soniccharge _ Permut8 [Review]
There’s certainly no shortage of emulated vintage analogue plugins in the world of computer music… which is perhaps why Sonic Charge have raised many eyebrows with their new effect : an emulated vintage digital plugin.
Since delivering the highly functional – yet straight edged drumsynth “µTonic” in 2003, Sonic Charge have headed into a more esoteric direction; hosting the evolution-based µTonic pattern generator “Patternarium” on their website, and unleashing the unconventional “Synplant” VSTi which encourages patch creation using genetics and mutation. Now they introduce Permut8, a plugin that “embraces the sound of primitive digital signal processing hardware”… and will probably make plenty of sense if you owned a fridge sized computer in the 1960s.
Permut8 is based around a 12 bit delay buffer – written to and read from at a user defined, host-syncable, and wonderfully tweakable clock speed. Two serial “instruction” sections determine how, where and which direction the audio is read back from the buffer – and this is where the fun really begins.
Each instruction has two 8-bit parameters; with each bit represented by a switch to toggle between 0 and 1. Playing with the switches is where many happy accidents will happen – although you’ll also find some method to the madness. A wide range of effects are able to be recreated – bitcrusher, flanger, delay, rhythmic buffer shuffler, circuit bent nastiness and many more that are harder to define.
There are also some analogue controls such as an overdrivable input stage, a simple LP/HP filter, and a feedback control to send the output signal back into the digital signal processing section for further destruction.
If this isn’t enough, Permut8 also has one hell of an easter egg: a retro terminal window with it’s own OS! Here you can load alternate “firmware”, use the decompiler to help you program your own custom firmware, and even revisit the classic 80s text to speech synthesiser “S.A.M.”. Hilariously, there is absolutely no documentation for the terminal window, which sums up the plugin perfectly – play with it, and see where it takes you.
There’s no doubt – Permut8 is techno nerd heaven. Recreate classic effects or make your own. Mangle the hell out of any sound, or just add some dirt. It’s fun, will charm you with it’s retro character, and most importantly : sounds awesome.