German plugin and virtual instrument developer UJAM just released a brand-new addition to their popular Finisher effects plugins series: Finisher Retro. On the occasion of the launch of this fourth installment in the series, we took the chance to check out the whole Finisher Bundle which includes Finisher Fluxx, Finisher Voodoo, Finisher Neo, and, of course, the new Finisher Retro plugin.
UJAM’s Finisher series is a line of unique FX plugins which combine a multitude of different effects chains and processors under the hood of a simple and straightforward user interface. Designed to make plain instrument and vocal tracks pop out without the need of adjusting complicated plugin chains, the Finisher plugins provide you with an inspiring toolbox of sound design options, ranging from cool and subtle to crazy and furious. Each edition of the product series focuses on a distinct field of processing as some of their names imply.
We were kindly provided with a review copy of the Finisher bundle by the nice people at UJAM.
HANS ZIMMER, PHARELL WILLIAMS, AND A BIT OF HISTORY
Founded in 2009, UJAM Instruments emerged from the success of 2002’s Steinberg Virtual Guitarist software and is comprised of an international team of sound designers and composers. UJAM puts forward an eye-popping roster of founding members, including cream-of-the-crop names such as Hans Zimmer, Pharell Williams, and Peter Gorges (Digidesign/Avid, AIR Music Technology, Wizoo). How much influence the former two have in the actual process and creation of new products is anyone’s guess but it sure makes for good publicity and shows that UJAM isn’t playing around.
The name and brand Hans Zimmer is dropped quite frequently in UJAM’s product texts and videos actually, so even if the man himself didn’t push a single button for the upcoming product, the team probably knows the film composer’s sound aesthetics and tonal character pretty well.
The Finisher Bundle consists of the four editions Finisher Retro, Finisher Fluxx, Finisher Voodoo, and Finisher Neo, alongside an additional fifth plugin, the free Finisher Micro.
The Finisher plugins are available in 64bit format for Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.11, and work with all common plugin standards including VST, Audio Unit, and AAX. In total, you get 225 so-called Multi-Effect Modes (scripted and automated multi-effect chains) as well as 545 carefully designed presets.
Let’s have a quick look at what each edition of Finisher specializes in:
- Finisher Retro – Vintage tones and classic record vibes from the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s.
- Finisher Fluxx – Creative sonic shaping, stereo modulation & sound degradation
- Finisher Voodoo – Vibey pedal and amp racks designed for electric and acoustic guitars
- Finisher Neo – Futuristic sound design from granular pitch modulation to multiband distortion
- Finisher Micro – A cross-section through UJAM’s range of multi-FX-chains
DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION
Once you’ve created a free UJAM account, you can find your purchased products under your profile’s Plugins tab. Once downloaded, a setup wizard takes you through an easy installation process of the files. After the installation, your installed plugins will launch in Demo mode, which allows you to test-drive them for up to 30 days without any limitations. To activate your plugins, you just need to enter the credentials to your UJAM account through the plugin itself and hit “Authorize” – easy! This method requires an internet connection, but you can also activate your products using a call-and-response offline method.
Although each edition of the Finisher series has its own unique design and look, they all share the same user interface in terms of controls. This makes it very easy to get started with any of the plugins if you have used another one before. In fact, the user interface plays a major role in the whole concept of the Finisher series as it is super simple to use, yet offers control over complex effects routings and processing chains under the hood.
The clever design and programming of the interface allow users to shape the sound and impact of the effects chains with just 5 rotary knobs.
Possibly the most prominent control of them all is the big Finisher knob in the middle of the interface. It works like a macro control and lets you dial in the total amount of effects processing you want to add to your signal – much like a dry/wet control.
Next, we get four so-called Vari knobs whose parameters change with the preset you selected. With these Vari knobs – short for Variation – you can further fine-tune and adjust the shape and tone of your general effect. For distortion effects, the Vari knobs might give access to different types of distortion, or for a rhythmic effect, they could control the rate and speed, just to name a few examples.
Finally, we have Input and Output sliders, which allow you to balance the signal volume that goes in and out of the plugin. Since some of Finisher’s effects presets can alter the tone and overall level of a track quite drastically, these sliders provide an easy way of keeping your signals from clipping.
The sound designers at UJAM took a lot of work into creating complex multi-fx chains – or modules – for the various Finisher plugins. Each so-called module is comprised of a unique array of effects like distortion, modulation, reverb, or rhythmic processors. Some of the effects are truthful emulations of classic hardware, others are entirely new and unique creations. What they all got in common is that they transform complex routings and intricate parameter settings into just a few, easy-to-use controls.
The different Finisher plugins each feature a unique collection of modules which have then been tweaked and adjusted to come up with a variety of presets. The modules are usually spread across various groups to allow the user a quicker and easier selection. Let’s have a quick look at what modules each Finisher includes and into which categories they are grouped.
|Name||Number of Modules||Module Categories|
|Finisher Retro||50||60s, 70s, 80s, 90s|
|Finisher Fluxx||50||Chords, Arpeggio, Rhythmic, Solo|
|Finisher Voodoo||50||50 individual modes|
|Finisher Neo||50||Spread, Crush, Swirl, Shape, Boost|
|Finisher Micro||25||25 individual modes|
All in all, with the complete Finisher Bundle you’re getting 225 unique modules and 545 presets to choose from – plenty of options to get inspired and create interesting sounds.
The sound of UJAM’s Finisher plugins is of excellent quality throughout the whole collection of plugins. No matter if you’re degrading, distorting, or modulating your source sound, you will generally receive a more inspiring sound. Depending on the preset and settings you choose, the possible spectrum of effects ranges from tasty and subtle to super aggressive and over the top.
To showcase the broad range of effects, I’ve recorded a couple of sound demos and processed them through different settings of all of the available Finisher plugins.
ELECTRONIC DRUM GROOVE
For the first four bars we’re hearing a plain, halftime electronic drum groove from UJAM’s cool Nemesis drum machine plugin. I deliberately left all internal effects and processing turned off so we can hear the effect of the following Finisher plugins better. Next, the signal is fed through the Finisher Retro plugin and its “Multifuzz Colors” preset, where it gets saturated by an array of fuzz and overdrive effects as well as an octaver and a reverb effect.
In the next four bars, we hear our drum groove through Finisher Fluxx’s “Mad Scientist” preset. The signal gets mangled through two unpredictably pitched delay lines. Next, Finisher Neo’s “Super LoFi” preset adds a cool, degrading patina to our drum groove with a bit of additional frequency shifting to carve out some resonances.
For the last four bars, we hear Finisher Voodoo’s “Poisoned” module in action. The drum groove gets warped into a tonal, Alice in Wonderland-kind of surreal soundscape by means of some slow-moving vibrato and reverb effects.
We’re starting with a simple string ostinato played by the string section of the Berlin Orchestra Inspire 1 sample library. After the first dry passage, we’re running the signal through Finalizer Retro, which turns the sound into an old vinyl record with the “Found Footage” preset. Next, Finisher Neo’s “Gator Aid” module chops up our string ostinato into a crazy, randomized gated rhythm.
This is followed by a Finisher Fluxx preset conveniently called “Ultimate Timesaver”. It makes use of the plugin’s “Arpeggionics” module and turns the strings into a dream-like texture with a wide, moving stereo image. Finally, Finisher Voodoo’s “On The Run” preset makes a cool, hybrid synthesized rhythmic sequence of our string ostinato.
CINEMATIC PERCUSSION GROOVE
Let’s find out what the Finisher plugins can do for our cinematic percussion groove straight out of Damage 2! Same as with the first two sound demos, we can hear the basic loop for the first four bars. For the next section, I activated Finisher Retro using its “Motion Blur” preset. The signal is fed through a psychedelic-sounding array of volume-controlled ring modulation, tremolo, distortion, and delay.
To make it sound even more experimental, we use Finisher Fluxx’s “Arpeggionics” preset, which introduces gratuitous amounts of delay, modulation, and filtering. Next, we let Finisher Voodoo’s “Riverboat Shuffle” preset chop up the percussion groove into a snappy 16th-note rhythm with some fat distortion and room ambience. The last preset in line is “Brain Stimulation” from Finisher Neo. When activated, our percussion groove turns into a crazy fever dream of heavy phasing, octave pitching, and delay.
ELECTRIC RHYTHM GUITAR
Our last sound demo is a heavy, distorted guitar riff created with UJAM’s Carbon virtual guitar instrument. Again, the first four bars are just the dry guitar rhythm with no internal effects activated other than the virtual guitar amp of Carbon.
We’re then continuing with Finisher Retro’s “What a Journey” preset, which adds a cool volume-controlled pitch-shifting effect to our guitar signal. It sounds as if the guitars are doubled with a vintage synthesizer playing one octave higher – funky! In the next four bars we hear Finisher Voodoo’s “My Mojo Working” patch, which infuses our guitar rhythm with nasty, splashy distortion and room reflections.
Another flavor of distortion is introduced by the next preset from Finisher Neo called “Space Grinder”. A metallic rotary effect creates a vibe similar to Gamechanger Audio’s high-voltage Plasma pedal. Finally, we use Finisher Fluxx’s “Sawteeth” module to turn our signal into a growling beast with a punchy Distressor-type compression effect.
The Finisher plugins provide composers, music producers, and sound designers alike with a super-intuitive toolkit of inspiring and unique effects. The effect modules sound good on almost anything and really help to make individual tracks and sections of a song stand out. Through the few controls on the interface, you don’t get lost in tweaking a complex processor chain for hours, only to find that the overall sound just doesn’t work. By using the many available modules and presets, you can just quickly flick through and get inspired instead. Like the general effect? Cool! Tweak it a bit, adjust some parameters – done! If you’re not a control freak or simply don’t have the time to spend hours fiddling with effects chains, the great-sounding presets of the Finisher Bundle could just be the remedy.
The Finisher Bundle is available as a download through the UJAM online shop for €269. Individual Finisher plugins are offered for €99 each. Until July 18th, UJAM is running a 50% off Summer Madness sale, where you can get the Finisher Bundle for €134.50 and selected Finisher plugins for just €49.50.