Why the Pro Subharmonic Plug-in is a Definite Must-Have For My Audio Post Production

Filmmaking: Why the Pro Subharmonic Plug-in is a Definite Must-Have For My Audio Post Production

The following is a guest contribution from Academy Award-winning re-recording mixer and sound designer Myron Nettinga. Myron’s film credits include ‘ include Black Hawk Down, Kill Bill Vol. 1&2, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook , American Hustle. Recent releases are Disney’s “Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day” and Dreamworks Animation’s “Penguins of Madigascar”.

I have been working in a virtual mixing environment with Pro Tools and the Avid range of consoles for many years. In Oct 2013 I posted an article on Avid Blogs about how I use the Pro Compressor and Pro Limiter plug-ins in my audio post work. When the new Pro Series plug-ins were introduced, I knew they’d be worth checking out. After using them, the Pro Multiband Dynamics and Pro Subharmonic plug-ins are a definite must have in my standard setup. True to the Pro Series of plug-ins, the transparency in processing is the best in their category I’ve used. My previous article covered Pro Multiband Dynamics, in this article I will focus on the Pro Subharmonic.

Pro Subharmonic

The second of two newly offered plug-ins in the Pro Series by Avid, the Pro Subharmonic plug-in has set the bar. Right of the bat, an included Hi and Lo Pass filter AND real-time spectral display is terrific. The Pro Series has always had terrific graphical look as well as informational feedback, this one doesn’t disappoint.

The most appealing feature of this plug-in that makes it the new standard in my setup is the multi-channel capabilities up to 7.1. It can be applied across a 7.1 pre-dubb of explosions for example with each channel’s contribution to the sub generation adjustable.

Flexible and Powerful Controls

There is a Hi and Lo pass filter to limit the spectral range you’ll be adding energy to, as well as individual gain adjustments for each of the two sub frequencies you’ll be generating. You also have the ability of feeding some of the sub generation back into the L/R mains via the “MIX” control to share some of the energy between sub and the mains, great when you might be working at the top of the audio limits and want to avoid overloading an individual channel. The flexible and numerous parameters on managing Sub generation and its incorporation into the track are AWESOME; it’s what I’ve wanted for a long time in the Sub Harmonic generation category.

Adjusting the Character of the Sub

There are several parameters to control the character of the sub harmonics being generated. “Drive” settings are great to vary the distortion of harmonics. There are several choices to start from; two versions each of “Clean”, “Resonant” and “Distort”. Adjusting the Drive on each of these give various results, so it’s worth experimenting. I tend to use the Clean for a tighter kind of harmonic for momentary or quicker responses like machine guns and copters, sometimes in conjunction with an expander (Pro Expander being my choice) to punch just the peaks. With explosions I may try a “Clean” or a “Distort” setting with more drive, giving a “grittier” feel to the sub. If you put this plug-in across the “.1” of a stem or pre-dubb, what’s great is the option to adjust level of the contribution of that LFE channel to the sub generator.

In the case of the pre-dubb I put the Pro Subharmonic across, the sub content was already “baked” in. Pro Subharmonic has the ability to turn off (or down) the sub channel’s contribution to the generated harmonics. Depending on the content you’re working with you select the Subharmonic Frequency Range buttons to specify the frequency range of the source signal for the synthesized audio content (see opposite). In this case the source signal between 60 and 90 Hz will be used to generate the sub one octave below the source.

MIDI Control of Sub Harmonic Content

If you need more variance or control, a cool feature has been included to have MIDI note input from an instrument track to control the harmonic frequencies generated, all the way down to 16Hz. It might seem like a feature only for music production (and a very cool feature to have), but I’ve included a couple of post examples that I found useful.

In the first example, I put the Sub generator across the Explo pre-dubb (prior to the MultiBand). I then set up an instrument track with MIDI keyboard and set its bus to the Pro Subharmonic 1 plug-in (You’ll need a unique MIDI track for each Pro Subharmonic you want to control).

Then I set the Pro Subharmonic to receive MIDI input instead of the predefined frequencies (this doesn’t automatically switch, but once you roll and send MIDI, the MIDI icon next to the “INPUT (Hz)” will light up yellow) I can input different notes to “tune” my LFE being generated. It can generate down to 16Hz, which isn’t one of the predefined harmonics. It also makes for a less monotone type of sub being generated when you may have a lot of explosions or whatever in a row, keeping your LFE and LOW end a little more interesting.

Using MIDI to Find the Sweet Spot for Sub Harmonic Generation

Another use of the MIDI note tuning method is on specific material such as a Machine Gun for example (see opposite). I can find the “sweet spot frequency” for the particular material that seems to translate the best. In the case of the machine gun, it was slightly between the predefined settings 60-90 and 80-120. Again, setting up a MIDI track unique to that Pro Subharmonic plug in, I then set the Pro Subharmonic plug-in up to receive from a 5.1 AUX. I did this so I could also send some low end to the L/R speakers as well.

IMPORTANT to NOTE: since it was a mono source feeding a 5.1 AUX, I set my AUX to “FMP” to follow the panning of that channel, turned all channels up on the Pro Subharmonic, then, regardless of where my source is panned, the sub is being generated consistently.

The flexibility the Pro Subharmonic plug-in gives me on low frequency content and generation in my mixes is unequalled!

Download the Free Trial

Pro Subharmonic is an epic-sounding Pro Series 64-bit AAX plug-in that enables you to generate low frequency signals an octave lower than the source–providing a booming addition to your bottom line. Download the free 14-day trial today.