From subtle warmth to full-on modulated mayhem, this plug‑in covers a lot of ground.
Output are one of the most adventurous and free-thinking plug‑in designers around at the moment. You certainly couldn't accuse them of relying on digital emulations of rusting tin boxes full of valves and that smell of toasted Bakelite!
Their latest creation, Thermal, follows a similar paradigm to their Portal granular processor, which was one of my picks as Gear Of The Year in 2019. But this plug‑in's central purpose is distortion. Just like Portal, there are sophisticated modulation options, additional effects and an X‑Y controller, for adjusting parameters assigned to macros. Available for Mac and Windows, it supports the usual AU, VST2/3 and AAX formats, and can be installed on up to four machines.
There are plenty of presets, all arranged by the type of sound they're intended to process, and you can just load one and then fiddle with the X‑Y pad to get an idea of how things work. But if you stick to the presets, you'll miss out!
Thermal starts by splitting the signal using a three-way filter section. Though it looks like one, this is not a crossover filter, but rather three parallel signal paths, each with its own high- and low-pass filters to restrict the frequency range. The frequency ranges can overlap as much as you like, and can be dragged up/down in level. Each of the three parallel paths, called a Stage, starts with a choice of 19 different analogue and digital distortion...