PreSonus Blog

The PhaseTone Warper

We haven’t done a “boutique digital effect” for Studio One Professional in a while, so let’s use a plugin in a totally wrong way—yet end up with something cool. This unconventional tone control is based on phase interactions in different frequency bands. You’ll find a download link for the PhaseTone Warper FX Chain at the end of this post.

It’s a Feature…Not a Bug!

Like traditional analog filters, the Splitter’s frequency-splitting crossover produces varying amounts of phase shift at different frequencies. Normally, these phase shifts are not significant. However, mixing a dry signal in parallel with the Splitter, and changing the frequencies of the Splitter’s Frequency splits, creates phase additions and cancellations at various frequencies. The result is a novel tone shaper. I’ve used the PhaseTone Warper with synths, guitars, cymbals, amp sims, and more…it’s fun, and different. One application is creating subtle (or not-so-subtle!) timbral differences in the same instrument for different verses or choruses.

How It Works

The FX Chain starts with a Splitter in normal mode. It splits the incoming audio into a dry channel that incorporates a Mixtool, and a second Splitter in Frequency Split mode (fig. 1).

Figure 1: The FX Chain block diagram.

Varying Splitter 2’s frequencies produces a variety of unusual, phase-based equalization changes. They’re difficult to describe, and sound somewhat like a voicing control. The audio example gives some representative sounds, as applied to distorted guitar. The first phrase has no processing. Subsequent repetitions use various PhaseTone Warper settings.

Fig. 2 shows the control panel. The effect is most pronounced with Intensity turned up all the way. Turning it down gives more subtle effects. The buttons alter the stereo image in unpredictable ways.

Figure 2: Channel Editor macro controls.

Unfortunately, Splitter 2’s frequency settings are not automatable and can’t be assigned to control panel parameters. So, you have two ways to access the Splitter’s four frequency parameters:

  • Open up the Splitter 2 module in the FX Chain
  • Expand Splitter 2 in a Mixer channel (fig. 3). This makes adjusting the parameters easy.

Figure 3: Expanding Splitter 2 makes the Frequency Split controls available for easy editing.

So…when you’re looking for that “sound-I-haven’t-gotten-before,” give the PhaseTone Warper a try. Although the demo shows it with a distorted guitar, also try synthesizer sounds with lots of harmonics, cymbals, noise, orchestral sounds, and more.  (And don’t overlook dry guitar—you’ll hear an almost varitone-like effect.)

Download the PhaseTone Warper FX Chain