Freebie: “Golden” Multiband Presets

   Multiband Dynamics Processors. Such Beasts. So Much Power. So Easy to Abuse.

   During experimentation for a different purpose (making the “ultimate audio effect”… stay tuned), i got carried away and made “Golden” presets for a bunch of Multiband Dynamics plugins.

So what are Golden Multiband presets?
   I’m glad you asked. The basic idea is to sculpt an audio source to be less like white noise and more like golden pink noise. So what is golden pink noise? A modification of pink noise that is colored by the “goldilocks curve”.

   For most of the “Multiband Dynamics” type processors i own (see brief reviews of many of them in this recent post) i’ve crafted a “Golden” preset.

   Since most music follows more of a pink noise curve than a white noise curve to begin with, applying the full effect is far more likely to have a “warming, thickening” effect than a “brightening” effect, though it does depend on the particular source and plugin.

   However, you’ll notice that if you compare a golden multiband preset applied to an audio part — as compared to a similar, static EQ curve, that they feel less “murky” than they do “bulky”. The Pinker rack is included in the “Xtras” folder to test this concept with quick A/B tests.

   For evenly balanced to bright mixes, a golden dynamic preset can be perfect to smooth things out and add a dash of debonair; for mixes that are already leaning on the darker side, they can still be helpful for adding in a grounding touch of solidity— but in these cases should usually be used to a more subtle degree.

   I’ve fashioned such “Golden” presets for the following plugins:

~TB Broadcast*
~Brainworx bx_dynEQ V2
~Brainworx bx_XL V2
~ProAudioDSP DSM V3
~HOFA Dynamic Tilt
~Waves F6
~GVST GMulti*
~VoS Limiter6*
~VoS Nova67P*
~TDR Limiter6 GE
~
Ableton Multiband Dynamics
~TDR Nova*
~TDR Nova GE
~Xfer OTT*
~Klevgrand Pressit
~Newfangled Punctuate
~IK Quad-Comp
~Sonic Anomaly Quadracom
~Reaper ReaFir*
~Reaper ReaXcomp*
~W.A. The King
~Max for Cats TriComp
~Acoustica VioletCM
~Freeverb3 WindCompressor*
~Beatassist X-Press*

   Since each plugin has different functionality, the exact curvature varies between them (which gives them individual character). Some, for example, have no low- or high-cut capabilities and so retain more of those frequencies. The dynamic behavior of each also differs, so they may affect various material dissimilarly (especially the ones that have upward in addition to downward compression!).  What all the presets share in common, however, is a basic sculpting which is more likely to help than hinder your overall tone for consistent playback on different speaker types. The more you use them, the more you’ll get a feel for the unique quirks of each.

~`~

DOWNLOAD THE “GOLDEN DYNAMICS” PRESETS HERE
golden dynamics

   Provided both as Audio Effect Racks for Ableton Live 10+ (.adg) and as vst presets (.fxp for VST2 or .vstpreset for VST3), organized in folders by type.
   They load the same presets, but the Ableton racks are also hard-wired with some useful macro mappings for quick knob twisting of the most relevant parameters.

   You can either grab the zip file with everything in it, or you can only grab the specific presets for the plugins you own. I would probably recommend that latter strategy. There is also a pdf user manual which includes links to all the plugin vendors.

   When both VST2 and VST3 versions of a particular plugin are available, i’ll provide both .fxp and .vstpreset extension types, and the Live rack will load with the VST3 version, with sensible macros mapped for easy access. When no VST3 version is available, the rack will load the VST2 version instead.

USE WITH ANY DAW
   You should be able to use the .fxp and .vstpreset files with any DAW, as long as you have the given plugin installed.

Nifty Tip: I just recently realized that .vstpreset files can be dragged directly into a track in Ableton Live to load a plugin, just like any Live rack, which is super cool.

CAVEATS:

Designed for busses or the master channel more than for single tracks:
   Since the goldilocks curve upon which golden pink noise is based was formulated based on analysis of complete songs, these “golden” dynamic presets are not always appropriate for application on individual parts, suited more for groups or the master channel. But if you’re having problems with a certain track in a mix, one of them just might be the ticket.

Based on Flat as a Starting Point:
   If your mix is basically following a pink noise curve or leaning towards white noise (flat), golden dynamics presets tend to work pretty well at tasteful overall tone shaping. If your mix is already on the dark side with the top quite rolled off, however, they might make it too dark, in which case you may want to apply less of the effect, or add some top-end brightening to counter-balance.

Calibrated to -16 LUFS Integrated:
   These presets are designed to give a perfect frequency contour when applied to material which has been loudness-normalized to -16 LUFS integrated. Since dynamics processors utilize level thresholds, setting a base target level was essential. For optimal results, first make sure the audio feeding into it meters at or close to -16. You can still use the presets on louder or quieter material, but you might have to fiddle with controls to fine-tune the results to be optimal.
   Why -16LUFS? It’s my go-to loudness level for mixdowns and audio playback, giving a solid degree of punch with enough headroom for mastering. By getting in the habit of mixing down all of your songs to (and listening to all reference tracks at) -16LUFS (or whatever reference you decide upon), you can develop a more clear objective grasp of the relative spectral contours between them than you would when listening to tracks at erratically differing average levels.

You need to own the plugins!
   A given preset will only work if you have the corresponding plugin it uses installed in your system and recognized by your DAW. Don’t have any of these? You can fix that… the ones with *asterisks* in the list above are free!

   Interested in the “Goldilocks Curve” this was based on? It is contained within the “DynaMixing Ultimate” mega-pack for Ableton Live 9 along with a crap-ton of other carefully-crafted, highly usable effect racks.

   Interested in the upcoming magical device that adjusts dynamics and tone to make everything just wonderfully better? Stay tuned!

Social Isolation Freebie: “Secret Weapon” Racks.













While we’re going through some crazy times right now, it has been heartwarming to experience how humans have upped their compassion game in response to shared crisis. I’ve seen more freebies and crazy deals going on this past week than any other time i remember, which seems because people want to help each other, share and be nice (well, not so much a certain political faction in the usa who seems to prefer that regular people suffer as much as possible. But that’s another topic). With graciousness and care for their fellows is how humans should act, rather than trying to take advantage of each other sleazily—which happens all too much.

In this spirit, i am offering up my super secret stash of “Sweetie Pies”—a small collection of effect racks for Ableton Live Suite 10, each crafted to address a specific need in a sweet manner. These are highly practical yet fun racks with the primary purpose of “getting stuff done”.

i WAS planning on releasing this pack eventually anyways once it grew a bit more, but to expedite the process of getting you the goodies, i’ve decided to simply omit the not-quite-finished devices, give everything a good once-over, and release the pack for free as it is now.




SO WHAT ARE THESE GOODIES OF WHICH YOU SPEAK?

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Visualizing Bus Compression As… a Bus.

You may have heard many varying descriptions of the difference between track compression and bus compression, usually including vaguely-defined, mysterious terms like “punch” and “glue” which don’t really help us understand anything.

Well, i have a kinda dorky yet effective way to think of the difference between track and bus (aka buss) compression for you.
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A Simple Rule for When to Use a Dynamic vs a Static EQ.

So you’re working on a song and you’ve found a frequency which you want to adjust. Let’s say you want to nudge down 4.4k a little bit to reduce a bit of harshness. Now you ask yourself: what type of EQ should be used?

As time passes by, there becomes more and more dynamic EQ plugins available. Besides, in Ableton, Bitwig, and other DAWs, it’s easy to make any automatable EQ plugin act as dynamic by the use of envelope followers. On the other hand, when using a dynamic EQ plugin, there may be times when you want to use the bands as typical, with no reactivity.
So, we have a pretty much open choice of whether to use a static or dynamic EQ on a track we’re working on. So what to do?

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Narrow Down Your Plugin Needs

So Many Plugins

Brand new plugins… promotional sales on plugins… they are SO tempting. But do you really need that new compressor plugin that just dropped?

In order to assess which plugin types are lacking in your toolbox, i recommend making a spreadsheet of all the plugins you own by category. You might discover, as i did, that you have such a vast variety of compressor options to choose from, it’s likely that you won’t benefit a whole lot from purchasing any more of them. You also might discover, like me, that you’re somewhat lacking in gate plugins, and could indeed benefit from picking up a few new models. Etc… Continue reading

An Alternative to True Peak Limiting: Not

True Peak Limiting is a method by which a limiter adjusts for how the digital waveform will be reconstructed by playback systems which can result in actual peak levels above 0dB even when the digital peak level is technically shown at below 0dB.

Implied Curvature

Basically the way intersample peaks occur is that the quantization points of a digital waveform can at times imply a curve between them which goes up a little bit higher than those actual sample points, resulting in a louder-than-expected actual peak level coming though.

To imagine it, just draw two dots in your mind, and then instead of drawing a straight line between them, draw a slightly curved line. The two dots are at a height of zero, and the curved line connecting them is bumping a little bit above zero. See?

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All About Ableton’s Gate—A Pragmatic Guide

I found some old notes i had taken (for my own reference) about the parameters of Ableton’s Gate audio effect plugin and figured others could use the info as well, so i’ve polished ’em up, expanded on them a bunch, and dropped them here for you.

I’ve found that getting to know exactly how each parameter works with gate plugins leads to attaining desired results exponentially easier, and in particular learning how the more exotic parameters such as lookahead and hysteresis work facilitates sophisticated gate optimization.

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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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