Cableguys NoiseShaper review: creative noise generator impresses for sound design and mixing
Cableguys brings the noise with its latest Shaper plug-in, offering varied noise sources that react dynamically to your audio.
+ Wide variety of noise samples
+ Excellent envelope follower helps craft the noise shape
+ Can add character to stale audio
+ User sample import possible
– Can’t tune noise samples
Price €49/$59 (intro €29/$34); €89/$99 (full ShaperBox 2 Bundle)
The eighth addition to Cableguys’ excellent ShaperBox 2 effects package is a dynamic noise generator that can create rhythmic textures that react to beats, subtle excitation, lo-fi pumping ambiences and more. The idea is to add real (and unreal) movement, texture and flair to pristine loops, recordings and virtual instrument performances. This new creative tool is highly flexible, easy to use and powerful for mixing and sound design, with a faultless GUI and extensive noise sample library.
NoiseShaper has over 60 noise samples created by sound designers BT, Cyclick and InsideInfo, so there’s a lot to explore, including basic noise, distorted and bitcrushed fuzz, vintage hiss and hum, and even Foley and found sounds like frying eggs, rattling keys and grasshoppers. You can also add your own samples, which dramatically opens up the atmosphere-building possibilities.
Like the previous Shapers, you have a large window in the middle where you can draw custom LFOs using flexible brush tools. Alternatively, you can select from 54 preset shapes, all of which can be synced to the host or played in Hz or Pitch mode.
Crucially, you can also split the signal into three frequency bands, allowing you to layer up different noise samples and create complex multi-band patterns. Additional controls allow you to mono and solo the noise, and high/low-pass filters per band let you hone in on specific frequency regions.
Perhaps NoiseShaper’s most potent tool is the envelope follower, which allows the noise to hug transients or gently swell around the incoming audio. The system is well-conceived, with controls for Threshold, Amount, Attack, Hold, Release, and additional depth controls to make the noise react exactly as you want. And there’s useful visual feedback in the main window all the while.
You can set it to Follow mode to react more traditionally, or Duck mode to bring up the signal and add texture in between hits, and there’s also a sidechain input so it can listen to external signals. These modes each bring a distinct flavour.
The applications for NoiseShaper are many, but a simple example involves adding some life to a dull drum beat. Adding some simple white noise with a tight envelope instantly lifts the top end in a way that would be impossible with EQ alone. Also, because the noise sample is in stereo, it adds width, which is a bonus. In this way, NoiseShaper would be an excellent mix tool and alternative to EQ for adding targeted thickness or excitement to percussive sounds.
Going deeper, you can combine the envelope follower with the LFO across several bands to get richer, moving textures. For example, a little vinyl crackle in the top end and some throbbing analogue hum can help transform boring loops into far more unusual parts. This did, however, lead to our only negative in what is otherwise a virtually faultless plug-in. It would be helpful to have a pitch control for the noise samples, as some have subtle pitched elements that can clash with your input audio.
This type of effect wasn’t something that crossed our minds when thinking about other Shapers we’d like to see Cableguys add to the package. However, now that it’s here, it seems like the perfect fit for ShaperBox 2’s highly editable envelope follower and flexible LFO. It’s a fantastic sound design and mix tool for adding all-important texture, character and movement to any audio, and we’re excited to explore its many possibilities.
- Requires macOS 10.9+ / Windows 7+
- Available in 32/64-bit VST, AU, AAX
- Multi-band dynamic noise generator
- Flexible Envelope Follower and LFO
- Follow mode and Duck mode
- Trim adjustment, Mono button & HP/LP filter
- 60+ Noise sources designed by BT, Cyclick and InsideInfo
- Pure white noise, vinyl crackles, analogue hum, broken digital textures, organic field recordings
- 100+ professional presets
- Runs inside ShaperBox 2