Download of the Month: Blue Cat Audio Freeware

Electronic Musician's download of the month is Blue Cat Audio Freeware Plug-ins for Windows.
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Blue Cat Audio (www.bluecataudio.com) is a developer of custom audio plug-in effects for the PC. Its plug-ins emphasize audio analysis and repair, with phasing, flanging, and chorusing thrown in for good measure. Individual plug-ins are in the $30 to $60 range, and several bundles are available at bargain prices. You can have everything the company offers for $370.81, and you can get a free taste by downloading its Freeware Plugins Pack. Don't be fooled by the price; there's a lot to like in the free bundle.

At the top of the list are three great-sounding time-based effects: chorus, phaser, and flanger. The chorus and flanger come in mono and stereo flavors, with the latter adding stereo panning of separately processed channels. The chorus and flanger are LFO-modulated delays with maximum delay times of 10 and 30 ms respectively, and the flanger has separate feedback and feed-forward controls. The LFO rate ranges from 0 to 20 Hz with a maximum modulation depth of 100 percent. The phaser is a multistage notch filter with up to 32 stages and similar LFO modulation. Each of these effects is capable of subtle as well as extreme processing (see Web Clips 1 and 2).

For analysis and repair, you get a sophisticated frequency analyzer and a suite of plug-ins for gain control. The gain plug-ins include peak metering, overall gain control, and separate gain control for stereo and mid-side channels. The frequency analyzer has a huge window for displaying instant- and peak-frequency spectra in real time. You can zoom in the display vertically and horizontally to zero in on a specific frequency and level range. One nice touch is the window's Opacity control, which allows you to see your sequencer tracks running behind the GUI. The Threshold control is another unusual feature; you can force the curve to update only for peaks above a threshold that you set.

Of course, the purpose of giving away these plug-ins is to encourage you to buy their more full-featured brethren. But each plug-in is useful, and the frequency analyzer is exceptional. Furthermore, they all come with PDF manuals, onscreen help, basic presets, and multiple skins.