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Sugar Bytes WOW2 review by Professional Audio

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With WOW2, Sugar Bytes is launching an update of its popular multimode filter, which has been redesigned in many areas and comes up with new creative features, most notably the wobbler modulator. What the new products are capable of and whether the purchase is worthwhile is shown by this test.

What was there first, the hen or the egg? This question can be confidently posed when the Berlin software manufacturer Sugar Bytes is launching a new product on the market. Because it is always striking that the plug-ins of this software company are always very close to the current music scene. As a consequence, the question arises as to whether the company follows a cleverly conceived corporate strategy when publishing new products, which reacts extremely quickly and flexibly to current musical trends. Because with the Sugar Bytes plug-ins, the user can always get straight to the currently popular club sound on the domestic DAW. Or is it not rather that some club hits, especially in the fields of Dubstep and Electro House, in the first place be made possible by the products of the still quite young Berlin company? So now once more happen with the most recent litter, the updated multi-mode filter WOW2, which is available for about 100 euros. Nevertheless, we have to owe the answer to these questions and refer instead to the impressive list of well-known producers who have already used WOW2 in their productions. Big names like Skrillex, Modeselektor, Boys Noize or Mouse on Mars can be found in them, all of which stand for innovative, future-oriented electronic sound. Of course, this will make you sit up and those who have ever worked with other products from the manufacturer such as Cyclop, Turnado or Consequence, will know that at Sugar Bytes not only analogue classics are poured into software,

Filters in the classical sense change the frequency response of a signal and are an integral part of modern music production. They are not only found in almost every synthesiser, where they are an integral part of sound shaping. Meanwhile, each DAW is equipped with a flexible multimode filter, because at the latest after the release of Sherman Filterbank mid-90s, it became clear that the filtering of sounds is not limited to the blunt removal of overtones. Today, with the help of filters, distortion and various modulation options, powerful sounds are created that have shaped all music styles. Or can you imagine dubstep without cutoff modulation via LFO (better known as "wobble")? Dubstep is thus still demonstrating the important role that the filter continues to play in music production. But enough of the preface, let's take a closer look at WOW2.
WOW2 comes with 21 filter types, whereby each filter characteristic can also be operated in Vowel mode. Behind the Vowel mode is a special formant filter, which allows signals to speak. Also on board is a distortion section that features seven different distortion algorithms, including three analog and four digital models. In addition, there is a fairly extensive modulation range in which even the individual modulators can modulate one another. That sounds very promising, but before we tackle the sound of the filter, let's take a look at the equipment.

Striking is the completely redesigned user interface of the plug-in, which he is very good to face. For in the previous version, the GUI seemed pretty unobtrusive, which is actually quite atypical for products of Sugar Bytes. WOW2 is, according to our test, easy and intuitive to use and also the colour scheme like. We still have to complain a bit. Because the meaningfulness of the very large black frame around the control panel does not want to open up to us until the end. Overall, the plug-in looks unnecessarily large, not to say that it wastes space. The ease of use, this solution is nevertheless not detrimental. The plug-in is divided into two parts. In the left third of the preset browser is found in permanent, direct access, which proves to be very practical for the work. To get a first impression of the possibilities of the effect, it is recommended to press the Random button of the browser. WOW then randomly selects one of the nearly 250 included presets. By the way, the presets are convincing in their test by their suitability for practical use and impressively show how multifaceted the filter can sound. However, most of the GUI takes the control panel, which comes with a distinctive layout. Inserted in the middle is the large cutoff knob, which is surrounded by four smaller encoders for adjusting the filter resonance, the volume, the degree of distortion and the effect component. The animations in the control knobs are very nice, which give vivid information about the filter type or the modulations. Four different modulators can be called up and set in the lower third of the control panel: an Envelope Follower, an LFO, a Step Sequencer and the so-called Wobbler are available. The modulation objectives and intensity are set via the circular elements at the foot of the modulation sections, but alternatively this can also be done with a right-click on the desired parameter that is to be modulated, but it can not be more practical. In terms of handling, WOW2 is getting a very good score. But that's not worth much if the sound is not convincing.

In the hearing test, however, turns out quite quickly, the WOW2 sound can convince and his name, the onomatopoeic "Wow" as an expression of recognition, earned without any ifs and buts. Thanks to oversampling, all filter types, subdivided into the categories high, low, bandpass and special, sound amazingly analog. On board are some two- and four-pole SVF filters, some with an extra portion of saturation (called Sat). It ensures that even at high resonance levels the input level does not become quieter; a very useful feature, because otherwise results in wild filter drives often the problem that one of the sound literally breaks away. In addition, various analog classics were emulated, including the Moog and Korg MS 20 filters. In the Lowpass category we particularly like the nice steep 8Pole filter, which is great for slow cutoff modulations on basslines and lead sounds, and it blubbers and smacks just at very low cutoff values. The Sugar Bytes development 030 - a lowpass, based on an 18dB TB-303 filter - knows how to please. However, the level must be kept in mind when using it, because even in the default setting, ie without turning a knob, the signal is just 4 dB louder. The filter resonance behaves basically very pleasant in all types and sounds especially with the low-pass filters, even at very high values, never too sharp. By the way, the choice of highpass filters is a bit smaller. Remarkable: The Vowel mode is especially recommended for the band passes and the resulting Talking sound effects. More about that right now. Finally some delicacies can be found in the special category. Here, the peak filter, which produces a small peak at the cutoff frequency similar to the resonance, but without subtracting the signal from the signal, is particularly appealing. In the test, this filter immediately rises to our new favorite when it comes to filter sweeps or long cutoff automation in synthesizers. Also no less interesting is the Comp filter, a lowpass / bandpass combination that comes with a feedback delay line adapted to the cutoff, and produces very intense chorus and flanger effects using high resonance levels in Vowel mode. 

Offside WOW2 proliferates duly with more pounds as soon as the Vowel mode is active. In this mode, the cut-off control is converted so that it can be faded between two different vocal frequencies, which makes the special singing / talking sound in the first place. Incidentally, these are so-called formants, which arise, for example, in the resonance spectra of musical instruments or our human voice. In the human language, the position of the formants characterises the meaning of different sounds, so that we can distinguish different vowels from each other. The WOW2 plug-in offers a total of nine different frequencies, each representing a vowel. How to create a typical talking bass

This is not the end of features and tonal facets yet. As mentioned above, WOW2 also has a distortion section with seven different algorithms, five of which work in quadruple oversampling for harmonic distortion without any aliasing, which can be routed either pre or post filter. Overall, all models sound very good. They each have their own sonic character and cover a wide range from hard to delicate. In the test we try the hyperbolic algorithm on a rolling bassline without many overtones. This creates a kind of reverb at somewhat higher values, comparable to a small ambience, which does the sound very well. Finally we are curious about the Bitcrusher, the Sugar Bytes in the manual as "the Crusher you've always been looking for" full-bodied announced and challenges us to compare. The result: We were not promised too much. The WOW Crusher sounds excellent. Big plus point is that even with high values ​​he does not tend to increase the volume, as his colleagues normally do. Advantage: The annoying automation of the volume in accordance with dynamic use can be confidently saved, which is a real win. At any rate, we immediately put the WOW Crusher in our hearts and will not want to miss it again in the future. In the test, we finally look at the resource hunger of WOW2. Of course, good sound is often at the expense of the CPU. But on our test computer with an i5 2, 7 GHz processor consumes five instances of WOW2 just about 12 percent of the CPU. This is definitely fine for the excellent sound quality delivered.

Conclusion

The latest addition to Sugar Bytes' plug-in is not just WOW, it also leaves a real "wow" feeling in the test. Already the sound of the filter types and the distortion unit make the plug-in a powerful tool when it comes to lending a certain signal that certain something. With the help of the Vowel mode and the unique modulation options, the currently popular club sounds are easily created. But even guitarists will certainly enjoy the plug-in. The price-performance ratio is due to the flexible design options and the excellent sound only to be described as very good.

Create Talking Bass

For a typical Talking Bass, use the bandpass filter LADDER MG and turn the cutoff to about nine o'clock. For the Talk effect to come out well, you need a high resonance (Poti in three o'clock position). In addition, use some distortion, which does the effect very well and which will be modulated later, to reinforce the vowel effect. Call the Parabolic Distortion and turn the pot to 12 o'clock. Of course you have to activate the Vowel mode and choose two different formants. We recommend a and i. So that the bass starts to sing, modulate the cutoff with the help of the LFO. Set the sync to song position and the tempo to 1/2 bar, and turn the cutoff on the modulation targets all the way up. In addition, the LFO should also modulate the distortion. Here it is sufficient to turn up the Drive Modulation knob to +25. The best result sounds when you set Dry / Wet to 12 o'clock, so that the original bass mixes organically with the Talking Bass effect.

Perfect for Drum Breaks: Flanging Sweep Sound

For a brute sweep sound on your drums that's great for breaking, first call the Comp filter in the WOW2 plug-in, and then turn the cutoff knob all the way. You should also turn the volume poti almost all the way down, because it will be very loud. The LFO should modulate a total of three goals: the cutoff (+64), the resonance (-20) and the degree of distortion (Drive +50). Set the LFO sync to song position and select 4/1 as the speed. Since the filter resonance is modulated, it must still be turned up to about the eleven o'clock position. As a distortion mode, use Parabolic. In the end, you've created a four-bar sweep that's great for making a break in or out in a dramatic way. Alternatively, you should also activate the Vowel mode once.

Original Source: Professional Audio.de

Try before you buy

Download WOW 2 trial version for free!

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