feature that only activates the CPU’s processing power for those plugins when audio is running through Agent. Some DAWs have this feature built into them, but not all, which makes Agent valuable to those who may not have it by default.
Another very cool feature is the ability to basically create your own plugins out of other plugins. You are able to assign every parameter of any plugin to a knob in agent, effectively allowing you to pull your favorite parameters from multiple plugins to create something entirely new. If you are an individual who loves the mid band of a certain EQ (EQ 1) and then really likes the high band of another EQ (EQ 2), you can load them both up into Agent, assign the mid-band of EQ 1 to a knob in Agent and assign the high band to another knob in Agent and have them both readily available. Then, each of these knobs can be assigned to hardware knobs, giving you control over multiple parameters from multiple plugins. Of course, this is a rather simple example, it can get much complex. You are given a library of graphics to insert into your newly created plugins and you can even import your own if you want to take it to that level.
*Here’s an example where I loaded Tokyo Dawn Lab’s free Proximity plugin (AU/VST only) into Pro Tools. I also loaded up Eiosis’ AirEQ. I then assigned the Earth and Air bands of AirEQ and the Distance slider of Proximity. Now, I can just open up Agent and tweak just those. As stated, this can be customized to a very high degree, this is just a quick example.
Lastly, Agent also comes with a handful of modules that you can add to your list of plugins, which each can also be assigned to knobs and blended into new creations. The list of of free modules includes various filters, EQs, a drive unit, a transformer unit, a compressor, and much more.
Overall, I believe that Agent has a great amount of potential usability to the user. There are a few plugins on the market that essentially “wrap” other plugins in real-time so that you can load them into your DAW of choice, but Agent is much more than that.
A few extra side notes:
*Agent is very light on the CPU itself, I ran 50 instances of empty Agent racks across 50 channels, with audio playback, and it induced about 5% CPU usage on my 2.5 GHz quad core Intel i5. This means the rack itself adds almost nothing, in terms of a processing load, to your overall mix.
**I want to make note that inserting an instance of Agent is a little slower than inserting most normal plugins. This in itself isn’t a big deal, but when mass duplicating or batch inserting agent onto a mix across multiple channels, it can take a little bit of time. This isn’t really an issue or a big deal, I just simply wanted to make note of it.
Bang for Buck - 4/5: Agent is priced at 249 USD. This seems a bit high when you consider the competition of other real-time wrapper plugins on the market, but it also offers a lot more than most of the others and has way more flexibility, so the pricing doesn’t seem to be entirely off. Also, the support team seems to be entirely focused on Agent’s future and fully committed to continually improving any issues users might have. Email support from them was very fast and concise, with total honesty, which is a huge plus in this day and age, where some companies offer virtually no support. I feel that this needs to be stated and taken into personal consideration when assessing whether or not the price is right for you, as it most certainly adds to the value of the experience and helps to make up for the price, for me personally.
*At the time of this posting (January 19th, 2016), Agent can be had for 99 USD on sale, which seems like an absolutely great price to pick it up at.
Verdict: Agent seems to be a pretty solid piece of software. I had minimal troubles running it and successfully wrapped plugins, in real-time, that I never had available to me inside of Pro Tools, without any issues or bugginess. I think that Agent will work well with all plugins as long as the plugins themselves aren’t violating any of the code specifications that their format requires. A buggy plugin most likely won’t load well into Agent, but that’s to be expected and Agent shouldn’t be blamed. I had a few plugins that didn’t work entirely correct, but upon downloading and installing a free DAW that ran those plugins, I realized the issues spawned directly from the plugins themselves. I think Agent has massive potential to open up endless possibilities in any user’s workflow. I personally have never had access to any VST or AU plugins before, so being able to run them inside Pro Tools is great. I now have a much larger selection of developers to choose from in the future, thanks to Agent.