Welcome back to another reason rack extension article. Today we'll be looking in to the next IDT device from Studio Corbach. The latest extension that has been released for the Reason Rack is a device called Mixfood WT4 Wavetable synthesizer. While this could be seen as a similar product such as the Mixfood Remix yet they are also quite different in a design point of view with some similarities over the complete device. While this article should really be seen as a rack extension comparison article there are some moments in time we might start looking back at devices we have seen from the same company / brand / person. Make note I am not endorsed by the owner of these products nor am I endorsed by Propellerhead. Because of this I can just speak my mind, and I will still not shut up. I'll try to be honest here and throw in some constructive criticism while this article progresses over time.
Previous Studio Corbach releases
There are some nice pearls that Studio Corbach has released over time. It started of with a very basic polyphonic synth where you are able to choose a fixed wave form and polish the sound with envelopes, filters, effects and so on. From this angle this synthesizer felt like an advanced version on what the Subtractor stock device was capable of doing. Sure, it lacks a few features like Frequency Modulation, Amplitude modulation and so on. But it could do with out (it would be a nice addition if it was there).
The Mixfood Unison took some similarities from the Mixfood orange but the hard of the waveform could be reshaped by using 2 different oscillators in pair. This is what made modulating a waveform quite unique and it showed the possibilities on what an IDT actually could do without the additional programming. The Mixfood unison comes with its own unique unison setup. While this is a unison which sound quite linear (do not compare this with a unison from Expanse please, because there is non). But in terms of inside the box options it is welcome as a feature.
Mixfood Ambi Nature
Then came mixfood ambient. And this one was not as well received as the previous two (based on the amount of votes that these devices have). It makes if you think about it because these sounds are quite specific sounds. The synth itself (as far as we can call it that) is based on field recordings. One could see this device more as an all in refill that contains ambient sounds. For me personally, it has its charm. There are some wind sounds I like to use from this device as well as the water and see noises. There are always going to be sounds where you may ask yourself like 'meh?! is that needed?!'. But that is what you get with field recordings I guess. You can't please everyone with these type of sounds. Hence I understand the mixed opinions about this one though.
And then cam Mixfood Remix. I have no words to describe how I feel about it. But I think the developer of these devices probably thought like "MOAR = MOAR". I can say this: from a sound designers perspective the Mixfood Remix is the exact opposite on what Thor Wavetables are about. The sounds themselves are not the problem here. It are a few things:
- the amount of similar sounds played back in a sequence
- the amount of sounds in general
- there is not coherence order on the waveform. Just pick a number and be lucky I guess?
- these are wavetables so you will spend a lot of time to pin point a wave form if you want that specific sound
- reshaping a sound (compared to the orange and the unison) is like meh?!
The biggest problem with this concept in particular is that sound design with this concept is an utter nightmare. Where Thor is fun (yet limited). Here it is just like an overload of sounds and you'll just try your best to make the best out of it. It becomes a trial on error game.
The cause of the problems is caused by the 250 waveforms and the lack of naming these, order these or have any proper grouping method what so over. In comparison, take an example like Expanse (ok, not fair, but I'll do this anyway). The waveforms are nicely grouped together from Basic, Digital, Modern, FM and so on. If I want something FM-ish going on I don't have to look in to the groups that are not called "FM". With the Remix it is a guessing game. Sure one could say it is an "IDT" problem that it lacks these features. I don't care who's fault it is, nor do I care which limitations an IDT device has. Only thing I care about is the UI-experience of an instrument. And if that fails by design... then there are serious problems. So Propellerhead please take note (I know you don't care about my articles. Heh :P)
The best way to tackle this problem however is just to skim down through all the 250 wave forms while moving the index up and down with an LFO. Maybe you'll pick up a few sounds you may find interesting and use those.
Another solution to this 'problem' would be a more consistent way on ordering these waveforms. For instance start with everything morphing saw waves. Then do the triangles, squares and do some syncing and some fm or something. So while you progress over time with the different wavetables you will get a more story telling method going from similar waveforms to different waveforms to different techniques. It would be similar if I would just stack 4000 patches in one folder and call them Thor0001 till Thor4000. That wouldn't make much sense now would it.
Ok... I think I am dragging it a bit now, and I think you get the point now
I just want to bring up one last point. The SIZE of this device. And I am not talking about the amount of pixels in size this thing is (because personally, it is fine!). I am more talking about the 600Mb that this device needs to suck up before it even spawns in my rack. This is another counter argument I have with those large sample libraries (*** Cough *** Kontakt *** Cough ***) that just house 8Gb of samples just because they can. What is the problem with people their DLL size anyway? Does it need to be a competition like "my DLL is bigger then yours and therefor I am better?". This is starting to become the George Lucas method in sound design. Do I really need to bring up the star wars prequels now? In a rack extension review?
Ow dear... Anyway. I think you understand the point I am trying to make. In case you haven't figured it out yet: after loading instance number 4 my Reason just crashes and it is game over. On a 12Gb Laptop. Yes... lets plug this stuff in there too. Happy now?
Mixfood WT4 Wavetable Synthesizer
Finally... I am getting to talk about the Mixfood WT4 Wavetable. At some extend you could just copy and past the above few paragraphs, replace the text from Remix with WT4. But serious, I am not going to be that lazy. There are some similar issues that this device has. But lets take a deep breath... and look at the bright side
When you look at this device it kind of follows the same structure as compared to the Mixfood Remix. The first oscillator from the Remix (the static waveform selection) has been removed and instead of 2 wavetables we now have 4.
Ehm... Ok... this is the point I really need to pause for a second before I am totally going to copy and paste everything from the previous paragraphs.
Let me try to use a different phrase:
IT IS THE SAME GOD DAMN THING! (at least that was my first impression)
Now do not get me wrong here. I am not here just to piss on the developer. Like I have mentioned, I loved the concept of Mixfood Orange and Unison. I sometimes use those Ambi Nature sounds. But the whole wavetable madness really has got to be handled from a different point of view. Since not only does Remix come with 2 * 250 wavetables this 4WT comes with 400*4 wavetables. And the irony here is that "they" use it as their marketing slogan too.
Now the only good news about this is that it is less memory intense as the previous device. So that is all good. The wave tables do sound a bit unique, yet there are many similarities here and there. This kind of comes with the cost of moar is moar I guess. But when it comes to picking 'that type of sound' I prefer to use the Dying Star or The Orbis. While these two have lesser wave forms they are easier to come by when I have 'that specific' character sound going on. Because they have less wave forms, it is easier to work with (hint!).
If all fails I would just pick Expanse, skip all these wavetable things if you like because when you modulate waveforms with an LFO, you have similar 'wavetables' as the devices like WT4 or Remix. While Expanse does come with an additional DSP impact they recently released an update so you can tweak the performance of the wavetables, filters and effects.
Now the only good news is that during the sales this thing was only $9 (or 9 EURO). So that is like buying a sample pack of 400 wavetables for only $9 which is quite cheap. Could I have created them myself? Yes. Does it really matter... nope. Does this review matter. I hope so...
Last thing I want to add to this essay is this:
(Print screen from the marketing slogan of the WT4):
The answer is no. In comparison try to mimic the same sounds from the Korg PolySix set to Sync mode. Good luck with that!
If this would be a VST review, it would have been handled in a similar way. Sometimes a developer comes with specific pearls that shine. It goes of with a great start. But once the company starts to evolve it either repeats the same thing (with a different touch) and there are reviewers (like myself) who are being honest and want to try to stop these type of trends. I know, the problems with these type of devices come with the limited platform as an IDT device. An IDT device is nothing more then an SDK that Propellerhead has provided so Rack developers with barely any coding skills can design an RE. These are mostly targeted towards the sample based devices (such as romplers). And to easy identify those is to look at the rear of these because they only have an audio plug and a Gate Input / note input.
The issue with IDT device developers (such as Corbach Studio has shown us in the last few months) is that they either try to do a few things:
- make as many features as possible that utterly makes using the device quite pointless to begin with
- makes as many waveforms thus utterly making the device quite useless to begin with
Harsh words. I know. But the fact remains is that I haven't used either Remix or WT4 in any productions until this day. And that says something right there. Either I am a total moron or I am a total genius.
I will let you decide ;)
Written by hydlide