Billed as an 'extreme transient shaper', Transfreak (VST/AU/AAX) adds to the usual remit of such plugins with four extra processing modules: Transient Equaliser, Sustain Reverb, Post Saturation and Post Equaliser.
Before we get into those, though, there are, of course, the two usual main transient shaping controls. The Attack knob boosts or cuts the attack transient, with the 2x switch doubling the dialled-in amount, and the Clean setting smoothing off some of the untoward elements that come with too much boost via filtering.
The Sustain control and 2x button do the same thing for the sustain portion of the input signal, and the Clip button activates an output limiter for overload protection. It's hard to tell whether the buttons are active or not, though, due to the overly subtle shading.
The central graphic display represents the settings of the Attack and Sustain envelope, while the meters show the Attack/Sustain and Left/Right output levels. Low- and high-pass filters on the internal sidechain can be used to adjust the Attack and Sustain emphasis.
Below the display is a dropdown menu for bringing up one of the four other effects modules for editing. Yes, it's exactly as annoying as you'd imagine only being able to see one effect at a time - and even more annoying that you can't individually bypass them. There's plenty of space for a tabbed panel, complete with individual on/off switches, so we're puzzled as to why Audio Assault has taken this particular approach.
The Transient Equaliser comprises a pair of two-band parametric EQs - one each for the Attack and Sustain portions - with additional high- and low-pass filters. Similarly, the Sustain reverb works purely on the sustain element, with parameters like Room Size, Width, Tone, Dampening and Mix, again with filtering.
Trans Fatty Acid
We're all used to the workings of a transient shaper, so how does Transfreak fit in with the rest of the crowd? Well, for starters, the determination of the attack and sustain elements isn't very precise, so the Attack doesn't always spit at you when boosted, and occasionally, cutting the Sustain causes the Attack to disappear or shift tonally.
The transient shaping is still effective, nonetheless, and able to deliver aggressive and dynamic results, especially when using the sidechain filters to tune the response to the specific frequency content of the source signal.
It's in exploring the additional effects, however, that you get to appreciate Transfreak's more extreme manipulative qualities. The reverb is the least impressive of the four - it doesn't convincingly extend the sustain or deliver a good reverb sound - but the Transient Equaliser is a great tool for fattening up pumping kick drum sustains, for example, and the two Post effects are quite excellent.
Transfreak is a rough diamond with an unapologetic attitude. Refined sonics are very much off the agenda - it's all about pumping, grinding, sucking and driving drums, basses and other high-impact sounds, with the Post Saturation and Equaliser modules standing out as perhaps its defining features. Noiseniks should definitely check it out.