2003 has been a good year for additive synthesizers. Include WhiteNoiseAdditive to the list. Taking a page out of programs like the Mac only Metasynth and PC only Coagula which enable sound to be structured through the use of drawing and reading of bitmaps WhiteNoise come through with a new and interesting interface for sound creation with a real-time graphic to sound interpreter. Unlike many programs that attempt this, Additive does a fine job of implementing the interface. What it basically means is drawing with a toolkit and import of bitmaps that generate sound, formant filter and spectrum information. Ok, so it's a fancy program with a lot of graphical input, but how does it sound? We're not supposed to say but it rocks. The methods used to paint your timbre allow for organic voices, organs, analog style synths and noise/industrial squelches that will find you playing with Additive for the fun of squeezing out sounds that are at once familiar yet a bit on the weird and wild side. There are two oscillators that work this way, an x/y pad that does a good job of vector emulation, a sensible spread of effects, mostly modulation based and time based. There are also compression and distortion available as well. Also included, two LFOs, a nice little modulation matrix. And beyond the visual controls for each oscillator a general section including frequency modulation, ring modulation, pan and volume. Also cool are the adjustments you can make within each picture to sweep or change timbre in real time.
WMAdditive may sound difficult but it's easy as there are a large number of visual sections useable for the oscillator/formant/spectrum/noise generators. A large number of changes can be made using just these controls, yet like any other great synth, there is more and most important, there is variety. Although not sample based as several other additives are WNAdditive delivers sonically for PWM, microWave, and evolving timbres and does so with a minimum of screen space to boot.
This is one side of additive, more are available and they have their own charms, but in terms of overall fun and useful sounds WNAdditive is a bargain and fairly light on CPU. Customer service is excellent and responsive to requests.
One area I'd like to see change are in the numeric controls. If you are at 24 steps (2 octaves) above the base frequency there is no way other than to click 24 times. A better way to do it would have been scrolling on the control and/or clicking on the readout and entering data.
These are minor functional quibbles. Additive is the big story for new technology synths and looks to have a brighter future in 2004.