Plugin Boutique and Excite Audio have released Lifeline Console, a cutting-edge channel strip plugin. Being a huge fan of Excite Audio Lifeline Expanse as well as Plugin Boutique Scaler 2, I could not wait to test this plugin and see if I should add it to my workflow. And let me tell you, this is a must have that you will keep adding to your mixes!
Lifeline Console is a channel strip plugin made up of five effects modules that provide a user-defined signal path with zero latency, a resizable user interface, and a modular workflow that is shared across all five modules. Similar to Lifeline Expanse’s process, each module in the chain can be moved wherever you wish. The five modules each contain fifteen distinct algorithms, resulting in 243 possible combinations. There are 325 presets in all, which are appropriate for various kinds of sounds.
When you first open the plugin, you’ll see five different modules that can all be combined together: Pre, EQ, Comp, Mod, and Wear.
Pre is the first module you will see, and it is orange in color. By fusing this traditional preamp technique with digital customizability, Console’s pre-amp enables you to tailor your circuit’s frequency response curve to precisely match the instrument you’re using. The Warm, Dark, and Bright algorithms in the preamp make it the ideal tool for giving your tone some initial color. A saturation curve will be visible on the display, emphasizing the areas where saturation is being added without serving as any kind of EQ.
Push and Pull controls play a significant role in the preamp’s capacity to alter the sound’s color. The Pull knob lowers the wet signal gain along the saturation curve’s frequencies while the Push knob lowers the saturation curve’s total gain. Saturation curve display, you can also click and drag up or down to change the Push/Pull parameters. This method’s cool feature allows you to add harmonics and then reduce gain without erasing any of the newly added harmonic material. Other parameters include Drive, Bias, Q, Shape, and Low End.
EQ is the second module, and is red in color. Gain, Vintage, and Dirty are the names of the three EQ algorithms. While Vintage and Dirty are a touch more intriguing, Gain is a straightforward four-band parametric EQ. Even though the Vintage algorithm increases feedback loop saturation, it is still a four-band EQ. More saturation is added as you enhance, giving your tone a more colorful appearance. Vintage and Dirty are comparable, but Dirty is dirtier. Beyond modest saturation, it exhibits outright distortion.
The EQ on the Lifeline Console features a traditional four-band parametric approach and three different modes. For straightforward and accurate EQ tasks, gain mode provides a clear circuit. When boosting, Vintage Circuit mode adds more harmonics to the signal. The EQing process is completely saturated and distorted when using the Dirty Circuit option.
The Lifeline Console’s EQ provides everything from subtle tone shaping to potent harmonic enhancement. It has a low cut or shelf filter, low-mid and high-mid bands, a high cut or shelf filter, and the flexibility to operate in 3dB or 30dB modes.
Comp is the third module and is maroon in color. The compressor module in Lifeline Console prioritizes dynamic character control and offers three compression methods to accommodate a range of sources and uses. Threshold, Makeup, and Mix knobs are shown on the compressor. More of the anticipated compression characteristics, including Ratio, Attack, Release, and Knee, can be found by opening the Advanced tab.
To handle various production needs, the Comp module offers three compression techniques. Signals are smoothed out by analog, which also gives hardware compressors their distinctive sound. Transparent has a crisp, contemporary response that excels at picking up peaks while preserving the body of a sound. Variable offers an input-dependent reaction that works well for mastering applications, gluing busses, and smoothing vocals.
Additional features include a bandpass filter for frequency-specific compression, a Dry/Wet mix for parallel processing, and a gain reduction meter. The compressor provides Mid/Side and Left/Right capability for complete control over the stereo field, just like all Lifeline Console modules.
Mod is the fourth module and is blue in color. You can experiment with pitch modulation as a subtle effect or enter some amazing lofi sounds in the modulation area. With careful control over their characteristics, the Modulation section recreates the wonder of pitch changes as heard on Tape, Vinyl, and Cassette while restoring the sound-warping nature of these medium.
The introduction of slight pitch modulation in tape mode, where speed and depth are balanced (i.e., a speed increase is countered by a comparable depth drop), With a moderate pitch modulation and some speed and depth adjustment, vinyl resembles the warping of a record. By maintaining speed and depth independent, cassette creates a pitch modulation effect that is more intense than what is heard on compact-style tapes.
Wear is the final module and green in color. Don’t be fooled by it’s place in the order, it is every bit vital as the other 4 modules. The Wear module taints your sound with noise and other flaws. The algorithm names are the same as in the Mod section, and from first to last, they too become more aggressive. Like Mod, Wear has three modes consisting of Tape, Vinyl and Cassette.
The Wear module’s noise attributes include amp, hum, mechanical, and dust. You can use noise as a creative effect by triggering or ducking these signals in response to audio input. Your audio, noise, age, artifacts, and dropouts are also taken into account by the interactive display. Advanced settings are divided into the Noise and Age tabs. This module evokes memories of dated, frequently unexpected machinery.
Right after the modules, you will find the Blend circuitry. The Warm knob brings out the low frequencies throughout a mix, which helps to bind the bottom end. The Shine knob produces a premium sparkle that is ideal as the last sheening stage to give your track a competitive edge. The Triangle Pad features both Clean and Vintage emulation of mixing desk circuitry, allowing you to discover the optimal balance between the two and your dry signal. Use it to choose your ideal console to work on for each session.
Lifeline Console is a must buy from Excite Audio. There is nothing quite like this on the market and I am only just scratching the surface of what’s possible in possibly the best channel strip plugin in 2022.
Lifeline Console is only $49 and is available in AU, VST, VST3, and AAX for macOS (10.9 or higher) and Windows (7 or higher).