The rise of digital audio production tools has forever changed the landscape of the medium. It might be fun to wax nostalgic over the recording studios of the past, with their rooms of big, bulky gear that looked really cool on photographs inside of a record sleeve. But for all their glory, those studios weren’t accessible to most. You had to be well connected and flush with cash to gain entrance. And while today it’s easier than ever to produce high quality audio with nothing more than a laptop, one thing that many producers long for is that “warm valve” tone that came naturally with all of that big, bulky gear.
Audio engineering companies have worked for decades to try and replicate the richness of valve-based gear using only software algorithms. A recent entrant to this arena is Audified with its inValve Effects plugin. This plugin includes:
- inValve Preamp: A precise software emulation of a tube amplifier. Adds warmth and smoothness you’ll need for analog-sounding mixes.
- inValve Compressor: Emulation of a standard analog tube-based compressor.
- inValve Equalizer: A four-band parametric equalizer with additional hi-pass and lo-pass filters.
The inValve Effects plugin can be used natively on Windows and macOS-based DAWs that run AAX, AU, or VST plugins. inValve Effects normally retails for $49 but the plugin is on sale for a limited time for $19.
iZotope is a maker of world-class audio plugins. It’s worth jumping on any chance you might have to pick up new iZotope plugins, and this month, there’s a great opportunity to do just that.
iZotope’s suite of Neutron plugins is focused on producing better audio mixes:
Achieve unprecedented focus and clarity in your mixes with Neutron. This new mixing plug-in combines the latest innovations in analysis and metering with award-winning audio processing.
With powerful new features like Track Assistant and Masking Meter, Neutron helps you quickly reach an optimal starting point, clearly identify perceptual frequency collisions, and fully wield creative control over all your mix decisions.
iZotope offers three tiers of this plugin: Neutron Elements, Neutron, and Neutron Advanced. Neutron Elements is currently on sale for a limited time. Here are some features that can be found in Neutron Elements:
- Channel-strip style workflow with over 200 professionally-designed presets
- Instrument detection for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals/dialogue
- Spectral shaping technology
- Equalizer with static and dynamic modes
- Compressor with clean modern or colorful vintage modes
- Exciter with four blendable saturation types and three global modules to fine-tune saturation color
- Transient shaper with three contour shapes and three global modes
iZotope Neutron Elements normally sells for $129 but is available now for $99 until June 30th.
The only thing better than new audio production plugins is FREE new audio production plugins. Plugin Alliance currently has six free audio plugins posted on its website, available as free downloads. Here’s a rundown of these plugins:
- Brainworx bx_cleansweep V2: A plugin that provides hi-pass and lo-pass filtering in one place. From Plugin Alliance: “Brainworx Anti-Crush technology uses analog style filter curves that eliminate common digital sound problems like harshness and aliasing. This advanced filter design is taken from their pro mastering EQ, bx_digital V2. First order filters (6 dB per octave) guarantee an extremely musical-sounding filter set, and a unique joystick interface (taken from the bx_hybrid) gives you fast and intuitive control.”
- Brainworx bx_subfilter: This plugin helps to deal with low-end frequencies that may be troublesome within a mix. From Plugin Alliance: “Polishing your mix’s low end can be tricky. Bass DI tracks can sound mushy, and kick tracks can lose their ‘pop.’ Sometimes everything below 100Hz can become such an undifferentiated soup of noise that you just don’t know where to start! Start here: The bx_subfilter is just the ticket for adding clarity and definition to tracks that have troublesome low frequencies. There are lots of expensive and complicated EQ plugins out there, but when it comes to shaping your low end, the bx_subfilter is unique for its ease and simplicity. With just a few quick adjustments to its four-knob interface, you can breathe new life into those 808s that have been muddying your mix.”
- elysia niveau filter: Another plugin that helps with EQ. From Plugin Alliance: “The niveau filter provides two basic controls: EQ gain and EQ frequency. Together, they allow you to change the proportions between high and low frequencies on your tracks. The principle is similar to a pair of scales. The ‘EQ Freq’ knob sets the center frequency. The ‘EQ Gain’ knob controls the amount of EQ applied to your signal. When the EQ Gain knob is at 12 o’clock, there is no EQ applied. When you turn the EQ Gain knob to the right, you boost frequencies above the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies below the center frequency. When you turn the EQ Gain to the left you boost frequencies below the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies above the center frequency.”
- SPL Free Ranger: This plugin is also EQ-centric. From Plugin Alliance: “The Free Ranger is based upon the Full Ranger-EQ from SPL’s EQ Rangers series. It features four very useful bands: The 16 kHz center frequency band is great for adding very pleasant brilliance; the 1.8kHz center frequency band really brings out lead vocals and guitars or reduces harshness; the 150 Hz center frequency band adds warmth, making tracks fuller & fatter, while the 40 Hz center frequency band adds that sub thump or reduces rumble.”
- Brainworx bx_rockrack V3 Player: A guitar amp simulation plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “The bx_rockrack V3 Player is your ticket to getting stellar guitar tones for absolutely free! By including the same eight immaculate guitar amp simulations as the fully-featured bx_rockrack V3 implemented across 26 professionally designed presets, bx_rockrack V3 Player gives you access to some of the best tones Brainworx has to offer.”
- Brainworx bx_solo: A comprehensive soloing and muting plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “bx_solo contains a stepped M/S Stereo Width Control, so you can get a sense of how M/S technology can be used to expand the stereo width of tracks already recorded. Try it out on subgroups, FX returns, keyboards, or any stereo track that you’d like to spread out. A great pro trick is to use M/S processing on a rock guitar subgroup: just set the stereo width to 150% and the guitars will jump out of your speakers!”
These plugins are available for free from Plugin Alliance for anyone with a free Plugin Alliance account.
iZotope makes some of the most versatile and useful audio production plugins available. The company offers its plugins in packages that range in price in order to make its products as accessible as possible. A few times a year, iZotope will sell some of its plugins at reduced prices. And one of those sales is on now.
The iZotope RX Plugin Pack is normally priced at $129. But for the next couple days, this bundle is being offered at 60% off, for a price of $49:
From hit records to Hollywood blockbusters, iZotope’s RX plug-ins have made it easy to quickly clean up audio from less-than-ideal recording scenarios. RX Plug-in Pack includes four essential audio reair plug-ins curated directly from iZotope’s award-winning RX software:
Salvage great dialogue and vocal performances by removing the unintended clicks and other mouth noises that make their way through the pop screen. Treat continuous background clicks on old recordings and vinyl transfers.
Get rid of the electrical hum and line noise of ground loops and buzzes that can end up on multitrack recordings, and often only gets caught later in the process.
Salvage great performances by quickly reducing distortion on a vocal recording and cut down on the need for retakes. Repair digital and analog clipping artifacts to save single-take recordings—especially live shows, rehearsal recordings, and archival material.
Dialogue De-noise Plug-in
The zero-latency Dialogue De-noise real-time plug-in is the most powerful denoiser for working with any voice recordings: voiceover, podcast, sung vocals, and more.
These iZotope plugins are compatible with most modern versions of Windows and macOS. Available plugin formats include Native AAX 64 bit, RTAS 32 bit, Audiosuite DPM 32 bit, AU 32/64 bit, VST 2 32/64 bit, and VST 3. Check out iZotope’s “Master the Mix” store for special pricing on other iZotope products.
Breathing. It’s a necessary part of the biological process if you want to remain alive. And while the proper application of breathing can add depth and humanity to a recorded piece of singing or spoken-word audio, sometimes it can be a distraction to those who are listening. While it may be possible to simply edit out unwanted breath or breathing-related noises, if you’re working on a long project with a lot of problematic breath sounds, fixing the recording by hand could be a lengthy, tedious task. That’s where a handy audio plugins like DeBreath from Waves comes in:
Singers insist on breathing – even when it spoils a perfectly good take! With DeBreath, you can truly take their breath away. DeBreath uses a unique algorithm that automatically detects and separates a vocal take into two distinct tracks: only voice and only breath. Now you can control how much breath you want on your vocal track, and how you want it processed. You can even add room tone where breaths have been removed or reduced. And DeBreath isn’t just for singers; it’s also a great time-saver for voice overs and multimedia.
The DeBreath plugin is included with several high-priced bundles from Waves. The plugin is also available as a standalone purchase, normally priced at $99. But DeBreath is currently on sale for a limited time for just $39. Get more information on the plugin by clicking the link at the top of this post.
In a perfect world, all audio recordings would be made in a controlled studio environment with proper acoustic treatments and sound proofing. That way, the captured audio would be as clean and dry as possible. But, with the proliferation of low-cast audio recording systems, a modern-day recording “studio” could be anything from a cavernous cathedral to a small bathroom. That means that sometimes, the resulting recordings might have some unwanted echo/reverb effects that couldn’t be eliminated at the source. While it’s simple enough to add echo/reverb to a recording afterwards, it’s not always easy to take it away.
Accusonus has worked to solve the problem of unwanted echo/reverb with its new ERA-R dereverberation plugin:
Add clarity to your mixes, clean up your dialogue tracks and tighten up your music performances. ERA-R is the only plugin that attenuates or removes excessive reverberation with a single knob. Based on the accusonus multi-patented audio restoration technology, ERA-R automatically estimates the reverberation profile and offers the means to adjust the reverberation amount in a streamlined interface.
The ERA-R plugin is compatible with most modern versions of macOS and Windows. Accusonus has tested the plugin with Ableton Live 9.7, Apple Logic Pro X 10.2, Steinberg Cubase 7.5 (64-bit only), Avid Pro Tools 11.3 and 12.5, Cockos Reaper 5.32, Presonus Studio One 3.0, ImageLine FL Studio 12.0, and Audacity 2.1.2. ERA-R is currently available at an intro price of $39. ERA-R is also available as part of a few bundle offers from Accusonus that vary in price.
Audio production professionals can never have enough reverb/echo plugins. These effects can often help turn a good mix into a great one. There are plenty of good free plugins out there for reverb and echo. In fact, most digital audio workstations come preinstalled with decent ‘verb and echo sets of their own. But sometimes, a mix needs more than what the base line can offer. That’s where plugins like Echo Farm from Line 6 come in.
Recently, Line 6 released the latest version of Echo Farm (3.0) for ProTools:
Classic Delay and Echo Effects for Pro Tools Systems Bring the same legendary collection of vintage echo effects back to your studio with Echo FarmTM 3.0—now available as a 64-bit AAX plug-in for Pro Tools 11 and higher. Choose from 12 models based on* vintage hardware units like Maestro® Echoplexes, Roland® RE-101 Space Echo®, Boss® DM-2, Electro-Harmonix® Memory Man and T.C. Electronic® 2290—plus Line 6 originals. Each unit delivers the detailed sonic properties of tubes, tape and vintage electronics—so you can add organic warmth and mojo to your mix without the expense and hassle of bulky outboard gear.
Echo Farm 3.0 for ProTools is currently available for macOS only (Windows version coming soon). The plugin requires iLok authentication as well as a qualified Pro Tools HD or Pro Tools system, software version 11 and higher. Echo Farm 3.0 for ProTools costs $199 for first-time buyers. There’s also a $49 upgrade option available to owners of Echo Farm 2.x versions of the plugin.
Nobody likes noisy audio tracks. They can be particularly problematic in spoken-word productions. And while it’s obvious that the best way to solve a noise problem is to cut it off at the source, that’s not always an option. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to audio producers for reducing or (hopefully!) removing unwanted noise from recordings. But even with the variety of these denoising tools available today, there’s still plenty of room left for improvement.
And making a better denoiser is exactly what Accusonus is aiming for with its new “single knob” ERA-N audio plugin:
Enhance your voice-overs, repair your music recordings and restore your damaged audio files. ERA-N is a single-knob high-quality denoise plugin that just works. Based on accusonus’ multi-patented noise removal algorithms, ERA-N offers a quick and efficient workflow and allows you to rescue audio recordings that you would have previously considered unusable.
ERA-N will be available for digital audio workstations that use AU, VST, and AAX plugins, ERA-N is expected to go on sale at a special early-bird price of $39, with a final retail price of $59 after that. Check out this video for more information on the Accusonus ERA-N denoising plugin.
Line 6 has been innovating the audio hardware and effects space for decades. The company made a big splash with the release of its latest flagship guitar effects processor, Helix, in 2015. And while the hardware version of Helix has proven to be very popular with musicians, Line 6 identified a need for Helix’s effects outside of an all-in-one piece of gear. That’s why Helix will soon be released as an audio plugin, with native versions available for most popular digital audio workstations:
Helix Native is a world-class guitar processor plug-in that accurately recreates the dynamic sound and feel of vintage tube amps, cabs, mics and effects with award-winning HX modeling. It allows guitarists and engineers to accurately recreate the dynamic sound and feel of vintage tube amps, cabs, mics, and effects in professional DAW environments and they can now bring those exact tones to the stage by simply transferring their plug-in presets to their Helix hardware.
Seamless workflow and broad compatibility. The Helix Native plug-in features broad compatibility with your DAW of choice, offering powerful 64-bit performance on AAX, AU and VST3 platforms. It also tightly integrates with Helix hardware so you can take your presets from studio to the stage—and back again.
Pricing is not yet available for the Helix native plugin. Line 6 has marked the plugin’s status as “coming soon,” with no further release details.
iZotope is well known in the media production space for its high-end processors and plugins. And while there are many iZotope fans who swear that the company’s products are worth every penny, it’s true that iZotope stuff doesn’t come cheap. That’s just one of the reasons it’s a newsworthy event when the company decides to give away a new plugin for free.
That’s exactly what iZotope is doing with Neutrino, a “spectral shaping” plugin:
Add that final polish to your mix with Neutrino, a free spectral shaping plug-in that offers a glimpse into iZotope’s newest mixing technology. Insert Neutrino on multiple tracks across your session to reveal a subtle amount of detail that can help elevate great mixes to a new level of refinement.
Neutrino is being released in VST, AU, AAX, and Audiosuite formats for both Windows and Mac. According to iZotope, the plugin is compatible with Logic Pro X.2, Ableton Live 9.5, Pro Tools 12.4, Pro Tools 11.3.1, Cubase Pro 8.5, REAPER 5.11, FL Studio 12.2, Studio One 3.1.1, and Pro Tools 10.3.1. It’s unclear if Neutrino is capable of running under other DAWs.
You’ll need to give up an e-mail address to get your free copy of Neutrino. It’s a small price to pay for what looks to be a pretty cool piece of software. Once you’ve filled out the download form, the iZotope website will give you your software serial number and automatically trigger the Neutrino download. You should also receive an e-mail from iZotope that contains your serial number along with a download link, just in case.