NAMM 2021: Softube’s surgically precise Weiss EQ MP plug-in

Softube Weiss EQ MPSoftube is back at it with another 1:1 code port of the brains inside Weiss’s coveted digital mastering gear. This time, it’s the Weiss EQ1’s minimum phase algorithm that’s getting the plug-in treatment.

Softube Weiss EQ MP

Instead of character and saturation, Weiss EQ MP delivers 2 channels with 7 bands of surgical transparency for white-gloved frequency correction, mixing and mastering. Each band offers a -39dB to +18dB cut or boost range and a Q-range between 0.2 to 650. These are the kind of extremes enabled by digital EQs. The bands operate in the following modes: high shelving, low shelving, peaking, high cut, low cut, and bypass. Precision work is facilitated by 64-bit processing with internal oversampling and genuine Weiss low-noise filter algorithms. Other features include stereo link and mid/side processing.

Additionally, Softube managed to increase the number of filter slopes with choices of 24dB, 48dB, and 96dB complementing the already available 0dB, 6dB, and 12dB ones. Weiss EQ MP also introduces Large Screen Mode and Dark Mode to its resizable user interface. The plug-in is compatible with Softube’s Console 1 hybrid mixing system as well.

Although Softube claims a 1:1 code port of the original unit’s firmware, it makes no mention of the MIDI control options that came with it. Perhaps this kind of functionality is better handled by DAW automation when working in the box.

Weiss EQ1

The original Weiss EQ1 unit.

Price and availability

Weiss EQ MP is on sale now, priced EUR 149 down from EUR 249 in an introductory offering. A one-one-one video demo session with Softube’s demonstration team can be booked.

The following 64-bit plug-in formats are supported: VST, VST3, AU, and AAX on Windows and macOS. An iLok account is required for authorization but the USB dongle is not a requirement.

Weiss EQ MP is also included in Softube’s Weiss EQ1 suite (EUR 499) and the Weiss Complete Collection bundle (EUR 739). Owners of both will receive the new plug-in for free.

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NAMM 2021: Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2 USB audio interface

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2x2Black Lion Audio has announced its first bus-powered USB audio interface at NAMM Believe in Music Week. The Revolution 2×2 was designed from the ground up, building on BLA’s experience from its many mods of other manufacturers’ interfaces.

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2

Among other things, Black Lion Audio is known for its mods of other manufacturer’s audio interfaces, such as Focusrite, M-Audio, MOTU and Presonus. Now the company has designed its first interface from the ground up. BLA says that they’ve been working on it in secret for many years.

Just how revolutionary can an audio interface be? The Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2 probably doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but BLA says that it’s “modded out of the box”. It’s built from the same high-quality components the company uses to mod and improve other manufacturers’ devices, including Vishay, Nichicon and Wima capacitors and “the most cutting edge, high-end ICs“, BLA claims.

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2x2

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2

Revolution 2×2 is a bus-powered USB-C audio interface with a maximum resolution of 192 kHz / 24 bit. BLA’s new Macro MMC clocking technology is built in, as is the company’s PG-i power conditioning tech. BLA also says that the internal gain staging has been optimized for a low signal-to-noise ratio. All of this works together to ensure the highest possible quality of sound, which is the most revolutionary thing about the interface, according to Black Lion Audio.

The two analog inputs feature high-headroom microphone preamps and phantom power and can also take instrument signals. The front side also offers an 8-segment level meter, main output gain knob and a monitoring section. Next to the headphone output is a monitor mix knob that lets you blend in the direct signal for latency-free monitoring.

At the back, the Revolution 2×2 offers two decoupled main outputs, digital S/PDIF I/O with embedded clock, and a USB-C connector.

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2x2

Black Lion Audio says that the Revolution 2×2 uses high-quality components

I’m not sure I’d go as far as calling it a revolution. But BLA’s first audio interface definitely looks like an interesting new option for a portable stereo audio interface. While there are many 2×2 interfaces that cost less, the attention to detail that went into its development makes the price of €399 seem very reasonable. And as they’ve now laid the groundwork, I think we can expect BLA to expand the line-up with additional models and higher channel counts in the future.

Price and availability

According to Black Lion Audio, the Revolution 2×2 will begin shipping in February 2021 for $399 / €399.

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Best free plug-ins this week: AutoTremWahLight, fircomp and Tiny F

Best free plug-ins this weekIt’s Freeware Sunday here at Gearnews, and we’ve got three awesome free additions to your plug-in folder this week: a modulated filter, a no-nonsense compressor and a guitar amp simulation. Check out AutoTremWahLight, fircomp and Tiny F!

For many more free plug-ins, be sure to visit our huge archives!

PechenegFX AutoTremWahLight

PechenegFX AutoTremWahLightAutoTremWahLight is the free version of the developer’s AutoTremWah plug-in. It’s an LFO-modulated filter / auto wah / tremolo with two independent cutoff frequencies that can operate in high pass, low pass or wah (band pass) modes. The LFO syncs to your host tempo and offers plenty of tweaking options such as shape, phase and symmetry. AutoTremWahLight lacks the envelope follower capabilities of the full version, but it’s a great freebie nonetheless.

AutoTremWahLight is currently only available as an AU plug-in for macOS, but a Windows version is in the works.

Get AutoTremWahLight here

Jon V Audio fircomp

Jon V Audio fircompFircomp by Jon V Audio is a “free compressor with perfect curves”, as the developer puts it. It’s designed to provide clean compression with punchy attack and musical release for tracks or busses. In addition to the usual controls like threshold, ratio, attack, release and makeup gain, fircomp has an adjustable knee and even offers a sidechain filter. There’s also FIR lookahead smoothing for the minimum possible distortion. The developer claims that fircomp has very low latency and uses very little CPU.

Fircomp is available for macOS and Windows (64 bit) in VST3 and AU formats.

Get fircomp here

EXE Consulting Tiny F

EXE Consulting Tiny FWhat kind of product would you expect from a company named EXE Consulting? I’m sure it’s not a guitar amp simulation, but that’s just what Tiny F is. According to the developer, it’s a stripped-down version of his Classic F amp simulator paired with the distortion model from the Classic Thirty plug-in. Tiny F consists of a two-stage preamp, power amp and cab simulation. Each tube stage offers a number of adjustable parameters. The developer says that Tiny F can be used for guitar and bass.

Tiny F is a VST3 plug-in for Windows (64 bit).

Get Tiny F here

Videos

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Josh Scott of JHS selling his Klon Centaur #2 for $500k!

Klon number 2Yeah, I’m pretty sure Josh Scott is having a tongue-in-cheek poke at the insanity of over-inflated Klon pedal prices with this one. He has put his Klon Centaur #2, which is actually the first ever Klon made, up for sale on Reverb for a cool $500,000.

Klon #2 for $500k!

The story goes like this: Klon designer Bill Finnegan made Klon number #2 first, and kept number one for himself, which he built later. Therefore, number 2 is actually the first ever Klon Centaur pedal in existence. Josh Scott of JHS pedals fame, who currently owns the stompbox, is now selling it on Reverb for $500,000!

“You know what it is, if you want the best Klon, it’s this Klon. Bill [Finnegan, Klon designer] built/sold this #2 first as he sat #1 aside for himself and built it later.” – Josh Scott

Jef's Klon pedals

Jef’s Klon pedals. I had two, does this mean I could have got double?

Hand Delivery

Break to the tea and biscuits, because Josh will hand-deliver, in-person, anywhere on earth, for free! Allow 30 days from the date of purchase for him to clear his schedule and get it to you personally. He is so confident in the Klon that he only took one picture of the pedal on the listing, because we all know what it is, right?

My favourite comment from Josh on the listing has to be: “Buy it or don’t, I don’t really care”. I actually laughed out loud. He’s obviously taking the mickey out of everyone with this one!

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NAMM 2021: PRS launches new Mark Lettieri signature Fiore model

PRS launches new Mark Lettieri signature Fiore modelThis new PRS signature model for Snarky Puppys’ Mark Lettieri  is called the Fiore. That, as we all knew without googling it, is Italian for flower. The truss rod cover has a design drawn by Lettieri’s mother! Let’s take a closer look at this new guitar.

Mark Lettieri Fiore

The PRS Guitars 2021 Launch Party revealed some great new guitars, including a new signature model for Snarky Puppys’ Mark Lettieri called the Fiore. It features a swamp ash body, an HSS pickup layout and a 25.5″ scale length 22 fret maple neck with a matching maple fretboard. The majority of PRS models are a 25″ scale length, so that’s an interesting departure.

PRS Mark Lettieri Fiore model

PRS Mark Lettieri Fiore model

Nitro over Cellulose

The ‘Nitro over Cellulose’ finish comes in Amaryllis, Black Iris and Sugar Moon finishes. It’s understated, but looks beautifully executed. You also get a 2-Point Steel Tremolo with vintage style saddles, rather than the standard PRS trem with six screws on a blade edge. It’s a bit more Strat-like, in line with the PRS John Mayer Silver Sky model. Here’s what Mr Lettieri himself had to say about his new model:

“All guitarists have a sound in their head – a sound that evolves and grows as they progress, discovering all of the beautiful idiosyncrasies that define their individual voice. To facilitate this process, players need a vibrant, dynamic guitar that becomes a free space in which their personality can unfold. PRS and I designed Fiore (Italian for ‘flower’) to be this guitar.” 

Fiore Pickups

The guitar comes with a Fiore-H humbucker that should be able handle high-gain lead tones, yet also has a smooth top end that allows the pickup to be played clean. Two single coil Fiore-S pickups help to give a balanced tone with added clarity, designed to work with the humbuckers to give you that ‘bloom’ in all five positions.

The pickups are wired to a five-way blade switch: bridge position, bridge + middle, middle position, middle+ neck, neck position. The guitar uses a single volume and two push/pull tone controls for extra tonal variations.

This looks like a real player’s guitar to my eye, with a traditional layout in many ways. It ships in a PRS gig bag, so no hard case with this model, like the Silver Sky models.  You can hear the guitar in action in the demo video below. Mark, of course, makes it sound amazing.

RRP – TBC

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Arturia MicroFreak v3.0 features 3 Oscillators from Noise Engineering

Arturia MicroFreak V3.0Noise Engineering get in on the MicroFreak action with 3 oscillator algorithms taken from their Virt Iter module and given new life and polyphony in Arturia’s fruity little synth.

MicroFreak V3.0

In what appears to be an annual update Arturia has released a new firmware for the MicroFreak synthesizer. I’m sure it brings all sorts of fixes and tweaks but the big news is that it has 3 new oscillator algorithms from Eurorack modular makers Noise Engineering. They are called Bass, SawX and Harm and although the algorithms are complex you only get to play with 3 parameters and one of those is noise.

Bass: Something to do with sine waves and cosine waves, modulators, saturation and wavefolding. The result is a solid bass thump that gets nicely folded and torn apart with the Fold knob and then melted with Saturate which acts on the cosine wave. The Noise control phase modulates between the two oscillators in opposite phase and is added between the folds.

SawX: A recognisable sawtooth wave with “Saw Mod” phase modulation and “Shape” chorus. This does exactly what you imagine it will and has a really lively sound. The Noise control sets the amount of phase modulation by sub-sampled white noise.

Harm: A harmonic oscillator that adds harmonics/partials to a fundamental frequency. Spread sets the relation of partials and Rectification adds a sort of half fold to each partial. Noise sets the amount of phase-modulated noise and master clip level.

Here’s my take and a sound demo of the new oscillators:

More Voices

The other feature in this update is that all oscillators can now be played with 4 voice unison with a spread of up to 12 semitones. It’s interesting playing the Noise Engineering oscillators in Paraphonic mode, it adds a whole new dimension and is something you can’t do on the Virt Iter module.

Arturia has increased the number of preset slots to 384 and stuffed in a bunch of more presets.

The update is free to all MicroFreak users via the MIDI Control Centre and keeps things nicely fresh and interesting.

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Blackstar ID:Core V3 – Compact practice amps with Super Wide Stereo

Blackstar ID-Core V3The new Blackstar ID:Core V3 range of guitar amplifiers are all practice amplifiers, offering Super Wide Stereo, digital audio recording and a host of useful connectivity options. Perfect for guitar players looking for a portable and flexible home amp solution.

Blackstar ID:Core V3

The new Blackstar ID:Core V3 guitar amps are set squarely in the practice amp bracket, and are ideal for musicians that need a quality amp but would also like some decent effects bundled in, along with ease of use. The models come in Stereo 10 V3, Stereo 20 V3 and Stereo 40 V3 versions, which is 10, 20 and 40 watts power ratings through pairs of 3, 5 and 6.5-inch speakers respectively.Blackstar ID:Core V3 Stereo 10 V3, Stereo 20 V3 and Stereo 40 V3 

Blackstar ID:Core V3 Stereo 10 V3, Stereo 20 V3 and Stereo 40 V3

ISF + Effects

Blackstar’s ISF control lets you sweep between USA- and UK-style EQ. This ‘infinite shape feature’ is a standard for the company and I find it works pretty well, letting you tailor the sound to your liking. All the ID:Core V3 models offer two clean voices ‘Warm’ and ‘Bright’, and two crunch voices ‘Crunch’ and ‘Super Crunch’, along with two overdrive voices ‘OD 1’ and ‘OD2’.

Effects Section

With the effects, you can use a reverb, delay and modulation all at once. Blackstar gives you a choice of four styles for each of these effect types. You can then set the overall delay time with a tap-tempo button, as well as the modulation speed for the Phaser, Chorus/Flanger and Tremolo effects.

Super Wide Stereo

The Super Wide Stereo gives you a fuller sound, and the effects have been re-voiced to take this feature into account. Expect some luscious delays and reverbs. This is a nice touch, as often practice amps can sound a little small and boxy. So to have a nice big sound in the room, without blowing your head off with excessive volume, is always welcome.

Speakers

Each model in the range has a set of full-range, linear speakers. This means that your sound will be full and not choke out. You can also play your music or smartphone through them, so they double up as a portable speaker for music playback, etc.

Blackstar ID:Core V3 Recording and re-amping

Recording and re-amping with Blackstar ID:Core V3

Recording and Re-amping

The ID:Core V3 models all have USB connectivity for four-channel recording, re-amping and using the amp as an audio interface. You also get Cab Rig Lite, Blackstar’s new configurable cab-sim. It has a choice of cabinet, mic and room environment to choose from. This is accessed, along with more deeper editing with patch management tools, via Blackstar’s free Architect software.

RRP – Stereo 10 V3 GBP 119, Stereo 20 V3  GBP 155 and Stereo 40 V3 GBP 185

More Blackstar articles click here

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Best free plug-ins this week: Flying Delay, Giant Verb and Saturator

Best free plug-ins this week2021 is off to a good start thanks to these awesome free plug-ins! This week, we’ve got a delay, reverb and saturation effect – all free. Check out Flying Delay, Giant Verb and Saturator.

For loads of free plug-ins from 2020 and before, make sure to visit our huge archives!

SuperflyDSP Flying Delay

SuperflyDSP Flying DelaySuperflyDSP welcomes the new year with this retro-style delay plug-in. The delay time ranges from 50 ms to five seconds and can be synced to the song tempo. The other knob controls the decay time / feedback. Flying Delay also offers a ping pong mode and a tape slider, which lets you dial in some analog ‘dirt’. A pair of high pass and low pass filters helps to shape the frequency spectrum. Flying Delay looks like a simple, but useful delay that covers all the essentials.

Flying Delay is available for Windows, macOS and Linux in VST3 and AU formats.

Get Flying Delay here

Digital Systemic Emulations Giant Verb

Digital Systemic Emulations Giant VerbGiant Verb by Digital Systemic Emulations is just what it says it is: a reverb plug-in ‘designed for infinite spaces’. Turn the feedback all the way up to 100%, and you’ll get an infinite decay time. There’s also a pre-warmth setting for ‘analog input behavior’ and a modulation feature for added chorusing. Giant Verb isn’t your typical reverb that tries to sound as natural as possible, but rather an experimental effect for sound design and sonic explorations.

Giant Verb is available for Windows and macOS in VST and AU formats.

Get Giant Verb here

BPB Saturator

BPB SaturatorBedroom Producers Blog designed Saturator as a ‘colorful analog-style saturation tool’. It has independent controls for tube-style and tape-style saturation, which can be used separately or in combination. That’s like having a tube preamp and analog tape machine in one plug-in. Saturator also offers a pair of high pass and low pass filters for dealing with unwanted frequencies. This one looks like a quick and easy way to add some warmth, grit and drive to your audio tracks.

Saturator is available for Windows and macOS in VST, VST3, AU and AAX formats.

Get Saturator here

Videos

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Audient: New iD4 / iD14 MKII interfaces and EVO Start Recording Bundle

Audient iD MKII interfacesBritish manufacturer Audient starts off 2021 right with the introduction of two new audio interfaces and an inexpensive studio package. While the Audient iD4 MKII and iD14 MKII improve the manufacturer’s entry-level iD series interfaces in several aspects, the EVO Start Recording Bundle collects Audient’s EVO 4 audio interface, SR 1 condenser microphone, a pair of SR2000 studio headphones, and matching accessories into an affordable starter kit.

Audient iD4 / iD14 MKII interfaces

Like their predecessors, the iD 4 MKII and iD 14 MKII are aimed primarily at beginners. Both models sport upgraded AD/DA converters with improved dynamic range. Another update concerns the Windows/macOS/iOS computer connection, which is now USB-C.

Like the previous-generation interfaces, the iD 4 MKII and iD 14 MKII have built-in Class-A microphone amplifiers coming from Audient’s high-end ASP8024 HE large-format console. Both have discrete JFET instrument inputs as well. The iD 4 MKII features that and one XLR/line combo input, while the iD14 MKII has two of these and is therefore suitable for stereo recording. Another difference is the presence of an optical input for ADAT and S/PDIF digital audio. Additionally, the iD4 MKII is equipped with two line outputs, while the iD14 MKII has four line outputs. The iD 4 MKII has a single headphone output, while the iD 14 MKII has two.

Both units are class-compliant with Windows, macOS and iOS devices. A software package containing a proprietary mixer application, versions of Cubase LE and Cubasis LE, and several VSTi plug-ins is included, in addition to 3 free online courses from Produce Like A Pro. The Audient iD 4 MKII and iD 14 MKII will be available from February 2021, priced EUR 149 and EUR 249 respectively.

Audient iD 4 MKII front side
Audient iD 4 MKII rear
Audient iD 14 MKII front side
Audient iD 14 MKII rear side

EVO Start Recording Bundle

Alongside the iD MKII interfaces, Audient introduced the EVO Start Recording Bundle. With it, the manufacturer wants to address podcasters, streamers, gamers and other content producers looking for an affordable, reasonably complete recording solution. Thus, the EUR 220 bundle includes an EVO 4 audio interface, the SR1 large-diaphragm condenser microphone, SR2000 studio headphones, microphone shockmount, and XLR connection cable. The bundle will be available starting February 2021.

Audient EVO Start recording bundle

Audient EVO Start recording bundle

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The new Toneforge Jeff Loomis has all the tools you need for a modern heavy guitar tone

Toneforge Jeff LoomisMetal producer Jens Bogren and guitarist Jeff Loomis teamed up with Joey Sturgis Tones to develop the Toneforge Jeff Loomis plug-in, with three new virtual amp setups. And to make the deal even sweeter, there is a great introductory price to launch this new bundle.

Toneforge Jeff Loomis

Jeff Loomis is a monster player with some epic tones. His work with both Nevermore and Conquering Dystopia has some fantastic guitar tones, and trying to capture those tones takes some hard work. Luckily, famed producer and recording engineer Jens Bogren was on board for this latest Toneforge project and helped bring this software bundle to life.

Jens is known for his work with Sepultura, Kreator, Paradise Lost to name only three of the many monster metal bands on his resume. So for players trying to cop Jeff Loomis’ recorded amp tones for their DAW, the Toneforge Jeff Loomis package is a good start.

Toneforge Jeff Loomis

Toneforge Jeff Loomis

Three Amps

The package gives you access to three distinct amp setups which should cover all your bases when recording. The Lead Channel l is dedicated to the heavy shredder sound. It’s full-on distortion, and has a rotary control. Then there’s a Clean Channel for crystalline clean tones, perfect for intros and interludes. The Rhythm Channel is specially designed to handle low-end tight riffs, and has a tube emulation that can be switched from 6L6s to EL34s.

In addition to the three signature amp models, the bundle has a range of virtual cabs, including a dual cab mode for the first time. With it you can edit the guitar and all other sounds on two levels at the same time, or pull them apart in the stereo width. There is also a Matched Cabinets feature and the option to import your own IRs. So a lot of very useful tools for tailoring your recorded guitar tones.

Joey Sturgis Tones Toneforge Jeff Loomis

Joey Sturgis Tones Toneforge Jeff Loomis

Effects

The package offers four core guitar effects to complement the virtual amp rigs. These include the GTR Comp (compressor), Overdriven (overdrive), Sky Box (reverb) and Echo Man (delay). The effects come with post-amp processing, so you can process the signal further at the end of the signal chain. This also includes the 4-band EQ and compressor, which should make it easier to get that real life-like amp sound you are chasing, within your DAW.

Overall, this is a pretty comprehensive set of tools for getting a modern heavy guitar tone. And if you check out the demo videos below, you will hear exactly what I mean. Ola Englund gives it a really good review as well. I would suggest that you watch all three videos to get a good overview of what this package is capable of.

Joey Sturgis Tones Toneforge Jeff Loomis runs as VST2, VST3, AU and AAX on macOS (10.10 to 11.X – Big Sur is supported via Rosetta 2, native M1 support is not yet available) and Windows (7 or newer). A free iLok account is required for registration.

Introductory Deal Price

The icing on the cake is the introductory pricing offer, which takes the regular $149 price tag down to only $59. At this price, I think is a fantastic deal considering all the very useful tools and tones on offer.

RRP – Introductory pricing USD 59, regular pricing USD 149

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