Recently Boz Digital Labs released Transgressor, which is a transient designer that allows you to eq the transient and the sustain separately. This plugin seems like it was created with my workflow in mind, so when I got the chance to get a review copy I was stoked! Let me explain.
I tend to avoid compression for transient shaping. It can do it, and is done by top pros in the industry, but the amount of control I have with my various transient designers makes me able to create similar envelope shapes without applying gain reduction. When I do use a compressor, it’s usually in parallel and not directly on the insert.
In order to understand what Transgressor does, you have to understand how a transient designer works. Very briefly, a transient designer is an envelope shaper that allows you to increase or decrease the attack of a source. As you add attack, it turns up the transient. This gives the impression of a note that was played harder than it was originally. Removing attack will turn down the transient, giving the impression of a note that was played softer than it was originally. Some allow you to also increase or decrease the sustain of a signal, which allows you to get really creative with the way your sources sound.
Transient designers have a wide range of applications in my workflow. Need more attack for the kick to cut through and add energy during the chorus? Add attack and automate it to bypass for the verses. You can change the feel of a guitar or bass DI with a transient designer. If a guitarist doesn’t pick hard enough for the aggressive tone you’re trying to achieve, you can turn up the attack on the DI to make the guitar interact more aggressively with the amp tone.
Transgressor separates the attack from the sustain, like a typical transient designer. But then it lets you EQ your transients and your sustain separately! If you’ve got a great sounding smack from a snare drum, but the sustain has a weird resonance that’s being a pain, you can leave the initial attack alone while removing the resonant frequencies from the sustain portion.
This opens up a wide range of possibilities for shaping your sources, and this quickly became one of my favorite tools in my kit. Bear in mind that I have hundreds of plugins, including everything from Waves, Slate, Nomad Factory, and more. So to say that this has jumped to the top of my list, that’s saying something. I don’t get easily excited anymore by new plugins unless they offer something new. That’s precisely what Transgressor does.
One of my favorite examples, which I learned from Boz’s tutorial video, is a drum overhead that has too much boom from the snare in it. You can feed the snare into Transgressor on a side chain so that it only detects transients from the snare instead of the overhead. Now you can dial out the boomy snare, and it’ll only apply that removal when the snare hits. If you’re confused, you should watch the video tutorial to see what I mean.
I’ve also used this to duck the lower frequencies of a bass guitar when the kick transient hits. Send the kick drum into the bass track on a side chain, and set up the detector to listen to the side chain. Then dial in the release so it’s letting go of the transient relatively fast. Now just use a bell filter on the transient side to remove the frequencies of the bass that are colliding with the kick drum. Since it’s set up to detect the kick on a side chain, it’ll only apply that eq cut when the kick triggers the detector!
Let’s strip this down beyond the marketing jargon, because I want you to think outside the box with this plugin. This isn’t specifically a drum processor, even though it’s most obvious use is drums. This is an eq and transient shaper, and you can use that on anything. If you want to add pick noise to the attack of a bass guitar, but don’t want the sound of having boosted around 800hz affecting the sustained portion, you can accomplish that by adding 800hz to the attack alone. And then if you feel the sustain portion could sustain more, you can always turn up the sustain portion. Effectively, this lets you shape the character of whatever source you use it on.
If you don’t have the well defined transient, you can still use the sustain side to eq your sources with broad strokes. From there, you could set up the detector to react to a percussive source on the side chain. That opens the door to creative effects, including rhythmic pumping like you’ll hear in dance music. Set the release of the detector to slow, and turn the transient side way down. Now when the detector is triggered by the side chain, it’ll duck the audio down and slowly release upward to deliver the pumping sound you’re after!
There are a couple of things I’d like to see changed in this, but they’re minor. The first is the threshold dependency of Transgressor. Unlike other transient designers, this one relies on the signal crossing a threshold for the detector to determine which is the transient and which is the sustain. Not a huge deal, but I like transient designers that aren’t threshold dependent. Also, if the eq bands had a dynamic function on one of them so you could use it to dynamically sculpt the transient or sustain, that would make this a true powerhouse. Those features not withstanding, this thing has me excited. I’m not mincing words when I say that this thing is nothing short of insane! I couldn’t recommend this more, and that’s my honest opinion.
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