Focusrite have launched a new online resource for music creators, called The Collective, and as part of its launch they've also released a new series of plug-ins.
The FAST range currently comprises three processors, developed in partnership with Austrian DSP experts Sonible. All the plug-ins in the FAST series employ artificial intelligence (AI), with the goal of allowing inexperienced users to get quality results quickly, though they also all feature an advanced page for those who prefer to make manual adjustments.
The first stage in using a FAST plug-in is to set it to 'learn' mode, and play a few seconds of your source audio through it so that Sonible's AI can build a profile around it. Then you select the source type from a drop-down menu (options include all the major instrument groups, such as electric guitar, drum kit, high/low-pitched vocal and so on), at which point the plug-in's main parameters adopt friendly, intuitive names. For example, if you feed the FAST Equaliser plug-in an acoustic guitar track, and select acoustic guitar from the source list, your EQ bands take on useful names like 'picking', 'body' and 'air'. Ideal for newcomers to music production, then, but a button marked Detailed opens up an in-depth view, where all of the controls you'd expect from a parametric EQ are present, as is a hi-res spectrogram.
The FAST Compressor works in much the same way, including the AI learn process, and it too features a Detailed view for advanced users. Its user interface, though, is quite unusual: a horizontal waveform display shows audio as it's passing through the plug-in, with the original audio shown in red and the compressed output in grey. The output waveform changes in response to parameter adjustments, allowing you to visualise the effect of your processing on both micro- and macro-dynamics.
Finally, FAST Reveal is probably best described as a spectral ducker, and it's designed to reduce temporal masking on lead tracks. So, if the intelligibility of your lead vocal is being compromised by a harmonically rich distorted guitar part, you'd insert FAST Reveal onto the vocal track and feed your guitar part to the plug-in's side-chain input. The AI Learn process analyses both tracks and will automatically reduce only those frequencies present in the guitar part that are masking your lead vocal. Unlike a normal multiband compressor, though, FAST Reveal operates on many thousands of bands simultaneously. The effect is therefore quite subtle at first listen, but remarkably effective at transparently preventing vocals and instruments disappearing in a mix. The video below shows it in action.
All three new FAST plug-ins are exclusively available from the new Collective website, where Focusrite will also be regularly uploading software tools and content aimed at music creators. The plug-ins are available now on a hire-purchase basis: you pay £5.99/$5.99 a month, and after 15 months you qualify for unlimited free usage.
Follow the link below to visit the new Focusrite Collective website.