Reading Time: 4 minutes
Boost 11 tip for the pedantic
Boost 11 is a really great sounding Master bus compressor / limiter that comes with Cakewalk sonar. I use it in most every mix. it is not too drastic, is easy to set, and is one of few plugins I couldn’t be without in my productions. Mostly on the final stereo out but also sometimes on a drum bus, pre stereo out, or as drum bus paralell compression. Try it some time. Be gentle with it, but the serial compression might just give you exactly the sound you want. But I digress.
It actually is not all that hard to use even out of the box. For a sighted user it’s most likely nothing at all to it. Just drag the sliders with the mouse and you are done. But that’s not really interesting if you can’t see the slider or whatever knob may be in the plugin dialog. What we will do here is use the inspector while using JSonar and Freedom Scientific Jaws to set the values. Those who changed over to NVDA and it’s Sonar application that is currently under development, can use the exact same method.
The problem with Boost11 and it’s parameters is the difficulty to set exact values. When using JSonar and HotSpotClicker the method is normally as follows:
Open the boost11 dialog. Hit Ctrl 1 to access the output slider and Ctrl 2 for the boost slider. These can then be adjusted in large increments using PgUp and PgDn, in small increments using the up and down arrows. Pushing left and right arrow keys when on one of those controls is supposed to speak the current value. This does not always happen. Depending on the version of HotSpotClicker and JSonar used, the behaviour can be even stranger. In my own setup for example, once a value is changed a virtual mouse-click using numpad slash reads the value. After this the Boost 11 window has lost focus and I must Alt tab back to it.
After setting the desired value; Shift plus Alt plus P is supposed to activate the preset edit box. Once focused there, type a preset name, tab to the save button and hit enter. This sometimes actually works. This is by the way the way presets are saved in most of Sonar’s plugin windows.
Tip: If focus does not go to the edit box and you get a message about hotspot failed, no panic. Do this: Use the Jaws cursor, navigate to the preset edit box and double click it. Now you can type a new preset name and save it.
I’ve started to really get annoyed with this and feel that the Boost11 dialog is simply way too unreliable. It seems to me that values i set sometimes do not stay where I set them. So i got tired of it. This is the system i use now.
Start the inspector for the track where the plugin has been inserted.
In the inspector display list; uncheck everything except the FX. That’s the easiest way. Specifically for this exercise you need to Set the inspector to display FX, set the module option FX item to show assignable controls.
Now we are ready. And since all projects need to have some type of goal, our goal will be to set the output value to -0.01. It’s as close to 0dB as we can get without it being there. So that is our goal. Let’s hit the numbers now.
One small increment i.e plus or minus keys on the numpad, in the inspector equals a 0.19dB change. One large increment i.e left and right bracket, equals a 0.80dB change. So just by following the numbers, this is what we can do:
When focused on the output field: Start at 0.0 and hit minus on the keypad. It will give the numbers as follows:
Hit right bracket and end up with -0.14
(This is most likely as hot as i would ever want to go, but this is not about me. 😀
So we move on with the minus key:
hit Right bracket and end up with -0.10
And so on.
Now, we are getting closer. Without giving you the actual numbers, here’s what to do to reach -0.01dB.
Four hits on minus and one right bracket gets -0.06
Another four hits on minus and one right bracket gives us -0.01
For those wondering: can’t you just type in the value?
The answer is that in many plugins it can be done. For some reason, Boost11 values cannot be edited in that way.
In any plugin that will allow this there is a rather annoying glitch though: When entering a text box, typing the value and hitting enter, the inspector disappears. Well, actually Jaws loses focus and the inspector needs to be turned off with the hotkey I, and then turned on again with hotkey I. When back in the inspector one needs to navigate back to desired field. Not a big big dieal, but it is annoying as hell.
You ask: But what about automation and midi controllers?
I say: Sure. but that’s not for this post. We want exact values. there can be various reasons why an exact value is needed. Not very often, but as far as a limiter goes, it can be very useful.
Hope this helps and have fun mixing.