United Plugins and JMG Sound have announced their latest software release, Bitpunk. Combing a range of bit-altering techniques such as swapping, crushing, inverting and morphing with saturation, compression and clipping, the plug-in offers a wide variety of dramatic digital distortion effects that promise to push the boundaries of sonic exploration.
Sources & Morphing
Bitpunk’s GUI contains two Sources, A and B, and carries out the majority of its processing by swapping the bits present in each of them. Source A is always the audio input of the plug-in, whilst Source B can be configured in a number of different ways. It may carry a duplicate or inverted copy of the input signal, be muted to allow the creation of bit-crushing effects, or carry an external side-chain input.
The side-chain functionality allows the plug-in to morph between two completely different signals, or lets users employ external effects to process Source B. When set to duplicate the signal of Source A, different settings must be applied to each source for the effect to work.
With an input assigned to each source, a central Morph parameter can be used to progressively swap bits between the two sides, with each bit individually crossfaded with the next to ensure smooth transitions. Different pre-configured patterns can be selected from a menu below the control, and a Grid mode allows users to input their own custom patterns.
Effects & Operation
As the effect relies on a difference between the two sources, each side of the plug-in is equipped with a dedicated set of controls that allow users to manipulate the sound of each source. Rate and Shift knobs offer control over the bit-rate and frequency of incoming signals, and random stuttering and skipping effects can be introduced using an Error parameter. Low- and high-pass filters are joined by Gain and Pan controls, and a Feed dial controls the amount of feedback of the built-in delay line, and also routes the resulting signal back into the frequency shifter.
A master effects section then provides users with some tools to add the finishing touches to their mangled sound. An aggressive-sounding compressor is joined by both a soft clipping diode-style saturation effect and a hard clipper, whilst some tonal shaping is provided by a pair of low- and high-pass filters. A mix control is also present, allowing the original dry signal to be blended back in alongside the processed version.
The upper right corner of the GUI contains a range of helpful tools, such as a copy function which allows settings to be transferred between the two sources, and a pair of buttons labelled A and B offer a quick way to audition two different setting configurations. Undo and redo functions are also provided, and a Rand button will randomise all of the plug-in’s parameters to quickly offer a new sound or starting point. Bitpunk also comes loaded with a range of factory presets.
Bitpunk is supported on PCs running Windows 8 and above, and Macs running macOS 10.10 and higher. It is available in VST, VST3, AU and AAX plug-in formats.
Pricing & Availability
Bitpunk is available now, and is being offered for an introductory price of €19 until 8 August 2023, after which it will cost €79.