Slate’s latest plug‑in offers precise control over your transients.
As with other plug‑ins for Slate Digital’s Virtual Mix Rack, Transient Shaper is available in the usual plug‑in formats for macOS and Windows, and is licensed using the iLok system (though a physical iLok isn’t required). There are now plenty of transient processor plug‑ins available, but this one includes some useful features that make it very easy to target the aspects of a sound you wish to process with precision.
At the top of the 500‑series‑style GUI are controls to boost/cut the transient portions of a signal. In the middle there’s a similar set of controls to manipulate the sustain, and a bottom section hosts global functions: a very handy ‘listen’ facility, a stereo link toggle, a make‑up gain control plus protective clipper (very useful, given the gain in which this sort of processing can result), and a wet/dry Mix control.
The Transient and Sustain sections not only allow you to boost/cut (on a scale of ‑10 to +10) but also have a side‑chain bracket filter (a HPF plus a LPF) with which you can target the processing at a specific frequency range. There are no frequency markings on this slider but when you drag a filter handle the frequency is displayed numerically — a good way to ensure the GUI remains uncluttered. (A tiny misgiving is that it’s fairly easy to grab the GUI near to a slider, and dragging that instead will reorder the modules in Virtual Mix Rack.) These two sections also feature a meter that indicates how much boost/cut is being applied by each section, and the Transient section also features a Warmth saturation control, which can serve to tame any harshness in the transients.
The Listen button allows you to hear your choice of the processed output, only the transient portion of the signal, or only the sustain portion. And the Time knob adjusts the ‘time crossover’ that determines what’s treated as a transient and what as sustain. The two used in combination make it incredibly easy to hear what you’re doing and thus to target your processing with laser‑like precision. I’ve found that an effective tactic can be to solo the Transient section, then adjust the Time until you hear exactly what it is you want to boost/cut, before homing in on the specifics of the sound using the filters. It’s trivially easy to establish the optimum settings that way.
Transient processors are always great for tailoring individual drums, but when deployed on more complex loops or the stereo drum bus they can be blunt tools. The facilities on offer here make this one less limited in that respect. For instance, I was able to tame a flabby kick in a stereo drum loop with very little collateral damage to the snare, and the tightened bottom end meant I was able to use VMR’s SSL‑style EQ to apply a generous LF boost and notch out an annoying ‘knock’ around 180‑200 Hz. None of that would have been possible had I not first addressed the ‘flab’. Similarly, I could bring some long cymbal tails in the drum bus under control, by bringing down the sustain only in the relevant frequencies, before restoring some top‑end ‘life’ using Revival (a free module for Virtual Mix Rack).
It’s not just for drums, though. I had great success targeting the ‘spikiness’ in a fingerpicked acoustic guitar part, which sounded good in isolation but distracted from the vocal. I was also able to bring an annoying ‘twang’ under control on an over‑enthusiastically picked electric bass.
It makes sculpting a sound you like very quick, easy and satisfying.
I love transient designers, and use them a lot in mixing. This one offers much more precise control than most I’ve used, in no small part due to the monitoring and timing controls. It makes sculpting a sound you like very quick, easy and satisfying. Features like the transient saturation and safety clipper are really thoughtful too, and, importantly, if you already use Slate’s Virtual Mix Rack this module could help you get a lot more mileage out of the various EQ and enhancement plug‑ins you already have in that environment.
A transient manipulation plug‑in that manages to keep things simple and intuitive while offering much more precision than most — a welcome addition to the Virtual Mix Rack environment.
Perpetual license £149 including VAT. Also available in Slate’s All Access Pass subscription.
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Perpetual license $149. Also available in Slate’s All Access Pass subscription.