Introduction

I first became aware of D16 Group’s software excellence after installing their “Repeater” delay plugin, almost a year ago. Since, “Repeater” has become my go-to option for layered, responsive delay sounds on countless tracks. Suffice it to say, my expectations as I delved into the remainder of their product array, were especially high. It's fair to say that I’ve come out the other end far from disappointed, with a few more “secret weapon” plugins to line my ever more competitive production tool belt. Without further delay, here are my five “top picks” from D16 Group’s impressive arsenal.

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Syntorus 2

Syntorus 2

True analog delay is both rare to find, and difficult to model these days, as traditional “Bucket-Brigade” delay devices, used in vintage chorus effect units, have been long surpassed by more convenient and accurate digital signal processors. Authentic analog audio remains sought after, due to its particular character and richness, which simply can’t be replicated with modern digital effect chains. D16 took this infamously arduous task as a challenge — the award winning “Syntorus 2” is a perfectly modelled triple-layered analog chorus plugin, based on the traditional “Bucket-Brigade” technology that gave the sixties and seventies chorus effect it’s analog charm.

The original “Syntorus” plugin, the famously well-renowned predecessor of “Syntorus 2”, gained nothing but praise for it’s excellent replication of vintage analog chorus; making use of two independently modulatable delay lines. Incredibly, “Syntorus 2” has blown its predecessor out of the water, featuring three independent, pannable delay lines, with three separate LFO units to pair — a fantastic, yet iterative improvement. The degree of flexibility and customisation behind “Syntorus 2” makes it the perfect translator between the chorus sound in your head, and the chorus sound coming out of your speakers.

Each delay line allows you to filter the audio with low pass, high pass or bandpass options, the latter of which can be utilised in creating convincing phaser-like effects. Both the filter cutoff parameter, along with the tremolo knob, are modulated using the same LFO signal as the delay time. These values can be used to craft effects extremely atypical of chorus units; a “Leslie” rotary speaker effect, for example.

To complement the extraordinary range of parameters available in the delay line panel, D16 offer an equally impressive array of parameters in the LFO control region; the oscillation rate can be set to sync with your DAW, following a full note, dotted or triplet rhythm; or a standard unsynced hertz value. Additionally, there are six different oscillation waveforms to choose from, with some especially unique options, like square waves; great for unusual chorus, that is sure to stand out.

At the right hand side of the plugin window, a mixer module is included, for altering the gain and panning of each individual line. I tended to pan one channel left, one center and one right, creating the widest stereo field I could; useful for filling up the sonic space with acoustic guitars or electric pianos. One concern that you may have is the possibility of phase issues — especially with the extra delay line, over the original version of “Syntorus”. It’s important to note that this will rarely, if ever, become a problem; as the degree of delay in chorus plugins is so minimal, that each wave doesn’t get the chance to constructively, nor destructively, interfere with any other competing wave.

Finally, “Syntorus 2” allows for the choice of three different LFO-delay line route arrangements; from running all lines independently in parallel, or summing LFOs. Summing LFO lines creates a constantly-changing signal, helping to breathe life into the resultant chorus effect, in an unnatural, yet sonically interesting manner. In fact, at its core, that’s exactly what makes “Syntorus 2” shine; it’s vast array of unconventional parameters permit the generation of wonderfully unique chorus effects, while retaining the welcoming familiarity of analog-esque richness.

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Devastor 2

Capable of both asymmetrical, and symmetrical distortion, “Devastor 2” is a multi-band distortion plugin, built upon the guts of the much-loved harmonic distortion module found on D16’s classic 303 bass synthesiser recreation, “Phoscyon”.

The main appeal of “Devastor 2” over traditional distortion plugins, is its ability to affect three different bands of your input signal independently, with the signal routing configurable in essentially any combination. However, one of it’s most alluring features is it’s dynamics and distortion shaping module; the “Dynamics” control essentially works as a simple one-knob compressor, normalising the gain of the input signal. This is a critical step before feeding the signal into the parameters of the distortion unit; the threshold value, in particular, decides above what level of amplitude distortion occurs.

Furthermore, alongside a “Preamp Gain” parameter, fundamentally working as an input gain control for the distortion unit, “Devastor 2” houses a “Shape” control, depicting the strength, and hence, aggression of the selected distortion curve. D16 pride themselves on both “Devastor 2”’s versatility and musical anti-aliasing algorithm; both of which I can fully endorse as notable aspects of a product that I can guarantee will become a go-to tool. “Aliasing” is just one of the numerous hurdles that ruins the illusion of analog audio in the modern digital realm. In digital distortion processing, “Aliasing” is generated as a result of the DAW software “folding” harmonic content that is too high of a frequency for it to work with, back down the frequency spectrum, in a way that is no longer related to the fundamental frequency, in any harmonic sense. As a result, unpleasant sounding dissonant artefacts are created. I can confidently say that D16’s aliasing-prevention algorithm does a fantastic job of keeping this issue under control, retaining a convincing illusion of true analog distortion.

In case you weren’t yet fooled by this vintage distortion powerhouse, “Devastor 2”’s built-in limiter isn’t just used to manage the output levels of the plugin; it can also be used to “soft clip” the signal, adding organic, vibrant colour to your sound. “Devastor 2” truly serves as the ace up your sleeve for difficult distortion scenarios.

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Devastor 2
Repeater

Repeater

As previously mentioned, “Repeater” is the D16 plugin that I am most familiar with, remaining my go-to delay tool through countless competitors — an impressive feat in and of itself. Predominantly, “Repeater” is a vintage dual-line delay plugin, showcasing best-in-class modelling of more than twenty different delay units. Ranging from timeless vintage tape echos, to prestigious modern digital units, every single device is oozing with charm, waiting to give your track the spacial character it needs.

Both the left and right delay lines can have their delay time synced to the tempo of your DAW with a choice from the traditional three rhythms, seen in previous D16 plugins. Where in other stereo delay plugins, the spacious “delay-line offset” effect is achieved by slightly nudging one side out of time with the other, while in unsynced timing mode, “Repeater” offers a simple “Spread” switch. Featuring an array of three options, the “Spread” switch allows for varying levels of pseudo-stereo effect intensity, while retaining the convenience of the DAW tempo synced delay mode.

Alongside a “ping pong” delay toggle switch, the window that houses the delay time controls also features the delay model selection box — presenting the aforementioned over twenty various types of delay units; potentially making that trusty vintage tape delay plugin you use obsolete twenty times over! Two linkable left and right channel feedback knobs are also bestowed beside corresponding “Phase Invert” toggles, helping solve stereo phase cancellation issues. A toggle switch ambiguously labelled “Analog” is also included in this area; activating this switch makes each feedback iteration “dimmer” — aiding in detracting from the unnatural perfection of digital delay.

To the right of the previously mentioned panel are a series of signal filtering controls — ideal for cutting the bass from your input, maintaining a controllable, mono low end; combatting muddiness. A “Colour” dial for both left and right channels is positioned beside the filter controls, useful for accentuating the brighter tones of your signal, compensating for the loss of sonic-grip that cutting your low end may have caused.

Finally, a mixing module is included at the right hand side of the window, with panning dials for each channel and a dry/wet knob. Typically, I like to route my signal to a bus, with “Repeater” at 100% wet, making the dry/wet ratio easily controllable through my DAW’s bus input gain control. “Repeater” may not have any fancy modulation control, like numerous other delay plugins, but it’s made for accurate vintage delay modelling, which it executes with flying colours.

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Redoptor 2

Driving sounds with a vintage tube amplifier is one of, if not the most sought after analog sound. D16 Group bring this much-adored effect into the modern digital age with an authentic sounding, true-to-life recreation, in “Redoptor 2”. Featuring pre and post dynamics parameters, accompanied by a four-band parametric EQ module, “Redoptor 2” permits near-limitless control over your tone and transient character.

Immediately, as your signal is fed into the plugin, it’s met with low and high cut dials, allowing for flexibility over which region of your audio is to be passed into the remainder of the modules. To a degree, these cut areas, along with the original signal, can be reinstated later, using the included dry/wet dial. Before being fed into the iconic “Tube Drive” unit, the signal is processed through a preamp, which allows for an insane gain boost of up to 100dB! Once combined with the output limiter, your sound can be enhanced with anything from harmonic colouration to all-out hellish crush. The first of “Redoptor 2”’s two dynamics altering parameters (the other being the limiter) is also available amongst the preamp controls; a primitive, one-knob compressor, with vaguely labelled values from “Neutral” to “Squished”. Despite appearing extremely basic, the included compressor actually does a fantastic job of taming particularly lively inputs.

The “Tube Drive” unit’s first parameter, which you’ll definitely want to crank up, if you intend to utilise “Redoptor 2” for saturation, is the “Bias” control. By subtly amplifying the even harmonics of your signal, this dial can help thicken your sound, without triggering vicious crunch just yet. The remaining three knobs under this module are all fairly simple one-knob approaches to dialing in the sonic character, before allowing for ultimate freedom in the EQ module.

Often, I find that non-graphical parametric EQ modules, such as the one featured here, induce more creativity than their modern, graphical counterparts. Tones that you’ve not even considered to be either preferable or problematic are forced to become the focal point at some stage, as you manually sweep through the audio spectrum. While using graphical EQ plugins, it’s far too easy to become accustomed to dragging your band nodes into the same areas consistently, in a muscle memory-like manner. Due to this, I believe a manual, non-graphical parametric EQ to be the perfect companion to a plugin that invokes the levels of inspiration and creativity that “Redoptor 2” does.

There are numerous vintage distortion scenarios where I can imagine instantaneously reaching for “Redoptor 2”. It’s faithful and accurate sounding tube drive makes any sound that it’s applied to exude gritty, retro driven nostalgia. Whether it’s warm and full, vintage sounding guitar overdrive, completely replacing any other amp plugin you may use; or harmonic saturation, applied to cases like vocals or bass, to make them prominently pop out of your mix, “Redoptor 2” has you covered.

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Redoptor 2
Godfazer

Godfazer

After getting to grips with “Godfazer”, I can confidently pronounce it to be the modulation plugin to end all other modulation plugins. “Bucket-Brigade” based choruses, rotary speaker emulation and deep, smooth phasers are just a handful of the countless effects that Godfazer has to offer. Containing an ensemble effects module; working in unison with two, independent, multi-filter effect panels; both controlled by their own signal generation module, capable of four different types of signal production, it’s clear that ultimate freedom of musical creativity was paramount in the conception of this plugin.

Firstly, “Godfazer”’s ensemble module is employed to process your audio through one of more than twenty retro sounding modulation effects units — choruses, tremolo and rotary speakers, primarily. These fundamentally give your audio the distinguishable, sonically captivating effect that we’ve all come to love. The “Spread” and ‘Depth” controls help with dialling in the perfect effect intensity. Also included is a dry/wet control, granting for the taming of your sound, without having to amend the aforementioned controls — maintaining your track’s character.

Now we’re onto the juicy stuff — the modulated multi-filter modules. Adding impossibly tactile and tangible texture to your sound, perfect for crafting more sonically interesting synth pads or pianos, is the multi-filter’s bread and butter. Various EQ shelf, peak and filtering settings, alongside dozens of amazing custom-made phaser settings are available after opening the selection box in this module. Much in the same vein as the previously mentioned ensemble module, the fine degree of adjustability found in the dials and parameters here, such as the incredibly intuitive “Emphasis” knob, make the sound you have in your head remarkably easy to dial in.

LFO generation modules are such a fundamental necessity of sound engineering that “Godfazer”’s extraordinary offering is easily overlooked. On top of the typical rate knob, “Godfazer”’s LFO module houses a waveform selection box, containing six different waveforms; a stereo phase adjustment dial, shifting the offset between the left and right phases, for ultimate control over the “wideness” of your output; and a simple panning knob. However, as stated above, there are three more modulator modules, capable of controlling your multi-filter parameters; “Constant”, “Follower” and “Sequencer”.

“Constant”, as you’d expect, defines linkable, static offset values for the left and right channels — ideal for if you wanted to control your multifilters using DAW automation tracks, or for a tamer, but still altered sound. “Follower” alters the modulation signal, proportionally to the transients of your audio; meaning your effect can be stronger at the strike of a chord, for example. Lastly, “Sequencer” uses a sixteen-step, tempo sync-able, sequencer; each bar represents the output gain of the effect for that step. I found that this modulation generation method can be used to create wildly unique, rhythmic melody lines, after feeding a keys melody into it. It’s fantastic for use as an inspiration tool, for when you’re struggling to create catchy melodies. Finally, a signal flow selection box is incorporated, allowing for six different audio signal routes — making the order of your modules just as customisable as the rest of the plugin.

Overall, the excellence that is D16’s “Godfazer” is bound to become your one-stop-shop for simple chorus, intricate phaser combinations and everything in between.

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