Joey Sturgis Tones Finality by joe_04_04
Plugin: Finality Advanced
Formats: Windows/Mac OSX (32 & 64 bit): VST2, VST3, AAX, RTAS, AU (Mac only)
Price: 89 USD
DRM: Personal Copy
Demo: Demo Available
Website: Joey Sturgis Tones
The Scope: Joey Sturgis’ Finality Advanced limiter was created to be extremely easy to use, yet flexible. It offers the user a handful of controls that make limiting intuitive, whilst offering a few extra controls that most standard limiters don’t have that can enhance the tone of the audio running through it.
Sound Quality - 5/5: Surprisingly enough, Finality can add serious amounts of volume to tracks before the audio starts to sound too “flattened.” It’s entirely capable of being both a buss limiter, as it seems to handle full mixes quite well, and an individual track limiter, as its processing load is extremely low (about 1 percent usage on my 2.5 GHz quad core Intel i5), allowing the user to really place this all about their mix. While it tends to serve its purpose on the buss, catching peaks to keep them from clipping, this unit really shines on individual tracks, due to some of the additional features it offers. The “color” button can be a bit addictive when dealing with hollow sounding elements. Engaging it adds harmonics to the upper part of the frequency spectrum while simultaneously adding a low-end bump that sounds excellent on thin drums and vocals that are lacking some weight. I found myself using this color button quite frequently as I was testing it, as it really helped add a small bit of “bite” as it brightened up the upper part of the frequency spectrum. The “Aggro” button changes the release characteristics of the limiter in a way that helps drums to become limited in a more natural way. Finality does exactly what it’s supposed to do, limits the output of the peaks of the audio passing through, and does more.
Ease of Use - 5/5: When it comes to workflow, the approach I appreciate the most is the approach that limits the amount of controls the user can tweak, having some parameters in the background chosen intelligently for you, so that you are not overly-inundated with options that can cripple your ability to work diligently and logically. Finality Advanced seems to be in line with this philosophical design approach. The main controls, Threshold and Output, are the largest controls on the unit, which help to keep you focused on tweaking those primarily, the other controls are smaller, such as the sidechain’s high pass filter or look ahead, since you only need to tweak those if you are wanting to “dig a little deeper” to change how the limiter is reacting under-the-hood. For the most part, you can set your desired output volume, then start to back off on the threshold until you get a desired amount of gain reduction occurring. All of the other options sort of come naturally. Is the limiter reacting too much to the bass? Adjust your high pass filter setting. Is the limiter not anticipating peaks fast enough? Lengthen your look-ahead time. A/B both the Aggro and Color options to see which sounds better on the source. The graphical user interface is extremely straight-forward and easy to use. I don’t foresee many individuals struggling with using it or having to open an manual, it’s designed to be user-friendly.
Features - 5/5: Finality seems to have a handful of controls we expect to see on just about any limiter, but also has a few extra controls that we don’t normally see. The obvious controls don’t need any explanation.
- Aggro - Modifies release characters for peak/transient heavy material
- Color - Adds harmonics and low frequency bump to add “beef” and “brightness”
- Input Gain
- Look ahead - Allows the limiter to anticipate peaks by “looking ahead”
- Mix Control - Very hand wet/dry control (lots of limiters don’t include these)
- Hard/Soft Mode - Modifies release characteristics to change how the limiter transitions between dynamics
- Sidechain high pass filter - Allows the user to choose which low spectrum frequencies the limiter reacts to or ignores
- Auto Gain - Constantly adjusts the output as you adjust the threshold
- Meter with various monitoring modes (In, Out, Gain Reduction)
- Comes with reduced version of Finality - Finality Lite - which has less controls and is easier to use if you aren’t into “tweaking” settings.
- Low CPU
Bang for Buck - 5/5: I think 89 USD is a pretty fair price for Finality. At this price range, it competes well with other offerings on the market, both in the same price range and in higher price ranges. The intro price doesn’t only get you just one plugin, it gets you a second one as well (the lite version), which can be useful when you don’t have any need to really tweak what’s happening under-the-hood. Out of all my go-to limiters in my plugin folder, not one has a wet/dry control to blend the original audio into the limited audio. I absolutely love having parallel processing built directly into a plugin, so this convenience adds to the bang for buck. Others may not be as excited such a simple feature, but I’m under the believe that just about all dynamics processor should include this feature in the current era of in-the-box mixing.
Verdict: JST’s Finality Advanced is a pretty interesting limiter. It isn’t designed to present the user with superfluous amounts of controls for the tweaker who tweaks for hours on end, it’s meant to be a limiter that is inserted and works fast and well. After using it on a few test sessions, I gravitated towards using it more as a track limiter with the Color button engaged, as I like what it does, but it can also be used on the master buss with success too. Lastly, I think it’s important to mention that Finality works well on music outside of metal. Joey Sturgis is known for producing mainly bands in the subgenres of metal (metalcore, etc.), so most people assume his plugins will only work well in those contexts, but at least for Finality, I found a few other situations that it worked well on. It tamed the peaks on rap/hip hop vocals and an excessively dynamic bass guitar track that was recorded for the instrumental of the rap track. I also used it successfully on some acoustic guitars in a singer/songwrite track. I believe this limiter can be used all over the musical genre spectrum, one just needs to experiment.