Paul White tries out a new range of European software plug‑ins with stylish interfaces and innovative features.
Plug‑ins are becoming an increasingly significant part of working with digital audio, and it's nice to see a new company making an appearance in this important area. DUY (don't ask me how you pronounce that!) are a Spanish company producing plug‑ins for Digidesign's TDM and Audiosuite plug‑in architectures, Adobe Premier and Steinberg's Cubase VST. Though some of their plug‑ins cover ground already trodden by the likes of Waves, Spatializer, QSound and Steinberg, they do offer a different approach, with some genuinely innovative twists and wrinkles.
The five plug‑ins reviewed here are TDM versions and comprise DaD Valve, DaD Tape, Max DUY, Wide DUY and Shape DUY. All conform to Digidesign's overall plug‑in layout guidelines, but the visual presentation is a little more adventurous than say, Waves, who tend to value clarity of interface above showmanship. Within Pro Tools 4, any of the plug‑ins reviewed here may be automated, while Pro Tools III allows only static processing.
All these TDM plug‑ins come on a single Mac‑format floppy disk with the usual limited‑install protection system. There are two installs per disk, with a de‑authorisation procedure for removing a plug‑in when you need to change hard drives or upgrade your computer. I hate these things with a vengeance, but until a better copy‑protection system comes along, I guess we're stuck with them. Installation on my Mac was straightforward, and once the plug‑ins were placed inside the DAE plug‑ins folder, I only had to reboot and I was ready to try them out.
Valve emulation in software is nothing new, but DUY have modelled a whole range of triode, pentode and tetrode valves at different bias and drive levels, to create a very flexible plug‑in. Their system deals with the dynamic and spectral aspects of valves separately, because although it's well known that valves compress signal peaks when they're overdriven, the resulting harmonic structure varies with the valve type and biasing arrangement.
The Spectrum part of the process simulates the frequency and transient response of the valve, while the Dynamic part emulates the distortion caused by the valve's non‑linearities. In addition to the input level slider, there's also a drive control called the Pusher, arranged as a horizontal fader, but there's no output level control, so it's not always possible to balance the processed and direct levels for comparison. A further control, called Lobe Flip, inverts the effect of the valve, to reverse the positive and negative‑going characteristics, which may be quite different in a typical valve circuit. With symmetrical input material this will make no...