Review: Instant Audio QuickBass Plugin

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Review: Instant Audio QuickBass Plugin

Words by Liam McShane

United Plugins | Enquire for pricing

A particularly grizzled recording engineer once mused that ‘the bass guitar is, at its core, a fundamentally flawed instrument-an example of marketing and portability winning out over common sense’.

To him (as someone primarily concerned with dynamic consistency, pitch accuracy and the like) the ideal bass guitar would have one string, be 12ft long and weigh in at about 50kg – at least then it would have half a chance of recording with the kind of tonal and dynamic predictability required for the optimised recording environment. 

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Indeed, the bass guitar has been the bane of many a tracking and mix engineer’s existence, for as long as recorded bass guitars have been a thing – and for good reason. It’s an instrument right at the top of the food chain in terms of importance, and yet through a combination of flawed design and human imperfection, is often one of the trickiest of all to get right.

In a bid to make life easier for all involved, the legends at Instant Audio have come up with QuickBass: an awesome, all-in-one bass guitar processing plugin that can rescue even the most perfunctory of bass guitar recordings (and with the ability to take already solid bass sounds and take them to the promised land-tonally speaking).

A collaborative effort between plugin manufacturers FireSonic and SounDevice Digital, Instant Audio are yet another member of highly touted, Prague-based software collective United Plugins: home to other excellent plugin manufacturers like MeldaProduction, and a name that has been building quite the reputation amongst studio boffins for delivering innovative plugins at some seriously attractive prices.

QuickBass is the second plugin from Instant Audio camp, and follows on from their QuickAG plugin, which combined just about every treatment you would typically use on an acoustic guitar (or any other strummed acoustic string instrument for that matter) into an easy-to-use, instrument specific channel strip solution for the modern DAW. The new QuickBass plugin, takes this same concept and applies it to the instrument that perhaps needs it most.

It’s safe to say that this is a must-have, not just for anybody who has ever laboured to find that perfect bass sound, but for those who are working with bass guitar on a regular basis and are looking to save some valuable CPU/emotional labour, whilst also netting awesome, character-filled bass sounds in a matter of seconds.

The QuickBass’ UI consists of a slick turquoise bass background with a whole host of knobs, switches, and meters, each belonging to different sections with their own different functions. The UI is resizable, which as any in-the-box engineer will tell you is an incredibly useful feature.

Two VU meters sit aside input and output knobs on the bottom of the UI, above which you can also find sections for EQ, compression, saturation, a doubler and a dedicated sub-bass level control. Instant Audio have made the compressor as user-friendly as possible, electing to omit controls for attack and threshold and leaving a knob to switch between Vari-Mu, Opto, and FET compression emulations (or combinations of therein), as well as a release control and a knob to control the amount of compression applied. 

The Saturation section offers a dry/wet control and saturation amount control. Things get a bit more complex in the EQ section where QuickBass presents you with four options to get your EQ started; finger, slap, pick and ‘millerize’, which cuts honky low-mid frequencies for tasteful slap solos.

Along with your typical low and high cut, bass, mid and high level controls, Instant Audio have added a ‘deswamp’ knob, which reduces the dreaded muddiness that you might not notice until you play your mix through a car stereo. Instant Audio have also included a variety of presets to get you started and give you a glimpse of what QuickBass is capable of, some of which have been crafted by former Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin and Deafhaven alumni Nick Bassett.

Offering an all-in-one plugin to treat all manner of bass guitars is an ambitious and daunting prospect given the instruments natural voodoo and unpredictability, but QuickBass’ intuitive UI and powerful suite of treatments make light work of one of the most critical parts of mix process. By offering a variety of tools to wrangle your bass recordings into something radio-worthy with a just a few clicks of a mouse and some close attention to monitoring, this tool will leave you wondering whether you need to use anything else at all on your bass chain. 

The QuickBass excels at everything from a slight polish to a complete sonic overhaul and does so in effortless style, with an easy to follow interface and simple ‘set and forget’ workflow making it an awesome choice as the very first insert in your plugin chain and the answer to your low end foibles – no 12ft basses required.

Download QuickBass via United Plugins today.