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© Milena Boniek/PhotoAlto/Corbis
Much of the history of recording is, arguably, the history of compensating for the limitations of recording mediums. One of the chief problems has been a loss of top-end clarity. A whole class of devices - called exciters or enhancers - were developed to compensate for this, particularly in the tape-recording period.
The techniques ranged from psychoacoustic frequency compensation to simple filtering but the aim was the same: to retain, restore or artificially synthesise the top-end sheen that allows presence, clarity, punch and excitement. Modern music technology means that new sounds are pretty bright already, and some argue that today's music is quite shiny enough.
If anything, however, this makes enhancers more appealing as they allow recordings of 'real' instruments to sit alongside glossy synths and samples. It also means that vintage samples can be brought up to today's brightness levels.
There are many, many ways to brighten a signal, and we've even included a few plug-ins that aren't branded as enhancers/exciters. 112dB's Redline Preamp is touted as a tube simulation, but its multiband design means you can easily shine up the top end using the treble band alone.
PSP's NobleQ and the Abbey Road Brilliance processors are EQs, albeit ones that are particularly good for sweetening treble with the twist of a knob. A number of the plug-ins feature extra processes that may increase their usefulness to you, but we're focusing on their treble enhancement side.