February 8, 2007

Some interesting free plugs...

by Chris Randall

A whole mess of free Windows VST plugs from a new kid on the block called Antress. The GUIs of the "Vintage Edition" are quite slick; note that the guy that made these almost certainly made the plugs without the real units there, but rather programmed them based upon reading about them. These sound absolutely nothing like their real counterparts, so don't think you're getting a free LA2A plug that actually emulates an LA2A or anything. You're getting a plug that looks like an LA2A, but is basically a distortion unit that sort of compresses.

I get the impression they're coded in something other than C++, or something other than VSTGUI, or both, as there is a long pause before they're instanced, like the plug is loading a library of some sort. I didn't feel like checking dependencies, so that's just my gut instinct.

Anyways, all that said, they're certainly okay for freebies, and do have some interesting potential for experimentation, I suppose. The only real keeper of the bunch is the "Modern Analoger" plug, which is some sort of tube/tape/phat simulator. It does a nice number on a drum buss, and if you're feeling adventurous, you could maybe lay it across a 2-buss if you were gentle with it. They're all free, but this one is maybe a bit free-er than the rest.

EDIT: Never mind. These are done in Synthmaker, and he stole the UIs from UA. So don't bother.



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Feb.08.2007 @ 1:55 AM
They're done in Synthmaker. I think he said he actually had the original but then went on to say it was 60 % there.So they're not emu's in that sense. They have a flavour of the original.
People seem to be raving about them on various forums so he must be doing something right. The fact that the GUI BMP is ripped from directly from the UA version was'nt met with quite the same enthusiasm though.

Feb.08.2007 @ 4:32 AM
On that note, something interesting is the Nebula "voltkerra kernel" stuff that Acustica Audio have made. Basically convolution that samples variations over time, so you can make impulses of compressors, distortion and modulation effects. Some of the sample stuff sounds really good.

Their website is horrible, but it's worth the pain. link [www.acusticaudio.co...]">link [www.acusticaudio.co...]


Feb.08.2007 @ 7:10 AM
I thought dynamic convolution was licenced to sintefex and focusrite.
I remember reading about some guy who wrote a vst aplication as part of some UNI researched which uses this method to sample compressors.
He was forced to take it off the web saying its trademarked.


Feb.08.2007 @ 7:31 AM
Apparently voltera kernelling is different enough from dynamic convolution for there to be no patent infringement. One thing the Acustica guys have said is that some hardware processors might actually sound better through their system, so I'm guessing the engine fills in some blanks for you beyond just using the samples.

I'd like it more if it wasn't so crashy and if the actual plugin wasn't so poorly made (not meaning the core technology, which is pretty cool) .


Feb.08.2007 @ 12:10 PM
Chris Randall
I'm so thoroughly unimpressed with the Acustica stuff. About a dozen people have written me asking me to put up a review of their plug, but I've been avoiding it because I can find literally _nothing_ nice to say about it, and I don't want to diss another indie. But since it came up, here are my thoughts in a nutshell:

1. The GUI is simply terrible. One of the nice things about plugins is that we don't have to put up with nested menus any more, and you can have a dedicated control for every function. The UI of this plug looks like an ADAT machine, and like I need to be reminded of those hell-spawn.

2. I can't tell what the fuck most of the presets are doing half the time, and what slider controls what function. I have a plugin company. If I can't tell, that's pretty bad. (I guess that goes along with #1 above.)

3. The only preset worth using, IMO, is the SSL EQ. However, when I load it up, I get a 70% CPU hit, on an Athlon64 machine that is loaded to the gills. For a single band. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to get that kind of CPU hit, I want a footrub or something.



Feb.08.2007 @ 1:01 PM
And strangely, the reverb presets have to be run in a separate plugin. Not entirely sure why they couldn't combine the two, especially since they couldn't be arsed to remove all traces of the reverb presets in the main plugin.

They've added a whole bunch of sampled gear as downloads from their site (which is painful to navigate) but then as soon as I started to download them I stopped, just couldn't be arsed to suffer through the 100+ downloads to get some buggy plugin I'm not entirely convinced would be of any value to me anyway.

I think the core technology is an interesting idea, but I have little faith in the quality of its implementation when the plugin itself is so poorly made.

It got the "wow, best thing ever" forum treatment, much like these Antress plugins. I think the Antress bits are pretty to look at, but I haven't found anything in their output that distinguishes them from any other similar/generic plugins.


Feb.08.2007 @ 1:53 PM
Adam Schabtach
It's a little dismaying, for those of us trying to earn an honest living by selling good plug-ins at good prices, that someone can get so much positive attention on a forum by stealing another company's UI images.



Feb.08.2007 @ 2:34 PM
Hi look at the bright side,their product can only get better not worse. :P
I read on GS that Ver. 3 will have some major improvments regrading the GUI and cpu consumption plus they are getting alot of feedback from PPL who tried the demo so... keep hope alive.


Feb.08.2007 @ 3:19 PM
Chris Randall
Hope for what? A compressor plugin that sounds good and is light on the CPU? I have lots of those. Or an EQ plugin that sounds like an API550? URS did an excellent job there.



Feb.08.2007 @ 5:31 PM
What a bunch of crap. The Acoustica Audio Nebula might be the coolest new technology to hit the plug market in years and it gets ignored here, while these synthmaker crap plugins get the attention.

I guess it's a testament to how much GUIs influence the perception of a piece of software. Slap a bunch of ripoff harware-alike UIs on some average plugins and they people will eat it up. I just thought that AI was above that.

I'll admit that the Nebula GUI is absolutely terrible, and that the current beta release is very buggy, but the sounds that can be had with this thing for free (or at a modest price in the soon to be released full version) I have not heard from any other software on the market, except for maybe the very expensive hardware emulations from companies like UA, URS, Waves or Eliosound. Yeah, it eats the hell out of your CPU, but I bet the UA stuff would too if it wasn't on a dedicated card. It's a small price to pay. If you like it, just print it to track.

I'm done bitching. People have a right to like whatever they like, and I don't give a shit if Chris doesn't like Nebula, but after seeing these boring synthmaker vintage want-to-be plugins posted here I felt the need to rant.


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