Th­ese days, a mix needs to sound great on ev­ery­thing from a tiny phone speaker to a huge PA. This plugin can help make that hap­pen…

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A more ad­vanced ver­sion of their MixChecker plugin ef­fect (8/10, 233), Aud­i­fied’s MixChecker Pro (VST/AU/AAX) sim­u­lates a wide range of play­back speaker sys­tems for au­di­tion­ing pur­poses, from stu­dio mon­i­tors, hi-fis and head­phones, to car stereos, phones, tablets and TVs. It im­proves on its sib­ling with many more con­vo­lu­tion-based speaker sims, non­lin­ear (as well as lin­ear) mod­el­ling and much higher qual­ity al­go­rithms, and a de­gree of cus­tomi­sa­tion.

You’re on speaker

Each of the 12 main but­tons houses a speaker model – click a but­ton to au­di­tion your mix through that model. There are 62 mod­els in all (the orig­i­nal MixChecker has just 12), across 12 cat­e­gories (Stu­dio Mon­i­tor, LiveSound/PA, in­Ear, onEar, Ra­dio, etc), so Aud­i­fied have clearly gone out of their way to cover as many bases as pos­si­ble this time round.

While MixChecker al­lows no mod­i­fi­ca­tion of… well, any­thing, MixChecker Pro lets you freely as­sign mod­els to the 12 but­tons and re­name them, move but­tons around, and tweak each model in terms of Stereo Base (all the way down to mono), de­vice-mod­elled Dis­tor­tion level (see Noises off) and Vol­ume off­set. The whole ‘But­ton Set’ can be saved as a pre­set (five are in­cluded), so you could have one pre­set for all your tar­get hi-fi sys­tems, say, an­other for a range of phones and tablets, an­other for head­phones, an­other for in-car au­dio, etc. The generic, uned­itable de­vice icons are ir­ri­tat­ing, though (why can’t we im­port JPEGs?), as is hav­ing the name of each de­vice only show up as a tooltip when moused over, rather than sim­ply printed in ab­bre­vi­ated form un­der the icon. Load up your pre­set bank of PA sys­tems, for ex­am­ple, and you’re look­ing at a se­ries of iden­ti­cal, un­la­belled but­tons.

Var­i­ous global func­tions are on hand for adding en­vi­ron­men­tal noise, dis­tor­tion and more – see Noises off – and the free MixChecker RC iOS/An­droid re­mote con­trol app works well, du­pli­cat­ing most of the UI on a wire­lessly con­nected phone or tablet.

Physics still ap­ply

The Com­pen­sa­tion fea­ture from MixChecker, which coun­ters the amount by which lis­ten­ing through head­phones or small speak­ers af­fects the sim­u­la­tion, has been dropped – ap­par­ently be­cause there are too many vari­ables be­tween sys­tems to cater to. A cal­i­bra­tion sys­tem is ap­par­ently in the works, but what it ul­ti­mately means for now is that MixChecker Pro re­quires high-qual­ity mon­i­tors to work ef­fec­tively. And even with that re­quire­ment met, of course, the fre­quency re­sponse of your par­tic­u­lar speak­ers will in­evitably ex­ert an in­flu­ence on the sound, so those vir­tual Yamaha NS10’s can’t ever sound ex­actly like the real thing.

The ques­tion, there­fore, is: does it mat­ter that MixChecker Pro can’t 100% nail the sounds of the set­ups it sim­u­lates, thanks to those un­man­age­able vari­ances? We’d say it doesn’t, no, as with even a half-de­cent play­back sys­tem, you cer­tainly get a re­li­able enough im­pres­sion of how a track will come across on a wide range of speak­ers to in­form those cru­cial broad­strokes mix­ing de­ci­sions. As long as it’s em­ployed in that spirit and you know how to ad­dress the sonic is­sues it’s de­signed to raise, this clever, easy-to-use plugin re­ally can help you im­prove the uni­ver­sal­ity of your mixes.

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