As we close out another fantastic year for LiquidSonics and head into 2024, it’s an ideal time to step back and reflect on some of the highlights from 2023.
It’s been a busy one with accessibility updates and track width software enhancements, lots of interviews with industry legends, glowing press reviews, some great tips & tricks articles, and even some exciting new industry partnerships.
So in case you missed any of it, here’s a retrospective look at some of the best updates, articles and interviews of the year…
The first few months of 2023 were spent deep in the code den. The task – to upgrade the portfolio from Juce 5 to Juce 7 without introducing any regressions or even for most people to notice much of a change! There were two main reasons for clearing the schedule to get on top of this long overdue maintenance job.
The biggest motivator was that Juce 7 has huge advances in screen-reader compatibility. While most people will never need to use one it can be an incredibly important accessibility feature for those that do rely on them. Following these updates the plug-ins are able to expose contextual information and parameter values to the built-in screen readers for Windows PCs and Macs. You can see an example of how this works below: when the mouse or keyboard focus hits a control such as the mix dial, the Windows and macOS screen reader will speak the information shown in the hot-spot overlay to the user. It’s a quick and easy way to convey information that otherwise would be tucked away in user guides and parameter list view UI modes.
Secondly, as developers we really do need to keep on top of maintenance every few years to try and avoid the latest Macastrophies due annually between June and October. This year, however, the dividends paid out early and in an unexpected way.
Avid got in touch asking if LiquidSonics would be able to support the upcoming and long-awaited enhancements to track widths – up to 9.1.6 – an unannounced feature update at the time. They also asked if something could be prepared to be shown on the Pro Tools booth at the NAB show in April with just a few weeks notice. Although I was on holiday at the time, and had promised myself this year would be different – no work on holiday – it only took one stolen rainy day to get some rudimentary 7.1.6 support into a test build with a little help from Avid and the Juce team via email!
Without having just completed the Juce upgrade the answer would have been no way, but it was a pleasure to be able to support Avid’s teaser at the show along with some other fantastic developers of surround tools. We got that shout-out on the stand, and I got to work out how to build in full support when I arrived home.
We released the first tranche of track width updates in May formally supporting 7.x.4, 7.x.6 and 9.x.6 for AU, VST3 and AAX ready for the Pro Tools release when it dropped. A little extra time was required to support 5.1.2 and 5.1.4 channel widths in Logic Pro and 5.x.2, 5.x.4 and 9.x.4 in VST3 and AAX taking us into July for full support of the track widths update.
While those were the two most significant updates for the year, some other notable enhancements besides the usual compatibility fixes this year included:
- Finally being able to reinstate support for GarageBand on Intel Macs after a Pace SDK update;
- Improvement of the surround propagation modes in Seventh Heaven Pro (adding full, L/R true stereo plane limit, exclude L/R crossfeed, and off) so that established stereo plane workflows from the hardware world can be replicated more easily;
- Adjustments to cross-feed behaviour in Cinematic Rooms and Lustrous Plates Surround so that left/right channels can be isolated to prevent bleed from one side of a room to another – a special request from the post-production community;
- To continue the accessibility drive, poor Windows right/left mouse click swap support in the Juce library has been worked around for any dials with right-click menus by allowing menus to be disabled so that “lefties” can twiddle dials with the right mouse button!
The Cinematic Rooms Anniversary
Although it was a little hard to believe, Cinematic Rooms had its third anniversary this year. After launching to critical acclaim in 2020, I’m proud to be able to say the reverb has gone from strength to strength and many professionals have said how it is becoming an industry standard in the score mixing and post production world.
In collaboration with some of our top LiquidSonics artists, we put together a collection of 150 new presets – these are secret weapons from the professional world of post and score that are ideal for a shot of inspiration! If you’ve not picked up May’s free update it’s well worth a look. We also caught up with some artists and they shared some of their thoughts about the reverb – we have some great videos on the LiquidSonics YouTube channel to commemorate the occasion.
Some wonderful opportunities to work with esteemed creators and prestigious establishments have borne fruit this year.
Perhaps the biggest was when Pinewood Post announced that the entire range of LiquidSonics plugins, such as Cinematic Rooms, Seventh Heaven, and Tai Chi, are available in all of Pinewood Post Production’s 17 mixing theatres at both Shepperton Studios and Pinewood Studios.
We also found out how Cinematic Rooms plays a crucial role at the National Film And Television School at Beaconsfield Studios in Buckinghamshire, UK. Jeremy Rodeschini filled us in about how LiquidSonics plugins are utilised in the course curriculum, and how they enhance the teaching experience for their tutors. We also heard from two of their students who spoke about interesting projects they have worked on at the school.
We’re delighted to have partnered with the legendary Warren Huart from Produce Like A Pro and enjoyed checking out his video exploring Seventh Heaven, and we were honoured to learn that Marc Jovani is using LiquidSonics reverbs in his wonderful Cinematic Composing courses.
Tips & Tricks
Some of our most popular articles this year were the ones offering some insight or advice about how to use the reverbs. If you’re new to the brand, or missed them first time around, I’ve collected together some of my favourites:
- In Three Top Tips For Mastering Seventh Heaven Professional we explain the difference between the M7’s different preset banks, talk about how to get the most from the wonderful Low Frequency Reverb processor and unravel the mystery of the M7’s numerical reflection patterns – if you use the professional edition of Seventh Heaven these tips are well worth digging into to level-up your mastery of this incredible reverb;
- In The Finer Details Of HD Cart some light is shed on mysterious algorithmic reverb controls that you might have seen before but never really known how to drive! If you have ever wondered what Spin & Wander, Spread & Size or Recirculation & Loop Enhancement do then this is the one for you!
- In Chorusing In The Loop – Does It Really Make Such A Difference?, the wonderful chorused reverbs of Tai Chi are explored giving you some idea how this incredible ensemble reverb can really make a difference to choirs and electric pianos.
This year we were fortunate enough to be able to catch up with some of our wonderful artists. It was fascinating finding out a bit more about them, how they got into the business and how they use LiquidSonics reverbs in their daily workflows.
- Dennis ‘ROC.am’ Jones is hot property in Atmos mixing and shared some insights about his unconventional approaches – ones that were so successful he has been putting together immersive music for Rihanna, Bryan Adams, Mary J. Blige, and Frank Sinatra!
- Phil McGowan shared how he made it as an Emmy-nominated score mixer, recording engineer and producer working on hit shows including Paramount+’s series Star Trek: Picard.
- Scott Michael Smith sat down with us… and first things first… how did he land this year’s hottest Star Wars gig? The stuff of dreams…
- Chris Fogel generously took some time out from working on two of the summer’s biggest blockbusters – Oppenheimer and Mission: Impossible – to talk about his experiences with industry luminaries including director Chris Nolan and megastar Tom Cruise!
- Rich Aitken works on a lot of the top video games and TV shows – it was fascinating to find out how his production approach differs between his many varied projects over at his studio Nimrod Sound.
We’ve had some great reviews in the media this year. Musikermagasinet covered Seventh Heaven and Tai Chi in October 2023 giving very positive impressions. Germany’s Beat magazine’s reviewed HD Cart in July, and their coverage of Tai Chi is on the shelves right now in the January 2024 edition!
“Tai Chi is an independent algorithmic reverb effect with an outstanding basic sound that can be extensively adapted to your own needs and the specific audio signal like almost no other reverb plug-in. We particularly liked the well thought-out and clear interface with its very useful selection of parameters. Tai Chi, therefore, invites you to try it out and tweak it yourself and rewards you with impressive sound results. In principle, more experimental and wacky effects are also possible, but we see the strengths primarily in classic reverb effects, especially as a full, warm reverb for synthesizers, instruments and vocals.”Mario SchumacherBeat Magazine (January 2024 #216)
“Seventh Heaven Professional really lives up to the name Professional. Here you find all the presets from the original from Bricasti, meticulously recreated. This reverb offers everything from small cramped rooms, to large halls and church buildings – all extremely realistically rendered.” … “Here, all the old preconceived notions about convolution reverbs and their limitations are put to shame. You might as well think of this as a first-class algorithmic reverb, both in terms of sound and manageability.”Gunnar E OlssonMusikermagasinet (October 2023)
“It is almost impossible not to be struck by how incredibly good everything sounds. Absolutely wonderful! Download the Tai Chi demo version now! This is an order!”Gunnar E OlssonMusikermagasinet (October 2023)
“The original reverb effects are known for their dense, lush and very musical sound character and HD Cart captures this very convincingly. The plug-in offers the same extensive setting options as the original, but is much more convenient to use than its hardware model. With the integrated dynamics effects and the very lively chorus, HD Cart is also ideal for unusual reverb effects and sound design.”Mario SchumacherBeat Magazine (July 2023 #210)
To all that I work with behind the scenes and to everybody that has supported LiquidSonics in 2023 by picking up a new reverb – heartfelt thanks – I truly appreciate it.