Sunday, September 9, 2012

HOW TO USE VIRTUAL CHANNEL STRIPS (with Free Vst Plugins inside)

Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're going to talk about Channel Strips.
Today, in the DAW era, we're used to think about channel strips as a sequence of empty slots on our track, ready to be loaded with any plugin we want, of any brand we choose, on any order, but it's not always been this way: with the term Channel Strip we refer to the single channel of a hardware mixer, which includes one or more Microphone Ins,  a volume fader, an Eq section, and often other features, such a compressor/limiter, an Fx Mix control, a Noisegate, and so on.
Is it still appropriate to talk about Channel Strips today? Maybe, since the last few years we have seen an increasing interest in trying to recreate a sound that has a common colour, like all the instruments were recorded through the same gear and mixed using the same processors, in order to ease the workflow and give the sound a slighly analog and coherent style.  

Let's start immediately by saying that the software house most dedicated and professional about the recreation of Channel Strips is Waves, and one of the most famous vintage channel strip emulations is the Waves SSL, which recreates the single channel strip of a Solid State Logic Mixer, one of the most used mixers of the best studios of the last 30 years.

Beside the Waves ones, there are other Channel Strip emulations too that worth mentioning:

- De La Mancha Strip Ts, which features a Gate, A Filter, an Eq, a Compressor, a Clipper, and a Meter, and has a very good price.

- Sugar Bytes Vogue Channel Strip, another good channel strip which features almost everything: Gate, Preamp (Gain, Highpass, Overdrive), Compressor, 3-Band Dynamic Equalizer, Filter, DelayReverb.

And finally here are some free ones, some of which can rival even the most expensive ones: 

- Terry West's Cs4 and Cs12: these are 2 channel strips one with a 4 band eq dedicated to the single tracks and one with a 12 band eq for the master buss, with a wide range of features, including a Tape Saturation tool.

- Two Notes Torpedo-Pi Free: a very interesting Channel Strip dedicated to Guitars, including a Harmonic Exciter and a Cabinet Simulation tool.

- Variety Of Sound Nasty Vcs: this plugin emulates the response of a vintage console, and features a Filter, an Eq, a Compressor and a Phase Alignment tool.

- Variety of Sound PreFix: this is a very particular kind of Channel Strip, featuring a Filter, an Eq, a Compressor and a Phase alignment tool, is specifically made to take place upfront the mixing process. It provides tools set to clean-up, fix and align audio tracks concerning overall frequency correction, phase alignment, spatial stereo field corrections and routing.

Try and experiment for yourself how these tools can improve your mixing routine, as they can really add a new dimension to the sound!

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