Wilkinson Audio De-Bleeder by joe_04_04
Developer: Redwood Audio
Formats: Windows/Mac OSX: VST2, VST3, AAX, RTAS, AU (Mac only)
Price: 40 USD
DRM: Personal Copy
Website: Wilkinson Audio
The Scope: Wilkinson Audio has released a brand new plugin that uses a different approach when dealing with drum bleed. Unlike a conventional gate, De-Bleeder uses automated equalization of sorts to remove the bleed. The result: an extremely effective, natural, and fun-to-use processor that works well.
Sound Quality - 5/5: When it comes to sound quality, De-Bleeder doesn’t intentionally impart any unwanted changes to the audio. Ultimately, like most bleed-removal processors, De-Bleeder’s main goal is to impart nothing on the drums that are not being removed. The idea is to remove the drum bleed as naturally as possible, a task I think De-Bleeder accomplishes quite well. Instead of using conventional gain reductions below a certain user-defined threshold to remove the drum bleed, it seems De-Bleeder uses some sort of high-frequency reduction on the non-targeted drums that bleed through into the mic. While the manual isn’t quite clear on what exactly is happening (and understandably so), based on what I hear, De-Bleeder gives you control over the amount of reduction happening with the high end of the EQ and how far down the EQ digs into the mids and low end. In some productions, the mixer may choose to entirely remove all bleed from the mic, isolating just the drum, while in other productions, the mixer may choose to just reduce the severity of the bleed. Based on my testing, De-Bleeder works well in both situations. De-Bleeder is entirely capable of mitigating, or entirely removing, all bleed from snares, toms, and kicks.
Ease of Use - 5/5: Honestly, there is not a whole lot to say about the Ease of Use of De-Bleeder other than it most certainly is extremely easy to use. Due to its extremely streamlined graphical user interface and lack of superfluous knobs/controls (more so on the controls in the next section), it is a breeze to navigate and obtain very excellent results. De-Bleeder is extremely fun to use because of this. I find myself doing very little “tweaking” during the entire process - much less than I typically would with a conventional gating tool.
Features - 5/5: When it comes to features, I tend to not rate the plugin based on how many the plugin has, but how well those functions and features were designed when developing the intended workflow for the plugin. A plugin with way too much functionality can actually become detrimental to the mixing stage, as it can bog the mixer down. Having an effective plugin with an optimized workflow matters more to me, than having the absolute most flexible plugin out there. With that being said, De-Bleeder offers both: an extremely optimized workflow with a great degree of flexibility. Only a handful of controls are presented to you on the interface:
- Fundamental - This control is used to target in on the fundamental frequency of the drum being “de-bled.” Setting this near the fundamental, or a harmonic of the fundamental, is crucial for getting the algorithm to work the best.
- Bandwidth - This control affects how wide or narrow the algorithm listens to that fundamental/harmonic frequency.
- AUD. - When engaged, it allows the user to audition the frequency being selected by the Fundamental control.
- EXT. - Allows the user to use the side-chain input to trigger de-bleeder
- Range - This control affects how much of the frequency range is being affected by De-Bleeder.
- Reduction - This control influences how much the bleed is actually being reduced
- Threshold - Used to set the level at which De-Bleeder allows the drum signal to come through and where it removes the bleed.
- Knee Option - Two separate options for either a hard knee or a soft knee. For me, using a soft knee is generally better when working with drums that have a larger dynamic range (ranging from soft hits to heavy hits) and the hard knee is better for drums that are consistently the same volume.
- Release - This parameter affects the speed at which De-Bleeder begins to reduce the bleed. Faster speeds will work for short/snappy transient drums, and really pulls the bleed out quickly. Slower times are necessary for drums that might ring out longer, such as toms.
- ‘I’ (Info button) - Pressing this button prompts a new screen to pop up that has a bit of additional information about the plugin, the hidden values of each knob, and another control for adjusting the sensitivity of the algorithm to ghost notes
*An additional aspect to note about De-Bleeder is that it does induce about 5 milliseconds of latency on the track it is inserted (about 221 samples in a 44.1 kHz session). This delay is to keep De-Bleeder looking ahead for transients, so that it can anticipate them.
Bang for Buck - 5/5: I think that the choice to place this plugin in the sub 50 dollar category was a great one. At 40 bucks, the price makes sense to me. With this being a gate plugin that utilizes an unconventional approach to gating, I doubt anyone will complain. The extremely intuitive and fast workflow in the de-bleeding process is worth the price tag alone, not even considering the quality of the reduction.
Verdict: During my thorough testing of De-Bleeder, I kept coming back to one phrase, “This thing is just too cool.” De-Bleeder is a phenomenal utility plugin. It’s one of those plugins that you don’t ever think about needing until you use it once and realize you don’t want to mix anymore without it. De-Bleeder’s algorithm (and implementation) seems to produce much more natural and stellar results than any of the other conventional/standard gates that I own. I don’t think I will be using those other gates anymore. This tool is a must for anyone who has to mix real drums. While there is no demo, I entirely encourage you to watch some of the videos on Wilkinson Audio’s web page, in order to obtain an idea of how well it works, but I honestly feel entirely comfortable advising those who are unsure, to pick it up. De-Bleeder is currently working wonders on all of my drum tracks and I’m totally excited to have this tool in my plugin folder, for future use. I’m not sure if Wilkinson Audio is planning on creating (or outsourcing) any more plugins in the future, but I will be keeping my eye on them for whatever they may bring out.