With the release of Helper series, W. A. Production’s plugin department is getting better and better, so it is time to take a closer look at what the three effect plugins have to offer.
W. A. Production have recently entered the plugin marketplace, the first Pumper series being already a hit. But do not let yourself be fooled by their short history in this area, they may have come up with the most useful plugins on a budget that are primarily aimed at beginners in music production. What I like about these effect plugins is they’re smartly simplified and aimed at features that would be hard for any beginner to understand on more complex plugins. I don’t think I am wrong if I say they’re the perfect tool to get initiated into this fascinating world of sound processing.
Helper series is built on the same pattern like Pumper. Forget about pimped out effects with shiny and sleek looks just for the sake of marketing, Helpers are sincere and their main qualities are exactly what we are interested in, that is the sound.
Helpers come in three flavors: Equalizer, Saturator and Transients. They come in a bundle, but you can also purchase them separately. The bundle in the most convenient option, in my opinion, the right decision you should make, because the price (£39 at their website) is heavily discounted, plus you get What About: EDM Squad 2 sample pack for free. All the helpers share the same GUI idea, of course with some visual differences and different parameters depending on effect type they deliver. There are three main rotary knobs – the central control panel where all the good things will happen.
But let’s see what each plugin is about.
Helper Equalizer is a cool little eq and not only, coming with some exciting features that allow you to sculpt the sound in detail. The sides of the interface come with input and output gain sliders. But the most exciting part is in the middle, where the three knobs are for finding the frequency you want to work on, the gain to bring in front or diminish that specific frequency, and the quality knob which shapes the frequency peak.
On the bottom row, there are another three buttons. From left to right we find the eq shapes selector with 5 filter types (high & low pass, high & low shelf and peak), then “Effect/Difference” switch which is by far an important and superb feature, because it removes the original audio, letting you hear only what the plugin is actually doing on the sound. While working, you mute the original audio source and concentrate on the actual effect. Well done, W. A. Production! The last button is equally important because, with its 5 stereo channel modes, it lets you enter a new dimension of sound designing. You can apply the effect on the full stereo image, but also on mid/side and left & right channels, a feature that completes this one of a kind equalizer plugin.
The second plugin is the bundle is Helper Saturator, a plugin that in brief “fattens” the sound. As a starting point, you can choose between tube and tape distortion/simulation, which are the two “spices” to add to the audio source. Then you apply the saturation amount using the big rotary knob from the center of the GUI. This button is flanked by a 2-band equalizer designed to correct on the fly the frequency balance issues (that may appear during adding saturation) of the most important frequencies – the low and high end. Using the 2-band equalizer also allows you to concentrate on a specific frequency, let’s say you want to boost the high end only of a melody hook, just increase the high pass and make it bright and piercing.
The bottom part of the plugin, besides the tube/tape selector, comes with the same handy “Effect/Difference” button I mentioned above and the stereo field selector, again with five channel modes, allowing you to apply as subtle as possible the saturation, be it on full stereo spectre, on mid & sides and even on mono left & right.
As the name implies, Helper Transients takes care of the transients attack and release times. This plugin is similar with the Helper Saturator, except the big middle rotary knob is for transients effect. You can successfully apply Helper Transients on percussions, drum tracks, piano melodies, basically dynamic and lively parts that require a faster and punchy attack or glued type and organic sounding release.
Take advantage of its unusual construction: shape the transient attack & release anywhere in the stereo field, anywhere in the high or low frequencies. Helper Saturator will help you obtain punchier drums, lively percussions, bright and bold melodies – this with just the turn of a few buttons. Also with the original audio source bypass, you can clearly see what you’re doing and filter and sculpt the exact parts you want.
At the beginning of this review, I said that Helper plugins are good for beginners in the musical production, but I must add that they can be a very exciting tool for advanced producers, especially for those looking for fast and really effective solutions to sculpt and vitalize an audio track.
From the perspective of beginners, these plugins are gold mine and a cornerstone in their professional/personal evolution, especially as they urge them to think in space, imagine the sound in mind, and fine-tune it in the smallest detail with the precision of a surgeon.
Helper bundle of three plugins is currently on sale via Plugin Boutique and costs only $34.45 (30% off $49.85 regular price, discount valid throughout June 1, 2017). I think this is an insane offer, a no brainer for what it offers! If you have some bucks to spend and you are looking for high-quality sound enhancers for the daily routine, I would say go for it!