Today we will be looking at Wave Warper by SoundMorph. WaveWarper is another Max based Doppler engine though it predates Whoosh. Let us see how WaveWarper compares to Whoosh and where its strong points are.
As mentioned Wave Warper is a Max MSP based Doppler engine that tries to create various whoosh and pass-by effects. It doesn’t come with any additional content to play with and it is a standalone application. In both WaveWarper and Whoosh, additional content is a bonus if presented but it is not a major deal breaker if you ask me since, ultimately, you would want to use your own samples in both applications.
Overview of “Wave Warper`s” main features
There are six samplers divided into 3 by 2 (A, B, C) sample players. Each can hold an individual sample and you also have a main folder from which each sampler can take sounds, aside from the samples already in each slot. They are fairly basic and, when I say basic, I mean really basic. There is only one purpose that these samplers have and that is to loop the sound. The rest is controlled via a X and Y matrix. I don’t know about you but I would prefer to see more options in the sampler other than “Solo” and “Mute”.
Below all of the samplers in the sampler section is a “Fluctoator”, a sort of volume control automation that you can turn on or off in the individual sampler. That is a nice addition and it does its job as it’s supposed to. You can control “Range” and “Rate” but you cannot automate it.
Samplers are then routed through the plugin section into a compressor then “prewarper”, then through the Doppler engine and through a “master” limiter.
The Warper (Doppler engine)
The “Wave Warper” holds every parameter for you to control the movement of the sound as it should. You can play the sound automatically or manually. If you play the sound automatically you can control the speed of the playback and of course all of the parameters for the Doppler engine. Playing the sounds automatically can give you some nice results and quick ideas but what you want is to have full control of the sound and this is where manual mode shines. The sound is played through an X and Y matrix based on the movement of your mouse (or TouchOSC or Leap motion). You can also set the delay of the movement so that you can get a sort of natural pass by in case you don’t have a steady hand. Again you can load any of the VSTs you have on your computer (up to 10 VSTs) and assign them to the X/Y matrix. A fun feature if you ask me.
Below you will find a “Group C Trigger spot” or in laymen’s terms, a simple Doppler engine in a matrix based layout. Now, if you have previously bought Glactic Assistant you will most likely feel at home in this section as it has the same design (or a control scheme) that you are used to in Galactic Assistant.
You have a set of four parameters through which you will control the motion of the whoosh. Volume, pan, pitch and filter all of which you modify to your likings. The default settings are made to emulate the Doppler engine and to some extent, it is really great. I do enjoy “Wave Warper”, perhaps for the completely wrong reasons. Although it does a pretty good job in making whooshes, I find it best if you use it for other types of sound effects. This is where I find the hidden potential in Wave Warper. With ease you can make beautiful sound movement out of any sound though you have to be careful not to use short samples as they can get quite annoying. I think the developer could expand on that and could create a really nice blender of sounds.
There are not many included effects in Wave Warper mainly because you can use your own and that is ok. The ones that are included are fairly standard and do a good job of shaping the sound of a whoosh.
The Wind: A nice noise generator to add to your sound. Since it can stand on its own (without you having to load any samples) you can create a nice set of windy type whooshes. You will find all of the needed controls here (Noise volume, Whistle volume, Random rate and random amount).
The LFO: Good low frequency oscillator to create and sell the proper stutter effect. All of the needed controls are here. You have three types of LFOs at your disposal: Sine, Square and Triangle, all of which do a good job of shaping the sound.
The filter: You have several filters at your disposal (lowpass, highpass, bandpass, notch and few other types) and all shape the sound fairly well. One thing that bugged me was the way you control the EQ of a filter. I am not sure whether this is a bug or just me not having a clue on how to control this thing but shaping the curve in the EQ seems a bit off as it does not respond to mouse movement for some reason (at least not in my case) though you can control it via added controls.
The Reverb: Reverb is placed in the master bus section and does a good job of adding some presence to your sound.
The Limiter: does what it’s supposed to do and have all of the needed controls (input gain, threshold and output gain). Output gain is better left alone as it will clip almost instantly even with a slight change.
The user interface is fairly clean and it looks rather good. In the centre you will find your samplers and above those you will find an activation button (the one that starts the engine). On the right side you will have control over the movement of the sound and above that an “automatic” and “manual” mode of playing the sound. The left side of the screen is filled with the previously mentioned “Prewarper” effects and a limiter. At the very bottom you will find the filter settings.
The main problem I find with Wave Warper is that it does not work as a VST so you can only use it as a standalone app. I have also noticed a couple of bugs regarding the saving and or exporting the sound. In my case when I recorded some of the whooshes they landed in a different folder. Now, that could be the fact that I had set something wrong but whenever I’ve clicked “save as” the saved file always landed in WaveWarper folder under some different name which, you might rightly assume, can be a bit of a pain. I have had the same issue with Galactic assistant.
Another issue I find is with its plugin folder which runs based on whether you have 32 or 64 bit system installed on your computer (you can choose which version of Wave Warper to run though). You can specify the VSTPlugins location but there is no bridge to connect both 32 or 64 bit plugins (which I think is the limitation of Max) so you will have to run two separate instances of Wave Warper if you want to use 32 or 64 bit plugins.
WaveWarper vs Whoosh
In general Wave Warper is a cheaper solution (price $69) if you don’t have Native Instruments Reaktor (“Whoosh” doesn’t work with Reaktor Player). However if you do own a Reaktor, Whoosh might be your choice (if you are looking for a tool that creates whooshes only) simply because it offers more for the price ($79).
At first I thought that both applications are fairly similar but I think I was wrong. They do the same thing in a nutshell but the way they do it is completely different which enables both to have a slight edge over another. “Whoosh” mainly helps you create whooshes and pass bys and it can also be used as an impact generator while “Wave Warper” can also be used as a sound manipulation tool. In terms of which is better at creating whoosh effects I would say that “Whoosh” takes the crown because I find it to have a better organized GUI (having additional effects is a bonus) and have a better sound output but in terms of price vs value I would say “Wave Warper” beats “Whoosh” if you do not own Reaktor ($399). The “Whoosh” has a more natural sound output than WaveWarper which I find to have more futuristic type output and that is not necessarily what you are always looking for.
I will leave the choice up to you to decide on which one to purchase.
I find “Wave Warper” to be a great sound manipulation tool and not so great Doppler engine simply because I had more fun creating other type of sound effects with it. Of course whooshes depend on the quality of the samples you are using but I always got that futuristic sound out of Wave Warper (almost no matter what type of sound I used) which necessarily isn’t such a bad thing if that is what you are looking for.