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Protocol: A Guide to the Collegiate Audition Process for Trombone Book
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Slate Digital FG-X Virtual Mastering ProcessorHow did the FG-X Virtual Mastering Processor come about? Two years ago, Steven Slate and expert algorithm engineer Fabrice Gabriel started working out the concept for a digital audio process that could increase the level of a mix without altering the punch and dynamic feel, or make the mix sound squashed and lifeless. They started by researching saturation curves and their effect on various types of transient material. After several months of study and hundreds of listening tests, they made some fascinating discoveries. What they found, was that in order to transparently add level to a mix, a dynamic and intelligent transient saturation system would have to be developed.New advanced algorithms were created to execute the extremely complex communication system that would be needed to properly perform the new dynamic operations. A new algorithm was formed, and the process was named "Intelligent Transient Preservation," or ITP. ITPThe ITP process uses a complex look-ahead detection algorithm to analyze oncoming transients and groups of transients. It then optimizes a specialized set of saturation curves for that specific transient. For example, if the ITP algorithm's look-ahead identifies a kick drum transient, it will optimize the algorithm so that it preserves low frequency energy. For a snare drum transient, it will optimize the algorithm to preserve upper mid-range punch. The result is the some of the most transparent means of level maximization the industry has ever heard, with extreme transparency, and no degrading artifacts common to peak limiters.ControlThe FG LEVEL maximization plug-in offers the user complete control of their mix, before and after the level maximization process.The TRANSIENT function contains two controls to fine-tune mix transients. Lo Punch allows you to transparently increase the level of the low energy in a mix, increasing the punch and dynamics without altering other elements of the mix. DETAIL adds more clarity and focus to the transients, perfect for buried snares or kicks.After the ITP-powered GAIN maximizer, there is a function called Dynamic Perception. This amazing new process can make the final master sound more dynamic, open, and punchy, even though the master has much more limited dynamic range then the mix.ITP Global ControlAt the right of the Dynamic Perception control lies the ITP character slider. This control sets the global character of saturation curves that the ITP process will produce. The higher the slider, the more the transients in the mix will sound harder. The lower the slider, the more the transientswill sound smoother. This great feature allows you to further customize your master with extreme precision.True Audio Mastering Quality CompressionSome mastering compressor plug-ins try to emulate vintage analog units and add color, harmonics, and different filters that change the way your mix sounds. In truth, most top mastering engineers use very little or no compression. When they do use compression, they use only the most transparent compressors that will not alter the tone or balance of the mix.The FG Dynamics plug-in is a true mastering quality compressor meant to control the dynamics of your mix in the most transparent way possible, not to color it with digitally modeled harmonics or distortions. The FG Dynamics compressor assumes that you have used your favorite color or tone compressor to achieve the sound on your final mix. It is the job of the FG Dynamics compressor to maintain that quality, not alter it. The advanced dynamics algorithm is so transparent, you'll wonder if its on.Quality TestedIn order to fine-tune the FG-X Virtual Mastering Console, Slate Digital has had some of the top mastering engineers in the world help them test out the algorithms to ensure that they work in the finest and most accurate way possible. The concept behind the FG-X Visual Mastering Processor:Imagine mastering your mixes without causing the lifeless, squashed, and over-compressed sound that has become so common in modern music. Everyone has been at the mercy of the "loudness wars" for over ten years now. Masters have become louder and louder, at the expense of the music becoming harsh and lacking punch and dynamics. One of the main causes of this epidemic is the use of the Peak Limiter to achieve increased levels in the mastering stage. Peak limiters attenuate transients and often reduce punch, stereo imaging, can greatly alter mix balances, and cause a fatiguing result to the ears.Some of the top mastering engineers have found ways to combat this sonic degradation by using techniques other then Peak Limiting. One of the more popular techniques is the use of saturation in both the analog and digital domain. Another popular method is clipping the front end of expensive A/D converters.However, both of these methods, while better then peak limiting, have their downfalls. Static saturation curves are not universal in their ability to sound good on all transients. Clipping greatly reduces low end punch and is very poor at retaining sub bass. Both static saturation and clipping have a small window of gain maximizing before audible distortion. And that's why the FG-X Dynamics Rack was created.
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