Plugin Alliance and Black Box Analog Design have announced at NAMM 2017, the first of two promised new plugins, a novel tube-emulation plugin and their first collaboration. The HG-2 is a digital version of Black Box’s high-end analog processor with the same name and the HG-2 distinguishes itself from other tube-emulation plugins by using models of four very different-sounding tubes in series and parallel circuits to produce a wide range of tube colourations that you can use on full mixes and individual tracks.
What Is The Black Box Analog Design HG-2?
The analog Black Box HG-2 has a reputation amongst a circle of engineers and producers that use it on their mixes to make them sound louder, bigger and punchier at the same peak level.
In designing the HG-2 plugin, the coding masterminds at Brainworx first worked with Black Box to meticulously model the hardware unit’s tubes and transformers. They then added a host of powerful digital mods to greatly expand the processor’s tonal palette and range of saturation effects.
HG-2’s main circuit path includes separate gain controls for emulated 6U8A pentode and triode tubes placed in series between virtual transformers. The plugin’s new Density control drives both tubes harder without changing their relative balance or the plugin’s output level. A convenient Calibration menu mimics the effect of an internal trim adjustment in the original hardware, instantly modifying the HG-2’s high-frequency response to produce Dark, Normal or Bright colouration. A new, continuously variable Air knob adds sparkle above 10 kHz. Finally an added Mix control adjusts the HG-2’s wet/dry balance, preserving detail and punch on full mixes, drum subgroups and percussion tracks.
HG-2 also features a parallel Saturation circuit, which can be activated to drive the main circuit’s pentode and triode tubes. The Saturation circuit selects one of two virtual 12AX7 tubes—one voiced more aggressively than the other and a Saturation Frequency selector adds the generated 12AX7 harmonics to only low or high frequencies or across the entire audio spectrum. A new, continuously variable Input Gain control simultaneously trims gain for all active virtual tube circuits—Saturation, pentode and triode—preserving their relative balance and optimising headroom at the plugin’s output.
Eric Racy, Owner of Black Box Analog Design told us...
When we set out to create the HG-2 plugin, we knew that modeling something with multiple tube stages—interacting in an incredibly complex way—could only be tackled by Brainworx. Together, we emulated every part of the circuit, refining the behaviour until it sounded perfect. Not only does the plugin feel and respond just like the hardware unit, it also adds powerful controls not found on the hardware. We couldn’t be more thrilled!
Grammy Award-winning mix engineer Dave Pensado added...
The HG-2 plugin is destined to become a classic. The hardware unit seduced its way onto all my mixes for the last couple years, and now the plugin is finding its way onto multiple tracks like guitars, synths, vocals, drums and the stereo buss. The HG-2 plugin is a winner and should be in everyone’s arsenal.
Mixer/engineer Bob Horn followed up...
This thing is a must-have plugin, I ended up using 11 instances in total just in one mix, because it kept sounding great on so many things!
The Black Box HG-2 will be in AAX (both native and DSP), VST and AU formats for Mac OS 10.8 or higher and Windows 7 through 10.