This is something special… Having been a very happy customer of Kush Audio in the past having bought their UBK-1 Plugin (Which is excellent and gets used here a lot) I reached out to Greg Scott on a popular audio forum we post at and was really excited and most honoured to receive a message of support from him for my blog!
Along with his enthusiasm and positive vibes also came a license for the Clariphonic EQ plugin for review purposes.. So I could not wait to get to using it and hear what it was all about…
Now as ever I will make it clear, this isn’t gonna be some long ass technical jargon filled report, no plotted diagrams or whatnot, do a search.. those kind of reviews are out there if the in depth scientific approach is your thing…. You won’t find it here!
I believe a bit of real world, real use, problem solving, track enhancing is perfect for checking out this piece of virtual gear.
So I installed it and authorised without issue, no iLok problems, works with iLok 1 or 2 flawlessly which is a relief after the recent issues with the new PACE system which thankfully now seem to be all resolved..
So five minutes later I’m armed with Clariphonic and can fire at will..
The plugin is modelled after their hardware release of the same name and Kush let it be known openly that the plugin version gets about 90% of the way there sonically, which is unique in itself when nearly every other developer of virtual gear claims to have complete dead on emulations that will make the hardware obsolete etc..
Yet here you have a company making both hardware and software letting the reality be known openly… which is refreshing to say the least!
As ever the convenience of multiple instances and instant recall verses the extra sonic ability of the physical unit is the discussion at hand… Having not had the pleasure of trying the hardware version yet I don’t know the gulf in audible difference myself but believe me, as you will see, having multiple instances of this unit available in hardware or software form will never be a bad thing..
So with the new piece installed and available I decide to just carry on working as normal and wait until I need what it offers naturally rather than throwing it onto everything in order to avoid the ’emperor’s new clothes’ syndrome whilst testing it…
So eventually when I find the hi hat getting lost in the mix and the vocal needs a little more definition and clarity I finally draw for the Clariphonic and give it a go…
I think the thing with emulations of hardware is that the limitations of the hardware itself as well as the unique tone on offer can be where the specific creative vibes and choices you make come from.. the options being limited is part of the reason you can guarantee you’ll get a certain flavour from the given unit.. or reserve certain gear choices for specific purposes…
The Clariphonic does the highs, brightness, top end.. Whatever you wanna call it.. It adds a certain sparkle, sheen or gloss… detail.. and extremely well!
The minimal controls are labelled descriptively with words like Lift, Shimmer, Clarity and Focus. It has a cool distinctive look in the trademark Kush Brown, the whole thing feels like quality and this is only the virtual version! I’m already dreaming about the hardware just looking at it..
So I unleash it on the hi hat issue which it deals with easily because in truth it was not hard to solve, a boost with any decent EQ in the 10k region or so and we have the tick tick of the track buzzing nicely… but now the vocals… a human voice.. in this case a rapper who’s voice has that full bodied yet slightly monotone thing going on, like Guru (RIP) from Gangstarr and needs a bit more presence to invite the listener in, an energy boost somehow, bring out a bit more urgency without making him sound artificial or metallic if that makes sense?
Set to ‘Sheen’ and boost the Clarity control a bit, Select ‘Open’ and turn the Focus a little and suddenly the lyrics are not only more audible but are more engaging, it’s sounding like a finished performance and I am already well and truly sold!
So with this review in mind I decide to try and use another EQ to get the voice sounding as good, curiosity at work, I draw for a regular workhorse EQ capable of a broad spectrum of applications and set to work to recreate what the Clariphonic is doing to the voice and although I can get fairly close, upon comparison I am not getting the same result at all and in a way more importantly it’s taking a lot of time and effort, much too much fiddling around.. I’m not a technical genius, I’m much happier to reach for that special something and get the result I need in an instinctive an inspired way….
The Kush Clariphonic interface and the limitation it offers is a big part of the result because what’s on offer is somehow just right!
The Clariphonic plugin is really simple to use and just does what it does amazingly well… I don’t know how else to say it, I didn’t check what frequency the different controls boost, I just used it and felt the vibe of what it did, listened to the result and know I’ll be using it over and over whenever I want to address the tops…
This plugin is high end… Like the hardware itself no doubt… I hope to find out some day just how much higher it can take me… but for now… I gotta say I’m really digging this plugin and think you will too…
It is obvious from the previous UBK-1 plugin and now the Clariphonic that Greg and The House of Kush Team are not playing when it comes to the tone and audio quality they bring to the table, there is a certain passion for what they are doing that resonates through their products that I have experienced and so far that’s just the plugins..
Available for $149 from: http://www.thehouseofkush.com/
They just sound seriously good… Recommended!