Oftentimes the difference between a good track and a great track comes down to the smallest little tweaks that make a big impact. Adding a good transient shaper to your mixing toolkit can help make dialing in that impactful difference easier and faster. United Plugins and Sounddevice Digital gave just released a new tool designed to do just that with their new Urban Puncher. Though it is advertised as a product for drum loops, I decided to try it on a few other sources to see how it fares. Check out the demo in the video review below, then scroll down for an eve more in-depth look:
Urban Puncher opens to a matte grey metallic look with fingerprints on the finish, with a large Urban Puncher badge in the top-left corner. Below that is the star of the show, a large shiny orange and black knob with white marks that controls the punch. The middle of the knob has a fist that glows brighter as you turn it up and an orange marker to show the current punch level. On the right are a dry/wet knob, an output control, and a saturation control with destroy button for adding distortion. There is a multicolored LED-look meter on the far right with stereo input and output displays. Easy on the eyes and logically arranged for a quick five stars for looks.
Let’s take a quick look at how the controls work in Urban Puncher:
The punch knob dials in the amount of transient and spectral shaping, adding progressively more high-end energy and sparkle especially on the top half of the dial. Sources tend to pop and fizzle a bit more as you move up the dial without being too sharp or harsh.
Saturation and Destroy Controls
The saturation control goes from 0 to 100 and starts to pleasantly break up around the 20-30 mark, with some real dirt in the 50s and straight-up spank in the high end. The destroy knob takes the saturation control and triples the setting on the dial, resulting in distorted lo-fi tones that dial up the grit without adding much to the output volume.
Dry/Wet, Output, and Meters
Rounding out the controls are standard dry/wet and output decibels settings, plus a power and multicolored LED meter. The meters have stereo in and out displays and red lights for the last few decibels.
To see what kind of punch Urban Puncher packs, I tested it on multiple sources. Though United Plugins says it’s for drum loops, I found it useful on bass, strings, electric guitar, and other tracks. It’s also good for adding a touch of high-end energy when added to a buss or master. The punch knob really shone on most sources in the 50-80% range, and the saturation has a lot of play in it to take tracks from slightly dirty all the way up to hellacious. Throwing on the destroy knob adds 3x the saturation, pushing it into distortion and even lo-fi territory towards the top of dial. In summary, I found it usable on everything I tried it on and easy as pie to dial in, for another five stars for usability.
Hear it in Action
Here are some solo and mix samples of Urban Puncher in action, starting with a drum loop at about 70% punch and saturation:
Here’s the same sample with Urban Puncher switched off:
Next, here’s a bass with similar settings but slighly less saturation:
Here’s the dry sample of the bass:
Finally, here’s the full mix with Urban Puncher on both the drums and bass:
Followed by a comparison to the same mix without Urban Puncher:
United Plugins Urban Puncher Review – The Bottom Line
As a value proposition, I feel like Urban Puncher sits right in that pocket of perfectly priced plugins. For the price of dinner for two, you get a transient and spectral shaper and saturator that’s quick and easy to use and applicable to numerous sources. It’s not cheap, but it’s not at all overpriced, and if you can catch it on sale it’s a no-brainer.
I had a lot of fun playing with Urban Puncher. As someone that takes mixing clients in multiple genres, it’s not always easy to find a tool that easily and quickly punches up bland backing tracks with a few twists of the knob, a feat that Urban Puncher accomplishes with aplomb. In conclusion, I give Urban Puncher an easy five stars overall and my recommendation for easy two-knob transient control and saturation that fits well in any mixing toolkit.