In this review, we are going to be going over two sister plugins the Bx_Console G and the Bx_Console E by Brainworx. These two plugins are emulations of the legendary British G and E Consoles which can be heard on countless hit records by many of your favorite A-list artists like Metallica, Genesis, Kendrick Lamar, Sting, and Beyoncé just to name a few.
Now there are many emulations of these consoles quite a few of which are really good however Brainworx have made something that brings something new to the channel strip emulation game with their Tolerance Modelling Technology (TMT).
So what is TMT you ask well it is a unique algorithm that Brainworx has created which emulates the tolerances that were allowed in each component that was used to build the hardware consoles these tolerances meant that no channel could ever be exactly the same and this is what gave these consoles their unique flavor and sound? TMT takes all of this data and gives us 72 unique channels to work within each of the plugins.
Now with other plugins on the market you could drop one of their plugins on each of your channels and each channel would sound exactly the same as the other which is good if you want that but according to Dirk Ulrich (the owner of Brainworx) the missing link of the differences between working in the Box or out of the Box is these tolerances in the hardware components themselves and therefore TMT can give you the most accurate emulation of a real-life hardware console right there in your DAW.
First Off let’s take a look at the overall look of both plugins and some of their shared features, the overview of both plugins is nice and straightforward the dials and buttons are easy to read and are easy to use as they are not too fidgety it is quite easy to get precise when you are dialling the plugin in.
So let’s get into the actual components of the plugin starting from the top.
The top bar allows you to store 4 different settings for the plugin which you can then A/B between them allowing you to easily find the exact flavor that you want this is great when you know which channels of the plugin you like on certain types of instruments.
You can also Solo the Mid or Solo the sides of your signal allowing you to work on those parts of the signal separately if you need to which I really like.
The Filters section is comprised of a High pass which has a range of 16 Hz up to 300 Hz and a Low pass filter which has a range of 22 kHz down to 3 kHz.
These ranges can be multiplied or divided to get the crossovers of the two filters to line up more easily so the HPF can be multiplied by 3 giving it a range of 48 Hz up to 1.05 kHz and the LPF can be divided by 3 giving you a range of 7.3 kHz down to 1 kHz.
These filters can also be moved to the dynamics sidechain by pressing the DYN SC button.
The compressor is a DBX style VCA compressor and is comprised of the usual SSL controls like Ratio, Threshold and Release but Brainworx have added a mix control which is great for when you want to do some parallel compression there is also an HPF filter that goes up to 2K this is nice if you don’t want the low-end to be driving the compressor.
There is also a second Release control which gives you the second stage to your release which when you are doing some aggressive compression can help with dialing in more or less of a pumping feeling.
The Led next to the Release button can be used to switch between auto and Fast attack this with less gain reduction can make it punchier and aggressive which is great on Lead vocals and percussive instruments.
The Expander/Gate section can be switched between an expander and a gate with the EXP button on the top. The expander has controls for the Range, Threshold and Release which can also be switched between normal and fast by clicking on the Led.
The Gate has controls for the Range, Threshold, and Release (normal or fast) but Brainworx has also added a Hysteresis control which doesn’t really exist in the SSL world but has been co-opted from the Neve world and put into these plugins.
The Hysteresis control sets a differential between the open and closed threshold so that the closed threshold can be lower than the open threshold and this can remove chatter when the gate is trying to close but the signal keeps hanging around the threshold this can help to smooth that out.
What is really nice about these plugins is that you can switch the entire dynamics section From E to G this is really nice to A/B between them to get exactly the type of flavour that you want as they do have different characteristics I find the G to be a bit more aggressive so it’s nice to be able to switch between them to find exactly what you are looking for.
The Dynamic section can also be set to be keyed externally with the key button so you can get your sidechain on quite easily.
The eq section in can be switched to the four different revisions that came out on the original SSL desks back in the day and that was for the E-channel the brown and black knobs and for the G-channel the black and pinks knobs and the brown and red knobs.
These revisions had different characteristics associated with them and will give you a different flavour.
On the E-channel the brown knob was the original version that came out and had a smoother more musical tone to them and the Black knob was a bit more aggressive in nature and had a harsher tone.
On the G-channel you had the Orange and Red knob and the Black and Pink versions the orange and red knobs have the option to set the Eq to a shelf or bell, this was replaced when the pink knobs came out with a times 3 and divide by 3 which extends the range of the high mid frequencies and the low mid frequencies.
As for the tonal characteristics of both versions, the black and pink sounds more aggressive whereas the orange and red versions sound more natural and musical.
In the last section of the Bx-Console E and G series we find the input gain, V gain, THD, invert phase button, mute button, analog to the digital button, the TMT section with the buttons to randomize one channel or all channels and the output volume fader.
The V Gain knob controls the amount of noise introduced to the sound you are putting through it the consoles themselves had noise introduced because of the nature of the hardware itself this gave the tracks that little bit extra this can be found in most emulations, however, the ability to dial in how much noise you want is something I like.
The THD control screw introduces a nice harmonic distortion to your sound which can be quite pleasing when pushed hard on certain instruments like snare’s and guitars and such getting it to scream without introducing bad distortion is really nice.
The TMT channel selector lets you go to the channel you desire as said before they all have slightly different characteristics and work and when you find a channel that works well on a certain instrument you can go right to it.
You can also randomize only the plugin you are using right now or you can randomize all of the Bx_Console you have in your project a fun thing to try is when you have finished your mix-down to save that and then randomize all of the Bx_Console in your project you will see how much of a difference it can make you might even have a happy accident and find something you really like.
The analog to digital button switches the plugin from using two different TMT channels each with slightly different circuitry models for the left and right signal which produces a lovely analog sound in analog mode to one TMT channel for both the left and right signals in the digital mode providing a theoretically perfect digital stereo sound.
In Conclusion the Bx_Console G and E plugins each have their own unique sound personally I find the G-series to have a more rounded low end more suited toward the style of drums I like to use and the E-series sounds a bit more sharper making me want to use it more on synths, snares and vocals and probably also on basses that are used in a lead type way.
I Really like the TMT that Brainworx have added to their plugins which really does give them something above the competition in the analog modelling game as all 72 channels sound slightly different together with the THD and the ability to add in as much noise as you see fit really gives any signal you put through it that analog feel that we all so desperately are searching for.
- Sounds amazing.
- Very light on the CPU.
- TMT is awesome.
- Looks great all the controls are easy to read and use.
- None whatsoever.
- In my humble opinion, you really can’t go wrong with buying either of these plugins as they are both really great the only mistake you might make is not buying both.
Both plugins are available via Plugin Alliance website in AAX DSP, AAX Native, AU, AAX AudioSuite, VST2, VST3 plugin formats for Windows and MAC. For more details please check the links below.