Review: Cableguys DriveShaper
Can you have too many saturation and distortion plug-ins? We would argue not.
Price €39 | €89 (full ShaperBox 2)
Cableguys ShaperBox 2 is a potent tool for anyone working with loops, thanks to its flexible LFOs and multiple effects. It previously came bundled with six so-called ‘Shapers’ to control volume, pan, width, filter, time and bit crushing, but Cableguys has seen fit to add a new effect to the arsenal. DriveShaper puts 10 distortion types and extensive modulation at your fingertips. You can buy separately or as a bundle with the other ShaperBox 2 processors, but is DriveShaper a worthy addition to an already excellent package?
At its core, the distortion covers analogue-style clipping, fizzy square-wave distortion, rectifier for octave effects, and several wavefolding modes for more aggressive sounds. Most of these distortion types come in hard and soft versions for dramatically different harmonic profiles.
You can further shape your sound using the Grip parameter; this prevents quiet ambience and reverb tails from dominating the distortion. The Push parameter, meanwhile, generates asymmetric drive. Then, there’s a tone control and an Accent control that hypes the level.
All in, DriveShaper offers a vast amount of distorted tones, and that’s before you even get to the modulation. The plug-in splits sound into three bands, so you could add some subtle fattening to the low-end while adding more aggressive excitation to the tops. This might not end up replacing your high-end saturation plug-ins on the mix bus, but overall the quality is excellent for creative distortion duties.
The main thing that sets DriveShaper apart is its flexible LFOs that rhythmically modulate the drive amount on each of the three bands.
The main central window lets you draw complex curves with plenty of brush tools to help make it easy to fine-tune. There are 72 preset curves, plus the ability to save your own and then trigger them via MIDI. The loop can be synced to the beat or set to Hz mode for some crazy audio rate modulation, too. On top of this, you get an envelope generator with plenty of parameters to shape the sound, plus the ability to trigger via a sidechain input.
Our experiments include adding an instance to a simple bass sound and then using the different bands to add some thickness and harmonic presence. By gently modulating the drive amount, you can also give subtle detail to static parts.
On the drum bus, intense settings can breathe life into the percussion sounds. However, it crunches up the kicks a bit too much, so we draw down the drive amount over those sections. The GUI features a large wave oscilloscope, which makes edits like this quick and easy to navigate.
DriveShaper is an excellent addition to ShaperBox 2 that helps to expand its sonic palette. If you’re looking for a new creative effect that’s well designed and highly flexible, then it’s well worth a look. At €39 it’s also great value, and it’s worth considering the whole ShaperBox 2 package as it becomes even more interesting when interacting with the other Shapers.
Minimum System Requirements
- Windows 7, 8 or 10, VST host sequencer, 32 or 64bit
- Mac OS X 10.8 or later, VST or AU host sequencer
- Distortion plug-in with 10 types
- Grip, Push, Accent and Tone controls
- Split into 3 bands with variable slopes
- Complex LFOs with unique pen tools
- Tempo sync
- Flexible envelope followers
- Runs in ShaperBox 2 and standalone (VST/AU)