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.
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.