Tips & Tricks — API Vision Channel Strip
Introduced in 2003, API’s Vision Console is the legendary company’s pièce de résistance — the crown jewel in an enduring legacy of audio excellence. Delivering the same tone, punch, and personality as the classic API desks that have tracked some of the biggest records of the past 40-plus years, the Vision console brings a modern workflow to the classic API sound.
The API Vision Channel Strip Plug-In for UAD-2 and Apollo interface transforms your DAW into a high-end analog console, complete with five API modules — the the 212L Preamp, 215L Cut Filters, 550L EQ, 225L Compressor/Limiter, and the 235L Gate/Expander — to tailor your tracks and inject them with glorious API color and dimension.
Let’s check out the ways the API Vision Channel Strip can impart your tracks with the classic API sonics — what better way to start than the entire mix!
Here is the track completely dry, no plug-ins, but trying to match gain structures as closely as possible.
And here is the mix with the API Vision Channel Strip on nearly every channel.
More presence, more depth, more character.
Now let’s look at some of the individual tracks in the tune and how the API Vision Channel Strip plug-in was used.
Saturating the Vocals
Here, we used the 212L preamp and drove it to higher saturating levels. We found it added a nice depth to the vocals as well as enhanced the blend — especially in the end of the first section of the phrase. In addition, the 225L compressor provides a certain amount of “glue” with a 2:1 soft knee ratio, fast attack, and 1.5 second release.
You can treat the 212L like a traditional preamp because the UAD API Vision Channel Strip's 212L module is internally padded to work at appropriate line level operation within Apollo Console or your DAW environment. Use the API Vision Channel Strip as you would any other UAD plug-in, but with the benefit of modeled API input amplification as the first stage of the Vision plug-in.
Shaping Electric Bass Sounds
In this example, you can hear how we used the Vision plug-in to finesse the track’s bass part. I used the 215L’s Lo-Pass filter to soften the gritty finger noise. It’s amazing how it keeps much of the high end intact. The 550L EQ module is also taking care of some of the string noise while a low-mid cut and low-frequency boost gives the track some girth and mates the bass better with guitars in the mix. Lastly, the 225L compressor is in a soft 2:1 ratio with medium attack, smoothing out the notes beautifully.
Sidechain on the Drum Bus
Here is a great illustration of using the API Vision Channel Strip’s sidechain feature. The 225L is setup as a parallel compressor on a separate drum bus and it’s being fed from the 550L EQ. The 215L is cleaning up the extreme high and low artifacts of the compressor.
Sculpting the Guitar
To us, this is an excellent example of how much improvement the Vision Channel Strip can offer, even using very subtle settings. It’s hard to tell in context of the soloed example, but using the Vision Channel Strip plug-in for some light compression and modest high-mid and low-mid boosts really opened up the guitar in context of the mix. Incredibly, the stereo image is also greatly enhanced by these modest tweaks.
Crafting the Kick
In this example, the 212L’s -20 pad saved the day. This track had some undesirable transient and saturation characteristics, but simply engaging the pad and using the gain control to make up a desired amount of gain did wonders in correcting the problem. The 235L gate is being used to sculpt the decay of the kick as well as attenuate the snare and high hat bleed, while the 550L EQ provides low-end punch with cuts in the low mids and a substantial boost in the 50 Hz range as well as some slight boosts on top end.
Dialing In the Overheads
On this track we wanted to clean out some of the “mud," and also balance the attack of the snare with the cymbals and other drums in the overheads. The 212L provides some boost and a touch of saturation while the 215L cleaned up some of the kick with the Hi-Pass pass at 100. The 225L gives us some light compression, and the 550L is used to cut some harshness from the high hat as well as accentuate punch from the kick, and balance more of the snare presence in the track