JST Gain Reduction 2 Review

JST Gain Reduction 2 Review

Joey Sturgis Tones Gain Reduction was a hugely popular plugin for vocalists. The ease of use was a huge selling point so will adding more features in Gain Reduction 2 make it better or worse?

Let’s take a look and see.

JST Gain Reduction 2

When you have a plugin as popular as Gain Reduction has been, it must be pretty tempting to fiddle around with it and try to improve it. Often, the results can take away from the simplicity which made it popular in the first place. Firing up GR2 for the first time, it was clear JST have resisted the temptation to go too crazy. They have added some extra features but it’s still an easy plugin to use.

Along the top of the plugin you have an On/Off switch, Light/Heavy for switching between two different compression algorithms to suit the style of vocals, and a mix control to let you blend in the original unprocessed vocal track. All pretty straight-forward.

Moving down we find the Input and Output controls. The input can be used manually or you can use the auto-calibration feature to set the level for you. A great idea! The Breath control is basically a gate to control how much breath is present. Set it hard to remove breaths between the vocals or lighter to retain some of the natural sounds. I also found it great for getting rid of the overspill from my headphones. Sibilance is a de-esser to help control those nasty Sss and Shh sounds. Set your DAW to loop on a bad sounding part and twiddle away until things are under control. Again, simple but effective.

The big slider underneath the visual display is the Slay control. This lets you dial in the amount of compression you want to apply. There’s no fiddling around with different levels and ratios. Just move the slider back and forth until you find the right level. You can tell JST have put in a lot of time creating the right algorithms for the compressor. It doesn’t matter where you set the Slay control, it always sounds good. It’s capable of some serious amounts of compression for it always has a natural sound to it.

Warmth adds a tube-style saturation. I often use a saturation plugin so it’s great to find one included. Especially when it sounds so good. It’s perfect for adding to rock or metal vocals to dirty them up a bit and add some extra harmonics.

Body, Clarity and Air are probably my favourite controls on the plugin. They help you to shape the sound and fit the vocals into a mix better. I tested it with some badly recorded, muddy sounding vocals. Using these 3 controls I was quickly able to remove the mud, add some definition and lift the vocals so they didn’t get lost in the mix which the unprocessed track did. These controls can also work brilliantly on thin sounding vocals by adding some body and removing the thinness. They can also be used to tame any nasty sounding frequencies. I think learning how to use them is the real key to this plugin and they are what make it more than just another compressor.

Finally, I have to mention the Visualizer. This could have been a simple display showing you the final signal. Instead, the display changes depending on which control you are using. This lets you see exactly what each control does to the signal. It’s a clever system and it really makes it easier to dial in the perfect settings.

So, how well does Gain Reduction 2 work? Very well indeed. The aim was to make it the only plugin you’d need for vocals. After testing it on different style vocal tracks I found that JST had pretty much achieved that goal. I did still find myself adding an extra EQ at times when I wanted to notch out certain frequencies or make more surgical EQ changes then GR2 is capable of. In reality, I could have probably spent some extra time using the controls within GR2 to achieve similar results. It’s just what I’m used to so I found it quicker to work that way. The main benefit I found was I could drop out a number of plugins from my default vocal chain because they weren’t needed anymore, and the amount of extra EQ needed was minimal. Vocal processing has become a much quicker and easier task thanks to Gain Reduction 2.

Conclusion

JST have taken the original Gain Reduction plugin to the next level with Gain Reduction 2. They’ve managed to add extra features but still retain the simplicity that made the original so great. Add it to some well-recorded vocals and it’s easy to enhance them, bring them to life and help them to find their place within a mix. Use GR2 on badly recorded vocals and it’s still possible to remove the main issues and end up with a useable vocal take. GR2 might not be the only vocal plugin you need but it should definitely be your main one. Let it handle the heavy lifting and your vocals won’t need much else to sound fantastic. For rock and metal, it’s a must, but it’s also just as effective on a wide variety of style. JST Gain Reduction 2 will definitely be the first plugin I add to any vocal tracks from now on.

Rating 9/10

Guitar Noodle Top Pick

Joey Sturgis Tone Gain Reduction 2 is available from – Joey Sturgis Tones

JST Gain Reduction 2 Demo Video

Here’s a quick demo of the Gain Reduction 2 plugin in action. I’ve used the badly recorded demo track I mentioned in my review to demonstrate how much you can lift muddy sounding vocals. In the first clip, you can hear how the vocals are getting lost in the mix and have no clarity. The second clip has some compression applied but the main lift comes from using the body, clarity and air controls to remove some of the mud and add definition. I could have taken it further by really fine-tuning the controls but this just shows how you can very quickly lift the vocals out from the other instruments, even if they have been poorly recorded.

JST Gain Reduction 2

9

Rating

9.0/10