In cutting-edge electronic music production nowadays, a variety of complex automation and modulations are enabled by a combination of plugins and the DAW. If your digital audio workstation doesn’t include modulators, you may always resort to using MIDI sequencers and modulators instead.
However, imagine if certain plugins were capable of processing and modulation simultaneously. The core of the new functions in ShaperBox 3 is the ability to use a single plugin to do both simple ducking and complicated modulation for the drop.
ShaperBox 3 is the go-to plugin for inspiration, musical motion, and mixing magic, thanks to feature-rich updates, including Audio Triggering, Sidechain View in VolumeShaper, and the new LiquidShaper flanger/phaser. In addition, the nine powerful multiband effects in ShaperBox – Volume, Time, Drive, Filter, Crush Noise, Pan, Width, and Liquid – are each a clean slate for your imagination.
With a simple visual interface that makes production quick and enjoyable, add a Shaper and draw any waveform you can think of to control the impact.
You may easily create smooth sweeps, diagonal lines, or stepped patterns with Cableguys’ simplest LFO editing ever. You can open a world of rhythmic exploration and distinct creation in only a few clicks. Then, make your music move by adding effects patterns that match your song’s tempo. Also, you can use MIDI and new Audio Triggering to activate effects in any rhythm.
You can use ShaperBox to create creative variations from uninteresting tunes, from the most basic samples to create new ear delight. With half-speed slowdowns, glitches, stutters, and scratches warp the fabric of time. Complete flexibility across side-chain three frequency bands are included in Pan, flange, filter, bitcrush, broaden, add noise, warp, distort, etc., and much more.
There is no learning curve with ShaperBox 3 because of the streamlined interface. The user interface’s default size is 75%, but you can increase it to 200% if necessary. In addition, a tooltip box is located at the bottom of the screen for further convenience.
With this plugin, you can get everything you need as a sound creator. Time, pan, width, and distortion may all be adjusted in ShaperBox 3, which can be used as a basic compressor or as complicated LFO tool.
The plugin offers a wide range of Shaper effects while remaining consistent with its core concept. Its modulations, likewise, are softened by useful smoothing functions.
All of the Shapers in ShaperBox 3 provide a leading user experience. A few more buttons or a different color scheme are about all that sets the new system apart from the old one, but these changes do not make adapting to the new one any more difficult. ShaperBox 3 also has a user interface that the user can enlarge, and it looks fantastic on both ultra-high-resolution desktop monitors and non-4K laptop screens.
The Cableguys have horizontally segmented the Shaper interface into three parts. The upper part is where global parameters, such as multiband splitting and master volume, are managed, while the middle is where the action takes place. As a result, the envelope follower and LFO are situated in the center. Finally, the last area is where you’ll find the performance settings, such as LFO and MIDI triggers.
All the Shaper modules installed in your ShaperBox 3 plugin are located above the three tabs. You may also disable individual ones, rearrange their placement with a click and a drag, and eliminate the ones you don’t want. Similarly, you can find a Master Mix slider on the bottom right. But at the very end, you’ll find a settings menu and a preset plugin browser.
There are a lot of features you can use in this plugin. Each Shaper you use has global features, so we want to start with these. Shapers also offer many exclusive features, but we’ll discuss these below, where you can also find what new updates come with this new version of ShaperBox 3. Until then, let’s see what global features are included:
Whenever a Shaper is loaded, a frequency spectrum appears in the upper right corner of the plugin’s user interface. Two more frequency bands (for a total of three) become visible as you move the arrows from the screen’s outside borders toward the middle. These divisions map to the spectrum’s low, mid, and high frequencies. The Shaper’s band crossover slopes are fully adjustable from 6dB to 12dB or 24dB per octave.
Multiband allows you to control each band’s LFO and envelope follower separately. You’ll have complete control over the frequency spectrum of your broadcast as a consequence. For example, let’s assume you’re trying a new tune in practice, and the ride cymbals are excessively loud.
By using a MIDI-triggered envelope, you can isolate the high frequencies played by the ride cymbals. Similarly, unconventional LFO movements and shapes may be advantageous when designing sounds.
In response to changes in volume, the envelope follower adjusts the Shaper’s parameters. Using the WidthShaper as an example, the envelope follower might expand the sound as the volume increases and the retract decreases. Threshold, amount, attack, hold, release, shift, and depth settings are all included, just like they would be on a compressor.
By switching to “add,” the envelope will layer modulation over the LFO. Instead of adding the LFO and envelope together to produce the modulation amount, this mode multiplies them. So, in this mode, you will hear no modulation if one of these two modulators is set to zero.
Envelope Followers feature improved Adaptive Release mode for an even juicier analog-like response. Get filtering, distortion, noise, and more that tightly hug the dynamic contours of beats, basslines – anything – for kinetic, magnetic FX.
The Shaper’s mix value is plotted vertically, with time (X-axis) shown on the horizontal (Y-axis). This editor’s top menu bar also features several additional editors and tools. Examples of such tools are the selection tool, the pen tool, etc. Let’s quickly review them:
- Selection Tools
The mouse is arguably the most flexible tool because you can use it to set up the LFO and then manipulate its constituent points freely. After selecting a point, pressing Shift on the keyboard will cause it to snap to the grid. The box selection tool is similar in letting you select numerous points simultaneously.
When working with your LFO, you may pick all the points at once by holding Shift while clicking on the box selection symbol, and you can temporarily switch to the mouse tool by holding Control.
- Randomize Function
You may randomly rearrange the lines on your graph by clicking the shuffle button, which is located next to the move buttons. Additionally, if you hold Shift and then click this button, the randomization will just affect the vertical position. Using this feature, you may maintain the LFO’s rhythm while adjusting volume or panning.
- 2X Button
A 2X button sits next to the randomize button, thus doubling the curve’s magnitude. Suppose, for argument’s sake, you want to recreate a volume ramp that occurred once within a one-bar period. In such a situation, clicking the 2X option will result in two times as steep a curve. Moreover, the ramp will repeat four times if you press the button again.
- Pen Tools
There are three different pens to choose from: a flat pen, an arc pen, and an S-curve pen. Different curves are produced by various tools, as you might imagine. By clicking and dragging on the LFO editor’s graph, “Pen for lines” creates straight lines with arbitrary beginnings and endings.
- Move Buttons
The best way to describe these is as something near a tool but not quite. However, once you’ve used the box selection tool to select numerous points, you may use the move buttons to relocate the points horizontally. You can make finer modifications by pressing shift while clicking the move buttons, but by default, the nodes are moved so that they snap to the grid.
The original (dark) and final (bright) audio signals are shown on an oscilloscope true to the sample. Oscilloscopes often operate in Magnitude mode, which averages the left and right channels into a single “upward” audio waveform, highlighting whichever has the greatest amplitude at any given time.
In the Wave/Oscilloscope menu, you’ll find options to change the display from an oscilloscope to a standard waveform and to toggle between left and right channels (right-click in the waveform editor). You can also choose to Freeze the scope, which is helpful if you want to keep working on your edits even when the transport has halted.
What are the new features of ShaperBox 3?
Before we get into a brief review of each Shaper, we’ll check over the changes and improvements made since the last version was published. These enhancements take the plugin to the next level, making it more competitive with existing alternatives. Here is a look at what they are:
- Audio Triggering
Activating the new Audio setting to have the LFO reset with each sound effect, you may alter transients and add a rhythm-tracking creative effect with the help of ShaperBox. Modify the dynamics, saturation of assault, filtering of sustain, and more by redrawing the envelope of any sound.
Make use of the innate rhythm of drums, melodies, basslines, real instruments, and even complete orchestras to activate tape-stops, filter patterns, noise sequences, and more.
- External Sidechain Input
So long as your kick isn’t in 4/4, you can still utilize Volume Shaper to bury your bass, thanks to the new Audio Triggering feature in ShaperBox 3. You can use this function when the External Sidechain Input is switched on.
However, you can use this function for more than simply kicks and sidechain ducking; for example, you could activate a bitcrushing pattern on your synth every time the snare hits.
- Improved Editing
They’ve made their intuitive interface even more so by centralizing all essential waveform-drawing features into a single, left-clickable pointer. You can now create angled splits, transform any segment into a smooth curve, make and edit selections, and much more.
- New Browser
There’s no longer any need to sit around and hope for ideas. The redesigned and improved browser in ShaperBox 3 provides quick and simple filtering and categorization of presets to help you quickly discover what you’re looking for. As a result, you can find rhythmic chops, jazzy fills, motion-packed sweeps, and more with just a few clicks and endless possibilities.
- Compressor Unchained
In ShaperBox, the multiband Compressor is now a standalone effect that you may add to the Shaper chain at any point. Dynamically manipulate even the most intricate Shaper chains, or smash them to pieces with pumping compression.
- Mix / Bypass Algorithm Improved
Thanks to refinements to the Master Mix algorithm, you can get potent FX blends that flow from dry to wet in a seamless transition without any multiband phasing artifacts. In addition, the original dry signal can now be toggled with a press of the new master Bypass button.
We’ve been discussing shared features across all Shapers, but ShaperBox 3 also includes many powerful and useful tweaks for each Shaper mode. Here, we’ll discuss not only the latest Shaper but all the others (Liquid Shaper). Note that you can purchase individual Shapers in addition to or instead of purchasing the full plugin.
That said, let’s look at how we can use ShaperBox 3 and why it is so useful:
This Shaper creates stutters, half-speed effects, reverse, tape pauses, and more. A 50 buffer is used to store the input audio, and the buffer can be scrubbed or scratched to move the playback position forwards and backward in time. Another new feature in this release is the Time Offset Display, which will allow you to see your adjustments in action.
PanShaper provides two distinct panning effects: a standard pan and a Haas effect. Using the Pan/Haas slider, you may set the Shaper to simulate natural panning by blending the two modes. Aside from that, the Haas range is movable from 0 to 40 ms.
You can distort your sound with this Shaper. You can find it as an animated distortion visualizer that sits beside the spectrum and primary distortion settings. Accent controls the volume of the distorted sound as it is modulated by the LFO, while tone controls the distortion’s brightness.
The low-fidelity crunch that CrushShaper adds to your track. One example is the distortion that occurs when a signal is wave-wrapped, when the bit rate is decreased, or when a signal is resampled. The Push control in bit reduction also provides an offset to shield low-level audio. Equally, you may use dither to introduce noise into a signal to prevent quantization distortion.
Since NoiseShaper introduces noise into your audio, it pairs well with CrushShaper. As mentioned in this post, it comes with a library of loaded noise samples.
There are more than eighty different noise samples in the onboard library. The first four groups of noises are synthetic, the next five are environmental, and the last four are analog.
The VolumeShaper stands out as the clear winner regarding simplicity and practicality. From simple volume modulations like ducking the bass on the beat to intricate rhythmic gating on the synth, this Shaper allows for it all. Furthermore, you may produce strange ring modulations by tinkering with the pitch LFO mode while playing a melody on the piano.
Your plugin’s stereo width can be adjusted using this Shaper. This Shaper’s modulation effect is particularly appealing to me for usage on synth pads and leads, where you can vary the width on the fly. When you mix and master your song, it’s also useful for defining constant width amounts over the frequency spectrum.
LiquidShaper gives you wild jet-plane flanging and deep, lush phasing in one Shaper. Custom LFO shapes take you far beyond the traditional. Modulate Centre and Feedback independently across three frequency bands. You can create gentle stereo modulations… or monstrous robotic comb filter FX!
The vast majority of the new ShaperBox 3 is transparent. Using even a small number of sound Shapers will give your track a unique taste. We have the FilterShaper, the DriveShaper, and the CrushShaper, to name a few. There are both analog and digital filter types available in FilterShaper. The latter enhances the audio by adding a slight saturation.
Different types of audio distortion are available in DriveShaper, although they are not intended to replicate any specific piece of hardware. The same is true with CrushShaper, which offers a wide range of lo-fi effects. You may create a great Lo-Fi effect by using the CrushShaper, TimeShaper, and NoiseShaper. While the other two add noise and crush, the TimeShaper is great for creating subtle tape/vinyl wow effects.
As a whole, ShaperBox 3 extends an open invitation to any creators of sonic art to play around with a robust modulation system and develop their own signature effects. For example, TimeShaper’s temporal modulation allows a novel chorus-like effect to be created by decreasing the master mix value. Taking risks is a good idea; there’s good reason to believe that any endeavor you undertake will provide positive results.
The plugin is available for Windows 8 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
In the third installment of the ShaperBox series, you’ll find a comprehensive collection of effect processors ideal for creating any sound you can imagine. There are nine different Shaper modules included. Moreover, the plugin’s user interface is well-designed, so it’s easy to use and pleasant to interact with.
Finally, it’s designed to be used by those with no background in music creation, so you can start using it immediately.
A great set of tools, ShaperBox 3 covers both static and moving effects. The LFO engine’s generative node interface allows you to create rhythmic envelopes, glitches, and even basic waveforms. The envelope follower’s multiband features also make it possible to use external side-chaining and internal filters. The Shaper plugin allows you to adjust the time, pan, drive, width, and loudness and apply filters and noise.
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age.