Essentials – 2C Audio Breeze and Studio Devil Virtual Bass Amp Pro
What does a reverb plug-in and a bass amp plug-in have in common? More than you might think. Find out why here.
by A. Arsov July, 2015
This new Essentials column is about bringing back music to musicians. The objective is to find musical tools that can help us to concentrate on just music making – enough tweaking already! We look at gear that sounds better than most much of the competition, but which is also fairly inexpensive and always easy to use. Our motto: set it and forget it.
2C Audio Breeze and Studio Devil Virtual Bass Amp Pro
What do these two plug-ins have in common? Actually, it turns out to be more than you might think. But let’s start at the beginning. I get tired taking all my dongles with me whenever I go anywhere with my laptop. So, for that reason I started googling, trying to find some not-too-expensive, good-sounding, basic plug-ins that can give professional results on the go. Of course, being picky, I also wanted them to be simple to use and having quality suitable for use in a default template for almost any production. Move forward a few googling hours later (as it takes time to download all demos and to try them in various situations), I found these two. Back to beginning – what exactly they have in common? Both plug-ins are “plug and leave as is”. Both sound excellent even if you just leave them on the default preset and what’s more, both give better end results than many far more expensive competitors.
2C Audio Breeze
I’ve heard a lot of good things about 2C Audio reverbs in a past. After being frustrated with my dongle-dependent main algorithmic reverb, I downloaded selection algorithmic reverbs. I gave them a demanding audition, setting them in up in parallel as a main room reverb used for a whole arrangement, switching them on and off and listening how the whole picture was changing. This one was in the lower price range, but when I set wetness at 100% and just picked up the first appropriate reverb for that purpose, Rooms – Large Room 1, immediate gratification followed. That was exactly what I was looking for – a wide, finely-defined, smooth-sounding space without requiring excessive CPU.
The funny thing is that 2C Audio Breeze doesn’t have many functions. Actually you get nine basic controllers that you can tweak with appropriate buttons, additionally setting dry/wet ratios, width through a slider at the bottom and a cross slider for controlling how much of input signal will bleed from the left input to the right output and vice versa. Actually it controls the stereo effect, making it far more realistic. Those nine basic controllers are Time, Predelay, Contour, Size, Shape, Density, Diffusion, Depth and Rate – actually, a very standard set of controllers that we can find on many well-known reverb plug-ins. In the upper part of the UI, we can find a nice equalizer where we can set few basic curves for low and high shelf. More or less, that is everything. Of course there are few other nice details, not so obvious at the first glance, like hi and low settings for Density and Diffusion, offering different results that are mostly noticeable on a tail of the affected sound. Also there’s the dump slider for equalizer and the not-so-hidden main meter and time display that shows you what is happening with your affected signal.
Actually all those things are explained in a very detailed manual that you probably will never need, as all you need is to set the dry/wet ratio along with choosing one included preset. At least, this is the main purpose of this reverb. Set it and forget it.
In a left upper corner you will find three main buttons, the second of which opens a browser where you can find a quite impressive number of presets, sorted by more or less familiar groups: Room, Ambient, Plate, Vocal, Drum and few others. There are enough presets to make most users happy for a long time, but not me. I never have enough so I googled around to see if there are any additional presets in additions to the ones that you can buy on 2C Audio site (the Simplicity expansion for $24.95 USD offering almost 200 additional, fine-tuned presets). After modest research I found some excellent free Lexicon simulation presets for Breeze compiled by some Breeze user called Den.
I found that some of those presets added even better and cleaner definition tracks, so one of those Lexicon presets ended in my default template project.
Regular price of 2C Audio Breeze is $124.95 USD and for that price you get something that proves to be fairly essential for all genres and is a great choice all less-than-expert users. It doesn’t use much CPU, it is ultra-easy for handling: set wet/dry ratio and then choose a preset, maybe tweak the predelay, and that is all you need to achieve very professional-sounding results.
At the moment 2C Audio is running a “Midsummer Dream Sale” discount offering you a fantastic price drop for all their products including Breeze. It can be yours for $74.95 USD. So, it is now or never. Take it and run as fast as you can – highly recommended even at the regular price.
Studio Devil Virtual Bass Amp Pro
Here is another “set it and forget it” essential product that I picked from a large number of similar products. I own almost all virtual amps that are on market at the moment, many of them having specialized Bass amps included and having an impressive numbers of presets. But somehow I remained unsatisfied with my live bass sound. Don’t get me wrong, they all sound good, but not so good in a crowded arrangement and not nearly the similar-sounding to many professionally recorded records. I was quite happy with all other instrument but bass was never right. If it sounded right on near-field speakers it became a bit too boomy on HiFi and almost totally disappearing on small speakers. Don’t preach to me about mixing techniques, I have tried them all. If the source sound is not OK, than all those techniques are mostly mission-impossible tasks. I know most of the theory, how to equalize bass in order to being at least a little present on a small speakers, how to cut it to being not too boomy on big speakers, etc. But after trying plenty of amps and additional effects, and plenty of them at that, still no joy.
I downloaded this plug-in just out of curiosity, inserting it on a bass channel on one of the songs from my last album. Without tweaking anything, suddenly it sounded right. Not to boomy, nicely present in the midrange, fat enough on a low end without being too far from the sound of all the other electric guitars, interacting just right with the live drums. For me, this was more than enough. I tried some presets, they are nice, but for me, the default one is just the right one.
This is a similar story to the case of 2C Audio Breeze: just the right amount of well-organized controllers. The main window is divided into several different sections. The majority is reserved for three main functions: Compressor, Preamp and Power Amp Limiters with additional drive that are set in two rows, every row being used for one of the two channels. Channels can be used separately or in parallel. Every of those three sections has basic controllers that are more or less standard on every virtual or real amp. In the lower part we can find a twelve-band graphic equalizer for fine tuning or even fixing the issues with your original tone. Then there are two effects, Bass Chorus and Reverb, and one of the most important elements, cabinet emulation with five different cabinets. We can also access a tuner. That is more or less everything. Actually it is more than enough to fine tune or tame some details. The most important thing is the main sound. Studio Devil Bass Amp Pro actually sound as those expensive real bass amps that you can hear on some live gigs. Bass is constantly present, without cluttering other instruments and without being lost during some extreme tonal fluctuations.
For $99 USD it is ideal solution for any bass needs. I used to have between six and eight effects in a rack for bass guitar, now there is just this one. After the first couple of hours of use, I replaced all effects on a bass track with just this one, mastering the whole album again.
And here is another similarity. Studio Devil is also having a Summer Sale discount, so during this month, it could be yours for just $59 USD, a bargain for such fine results.
Both effects proved to be the best in their range, even among much more expensive ones. It is not true that quality should be complicated and expensive. Both plug-ins offer fully professional-sounding results that can be achieved absolutely no effort. This is what music is supposed to be. Just plug and play. I hate the fact that I become a sound mixing and mastering engineer, a label manager, group manager and PR person, when all I wanna do is just to be a musician chasing girls. Those two plug-ins are a step closer to my primary goal. Plug and play, just plug and play.
2C Audio Breeze more info and demo clips here:
Studio Devil Bass Amp Pro here: