One of the most useful types of plug-in that I have come across - and used extensively - is a category you might broadly call “enhancers”, although this is my invention more than an officially recognised term. What I mean by it is effects that modify sounds in real time, and dynamically, in many different ways without my having to necessarily spend ages setting them up. There aren’t actually so many of them around, but plugs like iZotope’s BreakTweaker and even NI’s Guitar Rig might fall under the definition. They’re not simply “automatic” - although they can operate in that mode - but also have extensive customisation options.
Texture, a new plug-in from Devious Machines, is an audio processor that I’d place into this category as well. Its developers describe it as “an effect plugin with the heart of a synth” which is pretty accurate. It can be placed as an insert across any sound you like, and made to modify, enhance and add to it in real time. It has multiple stages, each of which brings a different kind of modulation or processing to the signal, and each one can be turned on or off and tweaked separately.
It has a simple interface with all controls permanently visible so the learning curve is quite gentle, and of course there are a load of presets grouped by suggested use - bass, various drums, sound effects and many more. On the left is the Noise select area where you can choose from over 340 different textures to overlay on your signal, and these are again grouped helpfully into categories. There’s also a pitch control here, as well as draggable filter to shape the tone of the noise signal, and an envelope section with side chain control to set how the noise interacts with your main signal.
In the centre is the main area and the first tab is Dynamics. Here you get a live waveform display of your sound along with draggable Limit and Gate handles so you can set how aggressively the signal is processed. These are simple to use and even if you’re not well versed in what limiting and gating are, you should figure them out pretty quickly by listening to what happens as you move them around.
Next is a modulation section where you can control how much mod is applied to various sections of the effect like pitch and level for dynamic processing, and the envelope, with various LFO shapes available. Then you get two EQ sections - Texture and Original - for further sharing of the sound. The processing stages are rounded off with master gain and level plus FX mix controls.
Describing this plugin in terms of its constituent stages doesn’t really get to the heart of what it actually does when you use it. It’s dynamic, organic sounding and supremely useful. On any drums or rhythms it can add instant bite, depth and body. Simulate an extra layer of percussion on top of a beat, or crunch up your kick drum - all perfectly in sync because it’s being generated in real time. Add dirt, crackle or vinyl hiss to any sound, or to the master buss. Generate new sounds and rhythms by using the more experimental presets. Add new layers of effect or ambience.
Texture is an excellent and affordable addition to any producer’s arsenal. It is easy to use but can add life, layers and extra interest to basically any sound - though it’s perhaps best suited to basses and anything rhythmic. The presets are great, or you can modify them or start from scratch. Go subtle with a little extra body, or full-on with lots of extra layers of pulsing noise to beef up your tracks. However you use it. you’ll be glad you did. A free demo is available too, so check it out.