At Crane Song, our company and studio in Superior, Wisconsin, we’ve developed three unique plug-ins to enhance your mix, recreate desirable analog character, and solve some common sonic problems. Phoenix II, Peacock, and RA stand on their own as powerful AAX tools for your mix, and also work great when they’re used together.
I’m going to recap the basics of each plug-in and walk through an example of how all three can cooperate to add analog warmth, create desired effects, and get rid of the artifacts we don’t need or want.
- Phoenix II is the go-to solution for Tape-Analog emulation, bringing our widely recognized expertise in analog electronics and tape recording to Pro Tools and VENUE. The plug-in offers five flavors of emulation of analog tape machines, and countless users rely on Phoenix II to smooth out harsh digital artifacts.
- RA is a flexible AAX plug-in used to modify harmonic content, do soft clipping, and bring out detail in your audio content.
- Peacock emulates the sound of a vinyl record and can enrich the bottom of a recording and fatten the vocal in isolation or in a mix. All are available for AAX DSP and AAX Native, so whether you’re a Pro Tools | First user or a professional working with Pro Tools | HDX or VENUE | S6L, you’re good to go.
So, let’s look at a real-world example. By using harmonic manipulation, you can change a sound in a very desirable way that cannot be done using an EQ alone. Harmonic manipulation can reduce the need for compression and equalization. Suppose we have a stereo track that is a bit on the harsh side, lacks fullness and detail. This is a common problem that many mix and mastering engineers face.
By using a little of each plug-in, you can go a long way towards solving the sonic problems of the track, and at the same time, create a newly fat and full sound in ways that can’t be achieved using EQ and dynamics plug-ins on their own.
First, adding Phoenix II will smooth out harshness and fatten the sound. If you follow this with RA and use the low level control you will bring out detail in the track. This works by bringing up the low level part of the track without smashing the peaks down. Besides increasing detail, the average level of the material will increase—it will be louder and you will not have applied compression or peak limiting. You can also use the EVEN harmonic controls to add some second harmonic if desired, and do some soft clipping with the PEAK controls.
Enter Peacock, which you can now add to the chain and experiment with the EVEN HARMONIC and PEAK controls. While you’re working with Peacock you can use the “elliptical or sabetha” preset as a starting place. The bottom of the vocal range will fill out and become smoother and fatter. Depending on the desired sound and the source material increasing the COLOR setting, driving the HARMONIC control harder and the DYNAMIC control softer will result in a very fat and full sound.
Vinyl has massive amounts of second harmonic content, which is part of what Peacock does. The DITHER function can be used by it self to dither to 16 bit. It has the spectrum of vinyl surface noise. It also modulates internal settings with in the plug-in. Peacock can create a sense that projects that were tracked separately sound more like they were played together. So use these tools on their own or in combination, experiment, and enjoy!