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Music Tech review : Rob Papen Predator

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On the surface, Predator's feature set looks very familiar: three oscillators are pumped through a multimode filter and a handful of modulation sources. These functions are augmented by an assortment of effects and the now-obligatory arpeggiator.

Given this rather pedestrian signal path, it's not terribly challenging to put Predator through its paces with a minimum head-scratching.

However, you shouldn't be fooled by this apparent simplicity: the devil, as they say, is in the details, and it's only when you start poking the parameters that Predator's powerful punch really becomes apparent.

Let's look again at those oscillators. No mere virtual wannabes, these pack a whopping 128 waveforms. Naturally, some are based on the standard saw, square and sine waves we know and love, but the majority draw on additive or spectral synthesis to produce a sizzling sonic palette that sounds decidedly modern.

But it doesn't end with the waveforms. Predator offers pulse width modulation (with a dedicated LFO, no less), frequency and ring modulation and a sub oscillator to boot. What's more, you can control the symmetry of each wave.

Oscillators have a free-running mode and the second and third oscillators can be synced to the first. Oh, and you get noise generators, too.

Turn your attention to the main filter and you're transported back to Retroville. This is a multimode affair that offers 6dB, 12dB, 18dB and 24dB low- and high-pass filtering, and 12dB and 24dB band-pass, notch and comb filters. Cutoff and Q knobs are provided, as is a dedicated five-stage envelope generator.

A dedicated filter LFO with all the trimmings is tucked in there, as is a pre-filter distortion that offers convincing, edgy crunch. Another nice touch is the dedicated control for determining how much effect the mod wheel has on the filter.

Summary

It's easy to forge sounds of real depth and sophistication without getting sidetracked by arcane algorithms and impenetrable parameters. Needless to say, Predator comes packed with a plethora of presets from Papen himself.

Thoughtfully categorised, the factory set focuses squarely on modern styles, though it's quite easy to find sounds that fit in with any genre you like. Even the effects processing is tastefully applied – something of a rarity in a soft synth!

So obviously, we dig Predator. It's powerful, easy to get into and sounds awesome.

Pros

Excellent sound quality. Monster modulation possibilities. All those waveforms. Cool arpeggiator. Papen's patches are great.

Cons

We'd love to modulate the waveform selection! Some arp patterns are overused in the presets.

Verdict

This third Papen-branded synth is a fine instrument indeed. The great presets will draw you in, but there's plenty here to keep you interested for many months to come.

Rating 4.5/5

Read full review at Music Radar

 

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