Is it possible to get the sound of a Neve Portico 5033, which in hardware form costs around $1725 in a plug-in costing $39? We got an email from a community member suggesting we check out the DDMF 6144 Eq, which is indeed a model of a Neve Portico 5033 for $39.
At Messe last week I was up late drinking with some of my fellow writers from other blogs and news sites and we all agreed that the constant “but does it sound like the hardware” is a little silly.
I have a dbx160 UAD plug-in and I also own the hardware, which I purchased after owning the UAD version, I have them for different reasons, some of it completely irrational and for the same reason I buy books and don’t own a Kindle – there are times when you simply want to grab a knob (cue Frankie Howard impression!)
We buy plug-ins for various reasons; cost, flexibility and portability and as technology gets better so do the plug-ins. If I had limitless funds and choice and din’t need to travel then I would probably grab the hardware all the time, again mainly for reasons you can’t show on a spec or spread sheet!
Please do not misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that any developer should be able to tell you that a plug-in is an exact model and then sell you a pile of code which does not resemble the real thing, what I’m saying is that trying to compare software with hardware is nigh on impossible, as even two pieces of hardware can differ, especially when you start talking vintage hardware.
So in reviewing this plug-in I am going to review it as it stands NOT as a comparison to the hardware Neve Portico 5033, partly because some people will swear blind that it sounds the same and other people that it sounds nothing like it – all that matters to me is does it sound any good?
We like to try and support small developers, not as some act of charity but because they don’t have the marketing dollars that big brands have, so if we can play our part in getting good stuff they do in front of a larger audience then we’ll do it.
The DDMF 6144 Eq Plug-in
As already stated the DDMF6144 EQ is an emulation of the Neve Portico 5033 hardware equalizer. It consists of the same layout design and includes;
- LF and HF shelf filter together with three peaking filter sections. These can also be used as low and hi cut filters.
- The center frequency of the LF and HF filter sections can be tuned and the gain can be set anywhere from -12 dB to +12 dB.
- The LMF, MF and HMF have both variable frequency and Q all three of them can be turned on or off.
- If you just wish to use the 6144 for added warmth then this can be done by simply inserting it into the path without adding any Eq.
In action the DDMF does what it says on the tin, offering a very nice sounding EQ that can be used for both subtle and extreme treatment without ever sounding harsh, even when pushed to extremes. I tested it on vocals, drums and bass as well as on an entire mix.
Pushing the input gain on the actual plug-in can also help to add some nice saturation to the sound, but as there is no output or trim control you will need to take care that you compensate for the added gain introduced by this.
The filters are particularly nice and can really help to clean up a mix when applied to the buss of drums, bass or guitars.
The claim of the unit being able to add warmth simply by being inserted into a channel is indeed true. Mike and I spent some time running various tones as well as noise through test gear to see if there was evidence of the harmonic content changing, there was. Although it is subtle when used like this there is some reduction in the top end and also around the mid helping to give some nice analogue warmth.
Having a variable Q on the LMF, MF and HMF is an added bonus on any EQ, helping to give either nice wide subtle lifts or narrow cuts to problem frequencies.
The DDMF 6144 Eq plug-in is an excellent little plug-in that belies its bargain basement price tag of $39. What is most impressive is that whilst it may not sound like a $1725 piece of hardware, which as I’ve already said is not what I’m testing, it is excellent value.
It hasn’t managed to knock any of my go-to plug-ins off the favourites list, but it does show that for less than $50 you can get a very impressive plug-in that will be useful on a multitude of sources.
As an added bonus it works in AAX and RTAS Mac and PC.
One thing is for sure, there’s a lot of good stuff coming from some of the independent developers that should give even the most cash strapped user some great tools to mix with… check it out. You can download a demo that will mute and insert sound and not allowing saving from DDMF. More here