For the past couple of years Arturia have been releasing various audio effects collections under the name ‘Three (insert effects category here) you’ll actually use’. Now the collection has finally come to completion and the entire bundle is released as the FX Collection - Audio Effects You’ll Actually Use. Let’s go back and revisit the old effects and check out what’s new in the collection.
It all started with the Filters. Arturia developed three standalone filers modeled after filters on iconic synthesizers from 70s & 80s. The Filter MINI, Filter M12 & Filter SEM.
The Filter MINI is based on the classic Ladder filter from Moog. It’s a 24dB/oct slope low pass filter. The filter section has a drive control to saturate the incoming signal. The Filter can self-resonate creating a sine wave without any input signal, though there is also a ‘Limit Resonance’ option to suppress this. You get three modulators in the filter. An LFO, Attack-Decay Envelope Follower and an eight step sequencer that can be assigned to modulate the Filter Frequency or the Emphasis (Resonance). The LFO rate can also be modulated with the step sequencer to create some dynamic modulation movement. If you want that classic Moog sound on your digital synth sound, this would be a great option. Works great on polyphonic patches or even non-synth sounds.
The Filter M12 is based on the multi-mode filter on the Oberheim Matrix 12. The Matrix 12 was a beast of a synthesizer with its advanced modulation capabilities around the multi-mode filter. Arturia have already modeled the entire synth in their V Collection but it’s great that just the filter is available as a standalone processor.
The Filter M12 has two filter sections with 15 different filter modes ranging from low pass, high pass, band pass to even phase filter modes. This filter also has the ‘Limit Resonance’ feature. The two filters can run in series or parallel. There is a panner and level control on each filter creating the possibility of really wide signals. You get a Master Cutoff control that controls both the filter cutoffs simultaneously. For modulation, you get three multi-segment envelopes that can be assigned to modulate a variety of parameters on both the filters. On top of that there is also a Modulation Oscillator that runs at audio rate and can again modulate a variety of parameters thanks to the modulation matrix. Aside from the three envelopes and the modulation oscillator, there is a random modulation source which is essentially a S&H unit with rate control that can also be synced to tempo. All in all a very versatile filter.
Tom Oberheim’s design makes a second appearance here in the Filter SEM which is based on the 12dB/octave multi-mode filter on the Synthesizer Expander Module from the 70s. Similar to the other two designs you get the main filter with Frequency & Resonance controls. There are more saturation possibilities with the input gain, input noise and soft clipping features. And Envelope & LFO with a Gate Sequencer for re-triggering the mod sources. The simple modulation matrix will let you assign the two modulation sources to various parameters on the filter. One novel aspect of this filter is that the Low Pass & High Pass mode selector is a continuous control so you can create a blend of the two filters. This parameter can also be modulated!
The three preamps in the FX collection are Pre 1973, Pre TridA & Pre V76. It might seem a bit strange to have a preamp as a plugin since the audio you are working with was probably already recorded with a preamp. The idea behind these plugins is to add some of that sonic coloration to the recordings that might not be present in modern audio interface pre-amps.
The Pre 1973 is modeled after the Neve 1073, probably one of the most well known preamps in the audio industry. The Arturia plugin has all the features of the original, with the input gain and output trim, phase invert switch, the 4 bands of EQ as well as models of two types of transforms. On top of this, the Pre 1973 is a stereo plugin so you get two EQs for each channel and the EQ processing can also be switched to Mid-Side mode. There is a convenient stereo link option to get consistency between the two channels but with it OFF you can easily widen the stereo image of any sound source.
The Pre TridA is based on the Trident A Series console channel strip. The Trident console is a rare British design that was used on a lot of British as well as American recordings in the mid-70s. There were only 13 in total ever made. The Arturia design is very similar to the Pre 1973 with the dual EQ section, the preamp gain controls and mid-side processing option. The sound itself is different from the Pre 1973 which I would attribute a lot to the EQ section. It produces a really nice mid-frequency clarity when boosted. The input drive saturation is more obvious on the Pre TridA, distorting the signal in a very pleasant manner.
The Pre V76 is based on the Telefunken V76 vacuum tube based preamp. The V76 is considered to be the Rolls Royce of preamplifiers. Originally used for broadcast application but eventually found its way into music studios and on classic Beatles records. The Arturia design again has the uniformity with the other two preamps. Though the EQ itself is much simpler as it was on the original V76, but very responsive. The input gain sounds very musical, with the tube based saturation creating a very different tonality compared to the other two plugins. Remarkably very easy to get a good sound using this preamp plugin.
The three compressors in the FX Collection are the Comp VCA-65, Comp Tube-STA, Comp FET-76. Analog modeled compressors are everywhere these days. You will probably even find them as stock plugins in your DAW. Let's look at the ones made by Arturia.
The Comp VCA-65 is a model of the DBX 165A VCA based compressor. You’ve probably heard of the 160A but the 165A labelled the Over Easy Compressor, can work great as a workhorse compressor too. On the Comp VCA-65 the compression ratio goes up to infinity while the Attack & Release parameters can be set to auto mode for a more natural response. The built-in Peakstop limiter can ensure no signal clips, though I wouldn’t use it as a brickwall limiter. New York style parallel compression can be easily achieved with the Mix control. The extended section in Arturia’s plugin version has some useful features like the Detection Mode for stereo signals which can define if the signal used for detection is original, mid only, side only, dual, linked and reversed. The side-chain source can be set to internal, external or even manual MIDI triggered. There is a Time Warp feature to further tighten the time parameters on the compressor or loosen it to get a more relaxed compression effect. The extended section also has a side-chain EQ section and lastly a Compression Range control to reduce the amount of gain reduction. Very useful utility compressor that can also add some vibe to your tracks.
The Comp Tube-STA is a model of the Gates STA-level tube based compressor. This American made compressor was used in the 50s for broadcast. It later made a comeback with Retro Instruments recreation with some additional recovery time control features. The Arturia Comp Tube-STA has combined features from both the original and the reissue. This is a program dependent compressor so the controls are quite minimal. Input and Output controls define the amount of compression and gain respectively. There are three recovery modes and one Recovery Time control. So the Attack time is program dependent. The Extended section is very similar to the Comp VCA-65 with Side-Chain Source selection, Detection Mode, EQ and listen. Not a compressor I would use for detail, but instead for stereo bus compression style glue that can add a lot of character to the sound. At extreme settings, it can create some really interesting pumping effects. This doesn’t have an internal limiter so watch out for clipping. The VU meter lights up red when you do clip.
The Comp FET-76 is a model of the industry standard Urei 1176 Peak Limiter. This is an FET based compressor and I can’t really say much about this compressor that hasn’t already been said. Personally this is my least favorite of the three compressors in the bundle just because it’s such a staple compressor that you most probably already have a software model of. This might just be the most modeled compressor plugin out there. Having said that, the Arturia model is quite good and the extended section does extend its performance capabilities. Similar to the Tube-STA this is also a program dependent compressor, though you do get a ratio control as well as Attack and Decay time. There’s also the highly popular All buttons in mode where you get some really extreme compression. Try setting the Attack and Release to maximum with the All ratio mode for some distorted compression that works great on drums. Pull back the Mix knob to bring back the low frequencies lost in the compression. A very easy compressor to work with and works on just about any source material.
The three delays in the FX collection are the Delay Tape-201 which is based on a Roland Space Echo, The BBD based model of Electro Harmonic’s Delay Man, Delay Memory-Brigade & lastly a unique digital delay design with the Delay Eternity. I have reviewed these plugins extensively in an earlier article so feel free to check that out for more details: https://ask.audio/articles/review-arturia-3-delays-youll-actually-use
Saving the best for the last, the new plugins in the bundle are the reverbs. The Rev Plate-140, Rev Spring-636 & Rev Intensity.
Arturia put out the Rev Plate-140 as a free download during Christmas and now its part of this bundle. The plugin is based on the EMT-140 Plate reverb. Plate reverb are cumbersome to have and the EMT plate was pretty large, filling up a medium sized room. Convenient to have a faithful model of this classic plate reverb as a plugin. The Rev Plate-140 has a handy Drive control to add some grit to the signal going into the reverb. You get three plate models and one Decay Time control. There’s an overall Blend control and a stereo Width control. With this plugin don’t think about precise values. Just tweak and play by ear. With the minimal controls, it’s very easy to get a good reverb sound. I particularly like the mono distorted reverb you can get from this. Crank up the Drive control and set Width to mono to get this sound. Take this a step further with Arturia’s extended controls. Here you get a Pre-Delay control a simple HP Filter, a modulation section and a post EQ. The modulation section is probably my favorite. It's very easy to get that warble in the decay of the reverb that contains plenty of character. I can’t find one bad sound on this reverb plug-in!
The Rev Spring-636 is a spring reverb based on the Grampian 636 used by Pete Townshend & Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. The plugin has 8 spring models accessible in the extended section. Similar to the Plate-140, this plugin can also drive the input signal. There is an Input control as well as an Output control, so just crank up the Input and bring down the Output to avoid clipping and you have the sound of a cranked up spring tank! The extended controls are similar to the Plate-140 with a Pre-Delay control and a Post-EQ, but you don’t get a modulation section. Instead there is a Pre-Filter. There are a variety of low pass, high pass and band pass modes in the Pre-Filter section. Setting the Filter Resonance to a high value can add a unique tonality to the reverb.
Lastly the Rev Intensity is an Arturia designed algorithmic reverb. This would be best for the modern reverb sound. The font panel provides control over Pre-Delay, Distance, Size, Damping, Width, Dry/Wet and Reverb Level control. There’s also a freeze option. All standard controls you would expect on a digital reverb unit. Aside from that you also get a modulation section similar to the Plate-140, a SoftClip section for driving the reverb output. The extended section has a tweakable Envelope Follower that can be assigned to modulate four different parameters on the reverb. There’s also a Pigments-style function generator that can also be assigned to modulate four different reverb parameters.
Across the three reverbs, you are given plenty of options for sound design and tweakability. Probably the only thing missing is a Convolution Reverb engine.
A comprehensive set of processing tools that would be useful in any style of production. The one downside is that if you already own the previous releases, there’s only two new plugins here. If you are new to the Arturia FX collection, then it's definitely worth getting into.
Price: 399 € EUR
Pros: Excellent models of vintage hardware devices
Cons: Only two new plugins in the collection