So I got what I wanted. When AIR/Digidesign released Structure I proposed they should pick it apart and give away the FX in it for free. While I’m still unsure where some of these new AIR plug-ins are from, this is more or less my wish fulfilled. I don’t know if Digidesign got the idea from me, but if they did a nice “thank you dear blogger” would be nice. So what do I think about these plug-ins? Here are my opinions on the full list!
AIR have been kind enough to give us not one, but two of their delay designs. Even better, none of them are ‘regular’ delays.
Starting with the Dynamic Delay, this invites you to create pingpong effects both between your speakers and between your hand and the floor. “Huh?”, well, when a delay speeds up on percussive material I always think of it as dropping a ball on the floor.
The other one is the Multi-Delay, featuring five ‘taps’, that I actually don’t think you can tap. Anyway, these are basically your five delays. The cool thing with Multi-Delay is that you can feed one delay to another, or back into the input.
Both these delays are pretty cool, and great additions to the regular Digirack delays, but they lack one thing badly: character. Why, oh why won’t you let me set a gradual distortion for each pingpong for instance? Why can’t I sound-wise mess around more with things? The lack of this makes them fairly uninteresting to me, and I’ll stick with the wickedness of Ohm Force Hematohm and OhmBoyz.
Traditionally I’m not much of a fan of reverbs, especially not the plug-in ones. Most of the time I go for delays instead, or for a guitar pedal reverb if I want something really dirty. I’m not even a fan of the IR ‘verbs which should have been the salvation for those of us who are still questioning reverbs in the box. The only two I’ve kept in my plug-in folder are VirSyn Reflect and Softube Spring Reverb. The two are of course entirely different beasts. Reflect actually uses impulse responses, but with an artificial tail which makes it unique.
AIR Reverb sounds really good! Let’s start with that to get the hopes up. I seriously enjoy this reverb. It came as a slight shock that I actually kept it in my sessions. I decided to pull out ye olde Reflect to see if it was even possible as a replacement for my favorite.
Setting them the same if probably impossible, after all they use very different controls. Instead I try and turn every possible knob, A/B’ing all the time, to see which ‘reaction’ I like best. It’s a very tough call. I think I still prefer Reflect. There some not so-apparent differences to keep in mind however. Reflect uses a Syncrosoft key, which I personally only use for Reflect at the moment. Reflect is also probably more CPU hungry, and can act a little weird every now and then. I would never put up with these three attributes if I didn’t really prefer it’s sound. I’ll leave AIR Reverb in my folder just a little longer to see if it just might kick Reflect out of there. Anyway, thumbs up and kudos to AIR for making a reverb I actually like!
One thing to keep in mind: if you’re doing post (or music) requiring surround sound then you’ll need something else (like Reflect).
AIR Spring Reverb is of course up to fight against Softube’s Spring Reverb (you see the reason for the introduction to the reverb plug-ins now?). They are very different sounding, and I mean very. Softube has much more ‘springy action’, meaning you can hear them move much more. The AIR version is darker and have more traditional reverb controls, whilst Softube lets you set the number of springs, the tension, and even lets you shake it (yeah baby!). Personally if I were looking for a spring emulation I would look at Softube.
There’s of course a price difference to be aware of however, and I actually think AIR Spring Reverb is a very good addition to the basic Pro Tools package. I actually like the dark sound and I remember really digging it when Transfuser came out. It’s just that Softube has a little more spring.
AIR Non-Linear Reverb is… Fun. Cool for effects. I don’t have anything else like it so I’ll keep it around. ‘Nuff said really. I think it’s really amazing that AIR has managed to give away three reverbs that I could actually consider using!
The modulation folder now contains pretty much all the things Digidesign cruelly had left out in RTAS format until now. I’m talking about chorus, flangers and what-not’s. I’ll pile them together a little bit, because there isn’t really that much to say about them without repeating too much.
AIR Chorus and AIR Multi-Chorus seem very similar. The main difference between the Chorus and the Multi-Chorus is that the Multi-Chorus lets you set the number of voices. This helps create a thicker effect. Both the AIR Ensemble and the AIR Flanger are closely connected to the choruses. All four fill their spots nicely, but don’t expect anything out of the ordinary. The flanger, possibly crucial for human survival, is an especially welcomed addition according to this son of a gun.
Kudos for the AIR Filter Gate! A unique effect that somehow doesn’t feel as limited with it’s plenty of patterns and different filters. It will help you to space out, but I can see the possibility to create entirely new rhythmic patterns here as well. I think I will have fun with this and will keep it in the plug-in folder… At least for a while.
Also kudos for the AIR Vintage Filter. I don’t use much software filters, and have up until now kept the Sonalksis TBK filter around whenever I feel the need. I think I’ll kick it out and keep the Vintage Filter instead. While the L24 setting isn’t exactly a Moog, it’s still pretty wicked, especially when you start turning that Fat knob.
I don’t know what to say about the AIR Talkbox other than “thanks, didn’t know I needed one, but it could be cool for an effect or two sometime. Now build me that AIR Space Station!” (see ‘the rest’ below) .
Starting with AIR Distortion, I’ll say right away that I don’t like this. I’d actually pick Sansamp over it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care for AIRs distortion at higher settings. Remember I said I didn’t really like Vacuums gain at high settings either? Same goes for AIR Fuzz-Wah, even if I think it’s saved a little because of it’s flexibility. Thanks to the wah and the modulation you can come up with some pretty crazy sounds. I might keep it around, but I’m still not sure.
Speaking of crazy sounds, AIR Lo-Fi is a pretty nice addition. Like the Fuzz-Wah, it actually has fair amount of parameters to tweak, despite being part of the CreativeCollection. There aren’t that many bit-crushers and sample destroyers around. Decimate from SoundHack and the TBK from Sonalksis are two of them. Both were designed to be simple and doesn’t feature nearly as much flexibility as AIR Lo-Fi. There’s of course also the old Digidesign Lo-Fi, which isn’t as interesting either. AIR Lo-Fi is without a doubt a very good addition for your destruction needs if you don’t want to go outside of the box.
AIR Enhancer leaves me a little unimpressed. Not that the sounds you get out of it is bad, and not that I have anything against enhancers (in fact, I think they have a somewhat undeserved bad reputation), I just don’t see myself using it. It’s not as simple as some of the others out there, which in this case I think is a bad thing, but it can actually get a little dirty and fat, which in this case I think is a good thing.
If you tried Transfuser you gotta remember Kill EQ. After all, it has the coolest name ever. The reason for the name is probably because it has the capability to effectively remove, or kill, a frequency range. You can set it to kill high, mid, or low, but also decide where those frequencies really reside. Kill EQ also has your regular bands, simply called low, mid, high. While a cool idea, and a really awesome name, I don’t see myself keeping this. I simply don’t think “I gotta kill the mids here”, and my cutting EQ – Flux Epure – is in a class of it’s own.
AIR Frequency Shifter is a spacey kind of thing. Personally I think there’s too little of this stuff coming out, but if you have any of the bigger Pro Tools bundles you’re actually a little spoiled with space! The Moogerfoogers, the Sci-fi, and now the Frequency Shifter. It’s fun, it does one thing, two maybe if you want to count feedback as it’s own separate thing, but not much else. What can I say? If you need a frequency shifter you got one… It would be cool if AIR had built together a couple of things and made a bad ass space station for us instead. Of course there’s nothing stopping you or me from doing that ourselves anyway.
Finally I’ll mention AIR Stereo Width. While featuring somewhat different controls, I can’t see myself ditching Flux Stereo Tool, which is free (like Stereo Width) and offers good visual feedback.
Was that all? I think it was! Damn… I skipped lunch because I had to write this, so you guys and gals damn well better enjoy it now! I think it’s time to wrap up this review with a conclusion (and maybe some other things). So keep an eye out, I’ll post it soon.
If you’ve missed the rest of the review, you can find them by looking at all posts tagged Pro Tools 8.