First, Antress has updated his Modern pack to 4.75, and with the update come some real sonic improvements in addition to a new plugin or two. He’s really getting better at what he does, I think he’s getting up there with Bootsie in terms of the quality of his releases. Maybe a little more attention to bug squashing could be in order, but they work for most people without problems and the sound quality and versatility of his pack is really nice. A dev to keep watching, for sure.
KVR had their 2009 Developer Challenge, and while all of the entries are worth checking out, there are two stand-outs that I felt I should mention here. First, from the amazing Bootsie, an analog tape simulator that rocks: FerricTDS. It can be used subtly or overtly, and it’s really just (as usual) a pretty astounding freebie, easily on par with commercial tape sims. The second stand-out in the DC ’09 lineup is HybridReverb, combining IR and algorithmic into one extremely attractive package. It’s not only free, it’s also open source, so free-as-in-freedom software fans take note. As they say it’s not an over-the-top or flashy reverb plugin, but rather an excellent way to exert subtle control over the ambiance of your tracks (provided, of course, you have quality IRs to start with; they have a sizable library of good ones on their main site, but they are not free for commercial usage, unlike the software itself).
A developer of whom I was not aware until today, TerryW, released a plugin on KVR called ReLife, which through some sort of amazing voodoo magic can take over-compressed, squashed material and breathe dynamic transients and separation back into it. As the developer says, don’t expect miracles if there is a lot of distortion from digital clipping, but take it from me, on a lot of material it sounds awfully miraculous. I wish I could post some examples of squashed commercial releases that I’ve processed with it, but as it’s a free plugin perhaps you can do the same yourself. There are a lot of applications for such a plugin in the studio – processing mastered tracks to reinvigorate them with some of the subtleties that loud mastering can eliminate is just one thing you can get from this this simple-to-use plugin. The GUI is just a bypass button and a post-gain control, with an input and output level meter, but the magic under the hood is very impressive.
BlueCatAudio has released a new and improved freeware pack of plugins with very broad cross-platform support, including (beta) RTAS versions, definitely worth checking out! I haven’t got deep in with these at all yet but my initial impressions are positive, this seems like a useful package.
I’ve been helping a gentleman named Efflam dial in some plugins he’s released lately, including the excellent freeware Sansamp G2 emulation, NoAmp, as well as the extremely affordable and quite versatile Fuzz Face simulation, Kung Fuzz. I think he has a good philosophy, keep products simple and make them function as well as possible at achieving their exact goals. His other products include an excellent non-sampled, physical modeling technology Wurlitzer virtual instrument named Blue Reeds which is again quite affordable, as well as a free Pianet-like virtual instrument called Glue Reeds. He’s still busy at work with an upcoming Fender Blender emulation and I’m helping him test something very cool right now which might be of a great deal of interest to musicians, I’ll update when I can.
Gain-heads rejoice, joining LePou’s excellent ENGL preamp sim comes a new, different take on the same idea: TSE X30 testimonials from ENGL lovers over at the Andy Sneap forums suggest that between the two of these plugins, there are a lot of people who won’t be needing their physical preamps any longer at least when it comes to recording. As usual with preamp sims you’ll need to use external cabinet simulation to get a good recorded sound, there are plenty of options available these days.
And work continues on AcmeBarGig’s G-Spot suite, he’s been keeping me updated on its progress and I’ve had several versions which show significant progress toward getting it ready for public usage. I’ll try to get some clips up of the most recent version soon. He’s issued an interesting and perhaps provocative statement over at the GuitarAmpModeling forums inviting commercial software developers to join him in releasing a freeware amp head. Judging from the linked thread, it seems he’s talked with a number of developers who all have great ideas, and he’s trying to get a big community effort going so that some of those great ideas can be realized for the benefit of everyone. I personally wonder how many commercial software makers are going to be willing to get involved, but from what I can tell from that thread it looks like he’s getting some bites, so who knows? Marc Gallo, the man behind StudioDevil, has pledged his support (which isn’t all that surprising, given that he’s had BritishValveCustom out for some time as a freeware product – maybe a new freebie from him will let him flex his muscles some more, he’s a heck of a programmer) and I’m not sure but it looks like Peavey might be interested as well. We’ll see how that goes, I’ll be keeping an eye on things and try to keep you guys updated.
Oh, I almost forgot – Native Instruments has made the current beta version of Guitar Rig 4 publicly available, with quite a number of things in it that seem to me to indicate that really this was their vision for Guitar Rig 4 when it shipped but some things took a little longer to finalize. No problem, happens in the software world all the time, that’s what patches are for – and letting the public get in on the beta means that everyone who just wants to have the most current version with the cool added features (a new amp, master effects section, and others) can get it, while folks mainly concerned with stability and who have more patience can hold off ’til it’s finalized. Nice thinking, Native.
That’s all for now, to all my American readers happy Thanksgiving – I will probably be somewhat out of pocket next week as my wife and I will be going to visit family to celebrate the holiday, but I’ll still be watching things and I’ll try to have an update here or there. I’m rushing now to finalize a couple of reviews for Frugal before we head out tomorrow, very well could be a midnight email from yours truly 😉
P.S. – I’ll work on getting these added to the Freeware page ASAP, whether or not I’ve managed to get the format restructuring done. Thanks for your support, constant readers, you don’t know how nice it is to see you all coming around. This blog is a labor of love and it’s all for you guys.