Contents

1. Introduction

Thank you for using spiff!

spiff is an adaptive transient tool that cuts or boosts only the frequencies that make up the transient material, keeping the rest of the audio signal intact.

spiff was originally designed to attenuate or remove sharp clicks, such as mouth noises on vocal recordings. These clicks could be a byproduct of excessive compression, treble boost, bad microphone choice, or just an unwanted part of the performance. spiff has been carefully tweaked to work well on vocal tracks, as it introduces minimal artefacts leaving the rest of the signal intact. Thanks to this, it turned out to be an equally useful tool on almost any sound source.

It is recommended that you read through the manual to understand all the details around spiff, but here is a quick-start tip if you want to get right to it:

2. Quick start

When you have added spiff to a channel with audio material, start by turning on delta, and turn up the depth a bit to hear what spiff is reacting to. Decide if you want to cut or boost this. Next, adjust the sensitivity and decay controls until you have focused on the part of the transient material you want to control. Use the side-chain EQ to filter out frequencies you don’t want to process, or boost frequencies you want to process more. Adjust the sharpness and decay lf/hf values to taste (they can often be left to default value). Turn off delta monitoring and adjust depth again. Bypass to hear what spiff has added or removed and trim the output signal to match the original volume. When cutting, a good rule of thumb is to place spiff as the last insert of the channel for smoothest results. When boosting, spiff usually works best early in the signal chain, before any compressors, limiters or saturators.

3. Parameters

3.1. Cut and boost modes

spiff can be used to either cut or boost transient material. Cuts or boosts are applied on frequencies that form the transients. So if you apply spiff to a kick drum, it won’t boost the boxy frequencies around 300Hz unless there actually is transient information at 300Hz.

3.2. Main section

The largest of the knobs is depth, which determines how much processing is being applied: more depth results in bigger cuts or boosts. spiff is input-level independent so you can put it anywhere in your signal chain and it will always work according to the depth value, regardless of the gain staging.

sensitivity controls how spiff detects transients. Higher values means it detects more transients. Lower values mean it only detects louder transients. Easy to remember as more or less sensitive. For corrective use in the cut mode, you might want to set this value pretty low. The best way to hear what sensitivity does is to first enable the delta mode, crank the depth and then adjust sensitivity to taste.

sharpness controls the bandwidth (or q) of all separate cuts or boosts spiff performs. Lower values sound more natural on percussive material (like drums), while higher values work well on harmonic material with a wide frequency range, like piano, for example.

decay refers to the time it takes for a cut or boost to recover back to its starting point. A higher value means longer decay time back to initial level. When set to 0, only the very short part of the transient is adjusted. Increasing decay applies more processing to the tail after the initial transient. For most practical use cases, values lower than 5 produce the most natural results. Higher values can be very useful for creative abuse!

decay lf/hf (low frequency / high frequency) is used to adjust the relative difference in decay time between low and high frequencies. Lower values mean that low frequencies have a longer decay time than high frequencies. Higher values mean high frequencies take longer to recover than low frequencies. In the centre, the decay time is equal across the whole frequency range. Values lower than 5 tend to sound the most transparent.

3.3. Stereo and mid/side section

When running as a stereo instance, spiff can control the link of the two channels with these parameters.

stereo mode determines if you control the left and right channel separately or the mid and side channels separately.

stereo link on 100% will combine the side-chain signals and apply the same reduction for both channels. stereo link on 0% will make spiff act as two mono instances (dual mono).

balance refers to the amount of processing applied to each channel. When adjusted to either extremes the value window will change to show what channel is being processed (left only, right only, mid only or side only). At 100 / 0 only the mid (or left) channel is processed. At the centre position, 100 / 100, both channels are processed equally, and when set on 0 / 100 only the side (or right) channel is processed.

3.4. Output section

The output stage part of the screen lets you adjust the monitoring and levels. With the mix parameter you can combine the original dry signal together with the processed one. You could for example apply heavy processing with spiff and then mix some dry signal back in for a more transparent result. With wet on 100%, only the processed signal gets to the output, and with 0% only the dry one gets out. The mix parameter also works while delta is enabled, making it possible to blend the dry signal with the delta.

trim is the make-up gain control for the processed signal to compensate for any changes in level that spiff introduces. It affects only the wet part of the mix.

The delta toggle presents you with the delta (or difference) signal between the wet and the dry signal. This is useful for monitoring the part of the signal that spiff is affecting. With this you can get an insight into what spiff is reacting to, and adjust accordingly.

The bypass toggle is a soft bypass for quick A/B comparison without glitches that some platforms and DAWs might introduce when bypassing a plug-in. Please note that spiff continues to compute the output, so bypassing with this control won’t save you any processing power. To disable the plug-in you should always deactivate it from the host.

3.5. Advanced section

Clicking the advanced bar presents you with the advanced options.

If you need more fidelity than on the default configuration, you can add oversampling and resolution to the process. They should be reserved for master bus or mastering applications, when the sound material being processed is very complex. As a rule of thumb, the default settings are probably fine for individual tracks. You can evaluate this easily with the delta toggle.

resolution determines the time resolution of the processing. With increased resolution, spiff updates its internal settings more often.

oversample calculates the reduction filter in higher resolution. Higher values result in a smoother frequency response and better accuracy especially at lower frequencies.

Please note, that for both oversampling and resolution the higher settings can be extremely demanding on the CPU!

window sets the tradeoff between time and frequency resolution. The small window setting has minimal ringing and is great for detecting super fast transients. As a tradeoff, it has worse lower frequency handling. Small window great for transparent cut settings, such as click removal. Large window on the other hand rings more, but sounds smoother. Large window shines on complex and polyphonic sources, such as piano. Medium window is a tradeoff between the two and a good generic setting. If in doubt, you can always go with this one.

phase mode selects between linear phase and minimum phase processing. Linear phase mode is recommended for surgical cuts, especially when combined together with the small window. As it happens, linear phase may introduce audible pre-ring, especially if used to process the low frequencies. Minimum phase mode eliminates the pre-ring. It can be better for boosts, and often sounds more natural, but is less accurate. Minimum phase mode is also a bit heavier on the cpu.

4. Graph and EQ

spiff uses a real time graph to show you what part of the signal is being processed.

The frequencies being affected can be controlled with the EQ section of spiff. Please note, that this is not actually an EQ, but rather, a weighting for the processing. You can think of it as a side-chain EQ.

Dragging a band upwards increases the relative amount of processing for that band. . By using the high- and lowpass filters you can make spiff ignore the areas above and below specific frequencies.

In the example above, spiff is used in boost mode (shown by the pink color). spiff is dialed to boost more around 100Hz and 4kHz using the red and yellow bands. Broad cut with the purple band makes spiff boost less in the mid-range. The filters makes spiff ignore frequencies below 30Hz and over 11kHZ.

spiff has five bands that let you control the EQ. You can choose a band by clicking on the corresponding node. Adjust the band parameters by dragging the nodes on the graph or by using the knobs below. You can adjust the width of a band by holding a modifier key and dragging up/down; the modifier key is Cmd on Mac and Ctrl on Windows.

Slider area

The red, yellow and purple bands can be set to parametric, shelf or tilt shelf mode. You can set the slope in db/oct of the grey and light blue filters from the controls below.

Multiple bands may be selected for editing by either dragging a box around the nodes or by holding shift while selecting nodes. You can also bypass a band by double-clicking on the node, or by clicking on the toggle on the left-hand side of the control area, labeled “band 1” on the screenshot.

If you wish, you can disable the band control area from showing by clicking the icon left of the area.

4.1. Band listen

The band listen button lets you monitor the delta signal on the frequency area that the selected band affects. By sweeping over the frequency spectrum with band listen enabled you quickly find the part of the signal you want to process. Band listen can also be momentarily enabled by holding the Alt-key while dragging a node.

5. Toolbar

Toolbar

5.1. Preset menu

spiff comes with a selection of factory presets. By clicking the preset’s name, a menu opens with an additional container for your own presets. Clicking on a preset or navigating to one with the arrow keys instantly loads it, but you can return to your previously selected settings by pressing the “Cancel” button at the top of the menu. You can also navigate to the next and previous presets using the arrow buttons on the left side of the preset name in the toolbar.

Please note that for compatibility reasons, spiff doesn’t reveal its presets to the host’s native preset menu in some DAWs.

Set your default starting point

If you want to use a custom preset for when you open a new instance of spiff instead of the factory default preset, the preset menu’s “save as default” will do just this. Please note that the option to load a user default preset is not present before it’s saved for the first time.

Searching presets

You can search for presets either by name or by tags. The provided factory presets have tags added to them to describe use cases that the presets could apply to. Also the artist presets can be searched by using only the initials of the artist.

Loading presets

Presets can be loaded from the preset menu (on the right) by either clicking a preset or by navigating with the arrow keys. Clicking outside the menu closes it. By clicking Cancel while the preset menu is open, you can reset the parameters to the initial state before opening the menu discarding the loaded preset. The preset menu only displays factory presets and presets in the user’s preset folder, but presets can also be loaded from an arbitrary location on your computer by clicking on the “Open from file” button on the top of the menu.

Saving presets and adding tags

You can save presets that are useful to you by opening the preset menu and clicking “Save”. This will let you choose a location and a name for the preset to save. Use the default location for the plug-in to find your presets!

You can add custom tags to your saved presets by clicking with the right mouse button on the preset name and using the context menu that opens. Write the tag to be included in the user preset where it says “add keyword” and click on add.

Deleting presets

Presets can be deleted via the context menu, which can be opened by right-clicking on your saved preset. Alternatively, you can use a file explorer and navigate to the plug-in default location and remove the files.

Importing presets

The presets are saved as .preset files in the default location for the application (see the section describing paths). All spiff presets work on both macOS and Windows and can be shared between users by putting the files into the aforementioned default location.

Grouping user presets

You can group your own presets by navigating to the default location with a file explorer and grouping the preset files into folders. These are parsed into the preset menu when the menu is opened.

5.2. Undo/redo

Undo has a predetermined number of maximum steps exclusive to both A and B states.

Note: If you’re using Logic Pro, please only use the undo/redo system of spiff. Using Logic’s built-in one might yield unexpected results, especially when used together with A/B states.

5.3. Comparing settings with A/B switching

On the toolbar, in the right corner, there are three buttons as shown on the right. These buttons are from left to right:

A/B Switch, A/B Copy and Configurations

You can compare two different sets of settings by clicking the A/B switch button. All changes in the settings are set for the highlighted and underscored state (a or b).

You can copy the settings in the current state to the other by clicking the A->B copy button.

5.4. Help menu

The help menu contains various useful resources and is accessed by clicking on the question mark icon in the toolbar. The different options in the menu are summarised below:

  • manual
    Opens this manual as a PDF file.
  • shortcuts
    Displays a window containing a reference of all the different keyboard shortcuts that are supported in the user interface.
  • website
    Opens the oeksound website in the default web browser.
  • about
    Displays a window with information about the plug-in, including its version and format.

5.5. Configuration menu

You can open the global configuration menu by clicking on the cogwheel icon at the right end of the toolbar. From this menu, a bunch of settings can be configured that affect all instances of spiff. The different settings are explained in detail next.

Disable OpenGL graphics

OpenGL graphics mode is the fastest and prettiest option for most computer setups. Disabling it is intended as a fallback feature for only an unfortunate few that might have issues with the graphics rendering. For example, those that run spiff on specific older hardware with Windows 7 and their unrepaired driver issues.

Disable tooltip

By default, a tooltip is displayed in the top left corner of the graph area showing relevant information about the interface according to what is under the mouse cursor. This function can be turned off, however, by enabling the “Disable tooltip” setting.

Auto band listen

When enabled, the band listen mode will automatically turn on when dragging one of the EQ nodes. This is useful if you always want to hear the delta or dry signal when moving EQ nodes around to know exactly which frequencies your change is affecting.

Use dry signal with band listen

By default, spiff will output the delta signal of a band’s frequency range when band listen mode is engaged. However, when this setting is enabled, the dry signal will be passed through instead.

Display range of the reduction graph

spiff offers three options to choose from for the reduction graph’s (in blue or red depending on the mode) range of display. This changes the range of visualising the effective reduction between precise and large. Changing this setting sets the blue/red dB labels accordingly - shown in the figure on the right.

5.6. Version update checks

spiff automatically checks for new plug-in versions in the background.

A little exclamation mark will be displayed on the configuration menu button when a new version is available. Information about a possible update is shown at the bottom of the configuration menu.

Updates are provided for good reasons, such as bug fixes and performance improvements. We always ensure that presets are backwards compatible for all spiff versions to come. We take great care to procure that things don’t break between updates.

6. Paths for presets and uninstallation

6.1. macOS

User presets:
/Users/<username>/Documents/oeksound/spiff/Presets

Configuration file:
/Library/Application Support/oeksound/spiff/config.xml

The uninstaller comes within the downloaded .dmg file.

6.2. Windows

User presets:
C:\Users\<username>\Documents\oeksound\spiff\Presets

Configuration file:
C:\ProgramData\oeksound\spiff\config.xml

Uninstaller:
C:\ProgramData\oeksound\spiff\unins000.exe

FAQ and support

You can find our FAQ section on our website: https://oeksound.com/support

If our FAQ doesn’t answer your question, or if you find a bug, don’t hesitate to email us at: support@oeksound.com