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Introduction

bx_digital v3 is the newest incarnation of Brainworx flagship mastering (and now mixing) EQ. While some EQ’s strive for character, this isn’t one of them. Some Plugin EQ’s take a “what you see if what you get” approach to drawing and manipulating the EQ curves...this isn’t one of them either. Some Plugin EQ’s really take visual feedback to a whole new level with gorgeous spectral displays of your audio. This also doesn’t do that. So what what’s the big deal with bx_digital v3? For starters, it sounds insanely clean, has more features than it’s deceptively small interface has any business offering, has no latency and uses almost no CPU (I can run 50 instances with the CPU hovering at only 15%).

Features

After installing, the first thing you’ll notices is that you get two EQ’s: bx_digital V3 and bx_digital V3 mix. The mix version is meant for basic mono or linked-stereo EQ duties. The standard/mastering version offers Left/Right, Mid/Side, and Mid/Side Rec (for EQ’ing M/S recorded tracks) modes via the turn of a knob. The mix version of the EQ includes one of everything, whereas the mastering version offers two of everything (and more), allowing for independent control of the different channels.

The standard version includes some stereo specific features like Linking the EQ settings of the channels, stereo width, balance, independent left/right or m/s channel panning, a left/right channel flip button, auto-gain and auto-listen features, and a mono-maker feature that sums up and mono-izes bass frequencies below the given crossover. In short: it’s got just about everything but the kitchen sink.

On to the EQ features themselves, there are gorgeous sounding HPF/LPF filters that cover the full frequency spectrum and automatically return to an off position when at their respective minimum/maximum settings (just pointing this out because it’s a very well thought out implementation). You have 5 of your traditional shelf and peak EQ options with separate gain, Q, and frequency knobs. There are Bass Shift and Presence Shift knobs which are meant to emphasize a given frequency in relation to its neighboring frequencies (or do the opposite). There’s even a single band Dynamic EQ that can do compression/expansion (and has sidechain listen and two-speed settings) and a wonderful Gain Scale knob (turn the knob up to exagerate your EQ changes, or down to undo or invert them)! Oh, and I almost forgot the API style proportional Q that was added for this release.

Down at the bottom of the UI you have the optional ability to display the frequency response curve, pre-EQ, post-EQ and output meters, along with Balance and Phase metering. There’s a button at the top of the UI to hide these features if you don’t want to see them.

Beyond that, there’s the standard A/B/C/D system (with copy/paste options) along with undo and redo controls. The only things I could even think to add would be a basic tilt EQ and auto-gain.

In Use

Open the UI, and the first thing you’re going to notice are knobs, knobs, and more knobs. bx_digital models a hardware EQ, and they stuck with the hardware paradigm for the UI. It can be a bit intimidating at first, until you break the EQ up into sections, at which point, it’s all very logical and clearly laid out.

The sound is clear and sharp. In fact, the High Frequency knob goes up to 40k(!) and the LP filter tops out at 30k. This isn’t going to provide any analog warmth, or cool sounding saturation, nor is it a tonebox. This is very clean, and very efficient EQ’ing. In terms of CPU usage, you can run a ton of these in a session and not notice they’re there, and the same can be said for the sound. It’s an EQ you’ll want to reach for when you don’t want to hear an EQ.

The first thing I had to adjust to when working with bx_digital was the Auto-Listen and Auto-Solo features. These are on by default to help you hone in on a particular frequency on a particular channel and to let you do what you need to do. Auto-Listen works without Auto-Solo, but not vice versa. I’m making it sound more complicated than it is, but once you adjust to working with these on, you’ll appreciate the extra steps they save you, and as I said, they can be turned off easily.

Let me also just point out that I own “stereo” plugins that don’t offer anywhere near as much control over stereo channels and width as bx_digital. This EQ was built around the idea of M/S EQ’ing, but at the same time, it can fix a lot of stereo problems in terms of a poorly balanced mix.

Sound Quality - 5/5: Clean, sharp, transparent. If you’re looking for character, look elsewhere.

Ease of Use - 5/5: It takes a few seconds to get the lay of the land in terms of the UI layout, but once you do, it’s very logical and clearly laid out. The auto-listen and auto-solo controls really speed up the workflow after adjusting to how they change the sound.

Features - 5/5: I would rate this one 10 out of 5 if I could. It’s amazing how many features they packed into that tiny UI.

Bang for Buck - 3/5: This is a $300 USD EQ Plugin and there are certainly other excellent offerings out there that cover some of the same ground (though I don’t know anything that does quite this much either). At half the price, it would be an absolute no-brainer purchase, but at the full (non-sale) price, the bang for the buck ratio drops.

Summary

There’s not much else out there that does all of this, let alone while sounding as transparent as bx_digital V3 without bothering your CPU. It’s expensive, but if you can afford it, or grab it on a sale, you’ll be glad you did.

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