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Review of Cryogen VST by Glitchmachines

Cryogen is a modular effects buffer processor designed to generate robotic artifacts and abstract musical mutations. It is priced at $39 and is available from Glitchmachines website.
The core effects are dual buffer, dual filter and dual bitcrusher. Cryogen has about 140 presets, most of which are excellent and make it ready to use straight away. I started using Cryogen in this way, exploring some of these great presets. I’ve found it works really well on drum beats as well as vocals and synth sounds, in fact it will happily process whatever sounds you want it to process.
Whilst this approach is fine, the downside of this means that you miss its real potential. This is because where Cryogen really excels is that it’s a fully modular effect featuring open ended signal routing and extensive modulation options including 4 LFOs which have rate multipliers enabling you to use them as audio generators; 4 mixers; the ability for incoming audio to modulate parameters and mod multipliers which can combine modulation and audio signals so you can create your own effects from very subtle to extensive modulations. And this is what I really like the more I use and experiment with Cryogen, sometimes a subtle effect will give unexpected artifacts and the extreme modulations can convert a fairly plain sound into something crazy.
I really like the layout of the UI, it has a clean modern look which is easy to navigate and typical of what we see from Glitchmachines. It’s also colour coded with blue representing signal path 1; green representing signal path 2; yellow representing modulation parameters and fuscia representing modulation assignments / depth.
The default signal path is parallel processing from left to right converging at the mixer before going to the master output and this is recommended to get you started. The modulation matrix is accessed by a button in the bottom right and allows you to change the audio signal path as well as assign modulations. This features a very easy to use drag and drop system where you simply drag and drop the required modulating parameter and then you can set the depth in percent.
The modular nature means that you can re-route the signal how you see fit for instance use the buffers in series rather than parallel, change the order of effects or create complex LFO modulations. You really can do pretty much whatever you want which makes it such a great effect to use.
On the main screen below each parameter are 2 boxes showing modulation assignment and modulation depth parameters. Modulation is as simple as a drag and drop of the module header to the required modulation assignment box on this screen too – you don’t necessarily need to visit the mod matrix.
The main effects in Cryogen are the buffers which loop a small portion of the input with a size control which is the length of loop; repeats control which is the number of repetitions before sampling a new part and rate which controls the speed and direction of playback.
The filters have a morphable mode featuring low pass, band pass, high pass and notch filters with cut-off and resonance controls.
The crusher has bit depth from 16 to 1 bit; sample rate 1:64 and mix controls.
The LFO has wave and rate controls which can be synced to your host clock for beat divisions. The x100 parameter makes the LFO audible but must be unsynced. The outputs can also be mixed at the mixer section including audio rates to create complex modulation. There are 4 LFOs in total.
The mixers allow combination and mixing of different sources, there are 2 dropdowns listing all possible sources and there are 4 mixers in total.
The multipliers can convolve audio or modulation parameters. Again you choose the required signals from the dropdown list.
I’ve created a demo track embedded at the top of this post using a simple drum beat, keys and vocal loops with varying factory presets and a couple that I’ve created myself to give some examples of the types of sounds it can produce. I’ve also used Hollyhock’s seq glitcher a couple of times which gives the filter type effect.
You can also hear it in use on a couple of songs from my recent ‘Tech Explorations’ album :-