Plug-ins have made writing, producing, recording, mixing and mastering music infinitely easier than patching in clunky hardware. They’re generally a software reproduction of a piece of hardware, that are used as either an insert or auxiliary effect depending on your workflow, although many plug-ins do their job without reproducing a specific piece of hardware. TC Electronic have historically produced high-end, studio grade hardware. While they have been producing plug-ins for some time, the TC8210-DT and TC1210-DT bring a tangible piece of hardware to the fold. These plug-ins are both ‘desktop’ versions of their 19” 1U rack counterparts, and make ITB (in the box) mixing even easier. The TC1210-DT is a ‘spatial expander’ that is primarily used to add excitement or thicken up a signal, while the TC8210-DT is a handy little reverb plug-in to heavily effect a signal or help sit different elements into a mix.
The TC8210-DT is an intuitive, easy to use and refreshing approach to reverb. The presets are mix-ready, inspired and they’ll slot easily into your mix. It’s available for free from the TC Electronic website; however, it won’t work without the hardware. Once the plug-in is installed and the hardware connected, it requires no further licensing on installation. I was up, running and reverbing in minutes. Not only do the reverbs sound great, but they work well and respond differently as an insert as opposed to an auxiliary track, so the wet/dry control comes in handy. I generally use reverbs as a send/auxilary effect, but found myself using this as an insert on specific tracks. The TC8210-DT includes handy ‘Colour’ and ‘Lo-Colour’ controls within the plug-in itself, which can further assist in making reverb sit nicely within a mix, or alternatively, pop out and become a part of a signature sound, tone or hook.
Modulation, delay and phase effects are commonly used to thicken a recorded signal and/or give it some character. These are the effects that can’t explicitly be heard in a mix, but aid in giving a mix size and width. They help make recorded sounds larger than life, and are commonly used to make signals stand out when it’s their time to shine. Helmut Haas Ph.D. discussed precedence effect (also referred to as the ‘Haas’ effect) of short, hard-panned delays that seemingly create space around a signal. Chorus can be blended into guitars or vocals to fill in the gaps in tone and thicken them up, or phasers can often be used to re-invigorate lifeless sounds. TC Electronic packages all of these up in one handy plug-in and controller in the TC1210-DT. The presets work phenomenally for their namesakes (e.g. ‘Acoustic Guitar Widened’, ‘Dramatic Wide Chorus’ and ‘Stereo Spread’), but they shouldn’t hold you back. Widen a snare, delay a vocal, give the verse some chorus – the TC1210-DT really makes it very easy.
When looking into hardware controllers for plug-ins, my first question is usually: Why? Plug-ins don’t contain any analogue circuitry so there’s no need for anything external and it can be a nightmare to patch cables in and out of effects. A computer mouse works fine to change plug-in settings and you’ll need one anyway, so: Why? The TC Electronic TC8210-DT and TC1210-DT have answered this for me: it keeps things creative. Having a hardware controller, even for a plug-in, is tangible and inspiring. Creativity can continue to flow, and tweaking settings is fast and definitive. The TC8210-DT and TC1210-DT keep creativity going without staying bogged down scrolling through presets and settings on a mouse.
Reverbs, or at the very least room sounds, are integral parts of every piece of recorded music. Stereo and modulation effects create sounds that are inherently modern and make music sound larger than life. The TC8210-DT and TC1210-DT keep a project moving, and the plug-ins themselves sound great. The sounds are ready to go and easily tweaked. These two units would be a great addition to a plug-in collection for anyone at any level.
Hits and Misses
Great, mix-ready sound
Easy to install and use
Plug-ins can’t be used without hardware