Predator by Rob Papen is an amazingly simple, yet powerfully deep synth. The interface is well organized; knobs and controls are accessible and easy to use. Creating sounds from scratch is fun and rewarding, and for those who are less adventurous, the synth comes with a vast array of presets from the master himself, Rob Papen. One of the most enjoyable features are the randomize buttons, which allow the user to generate new sounds without much effort. This vicious beast has 128 waveforms, not just saw, square, sine, and triangle. There are also many ways to modulate and tons of high quality effects
Predator suits any kind of electronic music, and can produce many kinds of sounds — cutting leads, meaty basses, soothing pads, atmospherics, rhythmic soundscapes, etc., but where it really shines is with leads and arpeggios. For this reason, Predator is an electronic dance music producer's dream synth. Tracks created with this synth usually sit well in the mix, standing out just enough, but not getting lost and buried. Grrrrr, a gentle roar. The only area whereby I would suggest improvement is the patch browser it could be more intuitive. Otherwise, it's all there and is an extremely stable plugin. It has never crashed on me, launching smoothly and performing well in Logic, Studio One, and Numerology. Considering the depth of the sound, CPU demand is not bad, and the sound quality of the most recent version is fantastic, without any noticeable aliasing.
Customer/User support is excellent. Rob and Jon are active on the threads and respond to emails within a day or two. They are great people creating great plugins — a pleasure to deal with!
I highly recommend Predator to any electronic musician or producer looking to add a powerful, killer VSTi to their plugin collection. This synth cannot do it all, but what it can do — it does REALLY well. It successfully combines the sonic nuances of analog and digital to deliver a punchy modern sound that you may quickly become addicted and never be able to live without. That's what happened to me! I've been going to counseling and a recovery program for nearly a year, and it hasn't helped. I keep launching every chance I get! Thank you, RPCX, for creating such a ferociously addictive synth. Tommy Zai gives Predator three thumbs up. Love it!
BTW, if you search online you will find many threads on electronic music forums comparing synths, i.e. this synth versus that synth. Don't be surprised if Predator is mentioned a lot!
Predator was one of the first synths that I bought after my studio was broken into and everything stolen. Along with this synth, I also bought the Virus Powercore and Spectrasonics Atmosphere.
I ended up selling the Virus Powercore, because I found I was using Predator more often that the Virus.
Okay, I admit: that's a bit of hyperbole. The Virus sounds better than Predator, sorry. But the Virus GUI was much, much worse. I just wasn't compelled to use it, when Predator was there, inviting me to program new sounds... or tweak the bajillion presets. ...the presets, by the way, cover a LOT of territory and are all expertly programmed. I maintain RP is one of the best companies to buy from for preset sounds.
Anyway, the point is: the GUI is what makes Predator a great synth. Everything is laid out perfectly, there's plenty of power there, the modulation options are deep and interesting, and it just looks damn sexy, IMO. You want to play it, to program it. Of all the synths I've ever owned, I have written more patches for Predator than any other. ...many more, in fact.
As for the sound: I found myself most attracted to Predator's pluck sounds. Pads are... okay... not quite magical, compared to other synths in this class (Surge, Massive are better for pads). But for those really electronic-sounding, Berlin-school arpeggios, it's one of the best synths out there. In fact, the closest competitor IMO was Albino... and Predator definitely caries Albion's DNA: they sound very similar in character and soul. Predator has a little bit more "punch" to its arps, though: I suspect that behind the scenes, this synth is secretly adding a little PCM transient to the beginning of each wave and probably affecting the attack of the sound slightly to give it a little more "pop". For example, when I pull up Predator and Largo side-by-side and program the sounds from Predator into Largo, I get a much stronger attack on Predator. (In fact, I end up using the more complex envelope in Largo to match the attack a little more closely). ...By the way, Predator and Largo stack extremely well, I recommend it. Predator has a nice warmth to the sound where Largo has a more metallic quality, and the two together provide a lot of depth. ...You'll have to turn Predator's volume down, though: Largo's outs are not as hot.
It's also worth mentioning that Predator has a few neat tricks in its OSCs that give it more character than other synths (PWM on any waveform, for example). It's also good for simple FM sounds. The waves available make for some really great digital sounds, too: you'll get wonderful JD-like bell sounds out of Predator. Leads are generally very good, though (for reasons I can't put my finger on) I think I actually preferred Albino for leads. Still, passable. The effects are... okay. I usually end up replacing them with external FX, but they get the juices flowing.
BUT! (and it's a big but, I cannot lie, yuk yuk:) I don't use Predator anymore. [shrug] I don't. Never. ...I still have it installed, but I can't recall the last time I actually loaded it. I've become a Diva / ElectraX fanboy, mainly because these newer synths sound better. ...Quite a bit better. The filters have more depth to them and a (much) warmer quality. (The filters on Predator are... okay. The bandpass in particular has a nice quality to it that I enjoy.) ...I also find the digital sounds crisper in ElextraX, and Tone2's synth uses less CPU.
It's a shame, though: this is a wonderful synth, with one of the best GUIs I've used (I do wish patch-management weren't so old-school, I'll add), a great sound, great OSCs, great versatility. And RobPapen's company is very classy. I've contacted them multiple times for support, and they always replied within a day or so, and were very nice and very helpful.
...If Predator added a filter like Diva's, I would gladly and quickly go back to using it: the interface is wonderful and, as I said, I love the versatility of the oscillators. It was my workhorse synth for many, many years, and I love it. :)
Bottom line: it's a very powerful, very classy, surprisingly good synth... but it's getting dated. Not to wax philosophical, but: I think we're entering a new age of VST capabilities. I hold hope that Predator will get a major update and join the ranks of the new wave... but at the time of this writing, that doesn't seem particularly likely.
This is, in a sentence, the best synthesizer I have ever used.
USER INTERFACE: If you know the basics of subtractive synthesis, and you probably do, Predator's interface is immediately crystal-clear. Pretty much everything on a single page, although certain features, like the arpeggiator, are tucked away behind buttons. The interface is consistent with the signal flow, so you don't need to RTFM in order to get going. The interface itself is clean and attractive, although I admit I'm not a big fan of the font they use for the readouts. But that's a minor complaint.
SOUND: I find Predator to be clean, unbiased, and punchy. To my ear, it's more "flat" than, say, Arturia's V-Collection synths, which pack an enormous amount of fatness and warmth without having to do any tweaking at all. You might have to do a little bit of mixing work to get extremely fat sounds out of Predator, but I think that is an advantage because, as I said, it's unbiased and can fit easily into any mix. For me, that characteristic more than anything else is probably what makes Predator my go-to synth, because I know it will work in any situation.
FEATURES: Man...it does pretty much everything that you could ever want a subtractive synth to do. There are 3 oscillators, with 128 waveforms each, which means you can immediately get a universe of different textures without touching the filters or modulation. Each oscillator has FM, ring mod, sub osc, and PWM. The sheer number of possibilities offered by the oscillators alone is staggering!
The filters themselves are multi-mode, and the main one has a dedicated envelope and LFO. The second filter ONLY has a cutoff knob, but the main one is so versatile that you may very well never need to touch the second one. The main filter has a very cool pre-filter distortion knob. One thing about the filter that bugs me is the "vowel" (formant) mode - this doesn't really sound like any other formant filter I've used, and I don't really "get" it or find it too useful. But's probably just me.
You get two freely-assignable LFOs and envelopes, PLUS an expansive modulation matrix. The arpeggiator is very easy to understand and can also be used as a modulation source. It has a handy swing control, too :) There is a dedicated LFO for the pitch, so adding vibrato is effortless. I love the chord learning feature - very simple and highly useful!
The on-board FX are unbelievable; there is a ton of them and they all sound fantastic. The FX are so freaking good that Predator can be used solely FX plugin, completely bypassing the synth bits. You get 3 FX slots in Predator, which is usually more than enough. The whole FX chain has two dedicated modulation routings, though I rarely have need for them. One unfortunate thing is that there are no presets for the FX themselves, but that's probably not a big deal since Predator is, after all, a synthesizer.
DOCUMENTATION: The manual is perfectly fine; it's clear and readable, although you can tell that English is not Rob's first language. Every control in Predator is explained in the manual, and that's basically it. There are no tutorials in it or any kind of theoretical knowledge; it's strictly a reference.
PRESETS: Predator has a ton of preset banks, probably comprising more than 1,000 presets, covering every conceivable style. The presets and interface are actually what convinced me to buy Predator in the first place, after only 20 minutes of using it.
SUPPORT: Rob and Jon are frequent posters here on KVR and seem to be very good about answering their users' questions and taking their suggestions, although I have not had any problems with Predator myself. On the occasions when I've had to get support, it's been due to some kind of activation snafu (although this has improved since Rob got stopped using the eLicenser dongles), and they have been both responsive and more than reasonable. These guys take care of their customers.
VALUE FOR MONEY: I'd have happily paid twice the amount that Predator costs. In fact, if you're cheap like me, it's likely that you can find a copy of Predator for about $150 (it costs $180 if you buy it from Rob's site).
STABILITY: Predator has never crashed on me. Ever. I have had it on four computers since I got it years ago, two PC and two Mac, and it has not crashed one single time. Need I say more?
I was looking for a good go-to-synthesizer for all my needs in the studio and I ended up with Predator.
Interface: One of the best out there. Easy to use and intuitive. Everything, beside 2 sub-pages (arpeggiator / advanced settings), can be accessed at a one single page interface. The overall layout is clean and simple. Since I had already some experience with different synthesizers I think even beginners will quickly get into the handling.
Sound: Very good sound that's all I can say. It can sound very warm and even the phrase is sometimes over-used *analogue*, but in the same time it can sound very digital.
Even with just one oscillator turned on you get nice results immediately, thanks to features like the spread button and the dedicated sub-oscillator each oscillator has.
The best thing about Predator is the width of possibilities when creating sounds. Most of the subtractive synthesizers I know just have the standard waveforms like saw, square, triangle, sine and a noise generator. Predator offers you a range of 128 different waveforms, including spectral waveforms and loads of different vocal waveforms.
Features: It comes with a PredatorFX version too, which gives you access to the decent FX on each track and other instruments. This way you can use all the build-in effects also as an insert in your DAW. All of them are good and the reverb is one of the best build-in reverbs I know.
Another top feature for me are the variation options which is the randomizer of Predator. You got 4 different variation modes, randomizing different parameters of a sound by an amount you can select. The results of those variations are always useful, and you don't turn up with useless sounds, where the volume are other essential parameters are set to 0 or other, weird "randomized issues" you sometimes get with other tools.
Morphing lets you combine 2 single presets by a amount you can select.
Having LFOs already set up to the Filter and the OSC Pitch is a nice idea, since I usually go for these anyway and this I don't have to set them up manually each time.
Presets: I think they are 2.000+ presets for every style you can imagine and all of them are very useful and inspiring. After browsing trough them, I instantly recognized some sounds I know from some productions I really like. You got all classic synth-sounds, modern sounds for dance or ambient and banks that really show the possibilities like the bank made by Antonio Sage, which is one of my favourites.
A decent amount of 3rd party banks is available to, made by designers like Ummet Ozcan, Arksun and Andy Tau.
Documentation: A decent manual.
If you click on the "?" on the Predator GUI, a help file going to open up, which is like a quick start guide.
Customer Support: Rob Papen got his own forum here at KVR and I see him posting here daily, helping out people having problems or bugs.
Value For Money: For what you get, the price is unbeatable. A workhorse for all your subtractive (and beyond) synthesis needs, with new sounds in no time, more presets than I ever saw in any other synthesier and some great build-in effects.
Stability: Not one single crash here in the time I've been using it so far.
All I can say, after 3 weeks of having it is that I already have nearly 2 banks full of custom made sounds by myself. I never was getting into any synthesier as quick and easy as into Predator. It can sound very soft, warm, fat, harsh, whatever you want it to sound like. With all those features on top, I never had one single moment playing around with it, not having a smile on my face.
First, this VST synth has an excellent sound quality and a very nice playability. The presets are well done and there are plenty of them.
I have work with many different VST, and often when looking for that special bass sound or nice lead type sound, predator did the job. I do a lot of soundtracks and sound quality is a very important factor for me, but also the "organic" feel of a sound, a sound that is not too static or muddy. Predator is everything but this.
The user interface is pretty straight forward and really easy to program. There is some nice effects in it and some great morphing possibilities, also very fast and easy to adjust in real-time.
The documentation is complete...no need to go further much into details, IMO.
Customer support is great; very fast response both on their site and on KVR. They really rocks on that side!
Predator is worth every penny, after all it's really not expensive considering what it does and all the presets that are included. It is also very stable, it has never crash and never got some holding blank GUIs like some other VSTs.
One of my favorite so far....Good job Rob and everyone else that worked on it! Should be in top 10 for sure!
I was fortunate to get an assignment from Rob Papen to create a new soundbank for his Predator synthesizer, of which I was given a copy to work with. Honestly, I way underestimated this synth! Do not be fooled by Predator's comparatively low cost in comparison to Rob Panpen's other synths. This puppy has TONS of neat tricks and secrets hiding under the hood which are not readily apparent until you sit down and spend some quality time with it.
Very convenient layout. Everything is neatly orgainized into sections, which makes learning all the functions much more intuitive. Predator is actually quite a complex beast compressed into a relatively small space and there are quite a lot of options within the modulation and LFO sections. Clicking on a slot in the free modulation area will bring up a large menu, both for modulation sources and modulation desinations. I like this a lot better than having everything all on the screen at once.
This is where Predator shines. You can create sounds that sit very well in the back of a mix and also sounds that slice through it like a hot knife through butter. The sound quality is most certainly professional and I have no complaints here. Predator has it's own unigue quality and a very modern sound. It does not pretend to be an emulation of an analog synth or a Virus, but what it does do, it does very, very well. I would recommend Predator as a great go-to synth in your arsenal. This isn't just a Trance synth, guys :). I got some nasty growling, metallic, Robert Natus-esque leads out of this synth that I wasn't quite able to do on other synths. This puppy can also do trippy, evolving soundscape pads with complex programming. Drum & Bass and Dubstep guys would love Predator as well. You really gotta check out the effects section. Rob Papen's synths have by far the best effects sections I have ever heard in a software synth. Dubstep style modulated delay speeds with an LFO modulated filter routed AFTER the delay in the chain... oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about :).
Like I said earlier, do not be fooled by Predator's relatively simple appearance and comparatively low cost. For starters, there are a very large number of oscillator waveshapes. You are not limited to just sine, saw, square and noise. There are all manner of esoteric digital waveforms for imitating such classics as the Ensoniq ESQ-1, Korg DW synths and other digital hybrids from the 1980s. There is also FM capability, which adds a bit of extra edge to your sounds without outright emulating a DX7. This is great for gutteral, ripping high-passed leads and deep, digital sub basses. The modulation section is the core of Predator's magic and the place where you will find all its hidden secrets. You have 2 slots for modulating effects parameters. Just about any source you can think of can be used for this. You also have 2 dedicated LFO slots. Then, you have an 8 slot free modulation section. With your sources you have all of what you would expect, but the magic lies in some of Predator's more esoteric options. "Offset" is a great and useful example. By routing this to an LFO, you are now able to do audio-rate modulation (very fast LFOs). You can modulate one LFO's speed via another LFO, the modwheel, aftertouch, or even one of the 2 free envelopes. The Chord Play feature is a must-have for House and Techno folks. Simply play any chord, hit "learn" and that chord will be memorized and saved as part of your new preset. The effects section is absolutely stunning. Not only are the effects themselves of high quality, but there are A LOT of them! Chorus, Flanger, Bitcrusher, Distortion, Comb Filter, Reverb, Multimode Filter, etc, etc. Each of these effects have a very large selection of parameters -- and each parameter can be modulated! Reverb size via an LFO? Yes. Delay speed via an envelope? You bet. Flanger speed via modwheel? Count on it :).
This is the area where I think Predator could improve. The factory presets are quite good, yes, but there are many things Predator can do which are not shown in the factory sounds (audio rate modulations via "offset" parameter, very complex atmospheres, use of white/pink noise as a modulation source, heavily modulated effects, etc).
Value for Money:
Excellent :). For $150 USD, it's a great buy. Great sound, loaded with features and very stable. This would be one of my "deserted island" synths lol.
USER INTERFACE: Clear, no need to use the manual. Everything you need is at your fingertips. Only downside is that the black background can lead to eye fatigue after a long time of programming. SOUND: This synth has an incredible sound. It's convincing in all the categories. From lush pads to aggressive leads, from deep basses to brass sound, it covers all the musical genres with an extremely high quality sound. You can get anything from this beast. FEATURES: This beast focuses on sound and simplicity, so it has not the incredible features of some of its colleagues. In any case it's a complete subtractive synth. Three oscillators with many waveforms to choose from, each with its suboscillator. Sync, Ring Modulation and FM are implemented. Extremely flexible modulation is possible. Good quality FX are implemented. An extremely useful feature is the possibility of an intelligent morphing function that is able to linearly morph between two patches. Then it has a really good arpeggiator. DOCUMENTATION: Really good, even if I didn't have to read it to use the synth. PRESETS: They are made by Rob Papen, need I say more? CUSTOMER SUPPORT: GREAT! Rob answers to support requests in his KVR forum, and goes there to answer very often. VALUE FOR MONEY: for 149 euros you get a highest quality synth with an ever growing collection of Rob's presets. You can really take advantage of this synth in any modern style of music. STABILITY: It never gave me problems, till now. The first version had some glitches problems, but they seem gone, with version 1.2. CPU USAGE: while not as low as RPCX declare, is reasonably low, and is extremely low if you turn down oversampling and FX, but then also the sound quality goes down!In any case I am able to open many instances of Predator with my Athlon FX 4800.
It's a great synth! It's extremely easy to program, even for a novice. The morphing feature is not an innovation. Other synths had this feature implemented. But what's great about it is the smartness in the way it does morphing. You can take any two patches, and the morphed one is always interesting and good and (what's more important) usable.