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Tom Majeski of Cooper FX Perfects the Usability and Intuition Formula with his new Card-based Arcades Modular Multi-FX Unit

Ambient EffectsBitcrushing and Lo-FiCooper FXDelayDelay WorkstationDigital DelayDigital ReverbEchoverbEnvelope Filter and Auto WahGlitchGranular DelayGuitar Synth and SequencerLo-Fi DelayModulationModulation WorkstationOctaverOddball DelayOddball ModulationPitchPitch-ShiftingReverbReverb WorkstationRing ModulationShimmer ReverbTape Delay+-
2020GPXCooperFXArcades700.jpg

I’ve long been a fan of Tom’s even though the only one of his creations I have to date is the Chase Bliss Audio Edition of his Generation Loss. I long considered his Moment Machine Pitch-Shifting Workstation, before I decided it was probably a little too large for my needs, and I had the recent Outward V2 on my imminent acquisitions list.

 

It’s as well really that I hadn’t hit the trigger sooner on that one, as Tom is obviously being influenced by the same developments and innovations as I, and has now created a masterpiece. I’ve always touted the use of intuitive graphic display screens - most recently in my posts about Neural DSP’s Quad Cortex device, and my own annual innovations summary in the guise of ’The Perfect Compact Guitar Pedal Design’ feature.

 

So the use of the on-screen graphical indicators with in-context legends really brings all that to mind, and the concept of the pedal also reminds me somewhat of Elta Music’s now discontinued Console device - also a smart modular (cartridge-based) multi-fx system with some clever controls, but missing the intuitiveness of a screen.

 

When I review the Arcades, part of me thinks the ABCD knobs should have been grouped AB | CD vertically rather than horizontally as in the current layout - as they would be closer to the functions they control. I also wonder about the stage-readiness of the card slot and long-term impact of component wear and exposure to elements and happenstance. But other than that this is really a perfect format for me - readers will know that this is just the kind of device I am likely to rave about.

 

Currently, because of supply issues - the purchasing of the unit is rather odd - as the China-originated cards are currently in very short supply. Tom has therefore decided to initially limit each purchase to two different $330 packages as such - with your choosing either the Delay + Reverb Cards option or the LoFI + Pitch combination option. Once Cards are re-stocked you will be able to buy these for $30-$50 each, with forthcoming cards feted to be Granular, Reverse Delays, Generation Loss and Synth - giving you a total of 8 swappable banks of effects.

 

Each Card comes loaded with 8 effects as detailed in my visual and below, and each Effect has 4 specific parameters which are labelled on the screen and controlled by knobs A|B|C|D. If you hit the ’Page’ button you get the second screen of 4 system parameters which remain the same for all Cards - Dry[A] Wet[B] Tone[C] Clock Rate[D]. The PRGM button allows you to scroll between effects algorithms and access various system parameters which appropriately change the screen legends and button assignments - for Footswitch, Expression, and Configuration control. The last mentioned is also where you set your 8 presets per Card - which are also stored on each card. There are all manner of clever configurations you can set here - like assigning any of the parameters to momentary footswitch or expression control etc. You really get the most utility here out of the simplest of form factors.

 

The available Effects are as follows per each named card :

 

DELAY Card

  1. Digitl = digital delay with two types of modulation : chorus and vibrato
  2. Revrse = reverse delay with pitch/playback speed and direction control
  3. Analog = emulation of analog delay with modulation and a unique fidelity control
  4. Tape = emulation of tape delay, accentuating the high and low frequency loss on tape delays
  5. Grains = granular delay
  6. Pitch = delay with ascending or descending pitch shifting in the feedback loop
  7. Multi = dual tap delays whose times are synced to the golden ratio ~1.62, with random modulation
  8. EnHold – envelope hold delay, freezes audio when an envelope detector is triggered by incoming audio

REVERB Card

  1. ModPit = modulated reverb with blendable octave up or octave down
  2. VHS = random warble, hiss, and filtering give this reverb a low fidelity VHS vibe
  3. Shim = shimmer reverb with selectable pitch interval
  4. EnHold = freezes a reverb loop based on the signal triggering and envelope detector
  5. Multi = multi tap reverb with random drop function
  6. Flange = flange verb
  7. Grnule = reverb with a granular effect applied to the trail
  8. Arp = arpeggiated reverb

LOFI Card

  1. VHS = tape/vhs emulation with pitch modulation and bandwidth reduction
  2. Vinyl = emulates the sound of an old vinyl, with bitch bends, filtering, crackly static, and hiss
  3. Crusher = aggressive filtered and crushed square wave/synthy voice
  4. Delay = low fidelity delay with sample rate reduction and random modulation
  5. Reverb = warbly dusty sounding reverb with less than optimal reverberation smearing
  6. RngMod = ring modulator with ability to randomize frequency
  7. BitVrb = reverb with digital sample rate reduction applied to the trails
  8. Synth = samples a chuck of your sound and re imagines it as a synth like voice

PITCH Card

  1. Dual = two voiced classic pitch shifter
  2. EnvGld = hard playing vs soft playing will cause the audio to change pitch
  3. Arppeg = two step arpeggiator
  4. ArpFrz = dual freezing delay buffers with pitch shifting, bouncing around from +1 to -1 octave
  5. Organ = simulates an organ soaked in the reverb of a cavernous cathedral
  6. Grains = plays back a chunk of audio, or grain, at a faster or slower speed to create a unique style of pitch shifting
  7. Glass = reversed reverb with pitch shifting
  8. Crystl = dual reverse delays with individual playback speed/pitch control

Those of you who have read my commentary on a variety of glitch-style pedals will know my biggest bugbears and pain-centres in using those pedals. And based on what I see here - this is the perfect execution of this kind of pedal. It’s just the kind of thing I’ve been searching for - a Glitch-style Multi-FX Unit with Intuitive Controls and Presets in a moderately sized smart enclosure. Tom deserves to sell bucketloads of these. I had thought that Hologram Electronics had mastered the Glitch Workstation Format with their new Microcosm - but for me the leader of the pack is most definitely the Cooper FX Arcades - it has the range, the form-factor and the added smart controls over and above everyone else - all hail the new King of Glitch Workstations!

 

The Arcades goes straight to the top of my acquisitions / wishlist - it will be taking up a long-term residence on slot #33 of my pedal-chain and just ahead of the GFI Syneshtesia - I’m really looking forward to that combination!

 

Here follow my pick of the launch videos :

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