Plugin Alliance has announced the availability of karacter, a new plug-in which they describe as an "exacting emulation, by Brainworx of elysia's discrete class-A stereo saturator namesake, known affectionately as 'The Coloring Box' because of the wondrous ways in which it fattens and adds sparkle to tracks." Here's a press release with the full details...
karacter is actually a bundle of two plugins -- karacter mix and karacter master, the former providing a straightforward set of controls for treating mono and stereo tracks, while the more surgical latter lets users process full mixes, stereo stems, and subgroups, thanks to its independent left and right channel controls or, in MS Mode, mid and side channels. Choose either, and characterful sounds shine forth for sure, separating them from the plugin pack. After all, elysia has a well-deserved reputation for building pioneering products of quality and distinction that really represent a paradigm shift in studio processing; plugins bearing the manufacturer's notable name capably convey those admirable attributes in digital form.
For both the karacter mix and karacter master plugins provide three different modes with which users can paint project tracks with colorful harmonics -- hence that ("Coloring Box") tagline thrust upon their hardware counterpart. Creatively, the standard saturation mode makes for fattening gently while heightening (odd) harmonics -- heavenly when it comes to mastering and also for adding subtle size to pristine-sounding instruments such as acoustic guitars and grand pianos. FET Shred mode mimics the pleasing distortion of a driven tube amp, adding a relative boost to (even) harmonics that transform clinical-sounding electric guitar and bass tracks into bad boys! Turbo Boost mode -- only available in FET Shred mode -- should surely carry a warning! Why? Waging total harmonic destruction, it hard-clips signal tops like a weed whacker and sounds superb whether used for far- reaching processing of individual tracks or being tasked with severe sound design duties.
Days of yore required racks packed with outboard gear to achieve elusive and highly-desirable styles of tonal saturation. Such serious outlay is not necessarily needed today, thanks to karacter... choose the desired saturation mode, then push it harder or softer using the Drive control to dial in ideal amounts of beautiful-sounding sparkle or meat-grinding grit. For floor-rattling bass tracks, turn up karacter's Color control counter-clockwise to simultaneously jack up the saturated signal's bottom end while softening its highs. Conversely, clockwise rotation of the Color control could rough out the smooth edges of clean FM (Frequency Modulation) synth tracks to dirty things up. Up top, try raining musical mayhem down on drum overheads in MS Mode by applying Turbo Boost to the kick and snare in the mid channel while creating crystalline-sounding cymbals on the side channel. Or overdrive the total kit to take things to the extreme! Either way, whether working on full mixes, drum subgroups, or stringed instruments, karacter's Mix control can blend colorful distortion with pristine input signal to sculpt a perfect balance of girth and sonic detail. Duly transform tracks into beauty or beast with karacter!
Cutting -- or boosting! -- to the chase: karacter creates a wonderful world of tremendous tones and timbres courtesy of a carefully chosen small set of controls that can completely change the character of a sound, alongside a stereo M/S (Mid-Side) control that opens up several possibilities for creative effects. The choice is in there... and all keeping elysia's well-deserved reputation alive and kicking (ass) within a convenient, creative plugin workflow without treading on the toes of any other saturator software solution out there.
Pricing and Availability:
karacter is available for purchase -- as an AAX Native & DSP-, AU-, VST2-, and VST3-supporting plugin for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) -- exclusively from Plugin Alliance for $199.00 USD.
Note that the proprietary Plugin Alliance Installation Manager means users can select, download, and install only the products and formats needed for their system.
We sat down with Rob to discuss the creative process and what lead him to using a modular