Looks like we desperately need a review of version 3; and with the incredible indispensability of this plug-in, I regret not submitting a review sooner.
I first discovered CamelPhat via the free version - and even though that little plug-in was limited to mono, I was blown away by how it could instantly and effortlessly enhance the basslines, synths and drums. I downloaded the full demo and resolved to buy it as soon as possible.
Then, suddenly, version 3 came out.
Wow. What an update! I could not believe my eyes and ears with this one...not only did the GUI get a much-needed kick in the rear, but the features had expanded as well.
USER INTERFACE: This is a truly gorgeous UI, one of the best out there. This is an interface that you want to touch, tweak and explore; and the thick, gold look reflects the thick character of the plug-in quite while, I think. The only reason I haven't given the UI a full "10" is because I experience an odd graphics redraw problem where one can visibly see the interface blink out and redraw its elements. It doesn't affect performance, is just mildly distracting and the devs are aware of this issue (that seems to be almost exclusively with ATI cards - why did I buy one?) and I'm sure it will be fixed soon.
SOUND: Oh yes...the Big British Tone!!! This is what it all comes down to: CamelPhat has some of the best tube-style distortion and compressors you will ever hear. Merely turning up the Tube distortion just a couple notches will help drums and bass leap out of the mix, giving the track that non-linear perfection for carving out its own sonic space.
Now add some compression, and things really start pounding. The Compressor on this is remarkably transparent or beautifully crushing at higher settings, and you can select between normal and "Phat" modes, the latter being recommended for more aggresive material, where some extra punch might be welcome. I find you can get equally good results with either setting, which is something I like about this plug-in; it isn't 100% scientific; there is a turn-it-up-and-go factor that lends itself well to quick inspiration and enhancements, which one feels is the ethos at work here.
Also worth mentioning are:
The Magic EQ, a wonderful low-end enhancer that can really come in handy. I tend to use it most often on kick drums, but of course it comes into play with basslines and synths too.
The Xcita is a very sweet, tube-like exciter, has been really helpful for adding some sheen; a welcome feature indeed.
I use the BandPass filteres quite a lot, and the Multi-Mode Filters are excellent sounding, but I must admit I haven't had a chance to fully explore them, as I tend to use CamelPhat primarily for its warming/compression features.
The Flanger...well, I'm personally not sure why this is in here. I would have rather had something like a Chorus or Doubler, something more universally useful. But no harm done!
FEATURES: Really, what you've got here is a kind of channel strip plug-in; a one-stop-shop for beefing up your tracks, or with the filters, adding sweeps or craziness. It has the familiar "Randomize" function, which again, scores points for the plug-n-go feel. With all the feature available and the great sound, just about anything is possible here.
DOCUMENTATION: Top notch, friendly instructions that really help you get your way around. I appreciated that in the FAQ's, they even told you how to make the new one sound like the old, which I was curious about! One of the easier-to-use manuals I've experienced.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Full "10" here. Ben and Rob have been ultra-fast in responding to any questions or problems I may have, and the forum reflects that. One always appreciates great service from real people - real developers - that one can chat with on their forum. I recieved instant help when I submitted my report of problems with the redraw, and they are working with me to resolve in Beta-tests. Wonderful service!
VALUE: Come on. $80 for this. You must be kidding! The value is insane, and I'm glad I got in before all the "pros" realise what they're missing (actually, to be fair, tons of pros DO use this!) and they raise the price!
Seriously, this is one of the single best returns on investment out there. If you want to get some Big British Meat on your tracks, you simply MUST try this plug-in, or remain in cold, brittle, digital hell forever. :D
I won supercamelphat 2 in the KvR Monthly Song Competition (May 2004). Thanks to Camelaudio for supporting our monthly comps.
I should add that I passed up on a copy of White Noise Additive to pick up this plugin - that's how much I like it.
User Interface Whilst not a cutting edge GUI, the interface is functional and clearly laid out. A quick check of the manual reveals the signal path and the exact functionality of a couple of controls which were less obvious .
Sound This is the key to supercamelphats success. I primarily use this plugin to add a warm rounded super-beefy bottom end to my bass and drum tracks. The Magic EQ setting seems to add an enormous amount of thump to basslines and the compressor (one dial!) thickens up drum tracks a treat. The filter can add some funky sweeps to your sound and has an audio level triggered envelope that work like a charm. There is also a bandpass filter which can be used very effectively to trim a bassline until it sits beautifully in the mix. Bring the top end down to remove any noise or aliasing from a vsti bassline. Surprisingly, bringing up the lower frequency (i.e. removing the really low end) can really help a bassline to cut through a mix. The output from the bandpass unit (which is first in the signal chain) then goes to the other effects - the flanger, the compressor, the magic EQ, the funky filter and the distortion unit. A mix control allows the frequencies rejected by the bandpass filter to be reintroduced unaffected. This means that you can pick out a particular frequency band of, say, a drum track and apply supercamelphat's effects to just that band, leaving the rest unaffected. Excellent! Special mention mus be made of the distortion unit, too. There is a mechanical (read harsh) distortion effect and a super-smooth tube distortion that really adds character to a drum track.
Features All described above. I can't think of anything I would add to this plugin - it does the job it sets out to do really well.
Documentation This plugin is fairly simple, but the manual is clear and well written should you need to check up on a particlar function. Screen shots and signal path diagrams are included for a well detailed piece of documentation.
Presets Comes with around a dozen presets, but this plugin is really meant for tweaking. I have never used an unaltered preset : not because they're bad , but because this effect really needs tweaked depending on your input material. Happily, it's a joy to tweak :-)
Customer Support Camel Audio's customer support is exemplary. Ben and Jim are regulars on their KvR support forum.
Value for Money Like I said - I won this plugin , but it was on my list of things-to-buy anyway. If you are looking to make a real difference to your basslines and drum racks then this plugin is a must-buy. Try the demo - you will be amazed.
Stability Solid as a rock. Does what it says on the tin.
Summary This plugin is a joy to use and is a must-try. Get the demo today.
I love the UI - easy to get around and to understand..
Presets are fantastic and a great starting point for my own sets as well as inspiration on their own.
I'd have to agree with warbug, this plugin is more than just distortion.
Sound is great both as a distortion unit and as an FX unit overall.. I like to use CamelPhat3 on my kick drums, basses, and leads.. though I typically use it on drums to both thicken and/or dirty them.
It could be in my mind.. but I think the BandPass on the v3 sounds different than the one in v2...
Camel Audio staff is polite and knowledgable... and above all they'll listen to your thoughts/issues on their products. This is a big thing.. if you have a problem or even a comment.. the Camel Audio team are there to resolve your issues with their products. I'd give 6 stars for this if I could.
All sliders and knobs function smoothly and the random preset function can come up with some interesting settings if you're unispiried or simply curious.
I'd be at a very large disadvantage if I didnt have CamelPhat V3 - its in my 'crucial' short list of required plugins!!!
i have been using this in all mu songs for months now!! its great for adding punch to wimpy drums or synths or what ever. the notch Lp/Hp filter at the bottom of the unit is wonderful. everything responds to midi automation which is a life saver.
when i make hiphop i tend to use junky sounding drums that often get list in the mix but camelphat brings them out in a tasteful way.