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Sugar Bytes Effectrix Review at Layman's Reviews

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The Sugar Bytes name might not have been around for as long as many of the heavyweight audio software developers out there, but this fact has done nothing to stop the Sugar Bytes folks from making a huge splash among producers looking for smart, innovative and even inspirational plug-ins. We recently took their WOW resonance filter out for a spin and loved every minute of it, so needless to say we were itching to get our hands on the Effectrix and see what the little beast is capable of!

For those unfamiliar with the Effectrix concept, it could best be described as an ‘effects sequencer’. So where most VSTs simply provide a single effect which stays ‘on’ throughout an entire track, the Effectrix allows you to control up to fourteen different effects and specify when the effects are in use across a 32-step sequencer. Setting when an effect comes into play simply consists of painting blocks onto the sequencer grid, the length of which can be as short as one bar, or as long as eight bars. It’s a very smart principle and, aside from dBlue's Glitch, still relatively rare.

As always, the GUI (graphical user interface) is the first thing that strikes you when firing up a new plug-in. In the case of the Effectrix, everything is crystal clear and very intuitive to use. The sequencer layout looks reassuringly familiar, while the positioning of the parameter controls is equally commonsense. The ‘rainbow’-style colour scheme is also very appealing to look at and adds a welcome splash of colour, especially when compared to the drab, utilitarian look of most high-end VSTs.

All in all, the Effectrix offers fourteen different effects: X-loop, loop, scratch loop, reverse, stretch, vinyl, tonal delay, stutter, crush, filter, phaser, chorus, delay and reverb. Most of these should be fairly familiar, but a couple of them are slightly more leftfield. The X-loop, for example, is a looping effect with the built-in ability to shift pitch and buffer size, while the scratch loop offers a weird vinyl ‘stop and start’ sound. As well as being able to control when the effects are operational, each comes with additional parameters to tweak the exact sound. Some of these are specific to the particular effect while others, such as wet/dry, are common throughout. There is also a handy option to automate up to two of each effects' parameters with Effectrix for even more variety.

Worth noting is that some of the effects occasionally gave out a slightly reduced output volume compared to the dry signal, especially when multiple effects were being used in unison. While this would not prove to be much of a problem for ordinary effects plug-ins, the sequenced nature of the effects in Effectrix means that these drops in volume, no matter how slight, were noticeable. However, some tweaking of the individual effect’s parameters or a dash of compression usually fixed the problem.

The strength of having such a flexible and broad variety of effects quickly becomes apparent after just a couple of hours of use; the scope for experimentation is immense. In the hands of the Effectrix, even dull and uninspired passages become vibrant, funky affairs. A handful of presets are provided by Sugar Bytes (as well as presets for the individual effects), but really the emphasis is on seeking out your own ways of distorting your arrangements, which is almost always an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

While all the effects are of a high quality, some of the more familiar functions - such as the chorus, delay and reverb - may sound a little bit tame in comparison to some of the wackier sonic possibilities that Effectrix allows for. Despite this, it's good to see Sugar Bytes have included them, and their inclusion means that the Effectrix is capable of a broader gamut of sounds. Not everyone is looking to completely deconstruct their arrangements, so it is comforting to have a few more subtle effects to chose from.

Having said that, one criticism is the lack of options to give the distinctive‘glitched’ sound so prevalent in current music, especially among the electro kids. While the Effectrix arguably is not targetting quite the same market as glitch VSTs such as dBlue's Glitch and the Smartelectronix Supatrigga, the sequencer layout of the Effectrix would clearly lend itself well to the task. For example, a ‘rearrange’ option like the one that Supatrigga offers could greatly expand the Effectrix’s audio mangling capabilities. Perhaps such an option has not been included because it would not sit well with Effectrix’s awesome live capabilities…

On that subject, when paired with software such as Ableton, the Effectrix reveals itself to be a very versatile performance tool. Users have the option of creating numerous different sequence patterns, which can be triggered on-the-fly using a midi keyboard, giving the Effectrix a viable live dimension. Patterns can also be assigned to any other midi input you care to mention and for those with some imagination, the possibilities of such a set-up are remarkably broad. For example, the patterns could be assigned to be triggered by footswitch for live guitar or drum performances to spice up the stage show. It’s also worth noting that so far we have experienced no problems with CPU load, even on quite large, processor-heavy projects, so we're confident Effectrix is reliable enough to use regularly in stage situations.

 

Summary

 

Sugar Bytes’ Effectrix is not quite perfect, but it certainly isn’t far off. Some minor quirks do little to tarnish the worth of this magnificent plug-in, and as a creative tool it’s pretty much indispensable. We could easily fill several pages trying to convey the sheer variety on offer, and the capacity the Effectrix has for breathing new life into tired arrangements. Factor in the extensive possibilities it has for live use and the result is a plug-in which, despite some room for improvement, comes highly recommended.

Try before you buy

Download Effectrix trial version for free!

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