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REVIEW: "Volume 1 - Compose. Mix. Produce." by Softube

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Take a look at our sound designer’s DAW: In today’s BOOM Review and Raffle section Axel gives you some brief insights in his virtual rack and shows you how he uses the “Volume 1” plug-in bundle by Softube.

Our sound designers love to search the best tools on the market to optimize and improve the quality of their work more and more. One of the most important aspects of sound design is to work with high quality software to reach the best outcome and to speed your workflow up. Axel tested the new plugin-bundle “Volume 1” by Softube and the best thing is: you’ve got the chance to win the full version to work on crucial music production task. Below, he shares his thoughts with you.

Softube recently released a new bundle, called “Volume 1 - Compose. Mix. Produce.”. For 499 USD it contains a whole bunch of Softube plug-ins, namely:

  • Summit Audio Grand Channel
  • Summit Audio EQF-100 Full Range Equalizer
  • Summit Audio TLA-100A Compressor
  • TSAR-1 Reverb, TSAR-1R Reverb
  • FET Compressor
  • Modular
  • Trident A-Range
  • Vintage Amp Room
  • Drawmer S73 Intelligent Master Processor
  • Fix Flanger and Doubler
  • Heartbeat
  • Tube Delay
  • Bass Amp Room
  • Saturation Knob
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This is a pretty big pack of plug-ins and I am glad to have them in my virtual rack. Since it is such a big pack, I won’t get too much into detail about single plug-ins but instead want to give you a brief overview.

Summit Audio Grand Channel:
A channel strip containing the Summit Audio EQF-100 Equalizer and Summit Audio TLA-100A Compressor plus on top a saturation feature with the possibility to be mixed in. It is possible to switch the chain; you can chose if the EQ sits before the compressor or the other way around. The sound is warm and soft, wich I love for Bus / Mastering work. This quickly became a standard mastering chain plug-in to simply color the output a little bit. Very good and “expensive” sounding channel strip! The same of course counts for the single Summit plug-ins.

TSAR-1 Reverb:
A high end classic reverb. We did an extensive review of that last year.
http://boomlibrary.com/boomlibrary/advent-day-10-2015

FET Compressor:
Much more aggressive compared to the Summit Audio TLA-100A, this one is a really colourful and useful addition to my palette. The compressor is very easy to use which is a great achievement by Softube given that the sound shaping possibilities are that big. It has a bunch of different low cut and high cut sidechain functions and a possibility for parallel compression.

Modular and Modular FX:
I guess modular synths are well known, this one nails it. With “Modular” being a virtual instrument and “Modular FX” as an effect plug-in for audio looniness, this is definitely a real design tool. Inspirational, still very well organized hence very handy for a modular rack.

Trident A-Range:
This is one of the plug-ins in this bundle that instantly popped out to me. Having the EQ built after the hardware original, it has the nice, unusual layout with faders for the EQ band gain settings instead of knobs and the high frequencies on the left instead of the right side. A nice different UI approach compared to EQs I am used to. This again is an EQ that has been created to add color. Especially the high end is silky smooth and a more than welcome alternative to the Maag EQ4 in my opinion. The low frequencies are surprisingly tight and round. Additionally there is a saturation option to create even more overtones and character than can be dialed in. For a more colorful sound, this quickly became my go-to EQ.

Vintage Amp Room and Bass Amp Room:
A virtual guitar amp simulation. I personally don’t use those too much, but this one definitely sounds good, even on a lot of other sources than guitars. Try it on drums!

Drawmer S73 Intelligent Master Processor:
From the descriptions of what this one does I wasn’t really eager to try it out. But since I own it, I do use it a lot! So go, grab a demo of this one. You can simply switch between a bunch of “styles” to change the character - or I would call it attitude - of the sounds and than dial in the amount or wet dry levels and you can even add some nice, shimmering high frequencies using the “Air” switch. I love the “Bass Control - Punch” setting mixed into a mastering bus. But I also really enjoy simply digging through presets to get a feeling for what I might have been missing on a master. Very helpful and intelligent design!

Fix Flanger and Doubler:
Nice sounding modulators that blend into mixes very well.

Heartbeat:
Heartbeat is an extensive drum machine with a ton of functionality and even built in stand alone plug-ins from Softube; the TSAR-1D, Valley People Dynamite, Saturation to offer the possibility of creating a full drum mix just within a single window.

Tube Delay:
This is a fun tool to play around with. Having a really nice sounding distortion / drive on the dry signal and one separated drive on the delay I use it a lot to simply add more overtones or a darker layer that I stretch out a bit using the delay. One thing to mention here is that you should use it as a send plug-in unless you really want the sound of it, because even with no drive set to the direct signal and set to 100% dry (which in this case is displayed as 0% Mix) the plug-in already majorly alters the sound.

Saturation Knob:
This one is free, so go grab it and test / use it!
The combination of those plug-ins cover a lot of different aspects, ranging from instruments (beat machine and modular synthesiser) over modulating and creative effects up to mastering grade processors. It not only adds a bunch of colours to your mixing palette, for me it is nice to get some kind of overview what the softube guys create as well. Some of them became go-to processors very quickly in my work flow. I know that ProTools is special here, but what I do miss are true surround versions of the plug-ins. That is definitely no softube thing, most plug-in companies do not offer any surround versions of their plug-ins with dedicated surround features (for example bypass processing on LFE etc). Of course there are workarounds plus a lot of Softube's plug-ins are simulations or recreations of vintage gear and from this perspective it makes great sense again.

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