HOFA has introduced 4U+ BlindTest Free, a free version of their new track comparison utility for VST/VST3/AU/AAX/RTAS plugin compatible host applications.
It happened to most of us at least once. You tweak the ratio, attack and release parameters of your compressor to perfection, and just when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re nothing short of impressed with the results, you discover that the compressor has been bypassed the whole time. Oh, the shame! Oh, the misery.
In other words, it’s no secret that our ears can fool us (and that we naturally trust our eyes more than our ears), which is exactly why plugins such as 4U+ BlindTest can come in handy during those long and tiresome mixing and/or mastering sessions. The workflow is very simple. Load an instance of the plugin on each track that you’d like to compare in a blind test (keep in mind that only three tracks are supported in the free version of the plugin). Start the playback in your digital audio workstation of choice and hit the Start button in 4U + BlindTest. The plugin will randomize the order of the tracks and hide their names, so that you can compare them in what is pretty much a perfect blind test situation. Once you’ve finished listening to the tracks, you can give them a star rating, enter your personal observations for each track and then reveal the track names. No more bypassed compressor tweaking!
Things get even better once you dig a bit deeper into the settings menu. The plugin can analyze the loudness of each track and automatically compensate for any loudness difference between the tracks. The gain of each track can also be controlled manually, however the built-in loudness analysis functionality is incredibly useful when testing the effects of compression and/or saturation based effects. Also, the plugin can run a series of tests, in which case it will calculate the average rating of each track and also show you the detailed stats overview of the entire process. Incredibly cool stuff!
In addition, HOFA 4U+ BlindTest features a fully re-sizable user interface, with two memory slots for different GUI size settings. A re-sizable GUI is becoming more and more of a necessity nowadays, with so many different types of screens and all sorts of different screen resolutions.
As mentioned above, the free version of 4U+ BlindTest can be used to compare up to three tracks at a time. This is more than plenty for most mixing situations, as well as for basic mastering scenarios. Most often, a simple A/B comparison is all that is required and the free version of 4U+ BlindTest is perfectly suited for the task! For more demanding users, HOFA is offering the full version of the plugin which is priced at €39.90 (€29.90 introductory price) and supports unlimited tracks.
The installation process is pretty much hassle-free. Download the online version of the installer from the HOFA website and start the installation process. In the first window, deselect other plugins (apart from HOFA 4U+ BlindTest, of course) and proceed with the installation. Once installed, the plugin will operate in free mode and there’s no activation required unless you want to upgrade to the full version. You will only see a nag screen if you load more than three instances of the plugin.
4U+ BlindTest is available for free download via HOFA (6.41 MB download size for online installer, EXE installer, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX/RTAS plugin format for Windows & Mac).