Sony Oxford Plug-ins.

November 14, in Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Sony has entered the world of plug-ins with their new OFX-R3 EQ release, with optional GML 8200 emulation. Currently for Digidesign TDM use only, with an HD version in the beta stage, Sony engineers are working on expanding the availability to other platforms in the near future.

To install the plug-in, you must purchase it online at www.sonyplugins. com. Sony will create a serialized version and e-mail a download-and-register hyperlink to your desktop. From there, you download and unstuff it before installation. Upon launching, you will be presented with a challenge code, which you copy and send to the register hyperlink. After registration, a response string and key file are sent back. The key file, installed in your System/Preferences folder, is required, as the plug-in utilizes Pace anti-piracy technology. This key file is an enabler code that locks the plug-in to your hard drive. Sony will simplify this installation method with the upcoming creation of a CD-ROM version.

Visually, the OXF-R3 EQ is exactly like the EQ in the Oxford console, except the graphic sits directly above the rotary dials and buttons. The layout is simple, with five separate sections; LF, MF, HF, LMF, and HMF. There are separate LF and HF filters, a center section to choose one of the four EQ types (five with the GML 8200 option), and A/B switches.

Sony engineers, using double-precision mathematics and new coefficient-generation techniques, took into account the sonic importance of equalization Gain/Q dependency and overall control range. By offering four different EQ types to choose from, the plug-in provides maximum flexibility to the user.

Type 1 is most like the original 4000 series SSLs, minimizing the Gain/Q dependency. Smaller amounts of boost or cut still feature fairly high Q on Type 1. Type 2 resembles some “legacy” units, featuring a constant Q response in the cut and fairly high Q at low gain settings. Type 3 has moderate Gain/Q dependency, where the Q reduces with gain. This softer character type sounds louder at moderate settings, resembling older Neve types and later SSL G series EQs. Type 4 has greater Gain/Q dependency, and is even softer than type 3. The HF and LF shelving sections feature variable slopes from 6 dB thru 36 dB per octave, selectable by continuously pressing the numeric button on the screen and adjusting the rotary dial.

As mentioned before, there is a fifth type of EQ: the GML 8200 emulation. It is available as an optional extra or as a separate add-on for existing owners. Designed in collaboration with GML for the Oxford console, it reproduces all the control ranges and responses of the original analog unit, with an extended ±20 dB gain range. It is also capable of producing center frequencies up to 26 kHz at 44.1 or 48 kHz.

Ahh, you’re saying, the descriptions are nice, but how does it sound? Well, one word says it all: fabulous. I first found myself pulling up a mono vocal track and running through each type, checking the Gain/Q characteristics. Type 4 did the most justice until I tried the GML 8200, when the air came out even further and the artist made me stop and print it! On acoustic bass, I dialed up some fairly wide 100 Hz boost with the Type 3 EQ, then applied a sharp 36 dB filter cut at 5 kHz. It gave me a smooth, even, and precise sound with very little effort.

The ability to create two completely different EQ settings with the A/B buttons and instantly toggle between them was invaluable when mixing quickly. When using the full EQ/Filter package on an unmastered stereo mix, I was again able to add that “air” without making the track harsh.

The R3-EQ does help maximize DSP usage by offering three types of plug-ins within the package: a 5-band EQ and Filters (mono/stereo); a 5-band EQ (mono/stereo); and a Filter section (mono/stereo). For Mix Farm cards, the mono usage is two instances per chip for the 5-band EQ & Filters, four for the EQ, and three for the Filter section alone. Simply half the usage rate for stereo instances. For PCI cards, it is none for the EQ and filters, one per chip for the EQ, and one for the Filters. It will not work with Nubus DSP Farm cards. All plug-in functions are fully automatable and ProControl compliant, and the distortion/noise levels are practically non-existent.

Overall, the R3-EQ is a highly accurate, flexible tool, and the addition of the GML option sends it over the top. It can range from aggressive to smooth, while always maintaining a truly musical quality. I would say this is a “must-have” plug-in for those who are serious Pro Tools users.

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