Turnado

Review: Sugarbytes Turnado

The world of effects gets more exciting by the day. Gone are the days when rackmounted devices, real springs and actual tapes were needed for the effects we take for granted today, and most of us now use software plugins for our effects. With computer power hurtling along at a frightening rate, having eight effects in a slot which would, as little as a few years ago, struggled to cope with one, the way we think about effects has taken on a whole new dimension. Turnado from Sugarbytes has two aims: create mindbogglingly complex effects chains, and make them super simple to use. Does it succeed?


REQUIREMENTS:

PC: Windows XP+, Mac OSX 10.4+, runs VST, AU, and Standalone.

PROS:

  • Unbelievable tweaking capabilities
  • Great sounding filters
  • Superb GUI
CONS:

  • One of the more expensive recent plugins
  • Distortion options slightly limited
Price at review: €139/$179

Turnado is a no brainer purchase if you need effects that evolve and give your productions an organic unpredictability…

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Rather than a single effect, Turnado is a rack with slots for eight effects to be loaded at one time. It gives us a choice of 24, and those 24 fall into eight basic types: delay, phase, reverb, ring mod, distortion, loop, granulation, and filtering. Each type has at least two different effects to choose from, and each effect has four unique parameters which can be controlled by two LFOs and an envelope follower.

We found the modulation system really easy to understand

We found the modulation system really easy to understand; the main screen for Turnado shows us eight large knobs, one for each effect, and by going into the deep editor for each effect you can set the ratio by which the big knob affects every other knob. You can also select from a number of ramp shapes for the knob to follow, allowing a linear adjustment, a curve that starts off shallow and then becomes steep, and so on. Because the LFO can already be modulating the parameters of the effect and then the big knob can change that relationship on top of that, Turnado’s effects sound absolutely fantastic and very organic when tweaked.

Tweaking really is the name of the game with Turnado

Tweaking really is the name of the game with Turnado, and whilst its effects do sound good when just left to be static, you’d be missing a trick if you weren’t using them to create evolving sounds. The order in which the effects are chained can be set one of two ways: linearly, from bank one to eight, or dynamically according to the order in which they are activated. This choice can make or break a patch, and Sugarbytes have again considered the implications of potentially complex patches by allowing drag and drop swapping between the banks.

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Chipsounds 1.5

Review: Plogue Chipsounds 1.5

To a particular subset of the population, those whose formative years fell inside the 80s and early 90s, the blips and bloops of the primitive sound chips of classic computer and video games machines are our lullabies. Something primitive endears sounds of our childhoods to us irrevocably, and thus ‘chip tune’, the art and science of utilising those sounds to create music, even today sounds magical – but yet, not just to the people who were around at the time. Plogue are firm advocates of both the art and the science of chip tune, and have done their best to create the ultimate emulation of 15 classic sound chips. How successful were they?

Chip tune really is both an art and a science. Much more involved than simply running a few synths through a bit crusher, classic sound chips like the Commodore 64 SID have idiosyncracies that not only define their sound, but inform composition styles best suited to them.

classic sound chips like the Commodore 64 SID have idiosyncracies that not only define their sound, but inform composition styles best suited to them

Chipsounds combines two approaches in an attempt to create the most authentic emulations of the 15 instruments it offers – oversampled oscillators and mathematical emulations of the chip characteristics are combined with sampling some of the more idiosyncratic chips’ waveforms and characteristics – striking a balance between creating the most organic emulation and capturing the real world eccentricities that it would require chaos theory levels of computing power to accurately synthesise. To all intents and purposes, the results are uncannily similar – the only thing belying the sounds in the end is the character given to the audio by the original enclosures and speakers involved.

The ominous silhouettes that are conjured by selecting the various ambiguously lettered soundchips include Nintendo’s NES and Gameboy, Commodore 64 and 16, Atari’s 2600 and ST, the Spectrum 128, and the BBC Micro

In what is presumably an exercise in lawsuit avoidance, care is taken not to be too explicit about the exact systems Chipsounds emulates. The ominous silhouettes that are conjured by selecting the various ambiguously lettered soundchips include Nintendo’s NES and Gameboy, Commodore 64 and 16, Atari’s 2600 and ST, the Spectrum 128, and the BBC Micro.  There are even more obscure console and arcade sound chips on offer, and interestingly not only a Casio VL-1 keyboard chip, but a chip appropriated by Korg in, amongst other things, the Poly 800.

Of course, the original chips that Chipsounds emulates were limited by low bit depth and sample rate, low polyphony, and various other restrictions. Chipsounds allows you to circumvent some of these limitations in the name of usefulness, but the manual does its best to point out practices you should keep to if you want to stay faithful to the originals. One of the most conspicious of these limitations is pitch accuracy, and you can choose to either work with their limitations or use a pitch perfect ‘fantasy’ version when selecting the chip.

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