Mike Aiton is a freelance dubbing editor and mixer in the UK and has now set up his own Pro Tools digital studio, “mikerophonics” to offer his clients a personal and cost effective service. If you would like to know more about Mike Aiton then have a listen to our Podcast Interview where we chat about how his career has developed and also cover using Source-Connect. Mike also helped us with some research and tests on what video hardware to use with Pro Tools 11 and found that the AJA hardware performed so much better than his Blackmagic hardware. We also took a look at when to use dipped and undipped stems and his Pro Tools session template and workflow. Following on from that we thought it would be helpful to take a look at the plug-ins he chooses to use in his workflow So over to you Mike…..
Dialogue EQ - Fab Filter Pro-Q
For my dialogues (as it is native only and precedes the native Cedar DNS One in my chain), I love the look of the interface, it’s so clean and uncluttered. It is very easy to use with and works very nicely with the Slate Raven touch interface. I love the built in spectrum analyser. This plug-in sounds great and is insanely flexible, with up to 24 bands, zero latency or linear phase – but best of all, I LOVE the ability to be able to solo each band – it really helps you get the Q right.
Noise Reduction – Cedar DNS One
The “daddy of noise reduction”! The fastest way to whip out bad room tones, aircon or lighting whines on your dialogues. I tend to use the Cedar on all my dialogue tracks, post eq (so I can remove rumble and hiss), but pre dynamics. The Cedar works best on sources where there is a reasonable signal to noise ratios. Again – so fast with the Slate Raven touch screen.
Noise Reduction – Izotope RX3 Advanced
This suite needs no introduction. I really like the de-clip and de-crackle, and de-click modules too. I use the de-noiser when the original clip has a “noise to signal” ratio rather than a signal to noise ratio. I always keep a safety track with the un-rendered version on. When doing multiple renders with different modules, I am careful to name each step in the process – so that I can backtrack.
Dynamics: Sonnox Dynamics
With so much dynamic control available, it has long been my favorite dynamics plug-in. It has bullet proof automation too, which is so vital in post. The warmth control is magical – as is the post dynamics eq to add some sparkle back to the highs.
Some post mixers don’t use dynamics at all, which to me seems some form of foolish snobbery. There is no way you can ride the faders to millisecond accuracy. It is not just about levels though, I much prefer the sound of lightly dynamically controlled dialogue. It sounds fuller, fatter, tighter and all the over used adjectives that music mixers use – enjoy!
I have now replaced my trusty Sonnox suppressor with this as my go to De-Esser, as I find it quicker to get great results. I do think however that the Sonnox is more powerful as a general dynamic filter, as it has more control over the time constants etc, but it takes longer to set up.
Music & FX EQ: Sonnox EQ
The Sonnox EQ has great bullet-proof automation and a great, but flexible sound. Used to be my only eq at all, but now nudged out in my dialogue channels by Fab Filter Pro, due mainly to the spectrum analyser and the eq band solo function. Still heavily used in my music and FX tracks though.
Avid Time Adjuster
Lives on my stereo tracks as a convenient ‘low dsp cost’ way of adjusting differential gain/stereo balance.
Reverb: Exponential Audio R2/Phoenix Surround
One of the new kids on the block. Built by the former guru of Lexicon reverbs, Michael Carnes. “What he doesn’t know about reverb isn’t worth knowing”. Awesome jaw dropping sound, and very efficient too. Totally surpasses Revibe, and has a HEAP of great presets. X2 GUI button really helps on Slate Raven for touch control. Great use of mac short cuts to flick through presets. Intelligent design & totally lush.
Upmixing: ADL Penteo Pro 4
I have just reviewed this for Audio Media. I love this plug-in. Fast, efficient results that down-mix beautifully back to stereo – a total must for anyone in Broadcast. Programmed for multi-touch with the Slate Raven.
Panning: Maggot Spanner
I like this on my mono and stereo FX tracks, and my music tracks when working in 5.1, especially the up-mixed ones. Very easy interface to use on the Slate Raven.
Great for “whoosing out the up-mix” from mono front to 5.1, or from 5.1 and “whoosh collapsing” to a mono center. Spanner has the ability to help you pan over the picture overlay window, to make your pans very accurate. A little mentioned feature is its offline AudioSuite down-mixing ability. It’s DSP too – what’s not to like?
True Peak Limiting: Nugen ISL
Like all things Nugen, “it does what it says on the tin”. My set and forget true peak limiter for my stems
Loudness Metering: Nugen Audio VisLM
The easiest to use, most user customisable, trustworthy loudness meter in the business. period.
Peak Metering: PPMulator XL
Old habits die hard – my eyes and ears are very familiar with BBC peak metering, due to my BBC heritage. A bit of an anachronistic comfort blanket really.
Mastering: Nugen Audio Visualizer
Really liking this new plug-in. Again, like all things Nugen, very customisable and efficiently coded too, doesn’t bring a computer to its knees like Izotope’s Insight.
Not strictly a plug-in as it is either AudioSuite or stand alone software, but I use it most days. Once I have printed my stems, I measure my stems with LM Correct Analyze.
Monitoring: Neyrinck V-Mon
I use this in combination with my Avid Omni for monitoring. Having been weaned on a DFC and AMS Logic desks, I love stem monitoring. I have the ability to monitor my DX (my dialogue bus), or to monitor my DX print stem, and flick between them in PEC/Direct style monitoring - avoiding monitoring through record tracks (which is a big no-no for delay compensation).
A nifty Swiss Army knife utility for switching talkback on and off. It enables a feature rather sadly missing with an Omni (Avid, what were you thinking?).
I use this in conjunction with a 2Q wireless remote to give my producers a wireless TB switch – which they love. Take a look at my video review.
Again, not really an audio processing plug-in as such but another awesome Swiss Army knife utility. I use this most days, as an audio router; either as a way to get audio in and out of Pro-Tools, such as to Source-Connect Now or Source Live (so that producers can listen in on the web) or a way of getting audio from some other software into Pro Tools. Indispensable. Mike Thornton and I discussed it at length in an old Podcast Interview that was recorded using Source Connect.
I have many more plug-ins in my armory, some I like to use for sound design, like Audio Ease’s Speakerphone, the full Sound Toys Bundle, or Avid’s TL Space - but I won’t use them live in a mix as I can’t trust their automation. Others that are new and are still under test include the Nugen Stereoizer, MonoFilter and Stereoplacer. Check out Mike Thornton’s review of them here. Some plug-ins I am beta testing, so I can’t discuss at all.