Aroma is a digital harmonic processing unit that aims to add the much sought after old school warmth to any audio sources. While the focus seems to be for vocals and mixdowns a little warmth never hurt basses or guitars! Essentially, Aroma is modeled after old valve equipment and analog tape machines, using harmonic addition, saturation and distortion to give the audio a “warm” feeling. If we were to take a look at a simple waveform with Aroma applied we should expect to see certain harmonic peaks added to the sound.
The interface is quite simple and straightforward. There are 4 main modules. Each has a unique name – Salt, Pepper, Sugar, Chili. This seem to be a bit of a trend lately. Instead of going with your typical titles for parameters, manufactures come up with something a bit more playful and unique. I’m not entirely sure of the motivation for this. Maybe it forces the user to rely on their ears to decide or interpret what effect the parameters are having?
Aroma has two processing modes. There is the stereo mode which is pictured above and the mid/side mode, which is pictured below. The latter gives the user greater control over where and how much saturation is being applied to the mono and stereo audio independently.
Aroma can hold up to 3 states using the compare tabs on the right side of the GUI. This is handy for getting quick comparisons to small or large tweaks in the controls. Make your adjustments and hit the up-arrow to apply those settings to the corresponding tab. Then use the tabs to jump between your 3 states.
Analyzing the Modules
While Aroma is almost certainly supposed to be used by mixing the 4 modules to varying amounts, I figured I would run each through a spectrum analyzer by itself to see what they were adding to the sound.
To do this analysis, I simply used a sine wave playing a singular C2 note. That is the lowest and greatest peak on each of the pictures below. The rest is the coloring done from the each module by itself being applied at 100%.
As you can see from the spectrum analyzer there are 5 large harmonic peaks being added along with a bunch of smaller peaks higher in the frequency range.
Peaks – C2, C3, G3, C4, E4, G4
Pepper added 3 main harmonic peaks.
Peaks – C2, G3, E4, A#4.
Oddly enough I didn’t find much of a difference in between Sugar and Pepper. Again, 3 main peaks were added. They seemed to be the same energy levels and even the upper frequency profiles looked very similar. Sound wise I didn’t notice much of a difference either.
When I combined Sugar and Pepper together there was a very interesting interaction though.
Peaks – C2, G3, E4, A#4
Chili added the most peaks of the 4 modules and was very colorful indeed.
I found Aroma to be unique in having the 4 different saturation modules in one plug. Allowing the user to mix them together to create unique harmonic saturation patterns was a big plus and something I haven’t seen a lot of. Add to that the ability to process the mid and side channels independently and this is definitely a device worth checking out!
PROS: Mid/Side processing, 4 different saturation modules combined
CONS: No presets, I would have liked Pepper and Sugar to be more different
Price: EUR 89