Distortion sounds are a very personal and characteristic element of any professional’s sound, whether it be full-on mayhem or simple harmonic enhancement. Trash 2 promises to push further past the obvious guitar and bass applications into providing a toolbox of distortion for almost anything. Now in 32- and 64-bit versions for AU, VST, VST3, RTAS, AAX (Pro Tools 10), AudioSuite and DirectX, Trash 2 is ready to smash any DAW around today.
The first thing any previous Trash user will notice is the improved, more intuitive GUI, which brings it in-line with things like Alloy 2 or Ozone 5. This brings it right up to date with a fresh feel.
As before, there are six different modules but the labelling has been updated: the showpiece Trash with two Filter modules for EQ purposes pre and post the Trash module, a newly designed Convolve module, Delay, and Dynamics. Of course, as with Alloy 2, you can also rearrange the order of the modules in your signal chain for further control or surprises. There are also a large in and out stereo faders and a signal display at all times, with a limiter built-in on the output always to hand. This is particularly useful to protect your hearing when experimenting with crazy distortion effects.
The most significant module of course is the Trash module, which provides two ‘Stages’ of distortion algorithms, each with a post filter to help control harmonics, and each stage can be run in either single band mode or up to four user-definable frequency bands. For each band, on both stages, there are around 60 different pre-made distortion algorithms or waveshapes ranging from simple harmonic enhancement to full on carnage. You can build your own waveshapes or edit a pre-made one to create your own personal sound making this plug-in able to deliver infinite possibilities. There is even now the opportunity to completely rectify the waveform.
Two identical but independent Filter modules are positioned pre and post the Trash module by default, and you may well leave them there, but of course you can always experiment. The Filter modules are based on the same algorithms as found in Alloy 2 and Ozone 5 with six parametrics and over 20 different filter types to choose from per band, including vowel shapes. Combine all this control with the built-in modulation and you are able to create a whole new set of effects.
The Convolve module is loaded with impulse responses to place your sound inside. New for Trash 2 are IRs ranging from anything from the normal guitar cabinet to many household items. IRs can be added too, either with the Edge expansion pack, or the new option to load your own .wav or .aif impulse responses.
The Dynamic module has compression and gating from full bandwidth up to four separate bands. Each band has side-chaining and a detection filter. I really like the graphical display of gain reduction, which shows you in real time the waveform and how your settings are responding. Likewise, across other modules there is a very clear real-time frequency spectrum, which is very useful when adjusting the EQs and bandwidths for any module you run in multi-band mode.
To complete the plug-in and for creating even further crazy sounds there is an excellent ‘Delay’ module. Even though I’m mentioning the Delay unit last, it doesn’t mean iZotope has put any less effort into this module at all. It is well equipped with everything you would expect from a decent delay unit including analogue degradation profiles and lo-fi delays.
The Trash Experience
Sonically Trash 2 is really exciting and crunchy, and yet still rich and powerful. One of my favourite elements is the limiter on the final output, not just because it catches all the nasty processing you will experiment with before hurting your ears, but even on it’s own I found myself driving the input to the limiter without any other module enabled to find a great digital distortion unlike driving a bus or alternative dynamics plug-in.
The multi-band mode is key to Trash 2 being able to offer such rich sounds. For example, by giving your low end a little bit of subtle grit and your high end getting some excessive saturation while your mid range is smashed into nothing but noise, you can find a distortion that is forward yet doesn’t destroy everything in its path. I also loved utilising the stereo enhancement within the trash module, especially on a single band to provide another separation method in the mix.
Instantly, especially for myself coming from Alloy 2 and Ozone 5, I love the new look and anyone will find Trash 2 easy to use and navigate. There is an excellent set of presets which work very well and are easily adapted. Personally I really enjoyed the more subtle presets on those occasions you wouldn’t normally choose a distortion plug-in per se. They just added a lovely lift to certain elements of a mix.
With so much scope for user editing and the convolution module, Trash 2 pulls away from other more guitar-based distortion effects to offer a whole lot more. It can turn uninspiring audio into something exciting, rich, and energetic. Alternatively, it can lift small details and bring that wow factor out of a busy mix. Trash 2 is a great tool with so many uses that it far outdoes any other distortion and guitar amp modelling plug-in.
Simon Allen is a full-time sound engineer and record producer. Previously Studio Manager at High Barn Studios in Essex, he is now based at City Studios in Cyprus where he is Senior Engineer and heads up the new music studio.