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PCRECORDING.COM - Coyote Electronics Plugin Review:

Manufacturer: Coyote Electronics
Product: Amplidude ($19.00), Chorus ($25.00), Expander plus Compressor ($25.00 for both), PhaseOne (free)

System Requirements

  • Windows 98, NT, Windows ME, Windows 2000 or Windows XP.
  • Pentium-III, Pentium-4 or Athlon recommended
  • Minimum 64MB of RAM
  • 16 or 24-bit sound card
  • DirectX 8 or higher (available free from Microsoft)(DirectX 3, with Windows NT 4.0, is also suitable)
  • Audio application that supports DirectX plugins.

Of late, the world of digital recording has seen major changes in ownership of products. For instance, Adobe buying Syntrillium, Tascam buying GigaStudio (Nemesys), Cakewalk buying Ultrafunk (effects maker), among many others. As big corporations swallow smaller companies, the fear is that what made them unique may get lost in the corporate mix, irrespective of the ever-present promises "to keep the spirit of the product alive." As one might expect, these purchases give opportunities to more, newer products coming to the market from independent sources. Such is Coyote Electronics, a small, two-person company that offers the products above, as well as Groove Mechanic (Utility for capturing vinyl and CD recordings) and Forte (MIDI-based sample player).

I will briefly review each of the DirectX products below. I used them in an ongoing recording project in my home studio. I tried them under Windows 98 and Windows XP Pro. My system is a Pentium 2.4, 512 meg of RAM, 120G HD, dual-boot, XP/98.

AmpliDude


Coyote AmpliDude applies amplitude modulation to the audio sample. It features:

  • Sine, triangle-wave and rectangle-wave low-frequency oscillator (LFO)
  • Duty-cycle control for the rectangle-wave LFO option
  • Randomized option for the LFO, for a more natural, less mechanical sound
  • Built-in filters to allow amplitude modulation of specific ranges of frequencies
  • Tap-tempo button for easily matching the tremolo rate to the beat of the song

Amplidude works with professional audio formats, including 16-bit, 24-bit and floating-point and can handle up to 192 KHz sampling rates. As you can see from the image the user can choose which frequency it affects with the Prefilter slider. Next to it is the tap tempo button and below that is the Stereo/Inversion button and the Sine/Triangle/Rectangle waveform type button. In the middle of the plugin are the sliders for frequency rate, cycle, and randomizer. There are a set of presets at the lower bottom right and a clipping indicator on the upper right.

As claimed on their website the Amplidude does produce some interesting effects. Tremolo effects can be made by adjusting the LP rate and depth while the LFO type to Sine. I found it quite easy to adjust the depth rate to obtain a change in the effect. I particularly liked the Invert function on the Stereo button. Inverting causes the signal amplitude to correspondingly go up and down on the left and right channels. The result is a very pleasing Auto-panning effect that sweeps the sound left to right, right to left.

The Stuttering effect works as advertised. The Stutter works by setting the LFO type to rectangle. The result is a rapid switch between high and low amplitude levels. The change in level is controlled by the depth slider and the ratio of on and off times is controlled by the Duty cycle. I was not as pleased with this one though for musical purposes. I can see it being used in other areas, like video production and the like.

Chorus


Coyote Chorus is a rich-sounding, easy to use effect. It features:
  • Four stereo semi-independent chorus/flange blocks. (The user can delay 1 and 2 or 3 and 4).

  • Presets that provide a starting point. (Vintage, Treble Chorus, and Four-voice chorus, among others).

  • LFO filter, (sine and Triangle-wave).
  • Clipping indicator
This chorus effect is very flexible and easy to use. The presets are a good place to start. I especially liked the four-voice setting. It added a depth and dimension to the sound that was very pleasing to my ear and did not overly mask the underlying audio.

Specific frequencies/ratios/delays can be selected by clicking on any window and typing in the value. Or, the user can toggle between 1 + 2 and 3 + 4, and use the sliders. The combination of typing in values and using the sliders (Delay Average and Range, Rate and Feedback) allow for infinite adjustments of the effect on the frequency selected. For instance, setting the frequency in the vocal range would allow the user to add richness to a vocal while not affecting lower frequencies.

As a flanger, with minor adjustments in the delay values (.1 - 10 ms) the user can get a wide, easy sweep effect. By setting high values on the feedback (+\-)the user can impose a harsh, stony, unnatural sound. All-in-all, the chorus/flanger was easy to use and good sounding.

Expander

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I am no electronics technician nor do I profess to understand much of the mathematics underpinning of various algorithms and the like. While I understood that it can used as a noise gate, I did not understand the signifigance of hysteresis. Thus, I emailed Norm Campbell, one of the two mentioned above for an explanation. Rather than muddy up his explanation I have included the bulk of his reply to my question.

"The Expander works in two modes: normal dynamic range expansion, and noise gate mode. In dynamic range expansion mode, it operates just like a compressor in reverse. Theoretically, if you compressed a song with a ratio of 3:1, you could use the Expander at a ratio of 1:3 to restore the original audio. In practice, of course, it's never that simple. You need to match the attack and release times to those used in the compression, and if there were non-linearities introduced in the compression it's not possible to compensate for those. However, using the Expander with a gentle slope (eg. 1:1.5 or 1:2) can restore some dynamic range to overcompressed audio."

Further,

"Or it can be used as a special effect on its own. When you set the Ratio slider down to the bottom position, the Expander works in Noise Gate mode. I'm sure you know how noise gates work, but one of the problems with a simplistic noise gate is "chattering": if the input signal varies slightly above and below the threshold, the noise gate turns on and off rapidly, and annoyingly. Introducing some amount of hysteresis reduces this behaviour. For instance, if you select 6 dB of hysteresis, then when the noise gate is shut off, the input signal amplitude must exceed the threshold plus 3 dB in order for the gate to turn on. Once it's turned on, the input amplitude must drop below the threshold minus 3 dB for it to shut off. Thus, a variation of input signal amplitude less than 6 dB cannot cause the noise gate to "chatter"."

As noted, I applied the Expander to some compressed material and detected an increase in the dynamic range of the sample. I can see some good use for this as a restorative plugin, to fix some problems. As a noise gate, the Expander is easy to use as a noise gate just as described by Mr. Campbell.

PhaseOne


The Coyote PhaseOne features:

  • Sine and triangle-wave low-frequency oscillator (LFO)
  • Selectable number of allpass blocks (ie. peaks and notches), from 1 to 10
  • Built-in filters to allow phasing of specific ranges of frequencies
  • Clipping indicator

I will admit that I have never been a big fan of phaser-type effects. Thus, I knew I was approaching the PhaserOne with a bit of a predisposition. Thus, I gave it a really thorough, objective look. As it turns out, I liked the ease of use of the PhaseOne and its sound when used in moderation. For those that really look to use a phased sound this one fits the bill. As you can see, it has several sliders, 1.) Input gain -10 to 0, 2.) Frequency Pre-Filter, 3.) LFO Rate, 4.) All-pass notch 1-10, 5.), and Feedback settings. Each of these can be adjusted with the left mouse button or by inputting with the keyboard.

Depending on what the user wants - a moderate amount of phase can add a depth to an audio signal. This was particularly true with my acoustic instruments like a guitar or to a vocal track. In addition, if the user is trying for something dramatic, it can do some very extreme things as well. Just try putting the feedback to settings over +\- 90%. The result is a metallic-sounding harsh effect. As a phaser, the PhaseOne works well.


Compressor

The Coyote Compressor features:

  • Emulation of several compression elements (electro-optical, VCA, etc.)
  • Amplitude detection (Peak or RMS)
  • Numerous presets to emulate classic compressors
  • Knee control
  • Sidechain filters for specific applications (de-essing or frequency isolation from compression)

I really like this compressor. It is easy to use and sounds very good. The presets are a good place to start. The compressor has standard features one would expect in a this effect and a side-chain filter to isolate frequencies that is not usual.

Across the top from left to right are four buttons for selection of linked stereo, peak selection, compression elements emulation, and Max GR (Maximum Gain Reduction)(GR<20dB, GR<30dB, GR<40dB). Next is the output gain slider and then next to it is the threshold limiter. Along the bottom are the sliders for threshold, ratio and knee softness. Next are sliders for attack and release rates, then the sidechain filter to isolate frequencies. On the far right, is a graphical interface for the compressor - - this can be switched between amplitude, frequency or block diagram views.

Like the other effects, adjustments to the settings can be done with a left-click mouse and drag, by clicking on the window and typing in a specific value or by clicking once on the slider and using your cursor keys up and down. It is easy to use and to understand.

Conclusion

Coyote has put together a set of effects that are easy to use and understand. They are certainly competitively prices and all sound good. The compressor is especially useful, particularly with its side-chain feature. The Chorus provides rich-sounding effects to the audio signal. The only suggestion I would have is I would be curious to see what Coyote would do with a reverb effect.