Rob Papen 'BLADE-2': The Upgraded Version of Legendary BLADE Soft Synth
Rob Papen 'BLADE-2': The Upgraded Version of Legendary BLADE Soft Synth
ECHT, THE NETHERLANDS: Virtual synthesizer, instrument, and effect plug-in developer Rob Papen Inspiration Soundware is proud to announce availability of 'BLADE-2' — boosting its original BLADE soft synth with fantastic features making it a dream synth for synth lovers who like to think out of the box while working in the box, and available at no extra cost to existing owners of the company’s expansive eXplorer-6 and sure-fire SoundDesign-X bundles.
When the original BLADE was released back in 2012, it had a unique concept — controlling the waveform harmonics (HARMOLATOR) using its recordable XY PAD, which was a very different approach to additive synthesis, and remains so to this day. Indeed, it was the first Rob Papen soft synth to include this feature, facilitating flexible sound editing, recording, and tempo-based playback. Put it this way: when putting this extraordinary combination into action, BLADE users can creatively generate very different tones — far from the sound of the subtractive synthesis crowd, and even those of other additive synthesizers.
But BLADE-2 takes a good thing and makes it even better by expanding upon that now-established — albeit still unique — concept with fresh ideas and features, bolstered by an all-new, clear-cut GUI (Graphical User Interface) fit for a new generation of synthesists and those familiar with the original BLADE alike. After all, eight years is a long time in an increasingly fast-paced — and arguably overcrowded — world of often short-lived software synthesizers.
So — GUI notwithstanding — what’s new in BLADE-2? Actually, as that all-new, clear-cut GUI clearly shows, as an additive oscillator with 96 partials, the HARMOLATOR continues to play a central role in making BLADE-2 what it is. Just like BLADE before it, global controls — Base, Range, Symmetry, Timbre, Timbre Type (16 types), Timbre Waves, Even/Odd, Ripple, Ripple Width, Harmonic, Harmonic Volume, and Harmonic Shift — are used to alter the general additive spectrum, rather than using sine waves of different frequencies to create more complex waves, so making it easier to create interesting sounds. Saying that, while benefitting from a visual makeover, the XY pad now includes far more features and freedom with which to control the HARMOLATOR, including an ability to control all other BLADE-2 parameters! Added alongside the HARMOLATOR mode is an ADDITIVE mode, enabling mixing or morphing between four additive waveforms using the XY pad. Pushing the boundaries of sound sculpting still further, users of course can also create and edit their own additive waveforms by altering the partial volumes, phase, and tuning, or even change the waveform per partial.
Needless to say, the pre-filter DISTORTION section with 20 different distortion types found in BLADE boldly make their presence felt in BLADE-2, but the FILTER section itself has been boosted to include no fewer than 36 different filter types alongside more visual enhancements, such as a graphical envelope (though this can be changed to more conventional onscreen dials via the ‘Control Menu’).
Meanwhile, the middle section of the BLADE-2 GUI offers multiple pages, including the enhanced XY pad page and also an updated ARP (arpeggiator) page with a number of cool new features — controlling the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ position of the XY pad inside each step, for example, while RATCHETING per step is also perfectly possible in various modes. Making a welcomed reappearance from BLADE is its HARMMOD page allowing a direct modulation connection to the HARMOLATOR, helpfully allowing users to skip the MOD (modulation) page altogether when quickly connecting, say, VELOCITY to an ENV (envelope) or an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator), or other controllers like the Mod Wheel, while the MOD (modulation) page itself includes extra envelopes, LFOs, and a MODULATION MATRIX, as well as an ADVANCED mode. Noticeably new to BLADE-2 is its WAV page, enabling users to analyse an audio sample into a static user wave, which can be used in the HARMOLATOR or ADDITIVE sections; when added to the ADDITIVE section, users are able to edit this user wave again. Arranging how the BLADE-2 synth engine plays comes courtesy of the PLAY MODE page — Poly, Mono, Legato, and Arp modes are accessible from here — where there are also some cool CHORD memory features, such as STRUM speed.
An ability to dive deep, sound editing-wise, with BLADE-2 is a given — hardly surprising since company founder Rob Papen is a self-confessed synth freak and world-renowned sound designer, but those wishing to edit a sound without going too deep can quickly turn to its EASY mode. Maintains Rob Papen himself: “By changing a group of parameters there, you’ll find some superb variations and totally new sounds, so don’t forget to save your cool new sound.”
Scratching the surface or diving deep, Rob Papen itself has certainly succeeded in sharpening its soft synth breakthrough by bringing a boosted BLADE-2 to the wider world for anyone to creatively play with to their (musical) heart’s content.
** BLADE-2 is included in the latest version of the eXplorer 6 bundle (https://www.robpapen.com/eXplorer-6.html) and SoundDesign-X bundle (https://www.robpapen.com/SoundDesign-X.html), while owners of the original BLADE can crossgrade to BLADE-2 for €39.00 EUR/$39.00 USD.
*** A 30-day demo version of BLADE-2 with only one introductory sound bank and all bank and preset loading/saving functionality duly disabled is available from here: https://www.robpapen.com/Blade-2%20Demo.html
**** All Rob Papen products use a serial/license system with activation when registering, and can be installed on two owned computer systems.
About 'Rob Papen'
Self-confessed synth freak and world-renowned sound designer Rob Papen started working with synthesizers at the tender age of 15 when purchasing an analogue Korg MS-20 semi-modular monosynth and accompanying analogue SQ-10 sequencer. Suitably inspired, he subsequently released several albums as part of Dutch electronic music groups Peru and Nova — the latter featuring the same members as Peru, but with a more commercial slant — with whom he enjoyed number one hit singles in The Netherlands (Nova) in 1982 and Austria (Peru) in 1988. Peru disbanded in 1993, by which time Rob had already established himself as a sought-after sound designer, creating presets for the likes of Waldorf, Access, Ensoniq, and E-mu, before going on to found his namesake company in pursuit of creating a sound designer’s dream synth. That software dream soon became reality when Rob formed the RPCX (Rob Papen ConcreteFX) partnership with music software developer Jon Ayres to develop new Rob Papen virtual instruments and effects plug-ins, starting with BLUE — an exciting-sounding, self-styled ‘Crossfusion Synthesis’ affair (combining FM, Phase Distortion, Wave Shaping, and Subtractive synthesis into one powerful dream synth) — in 2005. Today Rob Papen soundware defines cutting-edge contemporary music production: powerful virtual instruments and effect plug-ins that intermix innovative design, uncompromising sound quality, and musical, production-grade presets to make tracks truly shine, whatever the musical genre… Inspiration Soundware, indeed!
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