WNAMM02:Alesis Unveils The ModFX Line

US 14 Unique Performance Effect Boxes, Each One Providing Sound, Effects, Modulation, And Digital Signal Processing      28/01/02

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The ever helpful Mike Peake showed us around the new ModFX line, a family of performance effects boxes that includes 14 individual units, each one providing a different set of sound effects and signal processing. Of particular interest to musicians, DJs, and recordists is the versatile modulation section on several of the boxes, providing control over the sound of the effects, including the ability to sync modulation to incoming music tempo. Every box in the ModFX line digitally processes analog stereo signals and maintains a uniform, friendly, uncomplicated user interface. With cool and catchy descriptive (Alesis’s words not ours) names such as Smashup, Nastify, Faze, Crush, and Metavox, the ModFX line will capture the imagination of the industry. Each product - designed with internal 28-bit digital processing - allows the user to connect to multiple units within the family via the link ports (in and out) located on either side of each box. These links allow the units to pass digital audio, word clock and power between ModFX line family members. Analog I/O is provided via four separate ¼” unbalanced connectors, and each unit comes with an Alesis AC power supply. A fifth ¼” connector allows an external footswitch to control the Bypass function. Each unit is sized to fit a 1/3-U rack space; an optional rack mount adapter will also be available.
We listened to the Philtre (one of the working prototypes) which offered a surprising amount of control from a such a small unit. The ModFX are expected to retail at $129 and shipping from April 2002. The ModFX line includes:
  • Fidelity X - This is the “communications simulator” of the ModFX line. It simulates tape, vinyl, radio, megaphone, telephone, and digital. Features include the ‘Year’ parameter that defines the “age” or “vintage” of the simulation; the ‘Mono’ button that combines the input stereo signal into a mono signal and feeds it through the processor; the ‘Quality’ knob which controls the fidelity of the particular simulation in the selected year; the ‘Drive’ knob that adjusts the amount of distortion; the ‘Tone’ knob which filters the output providing a bass or treble boost; and the ‘Mix’ knob that adjusts the amount of “wet” (affected) signal compared to the “dry” (unaffected) signal.
  • Vertigo - This is a world-class Leslie simulator. In addition to re-creating the vintage sound of the original, Vertigo can also produce great new variations on the classic sound. Vertigo sports Fast, Slow, And Idle buttons to set the speed of the rotating horn simulation. The ‘Mix’ knob will adjust the amount of “wet” (affected) signal compared to the “dry” (unaffected) signal.
  • Ampliton - This unit combines a tremolo with an autopan. The low frequency oscillator (LFO) of both the tremolo and the autopan can be independently set according to the user’s sound desires. The LFO can be set to triangle, square, sample and hold, triggered, and “uncertainty” waveforms. Each LFO can be beat synchronized to the music, and a ‘Beat Tap’ button enables the user to adjust the tempo.
  • Spectron - This unit adds bass and treble harmonics to a signal. The user can define the frequency and volume of the harmonic generator for the bass and treble synthesizers. Controls can also eliminate the original signal from the output and generate only the synthesized harmonics. The ‘Bass Limiter’ provides the user with a means to limit the strength of the bass synthesizer.
  • Bitrman - Here’s a extraordinary effects box comprised of compression, distortion, dual phasing and a fourth selected effect that can either be a comb, decimator, bit reducer, frequency modulator, ring modulator, or frequency shift. The four effects can be configured multiple ways by adjusting the ‘Configure’ parameter.
  • Koruz - What’s a family of performance effect products without a chorus effect box? The chorus effect can be modulated by triangle, hyper-triangle, square, sample and hold, “uncertainty”, or triggered LFO shapes. The ‘Depth’ knob controls the amount of modulation.
  • Phlnjr - Here’s a flanger box with an amazing modulation section. All of the modulation waveforms can be beat synchronized to the input music. Some of the features include the ‘Type’ switch that describes the type of the flanging effect; the ‘Beat Tap’ switch that enables the user to control the tempo used in the beat synchronizer; the ‘Center’ knob that controls the range of the frequencies affected; the ‘Rate’ knob that controls the speed of the oscillations; and the ‘Depth’ knob, controlling the amount of modulation.
  • Formantz - Formants are filters that emulate the sounds of speech; Formantz is an advanced filter modeling box that will leave you speechless. The filter can be modulated by either triangle, sample and hold, triggered, “uncertainty”, or “pattern” waveforms, and all of the modulation waveforms can be beat synchronized to the input music. The ‘Frequency’ knob controls the center frequency of the filter; The ‘Modify’ knob varies the selected ‘Type’.
  • Lymitre - A remarkable two-band limiter with great controls including the ‘Look Ahead’ switch, enabling a look-ahead peak limiter; the ‘sizzle’ switch that adds post-limiting brightness; and the ‘Crossover’ knob that enables the user to set the frequency that separates the two bands.
  • Metavox - This unit is a vocoder where the user can choose four different types of internal synthesizers (Saw, Rectified Saw, Square, And Noise). The synthesizer is modulated by one of five sources (triangle, sample and hold, triggered, “uncertainty”, and tracking) that can all be beat synchronized with the aid of the ‘Beat Tap’ button. There’s also a control that allows for setting the frequency of the internal synthesizer. Another great feature of Metavox is that it also allows an external synthesis source to be input and voice-modulated.
  • Faze - This is a phasor effect box loaded with features and controls including the ‘Type’ of phasor that is selected from options including Deep Mono, Dual Mono, Contrary Stereo, Asynchronous Stereo, and Liquid Metal. Five different modulation waveforms can be selected, each of which can be beat synchronized with the aid of the ‘Beat Tap’ button.
  • Philtre - Meet the ModFX line’s resonant filter. The user can select either Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass, Low Pass Alias or any combination as filter types. Five different modulation waveforms can be selected, each of which can be beat synchronized. The ‘Reset Mod’ button will reset the phase of the LFO; the ‘Steep’ button switches between 4- and 6-pole filters.
  • Nastify - Like its name implies, this is a distortion effect box with attitude and edge. Six different styles of distortion can be selected: Warmth, Fuzz, Distortion, Thick, Chunk, and Stellar. Knobs control drive, tone, and the amount of output gain.
  • Smashup - Yes, it’s a compressor. The user can select from five different type of compression: Classic, Opto, De-Ess, Pump, and Fat. The ‘Threshold’ controls the threshold level; The ‘Attack’ and ‘Release’ control the attack and release values for the compressor. The ‘Output’ parameter controls the output gain.
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