Today we’re taking a look at Pumper, an affordable 3-in-1 saturation and compression tool aimed at EDM producers. The plugin, developed by W.A. Production, is available for purchase via Pluginboutique and comes (for a limited time only) with a free Xfer Serum sound bank.
Pumper features three FX modules: a compressor, a saturation effect, and a stereo enhancer. These are also available for purchase as three separate and equally priced plugins (Pumper Stereo Imager, Pumper Compressor, and Pumper Saturator, all priced at £12.99), although we’re focusing exclusively on the 3-in-1 version of the plugin in this review.
The plugin was obviously developed to be as streamlined and easy to operate as possible. The interface features only five knobs: two gain controls (input/output) and the intensity controls for each of the three built-in effects. Apart from these, the only remaining control is the mode 4-way switch for choosing the compressor mode (punchy, fat, clean, or soft).
In day-to-day use, the simple control scheme works very well. Although some users would probably prefer to have more control over each effect, Pumper was clearly aimed at producers who seek a quick and efficient workflow in a multi-FX plugin.
One thing I feel is missing in Pumper is a mix knob, a simple feature that would make it a far more capable parallel processing utility. Of course, there’s always the old AUX send workaround, but I’d really like to see a mix knob added in a future update.
When it comes to the sonic character of its built-in effects, Pumper seems to be inspired by several popular EDM mixing and sound design tools like OTT (a freeware one-knob compressor by Xfer Records) and Sausage Fattener (the now legendary saturation tool by Dada Life). Pumper actually serves as a slightly more flexible alternative to these two popular plugins, as it offers similar sounding results with a somewhat more tweakable sound engine.
Pumper’s compressor, stereo enhancer, and saturation modules sound slightly “over the top”, as they’re intended for use on dense EDM mixes. The saturation module is good at adding “bite” to the processed sound without sounding too harsh and over-distorted. It works very well on synthesized leads and basslines, as well as on processed vocals. The stereo widener is an interesting one, as it brightens the processed audio signal quite significantly, in addition to widening the stereo image. The effect can enhance pads and background vocals rather nicely, although the high-frequency boost won’t work very well on all track elements.
Arguably the best of the three is Pumper’s compressor, a simple a but rather effective dynamics processor when used on the right audio source. It is a rather brutal compressor design which reminds me quite a lot of the old Rough Rider plugin by Audio Damage, although W.A. Production’s product is a bit more straightforward to use for beginners. The four compression modes are drastically different, ranging from the rather attack-heavy “Punchy” mode which works well for enhancing transients to the limiter-style “Clean” mode which will compress the living hell out of anything you pass through it. Obviously, this compressor isn’t something you’d want to use on a jazz mix, but it’s just the right tool for giving your electronic tracks the modern “full-on” compression treatment.
Another aspect worth mentioning is Pumper’s surprisingly low CPU consumption. I was expecting to see a much higher CPU hit than the 2% in Studio One’s performance meter. This is a good thing, of course, and it means that Pumper could easily be used on multiple channels throught the mix without any drastic implications on the overall performance.
For a streamlined 3-in-1 processing utility aimed at EDM production, Pumper does a pretty good job. It delivers a solid toolbox of modern compression and saturation effects packed in an extremely easy to use interface. Its compression and saturation modules are on par with some of the most popular EDM plugins on the market and the CPU consumption is among the lowest I’ve seen in similar products. Although I’d love to see a mix knob added in a future update, the simple and easy-to-use control scheme makes Pumper a great choice for beginner producers who’d like to add a bit of punch and modern character to their EDM mixes.
Pumper is also quite reasonably priced and bundled with a collection of presets for Xfer Serum, one of the finest virtual instruments around. Keep in mind, though, that the bundle offer ends on April 9th.
More info: Pumper ($29, includes the Pumped: Serum Dubstep Essentials sound bank)
Pumper delivers a solid toolbox of modern compression and saturation effects packed in an extremely easy to use interface. Its compression and saturation modules are on par with some of the most popular EDM plugins on the market.