Accusonus ERA 6 review: approachable repair tools for voice sound fantastic and save time
With M1 compatibility and a new Audio Cleanup Assistant for taking the hassle out of sweetening vocals, is the new ERA Bundle 6 the ultimate vocal production toolbox?
⊕ Offers smooth, professional results
⊕ Cleanup Assistant is a huge timesaver
⊕ Surgical vocal repair with no fuss
⊖ Pricey if you go with a monthly subscription
⊖ Experienced producers probably have these tasks covered already
Price All Access Suite: $299.88/year or $59.99/mo; ERA Bundle Pro: $239.88/year or $49.99/mo; ERA Bundle Standard: $119.88/year or $29.99/mo
Audio repair is a task that every producer will come across at some point. It’s a pretty broad term, covering everything from forensic spectral editing using iZotope RX or Steinberg’s Spectralayers through to more musical tasks like plosive removal, stripping hiss or rumble from a guitar recording and the like. Accusonus markets the ERA Bundle at “creators”, which encompasses podcast or video producers as much as music producers, but the tools it contains are suited to anyone working with audio recordings, be it in a video or an audio environment.
There are three bundles available. The ERA Bundle Pro ($49.99/month) is on test here and has the full set of plug-ins except for Voice Changer Pro and doesn’t have access to the company’s library of sound effects. These are both available with the “All Access” subscription, and time-limited trials are available should you wish to test them out for yourself. Installation in your plug-in format of choice is straightforward, with authorisation linked to your online account.
The approach Accusonus takes with its ERA plugs is to hide most of the nuts and bolts of how they do their magic from the user. In most cases, a processor will have a single dial and just a couple of other options or settings. You generally don’t get any included presets either, though you can, of course, save your own. (The Pro and Assistant plugs do have some presets).
The reasoning behind these points is that podcast or video producers don’t necessarily have years of expertise in pro audio production. The lack of presets is because, in most cases, the plug-ins analyse or react to the audio you put through them, basing their treatment specifically on that signal. Therefore, it’s more bespoke than preset-based processing.
The Standard bundle contains 11 processors that work in mono or stereo and lean very much towards fixing problems with voice or vocal tracks. As such, there’s a de-clicker, voice deepener, de-esser and plosive remover, among others. Processors you can also deploy to deal with other sources include a noise remover, de-clipper and even a reverb remover which does a remarkable job of stripping room ambience out of a track.
A significant upgrade from version 5 of the bundle is a revamped Audio Cleanup Assistant plug-in. This self-contained suite is designed to save time and help less experienced producers identify and fix issues without necessarily knowing the details of what causes sibilance, why a voice sounds a little weak, and so on. At the heart of its operation is the Intelligent Assistant mode. With one click, the plug-in analyses the audio on the track, identifying issues that need to be fixed and then loads up several separate plug-ins into its interface for the necessary repairs.
Audio Cleanup Assistant calls up a specific plug for each problem area like plosives, sibilance, poor EQ and so on. In this, it does a remarkable job. True, an experienced producer could hear what needed improvement using just their ears and call up a bunch of processors separately – you still have this option – but the Audio Cleanup Assistant can do it for you. In our tests, it did a fine job of identifying problems and suggesting settings to fix them. Naturally, you can tweak each processor yourself, and you will almost certainly need to do this a little to get the perfect result. But, overall, the assistant works exceedingly well, is quick and easy and will save loads of time for anyone using it. This is the only plug-in in the collection that comes with a selection of its own presets covering treatments like audiobook narrator, home podcast, deep radio voice and more. These serve as quick fixes or good starting points for more detailed sound shaping.
The other major new plug-in version 6 of the bundle is the ERA De-Breath plug-in, which detects and removes loud breath sounds in real time from voice tracks. This is less of a problem with singing than with voiceover, but it’s still helpful to have. Other plug-ins in the collection tend to be more suited either to vocals or voiceover; it’s less likely that a music producer would be using the Voice Deepener than a dedicated EQ with fine-tuned controls. Some do cross over, such as Noise Remover Pro, which you might use on field recordings, and less-than-perfect studio takes. The additional tools that come with the Pro bundle – noise remover, reverb remover and de-esser – have more feature-rich interfaces. They each offer manual control of multiband processing but remain more streamlined than many alternatives, retaining the single large dial.
The ERA Bundle 6 is a highly effective and remarkably approachable set of audio tools geared largely towards optimising vocal tracks and voiceover. However, some plug-ins are also suitable for more general instrumental sounds. It’s also compatible with a wide range of editing software in the pro audio and video worlds.
The pricing is unusual too. By paying upfront annually, you’ll save a significant amount (over 50%) versus paying monthly. Since there’s a 14-day free trial available, you should be able to properly evaluate how much you’re likely to use the processors before committing one way or the other. The only slight negative here is that the trial requires you to input valid payment details and then cancel (if you want to cancel) within 14 days to avoid a charge. Many online payments now seem to work this way, but some people find it a little intrusive.
This bundle doesn’t merely streamline or simplify tasks you could otherwise achieve with your DAW’s built-in plugs. It’s also highly effective and yields smooth professional-sounding results.
If you spend a lot of time working with voice recordings, this is a highly adept set of tools that yields excellent results and can fix all kinds of recordings. If the complexity of spectral editing puts you off, ERA 6 is doubly attractive.
- Requires macOS 10.14.6+ (M1 compatible), Windows 10+, 2GB RAM
- VST, AU and AAX formats
- 11 plug-ins in the Standard bundle
- Pro bundle adds 4 extra plugs
- Audio repair for vocals
- Audio Cleanup Assistant
- RoomTone Match for Pro Tools only
- Single-dial operation
- Runs in DAWs and also FCPX, Premiere and more
- Quick presets for Cleanup Assistant
- Auto-analysis of tracks for bespoke processing