An epic-scale in­stru­ment pack­ing eight three-os­cil­la­tor synths in one, this new de­vel­oper’s first plugin comes out with all guns blaz­ing…

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“Im­mense lay­ered patches, com­pos­ite multi-in­stru­ments and mini ar­range­ments are the or­der of the day”

The first re­lease from new­com­ers Parawave, Rapid (VST/AU) is clearly a direct com­peti­tor to Vengeance-Sound’s VPS Avenger (10/10,

238), whether it means to be or not. Chief among the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two are that both are built on ex­ten­sive eight-layer ar­chi­tec­tures (al­though Avenger ac­tu­ally has nine lay­ers if you in­clude its Drums os­cil­la­tor); both fea­ture enor­mous and ex­pand­able li­braries of wave­forms, sam­ples and waveta­bles; and both have more mo­du­la­tion op­tions and ef­fects than most users will ever need. Beyond that shared con­cep­tual frame­work, how­ever, there are marked dif­fer­ences in the two synths’ ap­proaches, and dis­miss­ing Parawave’s less well-known of­fer­ing as a ‘me-too’ copy­cat would be a se­ri­ous mis­take. In­deed, launch­ing on PC last Oc­to­ber (fol­lowed by Mac in De­cem­ber), it was the first of the two to make it to mar­ket…

Eight-legged freak

Rapid’s eight lay­ers are ac­cessed via the so-named tabs to­wards the top of the in­ter­face. Each one is ef­fec­tively a com­plete synth in its own right, com­pris­ing three os­cil­la­tors, a fil­ter, a post-fil­ter in­sert ef­fect (which can be a sec­ond fil­ter amongst other things), a full-on mo­du­la­tion sys­tem, an arpeg­gia­tor, and a seven-slot ef­fects rack. How you bring the lay­ers to­gether is en­tirely up to you, but im­mense lay­ered patches, com­pos­ite multi-in­stru­ments (bass in one keyrange, pad in an­other, drums in four more, etc) and fully formed mini ar­range­ments (each layer has a ded­i­cated arp/se­quencer, re­mem­ber) are very much the or­der of the day. The far left tab leads to the Master page, which we dis­cuss in Master of cer­monies.

Os­cil­la­tor ac­tion

Click­ing the top of an os­cil­la­tor dis­play opens an over­laid browser from which you can se­lect one of 260 waveta­bles or 196 mul­ti­sam­ples as a source sig­nal for that os­cil­la­tor. As you’d ex­pect, the vast ma­jor­ity of th­ese are overtly syn­thetic in na­ture, but there are also a hand­ful of acous­tic and elec­tric in­stru­ments in there, as well as some very re­spectable drum kits and kit el­e­ment menus (all snares, all hi-hats, etc), am­bi­ences, ex­tended sound­scapes and sound de­sign ‘util­i­ties’ (at­tacks, noises, etc). It’s a huge and di­verse range of tones, shapes and in­stru­men­ta­tion as it is, but this cav­ernous re­source can be made more so by in­vest­ing in Parawave’s Rapid Ex­ten­sions, of which there’s cur­rently only one in their on­line store. It’s called XT – Elec­tronic En­ergy (€50), and it rolls in an­other 1.2GB of pre­sets, waveta­bles and sam­ples of a de­cid­edly ‘big room’ flavour.

Scan­ning through waveta­bles is done with the Morph con­trol, which be­comes a De­lay

con­trol for muti­sam­ples, off­set­ting their trig­ger­ing by up to 500ms, and is, of course, avail­able as a mo­du­la­tion tar­get. Four oc­taves of de­tune are on tap, as are up to eight de­tun­able, spread­able uni­son voices, while Bass and Tre­ble knobs al­low quick fre­quency shap­ing of the os­cil­la­tor out­put prior to fil­ter­ing.

The Phase con­trol shifts the phase of a wavetable or start point of a mul­ti­sam­ple (al­though the lack of vis­ual feed­back for the last isn’t very help­ful), and the phase or start point is ran­domis­able, too, for the main and all uni­son voices. Each os­cil­la­tors can also be shoved through one of eight trans­for­ma­tive ef­fects pro­ces­sors – tube and phase dis­tor­tion, hard sync, noise, phase ran­domi­sa­tion, and phase, pulse width and ring mo­du­la­tion – with the FX Amount and/or FX Fac­tor knobs con­trol­ling one or two pa­ram­e­ters of each (mod depth and pulse width for pulse width mo­du­la­tion, for ex­am­ple).

The os­cil­la­tor dis­play shows each trig­gered mul­ti­sam­ple as a static wave­form, and waveta­bles as an­i­mated 2D wave­forms or full 3D rep­re­sen­ta­tions with a blue ‘slice’ show­ing the cur­rent po­si­tion within the ’table, and thus the shape of the wave­form at any given point. The 3D view looks lovely, but we do wish it was a bit big­ger. Waveta­bles can’t be edited, in­ci­den­tally, as their equiv­a­lents can in Xfer Records Serum and Tone2 Icarus, and you can’t im­port your own sam­ples yet, al­though we gather the lat­ter is on the to-do list for a fu­ture up­date.

Rapid’s fil­ter of­fers 20 types: the usual 6, 12 and 24dB/oc­tave low-pass and high-pass op­tions, var­i­ous band-passes, peaks and notches, a comb fil­ter, and a set of spe­cialised low-pass mod­els: Acid, Vin­tage, Xtreme, etc. All but Comb have Cut­off and Res­o­nance knobs, plus a third con­tex­tual con­trol (Tre­ble boost, Stereo bal­ance or band­width, de­pend­ing on the fil­ter type), while Comb sports Cut­off, Damp­ing and Feed­back. The post-fil­ter In­sert ef­fects take in var­i­ous ana­logue-style and dig­i­tal dis­tor­tions (Tube, Over­drive, Bitcrusher, etc), a ring mod­u­la­tor, the stereo chan­nel-de­lay­ing Time Lag, and a se­lec­tion of ‘se­condary’ 12dB/oc­tave fil­ters.

As men­tioned, the each layer is pro­cessed with a rack of up to seven ef­fects, cho­sen from a fairly con­ven­tional list of 18 – De­lay, Re­verb, Phaser, EQ, Trance­gate, Talker (for­mant fil­ter), etc – all of ex­cel­lent qual­ity, and each pack­ing its own short list of pre­sets. The 19th mod­ule, Send, re­veals a bank of knobs for rout­ing the out­put of the layer to any or all of the other lay­ers’ Ef­fects racks, fa­cil­i­tat­ing the con­struc­tion of epic par­al­lel-pro­cessed sig­nal flows, and en­abling one or more lay­ers to be de­ployed as master ef­fects racks.

Last but not least, ev­ery layer in­cludes the de rigeur arpeg­gia­tor/note se­quencer. There are no sur­prises with this one – it’s a graph­i­cally edited arp with up to four oc­taves of range, seven di­rec­tional modes (in­clud­ing Poly­phonic for a new arpeg­gio with each note) and the abil­ity to load MIDI files.

Rapid re­lief

Son­i­cally, Rapid stands squarely in the same ter­ri­tory as its con­tem­po­raries: mas­sive basses, hy­per­ki­netic se­quences and pads, punchy drums (in­di­vid­ual, kits and se­quenced loops), ex­pres­sive leads, ear-catch­ing plucks, in­tri­cate tex­tures, wacky arps, and more. For big, bright, mix-blast­ing mod­ern elec­tronic sounds,

“Each layer is pro­cessed with a rack of up to seven ef­fects, cho­sen from a fairly con­ven­tional list of 18”

there’s just noth­ing it can’t do, as the 650+ pre­sets in the pre­set li­brary force­fully prove.

On the down­side, the wave browser is laggy (and clumsy to nav­i­gate) on our MacBook Pro, and the te­diously scrolling mo­du­la­tion rout­ing lane feels ar­chaic next to the ma­tri­ces of most other cur­rent synths. The in­abil­ity to load more than one of each ef­fect type per layer sits at odds with Rapid’s oth­er­wise ‘no lim­its’ ethos, too, and many of the ‘spin­ner’ con­trols re­ally should be knobs (Os­cil­la­tor Morph, Phase and Ran­dom, to name but three). Oh, and the on­line man­ual’s only half-fin­ished – al­though this is made up for to some ex­tent by the in­for­ma­tive tooltips that pop up when the mouse pointer is hov­ered over any of the con­trols.

Rough edges aside, Rapid is an am­bi­tious, pow­er­ful in­stru­ment that no pro­ducer could fail to be im­pressed by. Tak­ing our ear­lier VPS Avenger com­par­i­son to some sort of con­clu­sion, that synth’s more ‘mod­u­lar’, less com­part­men­talised ar­chi­tec­ture is unar­guably more flex­i­ble and bet­ter equipped in terms of gen­er­ally avail­able ef­fects, dis­tor­tion and mod­u­la­tor types; but Rapid’s in­di­vid­ual lay­ers are ridicu­lously well fur­nished – 24 os­cil­la­tors, 32 LFOs, en­velopes and step se­quencers, 56 ef­fects slots… It’s also laced with in­ter­est­ing and novel touches, like the dual-wave LFOs, nifty step se­quencer edit­ing, and Master page en­velopes and fil­ter off­set. As for which sounds bet­ter, they’re so close qual­ity-wise that it re­ally comes down to in­di­vid­ual taste – we pre­fer Avenger, but not by a great mar­gin, and pos­si­bly just be­cause we’re more fa­mil­iar with it.

All in all, Rapid makes a wel­come and wor­thy ad­di­tion to the new gen­er­a­tion of su­per­synths. It’s got all the tech­ni­cal and sonic cre­den­tials re­quired, but de­spite its rel­a­tive com­plex­ity, it man­ages to re­main ap­proach­able and in­tu­itive. A truly out­stand­ing de­but by Parawave.

“Rough edges aside, Rapid is an am­bi­tious, pow­er­ful in­stru­ment that no pro­ducer could fail to be im­pressed by”

The os­cil­la­tor browser is full of waveta­bles and mul­ti­sam­ples

LAY­ERS Th­ese nine tabs grant ac­cess to the Master page and eight lay­ers OS­CIL­LA­TORS Each layer’s three os­cil­la­tors can draw from hun­dreds of waveta­bles and mul­ti­sam­ples EF­FECTS A rack of seven in­sert ef­fects, with 19 mod­ules to choose from CON­TENT...


The Se­quencer de­sign is in­spired, with 20 pre­set shapes and su­per­in­tu­itive edit­ing

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