karacter is a box full of vibrant colours. It covers a complete spectrum including mastering-grade saturation, tube-inspired distortion and glorious destruction. Gone are the days when only racks full of outboard gear could achieve these elusive and highly desirable styles of tonal coloration…
Karacter offers two separate channels which can be set up for dual mono, linked stereo or linked and unlinked M/S operation. Integrated mix stages for parallel signal processing and the unique Color Control adds to its remarkable flexibility.
- Gentle symmetrical soft clipping
- Strong low order harmonics that are weighted towards the third
- Tube inspired musical saturation
- Wide ranges of asymmetrical low noise soft clipping
- Strong low order harmonics that are weighted towards the second
Turbo Boost shifts the operating point of the distortion circuitry, resulting in a signal structure which is even more asymmetrical than before. This will become most obvious at higher settings of the Drive parameter.
This filter does not change the frequency response after it has been formed, instead it is an essential part of THD generation. It provides a wide range of coloring options and several amazing sweet spots ranging from dubby growl to steely punch.
To analyse the non-linear behaviour of the Karacter, I ran a 100 Hz sine wave through the plug-in at various settings.
100 Hz sine wave at -12 dB passed through Karacter at Unity
Strong second and third harmonics, harmonic distribution is weighted towards the third. Low order harmonics sound very constant and musical - the second adds body and the third adds weight.
100 Hz sine wave at -12 dB passed through Karacter FET Mode at Unity
Strong low and high ordered harmonic generation, which is actually weighted towards the third, despite the manual claiming dominant second order harmonics.
Since this mode generates significant high ordered harmonics, this mode will sound less constant, edgier and more aggressive, well without modification of the Color parameter at least…
100 Hz sine wave at -12 dB passed through Karacter Turbo Boost at Unity
Surprised? I was, I was expecting this mode to be much more aggressive when compared to FET! This mode looks much more reminiscent of being ‘tube inspired’.
Strong low ordered harmonic generation that is weighted very much towards the second - expect body and power, richness and depth in this mode, very musical indeed!
100 Hz sine wave at -12 dB passed through Karacter with Color cranked clockwise
As you can see, Color increases the amplitude of harmonics, especially the forth and fifth, which are up approximately 20 dB - extremely simplified but the higher the harmonics, the greater the boost. This is why adding Color can make the source sound brighter, edgier and more aggressive.
100 Hz sine wave at -12 dB passed through Karacter FET with Color attenuated (counter-clockwise)
Shifting Color counter-clockwise dampens higher harmonics, I have Color set to ‘64’ and this is much more reminiscent of tube gear transfer curves. I like the FET mode much more when incorperated with the Color control.
For this test I ran a synth loop through Karacter at various settings. I have compensated for level so that the loop peaks at -1 dBFS for maximum resolution of the waveform in Pro-L.
Synth Loop (no processing)
Saturation Mode at unity
Smooth soft clip behaviour but more importantly for this plug-in’s character, take a look at the average level increase. This is why this mode sounds smooth but adds more power and sustain. Sounds amazing on a drum bus, especially in M/S mode.
FET Mode at Unity
Less subtle soft clipping behaviour compared to Saturation mode but still smooth, average level is also louder and more compressed.
Turbo Boost Mode at Unity
Its funny because i would argue that Turbo Boost mode is much more characteristic of Saturation mode rather than FET mode with a different internal operating level… But this is just graphs, all three modes sound very different.
Saturation Mode Drive at 3
Similar clipping behaviour to Saturation mode at unity but with increased average level
FET Mode Drive at 3
Again, increased average level when compared to at unity; however, the clipping behaviour has changed somewhat.
Turbo Boost Mode Drive at 3
Average level remains relatively the same but clipping behaviour has changed considerable when driven.
Audio Karacter Synth Drive3.aif (1.3 MB)
Audio Karacter Synth Dry.aif (1.3 MB)
Audio Karacter Synth FET Drive3.aif (1.3 MB)
Audio Karacter Synth FET Unity.aif (1.3 MB)
Audio Karacter Synth Turbo Drive3.aif (1.3 MB)
Audio Karacter Synth Turbo Unity.aif (1.3 MB)
Audio Karacter Synth Unity.aif (1.3 MB)
FREQUENCY AND PHASE RESPONSE
Lets take a look at Karacter’s frequency and phase response at various settings
What I am looking for is the frequency and phase response of the plug-in at unity in each mode and how particular settings change this relationship.
Yellow - noise generated by the plug-in analysis software to analyse the plug-in
White - frequency response of the plug-in at that particular setting
Red - phase shift of the plug-in at that particular setting
Saturation Mode at Unity
FET Mode at Unity
Turbo Mode at Unity
Saturation mode has a low frequency bump and gradely rolls off, very pleasing frequency response. FET and Turbo Boost modes have the quintessential ‘smiley face’ frequency response.
Saturation Mode Color+
A greater low frequency when Colour is driven clockwise.
Saturation Mode Color-
Crazy sharp 10 Hz low frequency boost when Color is hard counter-clockwise.
Saturation Mode Color- (midway)
Interesting! From slightly counter-clockwise to midway around the dial, the frequency response has a low frequency cut. When at these setting you are clearing focusing on the mid range of the source.
FET Mode Color+
Huge low frequency boost when Color is pushed fully clockwise.
FET Mode Color-
A larger and sharper low frequency boost when Color is fully counter-clockwise.
FET Mode Color- (just a notch counter-clockwise from centre)
A low frequency roll off that strangely sharply and linearly rises back up at 10 Hz.
Turbo Mode Color+
Turbo Mode Color-
Turbo Mode Color- (just a notch counter-clockwise)
Same story as above
Saturation Mode Drive at 5
Saturation Mode Drive at 11
The frequency and phase response go a little crazy after the mid point. It is worth noting that the analyser resolution has been increased to depict a 36 dB range rather than a 12 dB range like in earlier examples.
There is a lot of interaction between the parameters on this unit and a wide variety of tones can be achieved. I think it is best to stay away from the extremes of ‘Drive’ and ‘Color’, I found in my tests just a little bit of Drive was more than enough for heavy saturation and as you can see, Color frequency response goes a little cookie at the extremes, especially in the counter-clockwise direction.
How does it compare to the hardware? Well, I don’t own the hardware yet but it sounds like the hardware can be pushed a lot harder with a bigger sweet spot. However, the software does sound fantastic and oozes the erm Karacter of the hardware, I will certainly be purchasing it!