Arturia Dist COLDFIRE evaluation: a red-hot coloration, overdrive, distortion multi-effect

Distortion? Already . However Dist COLDFIRE goes additional, even in comparison with different current instruments with dual-distortion and modulation. Deep inside, you get a multi-effects toybox with instruments for a spread of coloration.

It’s actually the sort of distortion impact that may rival what you get from outboard gear. So sure, having two layers of distortion with some modulation thrown in isn’t itself new in {hardware}. However Arturia did two issues which might be welcome. First, they packed a bunch of extra tweakable distortion modules in there. And second, they created an uncommonly legible, dynamic UI that will help you navigate all of the sound sculpting choices.

The upshot is, that you simply do have gnarly, over-the-top distortion on demand whenever you need it. However you additionally get a spread of extra nuanced coloration and mixtures of overdrive, filtering, and compression. That makes Dist COLDFIRE particularly addictive as a result of it can provide any monitor just a little extra edge and colour, dialed into any subtlety or excessive you need.

I actually by no means have too many distortions – see some mentions beneath. However Dist COLDFIRE suits a novel area of interest, each in plug-ins general, and in Arturia’s rising results vary.

Interface and bundle

Dist COLDFIRE is at its coronary heart two distortion slots – A and B, on the left- and right-hand aspect of the interface. Every has pre- and post-filtering choices, and also you get varied routing choices:

  • Serial
  • Parallel
  • Mid/aspect
  • Band break up

All of the modes aside from Serial have a slider for adjusting steadiness (or cutoff frequency, within the case of band break up).

The middle of the UI is novel for Arturia – it’s an opulent, animated coloured backdrop that vibrates as you route sound by it.

As typical, it’s nicely price toggling Superior whenever you wish to get artistic making your personal presets. Within the backside panel, you’ll discover LFOs, operate mills, envelope mills, and step sequencers, all with a bunch of choices. Every of these slots is switchable from the pop-up menu subsequent to the identify – hey, that is software program, not {hardware} – so you’ll be able to select any mixture of modulators for the six slots. I count on you’ll nonetheless spend most of your time simply dialing in a little bit of saturation and overdrive, however whenever you do really feel bold, you could possibly assemble a whole track on this panel.

There’s additionally a built-in compressor and helpful grasp macro knobs – helpful for project throughout jams or stay performances.

Distortion fashions

Fairly and usable because the UI is, it’s actually the fashions that make this plug-in. Every of the 2 distortion buses may be configured to a selection of modeled analog circuitry or digital bit mangling.

Bit inverter – bit flips the primary 8-bits of an inner 10-bit engine for some delicate crunchy and excessive digital scrambling.

Bit crusher – pattern charge and bit depth discount, with aliasing and jitter knobs plus arduous or mushy choice.

Wavefolder – provides overtones and vitality by “bouncing again” or folding the enter sign. Right here, there’s a really helpful drive management. And this comes with a bunch of shapes:

Rectifier – reshapes destructive part for extra harmonics and overtone. Regulate Heart to steadiness out harmonics, and Slope so as to add extra or fewer overtones.

Waveshaper – reshapes the sign (somewhat than folding)… wait, these are arduous to explain because the phrases are already the perfect descriptions. However packed in listed below are a bunch of extra shapes, some mimicking circuitry, and others extra like harsh digital results. Plus once more you get an all-important Drive management to dial issues in.

Transformer – with each iron and nickel choices, it is a mannequin of magnetic hysteresis. Making an attempt to grasp that intimately will take you again to physics class – it’s mainly what occurs when nickel or iron realigns to an exterior magnetic subject. However for musical functions, do not forget that tape recording makes use of steel and magnets, and determine you get both a gentler nickel choice, or extra intense iron choice that has a larger influence on low- and mid-frequencies. And once more – Drive for extra management.

Pressure – we already had Bus FORCE from Arturia; now we get what is outwardly that set of algorithms once more, modeled on Overstayer gear (they’ll’t name out the model identify, however I can). You get odd, even, “thick,” and overdrive sorts, plus Drive. The Curve choice really attenuates low frequencies pre-distortion then – right here’s the cool half – boosts them again post-distortion. That approach you get cleaner distortion however retain all of your lows.

Tape – it’s tape saturation, with drive.

Tube – it’s tubes. Nevertheless it’s the Profile knob you don’t wish to miss – that morphs between Pentode (symmetric, odd harmonics) and Triode (uneven, odd and even harmonics). That’s not apparent this UI, however it’s actually vital.

Germanium – the diode-based Germanium preamp mannequin is a few of the finer work Arturia has completed currently. And you’ll inform they know that, too, as a result of they maintain including it in every single place. (It first confirmed up of their Area Echo-modeling Delay TAPE-201.) Notice the mic / aux selection, and steady Drive management – this is without doubt one of the easiest choices within the set, however it’s usually one of many best-sounding.

Transistor – it’s a transistor-based overdrive, not far more to say – however sounds good, like having a guitar stomp in your DAW.

What’s nice about this assortment is that you simply’ll begin to hear and really feel these fashions kick in as you push Drive (and enter ranges), simply as the actual {hardware} would. That is additionally why modeling analog circuitry on computer systems has a operate past nostalgia or one thing. As a substitute of simply clipping and breaking, it’s far more nice if overdriving sounds provides harmonic content material.

And that’s the place the subtlety is available in – what might or will not be obvious is that these fashions are all tuned in order that they can be utilized for combine bus processing. I imply, don’t consider them as mastering plug-ins otherwise you’ll turn out to be a brand new nightmare in your mastering engineer. However should you do wish to get artistic with coloration of sound of the entire mission or particular person parts, you are able to do that. It’s not solely a matter of cranking up excessive distortion.

Constructed-in tutorials stroll you thru not simply the fundamentals of the interface, however helpful recommendations on sound design.

Sound shaping and expanded options

The pre- and post-filtering choices are actually your go-to when you get comfy with the fundamental distortion fashions. Pre-filtering is definitely a multimode filter, with comb and notch along with LP / HP / BP. Because the (very useful) tutorials level out, this may imply you’ll be able to construct your personal aural exciter by distorting frequencies above 8 kHz, utilizing a high-pass filter. And the comb filtering can sound actually wild.

The compressor is itself actually helpful. And in reality, you actually don’t have to think about Dist COLDFIRE as a “distortion” device on a regular basis. You’ll be able to think about it as a helpful compressor with a bunch of analog and digital coloration choices in-built.

The dynamics processing slot features a easy Compressor, Multiband Compressor, and a brick-wall Limiter – with custom-made choices for every of these, and every set to pre- or post-processing. Every has tweakable parameters, however Multiband additionally comes with some ready-to-play presets, together with the sought-after OTT (“Over The High”) sound first seen in Ableton Dwell. Yeah, a few of us are getting outdated – we are actually actually getting nostalgic about outdated Ableton releases.

Multiband presets, together with what’s presumably the primary Ableton Dwell emulation in Arturia’s software program. Classic Ableton Dwell. (It’s nice on this context, although, mixed with distortion!)

Don’t overlook the Suggestions module, both. It’s a filtered suggestions delay, with each “Notch” and “Shade” choices, which you’ll apply to both distortion slot A, B, or each. It’s also possible to set clock-synced (with triplet or dotted choices), free, or pitch-tuned time settings.

Dynamics and Suggestions alone make Dist COLDFIRE a number of results in a single, and that’s earlier than you go wild with the Modulators part. These panes have begun to look extra constant throughout Arturia’s product line, which is an efficient factor – there’s much less cognitive overhead should you’ve been programming in Pigments or one of many V Assortment, and the interface is clear and approachable, with numerous animated suggestions.

The sequencer has a stunning variety of choices – and you’ll have multiple sequencer operating, with totally different speeds and charges.

The modulation is highly effective and versatile, with multi-segment envelopes and LFOs, plus straightforward visible project to no matter parameter you need. The Step Sequencer appears easy sufficient – as much as 16 steps – however you’ll be able to really use a number of sequencers with totally different Size and Charge settings for polyrhythms.

Like I stated, you could possibly mainly stay inside this impact and make entire tracks there. It’s gorgeous. It’s really so deep, although, that typically you’ll wish to ignore all of this, for the reason that easy distortion slots and compressor will already cowl a number of day-to-day wants.

The competitors

On the artistic aspect, you’re definitely spoiled for selection. I’m nonetheless an enormous fan of Noise Engineering’s Ruina (which is out there in {hardware} kind, as nicely) and d16’s Decimort bitcrusher (actually a vintage-style bitcrusher, even), Redopter tube distortion, and particularly Devastator multiband distortion. These have a wholly totally different UI strategy and – frankly sound totally different sufficient that I need them round, too.

Rift from Minimal Audio is actually the closest rival to Arturia right here. At first, I assumed they’d be extra alike – Rift additionally has a semi-modular strategy, two distortion buses, wavefolding and waveshaping, and modulation. One way or the other, although, put these components collectively and you’ve got two plug-ins that operate and sound actually totally different from each other. Rift’s concentrate on multipolar distortion is exclusive; Dist COLDFIRE has far more analog modeling. Rift actually emphasizes multi-band approaches to distortion in several parts of the sound; Dist COLDFIRE is in the end I feel simpler to tame and works convincingly as a bus processor (which I’d by no means even try with Rift). Ultimately, I do desire Arturia’s extra polished strategy and {hardware} modules, however I’ll maintain all of them round. (And don’t overlook Rift on Dist COLDFIRE’s strategy, even when for no different cause that minimal’s wavefolding strategy is genuinely distinctive.)


Dist COLDFIRE is one thing particular. It actually looks like having a studio full of substances and a few artistic Eurorack modules on the prepared inside your DAW, for coloration, artistic, mixing, and mastering duties alike.

Arturia has been engaged on increasingly more intelligent distortion, together with some nice additions to the FX Assortment. However Dist COLDFIRE represents a brand new stage for Arturia on the whole. Its interface polish and value are unmatched – and a welcome change from solely skeumorphic recreations of previous gear.

And it’s approach deeper than even the advertising may counsel. This isn’t only a distortion device. It’s an every thing processor for anybody who loves classic gear, classic coloration, and distortion. It’s one to return again to and strategy in new methods for various initiatives. And if this software program is the place Arturia is headed now, crank up the Drive and let’s go.

Arturia Dist COLDFIRE

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