Permut8 is an effects plugin that delivers the sounds of primitive signal processing hardware. It is based on a 12-bit digital delay with a variable sampling rate from 0 to 352 kHz. The delay is controlled by a programmable processor, which allows you to change and modulate the delay time using various “operators”.
The input and output stages offer virtual analog components for saturation, limiting and filtering. The Permut8’s sound is raw and complex, but at the same time loud and warm.
KNIGHT RIDER STYLE:
The first thing you’ll notice about Permut8 is the retro-style orange GUI, vaguely reminiscent of a Tomy toy from a bygone era. The controls are laid out neatly, and a Knight Rider-style pulsating LCD display shows what’s happening in the sequencer section. Everything is accessible, easily automated and relatively easy to learn.
As with most VSTs, I plugged it straight into an insert, rhythm or vocal and started clicking through the presets to get a rough idea of what this beast was doing.
There are 30 presets in three banks with pretty self-explanatory names like “Octapose” and the intriguingly named “Nyquist Issues” to get you started. A quick press of the “Clock Freq” wheel unleashes the most ass-cutting filter-cum-distortion I’ve heard since the decommissioned Aba Shanti carnival kit.
At the heart of the machine is a 12-bit engine designed to provide vintage retro crunch, and at first glance it’s a very good emulation. The presets feature a variety of algorithms with crushing, distortion, filtering and flanking, all of which distort the incoming audio while maintaining musicality and transients.
Of course, the real meat is behind the presets, and it’s only once you get to the dual Instructions panel that you can truly set the wheels in motion. Each module allows the user to flip 16 switches, varying the on and off states in a step-by-step sequence at a specified pace. Sync can be disabled and switches can be called via MIDI or automation.
Each module has an “Operator” knob that allows Boolean Logic to control the flow of information, allowing audio to be reprocessed and undo what has already been passed through. That sounds like a lot of work for any processor, but Permut8 is surprisingly gentle on the aging cores of my arguably underpowered MacBook Pro i7.
At the heart of Permut8 is a very extensive MIDI specification, which is the real ghost in the machine. Effects can be switched using MIDI commands or even transposed across keys. Live performance would be Armageddon.
The analogue limiter emulation and filter section also deserve an honorable mention. Warm and crisp, they warm up the end result beautifully and are almost worthy of their own plugin in their own right.