digitalfishphones – fish fillets vst [download]

Digitalfishphones - Fish FIlletsOne thing I love about audio tools (whether they’re digital or analog) is that they’re like regular tools. Take a hammer for example: according to Wikipedia the tool as we know it was first put together around 30.000 BC. A stick with a piece of rock attached to the top. 32.012 years later there are millions of variations on the theme but the basics stay the same. And the basics always work.


The same goes for VST effects and instruments. Every month a lot of synths and effects are being created, launched, sold and downloaded but I’ve still got a range of plug-ins dating back to the early 2000′s that I use on a regular basis. One of the packs I’m still using are DigitalphonesFish Fillets.


I’m going to cheap out on you a bit because I managed to salvage a review I did on the plug-in pack 4 years ago, and it’s way too sunny to stay indoors. 2012 ends here, 2008 starts below the image.

To me, compressors are a must-have. Whether you want to emphasize a single sound, pump up your drum loops or just lift the loudness of a signal without generating hard peaks, a decently set up compressor can do wonders. Every compressor can do those tricks for you, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s an expensive plug-in or a built-in effect of your host program. So why are there so many different compressors around if they all do the same thing?


This is because every plug-in has it’s own sound, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. After a while, you’ll know the specific sound of every effect by heart, and know which plug-in to use when you want a certain sound.


Almost all digital compressors work great on electronic or synthesized sources like vsti synths or drum generators, but when it comes to sampling I’ve ran into a simple but heavy problem: most vst compressors lack feeling. Sure, they provide a clean and clear sound, but that sound is often really static. And that’s just the thing you don’t want when you’ve sampled an old record.


This is where Blockfish of the The Fish Fillets package comes in, made by Sacha Eversmeier of (the guy actually works for MAGIX, freaky huh..). The Fish Fillets is actually a pretty old set right now, developed in 2004, but it has been one of my favorites since I’ve first discovered it.
As you can see the interface differs a bit from most compressors, but it looks (and is) very easy to use. The treshold and ratio parameters are put together under the ‘compression’ knob, and the attack and release are here known as ‘response’. Although it may seem that you lose a bit of control when grouping those parameters, it’s actually this feature that makes Blockfish less static than other compressors. The compression knob also controls the makeup gain automatically, so that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about.

Blockfish front panel

When your sound gets all muddy after compression because your source has a lot of bass in it, hit the ‘low cut’ button. This will enable Blockfish to disregard low frequencies when analyzing the input signal, resulting in a tight and crisp sound. This is also where the little switch on the left side comes in, which will open the more extensive features. Here you can adjust the low cut frequency to your own taste. On the front we’ve seen the ’saturation’ knob, which can be further defined here to get that dirty (but not clipping!) old tape-overdriven sound.


The ‘air’ controls (also enabled on the front) are used to boost the mid and high frequencies that are often lost after compression. You can set the frequency and the amount to emphasize it. This aids in keeping that original warm sound that you love so much of the sample you chose to use.

Blockfish back panel

The ‘Opto’ (front) setting is the one we’re really looking for. When enabled, Blockfish will let the input signal mainly control the response setting. This makes the compression sound more natural. The ‘Opto memory’ (back) knob defines how fast the compressor will respond on the input signal. Use the ‘VCA’ (front) setting for a more static approach to compression. It will react pretty precise to the parameters you’ve set on ‘compression’ and ‘response’.


Here is an example of Blockfish used on Accadde A Bali, which was used for Walworth Road Rockers’ remix of Roots Manuva – Witness (1 Hope). Most people probably know it from Quasimoto – Real Eyes though.

This is just a plain explanation of Blockfish, I suggest you check out the manual that comes with the package for a detailed view on every setting (like the ‘complex’ feature, which turns Blockfish in 2 chained compressors!). Don’t be scared, the manual is actually pretty easy to understand because it explains everything in terms of ‘how does this affect your sound’ rather than ‘what is happening technically’.


Next to Blockfish, The Fish Fillets also contains a de-esser called Spitfish which works great in losing the hisssssssss sound on your self-recorded vocals, and expander/gate called Floorfish. Like Blockfish those effects are easy to use, but give a natural and clear sound.


Get the Fish Fillets pack here for free.