Here's Eli Krantzberg's review of Newfangled Audio's Elevate, a new multiband mastering plugin that uses the same 26 band filter bank we were introduced to with the free EQuivocate plugin.
Newfangled Audio Elevate
Newfangled Audio's 26 paragraphic band EQuivocate plug-in grabbed everyone’s attention recently, with its MEL scale based division of the frequency bands based on the natural contour of the human hearing. Now, with Elevate, they are offering us a rethink on how a multiband mastering limiter works.
Elevate uses the same 26 band filter bank we were introduced to with EQuivocate, to separate the audio into frequency bands similar to the frequency curve in the human ear. It then uses adaptive algorithms to calculate optimal limiting, transient shaping, and spectral clipping for each band. Of course, these can all be tweaked manually as well.
Video - Elevate in Action
The Main Page contains all the important parameters for each of the functions. The sub-module pages are used to burrow in deeper to each section for more nuanced manual control. After setting the number of bands for the limiter to use, the gain and speed sliders are used for traditional ratio and release style limiting controls. The secret sauce comes in when the Adaptive Gain and Adaptive Speed functions are enabled.
The Adaptive Gain parameter allows the algorithm to adapt the gain applied to each frequency band individually, allowing more gain reduction to be applied to the loudest bands if the signal is near the limit. The value setting is the number of dB by which each band can stray from the others. In other words, this controls, or scales, the variations being calculated.
Moving the Speed slider up increases the dynamic response of the limiter. The Adaptive Dynamics parameter adapts the attack, release, and look-ahead parameters for each filter band, greatly reducing pumping and breathing artifacts as well as perceived distortion.
FilterBank and Limiter/EQ Sub-Modules
Use the FilterBank page to customize the MEL scale frequencies. Individual bands can be added, widened, removed, or soloed. Curves can be drawn with the mouse. The Limiter/EQ page is used to manually adjust the gain per band. They can be adjusted individually or drawn in a curve like fashion as well.
Look-ahead style mastering limiters tend squash transients and reduce the dynamic impact of music. Elevate alleviates this problem by re-emphasizing these transients and driving them into a clipper stage. The Transient Emphasis slider allows you to compensate for the squashing effect by allowing fast transients through the limiter or even emphasizing them for a more explosive sound.
To the left of Transient Emphasis is a button which allows you to deactivate this part of the algorithm. The Adaptive Transient parameter allows the Transient Emphasis engine to be adapted to each filter band individually. The Transient sub-module page is used for manual adjustments on a per band basis.
The Spectral Clipper allows you to clip transients, or even drive the entire signal into it. The Drive parameter allows you to increase the Limiter output into Spectral Clipper to increase loudness and distortion. It does this according to a gain curve determined by the Shape parameter. The Shape parameter changes the shape of the gain curve from soft to hard.
Elevate's user interface has all the modern conveniences we've come to expect from modern limiters. The Gain Lock button is a nice touch. It prevents sudden gain changes when toggling through different presets. The Match Level button allows for constant gain when activating/bypassing the limiting so as not to be distracted by level differences when auditioning the effects of various settings.
Input into the plug-in is easily adjusted at the top of the Input meter. The Output meter offers another optional stage of protection against volume jumps when it's set to automatic. Make sure to set it back to manual though before processing any audio. The scrolling input/output, gain reduction, and Filterbank metering offers extensive and detailed visual representation of what the multiband limiting plug-in is doing.
Newfangled Audio is a new company doing all the right things. Straight out of the gate they have re-imagined equalization with EQuivocate, and now multiband limiting with Elevate.
I can't wait to see what they come up with next. This is definitely a plug-in developer to keep your eye on!
Elevate costs $99 through October 31, 2017.
If you have Equivocate (still free until October 31st) you pay $79!
For more information, visit https://www.eventideaudio.com/products/plugins/mastering/elevate-bundle