BX MASTERDESK & SUHR UAD PLUG-INS
Review: Greg Walker
Continuing a long association with software developer Brainworx, the BX-Masterdesk steps up the UAD platform’s digital mastering capabilities. Again eschewing any one classic design’s footprint, the Masterdesk combines useful features from a number of different outboard processors with an emphasis on quick and intuitive control. There are four compressor modes, each with their own sonic signature, as well as two resonance filters, a guitar amp-style ‘tone stack’ EQ section and a clever two knob mid/side matrix for stereo widening and bass mono-ising (particularly handy for vinyl mastering). A ‘Foundation’ knob allows for very broad brushstroke tonal setting while harmonic distortion, de-essing and wet/dry parallel compression can also be tweaked to taste.
The sound of the BX-Masterdesk is powerful, versatile and sonically pleasing. It can do transparent control, brutal limiting or anything in between and certainly encourages both experimentation and using your ears. I tried it on a couple of tracks and was very pleased with the results. Flicking through the presets helped to narrow down the options and then a few minutes tweaking delivered surprisingly strong results. The BX-Masterdesk offers a relatively painless all-in-one mastering process which is ideal for swiftly polishing up mixes for the client/manager/label that wants to hear them at the release-ready stage. Another very welcome addition to the UAD stable.
Guitar hero Pete Thorn has his signature on this Brainworx amp simulator which does its best work in high-gain shredder mode. The Suhr tones lean towards the Marshall Plexi side of things and there’s an FX rack with noise gate, delay and power soak to help things along. There’s a ton of gain and tone control here in a densely populated GUI and the sounds are generally fairly convincing in both dirty and clean modes. I’m yet to play through an amp simulator that really does it for me (especially in the context of a full band track), and the Suhr PT100 falls into familiar ‘almost got me’ territory. Having said that I’m a bit of an amp snob and I’m always chasing a semi-dirty tone which seems to be a tricky one for the digital emulations to nail. People will undoubtedly get great results with this plug-in and it certainly doesn’t cost $2.5k only to sit in your bedroom studio like a tolex elephant. People who play those expensive pointy-horned looking guitars will definitely have some fun with the Suhr PT100 while indie players may want to look elsewhere for more vintage style tones.