Getting a balanced mix is key to achieving a great master that reproduces well across multiple playback systems. In the past, artists and labels would select mastering studio’s based on the engineer and the equipment they used. This was largely due to specific hardware’s ability to add a certain character to a mix.
Since the explosion of software based mastering, you would think that these hardware units would be redundant. This however couldn’t be further from the truth, with labels and artists alike, seeking that warm & clear character that boutique EQ’s provide.
At SoundSpot® we recognised that many software EQ’s are solely focused on being as transparent as possible and while transparency is certainly a virtue in some cases, we felt that the sparkle and unique character that boutique hardware adds was not being delivered in the software realm.
With this in mind we set out to build a plugin with its own personal character that will truly give a hardware flavour to software mastering.
The Overtone interface has been designed to give the feel of an analogue EQ, which may seem slightly alien to those of you not familiar with using hardware. It may even seem a little old fashioned, but we can tell you that the sound is not the only reason that studios insist on using these units.
When you are deprived of visual information, you are forced to trust your ears and make decisions based on what sounds good, and not what looks like the EQ curves you’ve seen on YouTube tutorials. As a result you’ll get a better mix with less second guessing.
There is a theme with many software EQ’s to sound as transparent as possible, and whilst transparency is indeed a virtue, we felt that the digital age has brought too many neutral sounding plugins that differ based on functions and not the character of the sound. In the past, hardware EQ’s were selected for the unique character that they would bring to a mix, and so we set out to create a software EQ with it’s very own flavour.
This character is achieved by adding a saturation effect only to the boosted signal, which adds pleasant harmonics, creating a sense of warmth and clarity.
We do however appreciate there is a need for transparent equalisation, so we designed the plugin to be volume independent when at neutral settings, and volume dependent when boosted. What this means is the unit will remain transparent for cuts and add saturation to boosts.
We realise that some users will want to boost without the saturation, so we designed the plugin to react based on the input signal. If you feed a lower signal into the Overtone, the saturation will not kick in. Conversely, the more you drive the input, the more dramatic the saturation giving you the best of both worlds in one unit.
Solo - Stereo & Mid/Side
The Overtone has two settings you’ll all be familiar with, Stereo and Mid/Side mode. This allows you to get the overall mix balanced first, then switch into Mid/Side to create a more open stereo image. Combine this with the solo buttons allowing you to independently process the mid or side without hearing the other, and you’ve got some seriously accurate equalisation possibilities.
When we set out creating the Overtone, we wanted to mimic the notched frequency ranges found within boutique hardware mastering equalisers. These frequencies have been tried and tested to be both versatile and deliver fantastic results.
Whilst we used these frequencies as a starting point, we felt the ranges could be improved and after extensive research, we found a frequency range with very specific crossover points that were more harmonically pleasing, and had a greater musical feel than the hardware counterpart.
Intelligent Channel Linking
Many EQ’s will make a direct copy from left to right when the channel link button is pressed. When linking is set up in this way, it provides a very rigid user experience, with users often finding they lose the settings they wanted to keep. Our intelligent linking system makes linked editing much more flexible and intuitive for the user, by allowing you to individually select a control on either side of the plugin, which is then mirrored on the opposite side.
If you are not familiar with using a hardware EQ style interface, we recommend watching the video below to see how quickly you can achieve fantastic results in very little time using the Overtone.
- OS X 10.7 and later (32 & 64-bit)
- Audio Units (AU)
- Windows 7 and later (32 & 64-bit)
- Native OSX Platforms
- Native PC Platforms
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