MeldaProduction produces a vast array of high-end plugins, covering everything from the mundane to the marvellous, with most boasting an unashamedly complex design and fundamental feature set.
Indeed, for every enamoured user there's another suffering GUI- induced migraine. MXXX, however, has the potential to change all that...
MXXX (VST/VST3/AU/AAX) is a modular system that enables the algorithms and parameters of any of Melda's plugins to be combined and modulated within one multiband 'shell'.
There's two versions: the full MXXX (including 76 modules based on Melda's plugins - crucially, you don't get the plugins for use outside MXXX) and MXXX Core (allowing access only to modules based on plugins you've bought separately).
MXXX offers two distinct interfaces: Easy and Edit. Easy comprises a preset browser and a controller pane. Presets can be selected from a range of categories: Purpose (Mastering, Mixing, etc), Instrument (Vocal, Bass and the rest of the band), Type (Modulation, Dynamic and more), Character (Phat, Clean, Distorted and so on) and Flag (Sidechain, Low-CPU, etc).
Selecting tags in the grid filters the preset list down, and when a preset is loaded, its associated tags are highlighted. Green highlighting means a preset is suited to that tag, Red means it's very specifically suited to that tag, and Blue means it requires specific additional input (usually MIDI or an audio sidechain).
The 500+ presets have been created using MXXX's modular system by Melda's user base and subsequently tweaked by the company themselves. There really is something here for every possible production purpose, from the self-explanatory ('British Overdrive Stompbox'), the utterly mysterious ('Stretcher-Reverser Ambient Reverb'), and the extreme ('Who are you and what did you do to my drums').
The window below holds MultiParameter controls (Melda parlance for macros) tailored to each preset. These are assigned by the preset designer but can be edited by the user. They can involve almost any parameter of every plugin used within the preset, and more than one parameter can be controlled by each MultiParameter.
So, you could assign individual controllers in a compressor preset for threshold, gain and ratio, or have one MultiParameter controlling all three together... or even have both individual and combined controls.
Close to the Edit
Clicking the Edit button takes you to the heart of MXXX: a modular routing matrix with 96 slots arranged in six lanes, which are summed at the output, and each of which can host any of your installed Melda plugin modules.
The interface of the currently selected module appears in the panel to the right of the matrix, including access to its own preset library, and modules can be routed between lanes and combined in any order you like, including multiple destinations for each one.
Melda's automatic routing keeps this potentially mind-blowing system under control by establishing the most likely routing for each module added, although you can 'go manual' and create your own intricate signal flows instead, of course.
All in all, it's a creative, freeform setup that works well, and the source signal for the effect matrix can either be the main input or a sidechain source (audio or MIDI). Extensive randomisation functions make instant preset conjuration easy, generating either totally random variations, smart randomisation (altering only parameters most likely to produce usable variations) or minor tweaks.
As if that wasn't enough, the graphical Band Editor at the top splits MXXX into up to six frequency bands, each containing its own dedicated matrix, for mind-bendingly flexible multiband processing. The full library of presets can also be loaded, edited and saved per band.
Each and every plugin can be modulated by any of up to 16 modulation sources (each one chosen from LFO, Follower, Envelope, Random and Pitch), plus an arpeggiator.
The summed output of the plugins in the matrix ends up at Melda's standard output section, which features filtering, automatic gain control, limiting, output metering (including per- channel level, mid/side and stereo width), and a Difference option that lets you hear only the parts of the input signal being modified. MXXX also offers up to eight channels of surround output, and up to 16x oversampling.
The price of power
There are plenty of reasons to recommend MXXX, and if you total up all the effects in the full version, the mammoth €999 price tag actually represents a saving of more than 50% over buying them individually, assuming that you don't mind running them in MXXX rather than individually (and if you can stretch to €1299, you can get the MTotalBundle, which includes MXXX).
Nonetheless, we can't help thinking it's still too high - even die-hard Melda fans are unlikely to buy all of their plugins separately. The real joy of MXXX lies in having access to its stunning collection of presets, but much of that joy is lost if a huge chunk of it has to be bought separately on an as-required basis, as is the case with the Core version.
Perhaps a pricier Core that allowed access to all the presets but only let you edit the parameters of the component plugins you've bought separately might be a better proposition.
Pricing issues aside, MXXX is a success, making Melda's sometimes impenetrable but often wonderfully creative plugins much easier to get into, while offering extraordinarily deep, elaborate programmability. We'd go so far as to say that it's unprecedented in its breadth, depth and flexibility.