Review: Waves Torque

Tune individual drums within a mix!
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Torque is a specialized plug-in capable of reaching into a mix and allowing you to retune specific drums without affecting their formant characteristics. The package includes four plug-in variations—two mono and two stereo—that are optimized for either recorded material or live applications.

The standard plug-ins are phase-coherent, but add a bit of latency (determined by the DAW sample rate): at 44.1 kHz it’s 32 samples, and at 192 kHz it’s 128 samples. Overall, however, timing is tight. The live versions offer “zero” latency (truly imperceptible in informal tests), at the expense of phase coherence.

The Focus Section at the top of the plug-in displays the dynamics of the audio signal across the frequency spectrum. From there, you select the frequency range that you want to shift and/or correct. A monitor option is available so you can solo the Focus frequency range as you make your adjustments.

Torque’s parameters are straightforward. The threshold control sets the volume required before the formant-corrected tuning algorithm kicks in. This is ideal when working with live drum tracks, as it allows you to tailor the response when working with overhead mics or recordings with a lot of bleed. When the signal exceeds the threshold, Torque’s shifting algorithm kicks in, with a two-octave range. Speed and Trim controls vary the responsiveness and volume of the shifted material, respectively.

I tested Torque on a variety of percussion material, both mixed loops and isolated drums, and the results were impressively transparent. Moving beyond drums, I processed a wider range of audio sources. Outside of its intended purpose, Torque can be used as a radical harmonizer with artifacts reminiscent of a frequency shifter. Consequently, it has a lot of potential for techno production, as well as sound design for film or video. I was even able to create ghostly parallel fifth harmonies on flutes and solo cellos.

Whether you use it for acoustic-drum re-tuning or as an unusual effects processor, Torque hits the mark beautifully. At a list price of $69, it’s definitely an impulse buy, regardless of your goals.