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Gail Selkirk - Songbird of Swing!

Our Recording Software Tools:

We use Cakewalk Sonar, running on a Windows 2000 based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for direct-to-disk audio recording and also for mixing, applying effects, etc.. Sonar is a really amazing piece of software that, along with our multi-channel audio cards, provides us with a multi-track mixing and recording system. You can find out more about Sonar at the following web sites:

Sonar comes bundled with a number of useful audio effects: reverb, delay, EQ, dynamics processing, chorus, flange, echo, etc.. However, we found it necessary to use additional 3rd party plug-ins such as:

  • Cakewalk's Audio FX3 Sound Stage

    We use this plug-in for stereo positioning and reverb in some of our mixes.  Because it wasn't included in the Sonar package, this was purchased separately.

  • db Audioware - Dynamics Processors

    db Audioware has a number of useful plug-ins.  We have used their mastering limiter, dynamics processor, de-esser and multi-band limiter/compressor.  The dynamics processor is particularly notable as it supports sends and side-chain inputs.  The mult-band limiter/compressor can be used to obtain some unique effects. We like them and use them a lot!

  • DirectiXer VST-DX adapator

    DirectiXer (pronounced direct-eye-zer) is a VST adapter for DirectX host applications.   This program wraps VST plug-ins so that they can be used in SONAR which is a DirectX application.   We use it with a number of VST effect plug-ins:  Reverb.it and the Ultrafunk Sonitus:fx plug-in pack.

    For those of you that may be wondering what this DirectX and VST business is all about,  here's a quick explanation:   Basically, there are two popular software effect plug-in frameworks in common use with computer-based recording software.   One of these frameworks, VST, was developed by the Steinberg software company and is used by programs like Nuendo and Cubase.   The other architecture, DirectX, was developed by Microsoft and is what Cakewalk's Sonar uses.   Since we use the Sonar recording software,  we have to use a VST-DX adaptor to run VST effects.   A VST-DX adaptor gives us the best of all worlds in that we can run both DirectX and VST effects.

  • RBC Audio Pitch Shifting Software - Voice Tweaker

    We are using RBC Audio's Voice Tweaker to drop Gail's voice down an octave (sometimes two!) - for singing tenor and bass vocal harmony parts.  We provide a little detail on how this works on this page.

  • Silverspike Reverb.it

    Reverb.it  is one of the reverb plug-ins that we use. It works well on vocals and we like its user-interface.  Unfortunately,  it requires a VST-to-DX adaptor to work with Cakewalk.   We were able to find a free one that was provided by Spin Audio (see below).   Lately,  however,  we've switched to using the DirectiXer VST-to-DX adaptor with Reverb.it  in order to take advantage of its mixing automation capabilities.

  • SIR Impulse Response Processor

    SIR  is an impulse response reverb plug-in that facilitates the reproduction of strikingly realistic reverb effects.   SIR requires a VST-to-DX adaptor to work with Cakewalk.   We use Tonewise's DirectiXer VST-to-DX adaptor to allow us to use it from within Sonar.   A very useful feature of SIR is that it runs in real-time within Sonar (with dealy compensation when used with DirectiXer) -  making it easy to experiment and tweak reverb settings.

  • Sonitus:fx plug-in pack

    The Sontitus:fx family of plug-ins not only sound good,  but they are very easy to work with.   The Oslo, Norway Ultrafunk company has done an excellent job of software engineering and documentation.

    The Sonitus:fx plug-in pack is comprised of the folllowing DSP plug-ins:

    • fx:delay - advanced stereo delay.
    • fx:compressor - variable-knee compressor.
    • fx:multiband - 5 band variable-knee compressor.
    • fx:gate - dynamic multi-functional gate.
    • fx:equalizer - 6-band parametric equalizer.
    • fx:modulator - six integrated modulation effects
    • fx:phase - phase shifter w/phase meter.
    • fx:reverb - reverb effect
    • fx:surround - surround sound panner.
    • fx:wahwah - wahwah guitar effect emulator

    The Sonitus:fx plug-in pack provides both DirectX and VST versions of their plug-ins.   The only wrinkle we had to overcome was that the DirectX versions of the plug-ins do not support mixing automation,  while the VST versions do.   So, we had to purchase a VST-DX adaptor (DirectiXer) in order to use this capability.

  • Sonic Timeworks ReverbX

    ReverbX  is a reverb plug-in we have recently started using.  It has some very nice plate and room settings that work beautifully for vocals.  ReverbX is a bit CPU intensive,  but the quality of the reverb is first rate.   Our only real complaint about ReverbX is that it has a cumbersome user-interface,  primarily due to the very small font size used for setting the reverb parameters.   In fact,  the font size is so small that it borders on unreadable.   Despite that problem,  it is still one of the first reverbs that we reach for as it just sounds so darned good.

  • Sonic Timeworks CompressorX

    CompressorX  is a very nice compressor.   We auditioned a number of dynamics tools and it,  the db Audioware processors (see below),  as well as the Sonitus fx:compressor sound the best to our ears.   Unfortunately, like ReverbX,  it has cumbersome user-interface,  due to the very small font size used for setting the compressor parameters.   As a result,  this isn't usually the first one we reach for.  

  • Spin Audio's VST-DX adaptor

    We no longer use the free version of Spin Audio's VST-to-DXi adaptor.   It worked very well,  but didn't provide mixing automation capability we needed.   So,  we switched to the Tonewise's DirectiXer (described above).

  • Izotope.com - Ozone Mastering Plug-in

    Izotope's Ozone is one of the most useful plug-ins we bought.  Ozone is actually an integrated collection of tools that includes a multi-band paragraphic equalizer (complete with a real-time spectrum analyzer), multi-band dynamics, multi-band harmonic excitation, multi-band stereo imaging, mastering reverb and more. This is one powerful audio tool!

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