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iZiKKO

Pro Channel vs. VST Plug Ins

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Hi guys! I have been studying the Pro Channel lately and I'm getting a bit impressed!  How would you evaluate the Pro Channel components against some of the best free VST plugins? For instance compare the Pro Channel's EQ to CM Equa 97 or DDMF IIEQ Pro? Or, compare the Pro Channel compressor module to Vice One from Ignite etc? Quality wise, as well as burning CPU, RAM and other resources? It seems that I could well do without additional VST plugs when similar features are already available in the Pro Channel? What are your thoughts on this?

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Well, the PC EQ is easy and already there. I use it all the time.

There are heavier EQs that I own. Expensive ones. But I definitely work the Cakewalk PC EQ hard.

I use all kinds of different FX from all kinds of different makers, but the PC modules are easy and convenient. Also, the Console view shows the power button light that shows if the gain in to any PC module is too hot. For this reason, when I drag VSTs to the PC, I often give each one its own FX chain so that the peak indicator (PC power light) will tell me if there are any gain staging issues.

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I tend not to compare them to be honest - they either do the job for that track, or they don't. Personally, they do the job most of the time for me.

As far as a comparison of quality, they're easily as good as commercially available ones - especially the EQ.  CPU & RAM wise, they're very light.

I wouldn't say I use the stock ProChannel modules exclusively though - there's always a track that needs a different colour or style of compressor.

The biggest plus for me though, is the convenience. Having it there on the left hand side with all the knobs available makes workflow so much quicker than opening up individual plugin windows.

Also, you can have the best of both worlds by using FX Chain presets:

 

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The compressors emulate specific classic hardware units, and as far as I'm concerned, they hold their own with other emulations I've tried.

You can spend more money and what it will get you is usually either more faithful emulation of the old hardware's quirks and coloration, or more versatility as far as added controls, or both.

Vice One, if I remember correctly, doesn't try to specifically emulate any of the compressors that the ProChannel ones do, so it's hard to say.

As far as using resources, the ProChannel modules  seem to be light by comparison with  the fancy 3rd-party ones.

Whether you can do well without other compressors, in my opinion, yes, but that would include the fact that you also have the Sonitus fx compressor at your disposal. There are also many, many excellent 3rd party freeware options if you want coloration and "mojo." Keep an eye on the "Favorite Freeware" thread.

Also, BandLab have other, unreleased ProChannel modules from Sonar Platinum, and we can hope that someday they  include them in CbB.

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Gswitz said:

Well, the PC EQ is easy and already there. I use it all the time.

Yes, the first thing I noticed was the excellent PC EQ! Very powerful tool!

Edited by iZiKKO

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I like PC EQ very much. Especially the hybrid mode with the automatic wide boosts and narrower cuts. Would use pro channel all the time for everything except that when you buy expensive VSts kind of feel obligated to use them instead so you don't feel as if you've wasted money.

would love to see PSP adapt their SQUAD retro EQs and some of their compressors to prochannel. 

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1 hour ago, Starship Krupa said:

Vice One, if I remember correctly, doesn't try to specifically emulate any of the compressors that the ProChannel ones do, so it's hard to say.

I thought Vice One offered a bit more features (and quality?) than the Pro Channel compressor. I would probably continue using that one mostly. 

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PC EQ beats any free EQ I've ever seen.

Both ReMatrix and B-Reverb are top notch

Tape, Channel Emulation good (but expensive alternatives sound better, IMO)

The compressor is ok, but a number of Paid compressors I'd argue are a noticeable improvement (if for nothing else versatility).  

Pro-Channel as a whole is fantastic and can easily produce pro quality results in the right hands.  I'd love to see more effects and options added as the format certainly beats VST windows.  

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I'm not in studio right now, and I've never done this myself, but can't you customize a PC? I mean, can't you add your own modules? Am I way off?

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Cakewalk can wrap one or more plug-ins in an FX Chain.

An FX Chain preset has buttons and knobs that may be mapped to the controls of the plug-ins in the chain.

An FX Chain preset may be load in the FX Rack and ProChannel. The FX Chain UI display is determined by where it is loaded.

Regular plug-ins added to the ProChannel are automatically wrapped in an FX chain.

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26 minutes ago, razor7music said:

I'm not in studio right now, and I've never done this myself, but can't you customize a PC? I mean, can't you add your own modules? Am I way off?

yes. You can save and load pc configurations.

You can also create project templates with the pc set up however you like.

You can create fx chains mapping visible controls on the pc to pots and buttons in 3rd party vsts.

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17 hours ago, Brian Walton said:

PC EQ beats any free EQ I've ever seen.

It is excellent, and the one I use most, but if you dig deeply into Meldaproduction's MEqualizer, it does just about everything that the QuadCurve EQ does, plus way more, if you start digging into the deep features. Try the harmonics for one thing, and it also throws in this really great sounding saturation knob, if you choose to access it.

It has the scaleable GUI, your choice of skins, color schemes, bunches of sonogram and analyzer options, mid-side, more stuff than I can list.

For me, the PC QuadCurve is my everyday workhorse, but when I really need to go to work on something, it's MEqualizer (or one of my paid plug-ins).

I'd have no problem being given nothing but what comes with CbB and putting together a decent mix. It would be more work, and it might not pop and tickle as much as if I had my favorites to work with, but I could get it done in style.

Everything else just makes it faster and more fun, and in some cases lets me work magic with challenging material like phone recordings.

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Not sure how relevant the answers about quality are in case you can not hear yourself... EQ is definitively not something "if you put a good one the result is magically better" 😉

From technical point of view, ProChannel EQ looks good and as other PC modules is faster/simpler to use in Cakewalk. The only negative aspect is portability. You can not "save preset" and use it in another DAW, which is a big advantage of all free plug-ins (since everyone can download and install them in any DAW).

Commercially speaking ProChannel modules was not developed as "free". Cakewalk (when it was a company) was asking significant money for ProChannel features and that was not so long time ago.

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17 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

It is excellent, and the one I use most, but if you dig deeply into Meldaproduction's MEqualizer, it does just about everything that the QuadCurve EQ does, plus way more, if you start digging into the deep features. Try the harmonics for one thing, and it also throws in this really great sounding saturation knob, if you choose to access it.

It has the scaleable GUI, your choice of skins, color schemes, bunches of sonogram and analyzer options, mid-side, more stuff than I can list.

For me, the PC QuadCurve is my everyday workhorse, but when I really need to go to work on something, it's MEqualizer (or one of my paid plug-ins).

I'd have no problem being given nothing but what comes with CbB and putting together a decent mix. It would be more work, and it might not pop and tickle as much as if I had my favorites to work with, but I could get it done in style.

Everything else just makes it faster and more fun, and in some cases lets me work magic with challenging material like phone recordings.

I'd agree the MEqualizer is very feature rich for a free EQ.  I didn't find the interface to be as welcoming but see value in using it for more surgical and unique tasks.

The Pro-Channel is straight forward and easy to dial in without a lot of clutter and its place in the PC adds extra value. 

MEqualizer would be my suggestion though if I was using any other DAW, excellent addtion to the thread.

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Oh, the eternal drawback to Meldaproduction's plug-ins. You put it perfectly. "Welcoming."

I literally learned how to properly use a compressor using MCompressor because the person who was teaching me thought the display was good for showing what the compressor was doing (and it is).

So I had been using it for years when one day I clicked on a button and an interface popped open and I learned that in addition to all the other stuff it can do, like letting you create a totally custom curve, it has a built-in EQ so that you can filter what the detector hears. Whoa. And that's been my experience with their products, I use them every day, but always with the feeling that there are features under the hood that I don't know about.

I actually like to read manuals to find out what the software can do, but Vojtech takes the same approach to documentation that he does to the software, where most of the manuals' text is shared between products. There are pages and pages on the preset management system, the A-B auditioning system, etc. but less on what is specific to the plug-in.

And there is usually either nothing or next to nothing about how to apply the effect to program material.

Especially in cases where the plug-in does something specialized and out-of-the-ordinary, like MAutoDynamicEQ, the feature set is incredibly deep, but I'm not making the use of it that I could be due to lack of documentation. Don't get me wrong, I'm getting more than my money's worth, but I know I could be working some magic with that thing if I knew how to apply it better. And not just that specific dynamic equalizer, but maybe someone's never owned any dynamic EQ before. It's not that common a plug-in after all. How about a little information on what they do and why? Yeah, YouTube videos, but that only goes so far.

My one business suggestion for Vojtech would be to raise the price of every plug-in by $5 and use the proceeds to hire Chandler to expand  the manuals, and include application information.😀

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On 7/11/2019 at 1:59 PM, azslow3 said:

EQ is definitively not something "if you put a good one the result is magically better"

For sure, one can ruin things pretty good with an EQ.

Most of them these days seem to have some coloration designed in, like the buttons in the Quad Curve. My preferred one is "E." There sure are a lot of Pultec emulations out there.

If there are any MEqualizer users reading this who haven't tried the "Saturation" knob, give it a try. Typical Vojtech, he doesn't make a big deal out of it, but it's one of my favorite saturation effects.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Starship Krupa said:

So I had been using it for years when one day I clicked on a button and an interface popped open and I learned that in addition to all the other stuff it can do, like letting you create a totally custom curve, it has a built-in EQ so that you can filter what the detector hears.

This is an awesome feature. Basically it's a sidechain input where you can apply eq. I do this with my hardware eq. The Rupert Neve Shelford Channel has this feature built in. You can high-pass what the compressor sees. This helps you avoid over-compression on the low end or triggering the vocal compressor with the bass player who's booming.

Another way to use the Melda EQ before the the compressor is if you want to use the compressor as an old school de-esser, you can just pass the S sounds heavily magnified. When your compressor is on a vocal track without much cymbal bleed it will work as a solid old-school de-esser.

Having the EQ right there in the plugin just makes it easier to do this.

Now practically, once you're done tracking, I don't see much advantage to this technique over using purpose built tools.

But live, there's no other way. 🙂 And I do successfully do it for folks performing live. Mic in to the RME and sent out on 2 channels. One has the EQ for de-essing or passing the bass so it only triggers on the vocal itself -- the other for compressing and sending to the mains. With a band it can be hard to get the vocalist to be loud enough to not have the bass trigger the compression all the time. Idk. My experience. For a zero latency de-esser, there's nothing like and eq and compressor.

The only drag is the hardware is heavy.

I too am a heavy Melda user. Probably my most common plugin is MAutoAlign b/c I use so many instances of it. But I also use Spectral Dynamics a lot. Now, to be honest, doubling back to the old multiband compressors that shipped with Cakewalk a zillion years ago you can get almost the same sound by setting the compressor to always-on at a low ratio. The technique is what Spectral Dynamics enforces as much as anything. I mean, yeah, it's better than a 6 band compressor, but idk how much better. A little. The idea is the same. If you don't own Spectral Dynamics, try the LP MB (do they give that away??) with a really low ratio as always on.

As another thought, it's awesome to perform with the fx in place. That way, you can control your S's as the performer, hearing the de-esser at work. You can sing into the compressor and work it. I think that's the coolest. I mean, it's great to apply fx after the fact that the performer didn't hear during the performance. That can help make a great tape. But if the performer can hear the impact during the performance, it can change the performance, enhancing it.

Edited by Gswitz
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The paid for EQ's from Melda are even more awesome.

A fair few of them can capture EQ from hardware devices, so you can emulate it in your plugin. You can also export it as a IR.

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20 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Oh, the eternal drawback to Meldaproduction's plug-ins. You put it perfectly. "Welcoming."

I literally learned how to properly use a compressor using MCompressor because the person who was teaching me thought the display was good for showing what the compressor was doing (and it is).

So I had been using it for years when one day I clicked on a button and an interface popped open and I learned that in addition to all the other stuff it can do, like letting you create a totally custom curve, it has a built-in EQ so that you can filter what the detector hears. Whoa. And that's been my experience with their products, I use them every day, but always with the feeling that there are features under the hood that I don't know about.

I actually like to read manuals to find out what the software can do, but Vojtech takes the same approach to documentation that he does to the software, where most of the manuals' text is shared between products. There are pages and pages on the preset management system, the A-B auditioning system, etc. but less on what is specific to the plug-in.

And there is usually either nothing or next to nothing about how to apply the effect to program material.

Especially in cases where the plug-in does something specialized and out-of-the-ordinary, like MAutoDynamicEQ, the feature set is incredibly deep, but I'm not making the use of it that I could be due to lack of documentation. Don't get me wrong, I'm getting more than my money's worth, but I know I could be working some magic with that thing if I knew how to apply it better. And not just that specific dynamic equalizer, but maybe someone's never owned any dynamic EQ before. It's not that common a plug-in after all. How about a little information on what they do and why? Yeah, YouTube videos, but that only goes so far.

My one business suggestion for Vojtech would be to raise the price of every plug-in by $5 and use the proceeds to hire Chandler to expand  the manuals, and include application information.😀

Have to agree with this. I use a lot of Melda plug-ins but have to rely on their video tutorials when it comes to gaining a deeper understanding of what is available 'under the hood' A newbie clicking the 'Edit' button on the GUI might need to have medic standing by...😮

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