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Today’s digital audio workstation software arms you with unthinkably powerful editing and routing capabilities, but what really makes your mixes shine are third party plug-ins that run within the host application. When it comes time to decide which plug-ins suit you best, it’s important to ask yourself two questions:
If sound quality and the ability to achieve stellar results quickly are high on your priority list, then you should give Sonnox plug-ins a test drive. The founders of this company were originally designers at Solid State Logic (one of the most highly regarded brands in modern audio equipment) in the 1980’s, and have dedicated their lives to creating the best sounding tools in the industry. Fast-forward to 2011 and you’ll find Sonnox’s comprehensive collection of plug-ins, which were designed to empower producers of music, video and film with the most useful tools possible.
For example, take a look at the latest offering from Sonnox: the Fraunhofer Pro-Codec plug-in. It offers an innovative solution for creating the best sounding compressed audio files possible. Sure, turning a WAV file into MP3 is a piece of cake. You can do it for free by downloading iTunes. But here’s the issue: you put all of that effort into making a great-sounding production, and at the end of the process you compress the file blindly and deliver it to the world. How can you be sure the compression codec you used was the best sounding choice? This new plug-in offers the perfect solution with an elegant and intuitive interface.
In one screen, the Fraunhofer Pro-Codec allows you to audition up to five different compression-encoding formats in real time (such as MP3, AAC-LC, HE-AAC, etc.). No longer will you have to convert an entire file to a compressed format and only be able to listen to it after conversion. Pro Codec also enables you to listen to what’s called the “DIF” signal. The DIF signal is the sonic material in the audio file that was stripped away by the compression encoding process. You can A/B back and forth between different codecs to compare how they sound, compare how their DIF signals sound, and hear exactly what’s being squeezed out of your mix. It’s an extremely innovative and useful tool in today’s ugly world of digital downloads and Internet streaming.
Another total gem in the Sonnox lineup is the Oxford DeClicker. As the name implies, it excels at removing short durations of noise, such as repetitive clicking and ticking sounds. In the fast-paced world of reality TV, a post tool like this is worth its weight in Scottish gold. The production crews on these shows are often pressed to their limits, and keeping the audio noise-free with all of the lavaliers, booms and camera mics running amok is nearly impossible. Clothing rustle, unintentional mic contact noises and onscreen subjects who chomp on bubble gum uncontrollably as they speak are all par for the course. We often warn audio types that in the world of audio, removing noise after something has been recorded is like trying to remove the egg from a cake after it’s been baked. While this rule still holds true, if you have a recording with distracting clicking sounds in it, the Oxford DeClicker does a pretty commendable job of virtually removing it. It also doesn’t hurt that the DeClicker is incredibly easy to use.
The software tools made by Sonnox do a great deal to help the movies and TV shows that we watch sound better, and they help the music that we listen to really come alive. The Oxford DeBuzzer hum removal plug-in is also beloved by many in the professional world of audio restoration, and like classic SSL consoles, the sound quality of the Sonnox EQ’s, limiters, reverbs and compressors are considered by many to be among the best in the industry.
Another great trait of Sonnox plug-ins is that they maintain their sonic integrity when you transition from Pro Tools LE systems up to TDM systems. You can craft an intricate mix on a smaller system running Pro Tools 9 using RTAS versions of these plug-ins, and later when you’re doing the final work in a larger facility with a Pro Tools HD system, you can have complete confidence that all the work you did will translate, and there will be no surprises.
Whether you first discovered these acclaimed plug-ins when they were known as Sony Oxford, used them as a part of the TC Electronic PowerCore system, or if you’re a more recent recruit who found them under the Sonnox Ltd. name, you should know that they are hard at work making the next tool that will improve your sound and make your life easier. If you’ve never used Sonnox plug-ins before, you should head over to their website and download a 15-day demo (versions are available for native systems, Pro Tools HD, and most are available for PowerCore as well). When you find the solutions you need, head back to the B&H website where they’re readily available as electronic downloads. And remember that you get a little more bang for your buck by going for a collection, rather than buying á la carte.
Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article! If you have any questions about Sonnox products, we encourage you to post them in the Comments section below.