Baby Audio Transit

Multi-effects plugin

Baby Audio Transit

Review by George Shilling

Baby Audio are relatively new kids on the block, making some innovative and very groovy plugins that a number of influential producers have adopted and lauded. When it comes to plugin types they seem to know no bounds, with all kinds of processors from TAIP and Super VHS that degrade your audio in unusual and useful ways, to their Crystalline and Spaced Out reverbs, their simple to use IHNY-2 parallel compressor and so on. Their previous launch was the super-groovy BA-1 virtual instrument, based on the 1982 Yamaha CS-01 which comes with a bunch of fabulous sounding presets. Some expansion packs were added more recently – at extra cost. For Transit, they have partnered with musical artist and YouTuber Andrew Huang. I was unaware of Huang, (and a member of the generation where the term ‘YouTuber’ tends to make one bristle slightly!) Huang’s manner can certainly be a little smugly irritating, but having watched some of his many videos, it’s apparent that he’s a very clever chap who’s an accomplished and creative musician. And his videos are fun, pretty slick and entertaining. So, I decided to park my van, and have a look at Transit…

Baby Plays Around

According to Huang’s intro video for the plugin, he approached Baby Audio, only to find out that they were on the verge of asking him to collaborate on something. So it seems perhaps that this is a match made in heaven…

High Fidelity

Transit is a multi-fx host with a collection of processors that can fill up to seven slots. Their controls can be manipulated with one big Transit control knob that sits top left in the plugin window. The idea is that plonk the plugin across a buss or the whole mix, then automate this main control to fade in some crazy lo-fi – or hi-fi – effects as you come up to a gearshift moment in your track. Then you go back to normal as you land on the chorus, or whatever section you’ve reached. (You have the option of effects suddenly cutting off, or, say with a reverb, hanging over the transition.) So unlike the old days, when you had a drummer stick in a fill to tell you we were heading into the chorus, Transit gives you all kinds of effect movements – whooshes, filters, delays, panning, reverb and distortion – as you approach the gear-change moment. That’s basically it!

What Do I Do Now?

Baby Audio Transit

The interface feels very slick. It’s clearly designed for the Ableton Live generation, but it worked smoothly in Pro Tools. You can fill each slot from a choice of 18 FX types, each with their own groovy little explanatory logo. You then set ranges for parameter changes to be controlled by the Transit knob. These can go in any direction, and you can bend the line on the knob for curved (non-linear) changes.

Indoor Fireworks

The myriad presets might be enough for you without having to create any of your own settings. There are plenty of starting points which you can then adapt as necessary. It might be better if they were all somehow categorised by effect types rather than just listed in alphabetical order under their creator’s folder. Most of the names suggest usage for particular instruments or situations, or are descriptive of the effects. Huang’s own presets are pretty well organised into categories, but some of the others are not. There isn’t an easy or obvious way of switching presets automatically. You might want different fireworks for each transition, and of course there are ways of doing this but the easiest is probably to have multiple instances, as long as your computer horsepower allows – transit’s CPU usage is pretty low.

Accidents Will Happen

As well as the overall presets, there are a few presets within each effect. Mercifully, there are generally between about four and eight of these, so it’s not quite as bewildering as the main preset menu! And the Dice logos randomise settings – there is a button for this on each effect, and one for the whole plugin – which can be amazing, fun – or dreadful! There are no meters on the plugin output so some care may be required when chaining effects and choosing extreme settings! Perhaps they should have included a Limiter effect?

Baby Audio Transit

It’s really easy to re-order the effects by dragging on an arrow logo and each has a handy bypass button. You probably won’t ever need to, but for some reason you cannot have more than one instance of each effect type across the seven slots. Controls’ motion can be bypassed with little associated buttons. Some of the controls are a bit small and fiddly, but I found I could continuously resize the whole window up to the whole height of my screen, making things easier to adjust.

Pump It Up

So, what does it sound like? Well, it’s mostly not particularly subtle. But that’s kind of the idea – this is for creating drama and impact. And it does that really well. Most effects have a Mix knob, so you can either use that as an effect to transition, or tone down the overall drama. Flangers and Phasers sound juicy and pretty analogue-like. Filters come in different flavours - 12 or 24dB/octave and Highpass, Lowpass, Bandpass or Notch.

Distorted Angel

Distortion includes several types, and you also get a separate Bitcrusher. OTT is a simple three-band compressor with lots of gain/cut, Pump is similar to the tempo-sync Tremolo effect, but adds a sidechain modulator and works by applying compression. There are even Noise and Oscillator sound generators to create sweeps or pitch ramps. Pitch Shift includes LFO modulation for anything from sea-sick wallowing to ray-gun wibbly-wobbly effects. Chorus is suitably warm and Roland-like.

Man Out Of Time

I should also mention the Motion Sequencer mode. Instead of a single overall Transition control knob (to be automated), this allows you to set the length of a transition (tempo-synched), then press play to get it going – it is triggered at the beginning of the following bar. You can also put it into loop mode, effectively making the whole thing into an LFO. Great fun.

Radio, Radio

Of course there are many other ways of achieving what Transit does, but it might take an awful lot of setting up to do it. There’s loads of great inspiration in the presets; you can easily trip over things you were not expecting! And although it might be rarely used as intended for, say, indie guitar rock, just sometimes this can be a way of creating a magic moment in the track. And it might be that thing in a track that makes your spine tingle and makes people go, “Woah, I love that bit!” when they hear it on the radio. Or even, “I love the production!” And that’s something we all like to hear, isn’t it?

Pros: Instant drama, inspiration and fruitiness, Transit dial or Motion Sequencer modes.

Cons: No output meters, no limiter, not always obvious how to find what you want amongst the many presets.