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Modscapes Released!

Modwave Modscapes

The Korg Modwave is an exceptional synthesizer. Here Soundsauca cites a journey of endless exploration, deep learning and fine features.

Soundsauca is back once again with some new sounds. This time it’s Korg’s eclectic modwave to get some TLC. I started this one a while ago, but as it goes life is complicated and so am I! Despite this, I got there in the end and I’m very pleased that I did. The Korg modwave is one gargantuan synth. The sheer range of options available to sculpt sounds is (for me at least) approached the overwhelming.

This soundset represents a ton of time and energy into the modwave. Like a science lab there’s enough options to blow yourself up, or disappear into a black hole of programming procrastination. I think I fell in a bit there, but once modwave grabbed me, I wasn’t going to back out.

This isn’t a review or an exhaustive list of features etc. It’s more of an overview of what I found notable and interesting whilst under modwave’s spell. I didn’t set out with a preconceived outcome on this soundset (maybe I should have) but I wanted to see where I could take the synth and for quite a while I had my head down, learning it’s intricacies. I didn’t want to sell it short. I really needed to wrap my head around the motion sequencer.

I confess at first I struggled a little. Hard to admit that sure, as all synth nerds like to think they can program a synth in their sleep with an interface larger than a star destroyer;) However I’ll hold my hands up here and say “you got me”. Or did it…

Architecture

Waves of waves

Modwave possesses a plethora of, well, everything! With wavetables, there’s an arsenal of waves built in. Any thought of creating my own waves never seemed a priority. IMHO getting good wavetables to work well and sound unique is a niche skill and above my comfort zone for now. And with that said, I figured, why not use what’s there?

The same also applied to the sample playback ability. I was very pleased that multisample playback was possible (I think more manufacturers could offer this) but I really wanted to focus on getting more out of the hardware err… plugin for now.

Filters

So what did I do with modwave that took me so long? Well I started out making sounds I felt comfortable with, some really nice ones actually. After doing this I figured I could probably have created some of these with other synths. This is a good thing, Modwave covers a vast array of sonic bread & butter very well. With the filters being varied and customisable, good timbres are on tap. Characterful and biting ones like the Polysix filter are lovely and rich. Of course the MS-20 inspired ones are full on saturated dirt when that needs deploying.

Modulation Station

Modwave’s modulation abilities are beyond extensive. Along with all the sources & destinations you’d expect there’s control over motion sequences, step levels, probabilities numbers of steps and so on. LFO shape changes are even possible in realtime along with their curves. Envelopes can re-trigger via step sequences and almost any other source. The sky is seriously, truly the limit here.

Total Kaoss

The Kaoss pad is indeed genius. As a plugin user, Korg has done its best to make this have feature parity with the hardware. I can only imagine that the real deal must be even more fun to play with! Great uses of the pad can be mixing the 2 layers in a performance, controlling the filters, but my favourites are assigning the X/Y axes to various effects parameters not available as destinations from LFOs and the like. This enables awesome morphs in timbre along with assigning other parameters concurrently.

Another mention goes to the 4 red “mod knobs”. These are great for allowing curated sweeps or, well anything really.

Motion sophistication

I initially saw the step sequencers as sophisticated modulation sources (they are) but how Modwave offers these up is somewhat endless in application. Beyond that they aren’t note sequencers akin to those I’ve encountered on Korg’s Monologue or the Modal synths.

Regardless, Modwave allows for envelope re-triggering via the motion sequencers. Awesome I thought! I can create my own sequences and trigger them. On deeper study, I saw that whilst the envelopes can be re triggered. The waves themselves don’t… But with some rethinking on how to apply the sequencer modulation shapes I was pleased you could actually get the synth to chop things up rhythmically. You can loose a few lifetimes in here so be bold, or beware:)

ModFX

The effects are like everything else, very extensive, with 3 inserts per part/layer and reverb/EQ on the whole performance. One nice trick is to assign the Kaoss pad to the EQ mid bands and sweep across, allowing simple global tweaks or all in pseudo band-reject phasing. Nice!

Wave options

If you’re in the market for a wavetable synth, you’ll know that the choices out there are extensive. Modwave hangs out with the best of them. It also hits a sweet spot in price/performance/features & sound. The only caveat is to get the most out of it, you have to put a lot in. But if you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves there’s some things here that few other synths can match.

If you haven’t listened to my modwave presentation, you can find out more here.