Low Wave Studios offers SpikeQ, a freeware EQ-enhanced transient shaper effect. SpikeQ is available for download in 64-bit AU and VST3 formats for macOS and Windows.
Transient shapers are essential to any mix engineer, whether it’s increasing the attack, removing reverb, or removing mic bleed. They are often the unsung heroes of a good mix, too.
Compression, reverb, and the other usual suspects take more of the spotlight. But, when nothing less than surgical precision will do, a transient shaper is what you need.
SpikeQ isn’t a complicated plugin by any means, but it’s a clever plugin. The standard controls for the average transient shaper are attack, sustain/release, and gain. SpikeQ goes a little bit further, adding 4 semi-parametric EQ bands ( low/high shelves and 2 peak bands).
The EQ bands make it possible to boost specific frequencies on the attack portion of the sound. Basically, it allows you to be even more surgical in how you shape the sound.
Generally speaking, SpikeQ is a fairly aggressive transient shaper. Aggressive in the sense that you can do an awful lot of boosting. There’s also an x2 Amount switch if you want a much harsher effect or if your source has a low dynamic range.
The cool thing about SpikeQ is that, while it’s aggressive, you can still do lots of boosting without needing to enter that harsh effect territory. At times, it can make a lot of work seem quite subtle, and that’s great.
It has a clipper section with oversampling to counter aliasing and phase distortion. Even with oversampling, SpikeQ is pretty kind to your CPU. Beyond the EQ and clipper section, you have controls for attack, release, output (pre-clipper), and dry/wet mix.
The GUI is more good than bad; it’s simple and easy to follow, but it’s a little fidgety at times. Future updates will likely take care of any GUI issues, and by all accounts, it’s not a major complaint.
Potential updates could also see the ability to cut frequencies rather than boost only. We recently covered another Low Wave Studios plugin, Track24 Tape Saturation. So, I think it’s only fair to point out that LWS is a one-man-band, dedicating time and effort to provide free plugins.
The thing I like most about these plugins is that they take a creative approach instead of the most obvious approach, and that’s a credit to the developer.
Download: SpikeQ (4.2 MB download size, ZIP archive, 64-bit VST3/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)