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Key Features: It is a truth universally acknowledged that in the world of audio, there’s nothing worse than having to describe something as ‘flat’.
Whether it’s a vocal take, rhythm guitar part or a furiously driving drum section, your music should always be colourful, lively and full of dynamics to engage the listener, and you’re certainly not going to achieve that with a mix that sounds flat.
On occasion, as engineers and producers, all of us will face the challenge of working with a flat-sounding track and being expected to make magic out of it, and when times like that arise, it’d be wise to have Expanse 3D on standby.
This newly launched plugin, released by JMG Sound and distributed by their founding partners United Plugins, utilises psychoacoustic processing to flesh out the dimensions of your tracks and make them sound more spritely and three-dimensional.
It sounds complex, but thanks to the simple three-knob design of Expanse 3D – and a lot of secret power sitting under the hood – this plugin can truly be used as a tool to make something from nothing, and its versatility expands to just about every audio source you can think of.
Boasting an intuitive, colourful graphic interface, Expanse 3D offers controls for Width, Depth and Height, as well as level knobs for Input and Output volume.
These controls all work in unison to create a combination of spectral phase offsetting (Width), exciter effects (Height) and tight-knit delays (Depth) with three different algorithms to choose from, with all dimension enhancing controls also making use of analogue-modelled saturation to inject extra warmth.
When engaged, Expanse 3D also extends the high and low end of your audio track, helping to excite any dull frequencies and really improve the overall harmonic content of your signal, all of which proves to be incredibly useful when gluing mixes together or adding character to tracks.
The spectral phase processing power of the plugin also works wonders when looking to widen out a track, and serves as a nifty trick for adding a bit of pizazz to synth pads to make them stick out in the mix.
Further to that, JMG Sound tout Expanse 3D’s potential as a mastering tool, with up to eight times oversampling allowing you to cook up a more cohesive master that’s abundant in rich harmonics. Meanwhile, 64-bit audio processing and a 192 kHz sample rate makes sure to provide the best audio quality possible from a plugin of this ilk.
Mixdown Says: It might seem like just another mix utility on a surface level, but man, does the Expanse 3D work magic on stems.
When applied in a subtle manner, it’s a practical way to splash a little bit of life into a guitar part or synth lead, with the Depth control helping to widen up the sound and create a tasty dimension spread. Alternatively, pushing each parameter past the 12 o’clock mark can result in some truly saturated sounds that would be best suited to a drum or bass track, helping to add some sizzle and grit for deep, punchy low-end.
On vocals – particularly those that are recorded in less-than-ideal tracking environments – Expanse 3D is a Godsend, with the option to adjust Input and Output volume allowing for balanced mixes that don’t sound too over-processed.
Additionally, when thrown onto a drum bus or applied as a strategic marketing tool, the plugin instantly blows things out and outputs some in-your-face results that would benefit genres such as hip-hop and heavy rock – and it sounds absolutely killer on an 808.
Overall: If you tend to work in the box and often find yourself struggling to make your MIDI tracks sound alive, this might just be the plugin you’ve been looking for.
JMG Sound have produced a real winner of a product with the Expanse 3D plugin: it’s affordable, simple to use and creates insanely great results – what more could you ever ask for?
Find out more about Expanse 3D via United Plugins today.