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Entries in review (148)

Boz Digital Labs +10dB Review - Compex Vocal Stresser Plug-in Emulation

Boz Digital Labs are fast becoming well known for good quality, low cost plug-ins. They make some great plug-ins at good process and have a really nice ‘small-developer’ attitude.

Eli Krantzberg has just done an extended review, including their cool new A/B sound examples over at our sister site Logic Pro Expert. Eli writes;

2014 is a great year to be a DAW owner. New plug-ins of all sorts keep coming fast and furious. Some are hardware emulations, some are hybrids using existing technology to enhance older paradigms, while some are completely new and unique. And the prices are lower than ever. Enter Boz Digital Labs; one of the great new crop of up and coming plug-in developers. They have just released a new plug-in called +10dB, a faithful recreation of the rare and sought after Compex Vocal Stressor. This unit has a unique sonic signature and vibe to it; and has not already been emulated to death by every other plug-in developer. And no, it is not just another hardware channel strip emulation. With the absence of physical hardware restraints, Boz Digital Labs have gone beyond simple imitation. The plug-in comes in three flavours. Dynamics section only, Equaliser only, or the bundle that combines them together into a single channel strip. Here I’ll take a look at the bundle version.

It’s a great review and well worth a read, check it the Boz Digital Labs +10dB review over at Logic Pro Expert

Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt Review - Thunderbolt 2 Audio Interface For Mac

Updated on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 11:08AM by Registered CommenterPro Tools Expert

We sometimes get people saying how amazing it must be to get gear to review all day. To be honest it’s a bit like working in a chocolate factory, the novelty soon wears off and in fact it can have the opposite effect and leave one cynical and unmoved by most new offerings.

So when Apogee announced the new Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt, I even surprised myself by how excited I was after reading the specification. As I’ve already said I’m rarely excited by new product announcements, but I wanted to be the one reviewing the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt.

Why? It seemed to tick all the boxes for what I needed in terms of an interface, I was days away from moving to a second Apollo, but neither the Apollo or the Apollo 16 had exactly the I/O I needed for my workflow. Thankfully I have an Apollo Twin and a 4-710D, as well as an Octo card so I still have an Apollo tracking workflow when I need it, I couldn’t live without my UAD stuff.


  • 30×34 Thunderbolt™ 2 Audio Interface for Mac
  • 8 Mic preamps with up to 75 dB of gain and Advanced Stepped Gain circuit
  • Thunderbolt connectivity for ultra-low latency (1.1ms round trip with Logic Pro X)
  • Front panel Guitar I/O with Class A JFET inputs, dual mode re-amp outputs
  • Talkback functionality with built-in mic and control button
  • 2 PurePower headphone outputs
  • 10 separately assignable analog inputs
  • 16 analog outputs of premium Apogee conversion
  • Core Audio optimized DMA engine frees up Mac CPU for plug-ins and software instruments

However the large I/O count on the new Apogee Ensemble along with the flexible connectivity looked like it was designed just for me…how often does that happen? I have to be honest and say that I’ve become less and less happy with my Avid Omni interface, not because of the sound, but because I’ve always seemed to be working around it to get what I need, including if you recall having to replace a noisy fan. The only other reason for owning the Omni was that it gave me an easy way into Pro Tools HDX, which to be frank for a composer using a lot of virtual instruments (of which there are zero running AAX DSP) was becoming somewhat of a waste of time and money for my needs - I use the Apollo solution when I need to track with plug-ins at low latency. I’m not tracking orchestras or mixing Hollywood blockbusters so I’m really not going to miss the HDX. This is not to say that HDX is not of use to some such as large studios or sound stages, but in my experience and for my needs it offered no real benefit. I’m also unable to use it when working in other DAWs as they can’t take advantage of the DSP, so I wanted an interface that was not just limited to a single application. A recent survey we ran showed that around two thirds of us are using two or more DAWs in our work so interfaces need to be able to deal with that.

Anyway back to the review, getting hold of the new Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt was proving difficult, right now it’s easier to find unicorn poo, they seem to be in short supply. However thanks to Richard at Eastwood Sound and Vision one finally arrived at Pro Tools Expert HQ.

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Drobo Mini External Hard Drive Review And Tested With Pro Tools

More and more of us are working from home, many in a single room with no machine room where we can put our noisy and hot gear, it’s all in the same space. I’ve been on an ongoing mission to try and create a one-room ‘silent’ studio, regular readers of the blog will have seen my other efforts to achieve this, such as replacing the fan in my Avid Omni interface, hard drives are another area where noise can emanate.

I’ve been a listener of the ‘Mac Observer’s Mac Geek Gab Podcast’ for several years. One product they have been waxing lyrically about for several years is the Drobo. I’ll let the Drobo people explain how it works.

In a nutshell the Drobo connects to your computer or network and provides redundant data protection without the complexities of traditional RAID. Dynamically expand storage any time. Drobo currently holds up to 36TB, depending on the model, using any combination of 3.5” disk drives or 2.5” drives for the Drobo Mini. The Drobo family offers Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Ethernet, iSCSI, and other connectivity options, so you get the data protection you need along with the speed and interface you want.

Through a series of upgrades and other buying decisions I’ve found myself with 3 2.5” SSD drives and so I decided to see how the Drobo Mini would work in my studio environment. In short the Drobo Mini is a 4 bay 2.5” drive host with Thunderbolt and USB3 connectivity, so it seemed the ideal Drobo for me to test. In addition to the 4 drive bays in the front the Drobo has a 5th mSATA SSD drive bay on the base where you can install an mSATA SSD. Drobo call this the ‘Accelerator Bay’ and claim it can give the Drobo a further speed boost.

Setting Up The Drobo Mini

I got it out the box, then I popped open the front cover and pushed and clicked the drives into place, no tools required. One thing to note, once you push your drives into place then as soon as the Drobo starts up for the first time it will format them, so make sure you’ve got all your data off any existing drives before you do this. Then I plugged in the external PSU and had a small battle to line up the PSU (it’s one of those one’s similar to the one used on the UAD Apollo Twin that locks in place) and getting them in can be a bugger. This was in fact the hardest part of setting up the Drobo.

Then I downloaded the Drobo Desktop software and installed it on my Mac.

I connected the Drobo to my Mac Pro ‘Trash Can’ via Thunderbolt and then powered it up. After a cool little light show the Drobo lit up with the Green surround lights and blue legend at the bottom to tell me that all is well, and hey presto it showed up on my desktop.

Best of all it was running and super quiet - giving my ultra-quiet Mac Pro a run for its money in the silence stakes.

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Review Of Eiosis AIR EQ Premium Plug-in

Russ takes a look and listen to the new Eiosis AIR EQ from Fabrice Gabriel. He gives a full show and tell of the features and some of the things he likes about it. Is it just another EQ plug-in or is there something special about this EQ? Find out by watching this extended review.

They describe it as “AirEQ, Beyond Analog - AirEQ was designed with a vision of achieving musical, technical and sonic excellence.

Simple, intuitive and quick to use, AirEQ is a musical equalizer plugin at its best.

The Water and Fire curves, as the Character and Strength parameters were adjusted by ear, so mixing engineers can focus on one thing - making music sound great.

With its unprecedented Character and Strength parameters, Air and Earth bands, ease of use, intuitive and musical features, AirEQ is an equalizer which is truly unique in design.

Additionally, with its transparent and precise sound, zero-delay processing and low CPU, you will always get the best quality processing without any compromise.

That’s why AirEQ is ideal for Mastering, Mixing, Post-Production, and any situation where getting the best musical EQ sound, fastest performance, and intuitive workflow is of the utmost importance.

Plugin for AAX32 & AAX64, VST3, VST2, AU, RTAS, OSX and Windows, 32 and 64 bits formats. Check our Hardware Requirements before purchase.

Watch the Review Of Eiosis AIR EQ Premium Plug-in here

Bad Cat Sample Rack Review

Eli Krantzberg from our sister site Logic Pro Expert has reviewed the Bad Cat Sample Pack that we currently have on our Deals page.

The Bad Cat Pack is a collection of samples (6 Sample Packs Bundled Together £42 – 33% Discount) put together with loving care and attention to detail by Marcus Huyskens of the Bad Cat Media Group. What makes these instruments of particular interest is that they not only sound great and feel great to play, but are also created with sound design in mind. The interface and controls provided are set up to allow simple and intuitive shaping of the sound with extremely imaginative and pleasing results. They are all beautifully recorded with great mics and preamps, and are set up with plenty of velocity layers and round robin samples. I’ll describe each briefly, and then show you them in action.

Click to read the rest of the review on Logic Pro Expert.

Direct Sound Extreme Isolation EX-25 Headphone Review From Ableton Live Expert

Our friends over at Ableton Live Expert have a review of the Direct Sound Extreme Isolation EX-25 headphone.

There are situations in the studio (or when home recording) when you’re trying to record a live source, like a guitar amp, drums, or vocals, and you can’t differentiate the room sound from what you’re hearing in your headphones.

It is an excellent review and well worth a read.

You can read the entire Direct Sound Extreme Isolation EX-25 Headphone Review here

Munro Sonic Review: The New Version Of The Egg 150 Monitoring System

We are very pleased to have the first review of the first re-engineering MunroSonic Egg 150 monitoring system. You may remember these innovatively shaped monitor speakers first came out a couple of years agao when acoustics guru Andy Munro and Sonic Distribution’s James Young & Phil Smith first collaborated on the Egg system under the sE Munro brand. 

Recently when they were looking at ways to improve and refine what was already a monitoring system that had received critical acclaim, with a search around the world to find the best manufacturing base that brought them back to the UK where the story began as well as a decision to rebrand as Munro Sonic.

What Has Changed?

Although the system has the same base form factor and function - the Egg 150 has an active speaker system with two passive speakers each housed in unique egg-shaped chassis combined a custom designed amplifier with a new amplifier circuit board design, improved chassis metal-work with a much thicker front panel and recessed higher quality knobs. There is a redefined mid EQ section in which they have broadened out the eq curve following development input from producers and engineers already using the original system.  The systems are now truly “Made in the UK”, being designed, manufactured, marketed and distributed in the UK, a fact that the MunroSonic team is very proud of.

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Review Of Slate VMR Virtual Mix Rack - Vintage Plug in Rack

Russ takes the new Slate Virtual Mix Rack plug-in for a spin. Find out what he thinks of it and see it in action.

Slate say: The VIRTUAL MIX RACK continues the Slate Digital tradition of providing the absolute most authentically modeled analog sound in a digital audio plugin.The ‘VMR’ includes four world class mix modules, including two classic equalizers and two versatile mix compressors, with more modules to be developed.

The ‘VMR’ operates as a Virtual 500 series rack with hot-swappable modules, putting your whole processing chain in ONE WINDOW. This allows you customize your own channel strip, with signal flow following the modules, in any order you choose. Mix and match filters from different EQs. Chain an EQ before or after your compressor. Moving modules around is easy, fast, and creates no break in audio playback. Audition signal chains faster, easier, and in real time with the Slate ‘VMR’

So is it buy, try or walk on by? Watch this review of the Slate VMR Virtual Mix Rack to find out.

PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 May Be The Ideal Recording Solution If You Have A Live Act Too

There’s a lot of audio interfaces on the market, some offer a lot of features for the home studio, but for some live is an important part of their entire workflow and having to invest in both live and studio equipment can get costly.

A few months ago I purchased a PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 to use as part of my home studio, in some ways as an expensive mix solution for creating videos. Over time I’ve really started to love it and can see the potential it has for those working in a band who may be looking for a mixer and also a recording interface. It’s not a new product, but for the money (it streets for less than £800) and this is what you get for your money.

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Review Of Massenburg DesignWorks® MDWEQ5 Parametric Equalizer Plug In For The UAD Platform

Russ takes a look at the new Massenburg DesignWorks® MDWEQ5 Parametric Equalizer Plug In For The UAD Platform.

Described as “A unique, ultra-powerful EQ, the Massenburg DesignWorks MDWEQ5 plug-in for UAD-2 and Apollo interfaces provides crystal clear processing at the highest resolutions. The MDWEQ5 plug-in is accurate, precise, and ear-tuned by the man who invented the term, “parametric EQ,” George Massenburg.”

See it in action and find out what Russ thinks of it.

Watch the review of the Massenburg DesignWorks® MDWEQ5 Parametric Equalizer plug In For The UAD Platform