PreSonus is following up its CTC-1 Pro Console Shaper Mix Engine FX plug-ins with Retro Mix Legends, a collection of three Mix Engine Effects plug-ins working exclusively with the PreSonus Studio One DAW. The three plug-ins featured are Alpine Desk, Brit Console, and Porta Cassette and may be purchased individually, or as a bundle. They are also included in PreSonus Sphere subscriptions.
What’s a mix engine?
Mix Engine FX is PreSonus’ way of injecting modeled audio coloration in the Studio One’s mixer. Any bus, including the main stereo bus, can have its own Mix Engine FX assigned. Activating a Mix Engine Effect on any bus in Studio One simultaneously affects all channels feeding that bus, simulating crosstalk. PreSonus’s detailed emulations of analog hardware include inter-channel crosstalk, noise, drive, saturation, and character.
PreSonus Retro Mix Legends
Here’s more about the three new plug-ins. Alpine Desk reproduces the sonics of a coveted American console. The Drive control lets you overdrive the simulated console preamps to obtain saturation and compression. The Crosstalk and Noise controls can ‘glue’ your tracks together and add some grit. A variable output transformer switch lets you change the gain ratio from 1:1 to 3:1, resulting in higher drive settings and a darker, warmer sound.
Brit Console looks more SSL than Neve to me, so I assume PreSonus channeled the Oxford sound. The plug-in’s modeled analog noise is different on every channel being processed which adds realism and cohesiveness. It also features three Style choices: Vintage, Super, and Modern. Vintage gently rolls off the top-end and offers a smoother character reminiscent of 80s British pop. Super is about clinical, hi-fi sounds and Modern flips the switch to a contemporary dual design with variable harmonic distortion. The latter yields a gentle bass boost and goes from nuanced harmonic saturation to prominent transistor bite.
The third plug-in, Porta Cassette, is of interest to lo-fi aestheticians. It replicates the off-kilter sound of Tascam’s Portastudio four-track cassette recorders from the 80s and 90s. The Character control adds coloration in its lower settings, and defects like tape wow and flutter when cranked. There’s also the Pitch control that lets you tune each audio track up or down without affecting the playback tempo.
All in all, this is fresh stuff from PreSonus. It’s like a less boujee take on what Universal Audio is doing with its Luna DAW, or a less formal way of accomplishing what Harrison does with its MixBus DAW. I assume other DAW makers will eventually follow suit, integrating console emulations in their mixers. In the meantime, third party plug-ins by the likes of Slate Digital and brainworx are already great at that.
Price and availability
The Retro Mix Legends bundle is available now at the PreSonus online shop, priced USD 79.95. The Alpine Desk, Brit Console, and Porta Cassette plug-ins can be purchased individually for USD 29.95 each. All three Mix Engine Effects plug-ins, as well as the CTC-1 Pro Console shaper and all PreSonus Studio One add-ons are included in PreSonus Sphere subscriptions as well.