This cost-effective software suite offers four groovy plug-ins.
You want plug-ins that go beyond the freebies included in your DAW, butdon’t want to bust your budget—meetScarlett (VST/AU/RTAS). You getdynamics, EQ, reverb, and gating for cheap, and you can’t argue with theFocusrite pedigree: It’s the same brandbehind the ISA console modules, the Red hardware range, and the FortéSuite of plug-ins.
With the EQ, Focusrite has ripped offitself—specifically, the Red 2 and ISAEQs. There are two parametric mids(100Hz–3.2kHz and 2–12 kHz), andhigh and low bands. These have tworesponses, shelving and cut (e.g., lowcut filter on the low band). In additionto each band having a frequencycontrol (40–320Hz low, 6–18kHzhigh), another knob controls shelfboost/cut for the band, or the cutfilter slope.
The EQ does have a sort of “hardware”vibe—no brittleness in the high end, a smooth low end, and a“warm” character. Although I have plenty of EQ plug-ins, this has a distinctive character that’s a useful alternative to the average EQ bundled with DAWs.
The dynamics plug-in is designed to emulate the vintage 1960s “opto”sound. When pushed, it does have arecognizable vintage sound that’s goodfor “sucking” effects; it also handlesbeing pushed more elegantly than manyother compressors I’ve used. However,you can also apply a much lighter touch,and add pretty much transparentdynamics processing. It has all the usualcontrols: threshold, ratio, attack, release,input/output gain, and metering.
The outstanding feature here is multiplemodes. Both channels can triggerthemselves (like a standard noisegate), or one channel can trigger the other. Furthermore, with the latter, youcan listen to the triggered signal justby itself, or with the “trigger” channeltoo. However, it doesn’t do this bysidechaining; you need to have separateleft and right mono channels, thenload the Gate into this stereo track.
Aside from the mode options, Gateoffers gain reduction amount, threshold,and attack/hold/release times.
The control set is limited, but effective.There’s no choice of algorithms, but youcan change size and there’s a dry/wetmix. The Pre-Filter control is very useful,as it can emphasize (via lowpass orhighpass filtering) which part of the frequencyspectrum gets the most reverb.An “Air” parameter controls damping.
While not very versatile, Reverb is agood match for certain sounds—particularlydrums and voice. I had less luckwith guitar, where the periodicity ismore obvious.
Given the price, there’s no disputingthe value. There’s also no disputingthat the Dynamics and EQ offer a worthy,useful character that even thosewith lots of plug-ins might want for a“vintage” type sound; they certainlycomplement more “clinical” plug-insvery well. The different Gate modes arealso interesting, although beingrestricted to using only mono sourcesfor these gating effects is a limitationcompared to VST3-style sidechaining.But of course, it also doe...