Table of Contents

Understanding the Basics

The FutzBox comes with a variety of Futz effects whose basic operation is described in the following paragraphs.

Synthetic Impulse Models (SIMs)

Unlike impulse responses, a SIM uses significantly less CPU power, has no internal latency, and can be manipulated in real-time. Each SIM has a unique set of parameters that can adjusted via the Tune control.

The FutzBox includes a library of modeled sonic foot prints of a variety of devices commonly used in music and post production. Devices such as radios, telephones, speakers, televisions, and many others are available from an organized menu in the SIM section.

These SIMs, when combined with the other effects available in the FutzBox offer a wide pallet of sounds to mangle audio, or create the illusion of dialog coming from a low fidelity communication device.

High-Pass Filter (HPF)

High-Pass Filters remove signal below the selected frequency, and pass the signal above the selected frequency unaffected (hence the term high pass). High-Pass Filters have a slope measured in the amount of signal reduction (in dB) per frequency octave. Typically these values are in multiples of 6 dB / Oct. At the exact selected frequency of the High-Pass Filter the signal reduction is usually - 3 dB, however this can change based on filter design.

A High-Pass Filter is useful for removing low frequency rumble, unwanted vocal plosives, and DC offsets. For 'futzing' applications, the loss of low end frequency content is typical of many communication devices including phones, walkie-talkies, radios, megaphones, etc.

Low-Pass Filter (LPF)

Low-Pass Filters remove signal above the selected frequency, and pass the signal below the selected frequency unaffected (hence the term low pass). Low-Pass Filters have a slope measured in the amount of signal reduction (in dB) per frequency octave. Typically these values are in multiples of 6 dB / Oct. At the exact selected frequency of the Low-Pass Filter the signal reduction is usually - 3 dB, however this can change based on filter design.

A Low-Pass Filter is useful for background noise such as tape hiss, waterfalls, general ambient background noise.

Parametric EQ

Parametric EQ is used to add or subtract signals at the selected frequency, at the selected amount (gain), over the selected bandwidth (Q).

Distortion

A signal becomes distortion when its amplitude range is no longer linear. Some range of the amplitude is limited, and that limiting process produces a distorted sound. In the digital domain, this occurs when the signal level hits the 0 dB maximum. In the analog domain this can occur at a variety of levels, and can have varied sonic characteristics. FutzBox provides several types of distortion emulating various degrees of sonic destruction. An Intensity control varies this effect further, in subtle (and not so subtle) ways depending on the type of distortion selected.

Rectification

A signal becomes rectified when the negative (or positive) portion of its waveform is reduced to zero. This can be a problem in some communication devices under less than ideal conditions. The FutzBox allows the user to control the amount of signal rectification by controlling the amount of signal reduction in the negative portion of the audio waveform. A rectification setting of 50% will completely reduce the signal level of the negative waveform cycle to zero. A rectification setting of 100% completely inverts the negative waveform cycle. Rectification settings greater than 50% can introduce additional pitch distortion into the incoming signal.

Noise Generator

The FutzBox comes with a basic noise generator that can add background noise to incoming audio. High pass and Low-Pass Filters are applied to the noise so its sonic footprint can vary from that of the audio signal. A noise ducking section can be used to reduce the noise level once incoming audio exceeds a selected threshold. The amount of noise reduction is controllable via a range control, and the rate at which the noise returns to its original level is adjusted via a recovery control.

Gate

A gate is used to remove unwanted background or low level noise by attenuating the input signal once it falls below a threshold. In this state the gate status is commonly referred to as 'closed' - no audio is passing through it. In some more advanced gates (like in the FutzBox), the amount of attenuation, or range, is also controllable. A range control will allow some amount of signal to pass, or none at all. When the gate is no longer attenuating, the signal passes unaffected. In this state the gate status is commonly referred to as 'open'.

Some gates (like in the FutzBox and other McDSP products) have a hold control. The hold control sets the amount of time the gate remains open even after the signal level has fallen below the selected threshold. This prevents the gate from opening/closing repeatedly, creating an unwanted buzzing affect on the output signal.

Attack and release times determine how quickly the gate stops and starts attenuating (opens and closes). Fast attack and release times are great for percussive tracks, where the signal level is changing rapidly. Slower settings are better for vocals and bass instruments.

For the purposes of sonic destruction, the FutzBox gate has some other purposes including the reduction of noise output from the noise generator when no signal is coming into the FutzBox, creating static or signal dropouts, or for altering the attack and decay of the incoming audio.