It really sounds like we want our drums to beat us up. Anyway, Diablo Lite, a new free plug-in from Cymatics, is all about harder-hitting drums – and it in fact is some nice boutique software.

Diablo Lite, as the name implies, is a preview of a coming plug-in called Diablo. That full “drum enhancer” comes with a load of modules and parameters; what they’ve done is select two modules and basic controls.

The price is right, though, and a quick try says this is some nice stuff. There are two modules:

Punch is a transient shaper (in one direction only; it emphasizes transients as you enable it and turn up its one parameter).

Clip is a hard/soft clipper, which does have a nice range and modern sound.

Feel free to chime in with other tools you like to use for this. It’s funny that Cymatics suggests putting this on kicks and “808s.” I do recommend applying it per part if you can, and I had as much luck on very precise parts as just kicks per se.

The advantage here is, because this isn’t a compressor or limiter, you’re just shaping the envelope and saturation of the signal, not messing around with the overall volume or frequency.

Later this month the developers promise the full version with various extras. That adds “boost” (which does in fact seem to be a sub enhancer), a width control with high pass filter, “body” and “heat” controls – guessing “heat” is distortion, and body emphasizes the sustain of the envelope. Clip also has a “magnitude” control. There’s also a filter and EQ plus signal routing options and presets. And there’s sizzle with various options, it seems (like decimate).

There are a lot of things that offer something like this, so we’ll have to see what they’re doing with pricing.

Full Diablo.

Maybe the most interesting marketing concept there is, they’re promising training to go along with their plug-ins – something other developers might want to take note of, particularly as the industry moves to more direct-to-consumer sales.

Anyway, I can’t complain. There are a bunch of small development houses making great plug-ins. They’re marketing to us with free stuff and not a bunch of complicated copy protection or big installers. And it’s really attractive visually and sounds nice (aided by a generation of computers with faster CPUs). (Yes, Audio Damage has been onto something for years.)

That’s not going to magically make you know how to engineer your stuff, but it sure is nice having these tools.

What’s your favorite plug-in for these tasks? Let us know in comments.