Recording - January 2017 - 22

B Y PA U L V N U K J R .

SPL Transient Designer TDx
A 500 Series module that's magical on drums and more
In the late 1990s, Germany's Sound
Performance Labs (SPL) introduced the
Transient Designer, which has become a
studio staple worldwide for altering
audio sources' attack and decay.
Essentially it is a device that can
enhance or lessen the sharpness of a
source's attack-such as a stick hit, guitar pick, or piano strike-and it can
simultaneously exaggerate or constrain
the decay of a note or the boom of a
drum. It can even alter the decay of
sounds in your room mics!
Available over the years as 2- and 4channel rack units, RackPack module,
and authorized plug-in for native (Plugin
Alliance) and Universal Audio UAD-2
platforms, the newest Transient Designer
is the TDx, a single channel of Transient
Designer in the API 500 Series format.
Tour the TDx
TDx is a single-space module finished
in matte black. It features four butterysmooth black knobs: Attack (┬▒15 dB)
and Sustain (┬▒24 dB), Output Gain
(attenuation only, from -80 dB to 0),
and-new to the TDx-a wet/dry Mix
control. There's also a yellow signal LED
and an On/Bypass switch.
SPL notes that the TDx circuitry has been
expanded over the original and uses SPL's
Differential Envelope Technology (DET). Its
maximum input and output levels are +22
dBu and it has a 10 Hz-100 kHz frequency range with -93 dBu noise, 116
dB dynamic range, and 0.03% THD (at 0
dBu input level, unity gain).
In use
I tested the TDx in a Radial Engineering
Workhorse enclosure (reviewed October
2011) as well as an API 8-Slot lunchbox®
(reviewed December 2014) and it worked
perfectly in both.
I have been using the plug-in versions
of the Transient Designer for years, but I
don't own the hardware. My first reaction is the hardware TDx is much more
gentle than the plug-in; its sound is less
"effected" and there is smoother control.
The software, which does sound great,
22

RECORDING JANUARY 2017

kicks in much faster and little knob turns
are much more noticeable. I often find
this to be the case when comparing software to hardware, and the difference
can also be due to the level differences
in the analog vs. internal busing.
For initial setup, as with compression, I
will push a Transient Designer in either
direction (depending on what I am going
for) until it goes way over the top, and
then dial it back from there until it sits comfortably. While the TDx can go whole hog
and push sounds to extremes, it's also
very useful for adding or subtracting just a
tickle of attack and sustain to help sounds
sit in the mix. The TDx is quite sonically
transparent; the lows stay nice and full
and the highs are open and clean.
Drums and bass
The TDx can make a kick drum punch
with ease or make it grow gently in size
with more boom. On snare it can add
pop and attack, and lessen ring. Rather
than a gate, it acts more like a moon gel
or damping ring when you pull back on
the sustain.
I recorded one snare track with the
top and bottom mics summed to one
track, compressed on the way in and
slightly overdriven. We loved this dirty
massive snare sound during tracking,
but at mix time it was a bit too thick
and dirty, and many tight snare rolls
were lost. We tried EQ, but that literally
did not cut it.
I set the TDx with Attack at 3 o'clock
and Sustain at 10 o'clock to highlight
attack and cut some ringing, then set
Mix to 2 o'clock-not fully wet, but just
enough so the stick hits were tighter and
more noticeable in the vibey snare. It
sounded great, with no additional EQ
or compression necessary.
I got similar results on a picked punkstyle bass, where the TDx added some
extra click and aggression to the pick
hitting the strings. I also pushed the
Sustain over to add a little more lowend ringing in the notes, and the Mix
knob was perfect to blend in the added
colors to taste.

Guitars
On acoustic guitar, the TDx was nice
for adding definition to the strumming of
a rhythm track. Be careful, though-this
is one sound that can get a little too
over the top and unnatural quickly if
pushed too far. The attack will sound
aggressive, choked and artificial.
I also used it on a Fender Jazzmaster
through a vintage Fender Princeton amp
with tremolo. Here I added a touch of
attack to highlight the picking of the
notes, as well as make the tremolo attack
more defined. I also pushed the sustain
just to the point of unnaturalness and
then brought it back 10%. Then I again
used the Mix control to tuck it just under
the sound of the original track. That subtle blending helped pop the guitar out of
the mix with zero additional compression
and just a touch of high end EQ.
Final thoughts
This is a great effect to reach for before
you EQ or compress a track. It may not
always work, but when it does, it's magically
natural and clean-sounding. I can't believe
there's never been a Mix knob on a
Transient Designer before! I have found it
essential in my use and enjoyment of this
device. It's a simple extra feature that makes
an already beloved device even better. This
is a great addition to any 500 Series arsenal
that won't break the bank!
Price: $509
More from: SPL, www.spl.info;
dist. by Audio Plus Services,
www.audioplusservices.com


http://www.spl.info http://www.audioplusservices.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - January 2017

Contents
Recording - January 2017 - Intro
Recording - January 2017 - Cover1
Recording - January 2017 - Cover2
Recording - January 2017 - 1
Recording - January 2017 - 2
Recording - January 2017 - 3
Recording - January 2017 - 4
Recording - January 2017 - 5
Recording - January 2017 - Contents
Recording - January 2017 - 7
Recording - January 2017 - 8
Recording - January 2017 - 9
Recording - January 2017 - 10
Recording - January 2017 - 11
Recording - January 2017 - 12
Recording - January 2017 - 13
Recording - January 2017 - 14
Recording - January 2017 - 15
Recording - January 2017 - 16
Recording - January 2017 - 17
Recording - January 2017 - 18
Recording - January 2017 - 19
Recording - January 2017 - 20
Recording - January 2017 - 21
Recording - January 2017 - 22
Recording - January 2017 - 23
Recording - January 2017 - 24
Recording - January 2017 - 25
Recording - January 2017 - 26
Recording - January 2017 - 27
Recording - January 2017 - 28
Recording - January 2017 - 29
Recording - January 2017 - 30
Recording - January 2017 - 31
Recording - January 2017 - 32
Recording - January 2017 - 33
Recording - January 2017 - 34
Recording - January 2017 - 35
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Recording - January 2017 - 72
Recording - January 2017 - Cover3
Recording - January 2017 - Cover4
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