Software Wears Soft Hair

Well, it’s been a week now and my Octatrack is still in the shop, hopefully getting fixed and on it’s way back to me asap. As is usually the case when a big project I’m working on gets interrupted for technical reasons, I’m having a hard time making the jump to working on something else in the mean time. I was pretty into the workflow on the OT when the card reader broke, and it’s not always the easiest for me to switch gears.

Still, I have to keep busy some how, right?

So for the last week I’ve been checking out some of the newer plug ins recently released that caught my eye, as well as upgrading my studio machine to the Mavericks OS. Let’s start with the OS upgrade, shall we?

Usually I’m one of those annoying early adopters that jumps on each new OS way before I should as an audio professional. I do this knowing that it’s easy enough to revert to a Time Machine back up if I need to, and even a full reinstall of all the OS and apps I use only takes me a couple hours if worse comes to worse.

Rarely has it been an issue for me though, and in this case, even less so. Everything works fine after install Mavericks, haven’t had a single issue at all. If anything it’s been a great update for me, Safari is running a lot smoother and graphics performance overall in CPU intensive audio apps is much better.

As always, you should really only upgrade once you’ve confirmed all your hardware and software works, but for the most part everything seems to be more or less the same for everyone else I know who’s upgraded. Just make sure you have a recent Time Machine back up before you take the plunge, and everything should be fine.

Pro-MB

One of the other new bits of software I’ve been checking out is the new multi-band compressor from Fabfilter. Those of you who read my blog regularly might be surprised since I often talk about how I almost never use multi-band compression for my mastering work. It’s just not something I find myself needing all that often, contrary to what advertisers might tell you when it comes to the tools mastering engineers use.

But in typical Fabfilter fashion, they’ve created something that is much more than just a multi-band compressor. I won’t go into a full review now, but the ability to do per band dynamic expansion, adjust the stereo width of certain bands, and the near flat crossover points (in dynamic phase mode) make it very appealing as a general purpose dynamics tool kit.

The interface I actually find a little complex compared to say Pro-L or Pro-Q, but given how much flexibility is on hand I think they did a good job of having it all make sense. At least as much as is possible, there are a LOT of parameters you have control over!

It doesn’t impart a sound of it’s own, and as someone who takes audio transparency quite seriously, that’s fine with me. Quite a different beast from say Compassion by DMG Audio, another dynamics power-house plug in, but one that excels at really coloring up the audio in useful ways. While Pro-MB is still not something I’m going to need to reach for often, it definitely is the best multi-band dynamics plug in I’ve ever used, so I’m glad I have it at my disposal for the times I do. Check it out.

Satin

Last, one plug I’ve only briefly had bit of time with, yet came away impressed, is U-He’s new Satin tape emulator plug in. Normally I’m not at all the type of person who would be interested in something like this, I don’t have the same affection for tape as a lot of people do. I LIKE the fact that our recording mediums are for all intents transparent these days!

Still, there’s definitely been a few times I wished I had something in-the-box to take some of the harshness out of a track I was sent. Usually I can tame it with gentle EQing, but even that can be overkill at times. But, I’m a big fan of URS Heckman’s plug ins and his way of engaging his community online, so I try everything he releases regardless.

Right off the bat I noticed it had that smoothness I associate with his Uhbik plug ins, they just sound silky to me. Satin was like that, but without the effect associated with it. Just pure smoothness at one end, and a warm grunge and distortion at the other end. Personally this would be something I would use only a tiny bit of, I have no need to drive things to the point of breaking up.

But for the few times I find myself thinking a track is just too cold and brittle sounding for the message it’s trying to delivery, I think Satin will do a good job at taking the edge off things. Still, early days for me with it, and I know how excited I get about new toys at first. I’ll report back with some long term thoughts once I’ve more time with it, as well as Pro-MB.

Anything else you lot are digging? I’m not really one to collect plug-ins, but if there’s something interesting out there, at least now I have the time to check it out. Send me any ideas, just post them in the comments.

Thanks!

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Just a quick reminder too. If you follow me on Facebook, specifically my Erik Magrini-Tarekith page, then please be aware that I will be making all of my music related posts from my Inner Portal Studio page in the future. The personal account will dedicated more for just that, personal things with close friends and family. There was just too much overlap happening, and quite honestly it was too much for me to stay on top of. So “Like” the Inner Portal page is you still want to get updates on Facebook about this blog, my own music releases and gigs, as well as inspiring music-related articles as I run across them.

Still on Twitter as well if that’s your thing.

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