A MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY GOLDEN AGE
When you look at all of the advancements in technology; none are more obvious than those influencing the music production industry. Today we have access to glorious orchestral sample libraries as well as recreations of vintage gear from legendary studios, all living inside of our computers, tablets and can you believe it, even our mobile phones; it is truly an amazing time indeed. With all of these recent advancements, one in particular really took me by surprise; Gullfoss EQ developed by Soundtheory.
OVER THE WATERFALL
Gullfoss introduces a brand new approach to equalization whether used on a single track or a completed mix. The idea was born from the mind of Andreas Tell who not only is an experienced sound engineer but is also very well versed in the areas of mathematics, physics and quantum theory.
Gullfoss shares its name with the breathtaking Gullfoss (meaning Golden Falls) waterfall located in Iceland which was one of the inspirations behind the creation of Gullfoss (the plugin). Something sparked in Andreas a curiosity to explain why the sound of a waterfall was so pleasing to the ear; a beautiful mystery indeed.
Andreas spent many years looking into the area of auditory perception; in other words how our brains interpret the world around us as sounding better or worse to our ears. When you first experience Soundtheory’s Gullfoss you can immediately hear the result of all of the years of research and discovery coming together to create this dare I say magical software tool.
THE POWER IN THE SIMPLICITY
When you first place Gullfoss into your project you will notice right away you’re not in Kansas anymore. The typical controls you would normally see in an equalizer plugin are nowhere to be seen; instead, you are presented with a very straightforward set of parameters. Let’s take a look:
RECOVER: This control allows you to “Bring Out” or add more to frequencies that might be covered up or masked by other frequencies.
TAME: This control “REDUCES” or subtracts from frequencies that might be too dominant or harsh.
BIAS: Bias allows you to govern how much influence Recover and Tame will have on the resulting sound. When BIAS has a positive value then it will lean towards RECOVER and when it is in the negative range it will favor the TAME parameter setting more. This is a great way to find the balance in what needs to be Tamed and what frequencies need to be recovered.
The meter assigned to the BIAS parameter is very helpful to find just the right amount to apply. The indicator has two parts; the top part is dedicated to displaying the amount of RECOVER being applied and the bottom half of the meter indicated the amount of TAME that is being applied. I have found that the best results are when you see the top and bottom halves of the meter displaying equally which is a great help to get things to fall right into that sweet spot.
BRIGHTEN: Brighten adjusts the sound in proportion to how you have set RECOVER and TAME. When BRIGHTEN is in the positive range it will “tilt” the frequencies into sounding, brighter with more high-frequency energy. When BRIGHTEN is set to negative values it will cause the overall sound to be darker. BRIGHTEN is only in effect when you have a value in the RECOVER and TAME sections.
BOOST: Have you ever noticed that turning the volume up on a song sometimes makes it seem to sound better? Well, you might have to ask Andreas why that might be but the BOOST control in effect helps to shape this perception somewhat in the plugin. When you increase the value the LOW frequencies will be emphasized while the MID level frequencies will be reduced. This is a very interesting parameter to experiment with.
Just as with Bias you have a corresponding meter that is horizontal beneath the waveform display that indicates how Gullfoss is processing the BRIGHTNESS aspects of processing.
RANGE LIMITERS: On each side of the waveform display in Gullfoss you can slide over the range limiters to only process certain frequency ranges. This helps you to zero in on where you might want to make more specific corrections on a track or mix. Having details like this allows Gullfoss to be very flexible in how you can use it in your projects.
HEARING A NEW WORLD
In my personal experience, I had to overcome many preconceptions of how I approached using traditional equalizer plugins in the past. Gullfoss takes you into a brand new world of sound that sort of takes you by surprise when you first experience it.
I have been working on remastering many of my previously unreleased projects and found it a perfect opportunity for learning how to use Gullfoss. I have to say that it has been amazing.
SO THAT’S WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO SOUND LIKE
When I first started experimenting with the Gullfoss controls I began to hear things I was not aware of before. The only way I can describe it, is that it was like someone took a blanket off of things. It was not that I did not have the mix bright enough but something happened when Gullfoss was dialed in just right that made things just sound better.
POWER AND SUBTLETY, THY NAME IS GULLFOSS
One thing I would always come back to is that Gullfoss does its job so well that you might actually miss it! Of course, when things are pushed in extreme directions it will sound off but when you find that “spot’ it will be like everything just falls into place and just feels right.
You also have to remember that each mix will have its sonic personality and that what works for one mix most likely will not work with another and when you think about it, that’s just one more reason to appreciate Gullfoss as it pulls out the sonic DNA of each of your tracks and mixes helping them sound the best they can be.
MY NEW ASSISTANT
I like to consider Gullfoss as an assistant of sorts. Sometimes due to our various listening environment limitations, we tend to miss details at times or not being able to really hear everything that is going on; well that is where Gullfoss shines. It is like having a second set of ears that can not only hear the details and potential problems but can actually do something to help fix them and lift the resulting sound to an entirely new level. It is a no brainer for me now to make sure Gullfoss is the first plugin I have loaded in my Master bus before I insert any additional plugins for further processing.
EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF
The first time I witnessed Niagara Falls in person it was something I will never forget; the power and overwhelming majesty just take your breath away and you cannot fully appreciate something like that until you experience it for your self. Soundtheory offers a generous two-week trial license of Gullfoss that will allow you to discover how it can be used in your projects to allow you to hear them in ways you never thought possible before.
JUST THE BEGINNING
The many ways you can utilize Gullfoss in your projects are being discovered every day. Soundtheory has provided many great tutorials and example videos on their site that help you to discover more of what Gullfoss can do; can you imagine using it as a vocal de-esser?
Soundtheory has also indicated that Gullfoss will not be the end but are looking into ways they can utilize their research into audio perception further to bring us more exciting tools in the future and I for one can’t wait.
Your sound is out there and Gullfoss can help you find it!
Gullfoss is available now for $199 and provided as a download from the Soundtheory website. Gullfoss requires you to have an iLOK account that is necessary for activation. Visit https://www.soundtheory.com so you can start your journey of discovering your sound.
*You also might enjoy reading a very wonderful interview by Rob Tavaglione over at Pro Sound News as he sits down with Andreas Tell the man behind Gullfoss. You can find the full interview here: https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/pro-sound-news-blog/gullfoss-inventor-andreas-tell-tells-all