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Rob Papen Blue II Review at Resident Advisor

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Rob Papen's products display the thorough technical understanding of the man himself. Having worked on presets for seminal instruments like the Access Virus and Alesis Andromeda in addition to effects, synths, drum machines and even instructional courses, Papen offer a breadth of options, often in a package that is remarkably easy-to-use. BLUE-II is a great example of this. It combines four different synthesis methods—subtractive, frequency modulation, phase distortion and waveshaping synthesis—into something he's dubbed "crossfusion synthesis."

There's a thorough selection of filters with different slopes, and the two filters can be arranged in series or in parallel. (The oscillators can each be routed individually to go either through these filters or straight to the effects or output.) Along with the usual frequency, resonance and modulation controls, there's also a control that can add filter distortion or adjust the character of the vocal or formant filters.

In terms of modulation, BLUE-II's options feel limitless. The dedicated source modules include a multistage envelope, a modulation sequence and an X-Y grid. The grid, taken from Papen's Blade synthesiser, is particularly unique—you can assign as many as four parameters to each side of the square and record a complex path in the grid, that's then followed with selectable behaviour. You can modulate parameters from LFOs, from the oscillator and filter volume envelopes and even from the oscillators themselves, from an external input or from the output of the whole instrument. The list of modulation destinations, meanwhile, seems to include absolutely everything possible.

All of this wouldn't be very useful if it didn't sound good, and thankfully the synth comes through in this area as well. It feels quite neat and precise, which is partly down to the amount of control you have over the sound, but also because what comes out the speakers sounds accurately sculpted. It has a lot of punch, clarity and presence. It can go almost anywhere you choose sonically, although if you're looking for an authentic vintage character, an analogue hardware synth or emulation might be more appropriate, as the drift control can only go so far. Rather than occupying that kind of niche, though, the BLUE-II is a synthesiser that can do pretty much anything—and what's more, it does it all while sounding confident.


Cost - 4/5

Versatility - 5/5

Sound - 4.5/5

Ease of use - 4/5

Rating - 4.5/5

Read the full review at Resident Advisor






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