Resonator effects are my absolute favorite sound design tools. Unfortunately, the most useful resonator effects are restricted to host applications and programming environments you may not have access to. Finally, there’s a third-party, cross-platform plugin solution…
Superchord by LMDSP has twelve parallel resonators intended to simulate sympathetic strings, similar to the stringed instruments of Hindustani classical music, even though Superchord is cable of modulation effects such as rotary and phaser effects, and also reverb effects.
Another major selling point is (say it with me, loud and proud) FULLY POLYPHONIC MIDI INPUT!
Each of the twelve resonators include basic controls for individual notes, up to seven octaves, a “Pan” fader, a small level meter indicating the output signal, “Level” and “Detune” parameters and two buttons for muting (red) and soloing (green). There are also “Master Mute/Solo” buttons in the bottom-left corner of the UI, plus additional master controls to the right of the resonator section that allow you to transpose either notes or octaves up or down for all resonators at once, and two knobs down below for “Gain” in decibels and “Tuning” in hertz, set by default to 440Hz concert pitch.
If you right-click any of the labels to the left of the resonator section (note, octave, pan, level and detune) a context menu will appear with a list of options enabling you to set every other note to a specific interval, “Randomize” or “Tilt” any one of the corresponding controls, arbitrarily “nudging” them by a small amount from their current position, set the resonator notes as a “Series” of chromatic intervals or even spread the octave range evenly throughout six octaves adjustable with the transposition buttons I mentioned earlier.
Instrument mode, accessible via the “FX” button (which will then display “INS”) opens up a hidden page with a simple ADSR envelope and two controls for adjusting the velocity dynamic “Range” and velocity to volume “Level” scaling. Right-click anywhere within the envelope module and a context menu will appear with a small handful of envelope presets; although I’m sure many more will be included in future updates. In fact, developer and founder of LMDSP Lorcan Mc Donagh has assured me that a good number of new features on his ‘to-do’ list are intended for Instrument Mode, which is one of the most exciting features Superchord has on offer. Many plugins have MIDI input, but 12 voice polyphony is serious business.
There are two modulation sources, both of which have “Mod” depth controls: a basic envelope follower with attack and release controls and a host-syncable LFO with eleven waveforms and three modulation “directions” (up, down, both). There are three modulation targets: gain, (filter) frequency and pitch. I have discussed the possibility of additional modulation with the developer and he seems intent on expanding on this area, though much is possible with the modulation options presently available.
Also, there’s an analog-modelled filter (which can be modulated at audio-rate) with three filter shapes (lowpass, bandpass and highpass), a “Fat” filter model with a distinctly more resonant, dare I say “juicy” character and a “Pre/Post” button that will either position the filter before or after the resonator output; the Saturation module has something similar, but in “Reso” mode, the saturation stage is applied to the output of each resonator individually, which is a lot more noticeable than “Post” mode.
The Dynamics module has Attack, Release, Ratio and Threshold parameters that determine the behavior of an internal “energy limiter” acting on the “total internal energy” of each resonator in order to model the nonlinear vibrations of a plucked string. Controls like these and those in the Resonator Model Panel let you tailor resonances to your specific needs.
The modelling controls allow you to adjust the overall “Damping” of each resonator, “Mistune” resonators by a small amount in cents, attenuate high frequencies with the “Shimmer” control, adjust the amount of “Feedback” and the sympathetic resonance with the “Coupling” control, and perhaps a bit of lowpass filtering with the “Darkness” control, above a little grey button that will open up a hidden panel of “Advanced Controls” that you will probably never use, but they are there if you need them…
The Advanced Controls allow you to really color the overall character and tone of your resonator output. “Tracking” the base frequency with a simple highpass filter enables you to readjust the bottom end. The “Pluck Position” simulates picking/plucking a string in different places. At zero, harmonics will be quite bright, but as you increase the Pluck Position, the harmonics will become warmer. Also, there are controls for adjusting the vertical and horizontal polarization input/output mix ratio, dampening the summed output, or even simulating the string “Buzz” that occurs with instruments with poor intonation.
Superchord is the most musical resonator effect I’ve ever used. Anyone with a basic knowledge of chord formulas and diatonic harmony will have a blast designing custom presets for it. But there are also quite a few wonderful factory patches already available within the Preset Manager, such as the “Cosmos Verb” preset that provides a great example of how the resonators can be tuned chromatically for use as a reverb, and also the “Breathing Rotator” preset, which sounds incredible with electric guitar!
I’ve enjoyed Superchord as a complementary send effect with musical source material and as a powerful sound design tool for use with non-musical field recordings and foley sounds in the process of designing huge atmospheric drones and beautiful soundscapes. I really can’t say too many good things about it.
If you’re into live performance and deeply creative sound design, you need this!
More info: LMDSP Superchord (€99)
LMDSP Superchord Review
Superchord is the most musical resonator effect we’ve ever used. Anyone with a basic knowledge of chord formulas and diatonic harmony will have a blast designing custom presets for it.