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The Ultimate Guide to Outlaw: Features, Settings, and Examples





WA Production Outlaw v1.0.0 Review: A Gain-Riding Plugin for Smooth Dynamics




If you're looking for a plugin that can help you create balanced dynamics with a "human touch", you might want to check out Outlaw, a gain-riding plugin from W.A. Production. Outlaw is a dynamic processor that listens to the incoming audio and compensates for volume changes, mimicking the fader movement of a real-life audio engineer. Whether you're mixing live sound, smoothing vocals or balancing solo instruments, Outlaw can make your life easier with its smooth gain leveling and wealth of features.




WA Production Outlaw v1.0.0



In this article, we'll take a closer look at what Outlaw can do for your music production. We'll explain what gain-riding is and why you need it, how to use Outlaw's main controls and advanced settings, how to apply Outlaw to different scenarios and sources, how Outlaw compares to its lite version, and what are the pros and cons of this plugin. By the end of this article, you'll have a better idea of whether Outlaw is the right plugin for you.


What is Gain-Riding and Why Do You Need It?




Gain-riding is a technique that involves adjusting the volume level of an audio signal over time to achieve a consistent loudness. Unlike compression, which reduces the dynamic range of a signal by applying a fixed ratio of attenuation above a certain threshold level (and often adds coloration or distortion), gain-riding simply raises or lowers the volume according to a target level (and preserves the natural dynamics and tone).


Gain-riding can be highly beneficial when mixing audio sources that have a lot of volume fluctuations, such as live sound, vocals, acoustic instruments, etc. Gain-riding can help you achieve a more consistent and professional sound, without losing the natural expressiveness and dynamics of the performance. Gain-riding can also help you avoid clipping, distortion, or unwanted noise that might occur when using compression or normalization.


However, gain-riding can be very tedious and time-consuming to do manually, especially if you have multiple tracks or sources to deal with. That's where Outlaw comes in handy. Outlaw is a plugin that automates the gain-riding process for you, using a smart algorithm that analyzes the incoming audio and adjusts the volume accordingly. Outlaw can save you a lot of time and effort, while giving you precise control over the gain-riding parameters and visual feedback.


How to Use Outlaw: The Main Controls




Outlaw has a simple and intuitive interface that consists of four main dials, a visual feedback display, and a menu button that opens the advanced settings panel. Let's take a look at each of these elements and how they affect the sound.


MIX, TARGET, GATE & GAIN




The four main dials are MIX, TARGET, GATE, and GAIN. These are the essential controls that determine how much and how fast Outlaw will adjust the volume level of the audio signal.


  • MIX: This dial controls the wet/dry mix of the plugin, from 0% (dry) to 100% (wet). At 0%, Outlaw will have no effect on the sound. At 100%, Outlaw will apply the full amount of gain-riding. You can use this dial to blend the original signal with the processed signal, or to dial back the effect if it's too strong.



  • TARGET: This dial sets the target level for the gain-riding algorithm, from -60 dB to 0 dB. This is the level that Outlaw will try to match by raising or lowering the volume of the audio signal. You can use this dial to set the desired loudness for your track or source, depending on the genre, style, or context. For example, you might want a higher target level for a vocal track than for a background instrument.



  • GATE: This dial sets the gate threshold for the gain-riding algorithm, from -60 dB to 0 dB. This is the level below which Outlaw will stop adjusting the volume and let the signal pass through unchanged. You can use this dial to prevent Outlaw from affecting very quiet sounds or noise that might be present in your audio signal. For example, you might want to set a higher gate threshold for a noisy guitar track than for a clean piano track.



  • GAIN: This dial sets the output gain of the plugin, from -12 dB to +12 dB. This is the final volume adjustment that Outlaw will apply after the gain-riding process. You can use this dial to compensate for any volume changes that might occur due to the gain-riding algorithm, or to match the level of other tracks or sources in your mix.



VISUAL FEEDBACK




Outlaw also provides a visual feedback display that shows you the peak and RMS volume of the input and output signals, as well as the amount of gain-riding applied by the plugin. You can use this display to monitor the performance of Outlaw and to adjust the settings accordingly. The display also has a bypass button that lets you quickly compare the processed and unprocessed signals.


Outlaw in Action: Examples and Tips




Now that we've covered the main features and controls of Outlaw, let's see how it can be used in different scenarios and for different sources. Outlaw is a versatile plugin that can handle a variety of audio material, from live sound to vocals to instruments. Here are some examples and tips on how to use Outlaw effectively.


Live Sound Mixing




One of the most common applications of gain-riding is live sound mixing, where you have to deal with unpredictable and inconsistent volume levels from various sources, such as singers, guitars, drums, etc. Outlaw can help you smooth out the dynamics of live sound sources and make them sound more balanced and professional.


For example, let's say you're mixing a live vocal performance. You want the vocals to be clear and present in the mix, but not too loud or too quiet. You also want to preserve the natural expression and emotion of the singer. Here's how you can use Outlaw to achieve that:


  • Set the MIX dial to 100% to apply the full effect of Outlaw.



  • Set the TARGET dial to a level that matches the average loudness of the vocal track. You can use your ears or the visual feedback display to find the right level. A good starting point might be around -18 dB.



  • Set the GATE dial to a level that filters out any unwanted noise or silence from the vocal track. You don't want Outlaw to affect these parts of the signal, as they might cause unwanted volume changes or artifacts. A good starting point might be around -40 dB.



  • Set the GAIN dial to a level that compensates for any volume loss or gain caused by Outlaw. You want the output level of Outlaw to be similar to the input level, so that you don't introduce any clipping or distortion. You can use your ears or the visual feedback display to find the right level. A good starting point might be around 0 dB.



  • Adjust the ADVANCED SETTINGS according to your preference and taste. For example, you might want to use a high-pass filter to remove any low-frequency rumble from the vocal track, or adjust the attack and release times to make Outlaw more responsive or smoother.



By using these settings, you should be able to achieve a smooth and consistent vocal sound that stands out in the mix without sounding unnatural or over-processed.


Vocal Processing




Another common application of gain-riding is vocal processing, where you want to enhance the clarity and presence of vocal tracks, with or without compression. Outlaw can help you achieve a more natural and transparent vocal sound, without losing the dynamic range or adding unwanted artifacts.


For example, let's say you're processing a recorded vocal track. You want the vocals to sound smooth and consistent, but not too flat or dull. You also want to avoid any sibilance or harshness that might occur due to compression. Here's how you can use Outlaw to achieve that:


  • Set the MIX dial to 100% to apply the full effect of Outlaw.



  • Set the TARGET dial to a level that matches the desired loudness of the vocal track. You can use your ears or the visual feedback display to find the right level. A good starting point might be around -12 dB.



  • Set the GATE dial to a level that filters out any unwanted noise or silence from the vocal track. You don't want Outlaw to affect these parts of the signal, as they might cause unwanted volume changes or artifacts. A good starting point might be around -30 dB.



  • Set the GAIN dial to a level that compensates for any volume loss or gain caused by Outlaw. You want the output level of Outlaw to be similar to the input level, so that you don't introduce any clipping or distortion. You can use your ears or the visual feedback display to find the right level. A good starting point might be around 0 dB.



  • Adjust the ADVANCED SETTINGS according to your preference and taste. For example, you might want to use a low-pass filter to remove any high-frequency hiss from the vocal track, or adjust the direction mode to make Outlaw more aggressive or gentle.



By using these settings, you should be able to achieve a smooth and consistent vocal sound that sounds natural and transparent, without relying on compression or other effects.


Instrument Balancing




Another common application of gain-riding is instrument balancing, where you want to balance the levels of different instruments in a mix, such as bass, piano, synths, etc. Outlaw can help you achieve a more balanced and cohesive mix, without losing the individual character and dynamics of each instrument.


For example, let's say you're mixing a track that has a bass, a piano, and a synth. You want the instruments to sound harmonious and well-blended, but not too loud or too quiet. You also want to avoid any masking or clashing that might occur due to overlapping frequencies or levels. Here's how you can use Outlaw to achieve that:


  • Set the MIX dial to 100% to apply the full effect of Outlaw.



  • Set the TARGET dial to a level that matches the desired loudness of each instrument track. You can use your ears or the visual feedback display to find the right level. A good starting point might be around -15 dB for the bass, -12 dB for the piano, and -9 dB for the synth.



  • Set the GATE dial to a level that filters out any unwanted noise or silence from each instrument track. You don't want Outlaw to affect these parts of the signal, as they might cause unwanted volume changes or artifacts. A good starting point might be around -40 dB for the bass, -35 dB for the piano, and -30 dB for the synth.



  • Set the GAIN dial to a level that compensates for any volume loss or gain caused by Outlaw. You want the output level of Outlaw to be similar to the input level, so that you don't introduce any clipping or distortion. You can use your ears or the visual feedback display to find the right level. A good starting point might be around 0 dB for each instrument track.



  • Adjust the ADVANCED SETTINGS according to your preference and taste. For example, you might want to use different filters for each instrument track to remove any unwanted frequencies or enhance certain ones. You might also want to adjust the attack and release times to make Outlaw more responsive or smoother for each instrument track.



By using these settings, you should be able to achieve a balanced and cohesive mix that sounds harmonious and well-blended, without losing the individual character and dynamics of each instrument.


Outlaw vs Outlaw Lite: What's the Difference?




If you're interested in trying out Outlaw, but you're not sure if you want to buy the full version, you might want to check out Outlaw Lite, a free version of Outlaw that has some limitations and differences from