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Old 06-23-2018, 02:22 PM   #1
mschnell
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Germany
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Default Sound Shaping Tool Box

I just read an article in a German Audio magazine, in which the author described "his mastering tools".

He said that when mastering, he uses a set of exquisite plugins that produce a sophisticated kind of distortion to create "magic Moments" and "Mojo" within his mixes.

Of course it is true that certain distortions do improve the sound impression of the audience, but here he described the effects in a sloppy, non-technical (I would say esoteric) way. This suggests that a plugin using the name of some high priced legacy hardware as a would-be model and sold by a high price itself, automatically sounds great, especially in the ear of the person who payed for it.

Of course I do know that there was legacy hardware that without any doubt could improve the sound of certain material. E.g. the "Exiter" that is said to have been so expensive that it was only hired per hour at that time. But same is just some kind of multi-band expender, adding some specific distortion to certain bands, and nowadays available in multiple versions of plugins for a low price.

In fact I suppose that technically these exquisite plugins use some rather "simple" algorithms that can be tweaked by certain parameters, and the "magic" offered by the suppliers for high cost is mostly a way do easily select a suitable set of parameter values (maybe copied from the legacy hardware device doing this implicitly by physics and/or explicitly by design).

So it might be a nice idea to build a tool-box for creating such plugins by a set of JSFX plugins providing a huge list of appropriate parameters.

Here is a set of some of such "distortion" algorithms that might be appropriate to create an effect that "improves" the sound in a similar direction like (but does not try to exactly copy the "sound" of) things like Tape-saturation, Tube preamps, etc.


1) Wave Shaping:

use a nonlinear amplification curve on either of the positive and negative half of the signal
- at either end of that curve (high amplitude / near zero) the amplification can be either exaggerated or reduced (supposedly best in an exponential way without edges)
- the signal can be split to pass through the higher frequencies to reduce too nasty distortion effects
- the distorted signal runs through a filter that might be a high-pass or low-pass and can produce "ringing" by resonance.


2) Intermodulation:

The signal is split in a high and a low band. The high band can be modulated by either of Amplitude- or Frequency/Phase Modulation
- the modulator can be either the LF signal directly or the rectified LF signal or the rectified LF signal run through a Low pass filter
- the modulator signal an be delayed by a positive or negative amount (obviously this plugin produces some latency)

- Motivation: the amplitude modulation corresponds to certain kinds of nonlinearity of electronic devices. The Frequency/Phase modulation corresponds to "Shock Waves" by non-linear behavior of e.g. air: different speed of sound waves with different pressure.

(I already did a Frequency/Phase modulator JSFX that can be used here. See ReaPack.)

The tons of parameters hat could be provided is rather obvious. Maybe finally a "morphing" tool to provide user friendly parameters might be done.

- I could imagine that something similar already exists. Does anybody know about such a beast ?

- Any additional suggestions for such distortion algorithms that are able to be used in a subtle way ?

- Anybody interested in creating a group of designers for this Tool Box (programming and/or parameter tweaking to create "good sounding" setups (with additional help of other free plugins such as EQ compressor, delay, ... if appropriate) ?

-Michael
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Last edited by mschnell; 06-23-2018 at 02:38 PM.
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