New Toys: United Plugins/SounDevice Digital Autoformer

SounDevice Digital's Autoformer is a "one stop" analog-sounding finishing plug-in you can insert anywhere in your processing chain to add very specific color and processing. It has three main sections: Preamp, Balancer and Compressor. Each section has a bypass button and you may use just one section on its own as I did many times.

The Preamp gives you a choice of three different emulations of microphone console microphone pre-amps: British, US or American, and GE, or German tube console. I found them all to be good—it depends on what you want—and I liked the British for vocals and drums, and US works for guitars. Preamp has the Mojo control for adding additional color—the British pre-amp is the smoothest here.

The Balancer module is my favorite processor and works as a leveling amp with a lookahead feature called Seer. Adjusting Seer to higher values moves the track ahead in time for zero attack times (you can watch the delay compensation meter in Pro Tools change here). Using a lower Seer value puts a nice attack on a bass guitar part that was played originally with fingers. Balancer also has a gate function connected to the Leveler control; it reduces background noise while there is no signal.

The Compressor has a Gain control to push more level into compression, and Squash sets the amount of compression. There are Time and Ratio control knobs plus a Wet/Dry Mix control as well. All the Compressor section's controls interact heavily.

Lastly, the Out section sets the final output level. I liked the metering on Autoformer with separate gain reduction meters for both the Balancer and the Compressor sections, plus there are VU meters for both the Preamp out level and the Out module’s level.

Autoformer is a cool new plug-in from United Plugins/SounDevice Digital! It sells for $99 MSRP.