This set of 16 plug-ins works in RTAS (Pro Tools LE), HTDM (Pro Tools HDTM/TDM), VST (Cubase, Nuendo), and AU (Logic, Digital Performer) and will run on MacOS X, Win98, NT, 2000, and XP. It seems like they've covered a lot of bases, and six more plug-ins have been added since v1.0 of the bundle. Overall, a lot of these plug-ins kinda look like Tube-Tech gear, with blue finish, black knobs, and retro metering-nothing flashy but easy to read and use. I ran most of these in sessions and decided for this review that I'd go through and mention highlights for each one. All were used and tested in Pro Tools LE (6.2.3) running on a Mac G4 with a Digi 001. Ready?
The Brick-Wall Limiter BW-2S should be self-explanatory. The scary thing is, there's no meter, just a pair of tubes behind a grille that glow more the harder you hit it. I used this while assembling a demo for a client, where we wanted to get a reasonably hot signal. It did that, and if you push it ridiculously hard, it will break up, but we were able to make the demos louder. For a pro setting, I'd prefer some metering and application adjustment, but hell, this thing works-just be careful! The Analog Compressor CP-2S is easy to use, but be aware that the compression settings (low, med, high) also control whether it's using RMS, peak or high peak detection- this makes a big difference in how the compressor acts. Nice for squeezing vocals, but a bit much on a mix! The Vintage Compressor FA-770 is easy to set, with few controls, and was excellent for adding some attack to a rock bass track. It was also nice for increasing the volume of a mix-making everything a bit louder in a good way. The Master Limiter LM-2S is what I was looking for in the BW-2S. This provides attack, release, and peak reduction, plus a five-band graphic EQ that sounds really good-in my mind, better than the dedicated EQ's that are included in this bundle. Excellent for saving rough mixes or demos, especially with the Brick Wall Limiter right after it. The Noise Gate Limiter GL-201 provides a fast, highly-controllable gate with a limiter as well. On snare, I was able to isolate the track very well (not always easy) and with the limiter could add a bit of "crack" to the sound. A good tool, though I'd love to see a way to make it frequency dependant with a key filter and insert. Warning: When I placed the GL-201 over a mix bus, the unit freaked out and started oscillating; in fact, it kept doing so once the music was paused-I don't know what caused this, as it was fine on individual tracks, but it worries me a bit. The Deesser DS-2S is simple to set up, with a frequency selector, a threshold, and a listen switch so you can hear what frequencies you want to limit. The listen switch kept getting stuck in listen mode, reminding me of faulty analog gear in a non-endearing way. It worked okay when the switch would reset, though isn't the best de-essing I've used. The Equalizers, PEQ-2A, B, and C, all have different layout schemes for frequencies and boost or cut. All sounded somewhat similar to my ears, and I still can't say I'm a huge fan of digital EQ'ing, but applied modestly I was able to clean up and open up some tracks. Serviceable, if not impressive. The Analog Chorus CH-2S is fun, with thick, messed up flanging abilities with panning thrown in. Great for psychedelic nightmare mixes! This is an effect I could investigate further. The Phaser PH-2S is a four to 12-stage filter design with plenty of controls and a big, thick, soupy phaser sound. This is another winning effect from Nomad that I have used a few times on mixes. The Tube Over Driver DR-2S is really cool as well. The overdrive knob adds more distortion, and there's a handy noise- gate built in to clean up the signal. Plus the coolest features are the high and low pass filters-these enable you to tailor the sound in many ways and obtain a huge variety of tones from this plug-in. The distortion is harsh, but with the low-pass filter, you can dial in highly usable and creative tones. Good idea. The Stereo Imager is able, presumably via mid-side technique, to widen a stereo image or (more obviously) narrow one to mono. It was interesting to see how it pulled the vocals lower in a mix when wide and how drum overheads and room mics sounded different as well. Could be a neat little trick when mixing with stereo sources. The Tempo Delay 3D is a tempo delay, with left, center, and right delays and a width control. You can have ping-ponging stereo delays with an analog tape-type sound as well. Cool on vocals. The Vintage Oilcan Echo-Delay TLE-2S is also interesting, with a simple delay that reminds me of old analog delay or clean digital delay depending on what "year" the color is set to. It doesn't really sound like an oilcan reverb though, which is what I was expecting, and the "sustain" knob is really the delay feedback, just so you know. The Long Delay LE is a 2.7 second digital delay with a clean sound and LCR variations possible. This could be your "Fripp loops" in a box effect. Also, with the purchase of the Blue Tubes Bundle (or the Rock Amp Legends or Liquid Bundle by Nomad Factory) you'll receive the Free Bundle, with a sweeper, phaser and tremolo. These are very easy to set and remind me of versatile "stomp box"-style effects.
So that's 19 plug-ins for about $400 that are built to run on all sorts of systems and do some really cool stuff. What are you waiting for? ($499 MSRP; www.nomadfactory.com)