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Mastering with Voxengo:
Exceptional Quality - Strange Names

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Why Voxengo?

And why the strange names?

Some things will remain mysteries so I’ll de-mystify the first question...


Why Voxengo?

And why the strange names?

Some things will remain mysteries so I’ll de-mystify the first question...

Long Ago...

In the early days of vst plugin software and particularly, high-quality mastering software, choices were limited. It meant either Universal Audio and Waves, typically. These were highly praised. And also quite expensive.

Voxengo had the distinction of being mentioned in the same breath as these other companies. Very favorably. And still do. The quality is on par with these industry standards.

But they were affordable. And hassle-free...

It also dedicated its efforts to producing a number audio mastering plugins.

Today, Voxengo continues to refine and update its software to an extremely high degree. Still affordable. Still hassle free. Many of the plugins can now be found in the lists of top mastering houses across the world.

The Brains Behind Voxengo

That would be Aleksey Vaneev. Much of his designs are based on his research into transients. He’s applied this research to produce impressive sample rate converters, saturation tools, noise reduction tools, and mastering software like the highly praised limiter - The Voxengo Elephant.

He’s also very friendly and approachable, responding quickly to individual emails.

All his plugins have a fair degree of tweaking built in to them. This can be definite downside when one is on the clock. But the included presets are good starting templates and very appropriate for mastering.

And he always takes an un-conventional, unique avenue to the interface and operation of his designs.

He also provide a number of highly useful free audio software tools, which I’ll outline later.

So What Do We Have?

Absolute professional quality. And strange names...

I’ll start with the 'standard' mastering chain. There are two equalizers I’m fond of for mastering:

  • HarmoniEQ
  • CurveEQ

Like all their plugins, these feature the now almost-universal mid side option, where relevant.

Voxengo Harmonieq

HarmoniEQ provides many options for some very pleasing phase coloration. It also provides an oversampling option as do all the plugins on this page. The main characteristics of this plug-in are the harmonic enhancements it provides – this is definitely not what I'd call a transparent equalizer. But for certain mixes I absolutely love its unique magic.

Voxengo CurveEQ

CurveEQ is a linear phase EQ. The mid-side operation lets me give a nice subtle lift in the image of a master without losing the impact of the bass and kick in a unique. (It also has one the less stranger names...)

It includes a curve matching option, something rather popular with DIY-ers. This lets you analyze a source audio file's EQ spectrum (say from a commercial CD) and apply settings to another file in the hopes of magically transforming the mix into a likewise result.

It’s a nice theory. But it’s a decent enough option to have for analysis of tricky projects.

Stage Two: Compression

Honestly, I can’t think of a worse name for any mastering software than Polysquasher! But by way of extreme compliment, it does the opposite of what it's name implies.

Voxengo Polysquasher

Polysquasher is a wideband (single band) mastering compressor. And I'm amazed at how far I can push a signal into this plugin and still hear music without a squashed, distorted sound.

This was the first plugin in my experience to feature a live gain reduction trace. This was incorporated many, many years later by a number of other designers notably iZotope and Fab Filter. Always great for verification.


Imagine a multiband compressor on steroids and you have Soniformer. You also have something that has no counterpart in the analog world.

Voxengo Soniformer

I prefer to think of this as a spectral compressor as opposed to a multiband compressor. The range of control this software gives over a mix is phenomenal. In addition to being able to compress (or expand) various frequencies with their own attack & release times, it also has a mid-side operating mode. This is very useful when I need to correct a sibilant vocalist without interfering with the drum cymbals' spread, for instance. (Another way for yours truly to save you a time-consuming remix)!

Other unique options give me the ability to gently balance badly offset stereo levels on a frequency basis while maintaining the focus of the centered elements of a mix. (Also saving you the time and expense of a remix if you ever need it).

Only Nugen Audio’s StereoPlacer offers greater control than this.

Stage 3 - Finally - Without Limitations

Voxengo's Elephant has seen a heavy adoption by classical and mastering engineers and with good reason. It’s name is probably inspired by a combination of the Waves L-series of limiters; and the resulting large sound limiters can give you. I could be wrong...

Voxengo Elephant

I really began to appreciate and respect the resources available in this tool when sitting in on a session with my friend and colleague, Frank Lockwood of Lockwood ARS. He was having trouble with an important musical passage distorting. I noticed that the oversampling option on Elephant wasn’t on and suggested turning it on. We tried 2 times, 3 times and 4 times options with no success. It was only when engaging the 8 times oversampling option that we achieved the success we wanted.

As this experience illustrates, oversampling is an important element in preventing inter-sample overs and distortion on final masters.

The Elephant limiter is definitely an intense piece of software. It has numerous options for its release stages. It includes several different filters for DC offset removal - important for getting maximum distortion-free loudness from a master.

And in the true spirit of a finalizing plugin, there are many dithering methods with noise shaping options for CD and Internet delivery.

Personally I'm rather fond of the 'punchy' presets. They’re a great starting point for tracks that need that certain kick and - well - punch.

Without Noise

Reduce. Noise. A name that actually makes sense....

Voxengo Redunoise VST

Redunoise is one of the most configurable pieces of noise reduction software available. It too has a number of truly unique parameters I’ve not found anywhere else. This offers specialized control when cleaning up delicate material transparently. This plugin really taught me the intricacies of how noise reduction works. Very similar in its operation to the Soniformer, the only thing it lacks is an adaptive threshold.

Without Paying - Legally!

Voxengo provides a number of extremely useful free audio software tools. For mixing engineers as well as mastering engineers.

Voxengo Span Free

Great for test results, Span is a plugin no mix engineer should be without. Giving feedback on levels, it also provides info on phase and frequency balance. Strap this across the master buss and you’ll reassure yourself instantly when you’re ready for mastering.

Voxengo Sound Delay

Sound Delay is just what its name says - a delay plugin. With control to the nth degree. I find this very useful in my work to correct azimuth errors after transferring open reel tape and cassettes. Correcting this ensures that the transfer is ready to be transformed into a successful master.

Voxengo r8 Brain Free

r8brain free is the younger cousin to the r8brain Pro - Voxengo’s industry standard sample rate converter.

Voxengo MSED Plugin

Finally the mid-side-encoder-decoder - MSED - plugin has helped me produce a few successful masters that would have otherwise not been possible.

Without Reservation

All quips about strange names aside...

Voxengo has quietly but surely built a solid reputation for itself by providing an exceptional line of mastering tools.

Backed by great and responsive support, exceptional quality, Voxengo is a name I can count on to create first-rate masters.

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