Brainworx bx_refinement [Analyzing Mixing Plugins]

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Brainworx bx_refinement [Analyzing Mixing Plugins]

Hey, guys.

This is Eric Tarr for

One of my favorite things about working in
music and in audio is all of the different

types of toys and tools and gear that’s available
for us to use.

Specifically, I’m interesting in signal processors.

These are your effects plug-ins.

To me, this is where you can be very creative
when you’re mixing, mastering, or also recording.

What I’d like to do in this video is demonstrate
some techniques you can use to analyze your

effects plug-ins to get a better idea about
what signal processing is going on behind

the scenes.

I’m going to demonstrate these techniques
by using the Brainworx Refinement plug-in.

However, you can use these techniques with
many other kinds of signal processors, including

conventional plug-ins like an equalizer, or
also more creative and unique ones.

I’m always interested and intrigued when a
product is released that claims to do something

that’s different or unique from anything else
that’s already out there, or even plug-ins

that I own myself.

So in this case, the Brainworx Refinement
is going to be a harshness control, which

is a little bit different hopefully than just
a simple equalizer.

So what I like to do is analyze this plug-in
and get a better understanding about what

it’s doing, and why it’s different than anything
else that I’ve already got.

So in this case, what I’m going to do is send
a bunch of signals through it and see how

the plug-in responds to them.

So I’d like to use this plug-in on my mix
buss, so maybe I’ll send a mix through it.

I also like to use it on my drum buss just
to tame some of the harshness on my cymbals.

I also like to use it on individual instruments
like electric guitar that sometimes can be

overbearing, or sound harsh if there’s too
many harmonics, so this plug-in might come

in handy for that kind of thing.

So harshness is kind of a weird thing to describe.

Most listeners will say that something sounds
harsh if there’s too much of the upper mid-range.

Maybe somewhere between let’s say, 1kHz to

When there’s a lot of frequency content in
there, a mix can sound harsh, so I anticipate

that this kind of plug-in is going to do some
frequency dependent things.

Maybe in this range to remove some of the
harshness, but hopefully it’s going to be

more than just doing a simple equalizer.

So, what I’m going to start out with is sending
a sine sweep, or doing the sine sweep myself,

to see how the plug-in responds to different
frequencies by themselves.

So, I’m just going to send a sine wave here
coming from the signal generator plug-in over

to my mix buss where I’ve got the Brainworx
Refinement plug-in.

I’m going to crank up the dampening knob.

This is the main control to remove harshness.

The more it goes up, the more harshness is

Watch what happens over here on my frequency

This is the one from BlueCat Audio.

It’s a free frequency analyzer, so if you
need one and you don’t already have a different

one, make sure to go and download this one.

It’s compatible with almost all DAWs.

So we’ll start off by sending a sine sweep
through it, and watch what happens to the

amplitude at different frequencies.

[sine wave sweeping]

Alright, I’ll go through this again quickly.

What it looks like, is for the sweep, I didn’t
change any of the level over here on my signal

generator, but I’m visualizing the signal
after it goes through the plug-in.

So it looks like the amplitude of the frequency
stayed about constant through this point,

then it started to dip right around 2kHz-5kHz,
then it started to go back up.

So I’ll demonstrate this again.

Start at the low frequencies and sweep them

[sine wave sweeping]

Alright, I’ll mute that because it can get
pretty annoying quickly.

So it looks like harshness, the way that it’s
going to remove some of the harshness from

the signal is to turn down some of these upper
mid-range frequencies.

The question then comes up; is this plug-in
just a simple equalizer, where this basically

is the gain control for some dip in the spectrum
around this frequency range that is known

to be harsh?Well, to really understand what’s
going on, you have to send other kinds of

signals through it, not just a sine wave sweep.

So, another example would be to let me send
over here a sawtooth signal through.

I’ll start out this one – you’ll see before
I crank up any of the dampening, see it’s

a signal that’s fundamental frequency is 100Hz,
and harmonics are every 100Hz.

So even and odd harmonics, 100, 200, 300,
400, all the way up the spectrum, and they

decrease in amplitude and have a steady rolloff
like this.

So I’ll send this sawtooth through and see
what it looks like.

[sawtooth plays]

So we’ve got all of the harmonics.

Now let me crank up the dampening control
and let me see what happens.

[sawtooth, sweeping]

So, it looks like again, we’re just having
some little dip in the spectrum over here.

One of the cool things about this plug-in
though, is it has a special button right here

called the “solo filter.”

What this button is going to allow you to
do is monitor what is being removed – what

information from the signal is being removed.

Are we just removing some of the harmonics
up here?

Or do we have other content from the signal
that’s being removed?

So the solo filter is basically what’s left
over after the processing happens.

So, what is being taken out of the signal.

It’s kind of like if you do the null test
where you take two signals, maybe process

one and flip the polarity on it, then you
can see what’s left over from them.

So the solo filter shows you what is taken
out of the signal.

So, let me bring the sawtooth signal back

Watch what happens when I bring up the dampening
with the solo filter engaged when we’re watching

over here what’s being removed.


So you can see that there’s certainly a fair
amount of information that’s being removed

in this region, but it’s also affecting some
things in the lower harmonics as well.

So it’s not just a simple equalizer that dips
these out right here.

Let me go ahead and send some other signals
through it, so you can get a better idea of

how it works.

I’ll start out with electric guitar.

Do the same thing where I crank up the dampening,
you can hear that happening, then also show

you this solo filter, what’s actually being
removed from the guitar.

So in this case, this is a signal that’s not
stationary or constant.

It’s not the same thing over and over and
over again, like a test signal, or a sawtooth,

or the sine wave.

So it gives you a different way of understanding
how the plug-ins working.

So, here’s electric guitar.


You know, I can demonstrate this also on my
drum buss.

Here’s a drum mix that I’ll send through the
plug-in and do a similar kind of thing with



Also here, across a full mix.


Hopefully you’re able to see and hear that
this plug-in is doing some pretty cool, complex,

sophisticated things.

It’s not just a simple equalizer.

Certainly, it’s going to do a lot to affect
some harshness that shows up in the 2-5kHz

region, but it’s also going to affect some
harmonics that show up across the full spectrum.

Typically when I use this plug-in, I use it
very subtly.

Just maybe one dB, 1.5-2 dB maximum depending
on if I’m using it on individual instruments

or a full mix.

Certainly, the more you crank this knob up,
it’s really going to suck the tone out of

your mix, so you have to be careful with that.

Nonetheless, this plug-in does some things
that I know I can’t do with any of my other


So, I hope that this demonstration gave you
a better idea about the Brainworx Refinement

plug-in, but also showed you some techniques
that you can use with other kinds of plug-ins

as well to see how they work.

So until next time, take care, guys.

Brainworx bx_refinement [Analyzing Mixing Plugins]

The first video in a new series on analyzing effects. This one covers the Brainworx bx_refinement harshness control plugin.

Overview of bx_refinement from Brainworx:

The Harshness Control allows you to eliminate unpleasant high frequencies from complex signals and mixes. bx_refinement’s intuitive controls let you adjust various aspects of the sound with ease. Based on M/S (Mid/Side) processing, it imparts a tube-like analog smoothness and is a boon for mix engineers looking to tame unpleasant digital harshness on individual tracks.

*Add Tube-like Tone*

bx_refinement is not an emulation of a certain tube sound. Instead, it combines several characteristics found in ultra-musical tube-based equipment to give you an effective tool that is easy to operate. As you tweak the bx_refinement controls, the tube graphic gives you precise visual feedback showing you how intensely the process is being applied. Simply look at the tube’s glow and you’ll see how much, how fast, and how dynamic the plugin is affecting the signal.

*Easily Target Problem Areas*

With powerful, simple controls, bx_refinement allows you to quickly identify and discard offending frequencies. The core of bx_refinement is its Damping Control, which features a dynamic peak band EQ to reduce harsh frequencies. The Solo Filter button lets you listen to only the frequencies you’re removing, while the Soft/Hard function sets the character of the processing.

*Dynamic Flexibility*

Implement the oscillation option to create nice warming effects. You can adjust the speed of the oscillator with the duration knob, and even sync it to your DAW’s tempo to emphasize rhythmic aspects of your mix or master. The bx_refinement is a processor that will truly stand alone in your sonic toolkit.


– Reduces harshness and breathes life into recordings

– Dynamic or modulation-based damping of unwanted frequencies

– Soft & hard damping provide second order filtering and higher order filtering respectively

– Solo filter allows you to hear just what you’re removing from the recording

– Subtle saturation and presence controls enhance the material without changing its character

– Independent processing of Mid and Side channels in M/S recordings

About The Pro Audio Files

Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

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