We can be “Heroes,” with Tony Visconti, Erin Tonkon as tutors for Eventide Tverb plugin

We talk less about plug-ins as classics than we do hardware, but Tverb – replicating Tony Visconti’s “Heroes” setup but hugely versatile elsewhere – might just be that. And not one but two Bowie collaborators did how-to videos for Eventide recently.

Tverb has been out for some years, the result of a collaboration between Eventide and Tony Visconti himself. I have to admit my first impression of it was, Eventide wants to do what? Make a plug-in for, uh, the mic rig on one song? (Even a great song like “Heroes”? Even if it was recorded in Berlin?)

But it turns out to be a really evergreen effect, like having free reign in the legendary Meistersaal at Berlin’s Hansa Tonstudios. Rather than being a one-trick pony, it really is as close as you can get to studio rental in plug-in form. The presets alone represent a lot of the kind of work in miking (and re-miking) done by folks who blow budgets renting these sorts of studios. And while Hansa gets a send-up now in a bunch of convolution reverbs (cough), there’s something unique about having a plug-in that actually puts you on just one stage. Instead of cycling through a ton of impulse responses (do I want one of eighteen churches or the toilet at Ableton?) — you actually do what you’d do in the studio and move around mics and faders.

Mic placement, channel strips, tons of modeling of the analog components and recording gear, and you really get not just a tool to cop Visconti’s “Heroes” effect but to simulate actual mic work on a single, lovely soundstage.

That being said, as it happens – and this surely will shock a lot of you – I am not a Grammy Award-winning producer. I am what I believe various recording institutions would call “a terrible engineer who has no frakkin’ clue what they’re doing and will you leave those faders alone please?!

So yeah, Tony Visconti’s signature is on Eventide’s plug-in, but … I am not Tony Visconti. Nor am I the exceptional engineer Erin Tonkon, who Bowie hand-picked for Darkstar and who teaches at Tisch at NYU.

Now you get both Tony and Erin with instructional videos on using Tverb.

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This first video with Tony is what anyone with Tverb in their arsenal has been waiting from since the beginning. It’s Tony walking you through how he got the effect. (Tony is also a naturally superb speaker; while I was not learning how to be an audio engineer I was working in music notation and we did an event with ASCAP at one point.)

It’s honestly worth watching even if you don’t have Tverb, and absolutely worth checking out if you do or you’re in the market.

Erin is also great, and looks at some other scenarios with the plug-in you might not have considered:

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We live in really interesting times from an engineering perspective. You can take an instrument that meticulously models a very particular scenario – like this one soundstage, the modeled channel strips, and mic placement – and then apply that to some very unexpected in-the-box scenario. I always appreciate that sort of combination, because you can take something entirely synthetic and virtual like a synth patch, and mix it with something that models a very grounded real-world environment.

So it’s also worth checking out this slightly older video on using Tverb with synths. That is something I’ve worked with a lot.

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But I bring up all of this partly because it isn’t a new plug-in. There’s a real benefit to going deep with a few tools, even in software, and learning them over a long period of time, rather than just swapping out new toys all the time. And Eventide’s plug-ins fit that bill for me, with a handful of other developers (Soundtoys and Arturia, plus Universal Audio when I’ve got UAD hardware handy, sure wind up coming up a lot, along with some newer stuff).

Now speaking of evergreen, what I really want to see is an Apple Silicon-native version of this plug-in, though meanwhile, the 64-bit version runs okay in Rosetta and I use the Windows version constantly.

But those software upgrades aside, upgrading your brain, ear, and skills like this is always the best.

I know, I know. We’re nothing, and nothing will help us. But you can grab Hansa, just for one day. (I’m sorry.)