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Johnny Blade

AM-Munition: open and cold?

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I would like to exchange some impressions here with those who feel comfortable with the theme.

A few years ago I had stopped using AM-Munition with all its spectacular arsenal of features, notably as limiter/clipper in the last slot of the mastering plugins chain. Since then, I have preferred to use the alternatives from iZotope Ozone, which has served me very well, especially its Vintage Limiter, which I like very much.

However, I recently decided to try AM-Munition again, but in order to fit it better in my projects, I worked through all its parameters until I found "the sound" I was looking for.

To my surprise, I found the same reasons that made me move away from it: no matter how I configure it, AM-Munition always delivers a very open and cold sound. "Cold" is the word that best sums up my frustration.

I set the compressor, limiter and the saturated clipper in the background, so that the "cold" aspect did not appear. I even abused saturation, hoping to achieve a "warm" quality, but in the auditions of different monitors, the "cold" sound was always a constant, conclusion shared with everyone who was with me.

I know the Samplitude's user manual very well, have read the AM-Munition chapter many times, and watched endless times all videos made by Master Kraznet. I know Opto Compressors, by their very nature, deliver considerably "transparent" and "open" sound, which certainly makes them fit many projects. However, in my case, in both pop and heavy metal songs, this virtue makes me avoid the plugin, which is very sad because I am fully aware of its firepower.

I sadly put the AM-Munition aside again to return to the Ozone options, that sound much more "analogue/warm" to my ears.

Is the delivery of this "cold" sound from AM-Munition - even with its great saturator - a public acknowledgment that I have finally gone crazy, or is it really something to be expected because of its Opto Compressors?

Rock Hard.PNG

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Thanks for the suggestion!

I have forgotten Molot in my arsenal, I will do some tests with it again. However, as I recall, it was designed primarily as a compressor, not exactly as a limiter. Moreover, it seems to me that its primary function was to give weight and body to the guitar tracks. At least that's what developer (Vlad) pointed out.

I remember that Molot delivered a denser and "darker" sound, but this is a vague memory, I'll see again how it behaves in my projects!

Thanks again!

Molot.png

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Vlad got that limiter, too: https://vladgsound.wordpress.com/plugins/limiter6/
 

Here a thread that may be interesting for you: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/373765-diy-transformer-box-add-color.html

Look at pre-amps with Transformers (Metric Halo), or the B2 Bomber ADC (Burl Audio), both use Jensen Transformer to add some mojo.

Is there a plugin out there that simulates transformer sound?

Edit 1: One wrote in the above linked thread " Transformers can do things like this: saturation, adding punch, overtone enhancment, phase shift, resulting in a more 3D sound, by letting the high frequencies later through the transformer...you can´t do this with plug-ins this great and natural." - that was March 2009 - no plugin like this on the market by now?

Edit 2: WAVES advertising, but gives some useful explanations: https://www.waves.com/add-harmonic-distortion-for-analog-warmth

 

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On ‎9‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 2:06 PM, tdor said:

Is there a plugin out there that simulates transformer sound?

Hi there, @tdor!

Take a look here: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/603774-plugs-simulate-sound-analog-transformers.html

 

On ‎9‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 2:06 PM, tdor said:

Yes, I know, thanks. Not my taste. Ozone 8 Maximizer IRC IV and Limitless best meets my needs when the project calls for a multiband limiter.

 

On ‎9‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 2:06 PM, tdor said:

Edit 1: One wrote in the above linked thread " Transformers can do things like this: saturation, adding punch, overtone enhancment, phase shift, resulting in a more 3D sound, by letting the high frequencies later through the transformer...you can´t do this with plug-ins this great and natural." - that was March 2009 - no plugin like this on the market by now?

Edit 2: WAVES advertising, but gives some useful explanations: https://www.waves.com/add-harmonic-distortion-for-analog-warmth

1 - I don't know either, but I would love to be informed about it. Maybe, the first link I put above has some clues!

2 - Dou you Dopamine? It's an enhancer (not harmonic enhancer), a kind of tape saturator. It delivers a fat, big, analog sound without creating harmonics; it just enhances existing frequencies and does it very well. Very, very cool.

 

On ‎9‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 2:06 PM, tdor said:

Here a thread that may be interesting for you: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/373765-diy-transformer-box-add-color.html

Look at pre-amps with Transformers (Metric Halo), or the B2 Bomber ADC (Burl Audio), both use Jensen Transformer to add some mojo.

Hey, thanks for that! This will be my dedicated reading and research of the night! ;)

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Get a Nakamichi Tapedeck from ebay, or a reel to reel machine, record from your DAW and bring it back it. Plugins are boring.

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5 hours ago, tdor said:

Get a Nakamichi Tapedeck from ebay, or a reel to reel machine, record from your DAW and bring it back it. Plugins are boring.

Yes, and if you need information on tape formulations just let me know.

Under hypnosis,  I should be able to recall all the differences!

Terry

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I've found the open and "cold" quality of AM-Munition is sometimes just what I need on base instruments. I'm less in favour of it on the 2-bus.

I tried Molot. I thought it imparted a strange sound for a compressor. And then I saw the frequency response curves in the documentation... :huh:

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hi, @hyper.real. Thanks for reading this topic.

AM-Munition is a fabulous tool, but unfortunately it doesn't fit on my projects (audio mastering for friends who have fun with music). I have preferred the iZotope Ozone 8 options and recently Limitless - which I avoided for a long time for being multiband. These options deliver a more analog and warm sound to my ears.

And about Molot, it is very dark. Any Fairchild emulation is better, I don't like it.

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This is weird, and, frankly, a bit absurd. Let me explain.

1) The OP, Johnny, utters he is faced with a 'cold' sound. That, IMO, needs explanation. As I'm more on the science side of things, let me ask: what is 'cold' exactly in here? Cold & warm are often attributed for brittle/bright vs. mellow/lowpassed, but everytime nonlinear effects come into the equation (thereby messing with the spectral balance), things become complicated very quickly. Nonlinearity greatly affects our perception, hence people are tricked by 'aural exciters' sounding 'warmer' although they're just distortion boxes. Phase is also an importand matter, yet more difficult to grasp. And, of course, signal envelope. The actual progression of how the amplitude is modulated over time by the process can be very different, yet impart a 'signature' sound for a specific device. Some designs have more 'attack' than others, depending on the shape of the envelope. For instance, feed-back designs are more 'intrusive' towards transients since the envelope is treated more exponentially because of signal roundtrip.
Dynamics processing on complex material is more than signal-envelope manipulation. It needs skill, training, and quite an objective view the more a mix approaches a 'final' stage. Our hearing sense is so easy to deceive, and it easily adapts to our own manners, listening experience, preference, and preconceptions. Every cold-vs.-warm debate should take these aspects into account, in a search for the objective. Otherwise we'd be talking esotericism. So, audio snippets, frequency plots or anything else helping to clear up the 'issue' would help.

2) By the time I designed am-munition and layed out its basic concept, I started with a simple idea: create the typcial behaviour of opto-electric compressors. I once build my own HW one based on a simple LED & LDR setup based around a dual OP-amp setup. Was my go-to comp to track vocals and bass for the band I had at that time. I then took its behaviour directly to design ammo's opto section. The 2nd step was to create a brickwall limiter to take care of the transients that an opto design usually lets slip through. But: I'm a strong defender of transient information. I can't stand brickwall limiters that suck out transient information just for the sake of theoretical signal integrity. It's unmusical, in my view. Transients are good, and important for our perception. So the idea in ammo's limiter stage is to convert 'transient energy' into 'spectral energy'. What sounds esoteric here is just what our hearing sense does upon detecting and processing a loud, plosive signal. 'Linearity' is a man-made, artificial concept. Nonlinearity is what happens in nature, thus in our nerval systems as well.
Therefore, the ingredient's found in the plugin should - by design - already help in achieving a 'natural' sound. Although, it's a beast, not easy to tame with its numerous parameters and capabilities. But again, give an example of what sounds 'cold' to you, and one can try counteract it.

2) A couple of seemingly alternative suggestions have been given here. Provided the original 'issue' is unknown, this is just pointless and only leads to endless circular debates of personal preference. I'd suggest to first sort things out, then discuss if and what alternatives to go for.

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WOW... Thanks for your collaboration, @Sascha!!!

This explanation will surely make me reflect and better define the sound quality I like to handle in my projects!

I'm a big fan of your work, and I always feel very honored by your appearances in my modest debates!

Thank you very much!  :)

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4 hours ago, Sascha said:

But again, give an example of what sounds 'cold' to you, and one can try counteract it.

OK, it is quite possible that I did not have a cognitive level at the height of great technical specifications, but in the case of this topic, when I referred to "cold" I was focused on the prevalence of mid-high frequencies that the results were presenting me.

I don't like to use EQs indiscriminately. I avoid them. In my perception of the results, AM-Munition delivers a very nice, open sound - as you might expect from Optos Compressors - but at the same time I felt that this "opening" also ended up contributing more "treble" end results like if high-mid frequencies were injected, and that's what kept me from the plugin.

However, it is very possible that my lack of dexterity caused this...  :blush:

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Thing is, am-munition's output stage can push levels really high. I mean it. You can easily create loudness levels that surpass most other brickwall limiters by 3 to 4dB. But it comes at a price, and needs a cautious and wide-awake approach. Too soon and you've overcooked and burned a track.

Added treble beyond a pleasent level can easily be the result of too much distortion/saturation induced. Although, when using the dual-band saturation and output-clip stage, you can adjust it a bit. If the saturation sliders are more towards 'soft' rather than 'clip', less upper harmonics will be produced, e.g. the harmonic series takes on a smoother decay towards the top end. This is easily visible in Samp's output meter, especially when using its 'true peak' (intersample peak) detection mode: the softer the saturation curve, the smoother the approach towards the ceiling will be, and less intersample overshoot. IMO hard clipping should only be tolerated if you aim for a general transparency up to a well-defined threshold. This often works with electronic/sequenced music as levels stay well-behaved and predictable. With acoustic genres it's often unnatural. Comparable to a compressor with soft vs. hard knee.

One could also try balance the spectral behaviour with the dual-clip stage. To retain clarity and impact on the bass, allow for more hard clip in the low band (or like 50:50 or so), and set the upper band to all the way 'soft'. This will lead to a more 'wooly' character in the highs, gently smearing the top end, but retain bass punch. Similar to what tape does. You might have to play a bit with the crossover frequency, as when it's too high the hard clip from the lower band might create too much harmonics that bleed into the treble band. Of course, it all depends a bit on the incoming signal. The 'purer' the sources (especially the less odd-numbered harmonics), the more added saturation/distortion will change their character.

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4 hours ago, Sascha said:

Thing is, am-munition's output stage can push levels really high. I mean it. You can easily create loudness levels that surpass most other brickwall limiters by 3 to 4dB.

Yes! It's interesting to see how many elite limiters fail in my projects (Hard Rock / Heavy Metal) when I need to remaster songs that have been very compressed. To keep them at an RMS volume of, say, -10dBFS, the peaks generally decrease and the wave takes on a small flat shape even though the volume is strong (-10dBFS RMS). AM-Munition is the only processor I don't see this happening, which amazes me. The waves retain their natural design and the peaks freely strike the specified top (-0.1dB) without any forced decrease.

The way AM-Munition handles transients is, to put it mildly, spectacular.

 

5 hours ago, Sascha said:

But it comes at a price, and needs a cautious and wide-awake approach. Too soon and you've overcooked and burned a track.

Added treble beyond a pleasent level can easily be the result of too much distortion/saturation induced.

Yeah ... I have serious reason to believe that my relationship with AM-Munition has failed all these years because I didn't handle it properly, even though I'm not an equalization lover...

 

5 hours ago, Sascha said:

Although, when using the dual-band saturation and output-clip stage, you can adjust it a bit. If the saturation sliders are more towards 'soft' rather than 'clip', less upper harmonics will be produced, e.g. the harmonic series takes on a smoother decay towards the top end. This is easily visible in Samp's output meter, especially when using its 'true peak' (intersample peak) detection mode: the softer the saturation curve, the smoother the approach towards the ceiling will be, and less intersample overshoot. IMO hard clipping should only be tolerated if you aim for a general transparency up to a well-defined threshold.

Here is a fundamental explanation. In fact, I've always calibrated the saturation sliders in every way imaginable, really being certain that this way I'd get warmer or at least less "cold" sound.

 

5 hours ago, Sascha said:

One could also try balance the spectral behaviour with the dual-clip stage. To retain clarity and impact on the bass, allow for more hard clip in the low band (or like 50:50 or so), and set the upper band to all the way 'soft'. This will lead to a more 'wooly' character in the highs, gently smearing the top end, but retain bass punch. Similar to what tape does. You might have to play a bit with the crossover frequency, as when it's too high the hard clip from the lower band might create too much harmonics that bleed into the treble band. Of course, it all depends a bit on the incoming signal. The 'purer' the sources (especially the less odd-numbered harmonics), the more added saturation/distortion will change their character.

Yes, as I said above, whenever the result didn't satisfy me, I focused on saturation sliders.

My frustration is that I know what AM-Munition is and its potential, but I have never been satisfied with it.

However, with the repeated rereading of your explanations, I begin to believe that my approach to the plugin is unfair and cruel. AM-Munition is not a doctor or pharmacist to cure previous oversights. I see here that my approach to it really needs to change so that it can deliver what is to be expected of him and not what I want it to do.

Processors preceding AM-Munition in the plugin chain should be handled with more caution on my part. It's a unique tool and I see that I shouldn't be treating it the same way as more conventional ones.

More than that, it is quite true that a certain lack of patience with the calibration of these sliders (saturation) contributed a lot to a quick disappointment.

I need to talk to him again. I need to hear better and more carefully what it has to teach and show me. Patience is a virtue and insistence is the path of success.

I have no adequate words to express my thanks for the time you have decided to devote to this topic. I am very grateful indeed.

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While you're at it, you may want to test drive it against the eFX limiter, which follows a similar concept. It's limiting and saturation in conjuntion. And it's got the same hard-vs-soft clip thing. Might be that the eFX limiter gives better results on difficult material, don't know. It's a newer design, at least I think I had some parts of its algorithm layed out very differently, like the adaptive release for instance. I do mostly indie rock, and it's still my go-to limiter, and - since I do listen to a lot of metal - I'm pretty sure it'll work great for harder stuff, too.

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Yeah... I'm going to change my approach with the plugin, I am convinced that I am neglecting in fundamental ways.

And about eFX Limiter, this is already an old acquaintance of mine. Very light and incredibly powerful. Fits easy into any project!

Thank you so much for everything!  :)

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Yes. A legendary genius.

And below, you can watch and hear the Master talking with Tim Dolbear about AM-Munition, at 03'46'':

 

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