At first glance, 2nd Sense Audio‘s WIGGLE software synthesizer is very pleasing to the eye. Before any audio has caressed my ears, my mind is already easing into using this software synth due to its layout and colour scheme.
Music creation, in my opinion, is a multi-sensory endeavour. There is the obvious auditory aspect of it all, but there is more to it.
There is touch, if you are not comfortable, surroundings, seating etc, then focus will not be at its pinnacle, and there is visual. There are many virtual synths out there that are a “power house”, but due to a lacking GUI design, we may skip over them due to the wrong stimuli being send to our optic nerve.
Wiggle is not the case. Subtle pastel colours clearly define the sound generators (Operators or “Op” as they are known in the synth)and the FM (Frequency modulation) matrix. The filter/modulation portion is nicely nestled at the bottom of the synth and all and all, the layout of this “powerhouse” is, I feel, akin to getting on the wrong side of a beautiful woman: Underneath the attractive exterior is a behemoth, a potential force of nature waiting to be unleashed when you push her buttons the wrong (or right) way. – I hope you understand my analogy 🙂
Wiggle is a software synth that uses waveshaping, frequency modulation and phase distortion all controlled by user-defined modulations*.
Now if you are like me, and have a slight pressure behind the eyes trying to get around all that, then I empathize with you, but I strongly feel that some sort of understanding is needed.
FM/PD synthesis can be nauseating to understand and I admit, I still don’t have my head around it 100% but nothing worthwhile comes easy. However, in saying that, there are so many well-crafted presets that showcase this synths power, that can be very easily chosen from the drop-down menu.
“The Mystical Button…”
Presets aside, I have a litmus test for synths which I like to do whenever a new one should darken my doorstep. For about a half hour I just press one button on the entire program and this button, I feel, lets me get to what the synth is truly capable of. Only one button you might gasp in sheer amazement and doubt (well, probably not)?
Yes, the “random” button. This mystical button forgoes the pleasantries and aural lustre that presets like to parade and exchanges them for the raw, sometimes brutal force of chaos. There is no clever name here that relates to a sound that a big named artist once created, just a smorgasbord of complex waveforms assaulting one’s tympanic membrane.
This journey through sound, while sometimes painful due to the nature of all things random, revealed a vibrant palette of sound in motion. In the duration of writing this review, I have an ever growing folder of patches for this synth. Many are musical, many are not, but all, in my opinion, are useful to my career in sound design and audio production. This synths ability to create lush atmospheric sounds at the touch of one button really does get the creative juices flowing.
The non-musical patches that appeared from the ether would easily have a place on the musical palette of any top film sound designer. The only thing lacking in relation to creating more complex creations with this synth is my own musical ability. In the hands of a more competent sound designer, this synth is a potent weapon.
My only issue with wiggle at the moment is with the sequencer. At the time of writing, there is no option for triplets on other the sequencer mod and the sequencer rate itself. On the sequencer rate, there is a ‘swing’ button, but having to dial in a triplet and spending a few minutes possibly getting it right, I feel can hinder creative flow. This does not take away from how powerful the Wiggle synth is, it is just a preference issue on my part.
All in all, Wiggle, for a debut release, is a fantastic synth, which offers a powerful tool for a very reasonable price. You’ll get access to a large block of aural granite every time you open the WIGGLE synth in your D.A.W. With exploration and understanding of how Wiggle works, your Pietà of sound shall appear.
*For those not familiar with these processes, waveshaping is a type of distortion synthesis which uses simple tones to create more complex ones using predetermined motion (called a shaper function or transfer function) on the waveform itself. With phase distortion, the output of one modulator oscillator modulates the frequency of the other one, which is the one you hear. Phase distortion is similar to frequency modulation, just that phase distortion always uses modulators that are at the same frequency as the carrier, or sometimes at a simple multiple of its frequency. If you have gotten your head around this, then multiply it by four and then route it to an FM matrix where the generators can modulate themselves or each other. Finally, you can morph between the four generators with a multitude of options, user macros and a variety of effects attached to the step sequencer.