Cableguys ShaperBox 3 review

The modulation-focused multieffect hits v3. We examine what’s new in this box of tricks…

  • $89
Cableguys ShaperBox 3
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

Version 3 isn’t a huge reinvention, but ShaperBox was already a great go-to tool, and it’s now slicker and more capable than ever

Pros

  • +

    Phase and flange suit the ShaperBox workflow brilliantly.

  • +

    Improved browser makes finding inspiration easier.

  • +

    Improved sidechaining capabilities.

Cons

  • -

    Not exactly revolutionary when compared to v2.

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Cableguys ShaperBox 3: What is it?

Despite evolving considerably since version 1 appeared, Cableguys’ ShaperBox remains rooted in a simple core concept. This is a multi-effect plugin that allows users to ‘draw’ in the application of effects based on a highly customisable LFO curve. 

Essentially you choose an effect, and then either select or create a modulation curve that controls the depth of that effect. There’s a lot more it can do beyond that – customisable multiband throughout, a massive user-stocked preset library, a multitude of triggering and curve-switching tools – but Cableguys has smartly kept that core workflow intact. As a result, it remains one of the best go-to tools for rapidly adding rhythmic interest to any sound.

Version 3 sticks with this formula, adding new effects and some handy new tools without upending the existing workflow.

Cableguys ShaperBox 3

(Image credit: Cableguys )

Cableguys ShaperBox 3: Performance and verdict

On the effect front, ShaperBox 3 adds a new LiquidShaper module, which specialises in phasing and flanging. These are a very natural fit with the ShaperBox ethos, seeing as phasers and flangers have long been tried and tested tools for adding movement and width for guitarists, synthesists and studio engineers alike. 

Compared to some of the other Shapers, Liquid is relatively simple, with just two effect types. There are several parameters for adjusting the tonality and width of each though. What’s more, users can apply individual shaper curves to the centre frequency and feedback rate for each. ShaperBox’s customisable curves come into their own here, allowing for fantastic sweeps, rhythmic patterns and glitchy stutters, all of which sound especially good on synths and drums.

Aside from this new effect, ShaperBox 3 also adds a handful of new features across the board. The most notable of these is improved sidechain triggering. This involves the addition of a new Global Audio Trigger panel that lives along the top of the interface. Here users can switch the audio trigger mode between the main audio input and a sidechain input, monitor the incoming audio, apply high/low-pass filters and alter the detection algorithm to suit different types of material. ShaperBox can also be set to output a MIDI trigger based on the incoming audio, allowing it to trigger other plugins and devices.

The plugin also adds a new external sidechain view, whereby the central shaper view can be used to simultaneously visualise both the incoming audio and a sidechain input – handy when shaping an effect around the balance of two elements.

The curve drawing tools have also had a slight rework, making it quicker and easier to draw and edit modulation shapes, but in a way that won’t feel too unfamiliar for long-time users. Finally, ShaperBox 3 has also given the browser a bit of an upgrade, with presets now better organised by the type of effect produced, which makes finding inspiration noticeably quicker.

On the whole, it’s an upgrade that doesn’t fundamentally upend the existing design, but ShaperBox didn’t need that. The minor tweaks add up to an overall easier and more capable workflow, and LiquidShaper is an excellent addition. Upgrade prices are fairly reasonable too. 

MusicRadar verdict: Version 3 isn’t a huge reinvention, but ShaperBox was already a great go-to tool, and it’s now slicker and more capable than ever.

Cableguys ShaperBox 3: Hands-on demos

MusicRadar

Cableguys

Marula Music

Cableguys ShaperBox 3: Specifications

  • SHAPERS: Time, Drive, Noise, Filter, Liquid, Crush, Volume, Pan, Width.
  • CONTACT: Cableguys (opens in new tab) 

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.