Review of Subvert multi-effects processor (VST/AU) by Glitchmachines

Review of Subvert multi-effects processor (VST/AU) by Glitchmachines

Introduction

Glitchmachines have updated Subvert to version 1.2, a multi-channel distortion processor designed to decimate the frequency spectrum.

It is available for Windows and Mac as a 32 bit and 64 bit VST/AU plugin typically priced at $59 available direct from Glitchmachines and selected resellers. The update is free for existing customers.

The version 1.2 update retains the core functionality of Subvert but brings a whole host of improvements –

  • New scalable user interface
  • Revamped modulation system
  • 70 new factory presets
  • Various fixes and internal changes
  • Rewritten user guide

Note that substantial changes to source code mean that Subvert 1.2 is not backwards compatible.

For more information, see the overview video:

Background

Subvert is a three channel multi-effects processor that can be used to process any audio signal, including real time audio or hardware synths or guitars. It has three identical channels each containing 5 signal processor effects – filter, ring modulation, metalizer, distortion and digitizer.  The individual effects as well as the effect channels can be activated or deactivated as required, enabling you to create a huge range of serial or parallel processing combinations. However, the real creative power of Subvert is with the extensive modulations options which is typically seen in Glitchmachines VSTs and a similar modulation system implemented for Convex has also been implemented for Subvert. There are 4 LFOs and 2 envelope followers which can modify virtually all parameters and this modulation is extended beyond LFOs / envelopes because they can have their output inverted or combined using mixers.

What this means is that whilst the effect is primarily a distortion effect, it is capable of so much more from subtle saturation, bit crush type effects, metallic glitches to flat out distortion. What I really love about Subvert is the power / flexibility and the ability to surprise we tend to see in Glitchmachines products. When you think you know what sort of a sound you are going to produce, you often get unexpected results.

In-depth Review

The UI has been completely redesigned which improves the workflow whilst retaining the clean, modern look we typically see from Glitchmachines. It’s split into three sections:

The individual effect channels are located towards the top of the display;

channel_one

The lower middle section contains the modulation parameters;

modulation

The lower section has the master controls;

master

The bottom of the display has the menu, settings. presets, randomiser etc.

menu

Other changes in the new version include:

  • The use of 4 colour coding options for different processes which are fuschia for audio processing, green for modulation source, blue for audio output and light blue for targeted parameters;
  • The interface is resizable by dragging the bottom right of the window.

Although the focus is on distortion, the combination of effects makes for a much more versatile effects processor.

The filter effect has low pass, bandpass, high pass and notch filters with cut-off, resonance and mix controls;

filter

The ringmod’s input is modulated by a high frequency sine oscillator (OSC1) whose frequency is modulated by another sine oscillator (OSC2).  You have controls for carrier wave frequency (OSC1), modulation wave frequency, FM that controls the amount of modulation applied to the carrier and mix; 

ringmod.

The metalizer effect has controls for delay time, feedback and mix;

metalizer

The distortion effect is a reworked version of the now discontinued Gorgon effect by Inear Display.  It has four distortion modes – gorgon, shape, fold and creeper with drive, oversampling and mix controls;

distortion

The digitizer effect combines sample rate reduction and bit depth reduction.  Each of these has their own mix control making it effectively two effects in one.  The bits control emulates the effect of bit-rate reduction and the ratio control is sample rate reduction.  A combination of these two produces some cool sounds;

digitizer

The master controls has input levels, output levels and a bypass switch for each individual channel along with a 3 band master EQ and a master dry/wet and amplitude controls;

master

Subvert has very similar extensive modulation options to those seen previously in Convex that can be combined to create really complex modulation parameters. Each parameter that can be modulated has a modulation source menu and a small crescent knob to the right. The modulated parameter’s current value is used as the floor value for modulation. The modulation depth knob then represents the range in percent that will be used for modulation between the current parameter value and the maximum parameter value.

There are 2 envelope follower modules with sensitivity (gain), attack and release settings.

env

There are 4 LFOs with a wave menu to click and drag to choose the waveform and a rate which can be set in hertz or beat divisions using the sync option. The rate value can also be modulated.

lfo

The modulation mixers can be used in one of two ways, either to get the mean of two signals or to morph between two modulators using a mix control which itself can be modulated.

mix

The inverters do exactly what you’d expect and invert a parameter which is especially useful to modulate 2 parameters in opposite directions using the original and inverted values.

inv

There are also midi learn options, a randomise option and the usual preset options of load and save.

Conclusions

I’m delighted to have been part of the beta testing team for Subvert. The new UI improves the workflow and it’s very easy to start using and creating your own effects. The presets give an excellent range of sound possibilities of Subvert, you can also use randomise settings to create interesting sounds, though often you’ll need to tweak these to get the most out of them. Although it’s primarily a distortion effect, it is capable of so much more, including buffer effects, subtle saturation and bitcrushing effects and the ability to process in serial or parallel really extends your options.  It gets very interesting when you start using modulation and again it’s easy to get to grips with modulation options and you can use them subtly or in more extreme ways.

I’ve used multiple instances of subvert on the EP embedded at the top of this post.  effusion has 4 instances of a processed field recording with 3 instances of subvert, delay and reverb and a drum pattern; cascades uses a processed field recording with bass, chord, arp and drum loops processed with subvert; emanations uses 3 instances of a processed field recording  with delay, reverb and Subvert with mid/side processing.

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