Transient designers have and always will be an essential tool used in almost every mix I have ever worked with. The thought of not having one in my arsenal would limit me in so many ways. If you produce or mix music and don't own a transient designer, seriously think about purchasing one.
In total at Audio Animals we own 4 different transient designers. Each are slightly different and have their own unique purpose in the mix. The 4 transient designers we own and use here are, the Oxford Envolution (UAD plugin), Elysia Nvelope (plugin), Elysia Nvelope (500 series hardware) and the old faithful the SPL Transient Designer (UAD Plugin).
In this article we are going to review the SPL transient designer. With 3 controllable knobs this is by far the simplest transient designer on the market. Think of a transient designer much like the ADSR found on a synthesizer.
Used to increase or decrease the amount of snap at the beginning of the sample.
Used to increase or decrease the volume in the tail / decay of the sample.
A standard output gain used to increase or decrease the output gain.
The SPL transient designer is and always will be my go to transient designer. The simplicity of the unit means it is low in CPU intensity. As well as being so easy to use, even a beginner can get their head around it within 5 minutes. It can be used on various audio sources but drums are really where it becomes an essential tool.
What Is A Transient Designer
A transient designer is a simple tool used to shape transients. It can be used to add snap/click, as well as increase the decay / sustain of your audio source. An essential tool when working with drums both live and electronic.
There are so many great uses for this unit. My personal favourite is turning electronic hi-hats into sharp snappy clicks that can be positioned in the drum mix to really shine through. This is achieved by increasing the attack and decreasing the sustain. By doing so you are removing the amount of volume found in the tail of the hi-hat and increasing the amount of volume on the initial hit of the hi-hat.
Another great use for the transient designer is vocals. On many occassions I've needed to reduce the amount of attack in a vocalists voice and increase the sustain on the vocal tails. This will result in a lot smoother and more full vocal.
A transient designer can be used with great effect on kicks and snare drums. Used correctly in the correct chain working with the compressors, a transient designer can really bring a kick and snare to life. Punching drums through the mix for the ultimate impact.
A transient designer can be used in a number of less conventional ways too. Adding one to a reverb for instance, you can begin to tailor the tails of the reverb to give a more fuller release. This can be done by increasing the sustain.
Another less conventional use is by applying a transient designer to a parallel drum bus. By increasing the attack and decreasing the sustain you will add a snappy layer to your drum mix.
In conclusion if you are thinking of picking up a transient designer, swing by the plugin alliance shop and take a good took at the SPL transient designer. If you haven't already got one, get one. It'll soon become an essential part of creating your sound. There are a few different versions of the SPL transient designer to choose from. Choosing the right one for your needs is important. Some have more features than others.
SPL Transient Designer Attacker
The cheapest option of all the SPL plugins at $59. It's a cut down model with only one thing in mind... attack. If that's all you need then go for this option. Buy here $59.
SPL Transient Designer
Classic SPL transient designer which was used in this review. Can be bought native or on the UAD platform. This model includes both the attack and sustain feature. In my personal opinion if you can stretch to spend a little more go with this version as the sustain feature is incredibly important. Increasing the sustain knob will make drums sound fuller and decreasing the sustain knob will make drums sound sharper and tighter. All round great tool essential for music that incorporates drums. Which is 99.9% of produced music. Buy here £149.
SPL Transient Designer Plus
The plus model utilises everything that is great with the original unit plus a few extra feature that will really help. I haven't actually used the plus version as yet as the standard version for what I need it for is sufficient. That being said I'm sure it massively improves on a truly brilliant original unit. Side chain filter and parallel mix knobs have been included. Which will allow for some added control. All in all though what I love about the standard unit is it's simplicity. Nothing wrong with having the exta options you don't have to use them. Buy here $199.