When it comes to the creation of synthesizers, there are engineers, and there are artists. Mr. Hager is the latter. He creates synthesizers totally unlike anything else other there, and they truly are "magic music machines" just as his site proclaims. His newest offering, Protoplasm, continues the tradition of innovative and amazing "Fortune" synths, and enhances it as well.
ProtoPlasm is indeed a pad & texture synth... to the depth of which one wouldn't initially imagine. Initially one might think Protoplasm is too similar to STS-17, or WOF-II (previous amazing Fortunes synths), but enough digging through the presets will prove otherwise. There are lots of new waveforms sampled by HG himself from his own synthesizers (the man has a -real- FIZMO, for starters...). The massive amount of presets available (500+ in the Pro version!) would keep almost anyone busy enough. You'll spend hours just getting lost in the sounds that come straight out of the box.
However, for the discerning synthesist, making your own patches is a must, and this is where the sheer brevity of aural-creative power reveals itself within this synth. Programming Protoplasm is a dream, the GUI layout is simple, thanks to SynthEdit pixel-shaman Vera Kinter's excellent handywork. The oscillators are easy to control, with nice touches like individual volume control and the ability to offset the octave range by +2/-2 max. Each oscillator can be modulated by individual sources as well, which leads to instant transvariable soundscapes. Best of all, with the Pro version, you can load your own .WAVs into them for PCM madness. This ingenious idea ensures that even if you exhausted the possibilites of the 50 standard waveforms, you could still have an unending source of new inspiration... try loading in samples of Protoplasm into itself, for example. :D The filter section works well and is standard, except for the fact that you can perform 'adjustable boosts', which I think should be standard in all synth filters for now on. The LFOs all work very well and are thankfully, SHAPEABLE. Something overlooked far too often in most synths (the sample and hold's shapeable too!). To top it all off you have pannable elements intertwined into the ADSR, which leads to nice stereo freakout effects, and of course, a quite venerable delay section. All of these features are grand indeed, but the ultimate esoteric weapon Protoplasm employs is it's -LFO Modulation Stepper-. Yes, a step-sequenced LFO for modulating the oscillators! This technique is quite innovative indeed, and lends to constantly evolving sound which can morph and wobble and ooze all around you, which makes creating atmospheric sounds criminally easy. ;)
For around $50 US you can buy the Pro version, and if you have any interest at all in atmospheric/pad sounds, you would be a fool to pass this synth up. It is easily the most amazing synth at what it does I've ever heard, hard or soft, and I plan to incorporate this and many other Fortune synths into my future albums extensively. Mr. Hager is an absolute sonic genius as far as I'm concerned (the man devised an algorithmic music generation system based off astrology that actually worked, for example). He is also quite possibly the most powerful SynthEdit guru in the world. Bold statements true, but after you've experienced his works, you may just find you not only agree, but your credit card does too.