We all have our favorites, and in this post I want to share my top 5 from Audio Assault! Let’s countdown, starting from number 5.
It’s hard to see what’s so special about FreakQ 305 on the surface, because it looks like a typical eq with an analog eq workflow. But when you dive in, you’ll find an eq that actually adds harmonics within the bands you’re boosting or cutting. It’s common knowledge that you can’t boost something that’s not there, such as top end on dead bass strings. This eq isn’t held to those boundaries, because it’ll add harmonic content into that boost so there’s actually something there to boost!
FreakQ 305 has two shelves, 3 bell filters, and a high and low pass filter. You’ll find the EXACT same number of bands on the stock Pro Tools EQ, plus you’ll be able to dial in the intensity of the boosts or cuts with the Scale control. This allows you to turn FreakQ 305 into a parallel eq without needing to route parallel channels! Remember this when automating, as you can make your guitars midrange a bit more intense during the chorus and dial it back for the verses.
The filter section gives you two slope shapes, from gentle low and high pass filters to resonant filters that emphasize the frequencies near the filter! This is one mean little eq, and anyone with a basic knowledge of how to use an EQ should be able to get up and running with it quickly. But for those with more advanced knowledge, once you know what’s under the hood of FreakQ 305 you’ll see there’s a lot more going on than you might first believe!
Saturation and distortion is something I like to play with in my mixes. In subtle amounts, you can get a natural yet transparent gluing effect with some sonic enhancement. A bit more brings natural sounding compression. Extreme amounts allow you to get quite creative. Head Crusher will give you all of that, and anything in between.
I find it effective to add a trim plugin before Head Crusher when I want to use it very gently. It’s already going to be hitting the signal hard, even with the drive at 1, so a trim control allows me to dial that back and get the more gentle flavors this plugin is capable of. That said, the real magic happens when you start to push Head Crusher. Switching from Crush to Torture doubles the amount of signal being fed into Head Crusher’s circuit, quickly taking you from warm to on fire. Switching from Clean to Aggressive activates an output limiter, allowing you to push your sounds into a brick wall after they’ve been crushed.
I find the tone control quite useful, as well as the low cut and high cut filters. These allow you a lot of control over the resulting sound, and can be quite useful when mixing drums. And by the way, it’s quite possible to use only head crusher on your drums. I’ve done so with great success! Check out this mix from Project DIVIDE, which used unprocessed Room Sound drums into Head Crusher.
When I first got “The Punch”, I was playing with parallel drum chains while developing a set of parallel drum busses that I use when mixing. I threw it on a parallel bus, fed my drums into it, and was greeted with drums that seemed to punch right out at me! It was instantly added to my template, and I’ve never looked back.
The Punch is essentially a transient designer mixed with a blended EQ that removes muddy frequencies, allowing the points of the transients to punch through without bringing boxiness to the party. It’s great directly on your tracks, but since I like to use parallel processing a lot, I’ve found it really sings in parallel on just about anything.
Seriously, for $10, you can’t go wrong here.
Bulldozer is a great sounding high gain amp inside of a full amp rig. You get your typical low and high gain channels, as with many amp models, while also getting control over placement of the virtual microphone on the virtual cabinet. You can use Bulldozer as an IR loader too, but honestly I don’t. Bulldozer’s virtual cabinet emulates amp sag, which is the sound of the speaker moving and breaking up when you palm mute a high gain power chord. The IR loader doesn’t include that feature, and after playing the virtual cabinet I just prefer how it feels.
The thing I like about the tone of Bulldozer is the transparent attack. It lets the impression of the transient through, allowing lots of definition in your picking in spite of the gain level! It doesn’t turn into a sonic sponge, which isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a textural thing. I personally LOVE the way Bulldozer compliments the high gain tone of Dominator!
Dominator gives you the same full amp rig features that you’ll find in Bulldozer. The big difference is the amp head, which delivers a more scorching sound than Bulldozer that is more to my personal liking! I love Dominator blended with Bulldozer, but frankly I can live with Dominator all by itself as the only source of guitar tone.
Just like with Bulldozer, Dominator emulates quite convincing amp sag in the virtual speaker cabinet. On both amps, you can move the pedals either in front of the amp head or into an effects loop. You don’t get overloaded with parameters, you get to just dive in and get cranking without much fuss. The biggest thing that makes me prefer Dominator to Bulldozer is the overall tone I get from the amp head. One isn’t better or worse, but Dominator is more to my personal tonal liking. It’s perfect for my high gain rock/metal guitar style!
There you have it, at least for now. This list may need updated in the future as my workflow evolves and new tools emerge from Audio Assault! What are your 5 favorites from A.A? What do you like to use them on? What are some cool tricks you’ve discovered that weren’t extremely obvious? Leave your answers in the comments, and we’ll see you in the next article!