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FXpansion Cypher 2 review by MusicRadar

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Time to get expressive

Like its sister-instrument Strobe, the original Cypher started life as part of FXpansion’s three-instrument DCAM Synth Squad package. 

A near decade later, we now have a standalone sequel that builds on the concept of the original in some fairly forward-thinking ways. 

At core, Cypher 2 is an analogue-style subtractive synth. Its sonic USP, however, comes from the complex, audio-rate modulation options offered by its oscillators. To this end, it offers up three oscillators each with a continuous wave shape control and flexible frequency modulation options allowing the trio to be routed to one another’s pitch in any combination. There are also options for oscillators sync, ring modulation, white and pink noise and audio-rate sample and hold. 

The oscillator section is rounded out by an Analogue Noise generator, which simulates mains hum and circuitry noise. The signal then heads to Cypher’s Filter/Shaper section which offers dual multimode filters and two ‘shapers’ which each offer a range of distortion and wavefolding effects. Along with standard analogue-style modes, each filter also offers a variety of comb filtering modes. Cutoff can also be modulated by Osc 3, for further audio-rate modulation effects. 

This combination of elements gives Cypher 2 a broad scope of sonic potential. It can do bread-and-butter analogue emulations well but it really excels at slightly more esoteric, inharmonic sounds created through complex modulation and waveshaping. It’s at its best when these two aspects of the synth combine, creating classic synth sounds layered with interesting textures and FM-style effects.

Pros:

  • Powerful modulation.

  • Morphing filter.

  • Deliciously dark sound.

  • Excellent preset library and browser.

Cons:

  • Interface feels dense and monotone.
  • Fairly CPU-heavy.

Verdict:

Despite a slightly dense UI this is an excellent, forward-thinking synth - and possibly the best use of MPE technology we’ve tried.

Read the full review: MusicRadar

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