A few months ago Sondtheory approaches me asking if I wanted to try their Gullfoss equalizer.
I'm always keen to discover new plugins and new tools. This was a completely new one to me.
So I got the license, installed the plugin, and started testing.
A COUPLE OF WORDS ABOUT THE PLUGIN
The Gullfoss is a corrective equalizer and its main goal is to make music sound cleaner achieving extra clarity.
The plugin is marketed as an intelligent equalizer capable to listen to music and understand how to prepare it to get the most information out of it.
By analyzing the audio spectrum, Gullfoss identifies areas that can benefit from corrective equalization, making subtle yet impactful adjustments to bring out the clarity hidden within the track.
The analysis happens in real-time and the behavior of the plugin is dynamic. This means that the eq applied is not static but it changes as the music goes on.
LET'S LOOK AT THE GULLFOSS
The plugin comes in three versions: Gullfoss, Gullfoss Live, and Gullfoss Mastering.
Recover and tame are the two main parameters allowing the user to improve clarity, depth, and details.
This can be achieved by increasing the intensity of those frequencies masked by other frequencies (Recover) or by attenuating those frequencies that are too dominant (Tame) or, as I recommend a combination of both.
Where Tame and Recover are the two main parameters the Bias establishes who to give priority to (Tame or Recover) allowing us to tune the plugin more precisely according to the material we are working on.
In my experience prioritizing the Tame works better, but this also depends on the audio and your workflow.
Brighten is a simple very transparent equalizer that as the name suggests boosts or attenuates the brightness of the material.
Boost is another equalizer that works on the low end and midrange at the same time. By increasing its value, the low end will get boosted and the midrange attenuated, and vice versa if we go for negative values.
These last two parameters Brightness and Boost are intended to be used up to taste to further shape the tone according to needs and context.
GULLFOSS EQUALIZER UNDER TEST
I have played with all three versions of Gullfoss and found the mastering to be the most accurate, but also the most CPU-heavy.
The Live version is the lighter, while the standard Gullfoss is the perfect compromise between the two.
I suggest using the standard Gulfoss for mixing applications, and the mastering version, of course, for mastering applications.
The live version can be helpful in those contexts where you're running out of CPU and you need a lighter version of the plugin.
Gullfoss can be used on single elements when mixing and on the whole song when mastering.
Generally speaking, when mixing, an instance of Gullfoss on each channel helps to achieve extra clarity, but it's when we have some problematic instrument that the Gullfoss can make a big difference by improving the natural balance of the instrument in a very natural and musical way.
When mastering I found the Gullfoss to be more appropriate in those contexts where some extra definition is needed. Just a little touch of the plugin (no more than 20% of Tame and Recover, with the Bias set more toward Tame) can improve the overall tone. I have also been impressed by how the Gullfoss can improve the depth of those problematic mixes... really! impressive!
Using the plugin is very intuitive, the interface is clean and clear allowing the user to navigate quickly all the parameters. A set of meters also indicates input, output level, and brightness changes.
I found Gullfoss to be easy to use. It makes a great difference when extra sheen and polish are required without sounding unnatural or generating unwanted artifacts.