Inear Display Cruelle Review: This Plugin Sounds Crazy & Brutal At The Same Time!

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Cruelle combines a filter with a distortion effect processor and the whole tasted with plenty of audio rate modulation. The result sounds crazy and brutal at the same time!

Distortion effects are very common in the plugin market. Above all, this sort of effects is found in software multi-effects for bass and guitars less for synths. But there are software developers such as Inear Display who incorporate such typical distortion effects in plugins that has a big focus in sound design.

In this review, I check out a plugin with the name Cruelle, a brutal distortion plugin designed to to turn sounds into screaming feedback tones and glitch artefacts.

Sound Engine: Small But Nice

Cruelle’s sound architecture is relatively simple: an analog style filter, a versatile distortion processor and an amp in the final stage. Before you start with the signal path, you can influence how this should work. In the upper right corner of the interface you can either set the filter pre or post distortion. This makes it very flexible how you work and you can create another character for your sound with one simple click. If the decision has been made, then you have the filter section on the left side.

It features an analog style filter with classic cutoff and resonance parameters. Interesting is here that you have parallel outputs for all four 4 types (lowpass, high-pass, bandpass & notch). Furthermore, the filter can be modulated with an LFO that features 7 different shapes and that goes easily into audio rate modulations (up to 1000 Hz). Thanks to this, it’s possible to create very exciting and crazy sounds with it. In many modern plugins, developers avoid artefacts in the sounds so that they sound the cleanest and best. Here it turned around, provoke them and want to hear them in the sound. I can guarantee that this is very easy to create here. In the same section, there is also a possibility to clock sync the modulation rate with the host.

Next to the filter is the distortion section, the dirty and powerful part of the plugin. It looks relatively small at first glance but can create a lot of interesting timbres. We talk here about an oversampled digital distortion effect processor that can sound classic but also brutal and crazy. The morph feature is certainly the most interesting feature of this section. It allows you to morph between two distortion algorithms: left more a classic overdrive type of sound and right a distortion with a more digital flair.

Both have their charm and can convince with a good sound quality. Additional, it includes a drive control to boost the level of the signal and a feedback parameter. The latter lets you route the output of the distortion back in the input and in combination with the drive you can create very selective to extreme distorted sounds. What I still miss here are modulation options for the distortion. So you could probably design even crazier sounds.

Last but not least, the signal path ends at the output section where we can find an amplitude section and a dry/wet knob for the signal. As you can see, the sound engine is a bit small, but it’s a lot of fun. Above all, this is in detail how to set certain controls. Certain settings just fit together perfectly, others sound too much like noise.

Interface Design Can Be So Simple & Intuitive

Cruelle has one thing many others do not. A simple and intuitive interface that only contains what you really need. The whole design is kept in black and each section (filter, distortion, amp) has their own colour coded parameters. This was a good decision from the developer because this helps a lot in the workflow and overview of the complete plugin. Also Cruelle has a scalable user interface with a size up to 200% what is very important feature in 2018 in my opinion. Than you have a handy undo/redo feature as well as a randomizer for all the parameters.

Since Cruelle is more oriented towards sound designers, the randomizer function makes more sense here than in a classic guitar pedal emulation. Just click and you will immediately get a new sound from Cruelle. A very handy feature if you want to try what is possible. If you want precise results, you have to do everything by hand. Not to forget, it features also advanced MIDI functionalities like MIDI Learn and MIDI program change support. Especially if you want to use the plugin live, these features are very helpful. In the middle, you can find also a preset manager with 40 factory presets and it gives you the option to save own presets.

From Simple Distortions To Glitchy Noisy Sounds Timbres Full Of Artefacts

Cruelle is not a normal distortion and is not an effect processor for the next Rock/Metal hit. Musicians with an experimental/noisy background who like crazy and distorted sounds will love it. Cruelle may sound nice and harmless at first, but pulling the parameters up will release the unusual distortion rain. Especially with the audio-rate modulation possibilities of the filter, you can create very distorted glitchy sounds. Same exciting results came from the filter resonance filter resonance that can be matched up with the feedback of the distortion.

But if you use that kind of distortion you only hear a noise wall at the end? Well, it depends on how you use Cruelle. Often only a small amount is enough to make a sound very snappy and aggressive. With this unique plugin from Inear Display, you can even shape your drum rhythm to a new sound territory. Add a bit of the Cruelle sauce to your drums and you get a glitchy/noisy undertone to them what makes them more interesting and unique. It’s not for everyone because of its dirty starting point. It fits perfectly in the experimental music world where musicians always try to find new sonic palettes.


Cruelle is a simple but unique plugin that can break away from other distortion effect processors. Especially because of it’s special sound character: extreme distortions, glitchy, noisy to sonic textures full of artefacts. If you are looking for a simple distortion (inspired by a guitar pedal), forget Cruelle! This plugin is designed to destroy and mangle your audio material in something very distorted. Musicians that are interested to add an experimental touch to their synths or drums, should try out Cruelle. It will make your sounds sound different!


  • unique sound character
  • sound design plugin
  • great for experimental/noisy music production
  • simple & intuitive interface
  • customizable signal path
  • CPU consumption
  • fair price


  • randomizer for individual sections
  • more modulation options (distortion…)
  • soft distortion switch would be interesting


  • Some presets are to extreme (attention to your speakers)

Cruelle by Inear Display is now available for 19€ (VAT excl.) for PC and Mac (VST/AU). A demo version can be downloaded from the developer website.

More information here: Inear Display 

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