Arturia’s FX Collection has now hit version 5, bundling all the latest releases, refreshing existing plug-ins, and revealing two all-new effects: a clipper/limiter and an exciter.

The whole enchilada

Let’s start with the bottom line. FX Collection has gone from a handful of interesting effects and models to the best all-around effects bundle on the market. If you prefer ownership to subscriptions, this is likely your best route to covering all the bases of tools you might desire. It even at this point rivals some subscriptions for variety.

A funny thing happens then when you have all the Arturia effects. Because of some common interface elements, consistent function (especially UI), and excellent preset management, you start to turn to that Arturia folder first. I’d even argue at this point the FX Collection has eclipsed Arturia’s flagship V Collection on the synth side in terms of wide selection and consistency.

Baby, you’ve come a long way

Here’s the complete quick run-down:

  • Efx REFRACT, MOTIONS, and FRAGMENTS for more exotic effects (see my reviews below – these are unique coloration/super unison, animated modulation, and granular effects)
  • Dist COLDFIRE is an all-in-one distortion effect, plus OPAMP-21 and TUBE-CULTURE modeled distortions
  • Bus FORCE is a complete bus compressor and distortion/drive (so it could almost be under the “Dist” category, too); Bus PEAK and EXCITER-104 are the new bus additions – see below
  • Comp VCA-65, TUBE-STA, FET-76 give you your modeled VCA, tube, and FET compressors, plus you have –
  • Pre-amps 1973, TRIDA, and V76
  • Reverbs LX-24, PLATE-140, and Intensity now cover vintage digital, plate, and modern digital, respectively
  • Delay TAPE-201, BRIGADE, and ETERNITY cover tape, analog, and digital delay territory
  • Eq SITRAL-295 is a powerful modeled EQ with visualization – so much so that in my mind, I remembered Arturia having other EQs in this bundle, but you don’t really need any more
  • Chorus JUN-6 and DIMENSION-D cover the two most popular Roland choruses
  • Filter MS-20, MINI, SEM, M12 give you Korg, Moog, Oberheim, and Sequential filters
  • Phaser BI-TRON and Flanger BL-20 neatly provide the two most legendary historical phaser and flanger
  • Rotary CLS-222 gives you rotary effects (yay, organ players but – I use these creatively, too, sometimes)
  • Tape MELLO-FI for tape emulation

I can say which are the most useful in a nutshell here: you have all the synth basics. Where Arturia has done something totally new – the Efx series, Dist COLDFIRE, and ETERNITY, for instance – they’re at their best. That’s not to knock the modeling, but if this were just modeling, you’d have a lot of other competing choices. Where Arturia stands out is doing new stuff, and mixing excellent modeling with new features. Rev LX-24 and Intensity, Eq SITRAL-295, Delay ETERNITY, and Efx REFRACT and MOTIONS are really special and almost reason enough on their own.

FX Collection 5 coincides with updates across the full range – another great feature of Arturia’s support. That means if you own any of these, you’ll find the following improvements in Arturia Software Center:

  • Improved GUI
  • Pro Tools Automation shortcuts
  • Save any preset you want as the opening preset (oh, this is especially welcome for those of us who use these plug-ins regularly)
  • Improved reliability and performance

I can’t quite tell what they improved in the UI, but I suppose that’s often what you want.

The full FX Collection 5 bundle is on sale now:

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Arturia FX Collection 5 at Plugin Boutique

Arturia FX at Plugin Boutique

Let’s get on with the two new plug-ins. I wasn’t hugely excited when I first saw them listed, but once you get into them, they sound terrific and there are some beautiful details.

Debuting now

Efx REFRACT and Efx MOTIONS are new to the FX Collection bundle, but not new to us – one reason to read CDM daily (ha, got you!) is that you hopefully even grabbed REFRACT for free when it launched.

What is new is Bus EXCITER-104, the first exciter from Arturia and an additional model of vintage gear, and Bus PEAK, which nicely rounds out the more vintage-orienting dynamics processors in the suite with a clipper/limiter that’s perfect for modern tastes.

Here’s a quick play:

Bus EXCITER-104: more than just an aphex twin

The exciter here is loosely modeled on the Type C2-104 Aphex Aural Exciter, the gold standard for the concept. An exciter works by adding harmonics and harmonic distortion – which should be a red flag to use these sparingly, lest you muck up your mix with a bunch of additional content that sounded good when you added it but can cause problems later. But an exciter is a perfect addition for a company like Arturia, whose product line also delivers in-the-box synthesis and electronic sounds. Exciters can liven up some of those materials, especially since they lack some of the harmonic content that occurs naturally on acoustic instruments.

As usual, you get a comprehensive walkthrough tutorial for each parameter:

The early 90s-era C2-104 is a perfect choice to model because it delivers both high-end and low-end tools in a single interface. (The phrase on the original hardware literally says it has “Big Bottom.”) And even if you don’t have a desire for some high-frequency sizzle, you can use this to add oomph to kicks. For techno and club music, it’s even better, because it can add both body and high-end – this is an ideal tool for adding some tops to kicks, too. Here’s the original hardware:

I think someone at Arturia used ChatGPT or something because they say Fleetwood Mac’s legendary Rumours album used the C2-104, but that album came out in 1977, long before the more modern C2-104, which frankly holds up better for modern use.

Arturia has copied the look of the Aphex panel and nailed some of the signature sound, but they thoroughly modernized the UI – this behaves far more like software than like rack hardware. That’s a good thing, because it allows you to visualize the impact on the sound, precisely locate frequency bands, and adjust resonance for each band.

You also have an indispensable WET ONLY toggle, which is a good way to check what you’re actually adding to the sound – before you do something destructive.

The software also offers more continuous controls and a far wider range, so you can do extreme things with the Arturia plug-in that you couldn’t on the original hardware. It’s really best to understand this as a new exciter inspired by the original – which works well in the software context.

Honestly, this is the first exciter I’ve ever used that I think is really addictive. I can’t wait to work with it more.


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Bus EXCITER-104 at Plugin Boutique

Bus PEAK: no more peaky blinders

It’s great that we now have access to a bunch of classic vintage compressors and limiters in software form – even from multiple vendors. But those same modeled tools actually do too good a job of emulating some analog behaviors when it comes to pushing dynamic space in some more contemporary ways. So Bus PEAK perfectly rounds out the FX Collection suite by providing a clipper/limiter.

Clearly taking a page from some other recent plug-in UI/UX directions, Arturia has done a bang-up job with this interface. There are certainly other tools that do this, but it’s nice having it in the Arturia suite. There are a few controls worth singling out:

  • Solo sections for both the clipper and limiter (as with the WET ONLY switch above) are essential for diagnosing what you’re actually doing to the signal
  • Clipper and Limiter each have draggable continuous character controls that determine flavor
  • You have easy visual tools and feedback to dial in exactly what you want out of each control
  • You can link the thresholds for the tone and clipper controls to preserve their relationship to input (see bottom left-hand corner)
  • Equal Loudness also lets you match input/output loudness so … you don’t wind up just using this as a gain control, which is good
  • You can also toggle Tone Control for additional independent bass and treble control sections

Check that solo gain reduction in particular:

This is instantly my favorite Arturia dynamics processor – pro-grade in sound and visuals. It’s ideal as a mastering tool, thanks to detailed metering and thresholds you can set for different output formats (like streaming). And it has detailed, precise controls. But you can also use this as a creative sound shaper, too – check that IDM preset, in particular, or get creative pushing the clipper and limiter far beyond their normal ideal locations (on a track rather than a bus/master).

So, for instance, you can make really subtle, transparent adjustments, as with density here – soloing out each part to avoid adding any measurable distortion:

But you can also crank it with settings like this “crispy” one for intentional distortion:

It’s not replacing Softube’s amazing Weiss stuff for me yet, but as a clipper/limiter, it’s a new favorite and even complements that nicely.


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Bus PEAK at Plugin Boutique

Conclusions and more reviews

I’m impressed with both PEAK and EXCITER-104; they’re great introductions. Obviously, you might otherwise have a lot that FX Collection 5 already offers if you recently bought a bundle, individual effects, or an upgrade – the usual applies here. But even so, the other enhancements are free updates, meaning the value proposition here remains competitive with subscription-based competitors.

I’m curious what they’ll do next. This bundle already covers a pretty wide gamut of effects.

FX Collection 5

The version 5 launches at 25% off:

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Arturia FX Collection 5 at Plugin Boutique

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