Korneff Audio Amplified Instrument Processor by Sound-Guy
Amplified Instrument Processor 1.1
While Korneff Audio is pretty well known to many Gearspace fans, there has been a notable lack of GS product reviews. So here is one that is overdue. I recently jumped on the intro sale of the Micro Digital Reverberator (still a great value for money at the normal price – see Korneff Audio Micro Digital Reverberator) and decided to see what some of the other processors can do. The Amplified Instrument Processor (AIP) is the most comprehensive processor in the Korneff line and about the most impressive channel strip/processor emulation I’ve ever used.
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As can be seen above, the AIP is a complete set of processing tools that was originally intended to work with amplified instruments such as guitar, bass or keyboards, but really can do a lot more. It has great versatility and an extreme range of processing strength so it can be used for gentle dynamics and equalization control, even on buses and full mixes, and it can crush the living daylights out of a signal. And not just crush, also add punch, width and brilliance as needed.
The AIP has a powerful four band parametric EQ, 12 db/octave high pass and low pass filters (although the user manual says they are 6 dB/octave – but I prefer 12 dB myself), a VCA type compressor, a psycho-acoustic stereo image control with a goniometer display that provides a continuously adjustable soundscape from mono to ultra-wide, a frequency dependent compressor with a real time analyzer, left/right analog channel variation to replicate small variations in EQ frequency-gain structure like a classic analog console, and a unique proprietary signal processing unit with tube, tape and transistor characteristics. It does not include reverb or delays, but then neither does an SSL or Neve console.
Another function a Neve or SSL console doesn’t have is an Insufferable Midrange Filter! Yes, I don’t have any other processor exactly like it – what it does is help you find and reduce resonances that may occur with cymbals, keyboards, vocals, and annoying build-up of multi-tracked guitars. You may have done this manually by setting an EQ band to a high Q and peaking it, then sliding the frequency up and down until the annoying frequency is heard to peak loudly – then invert the EQ peak to a dip. The IMF (not to be confused with the Impossible Mission Forces) helps automate this, although you still need to shift the frequency manually to find the offending value. It also includes a sub-harmonic and second harmonic mode to help where undertones and overtones are also bothering you.
And if you thought the front panel seems a bit “full” click the Korneff logo at the top and you will see the “back” panel which includes some adjustments for a few of the front panel functions as Dan always provides, but also a couple of additional features, a Frequency Dependent Reduction processor and a Real Time Analyzer (RTA).
The Frequency Dependent Reduction processor in the upper left corner is a selective frequency compressor and its effect can be observed in the RTA display. Note the small Gain “screw” at the lower right of this module – this can be used to peak or dip the selected frequency while the Bandwidth, Attack Release, and Threshold slider are used to control the dynamic effect.
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The adjustments on the back panel that affect front panel functions include an EQ Characteristics panel in the upper right that enables selecting modern or vintage frequency curves, and changing the range of each EQ band from very low (if you want minute control such as in mastering) to 200% which expands the normal +/- 18 dB range to +/- 36 dB! At the very upper right is an Invert button that does just that to the four bands of EQ, and below that is a knob that can age the EQ circuit components so your brand new AIP can sound like a 50 year old console (luckily it doesn’t add pops and crackles when you turn an EQ knob!).
Additional adjustments to front panel functions are two “pots” for the VCA compressor on the left – a Distortion Null control and a VCA Symmetry control. The Distortion Null controls the amount of saturation you get when you hit the compressor hard – setting it high can create some real grit, great for guitars, bass and drums. The VCA Symmetry control creates differences in the right and left channel compression curves, similar to what the analog channel variation control does to EQ. Imperfections like this are one of the things that makes analog gear sound analog.
Two other adjustments on the back relate to the Proprietary Signal Processing unit on the front panel – this is where you select tube, tape or transistor style, and can tune the effect from “dark” to “bright” using the Transient Response control. This is really great stuff!
The back panel also includes a wet/dry control for parallel processing and some housekeeping controls: a GUI size adjustment (from 50% to 150% in five steps), a GPU selection (Yes or No – Yes is preferred unless your computer objects), and the oversampling control that when on will over-sample at four times the rate of your project setting. As always, this increases CPU load (see Tech Data below) and is pretty much unnecessary for sample rates above 48 kHz (and one might argue even at 48 kHz).
At the very bottom of the GUI, always visible, is a utility panel with input and output level meters, input and output trim controls, the preset window (that looks like a strip of masking tape) and preset controls, and the usual Korneff buttons to show tool tips and the user manual, A/B comparisons, and undo/redo buttons. The undo/redo has “infinite” levels so you can step back and forth all day if you wish.
How Does It Sound?
In short, it sounds about any way you want it to sound! This is one comprehensive set of functions – it can be used for clean, subtle EQ and compression or can rip sounds to shreds! I have a number of console emulations that provide from very subtle to modest amounts of “color”, but AIP can run the gamut from barely perceptible to more “color” than I’m ever likely to need. I found it very addictive, running tests and playing with tracks for far more hours than I had planned. Just when I thought I had enough data to jot down these notes, I’d try another combination of compression, frequency dependent reduction, Proprietary Signal Processing, etc. and find myself saying “Wow!”
The Amplified Instrument Processor uses the iLok/Pace authorization system, and it turns out as I write this, the Pace system is being updated and you might run into issues especially if you don’t have the latest version of PACE. Best to go to iLok.com and download the newest version before trying to use AIP. And be sure to be online when you first open AIP in a DAW because you will get an activation screen that needs to connect to iLok. Enter your activation code and then go to your iLok account to select the activation mode. If you try to run AIP the first time without an Internet connection, you will likely find it blacklisted in your DAW which could provide you with some entertaining time in removing the blacklisting.
Available for Intel Mac 64bit: VST3, AU, AAX (Mac OS X 10.7 or higher, 10.14 or higher recommended) and Windows 64bit: VST3, AAX (Windows 7 & above). 64 bit DAW support only. Requires either an iLok dongle, iLok Cloud, or iLOK System/Machine Authorization (Cloud and Machine activation are free).
In my test system (PC Audio Labs Rok Box PC with Windows 7, 64 Bit, 4-Core Intel i7-4770K, 3.5 GHz, and 16 GB RAM) Amplified Instrument Processor used from 0.3% to about 0.6% CPU resources depending on the functions used if oversampling was off, and twice as much with oversampling on. This is very low for a channel strip with so many processing modules. Latency is also low at 7 samples, which is only a 146 microsecond delay at a 48 kHz sample rate.
More fun than I’ve had in a long time – and I tend to have a lot of fun in the studio with audio gear! I won’t say it’s the only channel strip plug-in you’ll ever need, but if were all you had (along with some good reverbs and delays), you could mix and master with the best of them.
A whopping load of processors that can provide anything from subtle enhancement to all out mayhem.
Several unique and useful “vintage FX” such as Analog Channel Variance, Proprietary Signal Processing, and aging of components in the EQ circuits.
Very low CPU requirements, so you can use dozens in a project – and very low latency so you can track through it.
Can use DAW automation to control every parameter.
Korneff Audio (and Dan) listen to users for improvement ideas and provide great support.
The 1.1 upgrade adds iLok System/Machine authorization. You can now license your plugin via iLOK dongle, or an iLOK cloud account, or via my preferred mode, System/Machine authorization.
Great value for money.
Free seven day demo is available to check it out.
User manual is fun to read, informative and includes two-plus pages of usage ideas.
None really unless you thought AIP would include a reverb and delay, but you can check out the Micro Digital Reverberator if you want a colorful reverb FX.