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Cooper FX Arcades Modular Multi-FX Workstation : Card Spotlight Series #6 : LOFI

Bitcrushing and Lo-FiCooper FXDelayGlitchModulationReverb+-
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2021GPXCooperFXArcadesLoFiCard700.jpg

The 6th card in my series is very much core Tom Majeski territory as a number of his original hardware boxes operate in similar areas - just with a few more parameter controls at your disposal - this is more like a subset of that actually. This can in some ways be considered somewhat adjacent to the Generation Loss Card - with some interesting oddities thrown into the mix to spice things up.

 

Two of these modulations are likely my favourite Arcades algorithms to date - also in how they inspired me to play - but more of that later. There’s quite a bit of ambient noise on tap here, with signal smoothing and damping - as well as somewhat more spiky bitcrushed tones. I’m not 100% clear on the musical usage scenarios for a couple of the Modes - while everything else really does inspire some interesting and dynamic playing.

 

Generally I didn’t mess around to much with the core ABCD - Dry, Wet, Tone and Clock parameters - while I did though tweak Tone and Clock Rate for a couple of the bitcrusher style algorithms - in order to get slightly more or slightly less of what I was hearing!

 

Tip 1 - There is real need for me to adjust tone on both Reverb algorithms here - which can be a little dark otherwise

 

Tip 2 - Altering the Clock Rate can give you even more interesting or more subtle bitcrusher tones and textures


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1 : VHS - VHS / Tape Effect Emulation with Pitch Modulation and bandwidth reduction

Warbly, slightly chorusey texturising VHS tape-style effect - very straightforward and easy to dial in - just set desired amount of Wow and Flutter - and adjust filters to taste! Simple,elegant and effective.

  • A : WOW - Amount of slower random modulation
  • B : FLUT - Amount of Flutter modulation
  • C : LPF : Low Pass Filter
  • D : HPF : High Pass Filter

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(9) (9) (11) (8) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


2 : Vinyl - Dusty Crackly and Warped Vinyl Noise Effect

Fantastic low-fi texture with some cool swirly stuff happening on top of snap, crackle, pop and hiss of Vinyl simulation. Possible my favourite algorithm to-date! And undeniable cool for intro and outto sections of tracks.

  • A : RPM - (Revolutions Per Minute) - Speed of Pitch Warbles
  • B : DPTH - Depth of Pitch Warble / Modulation
  • C : AGE - Amount of Filtering and Saturation - essentially 'dulls' throughput
  • D : NOIS - The degree of Vinyl Noise - Snap, Crackle, Pop and Hiss!

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(3) (11) (2) (5) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


3 : Crushr - Synth Style Dirty Square Wave fed into highly resonant Envelope Filter and with Sub Octave boom

Cool Swooshy and Squelchy Synth Style Effect with an extra Sub-Octave kick. A little bit raw in some ways, but does the job nicely, and can easily be used in musical context - I had a lot of fun with this algorithm - not quite what you expect.

  • A : SEN - Sensitivity of Envelope Filter
  • B : DET - Detune : turn up to detune one of the synth voices
  • C : SUB - Amount of Sub Octave
  • D : RES - Degree of Filter Resonance - watch out for oscillation at higher levels

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(10) (1) (1) (10) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


4 : Delay - Low Fidelity Delay with Flutter and Sample Rate Reduction

With my preferred settings - this is an amazingly cool textured delay - bas a sort of metallic spring quality to it - just sounds fantastic for bouncing off rhythm lines, and is great for playing off and responding too in turn. A very simple effect really - but one of the more magical ones to play with. I think I had a certain serendipity about locking in those settings and getting lost in the groove.

  • A : TIME - Delay Time between hitting strings and first audible repeat - also controlled by TAP footswitch
  • B : FBK - Degree of Feedback / Repeats
  • C : SRATE - Degree of Sample Rate Reduction - introduces that metallic spring texture
  • D : FLUT - Degree of Random Flutter Modulation

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(8) (9) (1) (10) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


5 : Reverb - Dusty and Spooky Reverb inspired by CBA Dark World

Indeed this is a very suitably wooshy / dusty / spooky reverb as described in the title. Much like with the Vinyl Mode - I like to max out the Noise element for maximum atmospheric impact! Very straightforward to use and easy to dial in.

  • A : DCY - Decay of Reverb / fade-out
  • B : MOD - Degree of Random Modulation
  • C : NOIS - Amount of Instability and Hiss
  • D : LPF - Low Pass Filter : apply to darken / dampen Reverb

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(1) (12) (5) (10) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


6 : RngMod - Ring Modulator with Fine-Tuning and Randomisation

This is quite an odd one - with the Ring mod notes anchoring this effect, but some crazy randomised oscillation / arpeggiation happening over the top. I've decided to call my Preset below - 'Argument Overheard in a Droid Workshop' - as that's what kind of springs to mind. Great for some sci-fi atmospherics, but not so sure on the musicality of this one within a song-structure. This was particularly tricky to dial in, and I'm still not sure how to use this successfully within a musical context. No doubt a weirdly cool effect - possibly best deployed incidentally.

  • A : FREQ - Frequency of Ring Modulation
  • B : FINE - Tune / Refine Range of Modulation
  • C : RAND - Degree of Randomization of Frequency
  • D : RSPD - Adjust Speed of Randomization

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(3) (2) (2) (5) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


7 : BitVrb - Smeared LoFi Reverb with Sample Reduction on Tails

This is another one pretty much exactly as per the overview title - very much a smeared, bitcrushed reverb - you need to adjust Tone and Clock Rate here to get optimal effect / impact. I would like a bit more of a dampening action here to make this more like a soft spring - vs medium hard one really as is. Both reverbs can tend towards the dark -meaning some Tone adjustment is typically desirable.

  • A : DCY - Decay of Reverb Tails
  • B : DIFF - Degree of Diffusion / Smearing
  • C : DIGI - Sample Rate Reduction on Reverb Tails
  • D : AMNT - Amount of Signal that is fed into the Sample Reducer

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(1) (2) (5) (8) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


8 : Synth - Bitcrusher infused Synth with Filter and Attack Control

I've called my Preset below 'Dr Who' as that's what it reminds me of - a sort of sharp stabby synth with some residual warble - another great sci-fi style effect, while I did eventually find a number of suitably musical ways to deploy this versus the rather odder RingMod above!

  • A : SEN - Sensitivity of sampling
  • B : CRSH - Sample Rate Reduction of Synth Voice
  • C : LPF - Low Pass Filter
  • D : ATK - Attack : Time taken for synth voice to fade in - squelch!

Example / Preferred Settings :

'A' 'B' 'C' 'D'
(9) (10) (5) (9) o'clock (7 is min, 5 is max)


Final Thoughts

Lofi is something of a game of two halves for me - I really love the first half of effects - in particular the Vinyl and Delay Modes.

 

In the latter half the Reverb and BitVrb are quite usable really - while the Ring Mod and Synth Algorithms are more than a little bit odd. I was able to deploy the Synth fairly musically in the end - but still a very textured sci-fi edged effect. While I found the Ring Mod a little hard to dial in - and those random oscillating / arpeggiating elements really get in the way of any melody. So while I was able to get a cool effect - it didn't really inspire any music structures for me - and rendered it rather more as an ambient soundtrack effect.

 

A couple of these algorithms are a little tricky to dial in - but by and large these are mostly very easy to adapt too. Everyone should at least try out the Vinyl and Delay effects with my settings - you will be smitten too!

 

I wonder if Tom will ever offer up a custom card service like David Rolo does for his Molecular Disruptor. It would be rather cool to specify a gig-ready card or two which contained all the algorithms you wanted to deploy for those songs - on just one or two cards - you could split the playlist, and switch cards in the interval if you needed more variety. Certainly something worth considering ...

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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