Todays review victim is Kush Audio Pusher, as the company themselves say it’s an outwardly expanding distortion generator. “It’s a sound sculptor’s dream, an artist’s tool that bends the rules of physics to generate genuinely new musical distortions and transient colorations“, is what the Kush website states. Let’s see if we agree about this.
Lets start of with GUI. The GUI is available in 2 versions, one that has absolutely no info on what the knobs and meters do, the philosophy behind it being that you have to use your ears to tweak this forward thinking colorbox. While I like that, I’m also glad that there’s a cheatmode that explains everything and, in my honest opinion, that’s a faster way to learn the plugin.
The GUI is pretty freaky and the lay out is somewhat different than you would expect. First the signal comes in at the small BIAS (stresses the cores) knob. According to the manual increasing this stresses the transient and multiplies the range of harmonic distortion upwards, creating more upper-level harmonics with increasing complexity. Use this in conjunction with the FLUX DRIVE knob to create all kinds of different flavours of coloring and distortion.
MAGNETIC EQ SECTION
Each core rounds the transients and distorts uniquely. 4 Magnetic cores are available and can blend together. This is where the magic in this plugin happens.
The CORES: First core is ST, which stands for STEEL, slowly increasing the steel amount results in a tube like sound but increasing it further takes you into unknown distortion territory while keeping the transients, a kind of smacking the transient effects is reached. and the very low end is moved to a more mid distortion.
Second core is COBALT. This one is more subtle but when you increase this one together with the BIAS you get a lovely warm distortion. Increasing bias even more takes you into full blow distortion, the trick is to experiment with this combi because a lot of different colors can be made with it.
Third core is IRON. This is like a slightly heavier version of COBALT, just a tad more aggressive.
Fourth core is NICKEL. A slightly warmer and more rounding effect compared to STEEL. Bias to the max puts your signal into oblivion. Remember it’s very hard to describe the effects because its all in the opinion of the listener and the source that you are treating with it.
There’s a blend knob from full wet to dry, very subtle settings in the magnetic eq section with very a small dose of blend can result in nice warming tones. Very nice indeed.
This section consists of of a sidechain hi-pass knob ranging from 20 to 300 hz. Increasing this leaves your low end uncompressed. Next is THRESHOLD: ranging from SMACKY to DIODE and lastly LIMITING. A nice gain reduction meter is provided to see the results.
Second knob is for the ATTACK, 3 hardcoded flavours are available: FAST,MEDIUM and SLOW. 3rd knob is RELEASE ranging from 50 to 1200 ms
Then there’s the BLEND slider: According to the manual this horizontal fader determines the blend between the signal that flows from the magnetic blend control and that same signal after it passes through the limiter. The green and orange led’s give a visual indication of the blender’s tap points. Meaning Left is magnitised and right is magnitised and limited.
Lastly there’s an output knob for the overall level of the plugin.
At the bottom is the cheatmode on or off section and the preset section. Cool presets are provided that give you a good impression of the capabilities of PUSHER. The sweet spot of these presets is reached when you gainstage properly before going into the plugin.
PUSHER is a very versatile weapon to use in both warming up signals and beating them into shape the rough way. Key to all this is that no matter how hard you push it the transients stay shaped in nice ways. This is not an easy plugin to learn so expirementing is key but that so much part of the fun. A well written and witty manual pdf is provided, I immediately clicked with it talking about extra-terrestrial stuff (one of my artistnames is The Alienator). Not trying to immitate hardware equipment but using the creativity of vst development has really taken PUSHER to a level on it’s own. Highly recommended if you are into giving your sounds and beats edge and uniqueness.