Plugin of the week – Vitamin

My newest plugin is something I can’t help but rave about.  It’s called Vitamin from Waves and once you try it, you’ll discover how essential it is.  This particular review (and plugin) should appeal to anyone who mixes music (live or in studio) or audio post for TV/film as well as sound effects designers.

I have a ton of Waves plugins, and I use them every day.  I was thrilled when I discovered that their newest plugin was part of my Diamond bundle, and I was able to install it free of charge!

Vitamin is a multiband harmonic enhancer.  Think about that.  Imagine an aural exciter or sonic enhancer all “multiband”!  But it’s way more than that.  That just changes B-12 to B Complex or something.  This thing is like all the vitamins and minerals you can swallow!  Okay, enough of that.  Let’s use it.

I first used Vitamin on a male voice-over, thinking it could use a little shine like you’d get from the Aphex Aural Exciter.  <<Adds harmonics which were not present in the original signal and helps a track pop through the mix>>  Typically, you add this type of effect at the end of a mix when the levels and EQ are right where you want them.  The great thing about Vitamin is that it might even change the way you look at using EQ.  You’ll still need subtractive equalization, as this plugin is completely additive, but you may consider thinking about tone-shaping with Vitamin depending on what you need.  Sometimes we add high frequencies, or upper-mids (even lower frequencies) in an attempt to bring out harmonics which may or may not even be present.  Vitamin rocks for that!

So I instantiated the plugin and (unlike with some plugins) didn’t even look at the presets.  I started moving up the faders and immediately smiled.  I found that you could raise the HI MID band pretty high without the harshness that sometimes comes with exciters and enhancers.  I loved the ability to control the HI band separately, and moving the crossover points pushed it over the top.  At this point I had controlled two bands and one crossover point, and that would have been good enough… but there’s WAY more.  I worked each band while listening closely, and decided that adding LO band harmonics could be way more effective on male voice than just EQ.

Then I tried the plugin to help bring out a particular sound effect that couldn’t cut through the mix.  The sound was a sail being raised quickly (similar to a heavy flag flap) and it had to be noticed through music, voice and the sound of waves.  The sound I had was good, but a little too much high frequency content and not strong enough in the bass, so I did a little subtractive high shelf EQ and a slight boost around 80 or 100Hz.  It didn’t do what I needed, so I thought I would try LoAir.  That plugin is awesome, and really helped the sound to get closer to what I imagined, but didn’t get it to cut through the mix.  Then, I was ready to reach for R-Bass or MaxxBass, when I thought to try Vitamin here as well.  I cranked the LO band, raised the LO MID, and even raised the HI band a little.  Every touch made it better.  I increased the PUNCH control to bring out the transients a little, and then decided to widen the stereo in the HI band.  (I played with the width of the lower bands, and preferred leaving them alone for this particular sound.)  I had to lower the OUTPUT, as it started to clip.  The end result was amazing.

After using this plugin for less than a week, I discovered that aside from being a great multiband spectral enhancer, there is some pretty powerful dynamics processing and other amazing tools under the hood.  I’ve barely tapped its potential, but I have to say that this plugin has surpassed my expectations.  I look forward to using this plugin on a regular basis.

Update – I DO use this plugin on a regular basis!

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Mixing Minute

Audio Plugins Intro

Audio plugins come in three basic categories: Dynamic (compression, limiting, etc.) Spectral / Filter effects (EQ, etc.) Time Based effects (delay, reverb, etc.) All three are critical for a good mix, but I dare say that no mix is complete without compression and EQ.  So let’s start there. First thing to know about plugins is that you need to buy some!  You say, “My NLE (or DAW) comes with a ton of plugins already…”  Buy some anyway.  In fact, buy the Renaissance (RennMaxx) bundle from Waves.  I’ll tell you why. First, Dynamics.  The R-Compressor is extremely versatile and colorless.  I literally use this compressor every day.  I will go into detail on best practices in a later blog post, but for now just know that for dialog or voice-over, this compressor is easy to use and sounds great.  Also a part of dynamics is de-essing.  The R-DeEsser is quite possibly the best DeEsser available at any price.  It just plain works.  Set it to “Split” and adjust the threshold and range so that it’s working.  The R-Vox and Renaissance Axx plugins are simple, two knob compressors that certainly have their uses as well. Default_PluginsSecond, Spectral/Filter Effects.  The Renaissance Equalizer is my go-to EQ for the same reasons.  It’s colorless and easy to get the results you need.  There are many reasons to use different EQs, but my “desert island” EQ would have to be the REQ-6. Also in the spectral category is the Renaissance Bass plugin.  R-Bass is a really nice effect to use to bring out bass elements that you need, or to prepare low frequency sounds for playback on less-than-full-range systems.  Quality plugin, but not essential for everyone. Third, Time-Based Effects.  The Renaissance Reverb is extremely good.  I have better reverbs, but not even close to this price range.  It’s easy to use and sounds very good.  You also get the IR-L Convolution Reverb, which is more difficult to get a good sound right out of the box, but has capabilities beyond that of the R-Verb. Lastly, as part of the bundle you get Waves Tune LT, which can be used to tune or modify pitch.  I use the “non-LT” (Full) version of Waves Tune all the time to change the inflection of dialog.  For example, if you have to cut a sentence and make it finish on a word, when it actually keeps going, you often need to change the pitch and length of at least the final syllable.  Waves Tune does that well.  Personally, I found the LT version less useful for my purposes, but the full version works for me. So, my first audio plugin recommendation is for the Waves RennMaxx bundle.  Until next time!

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