If there ever was such a thing as a magic audio “black box” — in which sounds sent in come out sounding way better — it is the original Aphex Aural Exciter, born in 1975. Send a mushy recording in, twirl the knob, watch the jaws drop at the clean, snappy sound coming out.
The Aural Exciter and its permutations were so good (and in demand) that it didn’t take long for it to migrate from the recording studio into the broadcast studio (once Aphex manufactured units for purchase, that is).
Recently the software digital processing wizards at Waves added the Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter to their list of cool retro processing tools.
The Waves plug-in was modeled on, according to Waves, “one of two prototype tube-powered units developed by Aphex during the mid-seventies.”
Prices: Native – $250; Pro Tools TDM – $500.