Sample Magic's Magic AB is a referencing plug-in that lets you instantly compare (A/B) your currently running mix with up to nine disparate stereo mixes either of your own work or imported files from mastered CDs, MP3s, AAC or WAV files. Magic AB runs RTAS/AAX, AU and VST 32/64-bit in both PCs and Mac hosts (AAX 64-bit coming soon).
It has been my common practice, like so many other music mixers, to import other mixes—records I like to establish a reference point for the music I'm presently mixing. I'll pull into my Pro Tools session—either my own past stuff or commercial released CDs (I didn't mix) that I like to hear as prototypes or as a way to reference lead vocal mix placement/effects and/or bottom end size, styling drum sounds, etc.
In Magic AB, I like that each of the imported songs has its own individual volume control to "level the playing field"—even out the inherent playback volume differences. There is also a master volume fader for both the "A" stream (your session's mix output) and the "B" stream—the particular song file(s) you're comparing. I liked the metering for these two faders because besides level, it shows a numerical figure for +/- gain offset.
I also thought the looping feature was well thought out--you can highlight and loop a section of the imported tracks to compare it to sections in your mix you may be trying to emulate or match. For desktop mastering applications, I liked the A/B changeable crossfade time that goes from instant to up to 2 seconds.
For its version 1.0 premiere, Magic AB is remarkable and I'm finding more and more uses for it all the time. Magic AB modernizes and greatly enhances the whole A/B process in a logical and near-scientific way. Sample Magic's Magic AB sells for £24.90 and is downloadable at: www.samplemagic.com/details/184/magic-ab
By Barry Rudolph
miniBio: Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer with over 30 gold and platinum RIAA awards to his credit. He has recorded and/or mixed: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and Robbie Nevil. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and also teaches recording engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. http://www.barryrudolph.