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Sonic TimeWorks Equalizer 1.0

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Introductory

Timeworks already presented us good quality plug-ins in the past, with, among others, the 4080 Reverb and the 6080 Delay . Of the Millenium Pack released more recently, we will only keep the Mastering EQ and possibly the Compressor X, although we've seen better ones elsewhere (particularly in Waves products). Last born of the Timeworks family, the 8-band parametric equalizer... Because I've used it recently in a mixing and mastering situation, I find it rather good, and therefore, I wanted to make you discover it. No more waiting, I invite you to discover this toy down to its smallest details.


Introduction

This equalizer signed by Sonic Timeworks is, I said, an 8-band parametric equalizer with a 64-bit internal engine. When you take a closer look at the interface, you can distinguish 4 bands which are really parametric. The other 4 bands are : a low-pass filter, a high-pass filter, a low-cut filter and a high-cut filter. You have at your disposal a master output level, a view-meter allowing you to check the output level. Some buttons give you the possibility to bypass the effect, to choose between a "Clean" or "Vintage" colouring, while another button makes it possible for you to reset the equalization, which is rather useful. Each band can be bypassed reset. Like with all Direct X and VST effects, you can load and save presets. One of the advantages of this equalizer is that it offers a very good digital and graphical editing interface, which is rare on other equalizers in which one of the two editing interfaces (digital or graphical) is more developed than the other. Let's see more precisely what this interface looks like.


The interface

A very important thing when you use this equalizer is to distinguish the two interfaces it has : on one side, the interface with the cursors, the buttons and the digital values, and on the other side a graphical mode, in which you can modify several parameters in one go, thanks to some little coloured spheres identifying each band of the equalizer. Thus, you can switch between the two modes with the button located on the right above the effects processor. Let's describe more precisely each of these two screens.

The first screen has several linear faders, cursors, buttons and digital values. On the left and in order of appearance, the low-cut filter and the low-pass filter, and completely on the right, the high-pass filter, then the high-cut filter. The four other bands are located in the center of the window.

  

For each band, you get the settings for frequency, gain and Q factor in the shape of three cursors. Below this, the by-pass and reset buttons, and above, the digital values display. At the top of the window, you have the master output level and other different settings for the overall effect.

So, the interface takes on a clear appearance, with sort of a "Vintage" look, but rather convenient of use. Traditionally, you find circular buttons on equalizers, hardware as much as plug-in (like Cubase's one or also the excellent TL Audio EQ described in the same section), this is the originality of this tool.

Let's get to the second screen, which is very useful and formidably efficient. It is possible to modify graphically each one of the parameters for the 8 bands. In the center of the window, a wide display with the equalization line, on which are drawn 6 coloured spheres, each of them corresponding to an equalization band. The 2 other bands corresponding to the low-cut and high-cut filters are displayed by some orange vertical lines when they are activated. So, by manipulating those coloured spheres, you can act on each band's frequency and gain . The Q factor, on the other hand, must be edited "by hand". Some other tools are available on the second screen and are very useful too. A 31-band real-time spectrum analyser, fairly rare on a plug-in equalizer, and although it is not essential, it is all the same useful to manage your work. Indeed, you can switch with the In and Out buttons to compare the signal before or after any equalization. You've also got the possibility to deactivate this function by clicking the Off button. You also have at your disposal a phase-meter, on the upper right-hand side of the window, which is maybe not a model of precision, but which allows you to get an idea about it. Last detail : you can modify, also manually, the digital values set on this graphic display.


Utilization

In general, this equalizer is rather pleasant of use. The adjustments are precise and progressive. You will appreciate to be able to manipulate, the way you can do it with Waves plug-ins, several parameters in one mouse click. The adjustments therefore become much more effective and much more intuitive when you can see them all at the same time. You will also appreciate tools like the spectrum analyzer or the phase-meter that give a good estimation of what you're doing. About the drawbacks, let's notice the serigraphy which is not very readable, whatever window you may be working on. The blue digital values are very hard to distinguish on the dark-blue background of the frontside of the equalizer. A typical example : the frequencies located at the bottom of the display, which are not very readable. A serious effort should be done in that way for a future version.

About sound, I think this equalizer is rather neutral. It doesn't distort too much the sound and the original tone. However, its action can be felt, just what is necessary. You have the pleasant sensation to hear the changes, even if you just slightly modify the settings of the plug-in. This neutrality allows it to be used for mixing and mastering. Another advantage, and not the least one, is its very low CPU occupation. Therefore, you can insert many occurences of the plug-ins on the channel strips without overloading the CPU, which lets vacant ressources for other treatments. A fairly good deal, isn't it In general, I think it is rather good, better than Waves' one according to certain aspects for example, because of the fineness of the adjustments, and better than the TL Audio EQ for the precision and the handiness.Maybe it is not the better equalization plug-in that you know (besides, don't hesitate to tell me about your finds in this category, I'll be pleased to test any rivals you could find), but it seems to give fairly good results and to be very useful. It is at any rate the one that I used most of the time during those last days and it didn't disappoint me.


Technical specifications

Vincent PRADES, on the 22-06-2002

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