Online Review: Dynasone/Ambisone/Roomulator/VoxCiter,
    Prosoniq



Please note: since 12-02-2003 all plugs on this page are available for OS X as well.

For those of you lucky enough to have a more powerful Macintosh PowerPC in your studio, the VST plugin structure of Steinbergs Cubase 3.5 VST gives you an interesting door to absolute audio creativity. Elsewhere in this site, I already gave you an online review of this powerful Cubase software. On this page, I'll tell you a bit more about some PlugIns, programmed by the German software-whizzies at Prosoniq. The VST industry is firing up these days, producing more and more PlugIns that enhance your Cubase VST to a complete studio in your Mac. VoxCiter, Ambisone, Roomulator and Dynasone by Prosoniq are plugs, that you can hardly resist, once you've seen and heard them at work in your Mac. At least, my first experiences with these Plugins really made me go yippo.

You may know that Cubase VST gives you the possibility to arrange midi and then hard disk record it from within the same piece of software. As you also may know, most synthesizers sound great but just miss that "punch" that you always hear on professional recordings. No wonder: to add that "punch", the recording studio's use heavy pro equipment like analyzers, compressors, reverb units, gate-units, etc. Up to now, hard disk recordings from within Cubase could be enhanced with some plugs that came with Cubase, and those plugs are not bad in itself. But when the sophisticated VST-PlugIns came into the Cubase world, things got even better. Now, you can enhance the "flat" sounds that come from your synthesizers and push them up to what only professional studios seemed to be able to do.

First of all it is absolutely wise to state here that you will need a powerful PowerPC to work smoothly with these plugs. I normally work with a 6100/66 PowerPC for hard disk recording. Even my old 660/AV does a good job for its good analog to digital conversion. But: when I fired up (or better: tried to...) Cubase and some of the VST-plugs mentioned on this page on my 6100/66, some of them hardly worked, and VoxCiter said "nice try, but goodbye". Some weeks ago, I was so lucky to receive a 9500/200 PowerPC with 32MB of RAM from Apple (thank you Laurens Lijding!) to do the testing for these online reviews in a more powerful environment.

With this machine, I had no performance problems at all. I now can load Cubase VST 3.52 plus VoxCiter (a real processor killer) and three other Plugs, and still have some processor power left while using 12 channels of audio. Four plugs goes fine as well as long as I choose carefully. Some plugs demand heavy processor power, some less. Sixteen audiochanels and some plugs should be possible too, but I did not try that yet. Cubases max is 32 audio tracks, but I think that only goes for the heaviest G3 PowerMacs. Cubase and Prosoniq say that a 100 MHz PowerPC is the minimum.

VST-PlugIns by Prosoniq.


Having said that, let's have a look at the VST-PlugIns by Prosoniq. This German software company is already well known for it's neural technology in audio processing. Elsewhere in the daMac pages, you can read about sonicWORX Studio software, that enhances audio with this technology. Prosoniq now joines the world of VST, and will bring VST-technology to the next version of Studio, so we heard.

VoxCiter.



VoxCiter adds natural brilliance to your recordings. It refreshes and even restores the quality of fidelity of any kind of instrumental or vocal hard disk recorded material. In fact, VoxCiter is a combination of several important tools, needed for producing crisp and clear sounding audio. Working totally in the digital domain, VoxCiter gives you Gate, two Equalizers (EQ1 and EQ2), a Compressor, a Drive (which punches ypur audio) and Refresh (which enhances the brilliance). All these modules can be switched on and off and combined as you wish, thus giving you an endless range of combination possibilities.

VoxCiter gives you:

- Flexible Noise Gate with Attack, Hold and Release
- Dual vocal parametric equalizer (Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass and Band Reject selectable)
- Vocal Compressor/Expander with Attack/Release/Auto features
- Independently equalizable Sidechain feed for Compressor/Expander
- Realtime Neural Automatic De-Esser circuitry
- Vocal Refresh
- Vocal Saturation (simulates tube distortion to add warmth)
- On-board Bypass switch for instant comparison without having to switch windows
- 64 bit internal processing with signal and precision loss indicators

Through the channel switches of Cubnase VST, you can apply these effects to all or just a selected number of audio channels, thus giving you total flexibility in -what I always like to call "painting your audio". VoxCiter is first of all ment as a tool to enhance voice recording, but you can use it as well for enhancing your digitized audio tracks. Used with care of course, like any of these kind of plugs. It is very easy to "kill" your recording with too much effecting. "In der Beschrankung zeigt sich der Meister" as the Germans say. This means (more or less): "The real professional knows how to not overuse effects". This is absolutely true and goes for a PlugIn like VoxCiter. You will need some time to learn all possibilities of VoxCiter, but once you get hold on all parameters you have an absolute supertool in your Mac.

Cubase gives you the opportunity to export audio to ready-to-play AIFF or CDII files. WAV's are possible to, but they cannot be reimported into the audio pool. When exporting, you can apply the VoxCiter effects (and any other VST plugin effect for that matter), thus creating a ready-to-press audio file on your hard disk, just the way you want to sound you music. While the VST plugin architecture works realtime, you can play your recordings over and over while experimenting with the plugs. When you change a parameter, the effect is heard immediately. This "previewing" is not limited to a part of the audio like with the Waves plugins, but goes for the entire file. You can listen to any part of the composition, just as you would with only Cubase active. When you're satisfied, just hit the export audio menu command and you're done. If you want, you also can reimport the enhanced file back into Cubases audio pool to do more work.

In this country (the Netherlands), we rate from 1 (very bad) to 10 (excellent) in steps of one. I give this VoxCiter an 11, and that is no type mismatch. When a plugin gives me the possibility to bring my old recordings on tape ( made back in the late 70's) back to new life, that makes me very, very happy. When it enhances my relative "flat" sounds of the synthesizer recordings to a lively audio picture, that makes me happy once more. Together with Prosoniq studioWORX with it's excellent denoising capabilities to do the professional final touch, this VST plugins give me all the main important tools I need to produce professional sounding hard disk recordings. Go get it: you won't regret.

Roomluator.



As you all synthesizer users may know, most modules have built-in reverb effects. Though sounding nice, the quality of these reverbs mostly is not high enough to act on your CD. I always de-program these effects in my synthesizers, do the recording "dry", and then enhance this recording with reverb plugins. The Roomulator is yet another high standard VST PlugIn by Prosoniq, that can do this job for you very well. The installation diskette gives you several Roomulator plugins: Stereo Hall Reverb, Stereo Hall Reverb2, Stereo Medium Room, Stereo Small Room and Stereo Plate Reverb. They all work with 64 bit internal processing accuracy and can be controlled with a very easy to use 2D user interface, shown above.

What I like best of thus PlugIn, besides its very good quality, is the intuitive way the interface is designed. Prosoniq makes its user interfaces with the enduser in mind, avoiding too complex interfaces but never reducing on audio quality. The indications "White, Cold, Warm and Colored" give a good description of what the effect will sound like. For lighter equipped Macs, the "Best" option in the menu can be set to several "less best" options, thus creating less heavy calls on the processors power. The best effect is indeed the "Best" setting, which will need a more powerful Mac. For this plug also goes that a 100 Mhz PowerPC is the minimum, but all works more smoothly on G3's. On the 9500/22 I tested this software on,. all worked fine, also in combination with more power eaters like the VoxCiter.

I know, I know: when I gives this PlugIn a 10, there is no room left for future maybe better plugs. Well, let that be a "problem" for the future. I learned to work with this plugin with 5 minutes, due to its very good user friendly interface. If I can, any musician can. That's why the 10, which goes for the audio quality it produces as well. Once again: go for it, you won't regret.

Ambisone.



I find it very difficult to describe in text what Ambisone can do to your hard disk recordings. You should hear it. Maybe it is best to put it this way: you can generate a 3D illusion by positioning the sound at any position around or above you. If you want to let think the listener to your music that a drum kit is -let's say" a bit to the right in front of you (as shown above), it easily can be done by positioning the yellow ball at the according position. The same goes, if you wanna be the drum kit right behind you. The most amazing of this PlugIn is that it indeed does make you believe that an instrument is positioned where you wanted it to be. Not only the relative position to the audience can be defined, also the distance is freely definable. And if you want to lift a singer above the speakers, no problem.

Like any PlugIn in the Cubase VST architecture, you can apply this plugin to separated audio tracks. If you do a good job, you can place the listener right in the middle of the band, thus giving him/her the illusion that he/she is a member of the band the solo's along with the rest. Great.

Prosoniq programmed an unique Virtual Scenery Modeling approach that enables you to mix VST-tracks in full 3D stereo. Placing audio sources outside and/or above the speakers of headphones adds a previously unthinkable width and depth to the audio. And doing so is a piece of cake: the user interface is very easy and quick to understand. I tested this PlugIn using a Quad high quality headphone, and the audio truly was swinging around my head. Ambisone mad it possible to me to experiment with the virtual placement of audio in realtime (like any PlugIn under the VST architecture). Wonderful.

The features of Ambisone are:

- Azimuth position
- Elevation position
- Distance simulation
- 2 LFO Modulators (Azimuth and Elevation)
- Azimuth LFO with 3 different waveforms
- Quality parameter
- 64bit processing for outstanding quality
- Intuitive user interface

I'm sorry, I cannot help it: I have to give away another 10 for this PlugIn. It's flexibility and quality are too good to give it "just a niner". I certainly hope that one day I will get to review a plugin that performs badly, so that I can rate lower numbers. A reviewer always giving away 10's is difficult to believe, I can hear you all say. One again: when I give a 10 it's a 10, nothing less.

Dynasone.



This week (28-06-98), a new VST-plugin by Prosoniq was brought to our attention: Dynasone. The three plugins reviewed above are -as far as we think, having worked with these plugs for a couple of weeks now)- meant to be used by harddisk recording Maccers who realy know what they're doing, or are willing to learn till they do. Each and every parameter in these plugs can be adjusted seperately, thus creating endless possibilities, but also creating the possibility to "kill" the recording by over-effecting.

With Dynasone it's somnewhat different. It comes with a bunch of presets, letting you apply predefined audio characteristics to your harddisk redording with basically only two menu choices. First of all, you can choose the media your audio will be distributed on. You have the choice of CD, tape and good old vinyl. Each of these audio carriers have specific characteristics, and Dynasone lets you set the parameters perfectly matching these carriers. In the image above, we've choosen the preset CD (lower right).

In the second column from the left, you will find a ~style" menu. Here you can choose from a list of music styles, that sets a pre-programmed setting for your recording's style. E.g.: when you're post-producing a house production, set the style-menu to the option "house". Immediately, you hear that the bass gets more deep punch (which is so characteristic for this style of music). Other styles are -among others- techno, rock and acoustic recordings. There is even one for classic. I won't mention them all here: surprise yourself. In the image above we choose the setting "ambient", which "enlightens" the audio to make it more lively.

Dynasone analyses your recording and learns itself to apply the choosen style as best as possible to your recording. As long as it learns, Dynasone shows activity in the Learn Activity display (second column lowest part). If you don't like what learning Dynasone does to your audio, just hit the reset button, and start all over again. Dynasone will restart the learning process, beginning from e.g. another part of your recording. The learning process is also one of the clever neural technology programmning tricks for which Prosoniq is earning a name in the professional audio industry.

The "media select" and "style" presets are very good "take-offs" for further adjustments, that still are possibile. E.g.: when you choose the preset "house", and you're still not satiisfied on the bass and the roof is still on the building? Activate the subbass synth. It adds extra harmonics to your lower frequencies. Handle with care: you can even add non-audible frequencies that can damage your bass speakers. The same goes for the refresh synt. It adds frequencies to the high in your audio. Here also you can add non-audible harmonics, that will blast your tweeters out of the wooden box. So, handle with care.

The Energizer gives you two more options to form your audio. The Peakstop Amt increases the overall volume, as peak and attack transient levels are lowered. The effect can bedescribed best as follows: it brings the audio "more forward" and gives it a better overall presence. The Leveller Amt is basically a compressor, using moderate attack and release times to make the mix appear equally loud at any time. By doing so, the idea of "having level dips" in a recording disappears, and the audio comes "more equal and prompted".

The multiband maximer (block in the upper middle) is in fact where the heart of Dynasone resides. It approaches your audio in four bandranges. You can solo each band seperately, or in any combination. E.g.: if you want to hear what a house style does to your lower audio, click the solo button under 1. Dynasone silences all audio in the mid- and highend range, allowing you to listen only to the lower frequencies and discover why the roof is still on the building.

Not only is Dynasone a good tool to use, I find it specific a very handy and powerfull tool if you're a newbe in digital audio, and are willing to learn. All presets are visualised in according settings of the parameters in the maximer box. It is nice to see how choosing a style moves the little blue indicators along a frequency baseline in the maximizer box, This way, you can learn about audio post producing by just looking at the interface. By choosing this approach, you will find out easily and quickly how audio pro's do the trick. Once you've seen what settings do, you will find yourself adjusting settings the right way quickly enough. It would say, Dynasone has educational values that even Prosoniq itself never had thought off, I presume ;-).

In our country ratings (1 to 10) I give this Plug a
9. It is very handy and simple to use, espcially for those audio-Maccers among you that do not have deeper knowledge of digital post production yet. This PlugIn will learn you a lot. It would have been nice if Prosoniq also had added just one more effect into this plug: a simple reverb, working with a similar set of easy accessible presets. If that were the case, this PlugIn would have been even more complete then it already is. But hey, there are fantastic reverb plugins on the market (one of the best being Roomulator, reviewed above ). So don't worry: just buy this plug extra. It will help the guys at Prosoniq to develop even more wonderfull plugs. Maybe even a bit of reverb into Dynasone (just kidding). I can recommend this plug to at least any newbe in digital audio on Mac: quick result, at a professional level, and learning effects as well. Good work, Prosoniq. If you like, click the download link belowe to get a demo-version of Dynasone.



Seen the high ratings on this online review and don't believe me? Go to the download page of Prosoniq and try for yourself with the demos provided there. I am sure that -once you have tasted the power of these PlugIns- you will agree with me: Prosoniq belongs to the absolute top when it comes to delivering high standard audio enhancers.


All reviews in AudioMac.net are written by Peter J. Bloemendaal. All rights reserved.

All reviews Mac OS | All reviews Win OS | Other stuff |
Home

11-09-99