9 excellent exciter plug-ins
17th Apr 2012 | 11:23
Add some excitement...
Much of the history of recording is, arguably, the history of compensating for the limitations of recording mediums. One of the chief problems has been a loss of top-end clarity. A whole class of devices - called exciters or enhancers - were developed to compensate for this, particularly in the tape-recording period.
The techniques ranged from psychoacoustic frequency compensation to simple filtering but the aim was the same: to retain, restore or artificially synthesise the top-end sheen that allows presence, clarity, punch and excitement. Modern music technology means that new sounds are pretty bright already, and some argue that today's music is quite shiny enough.
If anything, however, this makes enhancers more appealing as they allow recordings of 'real' instruments to sit alongside glossy synths and samples. It also means that vintage samples can be brought up to today's brightness levels.
There are many, many ways to brighten a signal, and we've even included a few plug-ins that aren't branded as enhancers/exciters. 112dB's Redline Preamp is touted as a tube simulation, but its multiband design means you can easily shine up the top end using the treble band alone.
PSP's NobleQ and the Abbey Road Brilliance processors are EQs, albeit ones that are particularly good for sweetening treble with the twist of a knob. A number of the plug-ins feature extra processes that may increase their usefulness to you, but we're focusing on their treble enhancement side.
Nomad Factory BBE Sonic Maximizer D82
One of the best known names in excitement, with distinctive brightening and ease of use. It has a bass section, too.
Waves OneKnob Brighter
As simple as it gets, with all the advantages and limitations that brings. Brighter also be bought as part of the complete OneKnob pack (pictured).
Abbey Road Brilliance Pack
Based on classic EMI technology that was used on most Beatles albums for nearly a decade, the Brilliance Pack contains simple and unique treble enhancers.
Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter
Modelled on one of the grand-daddies of excitement, this plug-in even models the subtly different-sounding input jacks!
112dB Redline Preamp
It might not be sold as an enhancer, but the treble band of this tube preamp sim sounds so nice that it can certainly be used for that purpose.
PSP Audioware NobleQ
Based on Pultec’s classic EQ - which was renowned for the sweet sheen it could impart to channels or full mixes - NobleQ falls into enhancement territory.
Universal Audio Precision Enhancer kHz
Easy controls belie a powerful and versatile plug-in with five operation modes, parallel processing and more.
PSP Audioware MixTreble2
Part of the outstanding MixPack2 bundle (which the price and score refers to), MixTreble2 offers an exciter, a harmonics generator and even a hiss-attenuator.