FutzBox is a brand-new distortion and noise generator
plug-in for mashing, destroying, and making low-fidelity versions of your tracks. The main interface offers configurable "futz" effects, including filters, EQ, distortion, noise generation, and gating. Along with these tools, McDSP has included a new twist-Synthetic Impulse Models (or SIMs for short). SIMs provide realistic modeling of items like radios, cell phones, and televisions. The interface is as intuitive as it gets, which makes experimentation very practical even with so many options. I first used FutzBox to distort the drum room mics for a pop/rock track that called for a layer of crunch in support of the main drum tracks. Using the filters to trim out the extreme highs and lows allowed me to keep the rest of the kit pretty clean while the mids sizzled, and I used the EQ to add some lingering tone to the otherwise clean crack of the snare. Another neat feature is that the original and distorted audio can be mixed in real-time to accommodate changes. Of course, this would be most useful for commercial, video, or Foley work, but for recording studio work, it can allow an effect to progress during a song to build intensity, reflect changes going on in the lyrics, or simply provide a spark to a section. For example, during the bridge of the aforementioned tune, the band drops out for a short drum fill, so I automated the noise generator to slowly ratchet up in intensity until right before the final chorus, where I turned it up to eleven (so to speak) right before the chorus smashes back in.
Before using FutzBox, we were concerned that this level of processing would be DSP-intensive; however, McDSP has worked to optimize the processes, allowing FutzBox to use less CPU power than conventional convolution-based products. Furthermore, SIMs can be scaled in real-time and changed on the fly.
There are many distortion, lo-fi, and audio-destruction plug-ins on the market, but few are as flexible or as good at sounding bad as FutzBox. (RTAS/AS $295 MSRP, TDM $495; www.mcdsp.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.