Celebrated mix engineers around the globe regularly use the analog Black Box HG-2 on their mixes to make them sound louder, bigger and punchier at the same peak level. In designing the HG-2 plugin, the coding masterminds at Brainworx (Plugin Alliance’s founding development partner) first worked with Black Box to meticulously model the hardware unit’s sweet tubes and creamy-sounding transformers. They then added a host of powerful digital mods to greatly expand the processor’s tonal palette and range of saturation effects.
HG-2’s main circuit path includes separate gain controls for emulated 6U8A pentode and triode tubes placed in series between buttery virtual transformers. The plugin’s new Density control drives both tubes harder without changing their relative balance or the plugin’s output level, adding more girth and mass. A convenient Calibration menu mimics the effect of an internal trim adjustment in the original hardware, instantly modifying the HG-2’s high-frequency response to produce Dark, Normal or Bright coloration. A new, continuously variable Air knob adds silvery sparkle and sweetness above 10 kHz. An added Mix control adjusts the HG-2’s wet/dry balance, preserving detail and punch on full mixes, drum subgroups and percussion tracks.
HG-2 also features a parallel Saturation circuit, which can be activated to drive the main circuit’s pentode and triode tubes to dramatic effect. The Saturation circuit selects one of two virtual 12AX7 tubes—one voiced more aggressively than the other—to add fat tube radiance or scorching overdrive distortion on instrument and vocal tracks. A Saturation Frequency selector adds the generated 12AX7 harmonics to only low or high frequencies, or across the entire audio spectrum—great for shaping individual tracks, creative sound design or adding spectrally balanced harmonics to full mixes. A new, continuously variable Input Gain control simultaneously trims gain for all active virtual tube circuits—Saturation, pentode and triode—preserving their relative balance and optimizing headroom at the plugin’s output.
Whether adding subtle warmth, body and tube sweetness to thin mixes—or dramatically fattening sterile music tracks and cinematic effects—HG-2 delivers every kind of tube coloration imaginable.
“When we set out to create the HG-2 plugin, we knew that modeling something with multiple tube stages—interacting in an incredibly complex way—could only be tackled by Brainworx,” said Eric Racy, Owner of Black Box Analog Design. “Together, we emulated every part of the circuit, refining the behavior until it sounded perfect. Not only does the plugin feel and respond just like the hardware unit, it also adds powerful controls not found on the hardware. We couldn’t be more thrilled!”
“The HG-2 plugin is destined to become a classic,” said Grammy Award-winning mix engineer Dave Pensado (Michael Jackson, Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Elton John, Christina Aguilera). “The hardware unit seduced its way onto all my mixes for the last couple years, and now the plugin is finding its way onto multiple tracks like guitars, synths, vocals, drums and the stereo buss. The HG-2 plugin is a winner and should be in everyone’s arsenal.”
“This thing is a must-have plugin,” said mixer/engineer Bob Horn (Usher, Lupe Fiasco, Timbaland). “I ended up using 11 instances in total just in one mix, because it kept sounding great on so many things!”
The Black Box HG-2 is provided in AAX Native/DSP, VST and AU formats for Mac OS 10.8+ and Windows 7+. All Plugin Alliance products are available as fully functional 14-day demos at Plugin-Alliance.com.
About Plugin Alliance
Santa Cruz, California's Plugin Alliance offers industry-leading pro-audio plugins and plugin bundles from acclaimed developers such as Brainworx, Chandler Ltd., elysia and SPL with customer-friendly prices, licensing procedures and financing options. Far more than just a website, Plugin Alliance is a new "über-standard," supporting all major plugin formats and uniting some of the best-known international audio companies under one virtual roof. www.pluginalliance.com
About Black Box Analog Design
Black Box Analog Design is a boutique pro-audio company that builds unique gear reimagining what is possible with tubes—and now with the HG-2, with tube-emulating plugins. Rather than build clones and derivatives of existing gear, the Black Box team uses their real-world experience and unique perspective to create entirely new products that enable powerful, new capabilities in music production, mastering and sound design.
Since 2006 Brainworx Germany has developed a reputation for creating sonically-advanced plugin tools. Brainworx highlights include the M/S-standard equalizer bx_digital V3 and world-class guitar amp simulators. The founding development partner of Plugin Alliance, Brainworx has also developed partnerships with SPL (Germany), Shadow Hills Industries (USA), Dangerous Music (USA), Ampeg (Loud Technologies), Friedman Amplification (USA), and many more. www.brainworxmusic.de