Infected Mushroom in collaboration with Polyverse has developed the Manipulator plugin. They called it the “Ultimate Vocal Warping Plug-in”, so let’s check it.
Manipulator is mainly a vocal transformation processor plugin effect that uses unique granular algorithms in order to manipulate the timbre and pitch of your vocal recordings or any isntrument in multiple creative ways. Thus, the algorithms allow for warping and processing of the sound color and pitch in real-time, which sometimes produce very unusual sounds.
Manipulator is divided into several effect groups: Pitch with Formant, Harmonics with Ratio and FM as well as Alternate with Octave – more than 10 different effects are including.
In addition, the parameters Detune, Smear, and Glide can be edited via special controls. The lower third of the plugin consists of envelope curves and LFOs with different waveforms.
So far, sounds simple enough? I thought that too.
The graphical user interface is very well designed with an attractive modern high-tech look and quite intuitive and easy to use. Delving into the presets, I found without realizing that I was doing something that I have never once done in my music production life: I was singing (abet very badly I must add).
From subtle pitching to bizarre, this VST unlocks potential in all of us that we as producers, and not singers, would rarely utilize. The effects are hard to describe in text, but if any of you are familiar with Infected Mushroom’s work, you will instantly recognize the foundation of their signature alien vocal sound.
But the Manipulator VST for me is more…
It overcame my apprehensiveness to raise my singing voice above that of a whisper (or above the loud hum of my electric shower). The Manipulator actually does what most claim to do, but are usually somewhat lacking: inspires creativity! When I started testing the Manipulator plugin, I was self-conscious and very aware of my own voice.
I was softly making “oohs” and “ahhs” into my mic that barely registered on the master meter. Within twenty minutes, and housemates coming home, there are 4 of us sounding like we are having mild seizures seated in front of the mic. Without planning or intention, I was now collaborating with three other people, without hesitation or care that they heard my voice. This is the majesty of this program.
Yes, it is easy to get great sounds from Manipulator. The pitching, formant, and harmonics all sound smooth and lack the digital distortion that can appear when transposing audio, which is more than I can say about my pitch when singing, but it is the sheer simple fun of using it that has captivated me. I now find more vocal sounds coming out of me and into the voice recorder on my phone, my Zoom H6 recorder, or anything that can put sound to storage.
Manipulator is available for the regular price of $149 USD. The plugin is offered in the formats such as VST, AU, and AAX and is compatible with Windows (from XP) and Mac OS X (from 10.6).