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Review: SPL Transient Designer

Submitted On May 21, 2013 by Contributor:
Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.15.51 PM



Build Quality

Ease of Use


Overall Value

Total Score

93/ 100

Review Details

Price: $199


* Accents transient response.

* great alternative to gating

* Remove or add reverb/room using "Release" control

* Lengthen Bass notes with one knob


* None
My Review

Bring your transients to life with SPL’s transient Designer

         SPL is in a league of their own with Transient Designer. It’s a very straight forward, easy to use one trick pony. First released as a hardware rackmountable unit, It still remains and is available with two or four channels. The unit has been an industry secret upon it’s release and has been used on countless records. SPL saw the positive feedback and decided to released it in plugin form. Three basic controls are available, attack, release, and output gain. It basically gives you the decay and initial attack of the source and lets you manipulate the envelope. Think of it like an ADSR control for whatever you add the plugin on. It can give you the results of compression without changing the dynamics or volume at all! It works magic on percussion. Adding a small bit of attack and a dull snare sound can dominate the track. It adds a whole new groove to bongos and congas and could make your kick drums fall out of the speakers. Increase the decay of 808s without any pumping artifacts and shape your decay tail to get what you need from it. The release knob is just as powerful. Adding release on a drum kit and you can magically increase the room sound, even on samples! it can give you that odd pumping phil collins/1176 all-buttons-in effect that work very well in parallel processing. I use it to lengthen bass notes to ring out, either during the whole song or certain parts. Decreasing the release knob can yield a great alternative to gating. When I am given a sound with reverb printed or too much room ambience is in the recording, just remove the reverb by pulling the release knob back. I usually get alot of badly recorded acoustic guitars and sometimes depending on the microphone they chose, It is recorded with alot of boom and peaks due to plucking. Too many plucks take the attention away from what you want people to focus on, so I can decrease the attack knob and get a smoother, more even sound. I personally use it to accent the initial snap of my snares and to bring out the attack a little more on a kick drum.  The Plugin is available Native and also sold under UAD (must have universal audio hardware).





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About The Contributor


One Review


    "I’ve only used the UAD plugin version of this tool, but I must admit it has become a staple of my productions. When I’ve recorded acoustic guitars live, its done WONDERS to help lower the attacks on passages played too hard and/or smooth the releases in an almost reverb like way. Its great when you wish those acoustic guitar parts had been played a little more mellow and had a little more ring – simply lower the attack and boost the sustain. This is particularly true of Mandolin, which in most of my work can usually benefit from a little more release. And whats great about the SPL in particular is its very natural sounding.

    Like Conflict151 already pointed out in his review, the plugin acts as an ADSR filter for all audio, and is another way you can manipulate performance characteristics of a source after its been recorded. Let me repeat, this is the only plugin that I know of that actually acts like its not just effecting the sound, but changing performance characteristics of recorded audio – making either the attacks more or less pronounced in such a natural way it was as if it was played that way! Works great on controlling percussion “thwacks” and I use it to great effect on both acoustically recorded drums and drum samples – including taikos and orchestral percussion as well. Dont like the hard attack of that Glockenspiel, just turn it down a bit with the Transient Designer and it will start to sound like it was being struck with a softer type mallet!

    Extremely valuable tool worth having in ones tool bag! Note that SPL released their own native version of this plugin after UAD had already made theirs. I’m guessing it was through UAD that SPL saw the potential benefits of offering their products as plugins, and decided to go their own in order to maximize profits. I dont know which one “sounds better” as I’ve only ever used the UAD version, which works well enough.

    I must admit that sometimes the SPL transient designer does not react to transients exactly how I would like it to in my head. I’ve always chocked this up to “its not a miracle worker” but I’m assuming its just not detecting the transients properly. If this is true, then I do wish I had more control over these characteristics with at least a threshold and attack time controls. I have found that you can somewhat simulate threshold by adding a gain plugin before the Transient Designer and adjust the incoming signal to taste. Don’t forget, you can also get more control by adding multiple Transient Designers together in a chain – which I’ve experimented with on really stubborn sources and have had mixed results.

    Part of me wonders what a modern digital version of this plugin might be capable of – with look ahead, ability to analyze incoming audio, more adjustable parameters, etc. I mean, why limit functionality based on what was possible in the hardware units of the past? There are plenty of options out there for transient shapers, so try them all. However, this unit does a very unique function, and usually does it quite well, and thus is worthy of a place in your tool box."

    "Great emulation of the analog SPL Transient Designer

    Easy to use, simple interface that works great 90% of the time


    "UAD version lacks different modes button

    That 10% when it doesn't work, I wish it had more user controls"



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