New Music Gear Monday: Acustica Audio HWMC Howie Weinberg Mastering Console Plugin

Acoustica Audio Howie Weinberg HWMC mastering console plugin on Bobby Owsinski's Production blog

If you’ve ever carefully read the album credits on numerous hit releases then you know the name Howie Weinberg. Howie has been awarded 15 Grammy awards with 31 nominations and has an amazing 19,000 credits that include major releases like Nirvana’s debut Nevermind, The Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill and Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik, among so many others. Now Acoustica Audio has replicated Howie’s mastering console in a plugin, appropriately titled HWMC.

HWMC takes a different approach than most other self-mastering tools in that it’s specifically trying to emulate the 80s and 90s hardware that most mastering engineers used. That means SPL, Sontec and Neumann gear that most recording engineers never used nor needed during that era. It had a sound though, and that’s what HWMC is going for.

It’s Sophisticated

The HWMC plugin is broken down into 7 sections that are a little deceptive in their nomenclature. For instance you see a big “C,” “E,” and “F” on some of the sections that make you think, “Where are sections A, B, and D?” Actually they make sense when you discover that “C” is for compression, “E” is for EQ, “F” is for filters, and “L” is for the limiter. As described in the manual:

  • C = a Mastering Tube Compressor with four different switchable Compressor Operating Modes depending on the rectifier circuit emulations selected (GERM – GERM2 – SILIC – LED)
  • E = a Para-metric Stereo Mastering EQ with LF/ MF, HF/MF bands offering ±9dB dB gain.
  • F = High and Low shelving filters plus continuously variable High-pass (from 20Hz to20kHz) and Low-Pass (from 20Hz to 30kHz) mastering cutting filters with a 12 dB per octave slope implemented to Howie’s specifications.
  • L = an ultra-transparent algorithmic Brickwall Limiter with oversampling-rate buttons (1x – 4x – 8x).
  • ADC = A Clipping stage that includes three different models (C1 – C2 – C3) from least to most aggressive, controllable via the Clipper knob and the oversampling-rate buttons (1x – 4x – 8x) from the sampling of different Howie’s analog-to-digital converters.
  • DAC = a Preamp stage including three Modes from the sampling of different digital-to-analog converters, Howie’s signature sound (Dcs – Mytek – Mytek+Tape).

There’s also a section of the console where you can route different sections as needed, as well as a monitoring section to listen in Mid-Side mode, unlink the stereo modules, reverse the phase of the input signals, and a Dim control that lowers the signal by 20dB.

And there’s a pair of peak and LUFS meters, along with some good old fashioned analog VU meters at the top center of the plugin. As you can see, there’s far more involved in this plugin that can be gone over here (take a look at the manual on the website).

That’s What A Mastering Engineer Needs

This is a very deep plugin that shows the precision and detail that a mastering engineer typically needs to get the job done. That said, it can be intimidating for someone that just wants to insert a plugin and have it sound better without having all those parameters staring back at him or her.

The Acoustica Audio Howie Weinberg HWMC mastering console plugin is currently on sale with a 50% discount, bringing it to around $140 USD.

You can find out more here, or watch the videos below.

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