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Cableguys ShaperBox 3

Multi-effects Plug-in By John Walden
Published February 2023

Cableguys ShaperBox 3

Cableguys’ box of tricks is a creative processing powerhouse.

I’ve looked at a number of creative one‑stop‑shop multi‑effects plug‑ins in recent years, including Sugar Bytes’ Looperator, DS Audio’s Tantra 2, Lunatic Audio’s Narcotic and UJAM’s Finisher Dynamo. Each offers something distinct in terms of workflow, but any of them can transform even the blandest audio into something breathtaking. If you’re into this sort of thing, another plug‑in which should definitely be on your audition list is ShaperBox by Cableguys. First released right at the end of 2016, it was recently updated to version 3, which brought with it a raft of new features.

Boxing Clever

ShaperBox 3 provides nine individual effect modules, which Cableguys call Shapers (some of which are also available as individual plug‑ins), as well as compressor and oscilloscope modules (Tools, rather than Shapers). All are housed in a slick, modern GUI, which allows you to build custom Shaper chains and, within each Shaper, configure both ‘static’ controls and powerful modulation options.

The Shapers list includes Time, Drive, Noise, Filter, Liquid (new in version 3), Crush, Volume, Pan and Width. A single instance of any/all of these can be used in your ShaperBox signal chain. While the primary function of most of them should be pretty much self‑explanatory, a couple warrant a few words to clarify their purpose: Time provides a way to buffer incoming audio and manipulate it to create stutter, playback speed, reverse and glitchy time‑based effects; and Liquid provides options for flanging and phasing.

Each Shaper offers a number of key controls with which to shape your sound. For example, within the Filter, you get a range of low‑pass, high‑pass, band‑pass, notch and peak filter types to choose from, as well as options to enhance the stereo image created by the filter and (as in all the modules) a wet/dry Mix control. However, one or more parameters can also be modulated. For instance, with the Filter this can be done for both cutoff frequency and resonance. To do this, you’re given a range of LFO/modulation curve presets, a set of very precise tools to define your own curve shapes and flexible curve triggering, and host (DAW) tempo sync. With some Shapers, you also get an envelope follower option, whereby the level of the incoming audio signal modulates the effect. What’s more, the envelope follower can be superimposed upon the LFO curve, which puts much more complex modulation possibilities on the menu.

With a good selection of filter types, modulation options for both cutoff and resonance and up to three independent frequency bands, the Filter module is a very powerful sound shaper.With a good selection of filter types, modulation options for both cutoff and resonance and up to three independent frequency bands, the Filter module is a very powerful sound shaper.

New in v3, the LFO modulation curves can be triggered by transients, either in the source signal or, providing your DAW supports it, an external side‑chain input. The control signal can be processed too, with the ability to restrict its frequency range, and you can both adjust the sensitivity of the transient detection and set a level threshold below which there will be no triggering. You also get the option to overlay the waveform graphic of the side‑chain input on that of your source track, which can really help when customising a curve — for example, it makes it super easy to perform tasks like ducking using the Volume Shaper.

A really important feature is that all of these Shapers offer you the option of (up to) three‑band operation, with user control over the crossover frequencies, and different parameters/modulation options for each band. So, for example, if you want to use the Drive Shaper to add lots of soft‑clipping distortion below 200Hz, keep your mids clean and then drive everything above 5kHz with...

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