Review

Reviews

By George Shilling and Russell Cottier

With many years experience working as recording engineers and producers, our review team of George Shilling and Russell Cottier know the good from the bad. In many cases it's a matter of taste, some prefer one EQ over another but we try to provide unbiased and objective reviews of the equipment tested.

Toontrack Superior Drummer 3 Sampled drums virtual instrument
Jan 12 2023 Sampled drums virtual instrument
Toontrack Superior Drummer 3

Toontrack has a solid reputation in the software instrument world primarily for its flagship product, Superior Drummer. Back in May Toontrack flew journalists from across the world to Galaxy Studios, Belgium.

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AMS Neve 1073 OPX Eight remote controllable mic pre-amps
Dec 24 2022 Eight remote controllable mic pre-amps
AMS Neve 1073 OPX

AMS Neve have recycled the 1073 mic preamp countless times, and adding digital connectivity is not new for Neve.

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Vacuvox U23m Valve based vari-mu compressor limiter
Nov 8 2022 Valve based vari-mu compressor limiter
Vacuvox U23m

The first audio compressor was the Telefunken U3, used at the 1936 Olympics, and in the 1940s came the U13. Then, Rohde & Schwarz developed the third generation U23 in 1953.

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Leapwing Al Schmitt Signature sound plugin
Jun 26 2021 Signature sound plugin
Leapwing Al Schmitt

Leapwing have scored themselves something of a coup by bagging Al Schmitt’s talents and working with him to make something useful for mixing and mastering engineers.

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Scope Labs Periscope Condenser microphone with built-in compressor
May 31 2021 Condenser microphone with built-in compressor
Scope Labs Periscope

There have been quite a few ‘character’ microphones that provide a non-linear response, e.g. the Bastard BM88. It’s cheap fun for a bit of lo-fi telephoney character if you are going for a wax cylinder sort of sound.

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Warm Audio Bus-Comp Stereo VCA compressor
Aug 23 2020 Stereo VCA compressor
Warm Audio Bus-Comp

Since 2011 Warm Audio of Austin, TX have built up quite a range of studio outboard based on classic designs, marketed at bargain prices. The Bus-Comp is no exception.

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Bettermaker EQ232D Equalizer plugin from Plugin Alliance
Jul 25 2020 Equalizer plugin from Plugin Alliance
Bettermaker EQ232D

Many Bettermaker outboard processors have passed through my studio including the knob-less (but still very physical) version of the hardware EQ232P, with its excellent sonics and clever expansion on the Pultec theme.

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Tone Projects Unisum Mastering Compressor Multiband compressor plugin
Jul 18 2020 Multiband compressor plugin
Tone Projects Unisum Mastering Compressor

Rune Lund-Hermansen is the brains behind Tone Projects – clearly a man of many talents, as for nearly 7 years he was Lead Product Designer for every wine drinker’s favourite phone app, Vivino.

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Bettermaker Bus Compressor Stereo VCA compressor with digital recall
Jul 6 2020 Stereo VCA compressor with digital recall
Bettermaker Bus Compressor

Bettermaker’s new Bus Compressor treads a now familiar path for the Polish hardware manufacturer. They have built a reputation for digitally controlled, recallable, high quality analogue hardware since the EQ230P Pultec-style EQ.

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Eventide H9000 Harmonizer and multi-fx processor
May 15 2020 Harmonizer and multi-fx processor
Eventide H9000

Eventide invented the Harmonizer in the 1970s and have updated the line as technology has progressed. The studio where I started in 1984 had a H910 in each studio, so I have always enjoyed a bit of harmonizing.

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AMS RMX16 500 500 Series digital reverb module
May 5 2020 500 Series digital reverb module
AMS RMX16 500

When I started work at Livingston Studios at the end of 1984 there was an AMS RMX-16 in both studios. This was the only source of artificial reverb other than the EMT140 plates.

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Sonnox Oxford Drum Gate Gate plugin
Apr 27 2020 Gate plugin
Sonnox Oxford Drum Gate

Engineers have been gating drums since the Kepex was introduced by Allison Research in 1970, and apart from the 1982 Drawmer DS201 adding useful key filters, not much new has happened in the world of noise gating, apart from the ‘look ahead’ function afforded by...

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Thermionic Culture The Snow Petrel Two channel valve mic pre-amp
Oct 4 2019 Two channel valve mic pre-amp
Thermionic Culture The Snow Petrel

Thermionic Culture have long developed products which include a valve-based microphone preamplifier section, like the Rooster, and dedicated mic preamps like the Earlybird.

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Thermionic Culture The Kite Stereo valve equaliser
Oct 12 2018 Stereo valve equaliser
Thermionic Culture The Kite

Thermionic Culture’s enormous (and expensive) Fat Bustard summing unit includes a smooth-sounding EQ specially geared to mix buss usage. Perhaps inevitably, founder and designer Vic Keary received requests for a unit that include the EQ and Attitude sections, but not the summing.

EQ
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Toneforge Guilty Pleasure by Joey Sturgis Guitar amp simulator plugin
Dec 28 2017 Guitar amp simulator plugin
Toneforge Guilty Pleasure by Joey Sturgis

Joey Sturgis is an American record producer with a studio in Indiana and a reputation as a leading expert working in the metalcore scene.

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Empirical Labs Arouser Compressor plugin
Jun 16 2017 Compressor plugin
Empirical Labs Arouser

Dave Derr introduced his first hardware unit the Distressor in the mid-1990s and scored remarkable success with what was perceived to be a modern advance on classic knee compressor designs like the 1176 and LA-2A.

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