Variety of Sound SlickHDR VSTVariety of Sound just released SlickHDR – a new breed of dynamics processor. It takes the concept of high dynamic range processing (HDR) to audio domain. The UI might indicate it’s some kind multiband compressor but that’s not the case. Consider it as multi-timing compressor. In photography HDR is used to preserve details by combining a series of differently exposed images into one: the picture with the lowest exposure still contains features in the highlights whereas the high key image contains elements in the darker areas.

Applying this to the audio realm means to retain as much detail in dynamics as possible by splitting a signal into “normal”, “micro” and “nano” transients – so to say. In contrary to “standard” compressors that usually act upon the most prominent transients in an incoming signal. Those trade dynamics for punch.

Strongly simplified: if you shape a drumloop with a normal compressor you’re going to loose tiny details for the favor of prominent elements. And even though multiband compressors split a signal into x bands but still, the most prominent transients in each band will always win.

SlickHDR tries to prevent that by looking at a signal in a different way than normal compressors do. It splits it into a network of transients, weights them (controls P1, P2 & P3), treats them seperately and blends everything together with the mojo of stateful saturation.

Why? This approach is aimed at keeping dynamics vital, hence as transparent as possible while adding perceived loudness by adding harmonics through saturation. It’s different by design: instead of distorting the entire signal (or filtered parts of it), SlickHDR’s network of transient circuitry provides meaningful context for the saturation. It’s a bit like adding spice to individual ingredients while you cook vs throwing them all over the ready made dish.

Hope this yields a better understanding in what this plugin does and how it works.

Variety of Sound NastyDLA

Variety of Sounds classic chorus / tape delay simulation NastyDLA is a great free VST. I’ve been frequently using it in my Dub Techno tracks for those special echo duties.

Following his website you could see how he emerged with studying the sound of classic devices to designing his own device.

From his specifications:

  • input stage model including signal coloration and non-linearities (switchable)
  • classic chorus/flanger effect with amount and rate control which automatically adopts to the delay line configuration
  • frequency balancing filter for dead-easy overall tone adjustments in the feedback path
  • two different feedback color modes
  • feedback circuit and control which supports resonance up to self-oscillation
  • standard DSP 12dB high-pass filter
  • custom tape style low-pass filtering
  • sophisticated?tape hiss noise simulation
  • negative or positive pre-delay
  • comprehensive tape dynamics simulation taken from the core of the award winning FerricTDS
  • the dynamics offers a slight audio ducking effect (switchable)
  • two independent delay lines with up to 3sec delay time and sync to host
  • delay time modulation with two different modes
  • additional phase distortion (switchable)

Especially his treatment for the authentic tape hiss noise is getting my applause here, it sounds great and perfect for all your dub techno needs.

NastyDLA available as free VST effect for Windows (32bit).

The Cambridge EQ is – hands down – the best software equalizer i ever used. It is perfeclty predictable, precise and easy to use, sounds very natural and serves all my equalizing needs.

Especially its elliptical lowcut filter mode does very suprising things in the bass frequencies below 50hz and is unique to this EQ. Culprit: only available for UAD dsp cards. Then again i recommend purchasing a UAD anyway – you can run dozens of Cambridge EQs without ever putting your cpu in trouble.

A native alternative is Sonnox Oxford EQ. It’s got similar features and same ease of use. Then again it is missing the awesome elliptical filtermode. I didn’t yet find a free equalizer that satisfied my needs as much as above ones, eventhough it is often said that most EQs are basicly the same in terms of algorhythm. Of course i didn’t look for anything else in a while, thus suggestions are welcome.

I was looking for a transparent mastering limiter and bought Elephant back when the first version appeared. It always did a very good job to keep the levels in place. Last not least thanks to its reliable metering and ease of use it’s one of the workhorses in my setup. Can be purchased online at the Voxengo website, mac and pc versions available.

AD’s Rough Rider is the single channel and free brother of their multiband Pro version which reminds me a bit of Empirical Labs Distressor and its insane nuke compression mode. If you want to kill people with rimshots, burn those drumbusses in hell or just slightly attenuate effects on percussion, Rough Rider is a good one. Available for both: mac & pc.

Being part of the UAD-Series, the Fairchild 670 emulates the classic hardware compressor from the 50s. It’s known for its magic mix-glueing abilties and usually the sum compressor in my setup. Also awesome on groups and loops it is, alongside with the other UAD plugs in the bundle, the best thing i bought over the years.

Although it sounds quite different i think of Density mkII as being the nearest neighbour to UAD’s Fairchild. Capable of glueing a mix in a good way while preserving a good amount of dynamics, you shouldn’t miss it by any means. Last not least it’s free, like all those v.o.s./ex-Bootsie plugins. At the moment available for pc only.