First look review: Pancz multi-band transient shaper plug-in by Oversampled

Pancz Multiband Sound Shaper Plug-in by OversampledTransient shaper plug-ins have evolved into something fierce. I remember the first one I tried back in 2016 – the revered SPL Transient Designer Plus. It had two knobs, mix controls, and it made drum hits go brr or… slightly less brr! That’s pretty much all there was to it.

Five years of Progress™ later, we have this absolute unit of a transient shaper plug-in called Pancz. It’s made in Poland by developer Oversampled who’s been flexing hard from the get-go with its first release, the sick OCS-45 tape simulator and distortion plug-in. Pancz (pronounced Panch) does precision transient shaping over 3 frequency bands, hard clipping (like taking a lawn mover to the waveform), soft/hard limiting, parallel compression, and coloration (with Presence and Air parameters).

All of that good stuff happens in a single, distraction-free window devoted to the most essential controls and visuals for the punchy tasks at hand. Any rhythmic material you take into it (think one shots, drum beats, bass lines and melodic sequences) gets whipped into shape and sounds bolder. Either that, or it’s completely obliterated when you’re feeling frisky or you don’t know what you are doing. In other words, I am smitten!

Pulling Pancz-es

Pancz ticks the right boxes by doing exactly what a transient shaper ought to, then going ways beyond it. At the basic level, transients are manipulated from the Transients and Length faders. The former makes transient more or less prominent so that already great sounds get to hit harder and the ones that need taming can be subdued. The latter does dynamics processing, squashing or expanding the transients’ sustain and thus manipulating the dynamic range. You should try this first before reaching for your favorite compressor – they might become best friends with Pancz. These transient shaping features can work independently across three frequency bands with full control over the range and crossover frequencies. Two parameters doesn’t sound like a lot, but with frequency splits in the equation, you can do super-detailed transient shaping.

Live audio and everything you do to it is visualized in the waveform window with visuals for both the input and output signal. Pulling down the Treshold line literally cuts the waveform at the given point. It also lets the optional Soft Clipper and Limiter know which peaks to suppress. The Soft Clipper introduces analog-sounding distortion that’s quite appropriate for bass-heavy sounds like 808s. The Limiter does hard limiting – anything above the threshold line gets chopped clean off.

Moving to the NYC knob, it blends a compressed variant of the signal to obtain the typical parallel compression sound (everything-in-your-face) with zero-hassle. The Presence control adjusts the high-mid frequency range for added bite and Air gets you a bit of posh-sounding sizzle. All the processing done by Pancz can be blended in from the Mix knob.

Pancz transient shaper plug-in

Pancz transient shaper plug-in

The verdict

Pancz is freaking legendary as far as I’m concerned. If you think you need more powerful transient shaping than this, I humbly suggest having another look at the source sound before spending the next 3 days massaging your snare.

Oversampled Pancz – Price and availability

Pancz is on an introductory sale for USD 59, down from USD 119. Grab it while it’s hot! The plug-in works in VST, VST3, and AU formats on 64-bit computers running macOS 10.11 (or later) and Windows 7 (or later).

More information about Pancz

Pancz – Video

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Best free plug-ins this week: Reducktion, SeeSaw and Olitanh

Free plug-ins 08-01-21This week’s collection of free plug-ins features Reducktion, a polyphonic software synth. SeeSaw is a useful tilt EQ and Olitanh is a compressor and waveshaper with a vintage flavor.

You’ll find many more free plug-ins in our archives.

Dead Duck Software Reducktion

Dead Duck Software ReducktionReducktion is an impressive software synth with three oscillators. In addition to continuously variable saw, square, triangle and sine waveforms and PWM, Reducktion offers sine wave FM with carrier and two modulators. Two resonant filters, three LFOs and three envelopes are available for further sound shaping. The included drive, EQ, chorus, delay and reverb effects are the icing on the cake, and there’s a 16-step arpeggiator/sequencer to set things in motion.

Reducktion is available as a VST plug-in for Windows.

Get Reducktion here

lkjb SeeSaw

lkjb SeeSawSeeSaw is a free tilt EQ plug-in that allows you to quickly balance out the frequency distribution in a track or mix. A tilt EQ affects frequencies above and below a center frequency simultaneously: as one side increases, the other decreases. SeeSaw offers an analyzer to help you find the appropriate center frequency, which you can set using the Freq knob. The plug-in can also be used to process the mid or side signals separately, which is useful on stereo tracks.

SeeSaw is available for macOS and Windows in VST, VST3 and AU formats.

Get SeeSaw here

John Crosby Acoustics Olitanh

John Crosby Acoustics OlitanhOlitanh by John Crosby Acoustics combines a compressor with a distortion and wave shaping unit. The developer says that it adds warmth to bass, guitar and vocals, and can also be used as a glue compressor for mixes. The distortion section comes with a drive control and a power knob, which affects the distortion curve. The compressor offers all the essential parameters, and then some. There’s also a low pass filter and a mix control for parallel processing.

Olitanh is available for macOS and Windows in VST, VST3 and AU formats.

Get Olitanh here

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Get up to 70% off all 7 Output engines at Native Instruments

Output saleNative Instruments is having a sale on Output products – 70% off all seven “engines” (Exhale, Analog Brass & Winds, Analog Strings, Substance, Rev, Signal, and Rev X-Loops) or 50% off individual ones. The prices come down to EUR 349 (down from EUR 1293) for the bundle of 7 engines and EUR 99,5 (down from EUR 199) for individual engines. With that, I think the bundle offer is positively cray-cray. The deals are good until August 11, 2021.

Output sale – up to 70% off Exhale, Analog Brass & Winds, Analog Strings, Substance, Rev, Signal, and Rev X-Loops

Here’s a little more about each of the 7 Output engines on offer:

  • EXHALE – Sound designers tweaked and manipulated real vocal performances with tape machines, vocoders, and vintage gear to create a range of distinctive sounds, playable with the Exhale engine’s three different modes.
  • SIGNAL – Combining synthetic sound and organic instruments, its hybrid atmospheres can drive everything from dancefloor stompers to game, film, and theatre soundtracks.
  • SUBSTANCE – A three-layered bass engine that combines hybrid sound sources with intelligent sound design.
  • ANALOG BRASS AND WINDS – Hybridizing synthetic sounds with the power of big orchestral brass and wistful winds.
  • ANALOG STRINGS – Blurring the lines between traditional strings and vintage synths, Analog Strings combines meticulously-recorded orchestras and soloists with unconventional textures for unique, powerful palettes of sound.
  • REV – Rev puts a new spin on producing sound. Each of its four parts has its own unique sound engine, packed with a world of sound based entirely on reverse elements.
  • REV X-LOOPS – the result of months recording live instruments, walls of synths, and organic sources. Use them as a departure point into sonic explorations, or manipulate them until they’re truly yours.

System requirements

The Essential Engines Collection is an 86GB download. All of the engines require Native Instruments KONTAKT or the free KONTAKT PLAYER to function. KONTAKT and KONTAKT PLAYER work on 64-bit computers running macOS 10.13 or later and Windows 7 or later. They are available in VST, AU, AAX and standalone application formats. KONTAKT PLAYER takes 1GB of storage space.

More information

Output engines – Videos

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Dorico and Sibelius for Mobile: Steinberg and Avid go head to head on iPad

AVID Sibelius for MobileSomething unusual happened yesterday. First, Steinberg released Dorico for the iPad and, later that same day, AVID dropped Sibelius for Mobile. Both are free of charge and offer subscription options for additional features. I wonder if Steinberg and Avid coordinated their moves at a fancy dinner like in the mafioso movies. Or maybe it was more of a nosy-neighbours-spying-on-each-other-type situation. Regardless, the iPad has suddenly become a mean scoring tool, with both apps exploiting the iPad platform while staying cross-compatible with Windows and Mac.

Dorico and Sibelius for Mobile

While both apps look like what you’d expect from using them on desktop machines, each offers something unique to the iPad. For example, Dorico can play scores using AUv3 plug-ins and Sibelius for Mobile supports note input with the Apple Pencil. Both apps are optimized for multi-touch interfaces, cloud sharing of scores in various formats (MusicXML, MIDI, PDF, etc.), and support up to four parts in their free versions. They need an iPad running at least iPadOS 13.0 (Dorico) or 13.4 (Sibelius for Mobile), which is any iPad using the Apple A8 chip or later.

Dorico and Sibelius for Mobile – Price and availability

Steinberg Dorico for iPadOS is available for free in the Apple App Store. After purchasing a subscription, you can activate additional features – such as 12 parts and extended notation – for EUR 3.99 per month or EUR 39 per year. The app takes 823 MB on your iPad.

Sibelius for Mobile has different pricing models offering varying levels of functionality. All of them include both desktop and mobile versions. The free basic version (Sibelius | First) supports four parts. Sibelius supports up to 16 voices and costs EUR 105.91 per year or EUR 10.71 per month. Sibelius | Ultimate supports any number of parts and costs EUR 224.91 per year or EUR 22.61 per month. There are also permanent licenses which start at EUR 105.91. The app takes around 1.2GB on your iPad.

More information about Steinberg Dorico and Avid Sibelius for Mobile

Dorico and Sibelius for Mobile – Videos

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Polyphia’s Tim Henson gets Neural DSP Archetype suite

Neural DSP Archetype- Tim HensonNeural DSP has added Polyphia’s Tim Henson to its roster of Archetype software suite artists. Consisting of amp, effect and virtual cabinet modules, this setup packs in some aesthetically appealing emulations of guitar gear for your DAW.

Neural DSP Tim Henson Archetype

This latest plug-in suite from Neural DSP follows similar virtual rigs for artists including Cory Wong, Tosin Abasi, and Gojira’s Joe DuplantierPolyphia’s Tim Henson is known for a very diverse range of futuristic guitar tones. And that is exactly what you get with this latest suite of virtual gear. It all looks amazing! I think it’s a beautiful user interface.

What’s in the suite?

You get three amp models named Acoustic, Rhythm/Crunch and Lead. Acoustic is based on Henson’s studio signal chain and is designed to give you a rich, bright tone. Rhythm is based on a low-gain, two-channel, British-voiced amp. Then there’s Lead. Henson describes it as “This one fucks”, so I presume it has a bit of gain.

Neural DSP Tim Henson Acoustic Simulator Amplifier

Tim Henson Acoustic Simulator Amplifier

Tim Henson Crunch Amplifier

Tim Henson Crunch Amplifier

Neural DSP Tim Henson Lead Amplifier

Tim Henson Lead Amplifier


The CabSim module comes pre-loaded with hundreds of IRs made by Adam “Nolly” Getgood and includes six virtual microphones. You can also load your own IR files.

Tim Henson Archetype pre-effects

Tim Henson Archetype pre-effects

Intelligent Effects?

Finally, we have some pretty interesting effects, too. These include standard Boost, Compressor, Overdrive, Stereo Chorus, Delay, and Reverb effects.

Multivoicer algorithm allows you to add 4 pitch shifted voices on top of your signa

Multivoicer algorithm allows you to add 4 pitch-shifted voices on top of your signal

MIDI Pitch Shifting

Where it really gets interesting, though, is with the included intelligent Multivoicer algorithm. You can use this to add 4 pitch-shifted voices to your guitar’s signal. If you Activate MIDI, it will receive MIDI chords or notes. This harmonizes your guitar’s DI signal to the MIDI pitch you enter. The Archetype: Tim Henson also has a nine-band graphic EQ on board, so you can fully sculpt your tones here.

Archetype: Tim Henson is available for €119/$140, and you can try it out with a 14-day free trial from the link below. It comes in 64-bit VST/AU/AAX formats and standalone versions for both Mac and Windows.

More Neural DSP Information

Polyphia’s Tim Henson Neural DSP Video

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Roland unleashes Zenology FX for your DAW, free till Dec 31 2021

Roland Zenology FXRoland dropped the motherload today by adding all 90+ effects from its Zen-Core engine to its Roland Cloud subscription – in the form of an effects plug-in. As if that ain’t sweet enough, you can ‘test’ all that goodness for free until the end of 2021 with just a Roland account – not a paid Roland Cloud subscription account, but a free Roland account! That’s the kind of mega-corp power move I wholeheartedly support…

Roland Zenology FX

The Zenology FX effects come from the Zen Core sound engine which powers Roland’s current music hardware, such as its FANTOM and JUPITER-X keyboards, among others. You can read more about the platform here at Roland. The available effects are all over the place, ranging from emulations of vintage hardware (like the Roland Space Echo and Juno-106 chorus) to unabashedly digital modulators, delays, loopers, pitch shifters and the sort. While the lack of reverbs is notable, you probably own like 40 of these in addition to your stock DAW ones, so I’m sure you’ll get by somehow. The effects share a streamlined UX design with clearly laid-out controls so using them is a breeze. The Zenology FX plug-in makes a formidable effects arsenal for your DAW-based productions.


Roland Zenology FX – Price and availability

If you are not a Roland Cloud subscriber, you can test ZENOLOGY FX for free with a non-paid-for Roland Account until December 31st. Simply register, download the Roland Cloud Manager app, log in and install ZENOLOGY FX. Roland Cloud memberships start at USD 3 / mo or USD 30 / year and each tier has a 30-day trial period. The free Roland Account also includes the Zenology Lite synth, a 30-day Roland Cloud Ultimate trial, Zenbeats music creation software, and access to Test Drive campaigns.

Roland Zenology FX – More information

Roland Zenology FX – Video

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Synchro Arts launches Revoice Pro 4.3 with SmartAlign (up to 50% off)

Revoice Pro 4 dealSynchro Arts announced an update to its Revoice Pro 4 timing and pitch alignment software for Windows and Mac. Revoice Pro 4 combines the world’s most advanced time and pitch alignment, a set of premium tuning tools, and a natural-sounding vocal doubler.

Highlights in Revoice 4.3 include a new SmartAlign algorithm, ARA compatibility for Logic Pro X, and improved Pro Tools Link and Quick plugins among other things.

Until August 31 2021, Revoice Pro 4.3 (including upgrades and crossgrades) is available for purchase at Synchro Arts and its distributors, such as Thomann, at prices up to 50% off. Revoice Pro 4 users can upgrade for free.

Revoice Pro 4.3 – what’s new

  • SmartAlign: Revoice Pro 4.3 is the first product to feature SmartAlign, a new technology which intelligently uses the presence of audio in your Dub track, instead of the Guide, to decide when an alignment should start and end. This is a huge timesaver as you can now transfer whole complex vocal arrangements into Revoice Pro and SmartAlign will calculate which section of the guide track your dubs should be aligned with.
  • Logic ARA Compatibility: ARA or Audio Random Access is a revolutionary audio plug-in extension that enables unprecedented instant communication between ARA-enabled plug-ins and DAWs. There is now an ARA2 version of the Revoice Pro 4 Link AU plugin which enables your audio to be instantly captured, processed and returned to Logic Pro.
  • Improved Pro Tools Link & Quick Plugins: In Pro Tools, Revoice Pro 4 uses Audiosuite plugins to import and export your audio quickly and easily. With 4.3, we’ve updated the Quick APT and Quick Doubler plugins so you can save time by selecting processing presets without opening the main Revoice Pro 4 application. In addition, the Revoice Pro 4 Link plugin has been improved, so now you can create a Revoice Pro session which can be saved and reloaded to keep your adjustments and edits for future use. It’s also now possible to capture audio files and create processes from within the Link plugin too.
  • Two Activations Per License: Revoice Pro 4.3 now comes with two activations per license, so you can use the software on any two machines at the same time.
  • Sync Points: If you run into complex alignment problems, Revoice Pro 4 has some advanced editing tools to solve tricky issues fast. Sync Points are user-defined target points on your guide and dub tracks which VocALign will try to ensure remain in sync when processing. Sync Points were included in Revoice Pro 2 but have been improved and re-added to this latest version of Revoice Pro.
  • Legato Audio Support: Pitch can be used to help the time alignment, this can be useful in legato audio as energy-based alignment may not be able to find the features it needs to accurately align your audio.
  • Offset Indicators: Blue lines are displayed on the guide and dub tracks. The lines move with the mouse pointer and show the corresponding position in the tracks calculated by the APT.
Revoice Pro 4.3

Revoice Pro 4.3

Revoice Pro 4.3 sale (up to 50% off)

Until August 31 2021, Revoice Pro 4.3 (including upgrades and crossgrades) is available for purchase at Synchro Arts and its distributors, such as Thomann (affiliate link), at prices up to 50% off. Revoice Pro 4 users can upgrade for free. The software works under macOS 10.10 (or later) and Windows 10. An iLok account or USB dongle is required for authorization.

Revoice Pro 4.3 – More information

Revoice Pro 4.3 – Video

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Acustica Audio Black: A gain staging suite with rare preamp emulations

Acustica Audio BlackPreamp emulations are a bit of an Acustica Audio specialty, playing an important role in its plug-in offerings. It was perhaps only a matter of time before the manufacturer caved in to its obsession and dedicated a whole plug-in suite to the matter. Black is exactly that. It has a bunch of emulated rare, expensive preamps bundled in two paid-for packages. In the meantime, Acustica Audio is giving away a free version with a single preamp model to get you a feel for it.

Acustica Audio Black

This suite focuses on gain staging, with tools to control the amount of signal going between your tracks. If you use Ableton Live, think of the Utility tool. Many producers prefer doing volume automations from the Utility tool and leaving the faders for mix balance. The Black plug-in is something like this, but with preamp emulations and options for saturation and filtering.

As the gain increases, Black introduces harmonic distortion – it’s most of what gives analog that warm, imperfect sound which our ears associate with recorded music. The filters help tame the bass and treble aspects of the saturation. As for the preamp emulations, simply select your preferred audio character. The more tracks you cook up like this, the more pronounced coloration you get. You likely won’t hear any, if much difference from a single instance.

Acustica Audio Black

Acustica Audio Black

Black Standard and Guru

The Black suite exists in two versions: standard and Black Guru, the latter geared towards advanced applications. The basic version is free and offers a single emulation. It can be expanded with the two paid extensions – Volume A and Volume B. They have 5 additional preamp emulations each. Acustica notes that none of these preamps have been emulated in software before. So if you want to reach beyond classic console preamp coloration, Black is one thing to try.

Price and availability

Acustica Audio Black is available for free in its basic version with one preamp model (Navy Geranium). The extensions “Volume A” and “Volume B” normally cost EUR 99 each but, until August 26 2021, you will pay EUR 69 for each.

The plug-in works under macOS 10.14 or later and Windows 10 in VST, AU and AAX formats. A demo version and a PDF user manual can be downloaded from the product page. The manufacturer’s Aquarius software handles installation and licensing.

More information about Acustica Audio’s Black

Acustica Audio Black – Video

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MAGIX Samplitude Music Studio 2022: What’s new in the beginner-friendly DAW

MAGIX Samplitude Music Studio 2022MAGIX has released Samplitude Music Studio 2022, a spin off from its flagship Samplitude Pro X DAW. This version is better suited towards novice to intermediate music producers, as reflected in the affordable price tag, streamlined user interface, and abundance of mix-ready content. The software does offer enough features to get stuck into, though, like plug-ins, automation and time/pitch correction.

MAGIX Samplitude Music Studio 2022

New features in Samplitude Music Studio 2022 include:

  • Central tempo controls, clean automation curves, enhanced performance, new sounds and instruments.
  • New modernEQ equalizer plug-in with filter options for each band and custom editing options for audio tracks.
  • Plug-in browser extension for searching the available instruments and effects using keywords and filters, saving favorites for quick access and so on.
  • Dockable track editor provides constant access to essential track functions – audio and AUX settings, plug-ins, mixer settings, and EQ.
  • ARA2 support for compatible plug-ins.
  • 8 new percussion instruments.
  • New soundpools in 8 different styles with hundreds of samples.
  • Quickstart Wizard with templates for playing and recording instruments.
  • MAGIX Audio Remote app for remote control from a mobile device.
  • Multitrack recording in 24-bit / 96kHz.

Samplitude Music Studio 2022
Samplitude Music Studio 2022
Samplitude Music Studio 2022

MAGIX Samplitude Music Studio 2022 – Price and availability

The software is available now for Windows computers. You can purchase it from MAGIX or our partner Thomann, using the affiliate links below. New purchases cost USD 129 and upgrades cost USD 60. A free trial version is available for download. Music Studio 2022’s system requirements are notably modest. A dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB to 4GB of RAM, and 2GB of storage space for basic install are needed. Your computer must run 32 or 64-bit Windows 8 or later. An internet connection is required for registering and validating the program, as well as for some program features. The software requires one-time registration.

More information on Magix Music Studio 2022

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New Gear Drop update from Positive Grid for its Spark desktop amp

Positive Grid Gear Drop firmware updateThe Gear Drop firmware update from Positive Grid adds three more amps and three effects pedals to the popular Spark desktop amp. And it’s free for all Spark users!

Positive Grid Spark Gear Drop

Positive Grid has just announced a firmware and app update for its Spark desktop amp. Called Gear Drop, it adds three new amp models and three new virtual stompboxes to the already well catered for system.

The Amps

You get the ODS 50, inspired by the highly sought after boutique Dumble ODS 50 HRM ampllifier. The Blues Boy is based on the popular Fender Blues Junior tube combo and, finally, the new Insane 6508, a high-gain amp based on the Peavey 6505.

Positive Grid ODS 50
Positive Grid Blues Boy
Positive Grid Insane 6508

The Effects

The three new effects pedals include the Clone Drive, based on a boutique ’90s Klon Centaur Overdrive pedal, and the Guitar EQ and Bass EQ, both of which are based on granular-level frequency spectrum controllers.


The Gear Drop firmware update is available now for free from Positive Grid’s support page. You can hear the new amps and effects in the official demo video below, along with details on how to update your Spark amp.

It’s always nice to get new amps and effects to play with, especially when they come for free! Just make sure you back up any of your favourite presets before you undertake this firmware update. I would suggest you also watch the ‘how to’ at the end of this video, as it covers everything you need to do.

More Information on Positive Grid

Gear Drop Demo Video

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