To me, Trackplug is the most interesting of all these plugs, and perhaps the most useful. It’s a complete channel strip in three sections: EQ, Dynamics, and Output. The EQ section can be configured with up to ten bands, each of which is activated and deactivated using the ADD and DEL buttons just below the display. The more bands you activate, the more processing it uses. Each band can be set to a wide range of different EQ types. There are basic EQ varieties like Parametric, Low Shelf, High Shelf, Lowpass, Highpass, Notch, and Bandpass. There are also specialized types like Resonant Low Shelf, Resonant High Shelf, Vintage Low Shelf, and Vintage High Shelf.

All the EQs sound good and are easy to set. You can adjust them graphically by dragging points in a graph, by turning virtual knobs, or by typing values into fields below the knobs. I was particularly impressed with the Vintage Low and High Shelf filters, which feature non-linear slopes around the center frequency, and have a nice warm character to them.

The EQ section also features Highpass and Lowpass Brickwall filters, which eliminate all frequencies above (in the case of the Lowpass filter) and below (in the case of the Highpass filter) their frequency settings. For applications like setting up quick telephone EQs or cutting out unneeded frequencies, these filters give you results quickly.

The Dynamics section provides a gate and two compressors. Having two is particularly handy for VO, because you can use one for dynamics and one for de-essing or, since they’re stacked in series, use them both to compress twice for a seriously in-your-face effect.

There are a total of five compression algorithms available: Clean RMS, Clean Peak, Vintage Peak, Vintage RMS, and Vintage Warm. The Clean settings are the most transparent, while the Vintage settings are designed to impart an old-style analog sound. On a male VO track, the Vintage Warm setting with hard-knee compression selected produced a fatter sound than the Clean algorithm.

Both the compressors and the gate offer the same set of controls: Attack, Release, Threshold, Ratio, (makeup) Gain, Knee (soft, medium, or hard), and Lookahead (Off, 1 ms, 2 ms, or 5 ms). A sidechain is available for de-essing or for triggering from a different frequency band. However, in the DirectX and VST versions there’s no external key input for the gate, so you can’t trigger gate effects using audio tracks. External sidechain support is available in the RTAS versions (for both platforms) and in the Audio Unit and MAS versions. As in the EQ section, the dynamics processors can be controlled by dragging control points in a graph, by turning onscreen knobs, or by entering numeric values.

The final stage is the Output, which has a Gain control for boosting the overall level, and a peak limiter. The limiter lets you maximize levels, and lets you get some heavily compressed sounds when you crank the gain. The peak limiter’s controls are quite simple. You can turn it on and off, and goose the level going into it using the Gain control. According to Wave Arts, the peak limiter is best used on individual tracks rather than for entire mixes. For the latter, the company recommends FinalPlug 5, which we’ll cover in a moment.

Perhaps the strongest feature of TrackPlug is the number of instances you can use without stressing your CPU. Even with some aggressive EQ and compression going on, TrackPlug seldom added more than 5% to Wavelab’s CPU monitor. I fired up an eight track Vegas session and added one to each track... the CPU didn’t squawk, and I had no glitches whatsoever.