FX

Auria FX & Plug Ins Review – Part 3 Mastering

I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone who sent me such inspiring emails about this series of reviews.

Part – 3 Mastering Plug Ins

In this third installment I will focus briefly on each of the following FabFilter Plug Ins for the purpose of Mastering.
ProC, ProQ, & ProL.

As good as all of these FabFilters are, they become useless if what you are using to hear the amazing results they are capable of producing, through just ordinary headphones or cheap speakers. It probably goes without saying, but excellent headphones and decent monitors are very important. We can’t all have studio monitors, but having at least very good headphones are a must. If you’re using the Apple ear buds that came with you’re iPod, or anything from the general selections of headphones from the electronics store, stop now. Go look at, listen to, and then buy some good ones. The differences you’ll hear are night and day. That’s just my opinion for what its worth.
I’m using Sennhieser HD 558 around the ear headphones. They were about $200 and sounded equal to all the other headphones I tested that cost hundreds more. For monitors, I am using some Altec Lansing speakers with a powered sub woofer, Ive had for ages. They have a very clean sound, but not quite up to “studio monitor” levels. They do get the job done in the limited space I have.

Onward.

FabFilter Pro C
Compressor
$29.99 via IAP

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This easy to use and great sounding compressor is a significant step up from the free compressor option built into Auria. Visually far more appealing at the very least. As is the case with all the FabFilters. ProC has 3 styles: Clean, Classic, & Opto. Hard, Soft Knee, Side Chain Supported, & Auto Gain & Release.
I found ProC to be more useful over the built in compressor and maybe its just me, but it sounds tighter. The moving compression level display has customizable curves. Seeing and hearing the work makes all the difference.
If you want to fine tune your sound at every point, you can, and ProC is very reliable. There are presets included as well that are set perfectly for each of the selections. Undo, Redo options and a before/after selector are also included.

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Program dependent attack and release curves
Large input, output, and gain change meters with different scale settings
Active knee display
Super-fast attack times

If you are just getting comfortable with using compression this will be a great plug in to begin with. If you have high expectations and want the very best compressor, this it. Whatever the need this sounds extremely good.

FabFilter Pro Q
Equalizer
$29.99 via IAP

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A good EQ is essential, if not the most important mastering tool. This 24 band, touch manipulated EQ is a godsend. Zero latency or linear phase with adjustable latency. It has all the filter shapes with variable DB/Oct slope selections you’ll need and is so easy to use. Make a mistake or change your mind theres a undo & redo option. Before and after toggle, left/right independent channel EQ’ing, real time frequency analyzer with pre & post EQ metering. Several perfectly tuned presets to choose from and very detailed parameters to (wait for it) tweak. Notching out a hot frequency is no problem, and with automation support there’s nothing you can’t manipulate or correct with high quality results.

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Up to 24 EQ bands
Filter shapes: Bell, Notch, High/Low Shelf, High/Low Cut with 6, 12, 24 and 48 dB/oct slopes
Intelligent solo mode makes it easy to tune notch filters and hear the effect of a band
Different display ranges: 3 dB and 6 dB ranges for mastering, 12 dB and 30 dB for mixing
Smart Parameter Interpolation

From hi, low shelving, stereo enhancements, frequency fixes, to wild filter FX like “telephone” sounds, and everything in between are possible. This is probably the single most necessary Plug In, and sounds noticeably better than the built in EQ. Which isn’t too shabby to begin with.
Yes, you need this. No you won’t regret it.

FabFilter Pro L
Limiter
$39.99 via IAP

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Another essential mastering and mixing tool is the “Brickwall Limiter”.
ProL has multiple advanced algorithms, features, and accurate metering.

Great transparent sound combined with maximum loudness
Four different limiting algorithms, all with their own character
Highly accurate output and gain reduction metering
Adjustable meter scale, including K-System support
Adjustable look-ahead, attack and release settings
Separate channel linking for both the transient and release stages
Advanced dithering with three different noise shaping algorithms
Inter-sample peak detection

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ProL is designed to be very accurate. It has up to 4x oversampling, but is very demanding on device resources. Of the 3 FabFilters looked at here, this one can put the greatest burden on your device. When the need for a really good limiter comes up, there just isn’t anything better. This particular FabFilter might be more niche than absolutely necessary. I mean that the included brickwall limiter does a fine job, but this is really specialized and more for experienced sound engineers to be fully appreciated.

Each of the FabFilters looked at here are of the highest quality. Certainly comparable to most available on desktop DAWs. They did an amazing job with these to really offer the very best tools for serious users who don’t want to compromise. They all have undo and redo, support for automation, touch support, and have extensive help support within.

Again, I hope this was helpful, and sorry it took so long to get this part 3 finished.

Part 4 coming up soon.

Auria FX & Plug Ins Review Part 2: Delay/Echo & Chorus

This Part 2 in the series of reviews looking at Auria’s FX and Plug Ins focuses on the Delay/Echo & Chorus effects available in Auria.

Is there an echo in here? Auria sure has plenty of options for your delay/echo and chorus FX needs. Some are packed in at no additional charge and offer high quality FX to suit most needs. A few others (maybe even more to come?) are available with more specialized functions featuring even greater depth and quality to your arsenal. All of them are unique and determining whether or not you might need to buy more can be confusing. I hope what follows will provide some assistance in your quest for the best FX for you. Remember all FX and Plug Ins can be automated in Auria.

Starting with the factory FX that come with Auria followed by the additional options you can purchase.

PSP Audioware: StereoDelay

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This unit provides a nice stereo delay effect ready to go. There isn’t much to say about this that most people probably don’t already know. Its a very solid delay unit. Complete with all the standard controls this StereoDelay delivers that perfect delay FX for general uses. It has a great wide ping pong delay effect. Very nice sustain characteristics. Hi and Low filters, independent pan controls. Spread, Saturate, Feedback, Wet, Dry mix, and Millisecond time control. Its not too hard on the CPU so you can get a lot more use from it in individual tracks.

PSP Audioware: StereoChorus

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Another splendid FX unit packed in at no additional charge. This StereoChorus unit is one of the better I’ve heard in all of iOS. It features a solid amount of customizable controls to add lots of depth to your music. You would be hard pressed to find a StereoChorus of this quality & capability elsewhere in iOS. Most (if not all?) others are just minimalistic and limited in features restricting users options for robust Chorus effects. Not this one. Fantastic for adding a little ( or a lot ) of Chorus swirl on its own or when combined with other FX like the Reverb units. StereoChorus brings a lot of life to all it touches. Like the Stereo Delay, this also has Hi and Low filter controls. Spread, Wet/Dry mix, Feedback and Millisecond controls are included as well. It has some presets for quick use in specific scenarios, or to expand upon. As with all the Auria FX units you can save your own creations for later use. We all need to have a good Chorus FX option at sometime or another. Whether you just want a small Chorus effect or crazy fast wobbly weirdness, this can do it. Having something sounding this good and easy on the CPU is most welcome.

PSP Audioware: Echo

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Available via IAP in the Auria Store: $14.99

Now we’re getting into some really cool stuff. This beautiful Echo unit has muscle. A high quality and strong Echo unit. This time based FX plug in goes beyond typical echoes of this breed. It has unique tape controls like “Wow” and “Ducker” to push beyond expectation fostering a most enjoyable creative experience. Inside is a marvelous emulation of classic analog tape echo FX of yore with 4 simulated mono tape delays. 2 for ping pong pre delay and 2 for the main stereo echo. Two tape slider controls, Tape Speed selector, and numerous ( see screen shot above ) virtual dials for several functions to tweak up some super cool effects. Drilling down into those many parameters can easily lead to effects that have a distinct and original sound indistinguishable from the hardware it replicates. I just love the immeasurable amount of possibilities to craft such a wide range of time based effects that have a classic tape echo character, unlike anything we have seen in iOS. A good amount of presets can be selected for immediate use. Capable of complex uses, PSP Echo is also very user friendly for all skill levels. Its a powerful plug in, so it uses a bit of CPU.

FabFilter: Timeless 2

Available via IAP in the Auria Store: $19.99

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This is a serious sound mangling beast! Not only a hi end tape echo unit, but also excellent for a multitude of effects. Its lovely emulation of analog tape delay is as good as any. High quality filters, time stretching, and modulation expand upon being just a tape echo unit. This has a different design from the other plug ins unique to FabFilter that is much more modern in appearance. Drag and drop modulation with the 24 slot modulation matrix and routing with a plethora of tools to make a huge array of effects. 16 Step XLFOs, X/Y controls, envelope generators and followers ready to take your sound to a new level in effects. Two multi mode filters with 11 characteristics and filter panning are under the hood.

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In addition to being an outstanding model of tape echo, it also can be used for Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Scratch, and whatever you might make up yourself are possible. The large number ( over 300 ) of presets put you on the path to those many effect types. Exploring them is half the fun. Timeless is an amazing plug in. Making specialized sound FX is a breeze with this.
You might think with all these effects options it would be a student of many but master of nothing? That would be incorrect. Everything you do with Timeless is of the very best possible quality available. I find this to be extremely useful and satisfying all around. Does that mean you don’t need anything else? No. You do need this however if you want the best of the best for multiple FX types that all sound equally as good. It does however take the biggest chunk out of the CPU, so be aware. Freeze tracks.

That wraps up Part 2. I hope you found something useful here. I tried to keep these brief and right to the point without getting too deep into the technical specs.

Thank you for reading. Part 3 will come next starting with some FabFilters like ProQ, ProC, etc. TBD.

csGrain – Review

Grains Of Change

Review based on use with iPad 2&3

csGrain using the CSOUND software synthesizer and signal processor gives us a great set of tools to record and process audio in real-time.

Take a live or imported recording and dramatically morph them into whatever your imagination inspires. So much can be done using the powerful stereo granular sound processor and 10 professional audio FX simultaneously. Its cool!

A clean interface lets you get things done without any hassle or confusion. Everything is laid out nice and tidy right in front of you. Maybe a bit drab in appearance, but pretty slick nonetheless. No worries about trying to find anything here.

I’ve spent many hours enjoying the range of options tweaking various recordings I made resulting in some rather wild samples. I love that you can set each of the parameters to move within a predetermined minimum to maximum range or totally at random. A long touch on any of the knobs leads to the Random Settings where you can choose to have that particular function move within the selected range. If you can’t decide on what to set things at, just hit “randomize”.  The knob will darken so you don’t lose track of it.

 Overall the audio quality is really very good. I didn’t experience any unwanted noises. It all came out sounding clean, and just as intended. The 10 FX are well made. The Reverb is pretty thin, and leaves much to be desired though. Applying all 10 FX at once didn’t even cause me any grief, and csGrain just kept working away twisting up the samples for as long as I recorded them.

The included preset samples are nice, but of course its  more about playing with your own. Managing your audio files and recording is easy within the app. You can save your things in the “My Audio Files” section found at the bottom of the screen. From there you can also select and do a simple edit of the file. csGrain also is great for field recordings using (careful of feedback) the device mic, or better an iRig Mic.

Import supports AudioPaste, Dropbox, and iTunes. Export via Email, Dropbox, AudioCopy, and “Open In…” Sharing made easy, just how we like it.

Also included is a handy, detailed user manual complete with well written instructions, and sample photos. If that still doesn’t answer your question, you can Email Customer Support from the manual.

If you want something for manipulating recordings in subtle to crazy ways that sounds great, csGrain will do the job. This is a wonderful app loaded with tools, features, and functionality. This is where you go for special audio effects for your music or audio projects. If you want to have some fun, you can also mess up tunes from your iPod library. Why not? Pitch Shift, & speed up the latest viral hit from that obscure hippity hop artist that just wont go away. Whatever you want to do, in this app you can certainly do it with Grain Style!

 

  5 Stars – Recommended Highly!  Visit iTunes to purchase csGrain