Review of Elevate mastering limiter / maximiser plugin by Newfangled Audio / Eventide

Review of Elevate mastering limiter / maximiser plugin by Newfangled Audio / Eventide

Introduction

Newfangled Audio have partnered with Eventide to produce Elevate — a pioneering plug-in that elevates mastering technology using intelligent, adaptive technology that responds in real time to music. Elevate is exclusively available through Eventide (as an AAX/AU/VST plug-in for Mac OS X 10.7+ and Windows 7+) bundled with Newfangled Audio’s EQuivocate EQ plug-in with an MSRP of $199.00 USD.

For more in-depth information, including a free demo download, please visit the dedicated product webpage ;

Watch Newfangled Audio founder Dan Gillespie’s enlightening Elevate overview video;

See and hear how producer and recording artist Matt Lange has been using Elevate here.

Overview

Elevate is the most advanced mastering plug-in ever created. This unique multi-band limiter, human ear EQ, and powerful audio maximizer will increase the loudness of a mix while maintaining or improving its dynamic perception. It uses intelligent, adaptive technology that responds in real time to music, creating not only the loudest but also the best-sounding master.

Developed by Newfangled Audio, Elevate maintains subtle dynamics and improves the tonal balance of a mix. The adaptive limiter analyzes 26 frequency bands and alters the gain, speed, and transients for each band in real time. This results in a transparent, natural sound — no matter how hard it is pushed.

Elevate utilizes 26 critical filter bands modeled on the human ear. Each of the bands are spaced to give maximum control over how sound hits the eardrum. Draw curves, solo bands, and manipulate the transient attack for each individual band to bring out instruments such as kick or snare drums.

Elevate uses artificial intelligence algorithms to make it easy to get the best sounds, but users can still get under the hood to access as much precise control as deemed necessary. This includes control over tonal balance and transients inside the final limiting stage. Adaptive algorithms reduce audible artifacts while additional controls provide maximum flexibility with professional results.

Elevate in use

As with the EQuivocate plugin, the GUI has a clean modern look and is easy to use and navigate. Incidentally, if you want to learn more about EQuivocate, you can read my review.

The top section has presets, load/save options and a drop down offering colour schemes. Underneath is an ‘active’ button which switches the effect on and off. There’s also a very handy ‘gain lock’ option, useful when switching presets so you don’t get large volume or value changes. The match level is also useful to boost the dry signal when the plugin is inactive to compare the processed and unprocessed sound with the same amount of gain.

If you’re familiar with EQuivocate, the display will look very similar with the input vu meter on the left and output vu meter on the right of the display, both showing peak and rms levels. On the output is an ‘auto’ button. This option automatically compensates for any volume changes and it is sometimes useful to switch into manual mode so you can hear the changes to your audio.

The three options at the top – input/output, gain reduction and filter bank determine what is shown in the main display. The lower part of the display contains controls for the main parameters and associated sub-modules.

Selecting ‘main parameters’ displays the filter bank, limiter, transient and spectral clipper options. The limiter can use up to 26 bands. These are based on the ‘Mel’ scale which are the critical hearing bands. The gain control lets you set the amount of gain and the speed control acts as a sort of combined attack/release control. These both have adaptive options which means the limiter will act on each individual band. The value for adaptive gain determines how far (in dB) bands can differ from each other. The value for adaptive speed will adapt the setting for each filter band individually reducing artifacts. The ceiling control is the maximum output.

For more control over how the limiter works, there are filter bank, limiter/EQ and transient sub modules. The number of bands chosen for the limiter will determine the number of EQ bands in the filter bank sub-module. When you choose the number of bands, Elevate automatically places them on the Mel scale between the minimum and maximum values. Although they are fixed in terms of frequency, you have a lot of flexibility because you can skew the weighting of the centre frequency, solo individual bands and add or remove bands. Any changes you make triggers the custom mode and if you change the number of bands the limiter setting will be automatically updated.

The limiter/EQ sub-module allows you to adjust the gain for each frequency band and see the relative gain reduction being applied. You can adjust individual bands or draw EQ curves. This will be familiar if you’ve used the EQuivocate EQ plugin.

The transient emphasis can be adjusted from 0% to 100% and the adaptive control enables the transient shaper to work on each individual band. Clicking on the transient sub-module enables greater manual control over each band.

The spectral clipper is designed to clip the fast transients which pass through the transient emphasis section but also allows you to add up to 12dB of distortion based gain. Elevate applies this according to the shape curve shown on the clipper sub-module.

Elevate comes with 55 presets to get you started. Some of these are excellent in their own right but are more useful as a starting point to tweak to your own requirements or you can start from scratch.

Elevate is a fantastic plugin, it has an extremely impressive sound and despite the internal complexities is easy to get to grips with. When I started using Elevate I wasn’t sure if it would suit my ambient / downtempo style of music because some of the presets produced a very loud resulting sound. This just highlights why you can’t rely on presets, spending a little time to get to grips with Elevate, I quickly found a more suitable preset that I tweaked to meet my requirements. I have used Elevate to master my latest two albums, 259e and veirteiliger satz. I’m very impressed with the results, I can see that I will be using Elevate on a lot of future albums and songs.