Best Plugins to Use with Fairlight
- February 7, 2019
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
DaVinci Resolve comes fully loaded with a slew of plugins in their DAW to help get your audio tracks sounding the best they possibly can; 14 plugins in fact. However should you decide to venture into the wilderness of other plugin manufacturers, Let me guide you on that journey through what I feel are the the most effective. I’ll be focusing on the ideas I’ve covered in the previous Fairlight articles.
My only gripe with Fairlight is that their built in EQ doesn’t have a real time spectrum analyzer. No, that’s not what allowed the DeLorean to time-travel. It’s just a couple fancy words that mean “See the audio waveform.” I find being able to see the waveform really helps tune in to problem areas that are standing out; be it harsh frequencies or areas of music that are getting in the way of your dialog.
Look kids! It’s the waveform!
H-EQ is my favorite for this. It’s a 7 band parametric EQ with 7 different EQ shapes for each band. You can solo each frequency band which helps you focus on the information at hand (ear?) and not be distracted my erroneous audio.
These very precise and customizable EQ bands are perfect for finding and eliminating harsh frequencies in your dialog track, or for carving out room in your music for your dialog track to sit.
As you can see we boosted the highs around 4500hz to give the flat boom mic some presence, but with that we also boosted the sibilance of Dale’s voice.
Time to DeEss.
I’m a big fan of the Renaissance DeEsser. It’s easy to use, quick to dial in a functional setting, and it won’t eat up all your computer’s memory (cough Chrome cough.)
Small but mighty.
Like most DeEssers, the Renaissance DeEsser has a frequency knob for selecting where your subject’s ess’s are living, a Threshold slider for at what volume attenuation should begin, and a Range slider, for how much DeEssing you want to take place. I’d recommend loading up a preset from the dropdown menu depending on the gender of your subject and starting from there.
Side Chain for precise DeEssing.
Switching your DeEsser into Side Chain mode will allow you isolate the sibilance of your track and fine tune where the attenuation will take place. Just do this. Trust me.
Best of all, the RDeEsser has a real time visual display so that you know exactly when its DeEssing, and when it’s not. No more guessing.
Which compressor do I want to use for this BRAAAHHMM?
I mentioned in my Voice Sweetening tutorial that we used compression to make our dialog track more even and consistent across the board. We brought the louder parts down, and then brought the overall volume up. This is compression in a nutshell.
Now there are a lot of compressors out there.
I mean A LOT a lot.
These are all the compressors that plugin manufacturer Waves sells. And that’s just ONE company.
I’d highly suggest you read up on each one and decide which is the best fit for you and your project…
I know you’re not going to do that so I did it for you.
There can be only one Highlander.
It’s this one. The H-Comp, by Waves.
Look at it. It’s beautiful. The same color as a majestic sunset. And a Threshold knob so big you just want to reach out and turn it.
The H stands for Hybrid, because they’ve fused Analog and Digital models of compressors into one. The Analog knob lets you dial in vintage flavors of subtle harmonic distortion that recreate tubes, transformers, and transistors all working together if that’s your thing. Bottom line: It sounds good.
Set your Threshold where you want compression to kick in and then dial in your Ratio to taste. I like anywhere from 2:1 to 5:1 for speaking voices. Bring the Output back up to compensate for volume loss and you’re in business, baby!
Lastly let’s briefly touch on Limiters, which you may or may not want to put on your Master audio channel. (You may.)
The classics never go out of style.
A limiter is just a compressor with a Ratio of 100:1. I almost always throw some sort of limiter on my Master bus to make sure my overall mix is loud, and never clipping.
Your finishing level is going to depend heavily on what platform you’re presenting your piece on ie; Netflix, Youtube, Friendster.
Built in loudness metering. Thanks Fairlight!
I like setting my Out Ceiling around -.2 db to insure that I never go over 0. Pulling down the Threshold slider will raise the volume of your master bus, but don’t go too far. Louder always sounds better and more exciting, until the broadcast commissions find out and then your piece is going to sound pretty quiet. Silent in fact.
These settings kept our piece loud but under the broadcast standard.
Alright boys and girls; it’s been fun. I hope you feel refreshed and inspired to take another look at your audio and maybe try a few tweaks in DaVinci Resolve’s DAW Fairlight. These are my favorite plugins for getting my mix to shine but if you’ve got a personal fav for everyone to check out, let us know in the comments.