Continuing with their excellent 3 FX You'll Actually Use series of plug-ins, Arturia has released the next installment, 3 Modulation FX You'll Actually Use, and it's a winner in my book. Let's face it, we all have our favorites for a lot of effects and we're not likely to change our minds on them that much at this point any more than our favorite flavor of ice cream is gonna change. So, putting together three, and only three, effects into a bundle may be a challenge for any manufacturer, but Arturia always seems to have at least one effect in their 3-series bundles that make it a must have for me. Sometimes it's something new; sometimes it's only a slightly better GUI that makes more sense. For instance, in their 3 Delays You'll Actually Use plug-in, I use their Delay Tape 201 plug-in (based on the Roland Space Echo), even though I have several other Space Echo plug-ins and a real, vintage Space Echo. Something about Delay Tape 201 is easier to use and it sounds right. The 3 Modulation FX You'll Actually Use bundle begins with the Chorus DIMENSION-D based on the ever-popular Roland Dimension D. Not my go-to for chorus, to be honest – and I do own a hardware version of it – but I still enjoy the plug-in and use it from time to time, plus it's a good tool to have in your modulation toolbox. Simple, straight ahead, and sounds classic. Next up is the Flanger BL-20. In contrast to DIMENSION-D's simplicity, BL-20 is a deep and complex plug-in based on the ultra-rare BBD (bucket-brigade device) Bel BF-20. If you want to dive in deep with a flanger plug-in, you will not be disappointed with this one. I auditioned some of the presets on a track I was working on, and they all sounded interesting to my ears. Besides being able to modulate the flanger manually, with an LFO, or an envelope follower, Arturia has also added the function generator from their flagship soft synth Pigments for even more versatile modulation. Additionally, you can use an external envelope as well for a modulation source. I'm saving the best for last though, the Phaser BI-TRON based on the renown Mu-Tron Bi-Phase pedal. In my opinion, Mu-Tron is one of the best phasers ever made, and for some reason there are not a lot of plug-in models of Bi-Phase out there in the same way the original Dimension Ds and Space Echos have been modeled. The BI-TRON has two phasing circuits that can be used in parallel or series, with lots of options for modulation and routing within this topology. There's also a pedal option for further modulation that has a "bonus" envelope follower for modulation control, and within that section of the plug-in, you can again use an external sidechain to feed the envelope follower. There's also an "under the hood" feature that lets you change the phaser effect from the original's six poles to anywhere between one and twelve poles. A real Mu-Tron Bi-Phase is an awesome thing to have and to use, but you'll spend a lot of money on one. I own a faithful hardware recreation called the Pi-Phase that I tracked down from boutique Australian pedal maker Prophecy Sound. It is fun to play with, but, Arturia's BI-TRON plug-in also sounds great, is much more affordable, and can be used across multiple tracks. Add in the extra features like tempo-sync, and I know BI-TRON is a plug-in I'll be using for years and, in my opinion, makes 3 Modulation FX You'll Actually Use well worth the price of entry even if you didn't care about the other two very useful plug-ins that come with it.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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