The Music Espionage

SynPlant, Soniccharge – Review



What the hell is that? Yeah, that’s what we thought, the first time we saw it.

Synplant is basically a new take on how you control and manipulate your synths to develop wired and wonderful new sounds. At a fundamental level, this plug-in synth allows you to adjust parameters not by turning knobs and dials, but through planting seeds and altering their…

DNA!

Synplant opens up in Logic as a software instrument, under Input, AU Instruments, Sonic   Charge, Synplant. Straightaway you are greeted with the outlandish ‘Synplant’ bulb. This orb is the core of the synth, where new sounds are ‘grown’. The Bulb is surrounded by a number of wheels that control the main aspects of the synth. The main is the Key Ring. In each segment different seeds can be grown, so you can have a slightly different tone and timbre for each note within one full octave. By clicking on the seed in one segment the plant slowly grows, this alters the tonal quality of the synth. At a basic level, we found that short plants have quite short, sharp sounds, whereas the larger plants have a warmer, rounded tone.

 

Surrounding the orb, are four simple sliders that control very basic aspects of the sound.

This seems an important theme of the synth., don’t get carried away with the amount of controls, quick and simple is the best.

These sliders are very modest, one to pitch the tone up or down (tuning), one for distortion and added harmonics (atonality), one for the envelope release time (release) and the final one that’s an all rounder. The Effect slider basically controls the amount of depth, reverb and how monophonic or polyphonic sounding the synth is.

The final controls are the bottom sliders.These are three simple sliders for modulation (Wheel Scaling), the MIDI velocity (Velocity Sensitivity) and the main volume.

On the cover of things Synplant seems more about the appearance than the ability to full control every aspect of the sound. That’s fine for those that are happy with pre-sets and want a quick, quirky sound. But what about the full-on mad-heads, that really want to get their fingers green? Does it accommodate those of us that want to control EVERYTHING! Well yes it does.

SonicCharge, the people behind Synplant, have not just stashed a load of dials in the back of the synth, instead to get to the in-depth controls you must enter the plants ‘DNA’. Great! This single helix has the main blueprint for the plant’s sound. By clicking on the DNA button the DNA menu drops down.

Down the left hand-side are the Gene names, Cut-off filter, envelope, FX rate, LFO, etc. Down the right is the helix, each gene having its own little atom that can be move left to right. Far left being no effect and far right, full effect. Synplant has grouped parameters in terms of their function, however it still is a little confusing and does take a while to learn where everything lives. Nevertheless a great idea that keeps within the spirit of an ‘organic’ synth.

So what’s it like to use?

As stated, Synplant has two sides to it, a quick go to synth for some interesting tones and the other a fully controllable monster. After installing and loading it upon a Software Instrument, within a few well-placed notes you have a very attractive sound.

Here’s one I made earlier. Everything here is Synplant part from the backing beat.

[audio:http://www.themusicespionage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/7-Synplant-Song.mp3|titles=7 – Synplant Song]

Here is an example where Synplant has been used to create a basic drum loop, with a little manipulation short ‘drum like’ samples can be easily created.

[audio:http://www.themusicespionage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/8-Synplant-as-Drum-Sampler.mp3|titles=8 – Synplant as Drum Sampler]

 

One of the main problems we found was that for best results you nearly always have to use a pre-set. With the blank tutorial setting it was difficult to come up with anything other than noise. Again this is fine, if you are happy to use and alter basic parameters that are given, but to truly come up with something using Synplant you unquestionably need a strong grounding of basic synthesis.

Take a look at The Music Espionage full video review of Synplant.

Synplant is a great little plug-in for any composer wanting to mess with tonal/textural fusion. It comes available for both Mac and Window systems and has a price tag of around $99 (about £65 of the Queen’s cash!). It will never be a truly in-depth synth, used for shaping any tone imaginable. Nevertheless, it was built for swiftness and most importantly fun sound creation. A big, big recommendation from the people here at The Music Espionage, well worth the download. And even if you are still unsure, try the three week trial vision (Soniccharge – Synplant).