Mixing tracks for a song in the digital domain seems easy with all the tools at your finger tips but still harshness is hard to tackle. Brainworx has come to the rescue to eliminate harshness from digital recordings with bx_refinement plug-in. I had a chance to play around with the plug-in to give you my assessment and to see if bx_refinement really reduces harshness. I put bx_refinement through its paces to see what it can do so stay tuned and read below.
What Is It?
After reading through the documentation, bx_refinement was developed as a prototype by Mastering Engineer Gebre Waddell while making a guide called “Complete Audio Mastering: Practical Techniques”. Some of the ideas he wrote in the book was related to harshness and appropriate ways to improve sound which was developed into a VST Prototype that gave birth to bx_refinement. bx_refinement was made to concentrate on a problem in the most transparent and musical way, particularly concentrating on de-harshing and cleaning things up. You can load bx_refinement in any popular DAW and its compatible with PC & Mac.
Lets See What It Can Do.
bx_refinement is really simple to use and the controls seem intuitive. The interface is designed to draw you into the big Damping knob which is how you apply the de-harshing by simply turning the knob clockwise. On the right there is a switch for Soft or Hard filtering which you can use if you want the damping light or aggressive. The Solo Filter can let you know what you are filtering to give you an idea where you’re at. In the middle you see the image of a vacuum tube which will give you a visual presentation of the damping. On the right of the tube you have Saturation, Presence, Mix, and Mid / Mid+Side. Most of these are self explanatory but the knob I love the most is Presence.
On the bottom you will see Damping Modulation. You can modulate the damping if you wish setting the Dynamic range and Speed. Under that you have an Oscillator which you can sync to tempo. The Damping Modulation is good for rhythmic parts like drums or anything for that matter.
After skimming through the controls I slapped bx_refinement on a vocal track I was having harshness issues with in Logic and I thought this was a perfect way to see what this plug-in could do. I started turning the Damping knob and I could hear the harshness mellowing out but the highs were gone. I turned the Presence knob a few db up and the highs were present again. I’ve been pulling my hairs out for days trying to remove harshness from the vocal track and bx_refinement did the trick. I left the saturation in its default position and the Mix was in 100%. I had the switch on Mid with Soft filtering.
I tested bx_refinement on a 2 track mix and it works great. You just have to be careful how much damping you use. Using the Saturation gives you the impression that your mix is going through a vacuum tube.
bx_refinement does what it is made to do. It removes harshness from any track you use it on. I would be careful not to over use bx_refinement because it can alter tracks in an extreme way if you go overboard. If you use bx_refinement on the minimum, you should get good results. bx_refinement does work but keep in mind that if you have a badly recorded track, it won’t produce any miracles. Is it worth it? Of course. You should have bx_refinement in your plugin collection. Plugins like bx_refinement should be a standard in any DAW. If you are having issues with harshness, don’t waste another day and download bx_refinement now. bx_refinement is pricey but trust me, you won’t regret it.