Sonnox Inflator – How to Make Your Music Loud

In today’s loudness wars, what tricks can you use to make your mix louder. The answer, Sony Oxford’d Sonnox Inflator. They claim it can be used even after compressions and limiting. I prefer to use it before that, and it can even be used on individual tracks. Need to add a “saturation” or “analog warming” to a specific track, this could be the trick for you.

The nice trick of the Sonnox Inflator is that it uses harmonics to add to the apparent loudness, without making it actually louder in the traditional way of adding gain. It doesn’t have the side effect of add pumping the way traditional compression does. Yet can offer an analog warming effect. It attempts to emulate a valve system.

If you put the Input at max, and turn off the clip 0 db, you can get signal peaks above what is normally considered digital maximum. There is an extra 6db of overdrive before hard clipping occurs. The clip 0db function suppresses the extra range, and forces clipping at 0db. Typically you’ll want to leave this on, but if inserting after hard compression, disabling the button may allow for short term peaks without any major sonic degradation.

The Band Split option will divide the spectrum into 3 frequency bands, and can be useful when there is a large amount of information in one of the three bands, as opposed to spread evenly across the spectrum. Think of it a bit like multi-band compression. The warming effect is often better with this disengaged though.

For best results, make sure clip 0 is engaged, and then ride the input fader up until you starting hitting 0, and see the signal occasionally turn red. Turn the effect up to 100% to see what the maximum effect will sound like. This will increase the “perceived” volume. Typically you’ll want to leave this at 100% and ride the curve and input faders to achieve a desired result.

Trumpet Dry
Trumpet with Effect at 100% and Band Split and Clip 0db engaged

With the curve fader set all the way down, harmonics are still added for warmth, but overall loudness is not really increased. Turning it up to maximum will reduce dynamics a bit, but create the loudest effect. You should notice the low end being more present on smaller systems, and may prove useful for today’s tiny speaker phone/computer listening environments.

Infaltor applied to a kick
Kick Dry
Kick with Effect at 100%, Clip 0db off, output at max.

For the master buss, it’s suggested to have clip 0 deselected, curve set to 0, band split turned off, and input pushed above 0 db. Setting the output to 0db (the max) will allow for the short term level peaks above unity gain without peaking.

Sonnox Inflator
mix buss dry
mix buss engaged – band split on – peaking at 0.01 on master meter in logic
disabling band split makes it sound worse, it gets too distorted, blown out speaker sound

Real world mixes to come shortly. Stay Tuned.