Fabfilter: Total Bundle
The Fabfilter Total Bundle is an extremely impressive collection of several high-quality effects plugins used for professional mixing and mastering. The Total Bundle comprises: The Pro-C compressor – Pro-G Gate – Pro-L Limiter & the Pro-Q Equalizer. When first loaded each of the four Fabfilter effects are graphically reflected through a unique and innovative user interface. Each interface is divided into sections with dynamic parameters, timing adjustment knobs and a cool animated level display with precise peak level meters. Fabfilter’s ‘Style’ features supply the Pro-C, Pro-G and Pro-L with a switchable choice of finely tuned characteristics, such as: Classic – Opto – Clean – Vocal – Punchy – Tranparent and more – designed to give each Fabfilter plugin a particular flexibility often needed in the mix and mastering environment.
All Fabfilter plugins carry a top quality feature set with excellent presets which clearly demonstrate the flexibility of each plugin. However, where the Fabfilter plugins really impose their quality is through the unparalleled advanced signal processing feature specific to each plugin. Both the Pro-C Compressor and the Pro-G Gate, for example, deliver unrivalled advanced side chain routing options (Expert Mode) for mono, stereo and mid-side processing. When used in ‘Expert Mode’ the Pro-C and Pro-G combine with a steep 48dB /octave HP-LP filter specifically designed for processing targeted frequencies within the signal chain. Pro-C is very musical and getting to know the mix routing options is a must because it is a plugin which transcends the boundaries of standard compression techniques. Thoughtful manipulation of the Pro-C’s Mid-Side mix level and gain parameters in combination with the Input & Wet/Dry mix pan knobs can reveal outstanding spatial effects. It should be duly noted here, that the Pro-C Compressor is a firmly established professional grade plugin used by many producers worldwide following its well received launch a few years ago. However, the Pro-G Gate is the latest addition to the Fabfilter processor effects bundle and is a powerful work horse of a studio tool. Coupled with Pro-G’s brilliant side chain is a quality processing engine delivering program dependent Expander/Gate algorithms, including Upward expansion capable of four times linear phase oversampling.
Some of the key components of the Pro-L Limiter of the Fabfilter Total Bundle include a ‘K-System’ metering based upon the Bob Katz protocol for setting mix & mastering calibrations. K-System metering shows both Peak & RMS levels at the same time which is a great visual assist when maximising levels of a mix. Pro-L also offers Inter-Sample Peak detection (ISP) which calls upon the meters to show only the Inter Sample Peaks within a signal which is very useful when addressing quality issues of the Digital/Analog converters at the final output render. The dedicated ‘Advanced’ menu ribbon in Pro-L houses: Four ‘Style’ options – Lookahead – Attack – Release and Channel Linking of the transient stage with an independent release for added user control over any short peaks which may occur in a pre-master mix. To help preserve as much of the audio resolution at the final render Pro-L is completed with detailed Dither and Noise Shaping settings that specify dither/quantization at 24 – 22 – 20 -18 – 16 bit depth and a choice of three noise shaping algorithms. Using Pro-L is relatively simple when compared to the feature set of the Pro-C, however, as a limiter it really delivers. There is a lot more to Pro-L than meets the eye and in the final analysis, it sounds fantastic. My particular favourite algorithm is the ‘Transparent’ setting which provides an immaculate clarity and presence to a mix. There is a preset I use as a regular starting point called ‘Transparent Ceiling MTK’ (MTK refers to the preset author) under the ‘Dance & Electronica’ preset sub-menu. What this does to the Low end and Highs of a mix is totally amazing and has to be heard to be believed – so go check out the trial version!
The Pro-Q Equalizer has an excellent and highly interactive EQ display with switchable spectral analysis and a unique on-screen EQ band soloing function. The behaviour of the spectral analyzer can be modified by a series of options which include: Pre EQ monitoring – Post EQ – or a combined dislay of both Pre & Post EQ values. Closer examination of the frequency peaks when working with Pro-Q is made possible through a display range menu which zooms the display into specific focused areas based on the 3 preset amounts of 3dB – 6 – 12 – 30dB. The advanced ‘Channel Mode’ of the Pro-Q provides the option to affect the stereo or mid-side signal. Pro-Q can process at zero latency or can be switched to function as a Linear Phase EQ with assignable latency options to choose from. EQ bands are added into the display window with a simple click and drag. The shape of a boost or cut in a frequency range is shaped by an EQ type selector knob which provides: Bell – Low shelf – Low cut – High shelf – High cut and Notch filter options with independent gain and Q adjustors per band. The Low Cut and High Cut filters of Pro-Q offer a choice of inter-changable EQ slope values ranging from 6dB – 12 – 24 – 48dB/Octave. A stroke of Fabfilter genius in the Pro-Q is the plugin’s ability to split a frequency band into left & right channels and assign different EQ treatments for each channel. So cool!
Pro-Q is easy to use and is so flexible as either a channel insert EQ or a mastering grade EQ. It is very capable of performing precision EQ surgery when needed or, of creating a massage of broader frequency ranges using its Linear Phase algorithm. It is a ‘go to’ plugin for me because of its flexibility and precision in use, its graphic representation and absolute control over the frequency spectrum by way of Pro-Q’s stereo and mid-side EQing options and frequency band splitting capability.
For greater ‘hands on’ interaction the parameter knobs of every Fabfilter plugin can be assigned to a MIDI controller using a simple MIDI Learn method. The plugins also provide a very useful A/B – Copy function which is great for quickly switching between two different states of a plugin.
Sonically and visually Fabfilter plugins are refreshing and they ultimately bring forward a whole new dimension of user interactivity and signal processing quality to the sound stage. Through the use of the superb side chain processors in Pro-C and Pro-G you can acheive some amazing results. I’m a big fan of plugins which empower you with the creative parameters for exploration, the sonic properties of which, breath life into a sound. Make no mistake, the mix routing capabilities of the Pro-C and Pro-G certainly fulfill that role. In the Pro-Q you have a gem of an EQ that provides tons of flexibilty towards the detailed frequency shaping of a sound and with the mastering grade qualities and the unique metering systems of Pro-L bringing up the noise – you have a formidable set of signal processing power in the Fabfilter Total Bundle.
Brought to you courtesy of Soundwrx Digital