Are you having trouble with mic bleed, lack of punch, or too much reverb? Today we are reviewing the best free transient shaper plugins so far.
A transient plugin is one of the essential tools in every mixing session. The main job of transient plugins is to adjust the audio signal’s transient response and envelope curve. Transient shaper plugins will add punch or remove reverb and the noise your microphones shouldn’t have caught while you were recording. These plugins come in great when you want to extend the sustain or impact.
It is also important to know what s transient. Transient is the sound and peak of energy that you hear at the beginning of a recorded sound. As an example, you can take a guitar pick sound or the sound of a stick hitting the rim of the drum.
The transient plugin will help you edit the attack and sustain recorded sounds while keeping the volume at the same level. These plugins will make it easier for you to position recordings in your mix and simplify your mixing approach. They can be used as a great tool for softening or sharpening the sound. Transient plugins are the essential tool for every producer, which will help you shape the sound more in-depth by controlling its position and presence in the mix.
The standard transient plugin will have three knobs that will control the sound’s volume, sustain, and attack. But most modern plugins will have additional knobs such as wet/dry option, saturation, and many more. Using transient plugins will come in handy when solving crucial problems in mixing.
The 6 Best Free Transient Shaper Plugins
1. Surreal Machines Crack
Crack by Surreal Machines is a good example of how a transient plugin should work. This plugin provides you with basic controls, making it easy for everyone to use.
This plugin is designed to work primarily for drums, but it is a great tool for editing guitars, vocals, synths, and even the entire mix. Apart from being simple to use, it will not overload your CPU, so you do not worry about the performance. You can also load it across multiple tracks, and it still will not overload your CPU.
The interface of Crack will provide you with four knobs: Attack, sustain, amount, and dry/wet knob. Attack and sustain are straightforward. They control the attack and sustain of the recorded sound. The dry/wet knob features the overall presence of the plugin in the final mix of the track.
Now we come to the dynamics part of this plugin. This part is one of the great features this plugin offers. Here you will have four modes to shape the loudness of your track:
- This option can be helpful if you wish to feature your own dynamics process in another plugin that comes after Crack. It will also allow you to leave the output of the transient shaper as it is. It’s good to note to be careful with this option since the output untouched from Crack can be hot.
- The clip option applies brick wall clipping to your sound, which is sometimes exactly the sound you are after, to add a bit of edge to your transients.
- Limiter mode applies a limiter effect that softens the spikes in your sound so that nothing is lost, but the output level is controlled. The dynamic range will be at its fullest, but the signal will be less aggressive. Pushing the limiter to positive will increase sound gain without distorting it.
- When set on full, Maximizer mode will try to make them sound as loud as possible all the time. But with this plugin, you will still be able to dial that down with the Amount knob.
Crack features a variety of factory presets. It will allow you to create your own and save them. One of the great things about this plugin is that you have “A” and “B” options which will allow you to create two types of transients, and by just clicking on “A” or “B” it will allow you to compare which one sits better in your mix.
Crack is supported on PC and Mac, and the plugin formats in which it is available are VST, VST3, and AU. You can find it for 32-bit and 64-bit. Considering that this plugin is free of any purchases makes this one a great deal and worthwhile trying out.
For more information on system requirements and instructions on using, you can check out the Crack User Manual.
You can download Surreal Machines Crack here.
2. Sonic Anomaly Transpire
Sonic Anomaly Transpire is the next free plugin on our list. This plugin will provide you with great features that will help you make certain parts of your mix stand out.
This plugin is primarily made for percussion and drum editing and is great because it gives you the ability to stand out the subtle detail in drum or percussion recording while not affecting the louder hits. It does not process audio signals linearly but can amplify specific parts of the eq specter, resulting in a more steady and controlled output of the track.
One of the great things is that the output signal is clipped at -0.1 dB. This way, it prevents the digital clipping inside of a standard DAW. I would suggest using this option more often since it can reduce the pressure of your headphone or speakers while trying things out with this plugin.
The user interface features four knobs with two meters. It works similarly to other transient shaper plugins. With these four knobs, you will be able to control the input signal’s sustain, attack, how much the plugin should affect the tone, and the fourth one is for the input gain. The two meters at the top will give you insight into how much of the signal is boosted or reduced.
This Sonic Anomaly Transpire is great since it will give you more control over the sustain of the recorded sound. With you just little tweaking of the knobs, you will be able to enhance the sustain or dampen it, depending on what you need.
Currently, this plugin is available on Windows only as a VST plugin. It is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, while MAC users can use the JSFX version, which is also free.
When writing this article, the Sonic Anomaly webpage is down for an unknown reason. Finding the download link for this plugin should not be a problem since there are multiple links online that are still active, both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
3. Apisonic Labs Transperc
Transperc by Apsonic Labs is a free transient shaper primarily made for drum mixing. It still can be used for other types of sound and can achieve great results.
Transperc was first introduced as a part of KVR Developer Challenge 2021. Since then, it has shown great results in terms of drum mixing. It has many great features as a part of its interface.
This plugin features standard attack and sustain knobs with which you control the initial attack and the length of the recorded sound. It also features the speed knob and the filter toggle button.
The thing that makes this plugin great is the fact that it features separate dry and wet knobs. This way, it will give you more control over how much you would like to have this plugin affect your tone.
It also features the overall gain control knob, from -12dB to +12dB. There is also a hard clip toggle button that clips the hot signal when turned on. To top all of this, you can resize the plugin user interface by clicking on the logo.
Transperc is available on Windows 7 and above as a VST, VST3 – 64-bit, on macOS 10.7 or above VST, VST3, AU – 64-bit, or Linux Ubuntu 18 or above – VST, VST3 – 64-bit.
4. FLUX BitterSweet v3
The next plugin on our list is BitterSweet v3 by FLUX. This plugin is perfect for people who like simplicity and do not have the need to go too much into detail.
This plugin features only one main knob at the center of the user interface; apart from that knob, a bypass button, a speed selector (fast, medium, and slow), and output meters. This interface results in very simple and easy usage of this plugin.
It works simply by turning the only knob on the interface to the right; you will increase the amplitude of the transients, and turning it to the left will decrease them. The bypass button will bypass the plugin entirely, leaving you with the dry signal.
BitterSweet v3 is a great plugin for beginners and people who do not need to mix their transients in detail. Just turning the only knob will increase or decrease your transients without affecting the level of the track itself.
It is claimed that it can give great punch to the drum mix, which will keep them centered and present in the final mix, but it is also claimed that it can soften certain transients simultaneously.
AU, VST, and VST3 support BitterSweet v3, and AAX AudioSuite supports 32 bit for Pro Tools 10.3. 5 and 64 bit in Pro Tools 11 and above, and both AAX Native and AAX DSP.
5. Auburn Sounds Couture (Free Edition)
Couture by Auburn Sounds is the next plugin on our list. While there is a more frequently used full version, this plugin can be used as a free version. Even though there is no saturation module on the free version, this plugin still serves as a great transient shaper.
This plugin gives you plenty of ways to modify and shape the track’s transients. While the user interface at first may look complicated, its usage is fairly simple. It provides great features for a free plugin.
You can see the two monitors at the top corners of the plugin, which show you the input and the output waveform. These can be zoomed in to give you a closer and more detailed look into the waveforms, which can come in great if you experience major frequency spikes. The waveforms are also shown in the center of the UI on the main graph.
The next feature is the three detection modes located on the left. Each of them can come in handy when you decide how many of the transients you would like for the plugin to detect. In most cases, the “Human” mode has the best results. There is also the “Bass Amt” knob which controls how many of the bass frequencies should you like to have present in the mix.
The “Transient” module is where most of the job gets done. In this module, you can control the actual amount of transients in the mix. This module is controlled by turning the “Sharpen” dial to the left or right. Couture also features three scaling models: x1, x2, and x3. These modules will allow you to have more precise adjustments if you require them.
The front and back option acts as an attack or sustain amount. You can blend between each one of them to find the sweet spot. The speed dial adjusts the time scale of the captured transients.
On the top right corner, you will have the “Output” module in which you can adjust the overall volume and how much the plugin should affect the signal. This is done by blending the dry and wet sliders. Having separate dry and wet sliders is one of the great features of this plugin and gives you more control of it.
Considering that the only difference from the full version is the lack of the Saturation module, the free version of Couture is great. It is available on both Windows and macOS as an AAX, AU, and VST2 plugin that you can use in almost every DAW.
6. Sleepy-Time DSP Transient
DSP transient by Sleepy-Time is considered a more advanced transient on this list. This plugin will give you a chance to get more detail on the track transients with its user interface.
You may be skeptical since sometimes more options mean more chances to get things done the wrong way. This plugin will allow you to choose between an advanced interface and a simpler interface just by clicking on the gear icon.
Apart from standard attack and sustain knobs, this plugin features options for envelope adjustment and monitoring of the transients, and you can choose in which range the transients should be affected.
There is a high-pass and a low-pass filter by which you can adjust the frequency range of which signal you would like to get processed by this plugin.
The 0nly negative side of this plugin is that it is not available on Mac. When writing this article, the DSP transient is available only on Windows 32-bit and 64-bit. If you feel confident about your understanding of the transients and would like to try more advanced transient plugins, DSP is a great starting point.
Low Wave Studios – SpikeQ
SpikeQ by Low Wave Studios deserves an honorable mention. This plugin is a frequency-based transient shaper plugin. It is great for achieving a huge drums sound or adding more body to your acoustic guitar recording.
SpikeQ features four semi-parametric equalization bands, which are low and high shelves and two peak bands. The amount dial controls how much you want the equalizer to affect the recorded sound.
One great thing about the SpikeQ is that it features check-box x2, which comes in great when it comes to low dynamic range. Usually, it is not easy to mix the low range. This option will amplify the effect of this plugin. When the clip option is selected, this plugin will clip big spikes in the frequency range, keeping your signal steady without any bursts of volume.
Attack and release will control the behavior of the shape of the transient shaper. Adjusting the attack will, as you may guess, control the initial attack of the sound, while on the other hand, the release button can be looked at as sustain control.
There are also output and dry/wet controls. The output will control the overall output of the signal after it is processed. This process will be done pre-clipper to have a steady signal at the end of the chain. Dry/wet knobs will control how much you want the sound to be affected by the plugin.