Black Rooster Audio – plugins for recording, mixing and mastering (EQ, compressors, tape emulation)

Black Rooster Audio – plugins for recording, mixing and mastering (EQ, compressors, tape emulation)

Black Rooster Audio are an audio software company from Germany that produce a range of premium quality mixing and mastering tools in AAX, VST and AU formats. The plugins cover areas such as harmonics, dynamics processing, EQ, amp emulation and special effects. They have a proprietary licensing system which simply requires your email and serial number to be activated online. 14 day trial licences are also available.

Whilst typical prices for individual plugins are outlined below (bundles are available), Black Rooster Audio are having a 7 week spring sale at the time of writing where one plugin will be 50% off for 7 days, discount codes are listed below.

For more information and product videos, visit the Black Rooster Audio website

Overview

I’ve created the above embedded album using a number of different plugins from Black Rooster Audio. I’ve created the album in two different DAWs using 2 very different processes. The first three tracks are melodic techno whereas the last three tracks are experimental techno. I’m very impressed with the ease of use and resulting sound quality in both DAWs. The effects work together very well and their flexibility means that they can be used in effects chains, mixing and mastering.

I found the combination of Magnetite, Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5 worked extremely well for mastering, especially in combination with VHL-3C during mixing. The VHL-3C was very effective at removing low end / high and and the combination of Magnetite, Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5 added depth, presence and warmth.

To summarise the processes and effects used, the album was created using Zenhiser’s Anodyne Techno sample pack. The first three tracks were created in MuLab 7 and the last three created in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3.

I’ve used a number of effects, in MuLab I used DW Drum Enhancer (Audified) on the drums; Blueface SC5 and Fission (Eventide) on the bass; SpecOps (Unfiltered Audio), Subvert (Cryogen) and H3000 Factory, Tverb and Blackhole (Eventide). They were mixed using VHL3C and VEQ-5.

In Hollyhock 3 I’ve used a number of the sampling / granular tools – groove slicer, groove mangler, sample grain player, joggle player and the Seslatero add-on. I’ve used a number of effects – VLA2A, VPRE-73 and VEQ-5; Cryogen (Glitchmachines), VHL3C, Cypress TT-15; H3000 Factory (Eventide). I also used Litote (Inear Display) and Type A (AudioThing) on the master.

All tracks were mastered in MuLab using Magnetite, Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5.

The plugins

I’ve used a lot of Black Rooster Audio plugins on the album but haven’t used all of them, namely VLA-3A and Blackface but will definitely be using them on future projects as they provide a great alternative to their VLA-2A and Blueface counterparts. That’s testament to how good these effects are, I created a sound that I really liked for the production of the album but there is still a lot of scope to create a diffferent sound with the plugins I used, make greater use of other effects on other projects or use different combinations of effects.

Magnetite

Black Rooster Audio’s homage to magnetic tape recorders emulates all the sonic aspects associated with analog tape: Class A recording and playback amplifiers, tape response and saturation, NAB pre- and de-emphasis EQs, the sonic effect of different tape speeds and bias levels, hiss and hum, adjustable wow and flutter feature that emulates frequency modulation (FM) due to motor speed fluctuations.

The GUI has a clean and classic look and feel. The power button is located on the left hand side and allows you to carry out a quick a/b comparison. Next to this are the tape selection options. There are 3 different types – black has the biggest low frequency emphasis, blue has a little more emphasis on high notes and red has the flattest response. Next to this is the noise button which enables or disables 60Hz hum.

The main part of the display is the input recording level and playback level controls and associated VU meters.

On the right hand side of the display are 3 bias settings and two tape speed options. The wow/flutter control adjusts the emulated motor speed fluctuations.

You can also click on the recording head to select the playback mode of the animation.

I love this effect, by not emulating a specific piece of equipment you get all the classic features of tape units which gives great flexibility. It has a superb warmth and solid presence. The different tape types and bias settings are subtle but distinctive and allow you to emphasise bass or high frequencies, for instance. I’ve used this for mastering in combination with Blueface SC5 and VEQ-5.

Typically priced at $89 (50% off from 31/03/18 – 06/04/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW14)

VHL-3C

This effect has 3 controls and an on/off switch. Built around a cascade of two constant-K filters the VHL-3C‘s analog counterpart – a sought-after processor from the early 1950s – comprises an entirely passive design with very musical and interactive pass filters. The VHL-3C allows you to effectively remove rumble, hum or harsh frequencies from your signals. Set both filter knobs to their extreme positions and you‘ll end up with a narrow telephone-line bandpass.

I’ve used this extensively during mixing to tame the low end of drums and basslines and some high end too. I really like how simple it is to use yet produces great quality results. I also used it on an effects chain for tracks 4, 5 and 6. I used the joggle player sampler in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 on a bassline and processed with Cryogen (Glitchmachines). A combination of VHL-3C and Cypress TT produced a very interesting filtering effect that also sat much better in the mix.

Not only is this a very great sounding filter, it’s also free!

VEQ-5

The VEQ-5 is inspired by one of the most famous and renowned equalizers in studio history – focussing on the power range frequencies from 200Hz to 7kHz it is aimed at cleaning up and sweetening vocals.

I didn’t use this on vocals but found that it added presence and depth to synth sounds. I also used it for mastering to add sizzle – that’s the name of a preset that is very aptly named.

Typically priced at $69 (50% off from 03/03/18 – 09/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW10)

VPRE-73

The VPRE-73 is a faithful emulation of a classic studio preamp. A component based circuit simulation approach authentically captures the sound and feel of the analog counterpart in all nuances. Every crucial part of the circuit, including the input and output audio transformers, the discrete preamp circuit, as well as the HF shelving filter band have been faithfully modeled.

I used this as part of an effects chain for a granulated bassline. I used VLA-2A which shaped the bass sound, this effect removed low end rumble and the VEQ-5 added sizzle. Each was quite subtle but overall they removed the bass ‘thump’, added clarity and enabled this sound to sit better in the mix.

Typically priced at $29 (50% off from 24/03/18 – 30/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW13)

Blueface SC5

This is a fixed threshold compressor accurately modeled after the original 70s Blueface version of a classic and sought-after VCA compressor. It’s a very capable effect, it can tighten sounds very well or equally do the opposite – separating and boosting component frequencies. It’s very versatile, it can be quite subtle or much more pronounced.

I’ve used this as an insert effect on ‘encapsulation’ to add presence to a bass sound which I then processed with Fission (Eventide). I’ve also used on the master to add presence and depth.

Typically priced at $89 (50% off from 10/03/18 – 16/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW11)

Blackface SC5

This is the brother to the Blueface SC5, it uses a slightly different compression behaviour, a different harmonic structure paired with a darker sounding audio-path and the option to feed in external sidechain signals.

Typically priced at $99 (50% off from 07/04/18 – 13/04/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW15)

VLA-2A

This is the world‘s finest emulation of THE opto electronic compressor of the late 1960s. Black Rooster Audio have put in many hours of hard work, calculus, engineering skill and heart into designing the most authentic native emulation of this unit to this date. Black Rooster Audio love to use the VLA-2A on drums, but it also performs outstandingly well on bass or vocals and carefully adjusting the compression really helps to make your signals shine and just sit in the mix.

I’ve used this in an effects chain on granulated basslines in tracks 4, 5 and 6. In combination with VPRE-73 and VEQ-5 it shaped the bass allowing the other two effects to remove ‘thump’, add clarity making the sound fit into the mix better.

Typically priced at $129 (50% off from 23/02/18 – 02/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW09)

VLA-3A

The VLA-3A is one of the most authentic native emulations of its analog brother from the 70s. Black Rooster Audio say this is their goto-compressor for vocals, but it also works incredibly well for bringing out the ambience on percussive material and helping to put some glue into your mixes.

Typically priced at $129 (50% off from 17/03/18 – 23/03/18 with the discount code SPRINGSALE_CW12)

Cypress TT-15

This is a guitar amp head emulation meticulously modeled after a very versatile, yet uniquely sounding low wattage amplifier. It has six intuitive controls that can produce clean through crunchy to biting, distorted sounds. It also has a simple 2×12 cabinet simulation that can be bypassed if you prefer other solutions or if you‘re feeding into an external power amp/cabinet stage.

I used the joggle player sampler in Sensomusic Usine Hollyhock 3 on a bassline and processed this with Cryogen (Glitchmachines). In combination with VHL-3C this produced a very interesting filtered effect that also sat much better in the mix.

This is a free effect.

The Canary

The Canary was designed to support you in creating the most powerful and convincing drums you have ever recorded or mixed. This plug-in let’s you expand and recover some fundamental aspects of the drum signal that may have been lost during the recording process or which haven‘t been there in the first place. These include tone, attack, sustain and some very basic filtering, which define the natural sound of the shell. You lost attack and impact through your recording? Your drum signals sound dull or not particularly powerful? The Canary is here to help you, synthetically adding those missing features, allowing you to refine and redefine your drums in the mix.

This is a free effect.

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