Ever since Aphex brought out the Aural Exciter in the '70s there have been many attempts to offer a 'one stop' box that adds some kind of 'enhancement' to any audio signal passed though it.
With a few notable exceptions, pro engineers have viewed such devices as audio snake oil and found some manufacturer's claims to be frankly comical. However, digital technology has made it easier to analyse incoming audio and so there are now quite a few plug-ins that really can work in a program dependant way.
Noveltech came up with its Intelligent Adaptive Filtering (IAF) technology as a way of affecting audio in a time, frequency and dynamic way that enhances characteristics which are pleasing to the human ear. It's constantly analysing the input signal and adjusting its sonic manipulations dependant on the panel settings to keep the 'character' change coherent.
The front panel controls are very simple. The central Character knob adjusts how much of the effect you are using, the Target knob adjusts the relative position of the source frequency range to be enhanced and the Mode has three positions: 1 for percussive instruments and vocals, 2 for guitars and synths and 3 for basses and pads.
The big claim for this plug is that it offers almost instant gratification. A couple of tweaks and you should be moving on to the next sound. That's normally where our eyebrows raise and we reach for the salt, but we're pleased to report that here it's actually true: this is a quite remarkable plug that does exactly what it claims to.
Starting with acoustic guitar, an instrument with a complex high-end, mode 2 gives a lovely presence and mode 3 very smooth ultra highs. In under a minute we got something we liked.
The same with electronic and acoustic drums: instant presence and no nasty artefacts or surprises. Where you could be struggling for a while to combine EQ and compression, Character goes directly to a very usable sound.
With vocals and synths we were also very pleasantly surprised. That IAF algorithm really does follow the true characteristics of the source very accurately and the resultant effect sounds natural and balanced.
Stereo sources come out well with no unwelcome change of image or phase issues. Having 'enhanced' certain sounds, applying eq afterwards was also far more effective as there was more to work with.
This is a great plug with many uses that really does live up to its name. Well worth checking out.