Sonimus Britson by Eddhartwellmusic
The Sonimus Britson plugin is aimed to impart some of the characteristics of an analogue board to your “in-the-box” mixes. There are a few companies that make console emulation plugins, one of which I have used before, and to be honest, I found that they sounded great at first, but after a while the mix became slightly harsh sounding to my ears, and with a little searching, found that it was the console emulator that was causing the problem, so I was interested in hearing how the “Britson” compared.
What the manufacturers say:
“Sonimus Britson is designed to emulate both the workflow and sonic character of analog mixing consoles” and is inspired by a “classic 8014 console”, while having a personality of it’s own, and provides “that classic warm, open, three-dimensional sound.”
Personally, I’m not sure about the ‘emulating the workflow of an analogue console’ part, because by mixing “in-the-box” you are losing the instinctive, tactile nature and instant gratification of working “up-the-board”. However, this is all part and parcel of mixing in a DAW, so certain things are to be expected.
Very easy to install and activate; after installing the plugin you run a Terminal script (Mac), which quickly does what is has to and you’re done. It works pretty much the same way on PC.
In the DAW you will see the Britson channel and buss instances under your plugin list, (under “other” in PT), and simply put the respective instance of the plugin on each channel and buss. Once done you’ll want to group the channels in instrument groups, of which there are a choice of 8 available.
I found it a little confusing to perform some tasks at first, for example, I had to look up how to access the back panel of the plugin where you’ll find most of the options, (click on the Sonimus logo), and how to set up the groupings, but there is a very helpful video on the Sonimus website about this, which you can find here; Sonimus: Britson
In my opinion, this is a utility plugin, meaning, it’s not so much a creative tool, more of a ‘set and forget’ plug that doesn’t get in the way of your normal mixing style and techniques, and to get the best out of Britson, you need to spend the time setting it up before you start mixing.
Firstly I put it on an a singer/songwriter track, which was just guitar and vocals. Admittedly this was a mix I’d already started, so wasn’t using the plugin as designed, but as I was only using it in a subtle way, it didn’t affect any processing that followed.
On the guitar tracks, with them all grouped, “Fat” mode enabled and without any trim adjustments, it seemed to bring the sound together more, and round off some of the attack and sharpness of the top end, but very slightly and in a very pleasing way.
On the vocals, again, I engaged “Fat” mode and this time trimmed the group up 1dB. This added a slight warmth and body to the vocal, and also brought it forward more in the mix. It was much more subtle on the vocal though.
On a live drum kit the Britson seemed to come in to it’s own a bit more. They immediately sounded more together, as opposed to separate individual drums, and with “Fat” mode enabled, the drums had more weight to them, and seemed to make the room mic’s sing a bit more.Obviously the crosstalk feature is a major factor in blending the drums, and from switching from “vintage” to “modern” I found there was slightly more air around the drum kit, but still having that cohesiveness.
On the same mix I put instances of Britson on the double bass tracks. I found “Fat” mode to be too much, however, grouping the channels, driving trim a few dB and selecting “Trim as Drive” added musical harmonic overtones to the sound, that gave the double bass a bit of life and vibrancy that was missing.
The Sonimus website has some great recommendations for how to implement the Britson, one of which is as an overdrive effect. I’m quite a fan of driving analogue channels and pre-amps, so was interested to try the Britson in this way…I was rewarded with great results again, not too dissimilar to driving a Neve 1073, however, I feel to use it in this mode they should really supply an option for automatic output compensation or an output trim.
My final test was to put the plugin on all channels of a full mix, containing a wide range of musical instruments, group them together and treat them as one, in an attempt to emulate running through an analogue desk and using this plugin in it’s simplest form. I had to really listen for the results, but they were clear, and more apparent during the busier moments of the song, but it sounded punchier, slightly more together, and again, with the crosstalk mode set to “modern” had a bit more life around it, to my ears I still found the “vintage” crosstalk to be a bit dark sounding.
The filters are very musical, and are able to be switched between pre and post trim via the back panel. On vocal tracks I found myself removing the high-pass filters I already had in place and using the Britson instead.
This is quite a subtle effect, to my ear more so than similar plugins, but I feel that this is in it’s benefit as you don’t inadvertently run in to a horrible build up of harshness.
One irritation for me was the inability to rename groups without having a proper mouse. Control-click didn’t enable me the same function of a right-click, so I was constantly reminding myself which set of instruments was on which group.
Although getting started was a bit tricky, and the effect isn’t going to blow you away in an obvious way, (which I think is a good thing), I would pick this console emulator over the others, especially at the incredibly reasonable price… to be honest, there’s no reason not to have it!
Platforms: Audio units/VST 2.4/VST 3/AAX/RTAS, All platforms support both 32 and 64 bit operation.
Operating Systems: Mac OSX 10.6 or higher/Windows XP or newer
Sample Rates: up to 196kHz
Bit Depth: 64 bits (floating point)
Channels: Mono and stereo