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.
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?
What does compression sound like?
What are compressors actually doing to our audio?
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
↑ click on that ↑
The PK Rocket Monster is a wild, roaring, growly, nasty multisynth made from samples of the waldorf rocket synth. The really crazy thing about the PK Rocket Monster is its unique internal self-vocoderization (which to my knowledge has never been implemented in an Ableton instrument until now): it includes two chains, one which plays and one which alters the timbre of the other. You have two selector knobs, one which chooses the Primary Voice and one of which selects the Alter Voice. There are 37 available voices, meaning that by mixing and matching the Primary Synth with the Alter Voice, you have a total of 1,369 possible unique timbres available. (Don’t believe me? Go here and put in “sum 37d37”. Probability is fun!) The PK Rocket Monster excels at providing gnarly bass tones, but can also result in scorching sci leads. By experimenting you can get even weirder sounds. Suffice to say, it has incredible “replay value”. The samples were recorded at 24-bit, performed by the producer parasite kid.
PK Rocket Monster features:
•Voice matrixing for over one thousand possible resultant combinations.
•”Sweep” control which uses formant shifting for even more timbre flexibility or for drama-intensifying uplifter /downlifter effects (tee hee).
•”Pulse” which arpeggiates the Alter Voice to modify the Primary Voice’s tone rhythmically.
•Pre-calibrated one-knob “ee queue” for quick tone polishing.
•”Grain Amp” for junky chunk.
•”Redrive” for buzzy bite.
•”Space Trail” which dials in metallic ping verb.
The instrument is provided for you in a live set. Once you install it and open it in Ableton, simply drag the rack into your user library in the browser (or hit the little “disk” icon) to save it wherever you want. The samples will be automatically imported into your library for immediate use in any project.
Requirements: Ableton Live Suite, version 9.7+
File Size: 6.36MB (10.4MB unpacked)
On a whim, i made a series of effects based on terms from this silly turboencabulator video:
Grab the effects for Ableton Live FREE via isotonik studios.
For more history on the Turbo Encabulator, check this out.
Update: Huge thanks to Ableton for sharing the Turboencabulation pack for “FreeStuffFriday”! I love you, Ableton! Side-fumbling has indeed been effectively eliminated.