|Fig. 1. The transient shaper (shown here) and exciter are greatly improved in Alloy 2.|
THE ALLOY 2 channel-strip plug-in incorporates
an 8-band paragraphic equalizer, harmonic
exciter, transient shaper, de-esser, limiter,
two dynamics processors, comprehensive
metering, and spectrum analyzer into one GUI.
Clicking on a processor’s associated tab opens
its GUI for editing.
New and Improved Alloy 2’s transient
shaper is much improved; I got an
excellent kick drum sound in multiband mode.
Boosting the high-frequency (2–20kHz) band’s
attack control enhanced the beater’s slap, while
increasing its bass band’s sustain (below 120Hz)
made the shell ring with booming reverberation.
Lowering the middle band’s (120–2,000Hz)
sustain control attenuated snare drum bleed;
conversely, boosting that band’s sustain control
provided a more “live” drum sound.
Activating one of Alloy 2’s two dynamics
modules downstream from the shaper, I dialed
in a 30:1 ratio with peak detection, 0.01ms
attack time and a hard knee. Adjusting the
module’s sidechain filter (new to Alloy 2) to
weed out bass frequencies conditioned the
compressor to react only to the beater slap.
That de-emphasized the kick’s attack, while
makeup gain made the shell thunder even
more. Lowering the module’s mix control
restored the beater’s punchy thwack, but the
shell still sounded easily twice as big. Huge!
Alloy 2’s improved multiband exciter
transformed a polite electric bass track into a
churlish, burping bad boy by letting me vary
the relative amounts of added harmonics
emulating tube, tape and “retro” (transistor)
circuits. (A “warm” mode—producing only
even harmonics—is also available.) I liked
adding bass-band retro excitation for a tight
bottom, tape-style harmonics between 200
and 950Hz to broaden the mids, and tube-style
distortion in the highest band to soften the
top end; being able to solo each band made
editing easier. Reducing the wet/dry mix control blended in some of the original signal,
preserving the track’s focus.
Activating Alloy 2’s limiter module—
downstream from the exciter—smoothed the
bass track’s level fluctuations and made it
sound fuller. I could also unlink the limiter’s
two channels on a stereo track for drum-room
mics, which Alloy 1 wouldn’t allow, to preserve
the soundstage’s width.
Going Solo Alloy 2’s versatile equalizer lets you
solo a frequency band, which was really handy
when hunting down harsh resonance in a female
vocal track; useful keyboard shortcuts speed
this process considerably. You can also solo a
frequency band in Alloy’s outstanding multiband
de-esser module to home in on offending
vocal sibilance, and drag a band’s low and high
crossover-frequency handles to narrow the
bandwidth to cover only the sibilant frequencies.
Chaining Alloy 2’s two dynamics processors
in parallel on the lead vocal track allowed
creating a blend of two different sounds. One
compressor was set to soft knee, 3.5:1 ratio, RMS
detection, high threshold and moderate attack
and release times to enhance density. The other
compressor was set to create audible pumping:
hard knee, 20:1 ratio, peak detection, low
threshold, and very fast attack and release times.
Combining the two processors gave the “stormy”
character I wanted without defenestrating the
vocal’s fidelity and dynamic range.
Only the Beginning There’s a lot more
to Alloy 2; it’s not just a channel strip—it’s
a channel universe, filled with processors
to color your world. You won’t need NASA’s
budget, however, to climb onboard. At only
$199 MSRP, Alloy 2 is a steal.
Michael Cooper is the owner of Michael
Cooper Recording in Sisters, Oregon (www.myspace.com/michaelcooperrecording),
and a contributing editor for Mix magazine.
STRENGTHS: Sounds great. Feature-packed
and extremely versatile. Rock-bottom
LIMITATIONS: Nothing major.
$149 street, $79 upgrade
from Alloy 1