A collaboration between Neural DSP Technologies and Darkglass Electronics, the Darkglass Ultra plug-in (VST/AU/AAX) models two classic hardware units: the B7K Ultra and the Vintage Ultra. Primarily known as tools for aggressive bass tones, I’ve found Darkglass Ultra to be great on other instruments such as guitars, synths and even percussion.
The plug-in features the same layout as the hardware, with a few extras, such as the input and output knobs, and the ability to drag-and-drop presets. The input and output gain knobs affect the distortion range of the drive pot, while the stereo switch allows for stereo input signal processing and the VDU/B7K switch lets you change between both pedals. There’s a resize button for two different window sizes, a quality switch for CPU conservation, and link/unlink EQ to have independent EQ for clean and distorted signals.
XILS-lab Bows Polymoog Emulation, by Strother Bullins, July 10, 2017
On the surface, you’ve got master volume, blend, level (of the overdriven signal), drive and an attack switch (boost/flat/cut). The grunt switch sets the amount of low-frequency information to saturate before clipping, and the bass (100 Hz), lo mids (250, 500, 1 kHz switchable), hi mids (750 Hz, 1.5 kHz, 3 kHz switchable) and treble (5 kHz) are all +12 dB adjustable. There’s distortion and bypass “foot” switches, and the plug-in defaults to distortion “on.” (I do wish they had an option on that.)
For my applications, I use it as a tone-shaping tool that can go from mild to extreme. While it certainly rocks on bass, it can add some character to most anything you put it on. It’s really cool on drums and percussion, creating a crunchy sense of aggression that is not like many other plug-ins. On clean DI guitars, such as the example included in the online version of this review, I turn up the treble and drive just a bit, turn the lo mids down, and end up with extra clarity and punch to help push them out in the overall mix. What I like about the Darkglass Ultra is that with a twist of a few knobs, you’ve generally got a better sound than what you started with. Can’t ask for much more than that!
Neural DSP Technologies • www.neuraldsp.com
Darkglass Electronics • www.darkglass.com