I was not disappointed. The wait was definitely worth it, and boy, am I ever ‘jacked up’ to bring you in on it and share my findings with you. For the very conservative cost of only £25 of her majesty’s British Sterling Pounds, this amazing performer, from ‘the other side of the Atlantic’, is a definite must-have. At the very least it is a ‘must-try’. I strongly recommend that you download the demo and find out for yourself just how ‘sterling’ this upstart is.
Since the mid 2000s, up to the time of this article (May, 2013), there has been a reinvigorated admiration for classic studio hardware staples. This includes everything “analogue”: Compressors, Equalizers, Channel Strips, Amp sims, Virtual instruments, and etcetera. Nevertheless, perhaps there is a point that many trenders are failing to realize.
Back in the day, when “Fairchild” and “Teletronix” compressors were being manufactured, engineers and producers weren’t hoping to create ‘vintage’, grungy sounds; rather, they were striving to create better, cleaner, and more distinct recordings. It is almost amusing to hear the remarks and read the comments made by many audio-community members who think that vintage, classic sounds automatically means ‘saturation’ and ‘color’. While it’s true that subtly-distorted analogue circuitry will please our ears with harmonics-enhancing after effects, this was not what the original hardware designers were intending. Saturation is a side-effect that can actually be detrimental to some musical genres.
It is from this intelligent perspective that OverTone have developed their carefully modeled plug-ins. Mr. Mike Start, the lead developer and purveyor of OverToneDSP, says it this way:
“Some emulations will attempt to add 'warmth' and 'grunge' that comes from components that are now 40 - 50 years old, whereas what I've set out to do is to capture the 'essence' of what made these units great *originally*.”
“New valve (tube) equipment actually has a really nice 'clean' and 'open' sound (when its not overdriven). So what you get is a Fairchild or a Pultec which is brand new; although it will have a traditional warm 'tube' sound when overdriven, just like the originals. There will be a difference between this emulation and other company’s emulations, just as there is a difference between a modern re-build of a Fairchild and a 'vintage' original.”
The small, downloadable 7.5 MB zip file contains 32 and 64 bit installers for both MAC and PC. Extract the zip file and install whichever version(s) are appropriate for your system. The downloadable zip archive is the actual, full version of the plug-in, but the plug-in is constrained to operating in demo mode until it has been authorized (unlocked) with a valid license file.
Upon purchase, a license/activation key will be delivered to your email inbox. To activate the plug-in, one needs to simply extract the license key and put it into the plug-in’s folder. e.g. “C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTplugins”
No Call/Challenge headaches and no dongles required. 5 STARS!
Each knob is clearly labelled and the crisp, anti-aliased typeface is legible and easily seen. The VU meters are accurate and responsive. While they do respond in real-time, they do so smoothly without erratic, “herky-jerky” movements.
Eye-pleasing attention-to-detail is observed in the “old” corner screws and amber-lit power indicator. I also want to bring to your attention that while the compressor is turned “off”, it is in true bypass mode and thus does not consume any stray CPU cycles.
The knobs have been programmed to mimic a weighted dial “feel” with a small amount of ‘inertia’. This programming design lends itself to a much more realistic “in the box” experience. There doesn’t seem to be a means of resetting a knob to a default value, but since the knobs are larger, and smooth operating, I’m not going to knock off any points. Mind you, I might make a subtle mention of it to the developer. D’OH! I just did.
As the user changes the position of a knob, the control’s value will be displayed in the status bar which is located in the upper left corner of the interface. Clicking on a knob will display its current value.
There is a built-in preset manager, but it contains only 5 presets. So? It’s an emulation of one of the world’s easiest to use compressors. Get over it. . . . *Bro. Charles grins and ducks.
Picture this. It’s 1969 and the studio owner finally let you talk him into springing for a Fairchild compressor/limiter amp. You hoist the 50 lb. piece of analog machinery into place. You turn it on. You let it warm up for six or seven minutes. You start to playback your state-of-the-art <--Stereo--> recording and suddenly realize more headroom and dynamics control than you imagined possible. Unfortunately, once you start to push it a little too hard, your tape suffers from nasty distortion.
So that’s what a 670 sounds like?! Note to self: Tube refit every 18 months.
I am stating for the record, here and now, in print on the world wide web for all to see; FC70 sounds like a pristine, analogue compression giant *outfitted with brand new tubes*. You can push it into overdrive, but man-OH-man, this is one versatile compressor that has some very serious “clean” vibe. Watch the video. This thing makes drums sound . . . incredible!
What CPU drain? This fine piece of United Kingdom ingenuity is tremendously well-programmed. Most nearly any up-to-date computer should be able to host this compressor on dozens of tracks simultaneously. 5 BIG, BRIGHT STARS!
Many computer users are spoiled with the ease-of-use that modern Windows and OSX provides. OverTone’s developers are the sort that specializes in hardcore, super-geek, C++ programming. Remember, OverTone is an extension of LinuxDSP. These chaps don’t simply install a new operating system and just click “next, next, next & OK”. Nah, mate. If the system needs tweaking, they optimize and recompile their Linux OS kernel. I used to be an assistant Linux sys admin. I can assure you, these guys know how to program efficiently!
*By the way, as a computer/networking tech myself, I mean the term “Super-Geek” as a compliment.
I am a proud supporter of OverToneDSP. Their products are very, very well crafted. They maintain and update their products whenever unforeseen bugs or quirks are reported. OverTone’s prices are very reasonable. The GUI engine is custom crafted and is fast, and attractive, while remaining light on system resources. Here is one reviewer that gives OverToneDSP 5 Stars and Two Thumbs Up.
- BEST-in-CLASS plug-in performance.
- Careful emulation of original H/W schematic and design.
- Very open, clean, vintage compression sound.
- Built-in preset management.
- Attractive user interface that closely resembles the original instrument.
- Smooth, high quality knobs.
- Easy-to-use & Easy-to-learn.
- Well-written, comprehensive user’s manual.
- Friendly, proactive product support.
- Regularly updated and maintained.
- No dongles, call/response challenges, nor invasive piracy protection overhead.
- 32 & 64 bit for both MAC & PC (AU or VST)
- This plug-in may make other Fairchild 670 emulations obsolete. *Grin.
For this and other OverTone goodies, visit the developer's web site.
Brother Charles is a freelance writer, Gospel music artist and minister. Charles had been a professional touring musician during the nineties; working primarily as a lead guitarist in the Canadian country music industry. Brother Charles is also involved with music production and quality home recording.
Intellectual Copyright - 2013 - All rights Reserved. This review may not be copied or reproduced in whole, nor in part, without express written permission from the author.
Listen to Brother Charles' music here: Charles Trax