The classic studio trick for super wide vocals with a powerful new twist – Mac/PC VST, AU, AAX
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- In Depth
As audio engineering continues to evolve and change, engineers have continued to find clever ways to apply the tools they have. Our friends over at Soundtoys are definitely pioneers in this respect, and not just for the current plug-ins that they offer (though those are indeed very clever and original). The founders are actually some of the most creative minds in recording history due to their work with Eventide. Back in the 1980s, they worked on the Eventide H3000, which was an at-the-time revolutionary effects unit that many studios still use today. Some of the presets used a combination of pitch shifting and delay to create a unique stereo widening effect that was subtle, but effective. Now, Soundtoys is offering that same effect with their MicroShift plug-in, and they’ve expanded upon it and made it easier than ever to use with an extremely simplified interface and control system. It’s different in many ways from most stereo widening plug-ins that are in use today, so it’s worth checking out even if you have some of those types of plug-ins already.
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The Eventide H3000, for all of its many features, was a bit on the complicated side, considering the multitude of effects presets that it contained. The MicroShift makes dialing in this specific stereo-widening effect much easier since it’s dedicated to this purpose. They’ve given us three styles of the effect to choose from, two of which were originally found in the H3000. (The other comes from the AMS/Neve DMX 15-80, another landmark delay/harmonizer/sampler that was first released in 1979). These styles are all distinct in their pitch shifting algorithms, delay variation, and frequency response, and finding the right one takes no time at all. They all have some nice analog saturation, though it sounds slightly different in Style III, considering it’s based on different hardware. This analog-style tone is found in just about every Soundtoys plug-in, and is in fine form here.
From there, we can dial in the sound we want more precisely. Though this effect doesn’t have many controls, it’s no problem at all, considering these are more than enough to do the trick. You have controls for delay and detune, which are the essential parts of the effect. The “detuning” is extremely subtle, and is actually applied inversely on each side of the signal. As such, it doesn’t necessarily sound detuned, it just helps with the widening effect. Greater values will push this effect farther, meaning that it gets more pronounced as it goes. The delay effect operates a little bit more like you’d expect, but these delay times are very short, even at the highest setting. Despite the limited range, these controls are really accurate and can help dial in the width that you’re looking for really easily. Additionally, you have a dry/wet mix knob, which actually enhances the effect when some of the dry signal is blended in. The Focus knob is basically an EQ filter that separates lower frequencies from midrange and high-end, which can be nice for keeping the low end of a signal tight while widening the middle and high frequencies.
The plug-in will work on all kinds of instruments. It can be used as a trippy, psychedelic vocal effect, either alone or in conjunction with other delays and effects. Similarly, guitar solos and synth lines get some clarity and reinforcement that can go a long way in a mix. What we considered to be the coolest thing about the effect was how it helps a track sit in front of, or behind, the other elements in a mix. This ability to control depth makes it an effective tool in a mixing engineer’s palette, and we highly recommend giving it a test run to hear it in action.
- Stereo Widener based upon a classic studio technique originally developed by Eventide
- Uses a combination of pitch shifting and delay to create stereo widening effect
- Widen the sound of vocals, guitars, keyboards, synths, and many other instruments
- Helps provide depth by placing instruments and voices in either the forefront or background of your mix
- Originally developed from the classic Eventide 3000 rack unit, which Soundtoys’ founders originally worked on during their time at Eventide; additionally based upon AMS/Neve DMX 15-80
- 19 factory presets, plus the ability to make new ones
- Three-way Style switch:
- Style I matches delay, pitch variation, and analog saturation from preset #231 of Eventide H3000
- Style II is also based on a preset (#519) from the H3000, but has different pitch shifting algorithm, delay variation and frequency response
- Style III is modeled on the AMS/Neve DMX 15-80, with wider delay variation, different saturation, and a harder ‘de-glitching’ circuit
- Mix: Controls ratio of dry-to-wet signal
- Focus: Controls crossover EQ filter, allowing for stereo widening to only affect frequencies higher than the crossover point; great for widening mid-range and high-end without affecting low end. Range of 20Hz-10kHz
- Detune: Controls the amount of micro pitching-shifting that occurs; relative to the parameters of each style
- Delay: Controls the amount of delay that occurs; relative to the parameters of each style
Current Version: 5.2.0
Plug-in Formats (both 32 and 64-bit):
• AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite, VST, and Audio Units (AU)
Supported Sample Rates:
• Minimum: 44.1 kHz, Maximum: 192 kHz
• Operating systems: Mac OS X 10.8 or later; Windows 7 or later
• An internet connection is required at the time of activation.
• Pro Tools (10.3.5 or later), Live, Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, Logic, Digital Performer
• Click here to view our full list of compatible host applications.
• Free iLok.com account.