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Toontrack EZmix

September 16, 2011
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EZmix
EZmix has sorted the presets based on finding those in Chuck Ainlay’s expansion pack. Note the three sliders on the right, and the informational display above them.

Preset-based minimalist plug-in for quick, fast, easy mixes

The Backstory

Maybe you’re a newbie and don’t know how to get pro sounds from a bunch of different plug-ins . . . or you’re a pro who has to finish that audio-for-video project tonight, a songwriter who wants to play and not program, or a veteran looking for some fresh sounds to break out of a rut. One word: EZmix.

The EZmix plug-in incorporates multiple effects—compressor, limiter, highpass filter, lowpass filter, “overloud” (combined compressor, EQ, and harmonic generation), 5-band parametric EQ, bit crusher (lo-fi ), delay, transient shaper, tape simulator, gate, chorus, reverse reverb, hall reverb, tape delay, filter delay (i.e., the delay timbre can vary), and distortion. These are arranged into presets that typically have three slider controls: Shape (alters some strategic aspect of the sound, often modifying several parameters like a macro), Blend (sometimes like a wet/dry mix, but more often another macro control), and Level. Want more control? Then you’re not the target market.

The Plug

The clean user interface offers a preset list, the three sliders, a “display” that lists the modules in the preset and what the sliders control, a tab for showing “favorites” presets (including user variations based on slider edits), and a search box for filtering specific criteria— instruments, authors, genres, etc. Several columns list preset type, intended instrument, and the like; you can customize which fields are shown, and sort within given fields.

Although you can’t perform significant editing on the 205 included presets, the architecture allows for inexpensive expansion packs—including ones from veteran engineers Chuck Ainlay and Mark Needham.

The Verdict

Presets load instantly, facilitating the audition process. The reverb isn’t world-class, but overall the effects deliver major DSP bang for the buck, and are versatile enough to offer a wide, satisfying range of sounds. However, developing a list of favorites is crucial (particularly if you have expansion packs), as there are lots of presets—and some are quite over the top. While they have their uses, you probably wouldn’t want to have to step through them every time you look for presets.

EZmix is a major advocate of the trend toward simplification. Although I like tweaking my own presets, EZmix makes it really easy to dial in a sound—some of these I later replaced with custom presets, but many I just kept “as is.” Overall, EZmix offers a unique, valid take on nailing sounds fast, and is nowhere near as limiting as you might think from a superficial look.

TOONTRACK EZMIX $69 (DOWNLOAD ONLY), DOWNLOADABLE EXPANSION PACKS $29 VST/AU/RTAS

STRENGTHS: Wide range of useful presets. Cost-effective. Multiple effects allow for sophisticated presets. “Macro” sliders adjust several parameters simultaneously. Superfast auditioning.

LIMITATIONS: Can’t create your own presets. Limited tweaking. Reverb could stand improvement.

toontrack.com

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