I love this free plugin... TBProAudio ISOL8
Who doesn't love a great free plugin? Well, I do. And I love the TBProAudio ISOL8 plugin so much I'm going to write a blog post about it.
ISOL8 doesn't do anything I can't do by combining other plugins, but it puts the right features together in an elegant interface in a way that has improved my workflow. For that I am most grateful!
My favorite use of the ISOL8 is to filter the audio using the 5 yellow "solo" buttons. Try this...
LF SOLO - I start by clicking LF Solo and checking whether the sound is blurry or focused. What tracks can I hear vs. what do I want to hear? This filter shows me when I need to highpass some tracks. I am typically looking for a punchy blend of kick and bass and not much (if any) vocals, reverb, guitars, etc.
LF SOLO + LMF SOLO - I keep the LF Solo button turned on and click the LMF Solo button to add the next range of frequencies. I ask myself, "does it sound good?" (In other words, if this was the limit of my speaker range, would my mix be listenable? Are there any annoying sounds?)
I open an EQ on any questionable track and experiment. If I find something I like I click the red "Filter Bypass" button in the upper right corner and listen to my EQ change in context with the full range. I have often found that if I like an EQ tweak while filtered it tends to work in the full frequency version as well. I'm typically solving problems of masking, reducing annoying sounds, enhancing beautiful sounds, or adding presence for a desired track. These types of changes tend to improve the mix.
+ MF SOLO, + HMF SOLO, + HF SOLO - Repeat the same procedure by adding one more frequency band at a time. I listen for what gets added in the frequency range, and whether it's desirable and pleasant.
HF SOLO - I have found it's also helpful to go in the other direction. I start with the HF Solo button and listen to the top end. Again, I ask myself, "Do I actually like this sound?" In other words, "Is this a pleasant experience?" Surprisingly, I've found that I want to roll off the high end on most tracks, and when I do this the top end becomes much more enjoyable. I never thought to do this before, and it's so easy to hear when sounds are annoying.
HMF SOLO + HF SOLO - Just going backwards again, I add the HMF Solo button. It's not magic, but it feels like magic when you can hear problems so clearly. I just repeat these steps until I get back to the full range again.
INDIVIDUAL SOLO BUTTONS - When I'm done sweeping from left-to-right and right-to-left, I check all individual solo buttons. I've already done the ends, so all that's left are the three in the middle. I just make sure I like what I hear.
THE MIXCUBE/AURATONE SOUND - By engaging the LMF Solo, MF Solo, and HMF Solo buttons all together (as shown in the above photo), I get a sound that's similar to the cube speakers found in many studios. It's even better if I click the mono ("M") button at the same time. I make sure that all of my ideas come across well. This way, the mix will translate better on a wider range of playback devices.
DIM - The "dim" button attenuates the audio by a specified amount. I have a dim button on my audio interface, but it's not within easy arm's reach. Clicking "dim" in ISOL8 is much easier. It's especially helpful for comparing my mix to a reference track. It's good to do this at different levels.