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  • #61
    The VC-64's "big feature" that makes it stand out from simpler plug-ins is that it offers multiple signal routing presets - series, parallel, and side-chaining options. For example, compressors can be “patched” in series or parallel, and side-chaining is also possible within the channel strip to allow for frequency-selective compression. (I realize that the latest VST spec allows for side-chaining, but it's going to be a while before that's commonplace and besides, it's convenient to have that ability within a single plug-in.)

    Clicking on the routing window steps through the various options, but you can also right-click on it and select one of the ten options from a pop-up menu. Click on the attachment to see the various routings.

    As to what you can do with these different routings, let's look at a few typical applications.
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    • #62
      As to applications, let's look at the Parallel Compression routing first. This patches all effects in series except that the output splits through two compressors in parallel. Parallel compression is handy for when you want to do a fair amount of signal squashing, but still need a sense of dynamics; for example, one application is drum compression where you still want to retain percussive attacks.

      Click on the attachment to see two compressors set up in parallel. Note that you can't see both compressors simultaneously in the VC-64 - I cut and pasted the GUIs for the two compressors into a single piece of artwork.

      The compressor on the left provides heavy “squashing.” Typical settings for drums would be Threshold –20 dB, Attack 0.1 ms, Release 100 ms, and Ratio 10:1.

      The compressor on the right adds in a lightly compressed signal. Start off with Threshold at –6 dB, Attack 10 ms, Release 150 ms, and a Ratio of 1.5:1. Finally, use each compressor’s Gain Out control to adjust the blend between the “super-squashed” and “lightly squashed” sounds.

      A variation on this theme is to use the Two Band Compression routing. This is similar to the Parallel Compression routing, except that an equalizer precedes each compressor so you can tailor the frequency response of what gets compressed. For example, with guitar, you might want to notch the midrange on one of the channels and apply significant compression to bring up the pick noise transients, as well as the “boom” from an acoustic guitar’s body. Or, you could compress the midrange to bring up the notes.

      Although you could use this routing as a primitive multi-band compressor, we're only talking two bands. Besides, the Sonitus multi-band compressor can do “real” multiband compression over up to five bands, so in this case the VC-64 would be more about creating effects rather than being a "true" multiband compressor.
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      • #63
        One cool application for the Two Band Compression routing doesn't actually involve any compression at all (just bypass them), but takes advantage of the EQ being in parallel - and being able to throw one of them out of phase - to create a really meaty, rich wah-wah effect.

        On one of the EQs, turn the phase switch on, and bypass all of its stages so that its response is flat (the bypass button is the straight line in among the buttons showing the various possible curves). On the other EQ, select a bandpass response for one of the stages (the other ones should be bypassed). Set the Gain for this stage to about +8dB, and Q to about 8. Sweep this equalizer’s Frequency control to hear the wah-wah effect.

        It should sound much more dramatic because with a standard parametric response, frequencies above and below the peak pass through at their “flat” amplitude. Including a second out-of-phase stage cancels frequencies above and below the peak, which emphasizes the peak.
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        • #64
          The "Mix and Master" routing option patches the equalizers and compressors in series, giving the equivalent of an 8-stage parametric EQ. But I find this setting more useful for compression than using massive amounts of EQ, as the Sonitus EQs pretty much do all you need for taming lots of "rogue resonances" in a signal.

          Patching two compressors in series, and using light amounts of compression with each, produces a very "gentle" compression effect that definitely narrows dynamics, but does so without sounding overly unnatural.

          Click on the attachment to see typical settings for the two compressors. Again, I've used a paint program to show the UI for each compressor simultaneously. If you used these settings with only one compressor, you wouldn’t hear much of a difference at all. But put two in series, and the effect seems to “multiply.” For example, I used these settings for bus compression on a jazz recording with drums, piano, and bass. Like classical music, you really don’t want to do a lot of dynamics processing with jazz; but the subtle compression helped make the music sound more “live” and present. In this case, I also used the Optical and PDE settings.
          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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          • #65
            With this routing, you can equalize and compress the two sides of a stereo signal separately. Although the Noise Gate and De-Esser affect both sides of the track equally, past these two modules, the signal splits to an EQ/compressor pair: The E1 equalizer and C1 compressor affect the left channel, while E2 and C2 process the right channel.

            This can be extremely handy when restoring old stereo tracks (including stereo program material), particularly because you can automate the control settings. For example, if an instrument is too prominent in the left channel and unbalances the stereo mix, you can bring in compression (or EQ, or both, depending on what does the job best) to tame that instrument only while it’s playing.
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            • #66
              This is what the VC-64 calls "sidechain compression," and provides frequency-selective compression. In this routing, equalizer E2 taps the signal after compressor C1, and its output serves as the control for compressor C2.

              In other words, instead of compressor C2 listening to its output to determine when to initiate compression, it listens to the filter. Thus, if the filter passes only high frequencies, then only high frequencies will be compressed.

              However, remember that unlike compressor sidechains, which typically have a high pass filter to do de-essing, there are many more filter options in the VC-64. For example, suppose you’re applying sidechain compression to drums. If you set up a high shelf boost, then the high end will be compressed. But if you use another band of the VC-64’s equalizer to add a low shelf cut, then the low frequencies will actually sound expanded compared to the rest of the drums.
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              • #67
                The Parallel Compressor routing allows for a lot of special effects if you set one compressor for an out of phase response. Click on the attachment to see typical settings for a compression effect that gives a heavy "sucking" sound.

                The settings are pretty crucial here. With compressor C2, set the following parameter values: Attack 10ms, Release 224ms, Threshold 0dB, Ratio 1:1, Gain Out 0 , and Phase should be set out of phase (lit). For the Gain in, start at around -10dB.

                Compressor C1 uses the following values: Attack 10ms, Release 224 ms, Threshold -20dB or so, Ratio 2:1, Gain Out 0dB, and Phase should be set in phase (not lit). Set Gain In to 0dB. If you think about these settings, C1 is quite compressed, while C2 is not really compressed at all.

                The next step is to adjust C2’s Gain In control. Fully counter-clockwise, you’ll hear that “super-squashed” drum sound used by the Beatles, Traffic, and others – the effect that sounds like the cymbals are being sucked into a vacuum. Turn the Gain In control more clockwise, and as it approaches 0 dB Gain In, the sound will come closer to resembling expansion. Continuing to turn the control clockwise reduces the “special effect” element, and the track will sound more normal.

                This effect helps show the extent to which the VC-64 is an "overachiever."
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                • #68
                  The VC-64 comes with a bunch of very useful presets you can choose from the Presets field, but of course, you can also save any presets you create. Just use the VST drop-down menu and choose “Save Preset.”

                  However, matters are complicated somewhat because a preset can have an “A” and “B” set of parameters. (This is what you use for doing comparisons; for example, if you’re using the "A" set of parameters, clicking “Copy” will copy the parameters to the "B" set of parameters.)

                  Saving a Preset saves both sets of parameters, but closing the host (or the plug-in) will cause the preset to “remember” the currently selected parameters only. When recalled, these will be placed in "A," regardless of which set you were using when you closed the host or VC-64.

                  Also note that no matter how much editing you've done, you can recall the original preset parameters by clicking on the Recall button.
                  N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                  • #69
                    As with AudioSnap, it seems like the best way to get across what the VC-64 can do is to use some concrete examples. It's one thing to know that a module can put two equalizers in parallel; it's something else to know you can use that to make a bitchin' wah-wah sound.

                    Overall, this is one of those rare "magic bullet" plug-ins that sounds good on just about everything, if you're willing to take the time to find the routing that works best for you. For example, with acoustic guitar, not compressing the high frequencies can bring out a vibrant, present sound; while with drums, you can thicken them up big-time if that's your thing. Bus compression? Sure! You can use subtle amounts of compression to give the entire mix a little bit of a "lift."

                    The VC-64 provides that missing "vintage" element that Sonar never really had. In terms of the upgrade itself, consider the Kjaerhus equivalent lists for around $200, so you can consider the $200 upgrade fee from Sonar PE to Sonar 6 PE to pay for the VC-64, and everything else gets thrown in for free.

                    I'll post a few audio examples shortly.
                    N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                    • #70
                      Customization may seem like a bogus feature compared to things like AudioSnap, the VC-64, and ACT. Yet ultimately, it can make a big difference on how you work.

                      However, you should be aware of three main factors before getting too deep into customization:

                      1. You’ll be non-standard. This may matter if you’re working in several studios with Sonar, or if you read articles where tips are based on performing specific steps. If your menus aren’t set up the same way, the article might make no sense.
                      2. You’ve probably spent some time learning Sonar, and you have the existing defaults already figured out. Customization is like a “self-imposed learning curve” as you’ll have to learn all the new things you’ve done.
                      3. The people at Cakewalk are pretty sharp, and a lot of the defaults make sense. Be careful that any customizations don’t make the program more difficult or confusing to use!
                      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                      • #71
                        While simple, this is one of my favorite customizations and one of the most effective. Although you can customize existing toolbars, the really important aspect here is you can create up the three custom toolbars. You can show, hide, and float these as you would any toolbar.

                        The main thing I used this function for was to create a single toolbar with all the most important functions that I use, and in the process, I was able to get rid of all the other toolbars, thus reclaiming some screen space, and minimizing clutter. For example, do you really need a button for “Open File?” I open the file and that usually begins a multi-hour odyssey where I really don’t need to open another file again. Besides, I just use a key command anyway.

                        Customizing toolbars is pretty simple. You right-click on any button in a toolbar you want to customize (you can select a user toolbar by going Views > Toolbars), choose customize, and a dialog box opens up. Click on the attachment to see the dialog box in action..

                        The left pane lists the available toolbar buttons, while the right pane shows the buttons in the currently selected toolbar. You just add or remove buttons using the “Add/Remove” buttons, and drag a button up or down to change its position relative to the other buttons.

                        You’ll also see an item marked “separator” in the screen shot. This lets you add spaces between groups of buttons, which I find very helpful as I like to group buttons based on functionality.

                        As to what makes up my “all in one” toolbar, here’s the list going from left to right:

                        Rewind
                        Stop
                        Play
                        Record
                        Now time
                        Run/stop audio engine
                        Reset MIDI

                        --3 separators—
                        Tempo
                        Insert tempo
                        --3 separators—
                        Open AudioSnap palette
                        --3 separators—
                        Controller/surface
                        Controller/surface properties
                        ACT learn
                        --3 separators—
                        Enable/disable automation playback
                        Enable/disable automation record
                        Clear all automation write enables
                        --3 separators—
                        Mute/unarm all tracks
                        Solo/unarm all tracks
                        Arm/unarm all tracks
                        --3 separators—
                        Loop on/off
                        Loop start
                        Loop end
                        Set loop points to selection
                        --3 separators—
                        Set punch points to selection
                        --3 separators—
                        Default groove-clip pitch
                        --3 separators—
                        Metronome settings
                        --3 separators—
                        Automation snapshot


                        Of course, this is what works for me...you might use a different set of functions more frequently. But that's the whole point: set it up, as Shakespeare once said, "As you like it."

                        Note that you can also reset any toolbars you modify if you get in too deep. Overall, this may seem like a fairly small function, but I find it extremely helpful in putting my most-used options one click away.
                        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                        • #72
                          Probably you all friends following this review know about kjaerhus but, just in case, here I have some info to share with you. They have available for free download at www.kjaerhusaudio.com a nice VST plugin collection. I installed them all in Sonar5PE last night and I was pleased with the simplicity, sound and included presets.
                          The collection is made of:
                          1. Classic Chorus
                          2. Classic Compressor
                          3. Classic Delay
                          4. Classic EQ
                          5. Classic Flanger
                          6. Classic Master Limiter
                          7. Classic Phaser
                          8. Classic Reverb
                          9. Classic Auto-Filter

                          Andres
                          Andres

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                          • #73
                            Okay, here we go...this one is called "Leadfoot" because, well, it'll be obvious. The very beginning has the VC-64 bypassed, then the super-heavy kick comes in. This one routes the EQ in front of two compressors in series, with a big boost in the kick region.

                            Remember -- if this downloads with a .PHP suffix, remember to change it to MP3 in order to hear the file.
                            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                            • #74
                              This one is very similar to the previous example, but the EQ range has been shifted to the snare. Listen to just how much the overall sounds changes just by changing this one parameter.
                              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                              • #75
                                This uses the "Special FX" patch mentioned earlier, for a really squashed drum sound. Note the "sucking cymbal" sound at the beginning.
                                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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