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FXpansion Bloom Review At Voxcaliber

Bloom from FXpansion is a full-featured delay processor with a variety of effects that can be patched anywhere in the signal path. At its heart is a single stereo delay, either full stereo or ping pong, but extensive modulation allows the processing to go far beyond that.

Interface

 

When first opening the plug-in I thought, “Damn, I’m going to have to read the manual, aren’t I?” (The manual is online here if you’re into that kind of thing.) But after working with the plug in for a while, the layout began to make some sense. The center section controls the delay, with two large knobs for delay time and feedback. Between the knobs are input and output meters, and switches for some delay functions. Delay can be set in milliseconds or note values in this section.

To the left of those knobs are the three delay modes, and beside that a knob to increase the distortion and degradation in each of those modes. When set to Digital mode, the knob next to it selects “Digital Era” for digital bit and sample rate degradation effects. Setting the delay to BBD mode emulates an analog bucket brigade delay, and the accompanying knob sets the number of delay stages.

The third delay mode is Tape, and actually does a nice job of emulating a tape delay. You choose “tape age” with the degradation knob, and high and low filtering are also available. Ambient music producers will like the tape delay mode, which can dial in some Tangerine Dream sounds. The only issue is that the “tape age” knob also increases the noise quite a bit. Sure it’s realistic, but it would be nice to have that noise on a separate control.

All three flavors of delay sound great, and you’ll have no trouble fitting them into a mix.

Effects

 

Several effects are available in addition to delay. We already mentioned the highpass and lowpass filters, but there’s also a pair of three-band equalizers – one for the feedback loop and another for the output. There’s a chorus (preset rate and adjustable depth), a subtle overdrive, even a frequency shifter (±1 octave range). But wait, there’s more – the “diffusion network” adds reverberation with adjustable size, decay, and amount.

These additional effects, and the “FX EQ“ can be placed either before the feedback, inside the feedback, or after the delay. The diffusor can also be moved around in the chain.

Modulation

 

Modulation is where Bloom truly excels, turning it into a powerful tool for sound design. Available as modulation sources are two LFOs, three sequencers, an envelope follower, and a sample and hold. Nearly every parameter can be modulated from one or more of these modulation sources. They can even modulate each other, such as LFO 1 changing the rate of LFO 2.

The first of the sequencers has a “delay” mode, which allows the delay time to be changed on certain steps of the grid. Bloom has a “slew” parameter to control how quickly it changes to the new parameter, either immediate or slowly pitching up to the new setting. All of the sequencers have a “drunk” setting  – which changes the direction randomly – and other tricks to dial in your sound.

The only downside to all of this modulation is that the CPU usage can get out of control. I saw a CPU overload while rendering in Cubase 7 on my 8-core Mac Pro with 24GB of RAM, with few other plug-ins running. Bloom has an “HD mode” to process internally at a higher sample rate – it sounds great but can add to CPU strain. If your computer is overloaded, switch to SD mode or render the track to audio.

Conclusions

 

Bloom is a deep plug-in – we’ve only scratched the surface of what it’s capable of. The delays sound great. There are three different flavors and modulation sounds very smooth. And the amount of modulation is insane – you can just keep piling it on until your computer blows up. The UI is a bit daunting, but you’re getting a rack of effects with seven modular mod sources.

For comparison shoppers, Ronin from Audio Damage does some of the same tricks, with fewer features but more flexible routing. Eventide’s H3000 Factory is another one to consider. It does much of this and more, but at five times the price. (As always, the best advice is to get all of these and two others.)

Testing with guitar, synth, vocals, and loops, Bloom sounds great on everything. Delay all the things!

 

Original Source - Voxcaliber

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