Product review - SoundToys 5 Native Effects Bundle

SoundToys (formerly Wave  Mechanics) have been  marketing plug-ins for Pro  Tools for years, but until  recently these were, in the  main, expensive TDM-only effects.  However, the company recently  launched this bundle of RTAS versions  at a much lower combined price. With  ever more powerful computers  becoming available, this is a much  cheaper way of processing your tracks,  and SoundToys' bundle doesn't  comprise the usual collection of dreary  modelled EQs, compressors, reverbs or  gates. What you get instead are some  esoteric and exotic-sounding  treatments that have a style and  application all of their own.

Play time

We started our exploration of the Native  Bundle by loading up the EchoBoy  delay. This incorporates Style settings to  emulate a number of tape and vintage  delay units. Styles can be quickly  compared via an extensive dropdown  list, which namechecks a number of vintage pedals such as the Electro-  Harmonix Memory Man (circa 1978)  along with a selection of more general  types. An Edit? pane reveals extensive  parameters for comprehensive editing  of these styles. Setting delay times  couldn't be easier, as they can be  controlled by time or note value, with  dotted and triplet styles available. Four  modes offer single, dual, ping-pong and  rhythm echoes, the latter providing  programmable taps at different points.  Each mode also has further editable  parameters hidden in a Tweak page ?  there is nothing left out from this plugin,  and there should be no echo device  that cannot be successfully emulated  with the right settings. What's more,  there are dozens of categorised presets,  which make great starting points.

Get in Shape

Tremolator provides vintage-style  tremolo and auto-gate effects. Plenty  of basic Shapes are listed in a  dropdown menu, including  mathematical ones (sine, trapezoid,  sawtooth and so on) as well as a  comprehensive bunch of manufacturer  emulations (Wurlitzer, Danelectro and  more). As with EchoBoy, the Tremolator  has an Edit page from which new  Shapes can be created. Settings for  Groove, Accent and Rhythm complete  the picture, but the latter includes  another list of many presets, and  another Tweak page hides yet more  parameters. Back on the main page  there is also an Analog setting, offering  a variety of different types of subtle  grunge. With all this sonic possibility  and the huge number of presets, this is  surely the ultimate tremolo plug-in, and  it very successfully copies vintage  amplifier tremolo as well as providing  modern auto-gating effects.

FilterFreak is a resonant modulated  filter with options for rhythmic effects.  There are four filter types ? high-pass,  low-pass, band-pass and band reject,  with a Poles setting defining the  steepness of the curve. Sweeping  around with the Frequency knob, we  were immediately struck by the synthlike  nature of the filters, and analogue  characteristics are selectable for  varying amounts of subtle grunge.

The modulation sources are comprehensive, with the controls changing for each type. As well as LFO and Envelope, Random Step and editable Rhythm are also available, with plenty of preset rhythms in the dropdown menu. It sounds fabulous and squelchy, and the dual version introduces incredible richness.

PhaseMistress provides phasing effects, and once again the modulation is programmable to the same degree as FilterFreak. There is an unbelievably long list of styles available via a dropdown menu, although a graphical oddity meant that some were accessible only by using the Nudge buttons. There is a separate Tweak page for editing these along with thefiner modulation adjustments, but you're unlikely to need this due to the wide variety of presets and the degree of control on offer.

Crystallizer is a ?granular echo  synthesizer' capable of creating  spangly, sparkly effects derived from  the classic Eventide H3000 Crystal  Echoes preset. This plug-in takes  slices of the incoming audio and spits  it out forwards, backwards, delayed  and pitch-shifted, usually with huge  amounts of feedback. These are the  kinds of effects you would normally  use sparingly, but the incredible  shimmer and atmosphere it creates is  inspiring. We'll refrain from describing  each control as it would be difficult to  imagine what is happening without  hearing it, but suffice to say, there are  myriad possibilities here and plenty of  presets to get you started. This is a  unique and special effect, and with the  benefit of tempo sync'ing some truly  startling sounds can be achieved. Extra  parameters are again hidden on the  Tweak page, and this is undoubtedly  more accessible than the H3000  version, with the benefits of easy  tempo-sync'ing and automation of  controls. It sounds simply stunning.

Up to Speed

Speed is an offline AudioSuite time and pitch changer. With a less complex interface than any of its rivals (plug-ins such as Digidesign's Time Shifter offer more range and parameter tweaking), Speed is rather long in the tooth. However, up against Time Shifter, a radical pitch shift with complex material sounded far smoother with Speed, so while more functionality is available in the likes of Serato's Pitch ?n Time or Waves' SoundShifter, this is well worth having in lieu of those.

SoundToys has managed to incorporate just about every imaginable control into these RTAS effects, but by retaining a clear layout, hiding some of the parameters on popup panels and including a vast selection of presets, it has made them very easy to use. And what's more, they all sound just as good as their TDM ancestors ? truly fabulous.

web site by island webservices