Plug-ins From Russia With Love
Russian software developer Voxengo, helmed by Aleksey
Vaneev, offers a host of VST and AU plug-ins for Windows and Mac-based DAWs — from
mastering EQs and compressors to tube amp simulators.
Marvel Graphic EQ
They also offer over a dozen plug-ins as free
downloads at www.voxengo.com. These
plug-ins are pretty impressive for freebies, so much so that I contacted Aleksey
to ask him why he was giving them away.
The short answer is “exposure.”
“Offering some plug-ins for free is a good marketing practice that brings
website visitors that may later be interested in paid plug-ins,” he explained.
Fair enough. He also said that, technically
speaking, there is no difference in sound quality between the freebies and the
rest, they just offer slightly different features.
I took a look at four Voxengo plug-ins: the Marvel GEQ linear-phase
graphic EQ, the Overtone graphic EQ, the MSED mid/side stereo processor and the
SPAN real-time spectrum analyzer.
The Marvel, at first glance, is a basic 16-band
graphic equalizer. It supports multichannel and mid/side processing at multiple
sample rates. Because it’s a linear-phase equalizer, it doesn’t suffer from the
phase shift that occurs when boosting or cutting a given frequency. Its
interface, like the others, is very neat and attractive.
Overtone Graphic EQ
A feature common to all Voxengo
plugs is the A/B selector, allowing the user to program two settings and
quickly compare the two. Its “underlay” feature allows users to compare two settings
graphically as well, showing the previous setting “ghosted” under the present
As far as sound quality, there really is something to maintaining
linear phase. This EQ does a great job at keeping the high end from sounding
brittle, even at fairly aggressive settings. Comparing this to other graphic
EQs, the overall sound was similar, but the Marvel was much less fatiguing to
The Overtone is a seven-band
graphic EQ geared toward processing overall mixes. Unlike the Marvel, this one
has sweepable frequency bands. It also includes two sets of controls, making it
easier to work on multichannel or Mid/Side projects.
This is a great output buss EQ that held its own against similar
plugins. The sweepable frequencies made matching settings with other EQs a
snap. I only wish it was possible to do away with the extra set of controls
when not in use. When working with multiple plug-ins, it can get confusing.
MSED Mid/Side Processor
Speaking of M/S processing,
next up is the MSED, a simple-to-use M/S processor. It can operate as an
encoder, splitting the stereo signal into discrete mid (L+R) and side (L–R)
channels; or as a decoder, taking such information and creating a proper L/R stereo
signal. It can also operate in “inline” mode, allowing real-time adjustments of
mid/side information. Other features include channel swapping and polarity
reversal. It’s a handy tool for doctoring the stereo spread of your audio and
making sure it’s mono-compatible (still a concern in radio).
Finally, we have the SPAN. This is a real-time FFT spectrum analyzer
with output level and phase correlation meters. It shows RMS and peak values as
well as maximum crest factor. Another nice feature is the K-metering setting
for the output meter. K-metering is a standard developed by mastering engineer
Bob Katz that is fast becoming adopted in film and television audio mastering. It
provides a standard level of loudness that should translate well to multiple
playback systems. The SPAN provides a free yet effective solution for
SPAN Spectrum Analyzer
In an upcoming issue I’ll take
a look at a few more free offerings from Voxengo, including their Old Skool
Verb, Stereo Touch and Beeper plug-ins.