Cableguys PanShaper 2
As 2016 draws to a close, we've been reflecting on the year in hi-tech music-making gear, asking you to vote for the best new hardware and software products to have been released over the past 12 months.
Now it's time to bring you the results of our polls. We drew up the shortlists, but the rankings and overall winners in each category have been decided exclusively by your votes.
Here are the best new mixing/mastering plugins of 2016 as voted for by you. We start the countdown to number one with Cableguys PanShaper 2...
We said: “There’s an awful lot to like here but what separates PanShaper from many of its competitors is its multiband functionality. That, coupled to its ease of use and wide range of creative possibilities, makes this a must-have for anyone interested in wide and dynamic stereo sound shaping.”
Joey Sturgis Tones Finality
We said: “Joey Sturgis Tones' new offering, Finality, claims to be a highly versatile one-stop mixing limiter that differentiates itself from the competition by not only doing the business on dynamic material, such as drums, but also beefing up less dynamic signals such as guitars and vocals.
Is it the last word in limiting? No, but it is a good sounding all-rounder that holds up well against the competition, especially at its agreeable price point.”
Lindell Audio Channel X Bundle
We said: “Whether you've had experience of Lindell's hardware or not, you'll be familiar with the workings of this channel strip because of its similarity to the industry standard Pultec PEQ-1 and Urei 1176 that it borrows from.
In addition, there's a smattering of added modern features such as the mid/side EQ option. All in all, it's a fine-sounding and keenly priced device, but without any surgical EQ onboard, you'll still be needing additional ammunition on your inserts in most circumstances, as it's not a one-stop channel strip shop.”
UAD Chandler Limited Curve Bender
We said: “Curve Bender combines the broad tonal control of a self-assured mastering EQ with an attractive character that always seems to effortlessly resonate with the music being processed. Much like the old Neve EQs, a mix just has to be touched by it to sound better.
The M/S facility and extended gain range with dual Q settings broaden its appeal to the mastering fraternity, and overall it unarguably deserves a place at the top table of mastering EQs.”
We said: “e2deesser's ability to accurately detect sibilance is uncanny, and the tools it gives you to deal with it are comprehensive. The presets and basic controls on their own will be enough to serve the needs of most, delivering natural sounding vocal de-essing and instrumental harshness reduction with minimal user input; but when you need more frequency-shaping control, the dual EQ is truly empowering.”
DMG Audio Limitless
We said: “This may be the best-sounding master bus limiter plugin yet, with easy operation andadvanced algorithms. The CPU-intensive Limitless isn't designed for high track counts,but as a mastering limiter with unbelievably low levels of distortion, it's simply world class.”
UAD Manley Voxbox
We said: “There's plenty to like here, even allowing for the 56% per SHARC chip hit for a single stereo instance. The decision to stick with the fixed signal flow of the original hardware is a missed opportunity (albeit consistent with UA's other emulations). Overall, the Voxbox is an excellent addition to the UAD line up, great for recording and mixing a broad range of instruments.”
Brainworx bx_pan EQ
We said: “EQ is essentially a three-band fully parametric EQ where each band is full range (40Hz to 20kHz) and can have a near surgical Q right through to a broad bell.
The trick is that you can infinitely pan each band across the stereo and independently adjust their stereo width from a mono point to full stereo width.
The result is an EQ which lets you pull out and tame notes in a piano part, bring up a buried crash in the drum overheads (or loop) and correct stereo imbalances in synths or simply put a whole new slant on a stereo picture.”
ValhallaDSP Valhalla Plate
We said: “Clearly, a lot of time and thought has gone into Valhalla Plate, taking it way beyond simply a slavish EMT 140 emulation, but retaining the subtlety and nuance required of any quality hardware emulation.
And with so many models to call on, it goes some way towards recreating the inevitable variation between echo plates in the real world. We love this plugin, you'll love this plugin, and at $50, it's an absolute steal.”
iZotope Ozone 7
We said: “It seems that iZotope has done it again. Ozone continues to democratise the dark art of mastering and, with its outstanding module designs and helpful presets, really does put pro results within the reach of users at pretty much all levels.
Version 7 cements the software's place at the very top of the digital mastering tree, and if mastering is your main gig, the Advanced version is an essential addition to your setup.”