ROI: Image Line Maximus
MAXIMIZE YOUR MUSIC PRODUCTION
Image Line, maker of the world famous software FL Studio, has built a reputation for itself by making software that just works. It does what it’s supposed to do, even under the most grueling conditions, whether on a high-end workstation with loads of memory and GHz to spare or a measly portable laptop with a consumer-grade processor and limited memory. The compressors and Multiband Compressor included in FL Studio are already wicked plug-ins, giving you oomph where you need it and height and headspace where you expect it. So, when I first heard that the company finally created a flagship mastering maximizer called Maximus, I had to check it out for myself.
From the start, you can see from the photos that it fits right in with FL Studio, with a similarly gorgeous UI design, spectral displays and lightshows to go along with your booming tracks (in celebrated FL Studio tradition). Don’t let the delicious eye-candy fool you, though. There is a lot happening behind those finely crafted lights and waveforms. I tested it on a few different tracks, from drums, to vocals and even violin strings, with superb results. It is far more useful than just a maximizer alone, as it is also a limiter, noise gate, expander, ducker and de-esser. Don’t feel intimidated if you are not a FL Studio user. Maximus is also a VST plug-in and can work in most other DAWs in real-time. I hooked a synthesizer and watched it crispen up the performance instantly. So whether you are using it for post production on individual sound effects for a short film, or as a final mix-down compressor for a guitar or drum track, you’ll find that it’s pretty versatile.
It has three independent (Low, Mid, High) frequency bands and four Compressors/limiter: One per (LMG) band, plus a Master wideband compressor/limiter. I recommend downloading the Demo and testing it out on your own tracks. I was happy with the results, particularly on drum tracks and sequences. While not a complete home-run on strings and vocals, it was able to add a bit more life and overhead. It works miracles on guitar and bass tracks. One really cool feature lets you turn on and off the various lines, floor and ceiling markers, to get a fuller idea of what is happening to your audio, right before your eyes.
Maximus comes with a ton of useful presets/starting points to get you going in the right direction from the start, which gives it extra points in my book. It’s nice fiddling with knobs and learning all the science behind sound, but there are those among us who also want to have crisp and rich ‘ sounding tracks without too high a learning curve. It helps to eventually understand what each knob is doing, to help you heighten your own senses and understand the delicate art of mastering and compression.
Ultimately, this is a great choice for a mastering plug-in for any studio, whether post production or music. In the war over mainstream audio, any ammo you can pack that can help you fight against other peoples’ badly mastered audio is good rationing. Give Maximus a shot!