Here’s a taste treat for you. Arturia’s _Efx REFRACT combines stereo super unison processing with multi-effects (filters, bitcrusher, distortion, harmonizer) and modulation, all with a fun UI. And that’s the makings of a fantastic holiday for your ears.

This is one of the simpler ideas we’ve seen from Arturia, but not coincidentally, it’s also one of the most effective. And there’s a cute UI that provides an abstract visualization of how it works. The “refract” part is the super unison engine, which you can dial from one stereo voice up to a thick lather of eight. From there, the signal is fed into one of several effects and parameters:

  • Bandpass filter (cutoff, resonance)
  • Comb filter (cutoff, resonance)
  • Bitcrusher (downsampling factor, bit depth)
  • Distortion (drive) with multiple algorithms (Tape, Germanium – take a shot*, Soft Bounce, Sine Folder wavefolder)
  • Harmonizer (spray, interval)

Then you add modulation. The Refraction amount and main Harmonizer parameter each can be targeted with a bipolar mod amount. There’s then a single LFO with sync option / clock div and various waveshapes – sine, triangle, saw, square, sample & hold, sample & glide.

And it just sounds terrific, with a lot of instant musical results that may or may not be obvious from that list above. Listen (sound source: D16 Nepheton 2 drum machines, see separate review):

You also get a highpass input and lowpass output filter for the whole effect, plus separate in and out levels. (There’s no internal limiter, so I inserted one after since you’re modulating a bunch of stuff.) And you get the usual Arturia extras – wet/dry lock and preset management.

Oh, by the way – simple is great, but the one feature you might feel cramped by is the single LFO, especially as you might want to modulate the refraction amount and effect mod separately. All parameters have host automation, though, so you can easily do this by popping in an LFO in your host of choice. Here’s a setup like that in Ableton Live 12:

Good times. Have at it:

Arturia Efx REFRACT

Now my only real regret here is that Arturia is going so crazy with effects ideas, it’d be great to have one multi-effect that brings them all together – a multi-effect that would be to their effects ideas what Pigments is to their synthesis ideas. (Or maybe inside Pigments, with more audio input options.) This super unison engine would be terrific inside Efx Motions, their blockbuster effect for 2023. But I’ll just put that out there to the folks in France and maybe they’ll dream about it over the holiday. (It’s CDM – engineer – product manager inception or something.)

*At some point I suggested an Arturia drinking game. It still needs rules, though the one constant is taking a shot for each time there’s a mention of the Germanium model. For your health, I suggest orange juice or Club Mate or something, though. CDM does not condone destroying your liver or other internal organs.