A Limiter Tournament

So i set up a Limiter Tournament (using a variation on single elimination style) to decisively rank my Clipper/Limiter/Maximizer plugins against each other. Unlike with compression, which i often like to use for adding character, injecting density, and enhancing groove, my primary purpose for limiters tends to be to increase headroom by curtailing short transient peaks, leading to a consistent, clean output. For this reason, it is not so impractical for me to classify some limiters as “better” than other (unlike with compressors). This is also the reason why i am including clippers and limiters both in the same tournament. Limiters tend to pump and Clippers tend to distort, but lots of plugins have characteristics of both, and the basic purpose is the same for both: to reduce the pokiness of peaks which are so fast we don’t really hear them anyways. Maximizers? What the fuck are those? There is no consensus as different developers release things they call “maximizers” which do different things, but in general, they combine peak limiting with either low-level compression or saturation.

4 limiter/clipper/maximizer models at a time were pitted against each other in contests using HOFA BlindTest with clips gradually pushed into 35dB of limiting, gain-matched using Melda’s MAGC to be able to hear only dynamics, tone, and distortion characteristics without loudness levels affecting perception.

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New Stuff… finally!

Sorry it’s been a while, friends. So much has been in the works. The first thing to mention is that darren (who will be appearing at loop 2017 in November by the way) has been hard at work updating isotonik studios  so that it loads faster, has a better layout, and is an overall improved experience. Along with the update,  the final 2 packs which round off the fourth PerforModule Collection have now launched. To those who’ve already purchased the collection: THANK YOU! I really hope that it helps you make more awesome music, faster. That’s the whole point, right?

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Animus Invidious on the AfroDJMac Music Production Podcast (+ new free effect racks)

I was super stoked to be a guest on the AfroDJMac Music Production Podcast. Here’s your chance to hear my actual, real-life voice(!) The sound quality on my side is not wonderful since i was recorded over skype, but whatexer. I had a great time chatting with Brian about random stuff… the conversation decided upon its own meandering path, touching on various topics including the crafting and sharing of Ableton Live racks, VST hoarding, my custom Elemental Mixing template channel strip database, workflow optimization, cassette processing, dynamic contrast between songs on albums, and even the Legend of Zelda (nerds). All in all it was a very invigorating experience and i definitely wouldn’t turn down being a guest again at some point in the future. I myself have quite enjoyed the other podcasts, as they contain a plethora of unconventional tips which are superb for kick-starting the creative juices.

Oh, and we also dropped a couple free audio effect racks for you to grab, including something i brainstormed up quite a while ago and finally implemented perfectly: ‘Dynamic Panning’ (compresses in one direction while it expands in the opposite for source-reactive width modification).

Check out AfroDJMac’s website to access the show.

“Bussification”

The newest sale pack is here: “Bussification”. It consists of channel strip racks designed for placement on groups of tracks, auxiliary tracks, and on the master buss during mixing. Each macro control for each is specifically restrained in minimum and maximum ranges to exemplify the relevant characteristics of different types of instruments.


(massive props to Joshua Casper for the above video demonstration!)

Group Busses
By grouping similar instruments in a mix and placing different Bussification racks onto them, each is given a distinct frequency character “home”, leading to a clearer and more vibrant overall mix when applied carefully. For each buss, decide upon a frequency to enhance, in particular, to help it stand out. You can sculpt the brightness and darkness to fine-tune the resultant tone, remove unnecessary frequencies with “tauten”, and infuse parallel saturation. There is a “juice” control which determines overall intensity of various parameters, parallel saturation calibrated uniquely for each buss type, and finally a knob for natural-sounding, sophisticated level automation which works by balancing various internal parameters.

Auxiliary Busses
Set up two return channels (CMD/CTRL-ALT-T), one for “Dirt” and one for “Space”. Solo them and send just enough of each channel in the mix to it to be able to barely hear. Use “Dirt” to add a bit of edgy presence for a less muddy mix. Use “Space” to emulate a nice room tone, helping to glue all elements together and cohesify punchiness. After balancing all track sends, unsolo the return tracks, reduce their levels to minimum, and slowly introduce them into the overall mix for added vibe and color. A next-level trick is to automate those levels to introduce more dirt and space during different song sections.

Master Busses
Place one of these on the master buss to subtly alter the overall character from digital neutrality to match the media of choice. These each have different controls. “CD” is for general-purpose, modern pre-mastering with an emphasis on the solidity of bass and the clarity of high frequencies. “Vinyl Record” adds in custom emulations of turntable rumble, stylus quality, and surface grime, also with RIAA pre- or post-equalization. “Cassette Tape” is equipped with a very nifty tape hiss generator which creates the hiss based on the original material as well as nonlinear subtle sub and air contour distortion.

Grab “Bussification” over at isotonik studios. Available now!

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ALL Free VST Effect Racks for Immediate Release as of Now

EaReckon VST Rack.PNG
Due to an increasing upcoming workload, we’ve decided to release the freeVST racks all at once, instead of in monthly batches as originally planned. That’s over four-hundred and twenty individual racks now available! Talk about an expanded toolkit.

These are “default/template” audio effect racks for many different plugins which are available publicly for free in 64-bit. You simply load any of these Ableton racks, and it loads its corresponding plugin (assuming it’s installed). Each rack includes help text which will be shown when hovering over macro controls.

Most of the plugins we have racks available for have 32- bit and mac versions as well; however, some are 64-bit or windows-only. Mac-only and AU plugin racks are planned for a future update. FreeVST racks here will be updated periodically as necessary to reflect developer updates. If you know of a free vst developer we missed or encounter any issues, please leave a comment.

ABLETON LIVE 9.6 required (Intro, Suite, or Standard).
Yes, you can even use all of these racks with Live 9 Intro!

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Tons of new stuff: “Collection Three”

COLLECTION THREE includes 6 brand-new, premium, self-installing Ableton Live packs, which can be purchased individually or as a collection for some ultra-snazzy discountage. Isotonik Studios is the place to find them.
There are various audio demos at performodule’s soundcloud.

DynaMixing Four
dynamixfour
A shrewd set of audio effect racks with streamlined workflow for potent mixing in mind. Includes some “Artificially Intelligent” devices in the vein of the “Ionic FX” pack.
Stuff it comes with…

3-Stage Compression go-to which can be set as-needed for source material with any variety of dynamics.
Auto-Width Curtailer dynamically narrow unnaturally wide stereo.
Eleven push it (barely or way) over the cliff edge with a special chain of eleven co-reactive serial processes.
Expandurator (not to be confused with the easier-to-use but simpler Exbandurator) this allows for extremely precise fine-tuned “parallel bandpass expander saturation”, which allows frequency-specific material hidden in a part to be brought to light in a mix almost magically, with minimal alteration of level.
Flabber a unique method to beef up your low end.
Froptical Compressor a quirky multiband optical-style compressor which can be used to massage the overall tone with analog suave.
Jitterator add in randomly flickering, frequency focused saturation. Nice for adding analog humanization to digital parts.
Near vs Far one-knob method to emulate characteristics of closeness or distance (minus the volume level aspect).
Tight vs Dense one-knob method to fade between a tighter, more focused sound, and a denser, bigger sound.
Frequency Highlighter play a loop & sweep this around, making note of resonant frequencies. Or use the Auto-Sweep version, sit back, let it do it’s thing, and drink a tea.

Guitaritis
guitaritis
A deluxe suite including combo amp racks making the utmost of Live’s built-in Amp and Cabinet devices, “Stomper” effects designed like guitar pedals and guitar Chord presets.
Stuff it comes with…

Combamps a whole bunch (30) of combo amps which are crafted to optimize Ableton Live’s built-in Amp & Cabinet devices to their utmost. These racks make it much easier to dial in your sound (combination of preamp drive, tone, envelope settings, biasing, and gain structure) without having to constantly adjust the output level to match as well. They also optimize your timbre selection options by providing many “dual” and even three “triple” racks, which combine and balance the tone of multiple amps. In testing, these multi-combamps have been much-appreciated for an expanded range of unique amp flavors, as you now basically have 30 unique amp models, instead of 6. All combamps have been gain-staged at multiple points in the signal chain using both Peak and LU matching with both “Strat”and “Les Paul” styles, as well as bass electric guitars. The dual & triple combamps are gainstaged with a system resulting in relatively balanced levels at all gain settings when using wide panning (so that one amp is not way louder on one side than the other one). Since every guitar has its own tone & envelope character, these values are guaranteed to be imperfect, but it should result in you only needing to make miniscule volume adjustments to fine-tune your ultimate sound.
Post Amp Compressor a simple compressor with settings calibrated ideally for taming an amp output’s transients.
Guitar Chords 35 presets for Chord based on actual human guitar fingerings.
Stompers 18 racks set up like guitar pedals, designed for use with a Combamp akin to a physical guitar routing setup.  If you have a midi foot controller you can use them exactly as such. Includes…
Booster
Chomper
Comper

Dister
Dualay
Flonger
Gater
Glitcher
Phozzer
PitchDownDelay
PitchUpDelay
Smevel
Somber
Sproing
Swamper
Toner
Tremotary
Whamper

Groovification 2
groovenose
A robust collection of groove files which implement rhythmic “chop” effects in quarter, eighth, and sixteenth-note patterns.
Stuff it comes with…

Chopper Grooves 302 of them! Drop a Chopper Groove onto an audio OR a MIDI part, make sure your global groove amount is up, and hear it do its thing. Drop different Chopper Grooves onto different tracks… then when you turn global groove amount up… they all start chopping in their own way.

Harmonicality
harmo
Audio effect and MIDI racks designed for enhancing and manipulating harmonics by various methods.
Stuff it comes with…

Harmonic Colorizer enhance harmonics using various different methods. By using different amounts of each knob, you can set up your own unique boost texture to help a part stand out against its various song elements, or use it to subliminally add a particular color to a submix or mix.
Overtone EQ (3 versions) EQ racks set up to select a target frequency, and then manipulate the harmonics based on that frequency. The Even & Odd version allows separate control of even & odd harmonics. The Even vs Odd will boost Even or Odd and attenuate the other (useful for hearing the difference between those types of harmonics). The Sculptor version is useful for manipulating each harmonic interval individually.
Undertone EQ (3 versions) just like the Overtone EQs, but these manipulate lower harmonics instead (not as common of an operation). They include the same 3 versions.
Harmonic Chord Presets these will add in MIDI notes based on harmonic intervals. Simple, but useful. Includes 2nd through 4th harmonics which each add only 1 note and also CoarsePerfect, and Undertone versions which each add multiple harmonics.
Harmonics Extender (3 versions) MIDI racks which can be used to set (& automate) the amount of added harmonics. Includes CoarsePerfect, and Undertone versions.

Amplitude Operands
ampop
Utility presets allowing to divide or multiply level according to Sound Pressure Level, Acoustic Intensity Energy, and Perceived Loudness Sensation.
Stuff it comes with…

Sound Intensity by Energy (Utility Presets)
Sound Loudness by Sensation (Utility Presets)
Sound Pressure by Voltage (Utility Presets)
divide or multipy audio level by either “SPL”, “SIL”, or “Volume”. This is technical stuff. Check out http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-soundlevel.htm for more info. Basically…
-use SPL (voltage) division when you want to sum parts perfectly (i.e. 5 copies of something each divided by 5 SPL and recombined will equal the exact level of the original)
use SIL (energy) for acoustic energy calculations. Like, let’s say you’ve got a really small sound, like a pin drop. Multiply it by 100 SIL to estimate the level provided by 100 pins dropping at the same time.
use Volume (loudness) for the human perception of level.
So, to make something seem twice as loud, subjectively, multiply it by 2 Volume.
There are also included some racks to choose/automate which multiplier/divisor to use:
SPL Divisor

SPL Multiplier

Volume Divisor
Volume Multiplier

Note Range Setters
noterangemash
An assortment of midi racks, primarily for composers, which filter incoming notes according to standard instrument & vocal ranges, plus tools for making custom note ranges.
Stuff it comes with…

Note Range Setter (Absolute) define a playing range by setting the lowest and highest allowable notes
Note Range Setter (Relative) define a playing range according to distance from a root note
Note Range Blocker (Relative)
set a sub-range of notes to block from being played within a range

Includes individual MIDI racks for a vast range of classical and folk instruments, as well as standard vocal ranges:
Brass
36 instrument ranges
Exotic 2 instrument ranges
Guitar & Plucked 58 instrument ranges
Mallets 8 instrument ranges
Percussive 5 instrument ranges
Piano & Keys 14 instrument ranges
Strings 15 instrument ranges
Voices 35 vocal ranges
Winds 88 instrument ranges
Simply set a note range before a MIDI instrument to allow it to only play notes within that range.