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  • #16
    Now that we have a general sense of the Lexicon 224 plug-in, let's delve into some details.



    Probably the most important point is that because of the six sliders, the algorithms are very customizable. To me, the most important of the sliders are the Bass and Mid reverb times, which work in conjunction with the Crossover control (this sets the split point between bass and mid frequencies). It’s easy to emphasize a brighter or bassier character; with the Crossover up just past halfway, turning up the Bass gives a big, dull room sound, while bringing down Bass and turning up Mid sounds like you’re in a much brighter room with more reflections. With the Small Hall algorithm, it wasn’t hard to get a more plate-like sound by emphasizing upper mids over bass.







    The six sliders are highlighted.



    The fourth control of the “tone quartet” is the Treble Decay. This is not a separate band for highs (as opposed to bass or mid), but what most reverbs would call damping. However, this has very different effects for the different algorithms. For example, on the Vocal Plate algorithm, it’s more like an “air enhancer/remover.” But in the Large Hall, pull Treble Decay down all the way, and it sounds like someone filled every square inch of the hall with foam.



    The two remaining sliders relate to reverb time and space. Pre-Delay does what you’d expect – create a delay between the time you hear the original and the time the reverb starts. In fact if you set the reverb to Wet only (there’s also a Solo button so you can do this without disturbing your existing Wet/Dry balance – very helpful, and something every reverb should have!) and change Pre-Delay, you won’t hear any difference because there’s no dry reference.



    Depth adds more distance, therefore more complexity, between the source and the reverb. It sounds to me like a “more early reflections” control – think of sitting by a drum set close to a wall. You hear reflections coming off that wall. Now move the drum set, and yourself, four times further away from the wall. You hear more complexity, and more early reflections. That’s what Depth seems to do.



    And now, a question about audio examples. Traditionally, people aren’t that into downloading audio examples unless they’re particularly interested in some unique aspect that the audio example presents for several reasons: it takes time to download, most people don’t want to listen to the example on their crappy computer speakers so then they have to move the audio to a USB stick or whatever, open up their music computer, etc. With something like the 224, it would be really, really easy to include a zillion examples (“Here it is with more midrange decay. Here it is with more bass decay. Here it is with more damping. Etc. etc. etc.”)



    So, I have an idea. With the Focusrite VRM and Steinberg Wavelab 7 Pro Reviews, instead of doing traditional audio examples I did videos that I posted on YouTube and embedded in the review. All they did was use Camtasia to record the sound and video in real time as I moved controls, so you could hear how the controls were affecting the sound while you could see them being moved...nothing fancy, but people seemed to find these helpful. The tradeoff is the fidelity isn’t as good when it comes off YouTube as it would be with a 320kbps audio file. Thoughts? Preferences? I'm also interested in what UA thinks...whether it's more valuable to emphasize functionality or sound quality. I will say the YouTube audio isn't bad at all, and I don't think anyone would judge the plug-ins by what they hear coming from a YouTube video, but it's not as good as a dedicated audio example.



    Next, we’ll investigate more controls and how they work. The takeaway from these sliders is that if you think you’d be limited by only seven algorithms, you’re not: Within each algorithm's "sandbox," there’s a lot of sand.
    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #17
      To give a better idea of how manipulationg the sliders affects the 224's reverb characteristics, I've uploaded the following video, which is about a minute long. As with the previous audio example, I've chosen a boring drum part (I promise, I'll do something different for the next example!) with kick to help demo the bass decay, and snare to demo the high decay.



      You'll hear the frequency response and reverb characteristics change as the crossover slider moves. Initially the example starts with a plate reverb program, then moves along to the large hall. I also moved the high decay slider a bit so you could hear how that affects the sound.



      The YouTube fidelity is actually pretty good, so this seems like a vaiid way to both hear and see what specific 224 elements are doing.






      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USvxQ3XzWnQ
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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      • #18






        Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
        View Post

        So, I have an idea. With the Focusrite VRM and Steinberg Wavelab 7 Pro Reviews, instead of doing traditional audio examples I did videos that I posted on YouTube and embedded in the review. All they did was use Camtasia to record the sound and video in real time as I moved controls, so you could hear how the controls were affecting the sound while you could see them being moved...nothing fancy, but people seemed to find these helpful. The tradeoff is the fidelity isn’t as good when it comes off YouTube as it would be with a 320kbps audio file. Thoughts? Preferences? I'm also interested in what UA thinks...whether it's more valuable to emphasize functionality or sound quality. I will say the YouTube audio isn't bad at all, and I don't think anyone would judge the plug-ins by what they hear coming from a YouTube video, but it's not as good as a dedicated audio example.

        lot of sand.






        How about creating a Soundcloud account and upload the 24bit aiff/wav files for us to listen to? + The youtube ones of course

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        • #19






          Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
          View Post

          You heard it here first, folks



          Seriously, that's great news. Phil, I've tested the UAD-2 plugs with Pro Tools, and they work fine - including with path delay compensation. I generally find that I need to add at least the short delay, and sometimes the long one if I have a lot going on in the track.

          (snip)

          But in any event...great news about the RTAS compatibility, and props to Angus at Fxpansion for holding us over in the meantime




          I use the FXpansion VST -> RTAS wrapper every day, and I'm a big fan and enthusiastic evangelist for the product. It's a no-brainer purchase for Pro Tools users.



          But yes, it's great that the UAD plugins will have RTAS compatibility soon. Plugin menu category support alone will make that very useful.



          Lev, are there any plans for PC support eventually? I actually use both platforms...
          **********

          "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

          - George Carlin

          "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

          - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

          "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

          - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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          • #20
            Hey Phil - The upcoming RTAS updates will be cross platform for both Mac & Windows.
            Universal Audio
            Analog Ears. Digital Minds.
            www.UAudio.com
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            • #21
              I don't want to go on forever about the 224, because really, I think that between the algorithms and the main sliders - which we've already covered - it's a pretty compelling plug-in. It's rare to find a plug-in that's capable of obtaining lots of different sounds but within a defined framework.



              One point I haven't really mentioned is that the parameter ranges vary depending on which program you use. For example, take predelay. With the plates, the range is from 0 to 107 ms. The Room A predelay goes from 24-255 ms, while the large concert hall goes from 24-152 ms...you get the idea. Diffusion isn't adjustable in the Acoustic Chamber, but otherwise you can adjust diffusion for all other programs, including the Chorus. Treble Decay has different characteristics in different programs, and the like.



              This is a big part of why the 224 is such an interesting reverb - there are considerable variations available within each program; they're not just minor variations on a theme.



              Anyway, here are some fine points about the 224.

              • The 224 is a true stereo processor that processes each channel separately, but if the input is mono, it splits to both channels.

              • There are four outputs, but I'm a little confused here. There's a Rear Outs control that swaps outs A and C (the "normal" stereo outs) and outs B and D, which can provide quadraphonic reverb. But, I have no idea if all four outs are available simultaneously, or how you'd use them...then again, I'm not particularly conversant in surround. Maybe someone from UA could describe a typical scenario for using the four outs?

              • There's a feature called "Mode Enhancement" which originally, was preset to an idealized tap modulation setting for each preset. But in the 224, you have control over the amount and degree of modulation, which essentially means one of Lexicon's "secret sauce" parameters is now available for your tweaking pleasure. Frankly, I haven't figured out a way to really quantify this; it's more of a "mess with it and see what happens" control. But every now and then, I hit on something useful.

              • Decay Optimization is another option that was part of the original 224 but frankly, I never even knew it was there until I read about it in the UA documentation. Anyway, according to the documentation, it was optimized for individual programs and improves "reverb clarity and naturalness by dynamically reducing reverb diffusion and coloration in response to input signal levels." Like Mode Enhancement, this is one of the "tweak until it sounds good" controls, although I found the default values nailed it most of the time.

              Another fine point is that you can add in system noise if you want, but I'd like to talk about that for a bit and quote some comments from one of the designers at Waves (hopefully neither Waves nor UA will mind). Anyway, I had reviewed the Waves Aphex emulation and made a snarky comment about why anyone would want to include noise in a plug-in. I mean, it's a no-brainer, right? Why model noise when you don't have to?



              But he pointed out two things. First, for some people, that WAS a part of the sound and therefore, for the emulation to be accurate, it needed to be able to offer that sound. Besides, as with the 224, you could disable it. Second, and more intriguingly, some listeners preferred the sound with the noise and not for nostalgic reasons - they thought it added a useful sonic character that was more interesting than a sound without noise.



              Prior to that conversation, I would have used this post to say "Hey UA, why do you emulate noise when you don't have to?" But now I know better. I presume UA's motivations for being able to add system noise are similar, but I'd be interested if the UA designers can offer any additional insights. Yes, I'm a geek, and yes, I find this kind of thing interesting.



              Next, we'll describe the "hidden features" area if for no other reason than to show off the cool graphics, then get into the Chorus, then wrap up the 224 before moving on to...well, it's a tough choice actually, but I think I'm going to do the Studer tape emulation next.
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #22
                Oh, and since the UA engineers seem pretty forthcoming about what's coming up in the future...are the rumors I'm hearing about 64-bit compatibility true? I've had no problems using the UA plug-ins with 64-bit Sonar using its built-in bit bridge, but wonder what kind of benefits native 64-bit compatibility would provide.
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

                Comment


                • #23






                  Quote Originally Posted by Siggidori
                  View Post

                  How about creating a Soundcloud account and upload the 24bit aiff/wav files for us to listen to? + The youtube ones of course




                  Thanks for the suggestion! I've actually thought about that, but in some previous pro reviews, I made both downloadable audio examples and YouTube movies available. The number of YouTube views exceeded downloads by a huge factor - I think people liked the convenience of just being able to click on the video, and after watching it, didn't feel the need to listen to higher quality audio. I must say the YouTube audio is better than I expected, I upload a really high-resolution file so I guess the encoding doesn't beat it up too badly



                  But, I'll look into it because if one person is asking for something, that represents a lot of people who also want it but don't take the time to ask.
                  Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                  Subscribe, like, and share the links!

                  Comment


                  • #24






                    Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
                    View Post

                    Oh, and since the UA engineers seem pretty forthcoming about what's coming up in the future...are the rumors I'm hearing about 64-bit compatibility true? I've had no problems using the UA plug-ins with 64-bit Sonar using its built-in bit bridge, but wonder what kind of benefits native 64-bit compatibility would provide.




                    In a word..."this". 64-bit computing has been around for some time at this point. Audio appplications, plugins, hosts, etc. really should get on board at some point in the near future. There are demonstrable circumstances where accessing more than (almost) 4 GBs of RAM makes a noticeable improvement on performance, and mixing large numbers of tracks with plugins is one of those situations...especially with hosts that are increasingly being coded to use multi-processor computing more effectively, etc. I am frustrated with having to deal with "bridges" to use some of the best hardware emulation plugs (such as the UAD suite) for each plugin instance. It wreaks havoc with workflow when (for example) the actual plugin GUI disappears when dealing with the bridge window, etc. Native 64-bit support for UAD would be a VERY welcome update to the overall experience (off topic, but the same could be said for Drumagog 5 and others as well).
                    Bass Player/Worship Leader/Gear Junkie

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                    • #25
                      Here's a screen shot of what happens when you open up the "secret chamber" in UA's emulation.







                      The two buttons on the left are pitch shift up and down, which affect the Mode Enhancement option we discussed previously. The four knobs are input and output trims - obvious enough, while the Link control sets whether the input and output level controls are ganged or not.



                      The little UA logo is normally lit, which indicates that original programming bugs affecting the Hall B and Chorus algorithms are fixed. But if you actually like the sound of pops in the Chorus program's right channel, be my guest...



                      The Hold switch is the "I'm not looking at the plug-in all the time" switch. It sorts of works like a peak hold function on a VU meter. When set to 1.5 seconds, whenever you modify a parameter, the readout displays the most recent value for 1.5 seconds before reverting to the default display (current decay time). When set to hold, the modified value is held until you either edit another parameter, or change the hold switch back to 1.5 seconds.



                      The power button enables/disables processing. Although disabling the 224 does not free up additional DSP, bypassing it in your host does. So why have a separate power switch? Three reasons:

                      • By turning off the effect with the power button, you can bring it back in with no delay. When you "disconnect" the effect from the DSP, re-enabling it will create a slight hiccup.

                      • If you want to do something like cut short a really long decay, you can do so by turning off the power.

                      • You can use it as a creative effect by switching the reverb on and off without causing any glitching.

                      In terms of how much DSP the 224 requires, it's fairly hefty - 17%. For comparison, a simple effect like the LA-2A requires about 4%, while the Studer A800 draws a little less at 15.4%. I've yet to find anything that outdraws the Manley Massive Passive, though, which eats up 60.2% of DSP. Then again, it sounds it
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #26






                        Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
                        View Post

                        Thanks for the suggestion! I've actually thought about that, but in some previous pro reviews, I made both downloadable audio examples and YouTube movies available. The number of YouTube views exceeded downloads by a huge factor - I think people liked the convenience of just being able to click on the video, and after watching it, didn't feel the need to listen to higher quality audio. I must say the YouTube audio is better than I expected, I upload a really high-resolution file so I guess the encoding doesn't beat it up too badly



                        But, I'll look into it because if one person is asking for something, that represents a lot of people who also want it but don't take the time to ask.




                        I think your right on all points

                        The option of being able to make timed comments on Soundcloud could be interesting though.. if people bother to use it that is

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Hello Craig,



                          Thanks for the questions. It's great having a forum and format to answer these.



                          Regarding the Lexicon 224 Plug-In, you wrote:

                          There are four outputs, but I'm a little confused here. There's a Rear Outs control that swaps outs A and C (the "normal" stereo outs) and outs B and D, which can provide quadraphonic reverb. But, I have no idea if all four outs are available simultaneously, or how you'd use them...then again, I'm not particularly conversant in surround. Maybe someone from UA could describe a typical scenario for using the four outs?



                          All four outs are not available simultaneously per plug-in instance. However, users can use two instances of the Lexicon and set one to front and one to rear and successfully model the quad mode on the reverb. For this, the user would need to set up two busses, one for the front and rear separately. This would be helpful for a surround scenario.



                          Regarding 64-bit, you wrote:

                          Oh, and since the UA engineers seem pretty forthcoming about what's coming up in the future...are the rumors I'm hearing about 64-bit compatibility true? I've had no problems using the UA plug-ins with 64-bit Sonar using its built-in bit bridge, but wonder what kind of benefits native 64-bit compatibility would provide.



                          With over 50 plug-ins in the UAD catalog, 64-bit support is taking us a while to complete, but we know it is very important to our customers, so it's a very high priority for UA. So yes, while it's true that 64-bit compatibility is coming, a solid date is yet to be announced.



                          As you mentioned, there are no problems using UAD plug-ins with any 64-bit DAW, as long as the DAW supports a bit bridge. 64-bit drivers are already available for UAD-2 PCIe and Satellite cards for both Mac and PC.



                          With regard to the benefits of future UAD-2 64-bit plug-ins, they will primarily be related to improved workflow in the DAW itself, and no longer requiring a bit bridge. There will also be a slight improvement in CPU overhead as compared to 32-bit "bridged" plug-ins. Other companies with 32-bit plugs may have smaller memory addresses as compared to 64-bit, but that's not a problem with UAD plug-ins, since they run on our DSP Accelerator card.



                          As a workaround, many users use 32-bit mode, unless they are working on monster projects that require 64-bit capability.



                          So thank you for your question, and please know that we are definitely working hard on supporting customer needs, such as RTAS and 64-bit, while continuing to provide more top notch UAD Powered Plug-Ins, as well as future plug-ins from third parties.



                          Cheers,



                          Lev Perrey

                          Director of Product Management

                          Universal Audio
                          Universal Audio
                          Analog Ears. Digital Minds.
                          www.UAudio.com
                          Follow us on Twitter.
                          Find us on Facebook.

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                          • #28
                            Well I think we’ve pretty much covered the Lexicon 224, and I only have a few Summer NAMM videos left to upload to the HC Video Library (they’ve already all been uploaded to our YouTube channel), so let’s turn our attention to another powered plug-in—the Studer A800 tape emulator.



                            Everybody likes tape, right? Well, almost everybody. If I never have to record a classical guitar on analog tape again, that will be too soon. But, there are many types of music that tape flatters, as well as many individual instruments. I’ve talked to several top engineers who like to track to tape specifically for that reason, then bounce to digital to preserve the sound. It sure would be convenient, though, if you could simply take the tape recorder out of the equation, and get “that” sound in a totally digital environment. Apparently UA thought that was a good idea, too.



                            The Studer A800 plug-in is the result of a joint partnership between Studer and Universal Audio. UA was able to secure a “golden” unit from Ocean Way Studio, and set about doing the modeling. Studer provided the listening feedback—hey, if they don’t know what their units sound like, who does?—and gave it a final blessing.



                            Of course, if you’re going to model something, you’d better make sure it’s in good shape (just ask any company who does amp sims what they went through to get the best possible tubes for the amps they were modeling). As a result UA brought in consultant Jay McKnight, who’s an expert on tape machine setup and calibration, so that they’d be modeling a properly-tuned machine.



                            Here’s what part of the interface looks like. You can also open it up if you want to calibrate it yourself, as we’ll find out when we start getting into the audio examples and such.











                            But before we do, let’s touch on one more important subject: The A800 answers the question “so why do I need a DSP hardware card, given that native processing is so good?” The A800 is not shy about gorging itself on DSP power, and the whole point of a multitrack tape recorder is, well, being multitrack. If you try to put that many native processors into a virtual environment, you could get away with it up to some point; but then you’d need to bounce, or freeze virtual instruments, or make other compromises in order to accommodate processing on every track. By having dedicated DSP, you can run plenty of A800s (we’ll specify exactly how many shortly) without touching the power in your computer’s CPU.



                            Okay, enough background. Let’s load some tape, and fire this sucker up.



                            Oh, right...I don't need to load tape.
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • #29
                              Before getting into the individual controls, there are two “global” issues worth mentioning. The first is that the A800 doesn’t just give “tape sound” but also models the signal path and includes options for different tape formulations—a crucial aspect of emulation, as the tape you used, and how you calibrated it, had a major influence on the sound. The other is that as UA assumes you’ll be inserting the plug-in on multiple tracks, you can gang settings to maintain uniformity.



                              So how many instances can you insert, anyway? With a Quad UAD-2 card (the A800 won’t run on UAD-1 cards, sorry), what a coincidence—24 tracks! As you can see by the screen shot, each chip handles 6 instances.







                              Yes, the A800 was a 24-track machine, and now your DAW can do 24 tracks of A800 if you have a Quad card. Remember, all of this happens without loading down your computer’s CPU.



                              There are two control sections, the main front panel primary controls...







                              ...and the secondary controls, which are basically the controls for which you normally needed a screwdriver and a steady hand.







                              Incidentally, when you’re showing the primary controls and you’ve selected to monitor the sync or repro heads, the tape reels rotate; it’s cute and all that, especially because the takeup reel changes based on the tape type you’ve selected,. But after a while, I started feeling like I was going to have a seizure or something so I’m very happy that if you click on the IPS label for the tape speed control, you can make the reels stop.



                              Let’s give an overview of the primary controls. Next post we’ll get into the secondary controls, and then present some audio examples.

                              • For the tape forumulations, you have a choice of 3M 250, Ampex 456 BASF Studio Master 900, or Quantegy GP9.

                              • Available speeds are 7.5, 15, and 30ips

                              • The four choices of tape calibration fluxivity are from +3dB to +9dB

                              • Input/output controls

                              On the secondary control page, there’s a button to calibrate these according to Studer’s original specs as you change tape speed, formulation, or EQ, but you can also tweak these trims yourself. The other front panel controls let you switch the virtual “input” among bypass, input electronics, sync head, and repro (playback) head.
                              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                              • #30






                                Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
                                View Post

                                So how many instances can you insert, anyway? With a Quad UAD-2 card (the A800 won’t run on UAD-1 cards, sorry), what a coincidence—24 tracks! As you can see by the screen shot, each chip handles 6 instances.




                                Hey Craig, great pro review BTW! I just wanted to point out that the (6) instances per chip is for stereo applications. When used on mono material you can get (10) instances per chip and (40) on a QUAD @ 44.1k (with the Limit DSP Load option set to at least 99%). With many, if not most tracks using mono type sources (kick, snare, bass, vocal, etc....) you can get more total instances or at least have unused DSP left over for other plug-ins. One other thing, some DAW host apps (SONAR & REAPER come to mind) require that you install and use the specific mono (m) instances on mono tracks to get the reduced DSP benefit. While other DAW hosts (Cubase & Nuendo to name a few) will allow you to use the standard installed stereo version on a mono track and the reduced DSP happens automatically. Using your DAW, look at the DSP hit of a stereo instance, when used on a mono track and compare to the UAD Plug-in DSP usage charts to see what you should be seeing for mono. Something to be aware of when you have a finite amount of available DSP and you want to minimize the DSP hit so you can use even more plug-ins.



                                Cheers,



                                Billy Buck

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