Review by Anto Kovacic
The name of this plugin reflects its three main purposes: it’s a dynamic equalizer with frequency-matching functionalities. Actually, this plugin features many more options and possibilities, which makes it a very powerful multifunctional audioproduction tool. In-depth explanation of every option and possible production usage would take up a lot of space, so I will restrict this review on marking the basics of most important functions and options.
Important general features. The plugin has usual stereo and mid-side channel routing options, as well as other channel combinations, including surround. Automatic gain compensation (AGC) function equals output with the input gain. On the right side of the panel, the plugin has 8 slots (marked from A to H), for storing and comparison of various eq settings. In most cases, A-B comparison is enough but sometimes is very useful to have more than that.
The sound. This is a modern digital transparent equalizer, so there’s no saturation and color in the eq itself. The plugin has an additional soft-saturation parameter, and if used, it’s applied on a whole signal. The sound of eq is unquestionable, and soft-saturation also sounds great. The plugin has an upsampling option (up to 4x), which can be desirable for antialiasing protection (especially if there is a lot of saturation usage). Upsampling can be active in a real-time performance, or in rendering phase only: general settings include these options, which may be good for sparing the CPU power in a real-time performance.
Equalizer. MautoDynamicEq contains 7 eq bands, each having 15 filter types at disposal (right-click calls a panel with extensive options for each filter). There are additional HP and LP filters with slope options from 6 to 120 db/octave. All these filter options should be more than enough for most of the everyday eq-needs. The usage is simple and intuitive. In a graphic part of the panel, each band has a small horizontal and vertical line: the first for the bandwidth, the second for activation of the dynamics function for the individual band. Right-click on those lines resets to default values.
Dynamics. Each of the 7 bands has individual dynamic settings. Pulling the vertical line up will result in dynamics expansion, and that could be used for transients accenting, eg. Pulling the line down gives a normal compression for the eq-band. The first practical thing that comes to mind is de-essing, but of course, there are a lot of possibilities for many other usages. I made de-essing with MAutoDynamicEQ several times, and in my experience the quality was very good, although some other more specialized de-essing tools probably could provide a little better results. Taming high-frequency peaks on the acoustic-guitar track is another good example where the compression function of this plugin gives good results, as well as making better dynamic-balance in the low-mid and low end of the audio spectrum. The main (not the only) dynamics-options are threshold, attack, and release, all set to automatic values, but those can be adjusted to custom needs, as with any regular compressor. Dynamics also has a side-chain option. The gain reduction (or expansion) depends on the audio signal and the gain parameter value. The dynamics part of this plugin is powerful and having it at hand gives a very quick and good solution for many everyday mixing situations. If used properly it can be turned into a tool similar to the multiband compressor and used in mastering.
Graphic analyzer. MAutoDynamicEQ has the most powerful graphic analyzer that I’ve seen in this type of plugin. There are a frequency analyzer and sonogram, with almost all the possible options to set them up for personal needs. And of course, the analyzer can be turned off, to get rid of visual distraction and focus on listening.
Autoequalization part of the plugin refers to the spectrum matching functionality. The plugin captures the spectrum of the source and target audio signal, compares those spectrums and calculates the best combination of filters-setup to match the target to the source. Settings of this plugin’s part include an option to limit the compared spectrum between desired lowest and the highest frequency, to define how many filters will be used for matching, and also there is an option for applying only gain reduction and no amplification. The plugin has pred-captured spectrums of various music genres and individual hit-songs. So, what’s the value of all these matching possibilities? Honestly, I don’t use this function. It’s well designed, but I don’t think that auto-matching the spectrum of my song to the commercial one of the similar genre could be useful and better than listening and manual eq-ing. This method, in my opinion, brings a risk for more harm than good. Spectrum matching probably finds a better potential in the sound-design field, and AutoDynamicEQ certainly could be a very useful tool there.
MautoDynamicEQ has additional functions and options that make this plugin a very powerful tool. Those are multiparameter- and modulation-system.
Multiparameter is a system of 64 slots, each of them is an empty parameter which can be associated with any number of any regular parameters in many various combinations. It’s a powerful system useful for various unusual and creative tasks. It’s a tweaker’s paradise but can be complicated for regular users, and it’s not a necessity for everyday eq-ing and similar tasks.
Less complicated and very useful is a modulation system. There are four modulation slots, each of them can modulate any parameter or any combination of them, in almost all possible ways. There are all common types of LFO waveforms, options to design a custom one, or scan an audio file and extract the waveform. Of course, the options for syncing the LFO with the host tempo are comprehensive. In very few steps MAutoDynamicEQ turns into a powerful tremolo or multiband tremolo effect, or you can design your own phaser with pulsating groove. Very often, when eq-ing a pad track, if it sounds to flat, I quickly make it more alive by modulating a little bit a hi-shelf and a general gain parameter. Except with LFO, modulation can be controlled with an excellent envelope follower (that has a side-chain option) – usage eg: auto-wah-wah effect, or with a pitch-tracking system that moves band-frequency according to the pitch of the source audio signal (the functionality of SurferEQ from SoundRadix).
Final thoughts. I use this plugin every day. In my opinion, it’s a very powerful, extremely versatile, professional multi-tool that excels in its main purpose (dynamic eq) and gives much more than that. I couldn’t find any serious downside of this product. I would probably enjoy some different GUI design more, but the current one is completely OK for me, I’m used to it. Also, having lots of parameters and options comes with a compromise: the ease of use and learning requirements. The workflow feeling is something that everybody needs to try by themselves. I believe the price of MAutoDynamicEQ is fair, considering the free-for-life updates (and every year a few opportunities of 50% discount).