Blade is a virtual synthesizer that uses a "harmolator" synthesis to generate sound.
At the heart of Blade, ready to twist and transform your musical mind, lies the Harmolator. An additive synthesis system, which rather than using the system of changing additive partials, uses global controls which capture the essence of additive synth in an intuitive way making the creation of sounds much easier than using other additive synths.
The nine Harmolator controls allow you to create a vast range of sounds so you get all the amazing sounds that additive synthesis can generate with the added simplicity of traditional subtractive synthesis.
The Harmolator allows oscillator spreading, fattening the sound and also square / sine wave sub-oscillator. What's more, the sound can be modified further by the 21 per-voice distortions types and 14 filter types.
Blade offers total control of the sound over time using an array of different modulation controls. The most significant of these is the central XY screen. Here you can either alter things directly by moving the cursor around, or you can record paths which can be replayed. The recorded path can be looped, bi-directional looped and tempo based as well. Even the speed of the XY recording can be modulated for dynamic changes. So the XY pad is also an incredibly advanced "human input" modulation source. Furthermore, Blade has the full range of other modulation sources, including a dedicated envelope, LFO and velocity as modulation source for Harmolator controls.
Two FX units featuring all the FX from other Rob Papen products, plus the Arp / Sequencer and an Easy page which allows you to easily control sounds, all add up to a flexible and useful instrument at the cutting edge of today's synthesizers.
Reviewed By tommyzai
February 10, 2014
*I give Blade a 9.5 rating and expect to upgrade it to a solid 10 after the next update is released.
Blade by Rob Papen is a flexible additive synth with an sharp, yet human edge. When I first picked up this synth, I was scared — not because it was called, "Blade," and I feared it would cut me, but because it's an additive synth. I'm comfortable with subtractive synths, but my experience with additive or anything that has to do with partials or even mentions "FM" instantly triggers PTSD. I still have nightmares about programming a DX7 and wavetable synth patches. Blade breaks it all down and makes it easy to program without loss of sleep. In short, Blade is musician friendly.
One of the key features that makes additive synthesis unique is the ability to control harmonics, overtones, and partials; however, many argue that the sound is usually thin, lacks humanity, and is limited by on-board algorithms. Enter Blade! With this synth, you not only have control over the filter and volume, but you have global and micro control over essence of the waveform itself that goes way beyond slight adjustments to an individual partial (BTW, Blade contains 96 partials). There is something called a "Harmolator." It is a means of creating new waveforms and gaining total control over the oscillators. According to Rob Papen, "The Harmolator allows oscillator spreading, fattening the sound and also square / sine wave sub-oscillator." Every Harmolator parameter is spectrally displayed on the giant XY pad to give visual feedback, which enables global real-time manipulation of partials and live recording of cursor envelop/filter paths. I'm a visual person, and it really helps me to see (as well as hear) what I'm tweaking. This is where you can make instant sweeping changes.
Blade is capable of producing many timbres; yet, I mostly use it for sweeping, evolving ambient soundscapes and FX. It's easy to modify existing patches and create your own from scratch with Blade. Once you get familiar with the Harmolator and other parameters, it's like programming a virtual analogue-style synth. Blade makes additive sound design a fast, fun adventure.
• Cool blue GUI that is scalable to 150%
• 14 filter types
• Ability to add sub-oscillator
• Standard envelope generators
• Advanced page for deep editing
• 2 effects processors
• Step sequencer style arp that syncs to host
• Easy to access banks and some fantastic factory presets (of course, it's a Rob Papen synth)
• Responsive developer (the gang at RPCX respond to inquiries and update plugins frequently)
• This synth does a lot and does it in a new way, so there is a steeper learning curve, but once you get the hang of it. .. you will be unstoppable! It's certainly easier than programming the DX7.
• Why does Blade remind me of Wesley Snipes?
Blade has all the features of a basic additive synth and much, much more. You will not be limited by multiplying sine waves and a few algorithms. You will have the freedom and ease to create sounds that range from light and wispy to heavy and haunting. And, thanks to the XY pad, you can make the overall sound as human as you are! I highly recommend Blade to any eMusician, producer, gamer, sound-tracker, DJ, or sound designer, who is looking for an inspiring way to add an additive flavor to their audio. Tommy Zai gives Blade two very sharp thumbs up! To quote another reviewer, "Blade is certainly ready to cut through your mixes." Thank you, Rob Papen et al, for creating such a versatile and fun synth.Read more