Melda Productions MCreative FX Bundle – Big Bag of Tricks
For those in the know, Melda Productions have been beavering away in the background creating what could be some of the most impressive VST plugins available. There are what seems like hundreds of weird and wonderful devices available to make your life as an engineer or producer easier – or more complicated, depending on who you ask.
Fortunately, the company offers a few well-designed bundles of which we picked up the MCreative Pack, containing a good selection of the more usable devices on offer. We’re not going to cover each and every one of the 31 included plugins, just a few main titles to whet your appetite. This is more an overview of the bundle, not so much the individual devices.
All plugins share a rather sterile and technical-looking interface. If you are used to seeing beautifully designed vintage-looking plugins, these will come as a slight system shock with the dry, perfectly spaced and squared-off styling. Of course, it doesn’t affect the results one bit – but it is strange using a vintage amp simulator, for instance, that looks more like a readout from an engine diagnostics machine than a 60’s retro tube amp. Not griping, I like it personally, but it might not be for you.
Even the most simplistic effect will contain many options for gain, mix control, drive limiting, A/B comparing. The more advanced offing a mind-boggling array of options and settings.
All of the GUI’s are stretchable to suit your monitor size, plus the level of customisation is amazing. Most effects allow you to insert extra modules, like EQ, amp sim, FX units etc. You can change the VU meters to display an FFT readout, assign MIDI controllers, automotive gain controls, limiting and 8 alternative mixes – in each instance! There is a flexible style configuration menu for creating your perfect colour design, you can change the operational controls to sliders, knobs or buttons, mess with the DSP demands of the interface, swap to tablet mode and play with different interpolations to balance performance with quality. There is even a style editor you can download to create totally unique designs.
When it comes to interface customisation – nothing is even close to this on the market, period.
Ok, so it looks great – how does it sound? Well, as with the looks, the processing flexibility is off the charts. Quite simply – if there is a conceivable control for a device, you will find it here. Let’s check the Mdelay as an example.
Quite simply – if there is a conceivable control for a device, you will find it here. Let’s check the MDelay as an example:
In its default state, you have a randomise the button, dry/wet mix, pan, delay gain, high and low pass filters and saturation. Delay tempo sync and freeze option. Delay time, and feedback with sync intervals, plus a choice of straight, triplet, dotted or tuplets. Right and left offset controls, a master VU within, out and side stereo VU’s, plus a width VU. 11 output variations from L&R, MidSide and everything in-between. Automatic gain control and limiter, 8 snapshot saves, an A/B switch, an ABCD morph control, MIDI mapping control panel and finally……big breath….the option to export a WAV recording to your system. If you hit the edit button you can further insert a second tap control with synchro and view all your MIDI CC as visual faders, a volume sequencer, auto pan, robot delay, modulation delay and mix delay, featuring duel-classic and ping-pong style.
I’m not even joking – you have everything! And that’s just the delay.
Even though you have a wall of options presented, using the basic controls for most effects is fairly straightforward and logical. Each device has an excellent selection of presets that really show off some wild and creative uses for the effect, including some time-honoured settings you’ll use often. It is truly mind-boggling the amount of control and flexibility you have with these devices. And short of pushing hard on processes, the DSP requirements for everything we tested were extremely low.
Of the included 31 devices at the time of writing, you have a good selection of the studio essentials, delay, reverb, chorus etc. Some more focused processors like frequency shifters, granular distortion, and amp simulators. And then there’s the really wackadoo stuff like Rhythmizer, Transformer, and Unison to keep you entertained. Though many of the effects include EQ and dynamics built-in, there are no free-standing plugins of this type, you’ll need to purchase them separately or look at one of the mixing or mastering bundles.
You’re probably waiting for the ‘but….’ right? Well, maybe.
In general, most settings sound fine and everything produces good if slightly underwhelming results. Much like the default factory effects that come with your DAW – they work, and they sound great. There’s not a lot of character or vibe, but you get the job done.
The problem is – Melda Production effects are absolutely capable of delivering loads of personality, you just need to dig deep and not be afraid of mixing and matching multiple devices to achieve what you need.
For instance, to create a vintage-style Space Echo, you would probably start with the MAmp and apply a degree of vintage tube saturation to your signal, then drop in the MDelay using the mix delay module on classic mode, plus possibly an MWobbler to add some movement. That a lot of processes and steps to get to where something like Softube’s Tube Delay started out 10 minutes ago. An extreme example, I know, but it’s where I found Melda really shines – with layering and experimenting with multiple devices.
Things get even more exciting once you start adding in automation, any kind of modulation movement simply brings everything up to a new level.
This is the unfortunate nature of the beast – it requires thinking outside the box, pushing boundaries and experimentation to get the most out of the devices and taking it beyond just another expensive collection of effects. Personally, I don’t see this as a negative – it shows the limitless capabilities of the platform if you invest time to study the workflow.
Being the ‘creative bundle’, there are plenty of surprises in the collection among the usual suspects, like a Transformer, granular and Morph – each of which requires plentiful amounts of experimentation. One of the fun standouts is the interesting MBitFun device, a bit crusher of sorts which includes whimsical presets like ‘Eyesore pubescent, Trisect Irishwomen, Bobbing hippocratic and preventer szechun – how can you NOT want to check each of those out!.
At the end of the day, it’s the long way to get to where you want to go – it’s taking the 18-wheeler semi up the road to buy milk – you get the milk, but probably could have done it a lot quicker by walking. But sometimes in music, the long way is the better way. It’s where you find happy accidents, where inspiration is discovered and truly unique results are born.
I love this collection. It’s amazing value for money, literally no DSP hit and has all the depth my OCD brain can handle. At under $600 USD not only does this represent amazing value, but the company offers lifetime updates including frequent new devices.
There is nothing I can think of missing from this collection, and with the clever layering of devices, the sky’s the limit for creative possibilities. The interface might look a little intimidating at first, but time spent familiarising with it will pay off thanks to the global design theme of the collection. This biggest consideration really is whether should you spring for the full collection of all plugins. If your budget allows, I think that would be an excellent investment.
Overall, fantastic selection of devices from an exciting developer I personally can’t wait to see what the future holds.
For more info check out the official website www.meldaproductions.com