About my CDs
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
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
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
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
- 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
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!