All analog gear has its sonic quirks, but once engineers learned them, they turned them into an asset. Such is the case with the famed Harrison 32C console made famous by engineer Bruce Swedien on the many Michael Jackson albums he worked on. Move ahead to today and Harrison has duly recognized what really made the sound so sweet on its early desks and has now incorporated those traits not only into its excellent DAWs, but also into a new set of plugins available for other DAWs as well. The company’s latest plugin is the new 32C Vocal Intensity Processor (VIP), which is different than any other vocal processor plugin on the market.
The Vocal Intensity Processor is different because it doesn’t have an EQ per se. What it does feature is an emulation of the famous 32C console’s filters, which had a sound all their own. While it’s one thing to dial in the needed high and low-pass filters on a vocal, VIP has a couple of other tricks. Once is the Bump selector, which adds a bit of a frequency bump right at the high-pass filter point that was selected. This doesn’t happen in the same way on most filters, but engineers that used the 32C console actually loved this quirk as it gave a vocal an extra warmth without having to dial in any low-frequency EQ.
There’s also a Bright switch in this section, which adds a gentle shelf boost starting at 2kHz. Again this is something that seems subtle, but it’s extremely useful for keeping the vocal sounding natural, especially if it was recorded well.
Next comes a compressor that’s about as easy as it gets. This is the Intensity control, and as you dial it in, you can see the amount of compression added via a series of 7 indicators just to its right. Add to that a built-in limiter that kicks in at -1.5dBFS to make sure that the vocal never overloads. Interestingly, there are no controls, not even In/Out, for the limiter.
Then there’s a real time analyzer so you can see the frequency response and how the VIP’s controls are affecting it. This can be switched in or out with the RTA button.
Finally on the bottom right of the plugin there’s a VU-style meter, but it’s not a true VU meter. Instead it’s a K-12 meter that shows the amount of headroom is available. 0 on the meter is actually -12dBFS on you’re DAWs channel peak meter.
The 32C Vocal Intensity Processor is available in AAX, AU, and VST/VST3 formats for both Mac and PC. The price is only $49 at its current 50% off introductory price, and there’s a free demo version.
You can find out more here, or watch the video below.