In this review, we will be going over a new software synth plugin developed by the people from 112dB, called Cascade.
At first glance, Cascade may seem like a simple two oscillator synth with a filter, two envelopes, and an LFO – but you would be wrong because this new synth boasts a totally new form of synthesis for all of us to play with which in itself is pretty awesome.
How this new form of synthesis works?
Is right there in the name “Cascade”! …as this form is based around a complex delay network which adds an adjustable amount of delayed versions of your sound to your original sound in real time resulting in ‘a cascading effect‘ which can densify any sound up to 5832 times. In this way, you can create sounds that you wouldn’t have been able to create before.
And that’s just part of the story…
So let’s get into it and see what this synth is all about…
In Cascade, you will find two identical Oscillators: VCO-1 and VCO-2, each having four regular waveforms to choose from: Saw, Sine, Triangle and Square, plus five noise waveforms White, Pink, Brown, Geiger and Dirac. These waveforms can be tuned with the Semi and Cents knobs. The Shape knob changes the shape of the waveform by a form of Phase compression resulting in more overtones in your sound. The two oscillators can be mixed together with the Mix knob creating some more unique waveforms.
Both oscillators can be modulated in the VCO-Mod section allowing you to modulate the shape and pitch of the Oscillators with the LFO or the two envelopes easily creating vibrato or movement over time effects like risers or downers, but also great for just creating ambient moving textures.
Cascade’s LFO is quite simple with five types of wavforms to choose from Sine, Triangle, Square, Saw and Exponential. The last one being especially nice for vibrato effects.
The controls for the LFO have been kept quite simple too, with just a ‘Rate Knob’ and a ‘Phase Knob’ which are self-explanatory.
The LFO-Mod section allows you to modulate the LFO with both of the Envelopes in Cascade. Thic is great for a more precise control of when the LFO comes in and really great for creating Bass wobbles.
The VCF section in Cascade has 10 different filters to choose from LP1, LP2, LP4, LP1/BP2, LP2/BP2, BP2, BP4, HP1, HP2 and HP4. They sound really great and just have a cutoff and resonance knob to keep with the simple theme, however when you start to modulate with the VCF-Mod section the sounds really start to come alive letting you pull off some really nice techniques – fast and easy.
In Cascade you get two envelopes ENV-1 and ENV-2.
- ENV-1 is a basic ADSR envelope which can be used to control the volume and shape of your sound and which can be set to modulate the VCO’s shape and pitch the LFO or the cut off of the VCF.
- ENV-2 is a bit different as you can edit the four stages of the envelope setting the Time, Level and Curve of each stage and using it as a form of LFO with the repeat function. This envelope can also be used to modulate the VCF, LFO and the VCO’s. However, using it to modulate the amount of Cascade synthesis being employed is where things really get fun as this can open up the sound you are working on over time which is great for all kinds of ambient and evolving stuff.
So far Cascade is a nicely laid out, simple, easy to use subtractive synthesizer, with a nice clean look and sounds great just as is but now comes the good part, the part that allows you to make really unique sounds!
Cascade Section: From my understanding, Cascade synth takes different delayed versions of your original sound and allows you to fully adjust how they are mushed together creating sounds ranging from either super dense to lush landscapes and even some pretty realistic instrument recreations with just a few turns of the controls.
Wet: this controls the how the two forms of synthesis Subtractive and Cascade are mixed together.
Render: This control allows you to set the pre-render time of the cascade synthesis this essentially controls the time it takes before the Cascade synthesis kicks in.
Density: This control allows you to control the amount of delays being used to dense up your sound. With the edit button you can edit all of the delays in the delay network to suit your needs but it does come with six presets to choose from Steady, Fast Paced, Fibo Fast, Fibo Slow, Prime Fast and Prime Slow these all have their own characteristics so it is good practice to cycle trough them and find what it is your looking for.
Spread: Allows you to set your sound to mono at 0% or full stereo at 100%
Size: This control lets you control the size of the cascade synthesis by modifying the length of all of the incoming delays in the network.
Freeze & Time: these controls allow you to create a loop of your sound for the length of time you set the time control to and feeds the signal back with 100% feedback into your original sound.
Wind: The wind or windowed control adds a Hanning envelope to your signal before it goes into the Cascade module which makes your sounds more granulated ad helps with cancellation issues.
Width: This sets the width of the window that is being used on your signal.
CASC-Mod: In this section you can have the LFO and the Env-2 modulate the delay times of the cascade synthesis modules this can introduce some nice vibrato or great for some weird pitch sweeps. With the N.DEL knob you can set the number of delays being affected by either the LFO or the ENV-2 for more pronounced or subtle effects.
The Effects section only has one effect the Drive knob and this adds some nice distortion to your end sound.
In conclusion, Cascade by 112dB is a great new synth, bringing something new to the table and the soundscapes you can make with this synth are just awesome. The layout of this synth has been kept nice and simple, and really easy to use. This makes Cascade especially fun when you already know the recipes to some signature sounds and add some cascade synthesis to the mix – this can really lead to some fun places.
In my opinion, Cascade is one of the best software synth plugin released this year, and it should be in everybody’s arsenal because it sounds awesome it brings something new to the table and its simple and easy to use.
- Sounds awesome.
- Easy to use.
- Fun to play with.
- All parameters can be typed in for precise control.
- Great manual
- Kind of heavy on the CPU depending on the use. This can be changed in the settings to a degree I had mine on the heaviest setting I could set it to and it performed well.