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Herb Goldberg Devices

The website offers an impressive array of effects, from EQ to dynamics to reverb, at no cost

Herbert Goldberg, blogging under the handle Varosound, presents a series of free VST plugins through his site Variety of Sound.

The website offers an impressive array of effects, from EQ to dynamics to reverb, all at no cost.

On the site he says: “As a computer scientist and musician, I’m enjoying designing DSP algorithms and plug-in concepts. It’s a pleasure for me to share my efforts with other people without having to worry about commercial interests.”

Each download is contained in a ZIP file, which contains the VST plug-in, a manual, and license. The one exception is EpicVerb 1.5, which downloads as a RAR file, requiring WinZip or a similar application to extract.

I took a look at six of the 15 plugins offered.

BaxterEQ is a mastering and mix bus shelving EQ. As with most of the plug-ins, the interface is reminiscent of vintage rack-mount gear, in this case classic Pultecs. The effect is subtle, yet effective, but is best suited to entire mixes rather than surgical tone correction.

Density MKIII is another mastering/mix bus tool, offering compression and limiting. Its interface retains the “vintage” look of an old-fashioned tube unit. The controls are simple — a range control to adjust the compression threshold, a drive control and makeup gain. Attack and release are combined into a “Timing” control. The unit can handle stereo tracks, or two separate mono channels.

Thrillseeker VBL is an emulation of popular broadcast limiters from the 1950s. Fans of the old Gates or RCA limiters might get a kick out of this one. It’s got the look and feel of the old gear, right down to virtual “set screws” to adjust bias, emphasis and other parameters. As with most such processors, a little goes a long way. It didn’t take much to find out what an overprocessed station would sound like!

Continuing in the “vintage” tradition, Ferric TDS provides a simulation of tape saturation dynamics. Its controls are straightforward, and it’s certainly effective as an overall bus compressor; but I don’t see it replacing my old MCI. Like the song says, “Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.”

Nasty VCS is a virtual console strip, cramming a lot of features into one space, with a tube simulator, fully parametric EQ, compressor/limiter and other features to surgically alter audio. This one’s main flaw is the interface. While the virtual knobs are easy to use, the bypass and other controls for each stage appear as very tiny buttons along the bottom, making them difficult to spot. Aside from that, it’s a handy, clean-sounding tool for doctoring vocal tracks.

Finally, EpicVerb is a full-featured reverb/ambience simulator, with predelay, dampening and EQ controls. Other adjustments include level and timing of early reflections, modulation and even mid/side levels. Dozens of presets are also included.

— Curt Yengst, CSRE