We’re in an industry where emulation plugins are readily produced, and a developer’s idea of an upgrade is to add functionalities that rival the complexity of the plugin’s algorithms. It’s often challenging to find a powerful distortion plugin. I assure you with certainty that denise has delivered a distortion worthy of heavenly praise with God Mode.
The key component of God Mode is the “push-pull” signal flow pioneered by the Pultec EQ. The Pultec pushes the gain of specific frequencies through tube circuits, achieving harmonic distortion, and then pulls back to smooth everything out. This process resulted in an incredibly musical sounding piece of hardware. It was hard to make this gear sound bad, even when pushed to its absolute limits.
God Mode carries that same musical DNA. As you push audio through various distortion algorithms and add harmonic character, you can then pull back to find the sweet spot within the context of your project. Technical aspects aside, let’s look at what it’s like to work with denise’s creative take on distortion.
As you open God Mode, you are greeted with a minimal GUI. The intentions to make the user think about distortion differently are clear, as the top half of the plugin is taken up by an easy to use parametric EQ. This EQ consists of a high and low shelf and four peak filters. As you add gain to each filter point, that particular band is pushed through the distortion, similarly to multiband distortion, yet with the intuitiveness of working with an EQ.
Every filter is phase linear and can be used on a bus, and the dry/wet controls are adjusted with no phase alterations. While this does naturally introduce latency, there is a Live button at the top of the plugin that provides a zero-latency recording option.
Underneath the EQ graph is a simple yet powerful strip of controls. The first being Random, and when clicked, the six filters will be assigned random frequency, gain, and Q. This allows you to dial in other settings to your liking, then quickly and randomly adjust the frequencies these settings affect. I found the Random button to be an excellent alternative to flipping through presets. It brings a fresh and unique timbre to your personalized distortion settings.
Moving on from Random, you will see the three distortion types: Tape, Warp, and Buzz. The most unassuming is Tape; however, I find it the most fun and creative distortion to use. Alongside the slider labeled Tape is a Side-Tape button. When activated, you can route an external audio signal into God Mode, and it will determine how distortion is applied based on the input of that external signal. It is an incredibly useful tool for adding unique movement to your track.
An example of using the Side-Tape feature is to load God Mode onto a vocal and use drums to trigger distortion, instant movement, and character with no tedious automation. Neat!
The next two distortion types are Warp and Buzz. The overdriven sound of Warp adds a lovely sheen to the high end when used moderately. Buzz’s waveshaping distortion add tons of weight to the low end and gives the top end a nice smear that I think Lo-Fi fans will appreciate. All of the distortion types can be simultaneously used to varying degrees using their amount sliders.
Under the EQ graph and distortion sliders are the remaining controls laid out before you. There are no separate windows, tabs, drop-down boxes, or anything else to obstruct quick and creative decision making. The usual suspects are here, such as pre/post-filtering, a dry/wet mix control, and makeup gain.
There are a few welcome additions to the parameters you have at your fingertips, such as the “pull” slider. As explained, this pulls back on the signal running through the distortion, allowing you to massage the added harmonics into something more fitting for your use case. Another notable feature is the independent pan controls for the dry and wet signal, something straightforward but useful for adding width to a track.
In a similar vein is the “Split” button at the top right of the plugin. Hitting this introduces a very slight delay between the dry and effected signal, increasing the perceived stereo width.
Almost everything in God Mode can be automated, including Live and Split, the exception being the Random button. Every setting is clearly labeled within your DAW, making automation a breeze. Linear phase filters, mix controls, independent pan for dry/wet signal, and the split feature provides precision when using this product.
Having these things removes the need to add this on a buss channel or worry about the introduction of phase issues. The “set it and forget it” workflow makes sense with God Mode, especially knowing that you will not sacrifice control or audio fidelity.
There are plenty of products that feel like entire workstations, with manuals that span hundreds of pages. It is delightful to see denise offer a plugin in the opposite direction. This product gives excellent sonic potential, with an interface that stays out of your way while providing unlimited creative possibilities to sound designers and a powerful sculpting tool to mix engineers.
God Mode by denise is hands-down worth the regular €69 asking price. However, at the time of writing this review, you can pick it up for an introductory price of €32.
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More info: denise God Mode (€69)
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denise God Mode Review
God Mode by denise gives excellent sonic potential, with an interface that stays out of your way while providing unlimited creative possibilities to sound designers and a powerful sculpting tool to mix engineers.