Review Cableguys PanShaper
Today I’m going to have a look at PanShaper stereo width plugin by Cableguys. A stereo panning plug-in that could very well be the new ultimate choice for all panning needs. It features a very clear and intuitive interface that makes it easy and comfortable to dial in simple or complex panning patterns. It is a great help to add extra stereo movement and interest to your different instruments and tracks. It also does a great job of visualizing how your panning patterns related to the audio that you’re manipulating.
PanShaper comes with a large selection of pre-designed patterns to choose from, and it is equally easy to dial in your own shapes and waveforms. The panning patterns can be either matched with the beat of the track or a specific Hertz rate can be dialed in.
Another interesting feature is the included crossover section that enables us to separate up to three frequency bands, and manipulate stereo width and panning separately for each of those bands. All in all a pretty interesting and useful set of features, so let’s have a look at some of them in a little more detail.
PanShaper‘s interface is very well-organized and its sleek great design with a few highlighted colors makes it intuitive and easy to navigate.
The graph on the left side shows the audio that is being manipulated. By double-clicking and dragging I can add and move points within the panning curve. Left-clicking on them will be the point while right-clicking allows me to cycle through a selection of curvature settings. By right-clicking somewhere in the background of the graph I can select all points at once, and then drag them around together or stretch them.
Right-clicking in the empty area will bring up a context menu. From here it is possible to copy and paste, change the grid to triplets, flip the channels, activate step drawing, and select all points.
The Crossover section in the top right corner allows for the isolation of up to three bands. The crossover points for those bands can be dragged in from the left and right and are by default set to a 6 dB crossover but can also be set to a more surgical 12 dB crossover. Each band can be set to stereo, left or right individually and offers individual stereo width control as well. The small S in the top right corner solos the different bands and the arrow symbol expands the crossover section for more detailed control.
The predesigned wave shapes are located just below the crossover section. They come in the categories of basic, edge, rhythm, and creative. Custom shapes can also be saved in the “local” category below. All the standard shapes that you would expect are covered and can be easily loaded and then altered depending on your needs.
The master section controls the overall mix between the wet and dry signals on the channel. The drop-down below the knob offers a selection of panning modes. (or
“pan laws”, whatever you prefer), of which the top two seem to be the most useful for most applications.
The LFO section on the right controls the frequency to which the panning is synced as well as the length of the loop. When synced to beat the length will be controlled in bars and the frequency and steps such as 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16. Alternatively, the panning can be synced to a specifically selected Hertz rate. Both beat and Hertz are synced with the tempo of the host software and the song. Further options include MIDI triggered synchronization with Hertz, beat or pitch as well as MIDI one shot triggers for pitch and Hertz.
The presets that come with PanShaper can be accessed via the top bar library button. Within the library top, user presets can be shared with the online community as well as download.
The eight buttons in the middle offer some shortcuts to often used functions, such as undo and redo, up and down, randomize, snap to grid, step drawing and delete.
I’ve tried PanShaper in a few different situations. Overall it is a very solid and useful tool. It is very versatile and reliable and offers a tone of possibilities. In some cases, it’s actually a lot more than I think I would need, but it’s extra capabilities for very detailed dynamic manipulation certainly come in handy most of the time.
What stood out to me especially is that the panning modes allow you to make up for the felt loss of volume, that is often created by channel strip panning plug-ins. While unusual I find this very cool, since it saves me the extra step of boosting the signal later, and also allows me to get very creative with extreme boosts under very fast oscillation times in specific frequencies.
Considering the price point of just below $40 I would recommend this to anyone who uses panning in their productions and isn’t on a $0 budget. Like most of the time, there are certainly other ways of achieving the same result. But in this case, PanShaper makes it easy, efficient, and fast. And that’s why I would recommend it. And obviously, for those who are not using panning: “start using it”. It is important!
PanShaper stereo width plugin is available for both Windows and MAC users, in VST or AU plugin format (32-bit & 64-bit).
If you want to see the plug-in in action before you go and grab it, just head over to the PluginBoutique website. They were nice enough to include a nifty short video explaining and showing off PanShaper.
Buy Link: PanShaper