The masters of analog plug-in emulations Softube recently released a new suite of distortion flavours ranging a variety of common mixing saturation styles in a plug-in called Harmonics, described by Softube as a dynamic distortion tool. We were extremely excited to put Harmonics to the test as Softube’s previous analog style plug-in Tape, released back in 2017, was.. and still is… a seriously powerful plug-in that sounds great in just about every mixing application.
Headline Features Of Harmonics By Softube
Five very different component-modelled distortion sounds:
Revolutionary DTC ‘Dynamic Transient Control’ technology
‘Amount’ knob to control the amount of saturation
‘Character’ knob controls tone or colour of the distortion
High & low cut filters can be placed before or after distortion
Wet/dry blend knob for parallel processing
THD meter allows fine control of subtle saturation
All of the grunt, none of the drawbacks
What Softube Say About Harmonics
Users get so much more than just five awesome-sounding analog distortion models. You also get a revolutionary new approach to handling dynamics during the process of distorting the sound. The input signal is listened to and analysed by the plug-in, allowing the dynamics and detail to be preserved and enhanced even after heavy distortion is applied.
Add to that the fact that Harmonics has five totally different-sounding component-modelled distortion styles, high and low cut filters, a mix knob and more, and you end up with a very powerful secret weapon indeed.
Verdict - What Do We Think Of Harmonics By Softube?
Saturation is such an important ingredient in the mix process as it imparts interest, excitement, character, colour and indeed focus to tracks that struggle to find their place in amongst busy mixes. There are countless saturation plug-ins on the market, many of which are like-for-like recreation based on popular studio gear of old… others are more modern complex distortion tools that often over complicate the process. Harmonics is neither of those, instead I feel as though it sits mid table within the saturation plug-in genre. It provides familiar sonics without boasting a connection (or licensing deal) with any pro audio brand while remaining an extremely easy to use and fun plug-in to operate.
Like Softube’s Tape, Harmonics sounds purposeful on just about every track type you through at it. Subtle amounts of drive across a large number of tracks makes for a glorious colour enhancement at the mix bus end, however, if you are feeling fruity and you are looking for attitude, grit or even aggression then push the input trim, max the drive and fiddle with the character dial until you hear and feel a breakup in the sound of your tracks like you’ve never heard before from a plug-in.
Distortion and saturation in general can typically mangle the dynamics of the audio, after-all, distortion is of course compression. While this mangled sound is quite pleasing it’s not always to taste. Softube recognised this as an opportunity to feature a new type of tech in Harmonics which puts back the dynamic range which is often sacrificed with heavy amounts of saturation. This feature is called DTC, Dynamic Transient Control and it’s not too dissimilar to a transient shaper… you have to hear the process to appreciate what it does. Dial DTC to the right and you get a more transient sharp edge to the sound, dial DTC to the left and you’ll get more washed out sustained tone… whichever way you twist this dial the saturation, set at any amount will sound amazing but with the dynamics being “untouched” the results are truly exceptional - Two thumbs up from me.
If I have one small gripe it’s with the individual levels between the 5 types of saturation. Whilst they are all very close in overall volume I can’t help but feel the Tube flavour is somewhat quieter than the other 4 modes. The results of this slighter quieter mode makes it hard for me to consider Tube as a worthy setting when flicking between sounds.
For more information on Harmonics visit Softube.