Mojo’s Pick of the Week – TDR Nova Dynamic EQ

It’s one of those things that I knew was over my head when I first downloaded it, and now that I know a little bit more about what the hell I’m doing, I happily remembered that I already had this tool in my arsenal to fix some tricky mastering EQ problems.

What Nova basically is, is a multiband parallel dynamic EQ with optional high pass filter and low pass filter. So instead of picking an EQ band that is problematic and adjusting it once for the whole track, you can quickly and intuitively dial in dynamically responsive EQ taming or boosting.

TDR Nova

What a bonus for, say, mastering, where you don’t want to affect the whole song, just the spots that need some EQ adjustment as they arise. It’s extremely easy to use, very responsive, and extremely transparent sounding. It does way more than that, including acting as separate EQ and compressor, but that’s the basic use case.

The original Nova plugin was called Nova 76 and was written by the amazing Vladislav Goncharov of Molot and Limiter No 6 fame… for a CONTEST. So he released it free, with a very basic UI Even as I downloaded it years ago I knew that even the concept was over my head at the time, but I trusted it would come in handy someday.

Vladislav’s partnership with Tokyo Dawn Labs has resulted in a new, slick, and very intuitive update to Nova called TDR Nova, sporting much the same look as Slick EQ and the Kotelnikov compressor (also both free, and both great).

Features:

4 band parallel equalizer with auto-gain.
Optional high-pass and low-pass filters.
Full-band frequency dependent and/or split-band compression.
External side-chain support.
64-bit internal processing.

And, did I mention that the basic version is free? I highly recommend all of Vladislav’s plugins and all of Tokyo Dawn Labs plugins as well. Glad to have this one in my bag of tricks.

Tokyo Dawn Labs
Vladislav Goncharov / Vladg

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Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Logic Pro X 10.3

Logic Pro 10.3My pick of the week is the latest, greatest version of Apple’s digital audio workstation, Logic Pro X 10.3. This is no minor point release, but an overhaul of an already world-class DAW. You must have OS version El Capitan (10.11) or greater to install it, but reluctant as I was to leave the comfort of 10.9, even that upgrade was a performance bonus.

The actual list of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes in 10.3 is so long I’m not even going to try to cover more than a few standouts. The full release notes are here:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203718

Some of the more obvious changes are with the UI itself.

The colors are different – the background is lightened from the bold darkness of 10.2, it’s now somewhere between the look of v9 and X. This is to make it easier to see in different lighting conditions.

And the buttons and tools all have a simplified 2d look that goes along with the aesthetic of the last couple OS versions. The whole thing is very responsive and slick.

Logic Pro 10.3 UI

My personal favorite changes in 10.3: 

When you move the ends of a region, a ghost region appears so you can better see where you are in the audio file waveform.

Logic Pro Ghost Region

There is a new standalone loudness meter that measures in LUFS (Loudness Units).

The cursor icon now changes more obviously and intuitively for the different selected tools.

You now get the choice of stereo vs dual mono in each stereo track, and true stereo panning. (What was it before? I don’t even know!)

Logic Pro Dual Mono

Less obvious changes:

  • Faster startup and shutdown times
  • Less unexpected quitting when switching between projects
  • Touch bar support for the latest MacBook Pros
  • 64-bit summing engine and support for 256 busses per project
  • Ability to process clips separately within the same audio track

Bottom Line

If you have OS X 10.11 or higher, this is a great update to a great DAW. And if you don’t, I recommend updating. My mid-2012 MBP is so much happier with El Capitan, and so am I. And though I’m not 100% thrilled to be re-re-learning my daily use DAW, I’m loving the new features so far.

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Favorite Free Plugins

Maybe you missed out on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Maybe like me, money is a little tight this time of year (read: all times of the year). Maybe you wanted to ask for plugins for Christmas but your loved ones give you the “no speak English” blank stare when you bring up anything related to music production. Never fear, I’m about to lay down my list of favorite FREE plugins, that have been making it into my mixes over the last decade or so!

Disclaimer: I use Logic Pro on a Mac, so these plugins will be slanted towards what is available in Audio Unit (AU) format. If you use VST plugins, you actually have many more free plugins available!

Compressors

RoughriderRough Rider (Audio Damage)
This deceptively simple, mostly transparent compressor is always on everyone’s list of must-have freebies. I use it for parallel compression a lot on the “New York” setting.

Limiter6Limiter No 6 (Vladislav Goncharov)
I would pay decent $ for this compressor/limiter, it is so good. Vintage sound, HF limiting, mid-side processing, and a true hard limiter. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

MJUCjrMJUC Jr. (Klanghelm)
This is one of the newest additions to the Klanghelm lineup, a vintage passive-circuit bus compressor that I can easily see becoming a fast favorite. I went ahead and bought the full version.

camelcrusherCamel Crusher (Camel Audio)
One of the first plugins I ever downloaded, and I still use it all the time to give beef to a track as an aux send. Kind of a compressor-saturator. Sadly no longer available, I just found out when writing this! Great replacement free saturator and compressor can be had from Klanghelm.

EQs

SlickEQSlick EQ (Tokyo Dawn Labs)
New to the table, great little EQ with curve characteristics that change based on the country/style setting. This video gives you all the tricks.

SonEQSonEQ (Sonimus) – 32 bit ONLY
Vintage sounding Pultec -type EQ that allows you to boost and attenuate lows at once. Supplanted by non-free SonEQ Pro which I like a little less but is a good bargain. Sonimus makes great inexpensive plugins such as Satson.

Guitar Amp Sims

hybritLePou Amp Sims
These are really excellent amp sims in several styles: Hybrit, Le456, LeCto, LeGion, LeXtac. The website is a blog, so you have to dig a little to grab them, but well worth it.


AuraPlug Freetortion Pedal Sims

The site is now called Audiorammer apparently. Excellent pedal simulators: California Sun, EddieVsHeaven, Fuzz-Stone & Fuzz-Stone Germanium version, RedSkull, and Whamdrive.

BODTSE Audio Pedal Sims
These guys make a nice Rat (R47), Tube Screamer (TSE 808), and SansAmp (TSE B.O.D.) simulators.

Other

panipulatorPanipulator (Boz Digital Labs)
Brilliant transparent stereo – mono – phase switcher. I use this to test mixes in mono, or remove one half of a stereo track.

Ambience reverbAmbience (Magnus Smartelectronix)
Really excellent reverb with a shit ton of great presets for all occasions. Meant to go right on the track, adjust wet/dry if using on an aux.

Head CrusherHead Crusher Free (Audio Assault)
This is a saturator that adds drive and beef to bass and drum tracks, try it and see what it brings to the table. Good on an aux. They have a bunch of other cool freebies too.

These aren’t all the free plugins I have, just the ones that I keep coming back to over and over. I should also mention that the most common plugins I use are the Logic Pro stock EQ and compressor. They’re “free” in the sense that they came with Logic, but not in the sense that you can download them yourself.

What are some of your favorite free plugins?

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