I’m a fan (…and beta tester) of Noise Engineering, and thanks to a forum post I saw this morning, felt inspired to write up a little bit about using their plugins.
Vereor vs Iteritas
The Vereor plugins combine an oscillator section with:
- An envelope / VCA. Choice of ADSR style with adjustable curvature, or “Percido” (an AD envelope with adjustable time, shape and curvature). To me, Percido with a plucky shape is the easiest to use for hunting sweet spots.
- A filter. LP, BP or HP, with the usual controls and a mix parameter. The resonance can glitch out in interesting ways if maxed out; it’s not very “analog.”
- A chorus, with simple off / I / II switch like a Juno. Sometimes none or an external chorus blended in more subtly works best, but sometimes it’s just the ticket.
The Iteritas plugins come with a more basic envelope similar to the one built into the original module.
Both of the styles have an extensive modulation section, with LFOs that can be switched to ADSR envelopes, though you can’t disconnect the main envelope from the VCA to “cheat” the Iteritas plugins.
Noise Engineering’s most flexible oscillator, it’s a take on West Coast complex oscillators, with a choice of phase modulation, a summation synthesis algorithm or VOSIM. The key parameter is “Mod”, the modulation depth between the oscillators. The ratio between the oscillators is also important, and the plugin version makes it easy to set this while also keeping in tune (it was a challenge with the Eurorack module).
- In VO mode, don’t be surprised that the oscillator ratios affect timbre even with Mod at minimum. There’s effectively a kind of sync happening between them.
- The “Principal” tracking option can have a profound effect on timbre (especially in VO mode). It’s a kind of oscillator sync.
- Damp can make the VO algorithm sound a lot less nasal.
- Don’t forget to try detuning an oscillator by just a cent or two — it can add some nice movement in SS or PM algorithms and some crazy fizzing in VO.
Think “dirty sawtooth into a filter.” The Eurorack version is subtitled “gross industrial VCO” after all.
- Impact is not just the attack but adds an additional click, which the filter can soften.
- Bash modulates the LPF, Saw Mod, Profundity and Smash all at once. To be honest, this is not my favorite feature of the plugin or the original module. But with the plugin you can individually assign the envelope to modulate whatever you want, or convert LFOs to additional ADSR envelopes — a big win.
- One of my favorite tricks with Manis is lowering the octave but raising Saw Mod. You’ll effectively have the fundamental interfering with the perceived fundamental. This can sound good on its own or with octave distortion effects like Ruina…
- Compared to the Eurorack module, the plugin lacks a drone mode. But if your DAW will allow it, you automate rapid-fire notes into it (using an arpeggiator for instance, or just a lot of MIDI notes). Reduce Impact, and adjust the trigger rate, decay and polyphony settings to get various effects. If you can modulate the trigger rate so it’s not constant, that might give you a nicer effect. If your DAW isn’t this smart, you can probably cook up something in VCV Rack using its Host module…
(One of?) the top selling Noise Engineering modules, this one loves to be a killer kick drum but it also does basslines and melodic parts. I personally find that the plugin version encourages more diverse usage and is really good at metallic and noisy textures and chord-like tones.
- With Spread above about halfway it starts getting into chord territory. Tune carefully and you can get some really nice stuff here.
- Skin vs. Metal makes more difference here than on Manis. Generally speaking, Skin is where most of the pretty sounds live. Liquid’s built-in pitch bend is nice for those massive kick drums but I don’t often find it helpful for non-drum sounds.
- The “drone through rapid triggering” trick can work here too. With Basimilus you can soften the attack by tweaking its slider right instead of left.
- Low enough notes in Metal mode, with Harmonics high, have a crazy sub-audio-rate wobble to them which can range from vibrato to a kind of wah/tremolo depending on the Spread.
- On the other end of the spectrum, high notes in Metal mode with high Harmonics and Spread make some great hi-hats.
One of their more abstract oscillators in terms of concept/theory. I think I liked this one a little more in Eurorack form than in plugin form, but it does have its charms!
- As noted above, using plucky Percido envelopes and assigning envelope modulation to a parameter seems to work nicely for hunting sweet spots.
- Sharp, fast attacks can be clicky. You can use the lowpass filter to trim them back a bit without sacrificing speed. I find putting Cutoff at about 89%, and then assigning an ADSR to increase it to 100% with a little bit of an attack time, really effective. (Or just use a plugin like Izotope RX DeClick.)
- Those Percido envelopes can modulate themselves to get some extra weird curvature if you like.
- If you have a controller that sends pressure, you can also modulate Percido envelopes with that — positive length and a bit of negative slope works nicely!
These three oscillator algorithms first appeared in the Arturia Microfreak, then as this plugin, then as Virt Iter Legio in Eurorack. The Euro module is easily my favorite of the three incarnations, but the plugin is certainly worth exploring!
- I find a raw sawtooth wave kind of ugly to listen to, unless it’s being used as filter fodder. Of course VV does have a filter, and the Tang parameter brings some nice chorusing/animation to SawX. (The Manis trick of dropping the main frequency and raising Flavor isn’t quite as tasty here.)
- Maybe ironically given what the name looks like, I think Bass mode’s at its best in upper registers with an HPF tracking it. But here Bass is a person’s name and is pronounced like the fish, not like low frequencies.
- Harm is my favorite mode, with Flavor able to create chords and inharmonic clusters and Tang enhancing the individual partials. I think it makes for lovely drones, and also some great organ sounds to push through distortion.
At first glance this seems like the plainest of the offerings, with three modes but only one oscillator parameter. But it’s not nothing…
- Noise mode is not white noise; it’s a digital oscillator and there are patterns in it.
- Plain mode from about halfway up the Tone slider is wavefolding, ripe for envelope modulation.
- Super mode is wavetable-like and there are lots of little sweet spots for envelope modulation.
Of all the NE plugins, this is my favorite — and one of my absolute favorite delays. They added more features and so much more control compared to the original Imitor Versio firmware that it’s gone up several levels. This is the first multitap delay where I’ve felt really comfortable working with it, thanks to the graphical feedback and easy to navigate interface.
- Even set to just one tap, it’s full of possibilities thanks to the feedback processing and the LFO. With this setting, Pre Delay, Time Warp and Decay don’t really do anything. Angle acts as a pan control, and can be modulated with an LFO.
- Two ways to get interesting on-beat rhythms with multiple taps: use Pre Delay with regen (to insert a delay before the first tap), or disable some taps.
- For interesting off-beat rhythms, you can play with a combination of Time Warp and disabling taps, and set the delay time to line taps up near but not necessarily on the beat.
- The main view shows the waveform with now on the right, and the buffer stretching to the left as it moves through the delay. The first delay tap to be encountered is the rightmost one. But the tap selection checkboxes are shown with the first tap on the left. I don’t find this too confusing, since it feels natural that a waveform display scrolls off to the left that way.
- Setting Tap Total pretty high, disabling the first several and using a high Time Warp to cluster a few taps near the end works really nicely.
- You can get tape-like delay effects by setting the Tap Delay LFO speed fast for flutter, and adding a slower, very subtle LFO (low index!) to Time for wow, and adjust tone, Q, and crunch for flavor.
- When you have taps clustered at a particular time, try setting a really high index, slow speed, and high Dance for the Tap Delay LFO. Dance varies the individual tap times differently, which works quite well when there are many taps close together.
- In general, Dance + multiple taps + feedback can give a sort of chorusy reverb feel to the effect.
- If you make a big change to delay time and don’t want to wait for the plugin to catch up, click “shhh” to reset the buffer.
- There’s a lot of modulation available and it should be used! Assigning Env to duck Blend is more conventional, but you could use it to flip the Decay direction to get flurries of taps after releasing a note, or to duck the LFO index so that heavier modulation comes in with tails. You could even very subtly put it on Time Warp.
- LFOs work well with Tap Total, Angle and/or Rotate, and the Tap Delay LFO speed.
- Square LFOs or step modulation can work nicely with Time and Time Warp.
- Short bursts of Index on the tap delay LFO at a high speed can add an occasional wobbly touch.
This can be a weird and extreme distortion, and it was quite a while before I realized it can have more universal appeal. I think in Eurorack form, its strength is that works nicely as a waveshaper for an oscillator, but I’ve been using it more in plugin form and saving my Versio hardware for other things.
In order to get the most out of Ruina I recommend this starting point:
- Volume In and Out at 0dB (the notch on the slider).
- Blend at max (you can lower it later).
- Phase and Center in the middle.
- All other sliders to minimum for a start.
- Fixed, Cancilla, and Under.
- From there, bring up Saturate.
- Adjust Center to change the tone.
- Bring in Overdrive for some heat.
- Filter Level is a sort of Q control (which varies with Filter Track and Type).
- Alternately, you can start from that “init” position above, but bring up Center without Saturate. Octavize is pretty different this way (with Flow = Under or Over).
- The other controls are all potentially more extreme and weird. So try them one at a time to see what works for the material and what doesn’t.
- If you have dynamic material, definitely try applying an envelope follower to things. Even a little subtle movement on Center or Filter Level can be cool. Blend is a potentially good one to use. Don’t forget to try inverting the envelope modulation too.
- LFO modulation on Phase can work nicely. Otherwise just sort of move it into what sounds good, but at extreme settings, watch out for stereo phase correlation / mono compatibility trouble.
- Playing with the Filter Track, Filter Type and Flow might be useful depending on your settings. Boscio is harsher than Cancilla. Flow mostly affects how Fold is going to work
- Once you have everything tweaked, try backing off Blend. This can work especially if you’re using Buzz or Octavize to bring in lots of upper harmonics.
A favorite patch that works well for low drones:
- High Blend, high Doom.
- Center, Saturate, Octavize, Buzz and Filter Level at minimum.
- Low Overdrive and Fold, but put (separate) slow LFOs on them with a very small index.
- Mobile / Cancilla / Under.
- Phase to taste. Thanks to the heavy Doom, you’ll want to follow it up with a plugin that mono-izes bass frequencies (I like SideMinder ZL).
The first released Versio firmware, it quickly became a favorite for Eurorack folks. However, there a lot of good Versio firmware options and a lot of good reverbs out there. To me, Desmodus’ character is a bit situational — it works very well with some material, less well with others — so I appreciate having it in plugin form where it’s agile. I give it a try, and if it doesn’t immediately sound good with default settings, I just drop it and try something else. But if it does work:
- Usually I keep it somewhere near the defaults. I tweak the time (with Time/Regen), Blend and Tone and that’s often all.
- Sometimes I’ll back off on Density to get more echoey echoes. I think this works with Time somewhere in the 20-60% range.
- When I want ducking, I would rather apply a negative envelope to Blend than just rely on Regen. That gives more control.
- One unfortunate thing is that low Regen kills the delay tap level entirely, so it’s tough to get a tightly controlled slapback. You can compensate for this a bit with a higher Volume Out and maybe a compressor after the effect.
- Speaking of compressors, try cranking Volume Out to full and modulating it negatively with the envelope follower. Do the same for Blend to duck the effect a bit. The combination of them will help emphasize the effect tail after the input dies out.
- To get a little shaky, set mode to Lerp, and modulate time with a fast square LFO (< 150ms) with some Time Warp to narrow the pulse. Just a little bit of index is enough.