DDMF Plugin Doctor - Excellent Tool For Evaluating Plugins

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by LSchefman, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I guess the title says it all. This inexpensive little application ($29) quickly analyzes and graphs plugins for frequency response, harmonic and intermodulation distortion, efficiency (how many samples it can process per second), has an oscilloscope, and measures compression.

    You can compare two plugins at once, or one at a time. It's very fast. The graphing is instantaneous once you load a plugin and select what you want to measure.

    Think two models of an API 2500 compressor in plugin form do the same thing and have the same harmonic content or frequency response? Not the ones I measured!. Same with console emulations, EQs, amp models, etc. There are differences between models that explain why some work better on certain sources than others, or perhaps why you might like the sound of one over the other.

    I find using this tool fascinating. The graphs tell you why you're hearing what you're hearing, and are helpful when you're thinking about what you want to accomplish in terms of frequency response, distortion, harmonic content, and so on. Even phase alignment.

    It will also measure hardware. I haven't tried that yet.

    So, yes, a handy little tool that doesn't cost much.

    PS - it does require some basic audio experience to know what you're supposed to be looking for, but there's so much info on the web about all of these measurement terms that I think anyone can buy the tool, and with a little research, understand what's happening.
     
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  2. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Sounds like a cool tool. Plugins are everywhere, but they’re not all created equal. Have you found any surprises yet with your stable of plugins?
     
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  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Yes!! I compared several hardware emulations that I have from two developers that were completely different; two API compressors, two SSL 4000E consoles, two Neve 1084 channel strips. All different from one another.

    Trouble is, unless you have this tool measure the hardware (it can do that), it's impossible to know for certain which one does the more authentic job, though my ears tell me certain ones do, and others don't.

    I also learned what's happening with harmonic overtone level amplitudes, simulated "analog" switches and knobs, and some other useful stuff, like how fast a plugin responds and processes input signals.

    I've long said that one reason I don't think most amp models sound real is that in addition to the A/D conversion taking a tiny bit of time, the processing inside the model also takes time, and I think it affects the transient response.

    I've found that on some plugins, that's the case. On others, not as much. And generally, the faster ones sound better to me. That could be as much a product of the care exercised in the design of the rest of the plugin as processing speed, and it's interesting.

    I try to be scientific about this stuff, but the ears still matter - it's just good to understand why I'm hearing what I'm hearing, and better still to know I'm not imagining these differences!
     
  4. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Oh yeah, no doubt on the processing power issue with modeling gear. I’ve got an Axe FX III, the most capable one out there, and every new platform since the Ultra (always dangerous to call anything Ultra) has centered on adding, usually doubling or more, processing power. It’s clear that processing speed has always been the limiting factor.

    Working with these things provides lots of advantages, but it’s fairly impossible to model something as imperfect as a tube amplifier “perfectly.” It sounds great, but my watershed moment was when I realized my modeled sound didn’t sound as much like my guitar and amp as it sounded like a studio recording of my guitar and amp. It’s hard to explain, but it sounds just like it, but not it. I learned to use that and it has worked well, especially for gigging, but it is still somehow different from the amp, and I own the amps I use as models. I probably sound like a dolt trying to explain it, so I’ll just say it’s two different ways to do the same exact thing differently. Lol

    Anyway, returning from my rabbit hole, I heartily agree that knowing how the hardware is working will let you know where your limits might be waiting, along with the places you have room to run!
     
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  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    That's exactly, 100% the way I've felt about it for a long time! And then recording it sounds to me like a recording of a recording.

    It's not bad, to be sure. It's just not the same.

    Incidentally, if I toured, I'd probably take a couple of modelers as backups, but no one has asked me to tour in 20 years. I'm waiting. LOL!
     
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  6. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Gigging is the place modelers really work. Big hall, small hall, indoors, outdoors... same rig, same sound. Easy to travel with, and with more and more “quiet stages” I’ve run into as time has gone on, it’s nice to have the same sound you rehearsed with not change as the volume goes down. Add in some truly great effects and killer routing in the box, it’s hard to beat. And it does sound good! So I’ve been quite a fan. In my little domain, the two get along quite harmoniously.

    I try to stay away from the “just as good as” debates. It’s not the same, and in fact it is sometimes better. But even better infers different. Two great ways to get where you’re going. Use what works!
     
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  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Agreed; and on big world tours, the bands spend over six figures just on cartage and shipping for the amps. For most bands, that'd determine whether the band would be making money or losing it on a tour! A modeling rig is lightweight, and no cabs are needed.

    So I get it.

    Not my choice for studio work, but definitely useful for a variety of reasons.
     
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  8. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Who said you were unreasonable? ;)
     
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  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Everyone? Hahaha!
     
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