Melda Production produce an array of accomplished plug-ins that tackle everything from functional tasks like dynamics and delay to more creative options like auto-equalisation. They've also used their multiband plug-in framework on a host of their plug-ins, making serious multiband processing an option in some unexpected places. Given its name, you'd think their new plug-in MWobbler would be just a dubstep-style modulation plug-in designed for synced wobble-bass effects. And it is, kind of. But its capabilities take it beyond that specific remit. In essence, it's a multipurpose plug-in with two filters, a dedicated LFO and an amplitude envelope follower with sidechaining.
Each section is enormously flexible, particularly the filters and LFO. There are 98 filter options, with traditional shapes such as low-, high-, band-pass and notching available in curves up to the extremely steep 120dB/octave. There are also vowel shapes, comb and diffuser types, harmonic content-generating filters, combination styles and polymorph filters. (The latter include adjustable internal structures controlled by the "character" setting.) Filters also include drive and saturation settings for further fine-tuning.
MWobbler's LFO includes regular shapes like sine, triangle and ramp, either synchronised or in free time. However, you can also shift gradually—0 to 100%—between these and custom shapes you modify in the "edit signal shape" sub-window. One further sub-window, the step sequencer, allows you to piece together a step pattern (between two and 32 steps) from a palette of preset shapes. Once again, rather than off or on, this can be gradually blended using the step sequencer control. Thus, the LFO can also be used as a step sequencer. Oscillators can also be represented and edited as harmonics, controllable by level and phase. It's a powerful feature that might leave you wondering why all LFOs aren't built this way. Further features include a fully adjustable EQ solely for sidechaining the envelope follower, plus an external sidechain option should your host DAW support it. There are also various sorts of parameter randomisation.
The plug-in comes with Melda's standard features, which include flexible oversampling (x1 to x16), mid/side and multichannel signal processing, eight easy-access memory locations, morphing between memory locations, optional automatic gain compensation, four configurable modulators (with multiple destinations for each) and four multi-parameter controls. The latter can manipulate one or more parameter from a single control. They appear in the "easy edit" screen as large controller knobs and allow for quick, creative control. There are also 16 categorised active presets down the left side to get you started. These are sourced from the main preset library, which includes over 200 categorised presets. Many, though not all of these, also include easy edit assignments.
If this all sounds slightly over-engineered, then be warned: you'll find even more settings and parameters in deeper sub-windows. In my experience this is very much the Melda way, making their plug-ins useful on many levels, from quick-and-dirty to deep and finessed. To really appreciate what's on offer, you'll need a quick read of the manual and some experimentation.
Sound-wise, the first thing to appreciate is the vast selection of filter types. These form the basis of each effect, and a quick spin through them demonstrates how easy it is to create everything from cool regular filter sweeps to phase-y, comb-filtered sounds. Different filter types incur different CPU usage, though, and this becomes more obvious with higher oversampling settings. The active presets down the left make great starting points. They are categorized by general characteristics: polymorph (with or without pitch detection), wobbling, rhythmatize, auto-wah and sidechain filter. Each has slightly different underlying features; for example, there are four polymorph presets based on low-, band-pass, diffuser and comb filters, respectively.
Understandably, the four large controller knobs are assigned to different tasks depending on the type of preset. The wobbling options, for example, include speed, aggression (filter drive and saturation), brightness and character, while the polymorph includes speed, filter type, dry/wet mix and character. As noted, these controls can influence more than one parameter, so here the character control is influencing the filter cutoff, resonance and character parameters simultaneously.
Of the active presets, the "rhythmize" options, which put the LFO to use as step sequencer, are by far the most interesting. The rhythm control in fact modifies the pattern, switching shapes from the step sequencer edit palette. Naturally, you can also edit all active presets in more depth via the main edit screen, and in the above example you can then grab the "smoothness" parameter to even out transitions in the step-sequencer pattern. Rather usefully, the multiparameters are still accessible via sliders at the bottom of the window.
I worked my way through MWobbler's 200 categorised presets to see what was on offer, and there are some real gems. The pad category includes over 50 presets ranging from pulsing rhythms to panning modulations. The clean category also includes some quality settings such as the diffuser-based Maltreat Scar and the subtle Rivet Dominatrices. I expected the extreme category to be dominated by distorted or saturated effects, but there are plenty of more creative sounds here, too, like the filtered panning of Istanbul Visible and bubbling sound of Posted Forgetfulness. A final category for drums brings together more rhythmic effects.
Aside from some CPU issues when using MWobbler to full capacity, I really like this effect. If you view it as a powerful filter with excellent time-based modulation rather than a gimmicky plug-in aimed at one genre, then you can use it to create all sorts of dynamic sounds. At times it can appear complex, but the excellent active presets and easy pages feel less impenetrable. If you have time for some serious tweaking, it has plenty of depth to hold your interest.