Audiffex inValve Effects Review
Audiffex has just announced the availability of their second generation native plug-ins InValve Effects, which consist of three valve based processors: a Preamp, an EQ and a Compressor. Their promise: slightly warmer tracks, no matter the volume level.
Let’s check ‘em out!
So, this is a very straight forward Valve preamp. When I say straight forward, I mean it, there’s just two controls in this plugin: a power switch and a valve saturation knob, that’s it. Even with no saturation at all, these guys keep their promise, the track (in this case, I’m testing it with a vocal track), sounds a bit warmer.
As I increase the saturation level, I can really hear the warmth of valves. This is not aggressive at all, with saturation at 25% I don’t hear any crunch, just warmer low and mid range, at 50% I can hear some new harmonic content, but very controlled, even when the singer rises his voice. At 80% there’s some more drive, but nothing to crazy. In fact, it doesn’t get crazy even at 100%. It just adds warmth and very subtle new harmonic content. It sounds very nice, and it really shines when higher volumes hit it. I mean, you won’t use it to really saturate a track, at least not in the way you’d use, lets say, a Neve 1073 or a Universal Audio 610. But, anyway, it really brings a nice colour to a vocal track and makes it sit better in the mix.
The Compressor, again, has all the standard controls plus a valve saturation knob. The ratio can go very high up to 50:1, which can really slam your track, but, surprisingly, with appropriate attack/release settings can be quite transparent. The attack can go pretty fast or really slow. Release time can also be pretty fast, and even in the fastest setting, it won’t create any strange stuff to your audio. It can go really slow too, up to 4 full seconds.
Of course, with higher ratio settings, it can become a limiter, but, again, to my ears, the knee is pretty soft and clean.
When you start messing with the valve saturator, the sound becomes warmer, and even with more clarity. With some adjustments, you can create a pretty warm, and transparent sound that will help the track sit better in the mix.
One thing worth no mention is that there’s no gain reduction meter, so, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to trust your ears!
When you use the saturation from the preamp in combination with the saturation from the compressor, you can start digging pretty serious rock sounds! In my test, it’s really making shine the vocal track I’m working on, you can achieve some really nice bite if that’s what you need.
The last plugin is the EQ. First of all, we find two gain stages, the Valve saturation, which is pretty much the same as in the preamp and the compressor, and a master gain, which can add or cut 15 dB after the EQ itself.
Speaking of which, it has a High Pass Filter and a Low Pass Filter, which I guess the curve for those is 6dB per octave, I’m not quite sure, it can be 12dB, but, it’s pretty gentle.
Next we’ve got four sweepable bands, the first two, go from 30Hz up to 3KHz while the other two go from 1KHz up to 20KHz. Bands one and four, can be set either to shelf or to bell type. Again, each band has +/- 15dB of boost/cut and you can set the Q for any of them.
I have to say it sounds very nice and any subtle changes really reflects on the track.
The combined three
When you combine the three plugins, all of them with some valve saturation, your gain staging can get pretty messy, with more drive than you’d want. Luckily, each plug in has its clip led indicator, so, you might wanna check on that too.
One thing for sure is that, after adjusting levels, this combination, works great!
Right now I’m working on a jazzy feel pop track, and it gave the vocal the warmth and colour I needed.
When the three are combined, and saturation is at 100% on each, you can get a really nasty 60s/70s rock/blues driven kinda sound, which might be just what you need. But, again, with a little saturation, or even no saturation at all, you get some subtle warmth.
I’m not exactly sure if this are modelled after any particular hardware units, but, to my ears, it sounds pretty much with the same vibe than the Avalon 737 channel strip unit. It adds warmth, it can add some serious drive, but, even with full saturation, it won’t make your tracks unusable, I mean, it’s a very gentle drive.
Each of the plugins add colour, if you are looking for clean, transparent, this is not for you definitely. But, if you seek for some colour and warmth, this is a plugin chain you will surely wanna use!
One thing I found kinda odd, especially in the preamp and the compressor, is they lack of any kind of metering. This is a weird design choice, especially for the compressor, some kind of Gain Reduction metering would be awesome. I know, you can definitely trust your ears, but, maybe after 6 hours of mixing, the visual aid from a meter might be very helpful.
Anyway, as with hardware units, this is what it is, and that’s something I particularly like. They look nice, they feel nice, they sound nice, and this should be the most important thing. The second you insert any of this plugin in a track, you can hear it’s already warmer, and that’s the main reason that vintage valve hardware units cost that much, so, if you can have that benefit in your plugin arsenal, I don’t see any reasons not to get them!
More Details/Buy Link: inValve Effects[author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]
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