Messing up audio signals can be a lot more fun than making them sound pretty. Not only is it a good time, but it’s often a stylistic necessity, especially in the realm of post-production. The FutzBox by McDSP is a go-to messer-upper, and a totally unique approach to using saturation as a sound designing tool. In this McDSP FutzBox review, we’ll offer a top-down overview of a specialized distortion plugin.
The McDSP FutzBox V7 Offers Wide-Ranging Distortion Capabilities
In a sentence, the FutzBox is a distortion and noise-generating plugin suited to lowering the fidelity of any incoming audio. The name comes from the post-production reference to “futzed” versions of dialog and other sounds, such as those coming through a phone, radio, or television. It isn’t just a post plugin, though, as it comes with filters and EQ, a dedicated distortion section, a noise generator, and a gate. The McDSP FutzBox is armed and ready for all levels of sonic destruction.
What’s New in the FutzBox V7?
While the guts of the Futz haven’t changed much between V6 and V7, the latest iteration includes support for all of the newest Apple M chips as well as Intel processors. V7 also comes with two activations per license, so you can install and register the plugin on more than one machine, if needed. Many of us run both desktop and laptop rigs depending on the scenario, so that’s a welcome addition in version 7.
A few new parameters came with V7 as well. These include Tuned intensity, Wobble, and Chop functions for more control over the distortion. General updates include overall improvements to performance on both Mac OS and Windows 10, a high-definition user interface, zero-latency algorithm, and all new presets.
McDSP FutzBox Review
SIM (Synthetic Impulse Models)
At the core of the FutzBox are Synthetic Impulse Models, or SIMs. SIMs accurately replicate how sound travels through everyday items, like the aforementioned phones, radios, TVs, megaphones, and more. You can manipulate the characteristics of each SIM on the fly for wealth of creative effects for post and music. McDSP has also managed to optimize these simulations in a way that doesn’t tax the CPU in native versions or the DSP in HD versions, compared to other convolution type plugins that are very resource-heavy.
Bring on the Lo-Fi!
Low fidelity used to describe anything with suboptimal production value, and now lo-fi is its own genre. The FutzBox is fully capable of dirtying up individual elements or even entire mixes. For example, you can run a mix through the FutzBox using a SIM of an old radio to give the whole song a bit of patina. The Mix control near the output of the plugin also lets you blend in just the right amount of lo-fi goodness while preserving some of the unaffected sound.
Dial in Your Distortion
The FutzBox is a versatile plugin all the way around. You can use it as a straightforward simulator for post-production and the like, or you can really dig under the hood and achieve some killer destructive sounds. The Distortion section of the module contains different modes, such as Fuzz, Nuke, and Clip, as well as various parameters to customize these modes further, including Rectify, Wobble, Intensity, and more.
McDSP FutzBox HD vs. Native: What’s the Difference?
The HD version of FutzBox includes the AAX DSP plugin format for use with Pro Tools DSP systems or devices. This is in addition to standard AAX, AU, and VST3 formats. The native version of FutzBox includes the three standard plugin formats and forgoes AAX DSP for strict use on host CPU power.
Consider the Emerald Bundle
The McDSP Emerald Pack features 12 plugins consisting of compressors, EQs, tape machine/analog signal path emulators, mastering limiters, and of course, the FutzBox. There are considerable savings to be had when purchasing the bundle over individual plugins, so it’s definitely worth considering if you plan to buy other McDSP plugins besides the FutzBox.
Final Thoughts: Who Is the McDSP FutzBox Built For?
The FutzBox is built for anyone from post-production engineers and sound designers to lo-fi music producers. Its intuitive interface and layout is a pleasure to use, and tonal variety ranges from simple emulations to pure distorted chaos. The FutzBox is a worthy addition to any growing plugin library.
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