How many of you had your music making curiosity sparked by a piece of hardware? For me it was a Korg Triton LE.
It was set up with a pair of headphones you wouldn’t mind being rough handled by the general public in my local music shop. The sleek silver/chrome body, the mod wheel/pitch bend as one joystick and the pots right in front of me, just waiting for the gentle embrace of my thumb and index finger. A few months later, after summer jobs, extra hours and absolutely no social life, I saved enough to buy it.
Today, due to some bad life choices, I couldn’t justify or possibly afford a Triton, nor would I have the space to put it anywhere. But, I always kept a space for that spark, that fatal attraction to those metallic curves of hardware synths. Fast forward to today, my guilty hardware pleasure has less black and white keys and more multicolored patch cables. So, seeing and hearing the Eurorack modules from Doepher and Intellijel, it felt like seeing an ex that you are still in love with, until now.
Softube‘s reputation for emulating hardware (such as the tube tech “Pultec” emulation and their sublime FET compressor) precedes them so my expectations for their MODULAR synth plug-in were quite high.
My cabling addiction was being sated by Propellerhead’s Reason, but to be able to have a pure one to one emulation of hardware that exists in the real world awoke some primal urge in the music-making part of my brain.
The first patch I opened was “Bass Synth Classic M Mon”, and I felt that tingling feeling just above my collar that we all pursue. This patch has more meat in it than the state of Texas. As the hours fly by due to incessant dial turning and blind random cable routing I realize two things:
- Firstly, I do not know as much as I thought I knew about modular hardware synths
- …and secondly, that with modular, due to the nature of the rack mounting and cable routing, the addictive itch of “what if I just move this pot/slider/cable/dial/etc from here to here” is omnipresent.
Software synths of today want to showcase what they can do by cramming a juggernaut of sound into a demo video or a presets folder, which, more often than not, is the main folder used by the purchaser. Said presets are still there, and I must add, all are extremely potent sounding, but as mentioned previously, you are compelled to explore.
You are the “Columbus” of sound design and this modular rack is the great expanse leading to a brave new world.
Moving away from my comfort zone of voltage controlled oscillators, filters, envelopes and the likes, I delved into the other subgroups of modules that ship with this program.
Firstly, there are the sequencers. 5,8 and 16 step sequencers are included if you want to take the true analog sequential route. The addition of an odd-numbered step sequencer is a nice touch, leading to some interesting polyrhythmic patterns and effects.
There is also a dedicated beat sequencer aimed at the heartbeat drum modules sold separately, but true to the analog nature, fantastic results can blossom from exploratory routing.
In the “control section”, a full boutique of dials, switches and faders are there to be assigned – a value with just the press of a single button. In fact, many D.A.W’s could take a leaf from Softube’s book in regards to this. You press the edit button, press the performance modulator you want to assign, and then press what you want it to control, job done.
Finally, you have the utility modules. These are a collection of modules like sample and hold, clock dividers, logic tools, offsets etc. It is these modules that reminded my musical ego that I do not know as much as I thought. It is also these modules that I believe, in more capable hands could facilitate the creation of complex, evolving soundscapes.
Softube’s “Modular”, in theory allows for an aleph number of modules, limited only by the power of the machine running the software. In the previous days of usage for this review, there has been a very noticeable increase in the amount of times I have been late for pretty much everything I needed to do in my life due to this software. Even writing this review, I must admit, was hindered due to the time vortex that using this program creates.
Personally, I have only scratched the surface with it and, pretty much the only thoughts I have while typing are routing related. At the time of writing this review, Modular synth plugin is priced at 75 dollars. I cannot state enough, buy this and use it!
You may not know how to in the beginning as it is quite daunting due to the nature of hardware and modular synths, but as both an educational tool, as well as a monster of a synth, the benefits for your musical knowledge and sound pallet are without compromise. Seriously, just get it!
Download /Buy Link: Softube MODULAR