Starplugs Admiral Formats: PC VST Starplugs sound like something you might buy at an Ann Summers party, but are actually a German software company who albino 3 vst Jeff McLintock’s Synth Edit package to create a range of shareware plug-in effects, synths, processors and utilities. They’ll even write plug-ins to order, if you have something in mind that isn’t already out there. Admiral is albino 3 vst distortion plug-in that uses what they call ‘quadrature overdrive’. I confess albino 3 vst having no idea what that is, but Starplugs say the design makes it especially suitable for situations where you need to bring a vocal to the front of a busy mix, or make drums sound more substantial; with no cabinet modelling or valve emulation, it certainly isn’t aimed at guitarists.
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Starplugs Admiral Formats: PC VST Starplugs sound like something you might buy at an Ann Summers party, but are actually a German software company who use Jeff McLintock’s Synth Edit package to create a range of shareware plug-in effects, synths, processors and utilities.
They’ll even write plug-ins to order, if you have something in mind that isn’t already out there. Admiral is a distortion plug-in that uses what they call ‘quadrature overdrive’. I confess to having no idea what that is, but Starplugs say the design makes it especially suitable for situations where you need to bring a vocal to the front of a busy mix, or make drums sound more substantial; with no cabinet modelling or valve emulation, it certainly isn’t aimed at guitarists.
The most important control is a single, large Boost knob. This is paired with a button labelled ‘Mighty’, which, according to the designers, multiplies the boost level a hundred times. A further knob controls the character of the distortion, from Soft at one extreme to Hard at the other, and the distorted signal travels through adjustable high- and low-pass filters.
Apart from input and output level controls and some large-ish meters, that’s yer lot. In use, Admiral is what you might call ‘quirky’. There are a couple of things about the interface that take some getting used to, most notably the fact that adjusting the cutoff frequency of one of the filters also has an apparently random effect on the other one. Sound-wise, it’s not something you’d use on every track, but it is a bit different from the usual fare: I liked it best on synth bass and electric piano, where it added bite and substance without obscuring the character of the original signal.
The ‘Mighty’ control does indeed launch gigantic waves of crunchiness upon the world, but I wish there was some happy medium between those sounds and the often rather tame results you get otherwise.
Sam Inglis SSL Drumstrip Formats: In addition to the obvious gate, Drumstrip also includes a transient shaper to add attack to percussive sounds, high- and low-frequency enhancers and the famous SSL Listen Mic Compressor, along with very comprehensive metering of both levels and enhancements. Drumstrip is the first optional plug-in for the SSL Duende DSP platform, and combines a number of sub-modules within a single window, all optimised for processing drum sounds.
Drumstrip will only install and run when Duende hardware is present, and the Duende needs to be running v2 firmware, which is available from the SSL web site. The host computer must also be running Duende v2 software or above. Drumstrip will take one Duende ‘slot’ at Version 2 firmware permits all knobs to be adjusted with the mouse wheel, and any plug-in parameter can be automated to the extent supported by the host application.
Each of the five processing blocks can be switched on and off separately and there’s also a global bypass. Perhaps the most conventional processing section is the gate, which has excellent metering. There are separate thresholds for gate opening and gate closing, with the attenuation range adjustable from 0 to dB. Both the attack and release controls are fully adjustable, as is the gate hold time.
The Transient Shaper is a little less conventional, the idea being to emphasise the attack of the notes without changing the decay, so that drum hits can be given more impact. Gain controls the signal feeding the side-chain, and functions in practice as a processing threshold control.
A meter shows how much attack is being added by the Amount control, while Speed sets the length of the enhanced transient.
An Invert function reverses the phase of the enhanced portion of the signal so that it can actually subtract from the original attack to soften the sound. An Audition button lets you hear only the enhanced part of the signal so you know exactly what is being added — a great help when adjusting the Gain and Amount controls.
To give the sound more high-frequency clarity, there’s an HF Enhancer that can be tuned from 2kHz to 20kHz; new harmonics are generated only above the frequency set. Drive controls the amount of harmonic creation, while Amount sets how much of this signal is mixed in with the dry signal.
To beef up the low end, an LF Enhancer adds a combination of second and third harmonics to a low-pass-filtered signal, which make the bass end appear stronger. This uses Drive and Amount controls like the HF version. The Listen Mic Compressor, a digital emulation of the talkback mic compressor in the SSL E, is available free as a conventional plug-in for download from SSL, but the version included here has the option of EQ bypass to provide full-range processing.
There’s also a new Mix control, so you can experiment with parallel compression. The Listen Mic Compressor features very fast, non-adjustable time constants, which is what gives it such an aggressive sound. In use, it is a ‘more’ or ‘less’ box that just does what it does.
Process Order allows the user to patch together the five processing sections in any order, and bypassing doesn’t upset the latency settings or cause glitching. I experimented with Drumstrip on some Mix Rescue jobs I was working on, and was impressed by how much flexibility it gives you to shape drum sounds.
The gate responds very positively, and having separate attack and release thresholds helps establish positive triggering. For adding attack, the Transient Shaper section works really well, providing you don’t overdo the effect, and the same is true of the high- and low-end enhancement, which sometimes lets you get to those parts EQ can’t reach.
Of course the Listen Mic Compressor is already well known for its wonderfully trashy drum sound, but being able to bypass the fixed EQ of the original makes it more useful, as does the Mix control.
It’s also nice to know that you can switch around the order of the modules if you need to, so if you want a gated drum sound you could move the gate after the Listen Mic Compressor, for example. If you own a Duende and have to deal with real drums, adding Drumstrip to your arsenal is a no-brainer.
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