Download of the Month: Crysonic

Crysonic utility effects plug-ins bring you professional sound and feel at bargain prices.
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Crysonic utility effects plug-ins bring you professional sound and feel at bargain prices. These VST plug-ins for the PC address spectral enhancement, stereo imaging, EQ, maximizing, and mastering. Mac OS X and RTAS compatibility are in the works. Prices range from $29.95 for the vintage saturator, nXtasy, to $94.95 for the 10-band maximizer, Spectra'Q. Bundle prices range from $89.95 for various pairings to $584 for everything Crysonic makes, and promotional discounts are frequently in force. You can purchase the plug-ins and download fully functional demos, which drop out every 30 to 50 seconds, from

The 10-band EQ Cry'Q will be the most familiar of these effects. Although it has the appearance of a graphic equalizer, each band is semiparametric; you can adjust the band's Q and shift its frequency up or down halfway to the next band. The band sliders have 12 dB of boost or cut, but using the ratio control, you can reduce that range to as little as 3 dB for finer resolution. Meters, which you can disable to save CPU, appear in the center of each slider. A Preserve Volume feature compensates for changes in perceived loudness, making A/B comparisons easier.

At the other end of the spectrum, Spectralive 2 and Spectralive NXT are the most enigmatic effects. They apply proprietary phase-coherent algorithms to add what Crysonic calls vitality to individual tracks or the whole mix. In other words, they're maximizers with a 5-band parametric EQ and a stereo enhancer thrown in for good measure. These plug-ins offer multiple spectral processes and multiple phase-coherent algorithms. Select one of each and tweak the knobs to taste, or choose from a large collection of mixing, mastering, and tracking presets.

Spectra'phy is my favorite Crysonic plug-in. It's a combination saturator and brickwall limiter that can sound as edgy or as subtle as you like. You set the limiter's threshold, ceiling, knee, and quality (from physical to digital) and then set the saturator amount. Simple and to the point, Crysonic's plug-ins are worth a listen.