Live Effects: Sugarbytes Turnado Review

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With advanced effects getting more and more important for DJs to have in their arsenal, Sugarbytes’ Turnado thinks it has the answer by putting eight knobs of sound mauling and an omnipotent fader at your fingertips. Let’s see just how much mangling they can take.

Price: €139/$179

Out: Now

Compatibility: PC/Mac, Standalone/VST/AU

THE GOOD

  • Very easy to use.
  • Sounds great.
  • Masses of depth.

THE BAD

  • The price tag is a little on the dear side.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Turnado is a really good sounding, really easy to use effects unit. It’s that simple!


OPERATION

Turnado operates standalone and as a VST/AU plugin. This means that you can either integrate it with your mixer via its send/return effects or sit it directly inside a supporting host such as Torq 2.0 or Ableton Live. There are 24 effects modules in Turnado, and a single instance of the software is designed to load up to eight of them, each ready to be tweaked by their own large dial.

This ‘super knob’ concept that’s been banded around for a while in various guises is what Turnado’s based around; each effect conceals a deep editing panel underneath a single big knob which modulates all of the detailed parameters with a single motion. Further than that though, is the Dictator fader that then modulates the movement of each of the eight main dials along its travel. What this combination basically amounts to is to give a single fader the power to move every deep control in Turnado, which leads to absolutely wild and exciting (although if not thought through, somewhat jarring) effect transitions.

DEPTH

Of the 24 effects there are eight basic types: delay, phase, reverb, ring mod, distortion, loop, granulation, and filtering. Each has at least two variations, and all are controlled by four unique knobs – each of which can then be modulated by two LFOs and an envelope follower.  The shape of the LFO wave can be changed, as can the shape of the ramp for how every control is affected by the main knob. Of course, just as with any other music software, it’s not what it does but how it sounds when it’s doing it that will make or break its chances of ending up as part of your rig. The versatility of the effects combinations in Turnado make sure it always sounds interesting, but the basic effects themselves are very well featured too. There are multiple sounds for every type, like the comb, band, low, and high pass filters in three strengths, bit crushers with different modelling types, and an excellent sounding vowel filter section.

ROUTING

There are two options when it comes to routing the signal through the effects: going through each in series – from bank one to eight – or  Dynamic Signal Flow mode. Dynamic signal flow follows the order in which each effect is activated, and depending on which effects you use each method can be useful. Setting up the order of effects, is therefor an art in itself – and the ability to swap effects by dragging one onto another allows you to quickly audition how a different order can have a drastic effect on the overall sound. This option, as with the threshold for the knobs, the option to have the effect turn back off when the knob reaches full, and for the knobs to reset upon loading a new preset, can be set and saved on a per preset basis.

MIDI Learn is implemented really simply, with a right click on any parameter conjuring a Learn tab. Your learn settings can be saved inside the plugin too, which is handy for ensuring that assignments only have to be learned once in software whose workflow doesn’t revolve around saving an entire project – Torq 2.0, for instance. The combination of the easy yet powerful routing and effective MIDI learn makes Turnado more powerful and user friendly than navigating Traktor Pro’s complex mapping system or mixing and matching plugins in Ableton Live.

SUMMARY

If your software supports effects plugins, then Turnado will be right up your street. Its main virtue is its ease of use – a single unit/plugin that does so much and at the same time manages to distill its operation into the bare minimum of controls for an exciting, evolving sound – and this makes it a fantastic tool for performance. If you’re working with a closed box solution like Traktor or Scratch Live and use an external mixer with a send/return loop, you can also give Turnado a try in standalone mode. The price, when considering the amount of effects available and the versatility of Turnado, is also very fair.

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  • Pretty sick, I want.

  • MP

    WHY TRAKTOR DOES NOT HAVE VST? 

    Please anybody. Explain me why? 

    Seriously. 2011 no VST support in main DJ Software on the planet?
    WHY!?

  • Ruczajdj

    “The price (…) is also very fair”
    No, it’s not. Nice but overpriced effect, it’s one trick pony – somethong like NI Finger.  

  • This could be a great solution with the Midi Fighter Pro as a custom effects box…

  • Enhancd Reality

    Sounds like when you guys do a product review for something like this, that is good but a little too expensive, you should try to organise some special promotion pricing for DJTechTools readers at the same time. You have a big reader base so i’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to persuade them to discount it considering the extra marketing they get out of it

  • Bodyrockmusic

    You should post an easy to find like to their website in the article at the top, bottom, or both.

    • Bodyrockmusic

      I meant LINK not like…. silly me

  • would the novation nocturn controller be a suitable choice for this VST?

  • It does seem tempting. Not that I’m not getting my needs for live-mangling elsewhere, but more wants even more.

    The design is simple, and the Dictator-mode seems really interesting. I am going to have to try the demo for this one.

    What I really got interested in trying, is mapping the Dictator-mode to a line, or two, in the User Mode 2 of the Novation Launchpad. Jumping from point to point instead of, no matter how quickly, sliding through all in between, could be a lot of fun.
    I should think you could do the same thing to just about anything, for example the Midi Fighter (I hope/plan to buy my first soon), but in my case I rarely use the User Mode 2, and it would be a shame to map something I won’t use too much to something that would really stand out and seem left alone during the rest of the shows.

  • One other thing that should be mentioned is that the main interface looks like it’s optimized for the APC40 effects bank.

    Also I see on the website that there is a 30 day trial. Let’s give this baby a try 🙂

  • Produce Destroy

    This plugin saves SOOOO much time for producing edits now <3

  • Best feature: The Dictator.

  • pretty neat, seems like sugarbytes is trying to keep up with NI on the VST builds. the finger and the mouth are kinda the same idea / concept. easy to use, and alot of fun. I might have to check this out more, rewire it through ableton for traktor.

  • This looks great although overpriced.
    The video tuts on the product page show this to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s actually quite powerful and very editable.

    Maybe they’ll have a “sale” at some point  🙂

  • This looks great although overpriced.
    The video tuts on the product page show this to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s actually quite powerful and very editable.

    Maybe they’ll have a “sale” at some point  🙂

  • ” If you’re working with a closed box solution like Traktor or Scratch Live and use an external mixer with a send/return loop, you can also give Turnado a try in standalone mode. ”
    I’d love to see a tutorial on this

  • ” If you’re working with a closed box solution like Traktor or Scratch Live and use an external mixer with a send/return loop, you can also give Turnado a try in standalone mode. ”
    I’d love to see a tutorial on this

    • You mean like how you’d set this up?  You’d have to have an (additional, if not multichannel) audio interface that can take a signal via an input and pipe it out through another channel.

      Say I’m use a DJM-800.  I’d hook up my send/return as I would any external effector (think EFX-1000 or a Kaoss Pad), except that the connections go to a soundcard.  When I wanted to route the effects to the track(s) playing, I’d set the FX bank to send/return, turn it on, and make sure that the effects were running on the computer.  There may be a way to send a MIDI signal to active the effects the same time that the button is pressed; not sure if the effects on/off (i.e., the large button at the bottom of the bank) is MIDI-mappable.  The sound input would be set as the audio interface, and the output would be set as an output channel on the interface.

      Alternatively, you could take your mixer output, run it to your soundcard, have the effects process this, and then have the “new” output be an output on your external soundcard.

      Is this what you meant?  If not, sorry.  Let me know if you need any clarification.

      • Jordan Morenstein

        Hey, that seems very helpful and I appreciate you responding to that question cause I myself would like to take advantage of this software with my send/return on my xone 42.

        I also have an audio 8 but I am not quite clear on how exactly to do it… I rout my send to the input of the a8 and then use an output back to the return on my mixer?

        Thanks again for your help, greatly appreciated

  • yea this looks like a good VST but I fully agree the price tag is a little steep, great review Chris. Sadly I will not be getting this, but will keep it in mind.

  • yea this looks like a good VST but I fully agree the price tag is a little steep, great review Chris. Sadly I will not be getting this, but will keep it in mind.

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