• Michael Denny

Review // Output - Thermal

Picking up where granular FX plugin Portal left off, Output have launched Thermal, a new interactive distortion plugin. Since launching in 2013, Output have rapidly become an industry standard for musicians, composers and producers with a series of stunning VST instruments, effect processors and flagship loop synthesiser Arcade. Output products have featured on a diverse range of recordings from global superstars Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar to soundtracks including Stranger Things and Black Panther.

Thermal Launch Video:

I have been using Thermal as part of my workflow for a week now, here are my thoughts and initial observations:

  • Thermal is pre-loaded with 250 instantly inspiring presets. The presets are well categorised allowing you to quickly locate your desired sound with all bases covered, from subtle and warming to all out mangled and destructive.

  • A number of distortion types are on offer within Thermal, each with a distinctive flavour. As a result you are sure to find something that suits your current project or taste.

  • One of the strengths across all Output products is their flexibility. Thermal is no exception and is equally as useful in a musical context as it can be in sound design and sound effect creation.

  • From a compositional perspective you can turn to Thermal throughout the songwriting process. From dialling in a sound to inspire a piece in its infancy to enhancing existing elements during mixing.

  • Visually the GUI is engaging and continues the theme and layout established in Portal.

  • The XY pad allows you to quickly tweak your current settings without the need to dive deeper into the advanced editing page when you are in a creative flow state.

  • However, advanced editing is highly addictive and provides scope for endless hours of manipulation and experimentation.

  • The built in effects including chorus and stereo delay enable you to further manipulate and develop your sound within Thermal without the need to reach for further plugins.

For a deeper dive into Thermal, check out the videos from Output below:

Thermal Overview:

Modulation, Effects and Macros:

Advanced Distortion:

Overall I am highly impressed and looking forward to further integrating Thermal into my current and upcoming projects. After just a few days Thermal has found its way to the top of my go-to creative effects plugins alongside its older sibling Portal. In summary; Thermal looks great, sounds great, and is hugely inspiring both musically when composing and sonically when sound designing.

Thermal is available now priced at £134/$149. For more information visit

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