Go To Plug-In: McDSP Futz Box
Whether I’m developing vintage, current or sci-fi phone, radio, television, speaker simulations, or I just want to thrash an audio signal, I always begin with one plug-in: McDSP’s Futz Box. Inevitably, that’s also where I stop.
The reason is simple. This little gem can help me quickly dial-in on unusual sounds, lo-fi signal crushing or simulating common household items with a few mouse clicks. With over over 160 emulations, each with adjustable parameters for filters, EQ and distortion, FutzBox is a must have plug-in for post production. It includes a powerful engine of filter effects and a hyper sensitive gate capable of simulating drop-outs, interference and even ducking so that voices can be mangled yet remain intelligible.
From convincing telephone simulators to small speakers, and even mimicking children’s toys, FutzBox is one of the most under-praised and often used plug-ins in my tool box. Each of the synthetic impulse model or SIMs can be manipulated in real time to achieve a wide variety of convincing effects.
McDSP claims it provides double precision processing and I can attest to it’s ultra low latency. Most convolution-type processors tend to require a lot of processing power but FutzBox is very efficient at creating chaos with your audio, without wreaking havoc on your DSP.
I’ve used this plugin to create radio chatter between police, desperate phone calls from areas with poor signal, vintage sportscasters, TV news reporters, mischievous kids with walkie-talkies and just about anything that needs to sound like it emanates from a small speaker, loud speaker or amp.
What does it sound like? FutzBox was prominently featured in episodes 31 and 32, of the Drift & Ramble Podcast both of which feature phone conversations as a primary element in each story. In Creepy Podcast’s version of the story A Room featuring the voices of new comer Rob Weeks and veteran voice-over pro Booth Junkie, Mike Delgaudio, the FutzBox was used to create the loudspeaker effect that permeates the story.
If there’s any complaints to be had with this plug-in it’s only one and is that McDSP is committed to using the iLok hardware device. According to McDSP there are no plans to back down from that platform. Even as iLok is developing a cloud based system that could eliminate the need for a USB key (oh let’s face it, it’s a dongle,) a McDSP representative I spoke to at NAMM told me they would likely continue with the hardware security solution. As it was relayed to me, McDSP (aka McDowell Signal Processing) is a relatively small company with limited resources and preventing software piracy is key to the company’s continued growth. I couldn’t agree more with that strategy and hence I’m a proud supporter of anything that helps McDSP continue to develop great software. Honestly, the only time I’m been inconvenienced by policy this is when I’ve absentmindedly left my iLok at home and can’t use the plug-ins.
McDSP recently won an Emmy for it’s SA-2 Dialogue plug-in (and has earned a place in my toolbox as well) and the company continues to receive media attention as well accolades from many of today’s top audio producers, engineers and sound designers for it’s 20 year history of making sound …sound better.
FutzBox is available in an AAX Native, AU, VST $129 stand-alone version and it also comes available in an HD version for AAX DSP with a price tag of $229 for the HD stand-alone version. Right now, as part of the company’s 20th anniversary celebration, users can purchase a 1 year subscription license to access all of their plugins for just $12.99 a month! There’s even a free iLok for those who qualify.
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