Review – Silverline Effects by D16 Group
We’ve rounded up a quality group of some D16 Group effect plugins, which are members of their Silverline collection, presented here for your consideration.
By Rob Mitchell, Jan. 2018
D16 Group Audio Software is the creative software developer behind some of the best music plugins you can find. Among their many high quality offerings are Phoscyon, Antresol, Nepheton, Devastator 2, Punchbox and LuSH-101. They have many more, but for this issue of SoundBytes Magazine we’ll take a look at the latest versions of some of their effect plugins: Toraverb 2, Decimort 2, Devastor 2 and Tekturon. These are half (currently) of a collection named Silverline. Six of the Silverline collection have been around quite a long time, starting life as 32-bit only. In recent years, two new plug-ins have been added to the collection, and the older effects are one-by-one getting enhanced including a welcome resizing of the rather small user interfaces.
For each of these products, I will quickly cover their system requirements (as they aren’t all the same) and take a look at many of their controls and functionality.
Toraverb 2 will work with Windows 7 or higher, 4+ GB of RAM and a 2.5 GHz multicore CPU with SSE (2.8 GHz multicore is recommended). It has VST and AAX versions available (32-bit and 64-bit). On the Mac, you’ll need OS X 10.7 or higher, 2.5 GHz CPU (2.8 GHz is recommended), 4+GB of RAM. AU, VST and AAX versions are available (32-bit and 64-bit). Installing Toraverb 2 was simple, and you can activate it online by logging into your D16 account or by downloading an activation file to activate it offline.
After you’ve added it to a track or a bus in your DAW, you’ll be presented with the display. One great thing about the display (besides how nice it looks) is that there are two different sizes. Along the top of the display and buttons are menus for various functions. A couple of the items available under the Options menu are processing quality settings and display size choices. To the right is the display for the current preset, and clicking on that will open the browser in which you can choose from the many other presets that are on board. You can also skim through the presets by using the Previous/Next buttons. Other functions include the ability to Initialize the settings (INIT – start a preset from basic settings), Reload a preset (i.e. – maybe you don’t like how your edits have gone amiss) and Save a preset.
Many of the controls that change the “guts” of the sound are over on the left side of the display. One of the best parts of Toraverb 2 is that it has many controls separated by the early or late reflections. Once you’ve selected either the Early or Late tabs, you can change many of the parameters.
The available controls located here are Pre-Delay (up to 500ms), Size, Bass Cut, Crosstalk between the left/right channel delay lines (only on the Early reflections tab), Feedback (Late reflections tab only), Attenuation – similar to a tone control since it can adjust the sound of the reflective surface, and Diffusion – changes the way the reflected sound is affected by the surface from which it is reflected. Last but not least in this section is the Modulation control. This will dial in an amount of modulation for the reflections, and it sounds like it causes the pitch to slightly waver in a semi-random fashion.
To the right of that section are controls to adjust a single-band parametric EQ. There are two of these actually, one each for the early and late reflections. Three types of filtering are available: high shelf, low shelf and bell. Gain, frequency and bandwidth controls are also present. Up next is the mixer section. From here you can change the panning for the early/late signals, and increase/decrease the gain for each as well. When you enable the MS Mode button, the left/right panning controls will then function as mid/side controls.
The last area on the display is the Master section. This is where you can change the dry/wet amount (this can be locked for switching between presets) and the FX Curve which adjusts the crossfade from the dry to the wet signal. The last two controls are for Ducking (uses compression to adjust the wet level in proportion with the dry mix level) and Attack/Release which adjusts the attack/release times of the Ducking effect.
When Toraverb 2 was released, it had an intro price of $49 USD, and then it went to its regular price of $69 USD. There is also an upgrade path for those who bought the original version. I think this is very affordable, especially when you consider some of the other high quality reverbs on the market with similar features can cost you much more.
Toraverb 2 is really a treat, and will easily win you over with its intuitive interface, great sound, and programmability. You can get more info on Toraverb 2 and download a demo version here: http://d16.pl/toraverb2
Decimort 2 is the latest incarnation of D16 Group’s high quality stereo lo-fi effect. It features ADC (analog/digital conversion) emulation, and it lets you reduce both the bit depth and sample rate for your audio. Depending on your settings, it can give it a distorted and sometimes vintage quality. It’s not your everyday bit-crusher however, as you will soon see. Like Toraverb 2, the display now has a choice of two display sizes. I opted for the larger one as I now have a higher resolution monitor. The smaller size would definitely work well with smaller monitors and laptops.
Decimort 2 will work with Windows 7 or higher, 4+ GB of RAM and a 2.0 GHz CPU with SSE (2.1 multicore CPU is recommended). It has VST and AAX versions available (32-bit and 64-bit). On the Mac, you’ll need OS X 10.7 or higher, you’ll need a 1.8 GHz Intel based CPU (2.4 GHz is recommended), 4+GB of RAM. AU, VST and AAX versions are available (32-bit and 64-bit). Installation was simple, and you activate it online by logging into your D16 account or by downloading an activation file to activate it offline.
The browser and main buttons at the top are all the same as Toraverb 2, including a display showing the preset that is loaded, an INIT button, Save a preset, etc. In the upper-left is a Preamplifier knob which you can use to increase the signal feeding into Decimort 2. Down below that you’ll find the Quantizer section. It allows you to reduce the bits for the signal’s amplitude. The Dithering control can add a low level of white noise to the signal before the quantization and help smooth out the distortions. I actually liked using it on a bass synth sound with hardly any of the half-bit white noise added to the Init settings. I set it very low, maybe around 1/4 of the way up, and I also changed the Resolution setting to a level of 2. Nice and crunchy! But of course, it’s up to you and what you want to do in your own tracks.
The Resampler section is dominated by the large Frequency knob. This adjusts the resample frequency between 44 Hz and 44,100 Hz. The Jitter control will introduce some varied amounts of “disturbance” to the resampling, breaking it up more and more as you crank up the level. On the left side there is the Approximation Filter which is coupled to the Frequency Deviation control. When the filter is enabled, you can adjust the Frequency Deviation setting. As you make changes to that control, it changes the offset between the filter cutoff and the Resampler’s Nyquist frequency. Negative settings will remove harmonic content, and positive settings will introduce aliasing.
The Images Filter (when enabled) works with the Frequency Shift control. The image (artifact) filtering occurs after the Resampler, and it can filter out the artifacts that result from the resampling process. It works in a similar way to the Frequency Deviation control because the Frequency Shift amount is the offset between the Image Filter’s cutoff and Resampler’s Nyquist frequency.
The last section I wanted to mention is Decimort’s filter. This can be before or after (pre/post) the bit-crush process. Filter types include low pass, high pass, band pass and band reject. It also includes cutoff and resonance/bandwidth controls. The resonance knob works as a band width control when you select either the band pass or band reject filter type.
I really like Decimort 2. With its ease of use and high quality sound, it may just be the last bit crusher you will ever need. It retails for $49 USD and you can get more information and a demo version here:
Devastor 2 is a multiband distortion plugin that uses diode-clipper emulation and analog-modelled filters. The filtering can occur before or after the diode clipper. These filters have cutoff and resonance controls with the classic types: low pass, high pass, band pass and band reject. An improved browser and a larger GUI is also available.
For the PC you’ll need Windows 7 (or higher), 1.5 GHz CPU with SSE (2.0+ GHz multicore recommended), 4+ GB of RAM. VST and AAX versions are available (32-bit and 64-bit). For the Mac you’ll need OS X 10.7 (or higher), 1.5 GHz Intel-based CPU (2.0 GHz recommended), and 4+ GB of RAM. AU, VST and AAX versions are available (32-bit and 64-bit). Like the others in this article, Devastor 2 is easy to install. You can activate it online by logging into your D16 account, or by downloading an activation file to activate it offline.
After you have it installed and activated, you can load it onto a track in your preferred host. At the top are controls for loading/saving presets and some other options. On the left side is the Shaper section with controls for dynamics, preamp, threshold and shape. This is where the diode-clipping takes place. The Dynamics control will level out any amplitude differences and works somewhat like a compressor. Preamp is the signal amplifier for the diode clipper. Threshold sets the nominal amplitude level, and anything above that setting is where the distortion takes place. Shape will warp the clipping curve you’ve selected, and there are six available curve types to choose from. Those curve types are covered in the manual in more detail if you’d like additional info on them. +/- LEDs give you feedback when the signal goes past the threshold setting.
There are three identical filters in the filtering section. Each of them have cutoff, resonance/bandwidth, filter type and volume settings. The resonance control will switch to a bandwidth type when using the band pass and band reject filter types.
These can be set up in nine different configurations using the Signal Routing feature. Here are just three such settings you can use: 1) All three filter modules work in parallel and feed into the clipper. 2) Filters one and two in parallel feed into the clipper, and then the signal moves from there to the third filter. 3) One of the filters feeds into the clipper and the output from the clipper goes to the two other filters. See the screenshot above for all the routing possibilities. Anyway, you get the idea – there are many combinations to choose from to shape/distort your audio. On the right side of the display there is a limiter you can enable, and a dry/wet effects control.
Devastor 2 is an effective and useful plugin which lets you get a warm sound from its diode clipper emulation. The signal routing is simple to use and works very well. It retails for $49 USD. You can get more information on it and a demo version here: http://d16.pl/devastor2
Tekturon is a delay plugin with a large sonic vocabulary. The main reason I say that is that it uses multiple lines (sixteen of them) to process your audio. Each of those delay lines has its own set of effects. These effects can be manipulated how you want, and include volume, delay, feedback, panning, stereo spread, filter type, cutoff and resonance. This sounds like it can be fun to use, right? Well the good news is that the answer is “yes”, but it is also intuitive and powerful as you will soon find out.
For the PC you’ll need Windows 7 or higher, 4+ GB of RAM and a 2.8 GHz CPU with SSE (3.2 GHz with multicore is recommended). It has VST and AAX versions available (32-bit and 64-bit). On the Mac, you’ll need OS X 10.7 or higher, 2.8 GHz Intel based CPU (3.2 GHz CPU is recommended), 4+GB of RAM. AU, VST and AAX versions are available (32-bit and 64-bit). After a simple installation, you can activate it online by logging into your D16 account, or by downloading an activation file to activate it offline.
There are many useful and interesting presets that are ready to use right away, but you might be wondering how Tekturon works if you want to design your own from scratch. If you are starting with the Initialized settings, you can begin by selecting the Volume setting on the left side. After you select it, you can draw in the amounts for the volume in each delay line. Next, you may want to add some filtering. To do this, you click on Filter Type from the left side of the display and select from one of the types for each of the lines. They include low pass, band pass, high pass, or it can have no filtering at all. If you don’t select a type, each line will use whatever is in the Master filter section (more on that later). Every delay line can have the same filter type, or you might want a different type for each of them. For my preset, I also added some resonance for each line. It’s the same method as before; select what you want on the left (in this case, Resonance), and use your mouse to draw in the amount you’d like per line. This could be varied for each line of course, or just a straight swipe of the mouse straight across so they are all equal. I also wanted to add some panning, so I added that to the delay lines. Towards the bottom of the display, you can see if a line’s volume level is above zero (without looking at the actual Volume settings), as the Audible light will be on. If needed, each delay line can also be muted by clicking its corresponding red button along the bottom.
The Master Filter section has controls for the filter cutoff types (high pass, band pass, low pass or off/disabled) and resonance. This filter controls all of the delay lines in the same manner at the same time, but you could also adjust each line in the way I described earlier. Below the Master Filter section is the Time Grid where you can adjust the time between the delays. It can also be synced to the host. The Tap button can be used to set the beat/speed by tapping the button with mouse. It will use an average of the time between your clicks on the button to determine the speed. The Shuffle control adds a swing type of delay to all the lines, and Feedback also affects all the lines.
Tekturon is a powerful delay plugin with some easy to use features. I was able to quickly set up nearly any type of delay I wanted and had fun in the process. The layout is very intuitive and I almost didn’t even need the manual. It retails for $69 USD. You can get more information for it and download a demo version here: http://d16.pl/tekturon
There are a couple of other useful features in these D16 effect plugins. One of those is the easy-to-use MIDI learn, which is a simple right-click away on whichever control you’d like. In addition, the processing quality setting (as I mentioned earlier) has separate real-time and offline settings from which to choose: Draft, Normal, High and Ultra. All of the plugins I reviewed here are well conceived and reasonably priced. Most importantly, they all have a terrific sound quality. Most DAWs have some “so-so” effects included, but these are way above the norm and they are well worth auditioning. I previously purchased their Antresol flanger (which I love by the way) but didn’t have time to cover it in this review. I mentioned the separate pricing for each product, but they also have a Silverline Collection bundle pricing of $339 USD for the entire collection of eight effects. You can purchase it here: http://d16.pl/silverlinecollection