The delectably named Sugar Bytes are now offering us the software equivalent of a channel strip in the form of Vogue. This cross-platform plug-in is designed to do the same job as those classic vintage outboard units and features a gate, preamp, EQ, compressor, filter, delay and simple reverb.
With over 25 parameters at your disposal, you can use it to wrestle just about any vocal into shape. In use, Vogue offers both brilliance and bluster. When you call up the default settings or gently push at the sliders and knobs, it imbibes your vocal recordings with real presence and sheen. However, the presets that are designed specifically for vocals are disappointingly over the top. We just don´t want to use a channel strip like this one to slather reverb or delay all over our vocals - it might sound kind of ‘gee whiz´ on first listen, but it isn´t terribly practical. Oddly enough, our favourite vocal patch lies in the Electric Guitar menu.
To strike a cautionary note, it´s worth saying that you shouldn´t get too excited by the promise of a virtual mic pre. This thing isn´t going to send phantom power down the line or bring your level up before it hits those A/D converters. Still, it adds gain and even some overdrive, and the compression is simple and to the point.
Some dodgy presets aside, Vogue fulfils its brief pretty well. It adds an analogue flavour, brings tracks to the fore and sounds utterly convincing. Not everyone will feel that they need the sort of processing it offers - let´s face it, most people´s plug-in folders aren´t exactly short on compressors and EQs - but Vogue does offer something extra. In fact, as you can hear in the audio example on the DVD, it can hold its own against a very costly hardware vocal chain. Quite some achievement, we think you´ll agree.