AuraDemo is a universal binary Audio Unit plugin (PPC/32/64 bit AU, for Mac) for dialing in the sparkle or sonority of a sound. It gives a kind of presence peak never done before in software, along with attenuation past that peak. Defaults to natural tone, or exaggerate it for hype!

Here’s how it works, and why you can’t do this by using the same response curve (seen in the video) on any EQ, digital or analog, no matter whose it is.

Aura’s not a complicated peak-and-notch maker, doesn’t operate with normal EQ algorithms or even ‘analog modeled’ EQ algorithms. It’s almost a Purest-line plugin. The ‘circuit’ being done in code is very simple and involves very few operations, much like a high-end preamplifier that works using very few discrete components. The operations it does do, however, increase the richness and sonority of ALL the sound, not just the stuff around the ‘aura’ voicing.

It averages out the rate of change OF the rate of change OF the waveform, and then lets you blend that result with the dry signal. That’s it, but nobody else has this (it would be extremely obvious if they did). One possible reason is the algorithm’s tricky? It took some real hacking to get it to act right as you adjust the voicing control: it doesn’t automatically work like a DSP cookbook EQ algorithm. I didn’t even know what it would do until I got the thing working and started to experiment.

Why’s it called Aura? Because using it, you get to wipe out information above a certain highlighted frequency (it’s sample-rate dependent so the voicing will tend to emphasize the highest reaches of whatever sample rate you’re using) but KEEP the information if it’s legitimately part of a waveform. Aura only keeps harmonics, and throws out noise and garbage. And it’s a very finely tuned cutoff, a real scalpel for singling out specific overtones. It does in a very simple algorithm what would take dozens of poles of DSP filter to not even do, and makes it sound amazing.

Consider that for a moment. How could you tell a steep lowpass, ‘get rid of only the stuff that’s not part of the harmonics of my waveform, okay? If it’s part of the big waveform, please keep it kthx, otherwise axe it. Oh, and give me a really steep notch over that because I want to take a nasty overtone out, but I don’t like the sound of really high Q digital EQ so leave that plasticky tonality out please. Oh and one more thing. Please run zero latency so I can track into you’.

You can’t, regular EQ (especially digital) tends to show the strain when you make it do crazy things like that. Regular digital EQ is better off doing broad cuts very cleanly. But Aura isn’t even an EQ algorithm, it’s something much simpler and this is what you get out of it: by its nature you get this tendency to hype and retain harmonics of musical waveforms, that’s at the heart of what it does. By its nature it does potentially extreme things without sounding overprocessed because it’s not overprocessed: it’s very simple in design. And it’s zero latency, just to drive home how different it is from typical plugins. It provides definition and intensity/sonority of tone beyond any EQ, for this one common EQ-like behavior.

The video shows it working on sounds from a Korg synth, such as strings and piano and banjo, but did you notice it’s also on my headset mic? To evaluate what Aura means to you, I’d advise grabbing the (Audio Unit) demo and trying it on sounds you normally use. It ought to be killer on any sort of vocals, particularly if there’s a high presence peak that’ll work for the sound. You can increase the voicing and bring it down into that high-middy obnoxious range that wouldn’t work for airy sounds, if your sound is darker like a piano or perhaps a bass, and it’ll refine the mids and give you loads of definition and articulation. And of course, any guitar sound, particularly heavy guitar sound, can become amazing through using Aura to dial in just the right presence peak slightly higher than the guitar speaker naturally puts out, so it extends the range while also notching out artifacts above that peak. You can get a whole range of flavors on cymbals, you can invent new sonorities for entirely digital synths… treat it as a kind of lowpassing, a very useful and common class of effect, but one that brings out your harmonics rather than dulling them and choking them off.

If I can make the same thing happen in a highpass, that will become a free update for anyone who got Aura (because it would be the most natural and best thing ever to bring Aura the ability to ‘trap in’ sounds on both frequency extremes). For now, I bring you the ultimate ‘lowpass kind of thing’ that’s technically not an EQ, but behaves a lot like one.

Aura is $50.