SugarBytes have just released a new plugin designed for real-time manipulation of audio. Turnado is a fresh look at some of the previous excellent offerings from the German company. SugarBytes’ motto is to make “Better sounding, better looking audio software thats easier to use and cheaper to get than everything that’s out there. Just great products that can do more stuff with less buttons, that have more features with less instructions, that are simply more fun and less expensive.” With Turnado, they certainly seem to making massive strides in that direction.
Turnado is a VST/AU plugin, but is also interestingly now in a standalone version – so anything that you can use to make audio on a computer, you can route through Turnado.
The GUI is a big bold move – the opening screen is clutter free, simple, big, bright clean graphics. I opened up the program, and instantly understood the concept. There are 8 effects knobs. You turn them, an effect comes on. You turn them more, the effect changes or increases. Simple. There’s different effects listed in a column on the left hand side. You want to change one of the 8 effects? Drag one from the left hand list onto the knob. Changed.
The immediacy of the effect is very appealing. There’s no need to look through the manual: it’s a very intuitive design. I really liked the colourful graphics. It looks fresh – it’s very different from a lot of plugins out there – with an almost cartoony edge. Although it doesn’t overstep into cheese and cheap looking, it does look kind of like a beat-up pedal board from the bahamas.
The next thing to impress was the sound. As I messed around with all the different effects, I noticed that the quality of the sound was really clean. It took a lot of effort to get any (unwanted) clicks or pops out of the sound mangling that was going on. There are 24 effects total that can be dragged into the 8 effect slots at any one time. the brightly coloured graphics neatly divide up the styles of effects, making it easy to differentiate between what types of effects are in use. The effects are a little different from the norm too. Yes, there’s the usual suspects – reverb, phaser, ring mod, looping, delays etc, but there are other more unusual effects, such as Pattern delay, Vowel filter, freeze reverb, Vocodizer, Transient looper, granulizer and spectralizer. In use they quickly create some fresh sounds. I didn’t find any of the effects redundant either. I could see them all being useful in mashing up sound. The way the effects work definitely seem to lend themselves more towards beats and rhythm oriented material. There’s a lot of beat slicing, stutter, glitch style sounds that come out of the plugin. But it does work well on other melodic and harmonic sound too. There are a ton of presets to trawl through that open up to your ears all the different possibilities this software presents.
Once you’ve dragged the effects you’ve chosen into the slot, they can be further edited by clicking on the title bar in the middle. This opens up a menu listing a bunch of presets for that particular effect. So you can quickly change through many different options. Deeper editing is revealed with a click of the little edit button, which when pressed takes you to a new page. This reveals the more in depth editing capabilities of the effects. Within the edit page, there are several parameters that are present. Some are there for every effect – such as 2 LFO’s and an envelope follower. But there are distinct parameters too. If you are using the vowel filter effect for example, then the parameters you can change are vowel choice, vowel mix, resonance etc. Each parameter that you edit has a separate knob that determines how the movement of the main knob will affect this particular parameter, and in what way. so you can choose whether moving the main knob will make the parameter less, more, slower, faster, etc. This combined with the LFO modulators (that can be assigned to any or all parameters) means that each effect can get complex very quickly.
And then, when you think it can’t get any worse – there’s the dictator slider. The dictator slider replaces the grid list of effects, with a single slider, that combines all 8 of your knob effects into one. As you move the slider around, the various knob effects will come into play in varying amounts. This is really magnificent thinking. It’s a sort of vertical automation sequencer: As you move the Dictator slider up and down, the corresponding effect knobs move according to their positioning in the sequence. Clear as mud? Yeah, it’s hard to describe. Here’s a video that will hopefully help explain. I set up a simple Ableton live pattern, then stuck 3 turnado plugins on the master channel, and am using a midi controller to move the dictator and the dry/wet sliders.
Sugarbytes have done it again. One of the signs that I took this to be a good plugin was the fact that I got totally lost in it – and realised 2.5 hours later that I’d spent all this time messing around with one beat, creating weirder and more wonderful stuff than I had in a long time.
The Dictator really takes the biscuit for me. For ease of use and just brilliant results by moving one slider – and yet designing the program so it’s as easy as pie to set up, I’m not sure there’s anything out there that competes at the moment. Excellent design. The instant satisfaction combined with the great depth of editing on this plugin make it really good work with.
… For ease of use and just brilliant results by moving one slider – and yet designing the program so it’s as easy as pie to set up, I’m not sure there’s anything out there that competes at the moment…