Sample Magic co-founder Dave Felton explains the thinking behind our latest innovation – the Magic AB plugin.
I’ve known for years that the single thing that would make my mixes better is to do more referencing – listening to my own mixes alongside commercial masters that I admire to hone the quality of my own work.
And yet, I’ve never really done it. Why? Because it has been such a pain. Inserting audio tracks, creating busses, routing reference masters to different outputs, soloing, muting – even switching applications – no DAW makes it easy to do what should be an utterly simple thing, and some make it downright arduous. The Sample Magic team talked about this frustration, which we all recognised, and we decided to do something about it.
So here it is – Magic AB – our first ever plugin. It’s not the new soft synth du jour. It’s not offering the biggest kick drums ever conceived. Or reverbs that come straight from audio heaven. But I believe it has the capacity to do something way more important: improve mixes and workflow immeasurably.
The key to Magic AB is its simplicity. It is a tool designed from the ground up to make life easier, saving time in the studio. We wanted its application to be a no-brainer of a process – flicking between audio streams in the same way a DJ would flick the crossfader in a mix. There was no need for anything more complex than that.
I can see a range of uses for Magic AB. First and foremost, is referencing: parking it on your master bus so that you can compare your own mix with up to nine commercial masters. (If you do this, do save your ‘Go to’ references – to save even more time.) But it can be used at track level too, to compare, for example, the kick drum you’re working on with an exposed reference kick drum – just set up the relevant loop points for this kind of forensic AB work.
I’ve also no doubt that mastering engineers will find this a Godsend too (in fact, two on the Beta test team have told us they can’t imagine life without it any more). Not only will it be perfect for sessions when clients bring a range of reference material, but it will also be hugely useful when comparing mixes across an album – just load up the other tracks into Magic AB and you can flick between them effortlessly. And I’m sure Magic AB users will find any number of new creative ways to use it, too.
We hope you get a lot of use from Magic AB, and as ever, do let us know your experiences with it – as well feedback suggestions for future iterations. Suffice to say that since testing it for the first time, it hasn’t left my master bus.