Specter is a VST effect for Windows.

It was developed for mastering but is very useful on single instruments, groups or effects.

The main goal was to make it "transparent".

 

The main difference from other similar effects is that the input signal isn't split in bands.

The plugin continuously calculates a single response including all the modules and applies it to the input signal, thus avoiding artifacts coming from several effects in series and phase artifacts.

There are 4 inputs and 2 outputs, allowing mono and stereo sidechain (depending on the host).

 

includes 6 modules:

  • linear phase equaliser

  • multiband compressor-expander with sidechain and vocoding

  • stereo width equalisation

  • spectral limiter

  • convolution

  • brickwall limiter

also includes:

  • spectrum analyser

  • stereogram

  • mid-side balance

  • sample-accurate wet-dry balance

  • K-meter

 

click for an inside view

Linear phase equaliser - Spectrum analyser - K-meter

Multiband compressor/expander

Multiband compressor with sidechain

Vocoder

Stereo width equaliser - Stereogram

Spectral limiter

Convolution

Brickwall limiter

 

Specter VST effect for Windows.

Price: 279 euro.

(VAT or regional taxes could apply)

It can be ordered through PayPal to quintosardo@yahoo.it

Demo version available soon.

Specter is NOT copy protected. A customised version is sent for download upon order.

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Examples and sound samples

 

These examples have been extracted from the song "La Mia Sola Follia" by Jata Project.

The whole song is available in the mp3 player here: www.skstudio.it

These examples have been developed in Steinberg Cubase Sx3.

Sidechaining is done through multi-channel groups.

 

Mastering of a mix

Module 1 - Linear phase equaliser. Adjust the overall spectrum

Module 2 - Dynamics. Mode 1 - Multiband compressor/expander. Make bass frequencies more solid. Adjust dynamics for mids and highs. Increase dynamics for some hi-frequency attacks

Module 3 - Stereo width. Together with the mid-side slider, adjust how the stereo width changes for different frequency ranges. Adjust low range focus while enhancing width for high frequencies.

Module 4 - Spectral limiter. Set a ceiling curve to tame some bass frequencies, only where necessary. Make bass frequencies more solid and controlled.

Module 5 - Convolution. Load a compensation curve for room acoustics (it can be easily requested to us). Be careful, monitor equalisation makes sense only after room acoustics have been fixed (panels, absorbers, etc.)! Remember to switch this module off before exporting the final stereo master if you are using it for monitoring!

Module 6 - Brickwall limiter. Make sure to avoid digital overload, increase loudness. Choose your way between loudness-war and preserving dynamics. Use the K-meter for the best level-related monitoring (www.digido.com by Bob Katz and www.turnmeup.org are very interesting references).

 

A short part from the song,

unmastered.

Specter on.

Equaliser, dynamic multiple equaliser, stereo width equaliser, spectral limiter, overall width balance, brickwall limiter.

A snapshot from the dynamic multiple equaliser for this example. A snapshot from the stereo width equalisation for this example.
Mix_Original (mp3) Mix_Specter (mp3) Snapshot_Dynamics Snapshot_Width
 

Enhancing an acoustic guitar

Module 1 - Linear phase equaliser. Remove low frequencies and "thumps". Increase "air" with some dBs of gain oh high frequencies. Adjust midrange frequencies.

Module 2 - Dynamics. Mode 2 - Multiband compressor/expander with a single control and an overall response. Set a different spectrum for attacks, increasing mid-low and high frequencies. Make the energy in the guitar track control the eq. On every attack the equaliser jumps high. Attacks are more pronounced while sustain is untouched. We relate low-high increasing with loudness, so we can emulate dynamics with timbral changes.

Module 3 - Stereo width. Together with the mid-side slider, adjust how the stereo width changes for different frequency ranges. Automate the mid-side slider to make the guitar more present in some passages and more wide and far in others.

 

The acoustic guitar part, untreated.

It is a stereo part, includes DI track, close microphones and ambient microphone.

Specter on.

Equaliser, dynamic multiple equaliser, stereo width equaliser.

Attack is enhanced through dynamic equalisation.

A snapshot from the dynamic multiple equaliser for this example. A snapshot from the stereo width equalisation for this example.
Acoustic Guitar_ Original (mp3) Acoustic Guitar_Specter (mp3) Snapshot Dynamics Snapshot Width
 

Controlling the bass guitar

Module 1 - Linear phase equaliser. Adjust the spectrum.

Module 2 - Dynamics. Mode 1 - Multiband compressor/expander. Make bass frequencies more solid. Adjust dynamics for mids and highs. Increase dynamics for some hi-frequency attacks.

Module 4 - Spectral limiter. Set a ceiling curve to tame some bass frequencies, only where necessary. Make bass frequencies more solid and controlled.

Module 6 - Brickwall limiter. Limit the signal in the audio domain, making the bass still more "compact".

 
The electric bass, untreated.

Bass frequencies with large dynamic range.

Specter on.

The spectral limiter reduces the dynamic range on a spectral basis.

A snapshot from the spectral limiter for this example.

Here a flat limiting curve is used, but  the curve can be as complex as necessary (i.e. to limit specific ranges or to leave other ranges unconstrained).

Bass Guitar_Original (mp3) Bass Guitar_Specter (mp3) Snapshot_Limiter
 

Adjusting a drum track (bassdrum, snare)

Module 1 - Linear phase equaliser. Adjust the spectrum. Remove sub-bass frequencies.

Module 2 - Dynamics. Mode 1 - Multiband compressor/expander. Make bass frequencies more solid. Adjust dynamics for mids and highs. Increase dynamics for some low and hi-frequency attacks. We relate low-high increasing with loudness, so we can emulate dynamics with timbral changes.

Module 4 - Spectral limiter. Set a curve to let interesting frequencies increase while taming the others. reduce the amount of headroom used while increasing perceived loudness and dynamics.

Module 6 - Brickwall limiter. Limit the signal in the audio domain, getting more punch and loudness.

 

Vocoding the reverb

Module 2 - Dynamics. Mode 4 - Vocoder. Insert Specter in the effect channel, after the reverb effect. Connect the sub-mix for the reverberated tracks to input 3 and 4 of the plugin. Let the signal modulate the reverb (a common trick to enhance the reverb and make it more "harmonised" to the signal).

 

Here a strong reverb effect is gradually applied to an acoustic guitar track.

The reverb is purposely too much.

Here the same reverb is vocoded by the dry signal (sidechain is used).

Reverb tails are "harmonised" to the dry signal and "gated".

A snapshot from the vocoder for this example.
Reverb_Original (mp3) Reverb_Specter (mp3) Snapshot_Vocoder
 

Spectral ducking

Module 2 - Dynamics. Mode 3 - Sidechain. Insert Specter in a stereo subgroup the guitars are connected to. Set a target spectrum you want for the guitars when the voice comes in (to make some place for the voice in the spectrum). Connect the track containing the voice to input 3 of Spector and let the voice duck the guitars.