Cableguys push the envelope when it comes to plugin innovation. Engineering the Sound dived into DriveShaper to see what all the fuss was about.
The DriveShaper comes courtesy of German plugin firm, Cableguys. Beginning in the mid-2010s as a plugin-making hobby for founder Jakob Rang, it started as an experiment involving drawing waveforms for oscillators. Rang’s innovative new method for controlling sound within plugins led to the ShaperBox, which was born in 2019. It soon found fans in diverse producers, including Khaliq Glover (Herbie Hancock, Prince, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson), Steve Aoki, and David Guetta.
Often when focussing on plugins, the user will find themselves in a set-and-forget mentality; find a great tone, maybe alter it slightly throughout the progression of a song, and stick with that. Using any of the units available for the ShaperBox not only allows the user to completely reconsider this technique but forces method upon you, resulting in highly animated, evolving mixes, allowing an opportunity to explore brave new realms of creativity.
The ShaperBox 2 has the following plugins available; all adhering to this ingenious ideology:
- Time shaper
- And the brand new DriveShaper
The DriveShaper runs like you’re putting your chosen effect through a distortion Kaoss pad, essentially drawing an LFO to affect your signal as it comes through the plugin, altering the rhythm and textures and creating something fresh and animated from what might otherwise be a pretty standard sound source. You can draw rhythmic patterns repeated over time — from the course of a fraction of a bar, a single bar loop — through to a multiple of bars, always synced to the tempo of your DAW.
Operating the DriveShaper, the plugin feels something like using a Sausage Fattener designed by control freaks, or a perhaps mutant Fab Filter Saturn plugin designed by synth-heads obsessed with extreme rhythmic automation. Upon opening the plugin you’re greeted with a blank page to begin drawing your LFO waveform, topped with an array of drawing tools to create nearly any waveform imaginable. It’s rounded off by a large bank of presets and a randomise option, which can really inspire some fascinating experiments.
Once the waveform is created, you’re given control over a ridiculously extensive amount of parameters: the EQ band affected, the level of drive, 10 different types of distortion, control over tone, grip, push, accent, LFO shaping, and envelope, plus LFO mode, an envelope control for distortion intensity, and a wet/dry mix amount.
Delving deeper into the LFO mode, within this section you can set your LFO length in beats and bars to rhythmically affect your source material, set your mode to ‘Hertz’ and start affecting your input in cycles per second or even set to ‘Pitch’ to affect with incoming MIDI note pitch to set the LFO loop speed.
Although deceptive at first, this is a plugin that completely changes the way you may approach working with distortion and automation. The DriveShaper is nothing short of a game-changer when it comes to creating motion and animation within your mixes.