Black Rooster Audio has introduced The Canary, a surprisingly effective virtual effect designed for adding punch and body to drums and other percussive instruments.
Coming from an unknown developer and sporting a somewhat unusual user interface, I wasn’t expecting much from The Canary to begin with. It just looked a bit odd to me at first sight. The fact that there isn’t much information about the plugin on the product page didn’t really help spark my interest, either. As it turns out, I’ll need to take my VST goodness radar for a major overhaul, because this thing is actually a neat little freebie that does wonders on percussive material.
The Canary is a very useful tool for processing drums and other percussive elements of a mix, standing somewhere between a transient shaper and a parallel EQ in terms of functionality. The GUI does look a bit unusual (just a matter of taste really – I’ve never been into Steampunk myself), but it’s nicely laid out and very user friendly, with just five knobs and an on/off button. The attack knob isolates the attack transients in the processed signal, leading to a punchier and more focused drum sound. The 4-way filter switch colors the processed sound in a pleasing way, bringing out different parts of the spectrum. The plugin really shines when you find the attack knob’s sweet spot and then use the filter and mix controls to blend the processed signal with the original. With correct settings, the plugin can really turn a dull drum track into a solid hard-hitting rhythmic sequence.
The sustain module doesn’t really click with me, though. It produces something that sounds like very fast delay, whereas the the sustain knob controls the amount of feedback and the pitch knob controls the pitch of the delayed signal. Perhaps I’m not figuring something out here (please correct me in the comments section below if you understand how to use the sustain knob properly), but I’ve gotten the best results with The Canary when setting the sustain to zero and playing around with the filter, attack and mix controls as described above.
Please note that you’ll need to sign up for a user account at the Black Rooster Audio website in order to download your free copy of The Canary. The plugin is distributed in a ZIP archive containing an installer, however the installation process is simple and unobtrusive. The activation process is easy as well – simply log in to your user account when starting the plugin for the first time and it will activate automatically (offline activation process is offered as an alternative).
A big shout-out goes to our reader Ouroboroz for sending us a link to this awesome freebie. Many thanks for your continued support!
The Canary is available for free download via Black Rooster Audio (82.5 MB download size, ZIP archive containing EXE installer, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin format for Windows & Mac OS).