“A highly affordable plugin to quickly spice up otherwise sterile sounding audio.” We put Cableguys’ TimeShaper to the test.
Cableguys are well known for their series of audio ‘shaper’ plugins including Volume, Filter, Pan and Width. With TimeShaper, they continue on that theme, presenting an audio processor capable of creating stutter, pitch-shift, glitch and tape-stop effects.
Hosted inside the ShaperBox effects rack, meaning you can stack up all the Cableguys plugins in a series, should you own them, TimeShaper can work with any sound source (both audio and MIDI). Using the Step Draw mode you’re able to offset hits within a loop, whilst creating a diagonal line upwards or downwards between break points will speed up or slow the pitch respectively and applying a much steeper downwards gradient will reverse sections. The LFO responsible for processing the audio can be tempo-synced or free running – the free running option is potentially more useful for less grid-dependent material, such as vocals, effects or atmospheres, or even granular-type effects when sped up. When the sync mode is activated, you can change the loop length from anything between 1/128 to 32 bars, to make the pattern run faster or slower.
This has great potential for use in a live/DJ setting
There’s a selection of useful presets on offer, effectively demonstrating what TimeShaper is capable of. A series of stutter effects are great for twisting and chopping percussive material, and the Scratch, Tape, Pitch and Reverse categories deal with a variety of tape-stop and DJ scratch-style edits. User presets can very easily be added to save slots, allowing for quick recall of a pattern, and MIDI triggering can be set up for the save slots, mapping the slots chromatically to MIDI keys. This has great potential for use in a live/DJ setting, however I would have liked a way to control the retrigger here, maybe setting it to play each new pattern once the previous pattern has played to the end. The instant retrigger can sometimes sound messy, especially when switching between patterns containing pitch edits.
Top right of the plugin is a mix control, allowing you to dial back in some of the dry signal, whilst top left of the plugin you can control the multi-band processing, capable of splitting the signal into three frequency bands with 6 dB/oct or 12 dB/oct slopes There is a link button next to the mix control – uncheck it and you can set a separate mix for each band. You’re also able to solo each band, which allows you to bring low-pass, band-pass or high-pass filtering into the equation. Being able to set a different pattern and loop length for each frequency band really unlocks the power of TimeShaper, allowing for highly effective and creative audio manipulation. I found a lot of the pitch-based effects difficult to apply in a rhythmic way on percussive material, but using the multi-band option along with the mix control, you can apply these edits in a much more subtle and effective way.
TimeShaper does offer immensely powerful processing. All of the effects are applied with pristine audio quality
There is a slight learning curve required to understand exactly how you’re editing the audio in TimeShaper. It’s fine if you just want to tweak and experiment with different results, but requires a little more investment if you want to be more purposeful with how you edit. Being able to lock break points would be a welcome addition in a future update too; it’s easy to accidentally drag the curve editing over these, thus altering the curves in the following section. That said, TimeShaper does offer immensely powerful processing. All of the effects are applied with pristine audio quality. It’s great for mashing up drum loops and sounds fantastic on vocals, capable of transforming very simple phrases into glitched and twisted workouts. For me the real winner was the multi-band option; setting different patterns for each frequency band really opens up the creative potential. The price is extremely reasonable, and loading inside the Shaperbox rack, provided you have other plugins such as FilterShaper or VolumeShaper, means you can stack up the effects, allowing for endless sonic possibilities. TimeShaper is not without a few gripes, but if you’re in the market for a highly affordable plugin to quickly spice up otherwise sterile sounding audio, in the studio or live environment, Cableguys could have just the ticket for you.
Purchase: Cableguys Timeshaper
The Final Word
a highly affordable plugin to quickly spice up otherwise sterile sounding audio