Acustica Audio SAND3 Released!

Most of the hit records that you hear are mixed on large format Solid State Logic consoles. SSL gear is not cheap at all…but now with Acustica Audio’s latest release, you can get close to the sound of the top dawgs.

SAND3 gives you not one, not two but FIVE equalizer modules.
-A: 4000 G
– B 5000
– C 9000 J
– +E 4000 E clone
– +G 8000 GB clone
Source

For the intro sale price of about $68 that would be more than enough…but Acustica have also included three compressors as well. Two variations of the classic quad buss compressor AKA “the glue”. Plus the new channel strip compressor, which should help make your drums pop!

I almost forgot to mention, their extensive new saturation options. You get 56 samplings of mic preamps, line inputs and group/mix busses to complete your virtual SSL console.

Just keep in mine, these aren’t designed to be over driven, so gainstage everything as if it were analog gear! Peaks at around -14 to -10 will do you well. Read more and buy it at https://www.acustica-audio.com/store/products/sand-fab4

DiBiQuadro Virgo Review Fender Twin Reverb Plugin

As per the usual, here’s the video review with plenty of audio samples:

And here are the script notes:

The 1965 Fender Twin Reverb is the classic clean vintage guitar combo. Its legendary sound can be heard on all types of big name albums both past and present. 

So, when I found out that the reissue combo was sampled for the first official third party plugin using Acustica Audio’s Nebula 4 technology, I was very excited to try it out.

The plugin is called Virgo and it’s from the folks at Dee Bee Quadro. First, some random samples:

And now a comparison between a real vintage ’65 Fender Twin Reverb and Virgo.

Installation process, CPU usage, low latency mode, etc.

Doesn’t have spring reverb

For fun, let’s hear it on bass guitar.

Room or Plate (Rich) Bricasti M7 reverb.

Run vocals through it.

Does indeed take up a lot of RAM.

Shure SM57 and Beyerdynamic M 201 microphones through a BAE 1073 preamp.

Built in Limiter

Tremolo!!!!

High Definition mode = 300 FIR impulses.

PWR = Use your own cabinet impulse responses if you want.

As always, gain staging is very important.

Low latency mode:

Activate just the tone stack and out sections.

Open “VIRGOZL.xml” with a text editor and set FORCEOFFSET tag to 23:

o <FORCEOFFSET> 23 </FORCEOFFSET>

Set ASIO latency to 128 samples.

I did not test low latency mode for this review.

Analyzing Linkin Park’s One Step Closer

Video:

Script Notes:

Sources:
https://www.linkinparkguitar.com/bradsguitars.htm

https://www.guitarchalk.com/brad-delson-amp-settings/

https://equipboard.com/pros/brad-delson

https://www.uberproaudio.com/who-plays-what/214-linkin-park-brad-delson-guitar-gear-rig-and-equipment

https://www.lpassociation.com/forum/threads/meteora-guitar-tone-the-ultimate-guide.44730/

https://equipboard.com/pros/rob-bourdon

https://www.linkinparkguitar.com/mikesguitars.htm

https://www.guitartricks.com/forum/thread.php?t=8748

https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-real-story-behind-linkin-parks-hybrid-theory

See the video description or pinned comment for some of my sources.

The album Hybrid Theory was recorded at NRG Recording Studios, which is a top of the line studio in Los Angeles, CA  One Step Closer, the song being analyzed in this video, was Linkin Park’s debut single and it along with several other singles propelled them to worldwide rock stardom. Hybrid Theory. To date, it has sold over 32 million copies making it the best selling rock album of the 21st century.


Brad Delson, lead guitarist for Linkin Park, uses the equipment that I’ve listed on screen. Some or all of this gear was used to record the songs on the Hybrid Theory album.

A few tips for recording high gain electric guitars:

It’s best to be set everything up separate from the cabinet itself, so that you are hearing the amp through a microphone then through control room speakers and not in person. This is also where a DynaMount remote microphone placer helps out.

For EQ, set flat on the amp. Flat settings depend on the amp but are usually labeled at zero but it could be another setting. Tune up then play an E note to set bass, play an A for mids and D for the treble control. Tone and volume controls on the guitar itself also need to be set.

Back off the gain. You should have just enough for that metal sound but not too much that it destroys your string attack and turns it to mush.

Record layered guitars. Pan left and right 100 and 80, four different tracks. Triple tracking can also work. The playing must be very tight. Re-tune after every take. Bridge vs. neck pickups or change the guitar for another brand with different style pickups.

Mike Shinoda also plays guitars here and there. Early on, he was an Ibanez user, particularly the RG120 and RG2020X models. He could also be seen playing the PRS Santana SE and PRS Standard 24.

Rob Bourdon is LP’s drummer. GMS Drum Company drum set is listed in the liner notes along with Paiste cymbals. Other gear is shown on screen.

Remo Ambassador heads. Gibraltar hardware. 

Vater American Hickory 5B wood tip sticks. 

DW double kick pedal.



To my understanding, Linkin Park’s bassist did not play on the album. Studio musicians Scott Koziol, Ian Hornbeck and also Brad Delson shared the low end string duties. Koziol is credited as the bassist for “One Step Closer” in the liner notes and is featured in the music video.

For curiosity’s sake, here is Dave “Phoenix” Farrell’s equipment rig:

As for the electronic elements…they Mr. Joe Hahn and Mr. Mike Shinoda used a bunch of stuff. I’ll leave it at that.

Chester recorded with a Telefunken ELA M 251. The one shown on screen is the actual one that was used during Hybrid Theory’s recording sessions. I’ll post a link to that below as well.

This is the actual microphone that Chester used to record Hybrid Theory. We thought it was fitting to use it when we…

Posted by Grey Daze on Saturday, April 13, 2019

For the rest of the video, where you can hear the mix stems, you’ll need to go to Real Home Record dot com and find the link. Thanks for watching and don’t forget to tap that thumbs up button if you learned something from this video.

Possibly a Paul Reed Smith CE 24 guitar. 

DiMarzio Dropsonic AKA D-Sonic bridge pickups

D’Addario strings. .010 set, .049 on low E.

Drop D tuning

Various Boss pedal effects, going through the effects loop post amplifier.

Ibanez RG7620, 7 string guitars may have also been used for layering.

Marshall 1959SLP 100W but not on this song. Mesa Boogie slant or Recto 

Mesa Boogie 100W Dual Rectifier amplifiers. Brad Delson also uses a 

Traditional 4×12 cabinets with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers.

An EBTech eight-channel hum eliminator serves as Delson’s effects loop, 

running everything through channel selectors.

Microphones: Shure Beta 57 or maybe a Royer 121 or Heil PR30

But for curiosity’s sake, here is Dave “Phoenix” Farrell’s equipment rig:

Music Man Stingray, Fender Precision Bass and Ernie Ball Stingray as well.

Dean Markley Blue Steel strings.

Dunlop Tortex Standard 0.88mm pick

Ampeg SVT-CL, Ampeg PN-410HLF and Ampeg SVT-810E cabinets. 

Tech 21 Sansamp NYC model PSA-1

Pedals: Dirty Boy Bass Bully, ZVex Mastotron Fuzz, EHX Holy Grail Reverb, 

Then 33 year old Artists and Repertoire guy Jeff Blue is in a large way 

responsible for getting Linkin Park signed to Warner Brothers Records. 

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Blue). The band was shopped for three 

years for a total of 43 record label showcases. He then negotiated in his 

employment contract Linkin Park’s signing. He previously worked for Zomba, 

which signed Xero…the original Linkin Park lineup. 

The same year LP was signed to WB, the Hybrid Theory album was released and 

the rest is history.

TMPGEnc Video Mastering Works 7 Review Professional Video Encoder and Editor by Pegasys

Video review of TMPGEnc Video Mastering Works 7

Script notes:

If you work in the video profession, you know that addressing frame rate mismatches, resolution disparities, file format incompatibility and media encoding for different specs is a daily need. That’s where programs like TMPGEnc Video Mastering Works come in.

If you need to mix a variable frame rate vertical video that was recorded at 60 frames per second and 1080p but need to mix it with a constant frame rate standard definition clip that was recorded at 60 interlaced and of course a 4:3 aspect ratio then upscale all of that to 4K at 24p…Mastering Works 7 can handle it. Add a blurry zoomed in copy underneath the vertical video like the TV shows normally do? Mastering Works can do that too! All in the same clip and encoded into a broadcast quality format.

Change title/action safe guidelines to a different color? Not a problem in TMPW. Top Field First to Bottom Field First interlace conversion? It can handle that too! It has a Waveform and Vectorscope too.

Now in version 7, the best in my opinion just got a little better. It of course supports more file formats, it thankfully retains its professional no nonsense interface and most importantly it rarely if ever crashes. The editing capability has expanded from version 6 and…

The manual linked to an online web site. This is a good and bad thing. Is a PDF available?

Who needs it?

People who want to convert/transcode videos from one format to another. It is truly professional grade software.

Bluray/DVD ripping to your desired format, as long as it isn’t copyright protected.

Basic and advanced editing capabilities.

High Precision de-interlacing

High end frame rate conversion (30p to 24p and 60i to 24p inverse telecine)

Great upscaler.

Batch encoding.

Clip stitching

Requires at least 2 GB of RAM. Honestly if you are working with videos and using less than 8 GB in 2019 you need to cut it out.

Motion Adaptive

Motion Adaptive algorithm avoids the weaknesses of bob and weave algorithms by using bob deinterlacing for moving areas of the image and weave deinterlacing for still area.

All color spaces and bits per pixel per color plane are supported, although a YCbCr color space is used internally for high memory bandwidth configurations with video over film cadence detection.

If the motion computed from the current and the previous pixels is higher than the stored motion value, the stored motion value is irrelevant. The function uses the computed motion in the blending algorithm, which then becomes the next stored motion value. However, if the computed motion value is lower than the stored motion value, the following actions occur:

The blending algorithm uses the stored motion value.

The next stored motion value is an average of the computed motion and of the stored motion.

This computed motion means that the motion that the blending algorithm uses climbs up immediately, but takes about four or five frames to stabilize. The motion-adaptive algorithm fills in the rows that are missing in the current field by calculating a function of other pixels in the current field and the three preceding fields as shown in the following sequence:

Superior 29.97p to 24p interpolation method: de-interlace filter and (24 fps Combing Reduction)

Doesn’t support audio passthru.

Motion Adaptive High Quality (Sobel Edge Interpolation)

Motion Adaptive High Quality (Sobel edge interpolation) is the highest quality algorithm, applying a merged bob and weave based upon the amount of motion detected, and in areas of high motion applying a Sobel-based edge detection algorithm to interpolate between two pixels. Source: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/programmable/documentation/bhc1411020596507.html#bbq1494500213630

– Normal vs. Timeline mode

– Color Correction

– Hardware acceleration for faster encoding. Software encoding is  the higher quality option for lower bitrates.

– VST support. I’d love an option to disable individual plugins, because one keeps giving me an error message at startup.

– Undo/redo functions

– File relinking when files go missing

– Supports Mastering Works 5 and 6 project files

– Right-click start up screen to clear the recents.

– Save under the Options menu

– Save as Project Archive is VERY handy!

– Quick preview is also handy.

– Proxy file creation, in case your computer can’t keep up while editing.

– Convert HDR video to SDR.

– Supports Look Up Tables.

– Docking and re-framing of the panels

– Clip grouping

– Lossless compression with VP9 and FLAC Output to Uncompressed video formats is also supported under AVI output.

– Animation easing

– VC-1 and DTS Audio is not supported.

– Does not support the AV1 video codec.

– Does not appear to support newer image file formats such as webp, FLIF, heif or AVIF.

– Pre-rendering button (Red dot and arrow button, clip edit normal mode, to the left of the transport controls)

– Opus bitrates are limited

– Source Wizard is where the magic happens.

Import all kinds of sources included non-copy protected DVDs/Bluray discs,  ISO file importation is also possible. Windows Media Center recorded files and even photo files.

– Does not support DVC Pro HD files in a Quicktime .mov container. Neither does Magix Vegas Pro 15. But…Handbrake does.

– Test deinterlacing and pulldown methods on small clips with motion and non-motion.

– Does it support REDCode? Nope. You need to convert using the free RED CINE X Pro app.

Data copied to the HDD is not deleted, even after outputting the project. If the files are useless once you complete your work, manually delete the appropriate data in the folder specified in the [Destination Folder], or you can use the [Advanced Tools] > [Work File Manager] to delete the files.

The nice thing is, chapter and keyframe info is imported. 

Advanced Tools has a Multiplexer and Demultiplexer.

[When importing data saved in a Blu-ray disc or memory media]

You should specify the top-most directory folder such as [BDMV] since the Blu-ray and AVCHD contain many information files which comprise the Blu-ray (AVCHD).

– If importing DVDs or other similar sources doesn’t work, try the MPEG-2 TS/PGMX/MXF option.

In the case of a TS file, a [Playlist] is the entire video file, a [Program] is a collection of files split by scene, etc. Select the [Playlist] if you want to add the entire file, select one or more [Program] if you want to add only some of the programs embedded in the playlist. 

– Asset import = a .tvmw7clip file. Timelime mode –> Save as an Asset

– Color Management, excellent! The importance of this cannot be understated. Incorrect color space and gamma detection can wreck havoc on videos.

“If the color space of the source file is mixed, or if the color space of the output is going to be different from the color space in the source file, you can use the Color Management settings to set the working color space.”

For an SD size DVD, Blu-ray or a common MP4 file, you would normally set it as [ITU-R BT.709] (Color Primaries: ITU-R BT.709, Transfer Characteristics: ITU-R BT.709).

If you want to output a wide range gamut file, for example for output for an HDR monitor, you would normally set it as [ITU-R BT.2020] (Color Primaries: ITU-R BT.2020, Transfer Characteristics: ITU-R BT.2020).

The processing order of the color space is processed from [Source video] > [Working color space] > [Filtering] > [Output setting’s color space]. 

– Downrezzing from 4K to 1080p or 720p looked fine. Downrez from 4K to SD interlaced looked bad/flickering. So, deinterlace to 480/60p first and then interlace that footage. Unless there is a way to interlace last?

The Filters go top to bottom, as per the standard.

Under the Clip Properties, look for the drop down menu next to Browse.

Add filter is awkward. Right click the edit line to add it. If you move your clip the effects don’t move with it.

– Want to blur a part of the screen? Using the mask filter! Set parameters then double click to add it.

Automatic playback allows for slow motion! Hold down shift while moving your mouse around.

Useful Normal Mode Filters (under Add Filter button)

Unlike a lot of catch-all software, the effects aren’t half-baked. They work very well. They weren’t tossed in as an after thought for marketing purposes.

Change filter order (drag and drop)

Speed (slow motion or fast motion)

Rotation

Video Denoiser

Precision video denoiser

Video stabilizer

Chroma keyer (awesome but needs a garbage matte option)

VST 2.4 audio plugins are supported but it’s not very stable. You’re better off mixing your audio externally.

– I was disappointed that smart rendering was not included this time around.

– Supports iVDR

– No FFV1 output

– User manual doesn’t explain why the user may want to choose one codec over another.

– 30 day trial

– Set up preferences first if you are an advanced user.

IK Multimedia T-RackS Tape Machine Collection Review

IK Multimedia have released their take on classic tape machines and high end tape formulas. Did I like what they had to offer? Find out by watching this:

24 – 1980s vintage MCI JH24

Controls: Input knob controls the signal

Input button: Signal passes only through the ins and outs, bypassing the tape.

Repro: Passes signal through the entire recording system.

Transport Modeling: Keep it on for the mojo. Models the mechanical irregularities of the tape reel.

True Stereo: Slight volume, EQ and distortion differences between two channels.

Bias: Higher = Overbias, which gives a warmer/gently saturated sound.

Underbiasing = boosts high frequencies.

Tape Formula: 

250 – 3M/Scotch 250. Warm tone, more saturation than other formulas.

456 – Ampex 456 High Output Mastering tape. The most used tape ever. Warm and round with a touch of saturation.

GP9 – Quantegy GP9 Grand Master Platinum. Punchy and high fidelity.

499 – Ampex 499 Grand Master Gold Studio Mastering Audio Tape. Can handle a lot of level with minimal distortion/compression. Sounds closer to digital recording than the others.

Auto Calibration: Resets to factory calibration

Record Label: Leve of the recorded signal AFTER the input when Repro is on.

Record HF EQ: High shelf, added to recorded signal on tape.

Play Level: When in Repro, adjusts the level of the recorded signal, AFTER the tape. Used to calibrate the machine.

Play HF EQ: High frequency shelf, after the tape.

Play LF EQ: Low frequency shelf, after the tape.

Output level: controls the output level of the module.

On: Bypass

Reset: all controls back to default.

Tape Machine 80 – Studer A80 MK II, 1970s vintage. Perfect blend of transparency and subtle harmonic enhancement.

Tape Machine 440 – Ampex 440B. Late 1960s vintage. “Soulful color”.

Tape Machine 99 – Revox PR99 Mk II

Fuse Audio Labs 258-A VCL 864 & VQP Bundle Review

For those looking for a Langevin 258-A, 259-A or Federal Television Corporate AM-864U plugins, look no further. Fuse Audio Labs has you covered and in this video you’ll hear them in action:

Script notes:

The thing I like about Fuse Audio is they model esoteric gear that most of us have probably never heard of. Instead of doing the typical LA-2A, Fairchild or 1176 thing, they are over in left field looking for four leaf clovers. I respect that.

The Federal Television Corporation AM-864 was a 1950s era tube compressor. Original used for military purposes, https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/76374-just-got-federal-limiter-am-864-u.html 

Great on drums, vocals and bass guitar.

Langevin EQ 258-A Program Equalizer. Similar to the Pultec. Zero phase shifting.

Langevin EQ 259-A – Passive Filters

Fuse Audio VCL-864U = Federal AM-864. Review it with the VQP bundle

Compare Acustica Aquamarine’s EQ to the Fuse 258a.

– A 1950s era hardware emulation. It was one of the cleanest equalizer designs around back then. 

The user manual says that Fuse rebuilt the original unit.

The interesting thing with this EQ is that the cut frequencies are fixed at 
100 Hz and 10 kHz, respectively. The selection is for boosting, The low 
hand is a low shelf filter and the high band boost is a proportional Q 
peaking filter. The high band cut is a shelf filter.

The gold screw, which is easy to miss, is a an output gain trim control. 259-A: Out/in is the bypass switch. The Low Freq and High Freq controls are 

mostly self explanatory. 18 dB per octave filters. On the right, you can 
control which filters are active.

Federal AM 864. Vari mu compressor.  Great as a parallel vocals, bass or drums comp when driven hard.
https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=518333

  • A 1950s era hardware emulation. It was the cleanest EQ around back then.

The interesting thing with this EQ is that the cut frequencies are fixed at

100 Hz and 10 kHz, respectively. The selection is for boosting, The low

hand is a low shelf filter and the high band boost is a proportional Q

peaking filter. The high band cut is a shelf filter.

The gold screw, which is easy to miss, is a an output gain trim control.

259-A: Out/in is the bypass switch. The Low Freq and High Freq controls are

mostly self explainatory. 18 dB per octave filters. On the right, you can

control which filters are active.

Download the trials at https://fuseaudiolabs.com/product.html?id=300910246 and https://fuseaudiolabs.com/product.html?id=300879685

Arturia 3 Compressors You’ll Actually Use Review

Today I posted a new video review to Real Home Recording about new unofficial 1176, dbx 165A and Retro Instruments Sta-Level plugin software emulations.

Here is the video:


The script/notes are below. Many of these notes are opinions that were lifted from Gearslutz users:

– By my request Arturia hooked me up with a license to review their three new compressor plugins.

As of this video recording they are still on intro sale for $99. $33 for each plugin.

Let’s take a listen to the different compressors on a few tracks.

Arturia install process wasn’t exactly smooth. Requires VST2.4 32-bit or 64-bit installs. A VST3 only option would be nice. Told me to close all applications so I did and it still kept giving me error messages. Clicked ignore a couple times and it finally went through.

Quick tour. Didn’t realize it wanted me to click the control instead of the next button.

Doesn’t clamp down on signals like hardware might but I do like the way they manipulate sounds. If you need them to catch peaks, use the time warp feature.

Besides compression, the coolest feature is how each compressor can affect the tone of the tracks, just like real hardware.

Usually, to change values in the plug-in controls, we click on the corresponding control and drag the mouse up or down. If the controls are switches, we simply click them to toggle On or Off. If we want finer editing values, we can use Ctrl+Drag (Cmd+Drag on macOS). Alternatively, we can mouse Right-Click and Drag. Using this key combination, the values change in a slower way, which allowus to get more precise values easily.

Double-clicking a control changes it automatically to the default value. This also works with

Alt+Click (Opt+Click on macOS).

Tube STA: Retro Instruments Gates STA Level emulation. Program dependent tube compression. Easy to use and sounds transparent. Almost to the point of being boring. Not for use if you want a punchy sound.

The STA is kind of like having an LA-2A that is more transparent and has a release control.


Sadly, no gain reduction range knob like the other two.

Lots of gain reduction without artifacts.

Single: Great for smooth bass. Long attack/release times.

Double: Perfect for nearly everything. Closest to the vintage Gates model.

Triple: Fast transient eater. Faster attack/release times. Perhaps best mode for vocals

Mid-side functionality.

there is an area highlighted in the VU Meter that suggests the ideal range of gain reduction

the original preset should be used on to achieve the best results.

STA level did not sound good to me on the vocal. I switched back to MJUC and the sound was happening again.

Bass DI went into a UAD Ampeg B15n amp sim, and then the STA. In this case, I really liked what the compressor was doing. It’s a pretty slow compressor, I guess, which limits it to specific uses for me.

FET-76 – Described as big, bold and in your face. Adds excitement to a track. Great on electric/bass guitars, drums and rock vocals.

input link function, dry/mix knob, external sidechain/advanced panel, a sidechain listen, Time Warp = lookahead, sidechain EQ which makes it very useful, COMPRESSION GAIN REDUCTION RANGE LIMITER!!!!, distortion only with the comp range set to 0 dB, GUI scaling, photorealistic  GUI, tool tips at the bottom that can be disabled with the upper right light bulb, all ratio buttons in, A-B mode,

Comp FET-76 has no direct control over the threshold. The threshold level is variable and

depends on the chosen compression ratio (the higher the compression ratio, the higher the threshold).

At 4:1, the threshold is around -18 dB, while at 20:1 it is around -12 dB.

Clearly labeled attack/release settings. Like the hardware, fully clockwise is fastest.

Typical ratio settings: 20 for buss limiting, 12 for drums, 4 and 8 on vocals/instruments. All buttons in for drums and try it on other material as well.

5.4. Sound Design Tips

Pigments was Arturia’s first plug-in to offer this feature, and we dare to say it will

revolutionize the way users look at presets.

The Sound Design Tips feature identifies parameters the preset creator defined as the most

relevant while developing the selected preset, and which are the best for the user to edit.

When On, a brief explanation of each parameter (tip) will also be displayed in the left-hand

side of the lower toolbar.

Very good user manuals as well.

True Analog Emulation (registered trademark)

In my opinion the Arturia model has the basic problems of virtually all of the other models. It gets “grainy” quite quickly. Basic drumloop with a lot of cymbals exposes this. It’s as if it’s running too hot all the time. I think the Slate manages better in this regard, or at least we have 3 different options (and 2 additional circuit emulations for the modern and vintage blue) for this. The attack on the slate original FG-116 is very close to the hw in the studio. It’s a tiny bit more clicky in the plugin but it grabs the transients in a pretty convincing manner in my opinion. It does however also break up a bit more than the hardware when slammed. I find this to be a general problem with all of the 1176 plugins.

VCA-65: dbx 165A. Versatile. Can be clean but can also be used to get some smack.

Awesome on snare, bass, kick, different type of drum buss sound,  and distorted vocals.

That VCA 65 is INCREDIBLE especially when you abuse the piss out of the limiter setting. I was messing around with the settings just pushing everything to see exactly what it does when abused and I am impressed. Instant grit. I liked it pushed to its limits so much I just left the compressor like that on the guitar I was pushing. Haha.

Anyway, as far as my knowledge of digital compressors go, some of them really flatten things up, in a bad sense. I don’t like those. The way I judge compressors is by how much they can control dynamics without making things sound sterile and lifeless, and these plugins sound really rich in that sense.

The 1176 sounds great too, lot’s of personality,

The DBX now: WOW ! Worth the price alone. Smacko organico ultimo! But you can do so many other tones with it too.

However, I think the attack time on the Arturia is by far superior than UAD’s. It tamed the peaks so smoothly, almost like hardware.

The STA is absolutely perfect. It adds body and smoothness to anything.

the 1176 had vibe, colour and punch.

As for the 165 – just tried it on kick. I would buy this bundle for that alone.

The 65 will definitely be used on stuff that needs punch, movement and attitude.

I decided to re-load FET76 & STA tto the same track that has the VCA-65 and guess what… GUI went back to default I believe 80% GUI size. How come it does NOT remember the size I left them at??? Normally it should remember no? I

The view should be flat, no fake angles which just get in the way of usability. These are plugins and not hardware, and the GUI should acknowledge that. Keep the skeuomorphic design with photo realistic renders but keep the view flat!

I compared it to Timp U76 (nebula) yesterday and although they were different in tone (treble rolloff and punch in arturia), cohesiveness, smoothness they felt like equals in a lot of the areas that matter to me. Not necessarily the same, but like equals…in sound quality and function. The arturia 76 does what I expect from an algo 76. The highfreq rollof sometimes disturbs me (it’s not as present in Timp u76), and I wish I could control it from within the plugin, but that’s the only thing that bugged me yesterday.

the sta level is good but not better than MJUC comp 2.

except for the 165 but even in this case I don’t really that kind of compression all that often and when I do, I recreate the “snap” I need with Klanghelm DC8C which can do snap/punch ridiculously well.

I also much preferred the Slate 1176 versions. The blue “modern” was closest to the sound of the Arturia 1176 but as it’s the one I like the least in the Slate pack it immediately showed that it’s not the type of 1176 sound I’m after. The replica/homebrew version we have in hardware at the studio is much faster and “squishier” and closer to how the original FG-116 sounds and it’s the way I prefer this kind of compressor.

That left me with the STA and it is indeed wonderful! Alas, I have MJUC and now also the RA6 from Tim Pethreick for N4 and there’s just no contest at all. The RA6 is in a completely different league in terms of “sounding real” and present.

arturia was closest to our 1176. my friend is bring his dbx over to shoot it out with arturia. the thing i like to do is use plugins aggressively and in ways they would normally break up in and see how they stand. arturia was the only ways that didnt break up as quickly. less clicky as well. agressive while still retaining smoothness and cohesiveness to the material.

Open up the top end, add some transient punch with Time Warp, decouple the stereo link for a little extra character, and so on. Drum bus sound is punchy and wide with a great sound stage.

On snare and kick I was shooting out the VCA-65 against my go-to NI Vc160. The NI VC is sort of more punchy and in your face, but it also sounds small. The Arturia VCA has a more acoustically open sound, sounds more natural. Kick drum and snare seem louder somehow with this one. It made the NI compressor sound a little cartoon-like.

Sta-Level was really nice on bass. Fat and round and smooth sounding.

In my opinion the Arturia model has the basic problems of virtually all of the other models. It gets “grainy” quite quickly. Basic drumloop with a lot of cymbals exposes this. It’s as if it’s running too hot all the time. I think the Slate manages better in this regard, or at least we have 3 different options (and 2 additional circuit emulations for the modern and vintage blue) for this. The attack on the slate original FG-116 is very close to the hw in the studio. It’s a tiny bit more clicky in the plugin but it grabs the transients in a pretty convincing manner in my opinion. It does however also break up a bit more than the hardware when slammed. I find this to be a general problem with all of the 1176 plugins.

I also felt the transients of the Arturia version get let through a bit too much compared to what I’m used to.. even on fastest attack. This can be completely accurate to their modeled HW though. I’m just saying that in my case most of the 1176 units I’ve used have a “squishier” attack where the transients get smacked virtually immediately on the fastest setting.

For my own stuff I love it on almost anything synth pluck/bass/lead that needs to stay prominent in the mix. This is where the plugins fail in my opinion when fed with a strong analogue synth sound. They become somewhat weak and grainy rather quickly whereas the hardware can smash the sound without making it “smaller”. Hard to explain but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

STA level did not sound good to me on the vocal. I switched back to MJUC and the sound was happening again.

STA wasn’t great on this particular acoustic guitar, but I really liked the VCA65 on this acoustic, it just sounded nice.

Bass DI went into a UAD Ampeg B15n amp sim, and then the STA. In this case, I really liked what the compressor was doing. It’s a pretty slow compressor, I guess, which limits it to specific uses for me.

That VCA 65 is INCREDIBLE especially when you abuse the piss out of the limiter setting. I was messing around with the settings just pushing everything to see exactly what it does when abused and I am impressed. Instant grit. I liked it pushed to its limits so much I just left the compressor like that on the guitar I was pushing.




sE Electronics sE7 Microphone Review

Adam takes an in depth look at the new small diaphragm condenser microphone from sE Electronics:

Script notes:

  1. You came to watch this video to hear whether the sE7 microphone is worth buying. The quick answer is yes and I could continue to talk about the microphone but it’s best that you listen to some samples first.

    *insert RHR Logo*

2. Full disclosure, sE Electronics are letting me keep both microphones. My opinion is not swayed, however. All recordings that you are about to listen to were not modified in any way except volume level matching. Youlean Loudness Meter Pro 2.1 and Airwindows PurestGain were used.

These audio clips are available at their original native sample rate as FLAC files. They will not be level matched. Links are in the video description box.

For the first test, let’s hear how the sE7 sounds on drums compared to my prized $300 Ultimate OktavaMod/Michael Joly modified MXL 603S. It supposedly sounds close to a vintage Neumann KM84. Apologies in advance…I tried to  find a good drummer with a better drum set than mine but I couldn’t make it happen.

3. Now, a couple acoustic guitars.

4. I also recorded a voice over track while hand holding the modified 603S and sE7.

5. Next up here are some stereo acoustic guitar recordings because sE sent a matched pair for this review.

6. For gits and shiggles I even recorded a harmonica.

7. Keys jangle test. Does either microphone sound like aluminum foil being crumpled up or do they sound like keys?

8. I almost forgot…here is the sE7 next to a Shure SM57 on snare drum.

10. On snare drum vs. an SM57, I think the 7 is the clear winner. Pun intended. Finally, I tested the 20 decibels attenuation pad with some pink noise and used Blue Cat’s FreqAnalyst Multi to compare frequency response differences.

Does the sE7 sound as good as my modified MXL 603S? No. And I didn’t expect it to. There is a $200 price difference, after all. With some EQ and noise reduction the differences can be made up to a degree.

That’s not to say the sE7 is noisy…it’s not. The modded 603S is just less so.

The sE7 features an 80 Hz high pass filter at 6 dB/octave and a 20 dB gain attenuation pad. It can handle up to 156 dB of sound pressure level with the pad switched on, which is very impressive!

Both switches require use of a paper clip or thumb tack so that they aren’t accidentally turned on or off. This is a good thing.

It has low self noise and doesn’t sound very harsh compared to a lot of sub $100 microphones . The sE7 also comes packed with a stand clip, a metal ⅝” thread adapter and windscreen. sE logo stickers and a small printed user manual are also included.

Like the other sE Electronics microphones I have tried, It looks classy and doesn’t feel cheap. It has weight to it.

The front grille is solid protection. It and the rest of the microphone’s exterior could probably take many drumstick smacks without breaking but I wouldn’t slam it down on a stage. It could probably take a mic stand fall and if it breaks or someone steals it you’re out $100 instead of $300 or more.

A 2-years transferrable limited warranty is included. 3 years if you register it.

I think the sE7 sounded great with everything I tested it on. It should also work well on Piano, clean electric guitar, violin and maybe even close tom drums.

If you have $150 more to spend (or $300 for the matched pair) the big brother sE8 may be worth investigating. The main differences between the 7 and the 8 are shown on screen.

A more consistent off-axis frequency response.
Has a flat frequency response from 30 Hz to 4 kHz. the sE7 begins to roll off slightly around 400 Hz.
A smaller high frequency bump.
Has two roll off options
Has two attenuation options.
Has a higher max SPL rating (159 dB vs 156 dB) than the sE7
Is 3 dB quieter than the sE7
The matched pair comes with a precision stereo bar and metal road case.
Costs $150 more.

The only negatives are that the capsule is very susceptible to plosives. If you are using it for vocal recordings then the 80 Hz filter and windscreen plus an additional pop filter are musts. Record singers like a boom microphone above their head for best results.

The mic clip is very tight…but at least you know that it’s not going to fall out of the clip once it’s in! Also, the XLR connector doesn’t accept cables as easily as my other microphones. You need to give the connectors a good shove before it clicks. Unless you hold the XLR cable connector switch down first. Then again, it may just need some breaking in.


I would feel comfortable having only two sE7s to record music with. It’s an affordable desert island microphone. In other words, they are the perfect microphones to start off with if you are building a new home studio. They are detailed without being too harsh and cost $200 for the matched pair or $100 for just one. The 3 years warranty seals the deal for me.

The sE7 is the first microphone that I’ll be recommending to low budget home recording studio engineers going forward. That’s about the biggest compliment I can give. sE’s research and development team did an amazing job on this one.

JoeCo Cello Review

Adam from Real Home Recording takes an in-depth look at JoeCo Limited’s first ever desktop audio interface. Here are script notes (there are definitely duplicate notes):

I have been using the JoeCo Cello audio interface for nearly two months. I used it to record many different audio sources and put it through a bunch of tests. In this two part video, you’ll hear many audio samples and my honest opinion on whether you should consider buying this interface.

This video is a two parter. In this one, I’ll give you a quick run down of the Cello’s benefits, some of its flaws and whether I’d recommend it or not. The second part goes more in depth with audio clips, gear shootouts, test graphs and brief tutorials.



The Standout Features for me are

– Two channels of simultaneous raw/processed recording, before the signal hits the converter. That way, you can maintain the purity of an analog processed signal but if you mess up there is a safety net.

– 78 dB preamp gain. With the 20 dB pad, it can handle virtually any microphone you throw at it.

– True mastering grade converters with five analog inputs. Quality was onfirmed with loopback tests. Even the front panel line inputs are super clean/transparent.

– Converter filtering settings. I haven’t seen a feature like this on a desktop interface before.

– Can be USB powered if your computer can handle it. Wall power is recommended, however.

– 1 Million Ohm instrument input

– Up to 384 kHz sample rate in a small desktop form factor.

– Super loud headphone output, so drum recording isn’t a problem.

– Built-in talkback/slate microphone that can be recorded.

– Mid-side AKA sum and difference matrix during recording setting

– Scalable control panel GUI. Hopefully one day they will make it 4K ready.

– Can be used as a standalone device with user controllable startup state settings.

– LCD Status indicator, which actually does come in handy.

– Latency figures are solid. It’s not the fastest interface out there but I had zero issues recording with a MIDI keyboard or a bass guitar. If you need processing during voice recordings, you’ll need to look at interfaces with onboard DSP options.

– Manufactured in the U.K.


– Finally, I saved the best for last. Cello stays out of the way and rarely lets you down. It shocked me when I had over 80% CPU usage on a big mix and was still able to record a track without glitches. On other audio interfaces that I’ve used, there would have been pops and clicks every 10-20 seconds.

When I used it on a Dell laptop, it did not fare as well. There were about four pops per song when recording 5 tracks at 96 kHz. Every time I recorded with my Lenovo desktop computer there were zero issues. So certainly your mileage will vary in this department.


So, would I recommend the Cello?

Unfortunately it comes up short for a full recommendation. If you need an interface with more inputs and outputs, faster latency, a longer warranty than one year, included software or are on a tight budget then look elsewhere.

However, if you need its stand out features then I 100% recommend it. For some, myself included, the processed signal safety net, transparent preamps and mastering grade converters alone are worth the price.

The Cello has nuances that audio engineers care about. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles compared to the competition but the ones it does have work very well.

Go to part 2 for an in depth look at the Cello.

Up to 13 inputs at 96 kHz not including the talkback mic or 23 inputs up to 48 kHz.

Ins and outs aren’t smashed together. Evenly dispersed between the front, back and one side panel.

Up to 8 monitor mix outputs, including one for SPDIF and pre-fader listen mode.

Buffer settings aren’t restricted. You can even uncheck Safe Mode for faster latency if you are feeling dangerous! I’m glad that they give you the options instead of assuming your system can’t handle it. JoeCo didn’t put on the kid gloves.

Switch seamlessly from ASIO to Windows sound as long as the sample rate is the same. If you want you can even have sound playing while recording with ASIO.


Reverse stereo is a nice feature.

Top plus isn’t analog so it’s nice to have but gimmicky.

ADAT output would have been nice instead of 2 channel SPDIF.

With 384 kHz, performance does go down in terms of in/outs and noise/frequency response.

I can’t fully recommend it because of the price and because a second set of line outputs, so that one could easily process mix elements through hardware while monitoring through speakers is something that the more affordable competition has had for years.

Pan knob on the Stem outputs would be a nice finishing touch.

Audient iD14 vs. Cello

Acoustic guitar
Voice over

DI bass and electric

Cello Review

Sound samples right up front

Marketing vs. experience with it

Cello Positives:

Simultaneous unprocessed + processed recording

78 dB of gain (80 dB may be possible on some microphones)

Very reliable. Was able to record with a ton of plugins on and zero glitches.

Ruler flat frequency response at Maximally flat.

Converter options for a smoother high end roll off and slightly better latency.

On my computer rig the roundtrip latency figures were better than what’s listed on JoeCo’s web site.

Can be USB powered if your computer’s port supports 1,000 mA output.

“125 dB of dynamic range” confirmed on the instrument and line inputs at 192 kHz. Noise is in the upper frequency range.

1MOhm inpedance instrument input.

MIDI in/out

Made in the U.K. instead of China.

Negatives:

Gain bunching

A longer warranty would be better. Even if it is an optional upgrade. Some stores give you two.

A second set of line outs and ADAT output may have helped.

Converter filter tests along with clipping tests.

Test Top + with pink noise

Record silence. Gain all the way down and all the way up. Pads and no pads. 441, 48, 96 and 192.

Try the Slate button (it enables recording of the talkback mic)

Sample rate usage scenarios https://github.com/audiojs/sample-rate

RightMark Audio Analyzer Tests and Latency Tests from the other program. (re-do 384 kHz through the line inputs with the DC filter on)

YouTube + ASIO in REAPER (as long as the sample rate is 44.1 kHz) playback at the same time? Not a problem

Line input volume control down to 1/2 decibel.

Use https://neuraldsp.com/products/fortin-nts-suite/ with the Direct Box tests.

Fully scalable GUI, once you click the orange arrow. Works best on 720p or 1080p monitors.

Apparently in the 384kHz mode there is a DC filter option under the ADC control. Calibrate!

I didn’t like the GUI at first but it grew on me. Contrast is good and although it’s plain looking it’s not a huge deal.

Monitor mix matrix is intuitive. Three tiered volume level setting (software + hardware)

Up to 22 inputs at 44.1/48 kHz, 16 at 96 kHz, 8 at 192 or 4 at 384 kHz.

USB power vs. wall power performance test including phantom power, low buffer MIDI and line out (to EX1 line in) JoeCo does warn that conversion quality may take a hit and not all  

computers can handle powering the interface properly.

“Cello can be bus powered from hosts able to supply 1500mA.” Mac computers can handle it and some Windows machines. Not mine.

Class compliant USB 2.0…it worked on my smartphone and would have worked on my tablet with an accessory!

Separate stereo DAW mixes for each output (main, headphones and digital)

I see the cello like I see my Galaxy s9. Some people will look at it and they’ll see an audio interface in a silver box. But what is going on under the hood is what counts. Not everybody will need a Cello or can appreciate all of its features but is it worth the money yes. It is properly priced for its capabilities.

You’re getting a mastering grade converter, word clock, two transparent preamps, the ability to record two raw microphone signals along with two processed ones simultaneously, midi in and out, and finally a great quality instrument input.

It can be a USB powered or wall powered. It can be operated in standalone mode. It is a reliable/stable son-of-a-b****.

ADC/DAC Filter options: At flat settings, the cut off frequency is sharp. Some will find this unmusical. There is also slightly more latency with flat settings.
Where would a more musical filter response sound better? Instruments like triangles or tambourines. Best thing to do? Use your ears and run some RMAA tests to see if you like the trade off.


Core Audio as well

Converter clipping was relatively graceful with a voice over. Lots of analog headroom!

Preamp converter clipping at different settings

Cables/controls are not crammed together. Microphone/instrument/headphone connectors are all on the front panel.

Round Trip Latency (already done but do 96 kHz at 32 samples and 192 kHz at 32, 64 and 128 samples) compared to marketing. Marketing figures are actually higher! (44.1 at < 9.8 mS, 384 kHz at < 3.6 mS)

Low buffer stability including MIDI at 384 kHz

Weak power button…I am afraid it will snap off.

Mixing stability (done)

I like the way the iD14’s DAC converters sound over the Cello when not recording/mixing. But the Cello’s sound closer to what I here when Sonarworks Reference is turned on.

Alerts are a nice, professional feature

Headphone amp volume (done)

Locking Neutrik XLR inputs

Top + digital effect on input

MIDI inputs aren’t just for keyboards. Lots of controllers on the market.

Test MIDI recording/stability with 384 kHz.

384 kHz vs. 96 kHz vs. 48 kHz

I think what happened is when this product was designed, the Babyface Pro, UAD Apollo win, Audient iD22 were its closest competitors. I don’t believe the others offer USB power only. They also do not offer 80 dB of gain.

No extra software included.

The status indicator is cool but I am concerned about it and the JoeCo logo LED lights adding noise to the signal. Or at the very least they will eventually burn out. The option to turn them off would be nice, if possible.

The DAC alone may be worth the price to some. It truly is mastering grade.