FreeG (free) is a channel strip plug-in with extensive metering and customization options. It is intended for use as a track insert effect and is available in AU, VST, and RTAS formats for the Mac and VST and RTAS formats for Windows. FreeG won't make your next song a hit, but it can save you lots of time when you're mixing it. You can download FreeG from the Sonalksis Web site (www.sonalksis.com).
FreeG is a straightforward channel strip with a large level meter and gain fader on the left and a variety of handy controls and readouts on the right. You can place the meter pre- or postfader, and you can adjust meter ballistics on FreeG's back panel. The gain fader has normal and fine modes, and you can also set the range of the fine mode on the back panel. Pan and prefader trim knobs, along with bypass, phase-inversion, and mute buttons, round out the active controls. Digital readouts display the highest peak and instantaneous RMS values, which are also indicated by red and yellow arrows on the meter. Clicking on the digital readouts resets them. FreeG is useful on any track, but its metering and large-scale slider make it especially handy on the master.
While you're visiting the Sonalksis Web site, have a look at the first two offerings in the new TBK series of creative plug-ins ($99 each or $149 bundled). Both effects are centered around a big, shiny knob (hence the BK in TBK) that does most of the work. A small input-level meter/slider combination and three even smaller mode switches round out the interface. Dubbed Creative Filter, TBK1 is billed as the world's first adaptive-resonance filter. It uses psychoacoustic modeling to constantly adapt resonance to frequency and saturation level. TBK1 provides highpass, bandpass, and lowpass filters with 12, 24, and 48 dB slopes and four resonance modes: Low, Medium, High, and Rude. The knob controls frequency, and a handy button toggles the calibration between frequency and pitch.
Digital Grimebox (TBK2) is a degradation plug-in capable of bit crushing, downsampling, and clipping distortion. A lowpass filter is available to tone down the grunge. When downsampling, the knob sets the downsampling ratio, whereas in bit crusher mode it controls the bit depth. In either mode, you can restrict the knob to integer steps. Both TBK effects sound great and live up to their 1-knob-job design for ease of use (see Web Clip 1). Slap one or both of them on any track, twiddle or automate the knobs, and keep one hand on the FreeG gain fader just in case.