IK’s latest modular processing suite brings a whole new meaning to the idea of ‘mixing in the box’.
Insert slots in your DAW are usually used to host individual effects, but some manufacturers have also developed plug‑ins that are hosts in their own right. Within these environments, the user can arrange multiple modules to form a complete processing chain. As well as leaving the rest of your plug‑in slots free for other effects, this approach permits an entire processing chain to be saved and shared as a single plug‑in preset, and it allows the vendor to implement routing features that might not be possible within the host DAW.
IK Multimedia were early and enthusiastic adopters of this concept, initially with their T‑Racks mastering suite. This has been continually improved over the years and now provides an exhaustive compilation of classic hardware emulations, advanced digital processors such as the excellent Stealth Limiter, and much more. As the stock of virtual equipment in T‑Racks mounted up, engineers began using it not only as a mastering suite, but to process individual tracks at mixdown. In response to this trend, IK made most of its processing modules available as separate plug‑ins, giving users the choice as to whether they load up an all‑in‑one chain within the T‑Racks host, or a single T‑Racks compressor or EQ as part of a diverse plug‑in chain.
IK’s other long‑established plug‑in environment is Amplitube, which adapts the same modular concept to guitar amp emulation. Once again, a single plug‑in provides both a wealth of processing modules, mimicking everything from Marshall heads to vintage fuzzboxes, and the freedom to connect them in interesting ways.
More than 20 years after the launch of T‑Racks, IK have now introduced a third modular environment. This one, as the name suggests, is very much targeted towards mix engineers — but not just in the studio. MixBox is available in all the usual plug‑in formats, but also as a standalone application offering up to eight simultaneous processing chains for use in a live‑sound environment.
IK’s business model for both T‑Racks and Amplitube includes something they call the Custom Shop, where the basic host plug‑in is free, but you pay to populate it with the modules of your choice. By contrast, there’s no free version of MixBox, and at present there are...