Octopus is strange animal . Most of us know that it can change color in an instant and even the texture of its skin. It can elude anything with its incredibly flexible body and there is no area which an octopus cannot fit. Pretty much that sums up the OCTOPUS VST by Linplug.
1. Main Idea
Octopus is a child of TOXIC III and as TOXIC, deals mainly with FM Synthesis. But what is FM Synthesis? FM is a type of Synthesis where a waveform modulates another. The Values and Peaks of the one waveform control when Modulation increases and decrease in the target waveform. Compared to additive and substarctive synthesis FM produces much more complex waveforms than other synthesis techniques, using less OSCs (which are called Operators in FM) and thus less CPU power. However it is more dificult to use and predict its result cause the waveforms it produces are more complex.
2. Easy To Use 10/10
Octopus was reviewed by Computer Music magazine and got a respectable 8/10 based on the fact that FM synthesis is not for amateurs. I have to disagree. Many Synths are using FM and special the most powerful one like Absynth 4 , TERA 3 , z3ta+ etc. but they mainly use other synthesis techniques cause FM is difficult to use. And yes FM is difficult to use but Octopus is not based only on FM .
Octopus has 8 OSCs and each OSC can be modulated by itself and the other seven, the final result of each OSC is added by using additive synthesis. Octopus use Partial editor to quickly edit the waveform of each OSC and can import wave files inside the Partial Editor as well. So you are not obliged to use FM if you find it so hard. Octopus like Tera 3 is also a sampler even though not as advanced as Tera in this field(cannot do granular sampling like Tera). It can however import multiple samples. So there you have it ... FM is not forced on you and you can use familiar additive and sample tecnology.
3. Quality of Sound 10/10
It is a simple fact of life that nothing can beat FM sound. FM is excellent for creating pads , bass, lead , organs, bells, and even drums. FM produces noisy sound but that noise is so easily control By the FM index (which control how much a waveform modulates another) which makes your preset sound even like real instruments. In few words you do not need many oscs do make a warm full of texture sound, 2 will do and both can be a simple sine wave. Now imagine 8 OSCs modulated each by 8 OSCs and each having any kind of waveform imaginable . Simply amazing power!!!!
4. Presets 9/10
FM is impressive but like any other synthesis technique needs a lot of time to produce the sound as you imagine it . If you do not invest that time then your presets will sound FMish which is a bit metalic and noisy but full of texture none the less. Remember that the same happens with additive which (without enough effort) produce thin and swallow sounds. Time and effort as always is what makes the diffirence.
Octopus Presets are excellent and they are second only to z3ta+. Octopus is more powerful than any other synth out there and that shows in the presets which it has a huge amount of.
4. GUI 20/10
GUI is amazing and everything is in one screen. But the colors and the design is trully light years ahead. Only ALBINO and BLUE look as good .
5. FILTERs (not necessary)
FM does not need filters since the frequency is controled by FM. But there are two of them to make things simpler but chances are that you wont use them that much.
6. MULTI-ENVELPES 8/10
Like absynth but not as advanced. I would prefer more automation on the envelopes like Absynth. However I cannot remember the last time that I really needed more powerful envelopes than the ones provided by Octopus. Chances are ,after investing some time using it, that you wont also.
7. FX 8/10
Nothing special here, chorus, unison, reverb ,distortion, eq etc. The ususal stuff which you will not use as much as FM is already so rich sound.
8. Value for money 100/10
only 129 euros is a killer price and when compared with its main competitor Absynth (300 euros), Absynth does not stand a chance.
The Octopus experience does not end in this small review. The demo can tell you so much more. Octopus is a synth targeting sound synthesists (makes you feel a lot like Jean Michel Jarre) but can appeal to the less obsesed with sound synthesis. Even though personal taste plays an important role , for me even without the low price is the best synth out there and can vaporize Absynth and anything else with its sound and incredible modulation.