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Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse review

This debut plugin crosses the divide between amp sim and multi-effect. We step into the Expanse

  • £49
Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

The combo of re-amping and characterful distortion make this an excellent tool for bus processing or adding a touch of hi- or lo-fi sheen.

Pros

  • +

    Comprehensive and convincing re-amping options.

  • +

    Great for adding character and space to dry sounds.

  • +

    Well-stocked library of useful presets.

Cons

  • -

    No built-in modulation tools.

Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse: What is it?

At a glance

KEY FEATURES: Multi-effect tool with Re-Amp, Space, Width, Format and Dirt modules. Lite version also available for £33 BUY FROM: Plugin Boutique CONTACT: Excite Audio

Excite Audio is a relatively new development outfit spun off from UK production specialist Plugin Boutique. The company launched late last year with the arrival of its debut plugin, a multi-effect tool named Lifeline Expanse.

Lifeline Expanse muscles its way into the increasingly crowded multi-effect realm claiming an ability to ‘breathe life into audio’. In practice, this amounts to a processor consisting of five re-orderable effect modules each with its own individual modes and parameters. 

What sets Lifeline Expanse apart from competitors is that one of these modules is focused on re-amping, meaning it feels like a hybrid creative effect and amp sim.

Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse

(Image credit: Future)

Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse: Performance and verdict

That re-amping module is well-equipped and sounds thoroughly convincing. There are four modes on offer, each emulating a different form of playback device: Cabinet, for guitar-style amp simulation, Monitors, replicating a studio speaker setup, Device, for speaker playback from a radio or phone, and Vintage, which captures the lo-fi sound of vinyl or tape playback. 

As with each of the five modules, users can adjust sounds in either Main or Advanced modes. Here, Main offers a simple three-control setup, for editing Age, Tone and dry/wet Mix. Switching to Advanced mode gives considerably more control of depth though, letting users edit speaker size and distance, as well as setting the balance between room and close mics and adding a touch of drive to the re-amped signal. Excellent for adding space and character to dry sounds.

The remaining modules are straightforward, nicely configurable and all five have an element of multi-band application. Space is a reverb, with Plate, Spring, Room and Slap modes, and decent control over effect size and tone. Width, as the name suggests, deals with stereo image. This can widen sounds using Haas mode, narrow them via Mono setting, adjust the Mid/Side relationship, or apply simple chorussing via Detune mode. 

The remaining two modules both offer different distortion. Dirt is an analogue-style drive effect with Tube, Tape, Rectify and Fuzz modes. Format, meanwhile, is a digital degradation tool offering bit-crushing Degrade mode, Resample, Flatten and an MP3-style Washed mode.

Beyond this, a small master section offers hi- or low-pass filters for the wet signal. There are also controls for input and output levels and global dry/wet. The master section also has an on/off limiter to protect speakers from overblown levels – a handy feature given the variety of drive and boosting tools – plus a Smoothing effect to reign in harsh frequencies.

Put together, Lifeline Expanse can do a lot to make audio sound better with little work. This isn’t the be-all of multi-effect plugins. There’s little by way of modulation, so Lifeline is best at applying a general static ‘sheen’ to sounds or gelling buses. For movement or, say, precise EQ edits, look elsewhere.

What Lifeline Expanse does, it does very well though. An impressive first effort from Excite Audio. 

MusicRadar verdict: The combo of re-amping and characterful distortion make this an excellent tool for bus processing or adding a touch of hi- or lo-fi sheen.

Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse: Hands-on demos

White Noise Studio

MixbusTv

Demuir

L.Dre

Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse: Specifications

  • KEY FEATURES: Multi-effect tool with Re-Amp, Space, Width, Format and Dirt modules. Lite version also available for £33, including all modules but no Advanced controls.
  • BUY FROM: Plugin Boutique
  • CONTACT: Excite Audio

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.