Test Drive: eaReckon’s ANALOG87 Series of Processors

by Steve Cunningham

I love small companies, mostly because they’re so... well, little, and because I spent a significant part of my past life working in them. Among my favorites are the really small, one-man outfits. Often the best combinations of value and sound emanate from garages, bedrooms, and the occasional rented office. This month we’ll look at a set of five plug-ins that all come from one certified smart guy -- Philippe Decuyper, aka “PFozz”, aka the sole owner and operator of eaReckon.com in France. And it is from here that this month’s collection of plug-ins comes. The author pays homage to the gear on which he learned to record and the year he learned it by calling the collection ANALOG87.

eaReckon’s ANALOG87 series of processors covers all the bases, and includes five separate plug-ins for Windows and Mac: the SD-COMP 87 Sidechain Compressor, the SD-GATE 87 Gate and Ducker, the BW-LIMIT 87 Brickwall Limiter and Maximizer, the PR-EQUA 87 4-band Parametric EQ, and the CS-STRIP 87 Channel Strip. Taken together, these represent a compact yet complete set of audio processing tools at the attractive price. They look and feel like the analog devices of which the author is so fond and the company not only provides demo versions, but there are cut-down versions of the processors you can download and use for free. But how do they sound, and how complete is their feature set? Let’s find out.

REQUIREMENTS AND SETUP

Requirements for any of the ANALOG87 plug-ins are quite modest. On the PC, the plugs come in VST format and support Win XP, Vista, and 7 in either 32- or 64-bit versions, and on a Pentium IV or Athalon to boot. On the Mac they come with both VST and AU versions, and run under 10.5 or newer on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor as either 32- or 64-bit plugs. On both platforms eaReckon recommends a minimum of 1 GB of RAM, which is the minimum anyone running audio apps should have anyway.

Whether bought separately or as a collection, the ANALOG87 plug-ins come with individual installers that do their job without incident. Regarding authorization, all eaReckon’s products use a challenge/response registration system over the Interwebz, and serial numbers are delivered quickly via email upon purchase. However, the process of registering the product to get the authorization code (the response to the challenge) can be cumbersome. There are two methods -- the one I chose (out of ignorance) was to manually auth each plug individually, copying and pasting the challenges and responses into the boxes on each of the plug ins. This is not a big deal unless you’re authorizing all five in the collection in one sitting. That can be tedious. However, the company will also provide Key Files right away, if you send a note via the Contact Form on the website. If you don’t ask, they still come but take a bit longer as they are enabled on each purchase manually. But these Key Files fill in all the data for you in one go, and are painless.