The elusive ingredient we all always seem to be searching for is the perfect emulation of analog circuit components and characteristics. Specifically, console inputs, transformers, tape machines, and tape saturation, are emulated to add harmonic distortion, phasing, crosstalk, and other hardware-based anomalies. Recognizing the absence of this in Logic’s plug-in arsenal, Apple recently introduced two tools to fill the void.
First are the new Vintage EQs introduced in version 10.4. Each of the three models offers the ability to turn off the EQ section and allow the signal to run through the Drive stage at the output of the plug-in. The second, also introduced in the 10.4 update, is buried within the new Multi Effects plug-in Phat FX. The Distortion module, when used sparingly, brings the above-mentioned qualities to the signal flowing through the plug-in.
The problem with these two solutions though is that they are relatively heavy on the CPU. Subtle analog emulations work best when you put them on all tracks and/or subgroups and don’t push any one of them too hard. The idea is that an accumulation of subtle differences results in a not so subtle difference to the track overall.
There are various third-party plug-ins that all do the job, with varying degrees of complexity and CPU demands. My favorite, that I recently discovered thanks to my logic-pro-expert colleague Andy Cherna, is a plug-in called True Iron by a small new company called Kazrog.
What Kazrog Says About True Iron
While line transformers were originally intended to provide isolation, they have unique and unintended side effects that happen to sound pleasing to us - adding harmonics at a low level ("warmth") to the original signal, without ever introducing obvious harmonic distortion until pushed significantly past their impressive headroom. In True Iron, we've chosen to emulate two go-to transformer models from the Powers Music collection - both of which have their own unique signature sounds.
In USA mode, True Iron emulates the UTC 108 X, and in Euro mode, the Malotki 4001B. These transformers add weight, heft, and girth to your mixes and masters. The plug-in features adjustable strength, input impedance, wet/dry ratio, and a special “Crush” control to add fat transformer saturation to tracks and buses. Plus, the CPU usage of the plugin is low enough that you can add it to every track or bus in a mix for added virtual analog warmth across your entire mix.
What do We Think About True Iron
True Iron is so simple to use that the default settings when calling it up barely need to be changed. The interface is simple and intuitive. The two modes (USA and Euro) have slightly different sounds to them. So, despite initial appearances, there is a lot going on under the hood of this plug-in.
Basically, this plug-in does what it advertises beautifully. It adds a lovely thickness and warmth across the mix that, I hate to say it because it is so cliche, really does impart that old-school analog console kind of vibe to the mix. Listen to these two audio examples to hear for yourself.
Each example contains a short excerpt of a full mix without True Iron, and then the same excerpt with it.
- It does what it advertises simply and elegantly, and sounds fantastic.
- Very reasonably priced at $40.
- Low on the CPU
- It’s a “set and forget” type plug-in; easy to learn and use. And you don’t have to worry about getting it right. It's hard to get it to sound “wrong”
- It’s not free
I have tried many different analog and tape emulation type plug-ins over the years. Many of them excellent. True Iron, however, is my new favorite and will now be my goto plug-in to start off just about every channel strip processing chain with. I love that it is simple to use. In general, I have mixed feelings about the trend towards the simplification of modern plug-in interfaces. For me though, a plug-in of this nature is one that needs to be simple. Too many parameters, and there’s too much chance of overcooking the signal or getting it wrong.
Adjusting the one main Strength knob is all you really need to do here. Even doing nothing and leaving multiple instances at their default settings just plain sounds good! What more can you ask from a plug-in really? It does one thing, and it does it wonderfully. It gives you the opportunity to push it a bit harder if you want. And I think the inclusion of a mix knob is brilliant! You can push hard and then mix in the amount in parallel.
Kazrog offers a fourteen day fully functioning demo. I started with the demo and was sold after five minutes. Learn more about True Iron here.