1. W. A. Production VINAI XTT
Developed with DJ and music producers Vinai, XTT is a multi-band compressor that simplifies the process with a minimalistic set of controls.
As the name makes apparent, XTT takes noticeable inspiration from the famous OTT multi-band processor preset. It’s a multi-band processor with both compression and expansion.
Generally, the common use of such processors is in electronic music production as it can make your sound crisper, thicker, and possibly harsher. However, of course, you could use it for general-purpose compression too.
- Flexible Bands
The plugin features five bands, each with adjustable crossover frequencies. You can change the band frequencies by dragging the diamond-shaped icons in the intuitive frequency spectrum. Similarly, dragging on the handles in each band changes the compressor’s threshold. You can find more controls for each band at the bottom of the user interface.
First, the knob on each of the bands represents the output gain. And the ‘S’ button soloes the band selected, which is helpful when you need to listen to what you’re modifying. Likewise, click on the small arrow button to reveal more controls: RMS, Attack, Release, and Mid/Side Ratio.
RMS controls the “window size” of the compressor, changing its detecting speed. Similarly, once detected, the compressor acts on the audio at the rate specified by the attack parameter. And mid/side ratio controls whether the compressor operates on the mid part, the side part of the audio, or anything in-between.
As I’ve mentioned, XTT features both upward and downward compression. You may also refer to it as expansion and compression. So, upward compression makes the sounds below the threshold louder, whereas downward compression makes the signals above the threshold quieter. The former is ideal for bringing up soft sounds like hi-hats, reverb tails, breath noises, etc.
- Global Edit
You’ll find global parameters at the top of the user interface. These include the following: upward, downward, time, and mix. These control the named parameters of all the bands simultaneously. While you will generally want to edit the plugin per band, you can use these global controls to modify presets without spending much time.
- Gain Link
Below the global parameters, you’ll find the Link button, which links the input and output gain of the plugin inversely. So, if you increase the input gain, the plugin automatically decreases the output gain. This feature is helpful to listen to how the plugin is processing your audio without getting confused by the level changes. As you know, louder audio often sounds better. Hence, the linking feature effectively bypasses this misperception.
- Built-In Limiter
XTT features a built-in limiter at the end of the processing stage. It also adds unique saturation to the audio, a trait many may find appealing. However, the dynamics process itself is fairly transparent and keeps your audio punchy. I find the limiter most appropriate for dance music.
XTT is available for Windows 8 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.15 or higher 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
If you’re a fan of OTT and switching DAWs, you should check out XTT. It provides similar features but adds even more. While it’s not as detailed as a typical multi-band compressor, it gives just enough to allow you to customize sound uniquely. Furthermore, it features a collection of presets made by partner producers, Vinai. These include creative sound designing presets, mastering setups, and other general-purpose options. Overall, it’s a powerful multi-band dynamics processor that comes at a very reasonable price.
2. W.A. Production King 2
Built as an all-in-one mastering tool, W.A.’s The King 2 stands as a unique yet straightforward take on multiband compression.
If you are not a fan of having so much flexibility that the plugin looks like a science-fiction prop, then you’re in for a treat. The King 2 is a great-sounding and great-looking plugin, covering all the basics of mastering with a fraction of the number of parameters you’d otherwise have. How exactly did they do it? Well, the plugin has an EQ, a multiband compressor, and a limiter built-in. Each of them has preset setups and a few select parameters for you to tweak. Together, they work to provide instantaneous results when you are mastering your mix.
The King 2 has a Magic EQ knob that dials in the mix of the EQ. It has three selectable presets, mainly aimed at cleaning up the sound. You can pick each, listen to how it colors your mix and decide on the best choice. Or, with the Magic EQ knob set to zero, the EQ can be completely disabled as well.
- Multiband Compression
The majority of the parameters you will find on this plugin are for the multiband compressor. It has an upward (expander) compression and a downward compression knob, which are ratio parameters. There is a knob that lets you adjust the attack/release time. All three of the knobs affect all the bands. And finally, there is a mix knob for the multiband compression as well.
- Five Bands
The King 2 has five bands for multiband compression. Each band has a threshold and a makeup gain. To maintain its goal of remaining simple, you cannot select the crossover frequency for the bands.
The King 2 has a built-in limiter, which catches any peaks that go above 0 dB. The ceiling cannot be adjusted, and it’s worth noting that the limiter isn’t a True Peak limiter.
- Convenient Interface
We have saved the best feature of this plugin for last: the user interface. While seemingly limited in terms of flexibility, W.A. built this plugin for convenience and ease of use. The fewer parameters don’t distract you from your creative zone, and getting great-sounding results becomes as easy as pushing a knob, literally. For people who are just starting or who wish to listen to a mastered version of their mix without having to spend a long time, this plugin is well worth considering.
The King 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
We would recommend this plugin if you are a beginner or if you already have a multiband compressor and you are just looking for something to give you quicker results. It doesn’t really shine when it comes to surgical manipulation of sound, but it does work great as a fast, general mastering tool.
3. W.A. Production Vocal Cleaner
WA Productions’ Vocal Cleaner does three separate plugins in a straightforward unit with a user-friendly GUI.
Vocal Cleaner is a simple plugin with a whole lot of efficiency to offer. It gives you control over noise suppression, sibilance, gating, and presence. Furthermore, it lets you roll out the bottom and blend the processing with the original signal. All these controls make it an all-in-one solution to make your vocals free from unwanted leakage or excessive noise.
You can extract the background hiss, hum, and even percussive sounds recorded during the vocal performance. The plugin uses an intelligent algorithm to split the signal between voice and noise to clean up the sound as best as possible. It’s worth noting that if the recording is too compromised by noise, this algorithm can end up removing some of the voice’s sounds as well, so be careful.
- De-Esser & Gate
Both these effects usually take several parameters to tailor. With Vocal Cleaner, you get a threshold slider; the intelligent algorithm does the rest. That will save you a lot of time editing, and you’re not happy with the results, dial the threshold back a little. You can’t get more convenient than that.
Each algorithm is optimized for different quality audio sources. By clicking the B/N/D buttons, you’ll be shaping the algorithm to whatever fits your production best. B stands for Bright, N for Natural, and D for Dark. If you have too much noise going on in the high frequencies, like tape hiss, Bright will focus the processing there. Similarly, if a low humming electrical noise is the problem, choose Dark to tackle it. The Natural mode will give you a balanced response, which is good when there is no excessive noise in any specific frequency range. You can control these filters using the Amount knob under each processing.
Character & Sound:
This plugin allows you to get cleaner results from your vocal tracks, but it can destroy the source’s naturality when overdone. Although worth mentioning, that isn’t a big deal, though. All you have to do is be careful with the amounts you add or get a grip of using the Mix knob. The Presence slider sounds precise and effective. It really brings up the most critical high-mid frequencies that need to be elevated in detail.
Vocal Cleaner is available as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin for Windows 7 and up and macOS 10.7 or higher.
WA Productions’ Vocal Cleaner is a bang-for-your-buck deal that will save you a lot of time with noisy vocals. Alternatively, you can use it simply as a Gate or De-Esser, making this a go-to for most vocal pre-mixing situations.
4. W.A. Production Orchid
Orchid, by WA Productions, applies four-way processing to create a thick chorus effect.
The plugin doubles what a regular chorus would do by quadrupling the source signal. You get control over Speed, Depth, Feedback, Spread, and Mix to shape the chorus effect. Additionally, this plugin offers other built-in effects to expand the chorus sound.
This knob adds up to two octaves above the original signal, bringing life to the higher frequencies. This feature generates glistening harmonics through the use of a slow phaser, which sounds fantastic on percussion.
The delay effect on Orchid is, in fact, a pre-delay. You can use it to push the beginning of the processed signal back by up to 100ms. That is great if you want to clarify the original signal, although it would be nice if it were capable of creating a more complex delay effect.
This double knob lets you select a frequency range for the effect. By sliding both handles, you can limit where you want the Chorus to act. Below the knob icon, you can see the frequency of the selected handle. That helps you quickly identify the frequencies you’re working with.
Character & Sound:
Overall, the plugin sounds very fat and adds a lot of character to the source. The Sheen function sounds like a pitch-shifter on melodic instruments or vocals but can create extraordinary results when paired with the Delay knob. Furthermore, the Space control implements a nice blending reverb that makes the whole effect sound cohesive.
Orchid is available for macOS 10.7 and later and Windows 7 and up as a VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin.
WA Productions’ Orchid is an excellent effect plugin due to its four-way approach to chorusing. The results are natural, even though there is a lot of processing happening. You can always shape the effect to taste, which makes it a handy tool for your productions.
5. W.A. Production Make Me Scream
A rowdy interface and name but perfect execution – WA Make Me Scream will provide you with 40 dB of distortion.
This plugin offers four types of distortion options with four timbre styles to alternate between different combinations. It has a preamp tube which allows for more pronounced distortion effects making it essentially a 2-stage plugin.
- A 2-stage distortion process. By asserting analog tube saturation before the signal enters the distortion module, you can increase the level up to +40 dB and get a pronounced distortion effect.
- Four distortion modes – the plugin includes folded sinus distortion, soft clipping, tube saturation, and typical distortion. It also has four timbres modes that provide a balanced or soft character to a more mid-present and crisp tone.
- Envelope follower that considers the transients that can vary the amount of distortion note to note and improve the musicality of your track: you can either hear the distortion more in the transient affluent areas or adjust it, so it is the other way around.
- Oversampling feature to avoid aliasing artifacts: if you want a cleaner distortion.
- Three types of filters to control distortion: Low, band, and high pass filters integrated to assist you in managing the distortion. You can also control the cutoff and emphasis of the filter.
WA Production Make Me Scream works on Windows 7 or higher and Mac OSX 10.7 and higher in a 64-bit format and on AAX in ProTools 11 or higher.
WA Production Make Me Scream is a great plugin that maintains the musicality of your sound while offering you the possibility of adding extreme distortion to your tracks. It has excellent visual feedback and incentivizes you to be more creative. Thanks to its three meters, the plugin achieves good visual feedback, showing the distortion type, waveform, and output, making it a good choice overall.
6. W. A. Production Imprint
W.A. Production’s Imprint is a multi-band transient designer with adjustable crossover points and over 20 factory presets.
Its flexible and intuitive interface lets you boost or tame transients separately in three different frequency ranges. Each band has its adjustable area in the waveform graph that controls its output volume. You can also adjust the percentage of transient shaping for each band with the circular controls below. The plugin lets you focus your attention on whatever frequency band needs it the most with the artifact-free bypass button.
- Advanced Panel
In this hidden panel, you can format the transient shaping algorithm, adding to the plugin’s flexibility. It gives you control over attack, release, width, and smoothing for each frequency band. Access it by clicking the triangular button below the mix controls.
- Adjustable Crossover Points
Imprint lets you adjust each frequency range by size and volume. Drag the white circles sideways to enlarge or minimize the frequency range. Drag the circles at the top to emphasize the volume for any of the three bands by up to 12dB.
There are over 20 built-in factory presets in this plugin, custom-designed by the producers’ team at W.A. Productions. You can choose from a wide array of instruments, effects, and mastering situations to get started. You can also save your own presets in the plugin menu.
Character and Sound:
Overall, Imprint’s a very transparent plugin, great for adding punch and power to any part of your audio. The wide range of presets is excellent for showing the plugin’s versatility and adaptability to different input sounds. You can make dull bass lines sound alive and tighten up loose mixes.
It is available for 32- and 64-bit Windows 7 and up and macOS 10.7 and higher in VST, AU, and AAX.
You can use W.A. Production’s Imprint on single instruments or on the master track to emphasize the rhythm. Its transparency makes for artifact-free transient designing. The multi-band approach and the advanced panel controls make it a versatile plugin that all producers should have at hand.
7. W.A. Production Mutant Reverb
It uses a side-chaining technique to propel the dry signal forward while offering a smooth, clean ambient reverb.
The dedicated EQ is a nice touch to tame the unwanted frequencies.
- Built-in Ducker: the ducker with compressor-style controls makes this an excellent plugin for anything from vocals to hard-hitting drums.
- Size and Diffusion: set the room size to your liking and fine-tune the reverb’s diffusion with the dot control.
- Waveform display: the real-time display shows the dry source and the wet reverb in different colors, so you get visual feedback on what you’re doing.
WA Production Mutant Reverb is available for 32 & 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 or above in AAX, AU, and VST formats and macOS 10.5 or above in VST, AU, and AAX formats for 32 & 64-bit OS.
The waveform, which shows all the changes being made to the signal, is one of its unique features. The developers have taken a minimalistic approach towards the interface while providing unique features. It is highly recommended for medium to expert sound engineers.
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