- really smooth sounding.
- no uneven frequency shifting that I could hear.
- it would be nice if the 'Link Bands' would keep the relative positions of the other ranges.
One of the magic tricks that mastering engineers have up their sleeves is the ability to widen the the spatial breadth of your track. I don’t know how they do it exactly, it’s probably a combination of M/S processing and the black arts, but they can make a track bigger and wider than when you gave it to them.
I’ve tried some widening plugins before and have always felt that somehow it just damages the track somehow. It will either make it sound thinner or spread the frequencies unevenly giving you a very strange unbalanced feeling when listening to it.
I’ve used some of IK Multimedia’s plugins before and I find them fantastic and I’ve been intrigued by some of their newer multi-band plugins from the T-Racks Custom Shop, the Quad Image in particular. I decided to give it a whirl so let’s take a look at it.
The interface is amazingly straight forward. There’s really no need to consult the manual at all. The main window shows the frequency blocks. You can choose to have from just one block up to four separate frequency ranges. These ranges can be adjusted by the little handles at the top of the display.
There are really only 2 controls for each block. Width and Gain, which can be adjusted by either the dots within the blocks themselves or by the knobs below. Clicking on a block will select it. Each block can be soloed or bypassed and the slope transition between the blocks can be 6, 12, 24 or 48dB/Oct. The ‘Link Bands’ button will mirror the adjustments of one band across the others. This works only when using the knobs, not the dots. Moving the dots will not mirror across the board.
The meters to the side display the mid and side levels for each frequency range and to the right is the main output with a slider for adjusting the main output gain. Also beneath each block is a handy stereo width display showing both the original width of the signal at 100% and then the altered signal width. The reset switch on the right of the interface will reset everything back to 100%.
Very simple, straightforward controls.
So how does it sound?
I have to say, I was kind of taken aback by the smoothness of this plugin. Like I said earlier, with other plugins there were uneven frequency shifts and I was kind of expecting something like that here too. Not so. It’s really quite smooth. No artifacts or unbalanced oddness that I could detect.
The solo option for each block is a fantastic function to have as it lets you hear only those particular frequencies. This enables you to hone in on what you want to be affected.
Used on individual tracks, Quad Image can help you to blend instruments and help them fit together. Used on a full mix it can really help to expand the song across the stereo spectrum. At 200%, which is the maximum width the plugin will give, will never really give you extreme sound. I think this actually helps to make it a useful tool, because you won’t be afraid of it accidentally going to far.
This is an extremely useful tool that I will be using constantly
The Quad Image is one of the four modules in the Multiband series of IK Multimedia plug ins for T-RackS. Multiband processing at the core of this plug-in splits the incoming signal into up to four frequency bands and treat each one separately with a dedicated set of controls. The width of each band can be finely adjusted so that the processing can be very selective (in case of a narrow band) or spread across a wider range. Each band is loaded with an M/S matrix processor which modifies its stereo width.