TC PowerCore FireWire
PowerCore is an open DSP platform for processing audio from within any VST- or AudioUnit-compatible audio application that delivers quality comparable with conventional rack-mountable hardware. PowerCore FireWire has four Motorola 56K DSPs running at 150MHz; 512kWords of SRAM per DSP; a Motorola PowerPC chip running at 266MHz; 8MB DRAM for the PowerPC; three FireWire passthru connectors (to connect more than one device); and an external power supply.
The plug-ins include the 24/7? C Limiting Amplifier; PowerCore CL provides compression and limiting while Voice Strip is a channel strip for vocal production that includes compression, De-essing, Voice EQ, Gate, Low Cut EQ and SoftSat. Tubifex is a simulation of guitar preamp, speaker, valve power-amp, and effects. You also get a virtual instrument, the 01 Synthesizer, which emulates the Roland SH-101 synth.
For engineers, the DSound VL2 8-channel virtual valve interface adds warmth to any digital recording; Sony Oxford EQ is taken from Sony's Oxford digital console; and Oxford Inflator lets you maximize loudness without artefacts. For musicians, the Virus|PowerCore offers 16 synthesizer voices with lots of great lead sounds, while the Waldorf D-coder creates sophisticated vocoding effects. My favourite is the TC Thirty – a virtual model of the classic 1961 Vox AC30 combo amp/speaker.
A growing number of optional TC and third-party plug-ins is also available. From TC-Helicon, the Intonator fixes intonation problems in vocals, while VoiceModeler morphs voices. Master-X5 gives you five bands to work with, and TC's high-quality SurroundVerb 5.1 Reverb plug-in is available for Nuendo users. There is a Restoration Suite with a Descratcher, Denoiser and Declicker for cleaning up vinyl and tape recordings. Also, Filtroid contains a pair of analogue filter banks and Assimilator learns the EQ from favourite tracks or mixes and lets you apply it to your own.
How does it compare with the UAD-1? it looks a lot better than Nigel – but doesn't have as many effects. The channel strip and reverbs are similar to those supplied with the UAD-1, with a small edge on quality, but PowerCore provides the indispensable Master-X virtual Finalizer. The 24/7? C is a fair vintage processor – but the UA vintage devices are to die for. But what tips the balance, if you have to choose, is that PowerCore can run an increasing number of third-party plug-ins. I'd like to buy both.