Rea­son 10’s ce­les­tial head­liner can now be loaded into any DAW as a VST or Au­dio Units plugin. Let’s shoot the moon…

Computer Music - - Reviews / Propellerhead Europa - Web­peller­

Un­leashed from their Rea­son 10 DAW (7/10,

253), Propellerhead's Europa “shapeshift­ing” synth is now also avail­able in VST/AU for­mats. This is the first time a Rea­son in­stru­ment has been ported to a plugin, which speaks vol­umes about the Swedish de­vel­op­ers' con­fi­dence in its ca­pa­bil­i­ties and sound.

The “shapeshift­ing” bit al­ludes to the fact that Europa is a wavetable synth of­fer­ing nu­mer­ous ways to math­e­mat­i­cally ma­nip­u­late and mod­u­late the raw os­cil­la­tor wave­forms be­fore they be­come au­dio sig­nals. 33 ex­pertly crafted waveta­bles and a mod­elled string al­go­rithm are on­board, along with spec­tral and ana­logue fil­ter­ing, uni­son, co­pi­ous mod­u­la­tion sources and a rack of ef­fects. Rea­son users get the VST/ AU ver­sion free, in­ci­den­tally.

Europan union

Europa gen­er­ates its base tones by mix­ing the out­puts of three iden­ti­cal ‘en­gines', each one con­sist­ing of a wavetable os­cil­la­tor, a har­monic pro­cess­ing sec­tion, and a Uni­son mod­ule. The os­cil­la­tors are fur­nished with a wide range of waveta­bles, and the wavetable po­si­tion is gov­erned by the Shape knob, which can be mod­u­lated by ve­loc­ity and any other source di­rectly from its panel (as well as in the mod­u­la­tion ma­trix, of course).

A pair of Mod­i­fier mod­ules in each en­gine ap­ply two from a huge ar­ray of wave­shap­ing, har­monic gen­er­a­tion, dis­tor­tion, FM and de­tun­ing pro­cesses to the os­cil­la­tor out­put. This is one of Europa's most pow­er­ful ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments, ex­po­nen­tially ex­pand­ing the sonic po­ten­tial of the os­cil­la­tors – but there's more!

Each os­cil­la­tor feeds into the Spec­tral Fil­ter and Har­mon­ics mod­ules, which di­rectly process the par­tials (har­mon­ics) of the wave­form, as vi­su­alised in the Spec­tral Fil­ter dis­play. Eight Har­mon­ics mod­u­la­tion al­go­rithms are avail­able, in­clud­ing Ran­dom Gain (ran­domises the gain of each par­tial), Odd-Even (bal­ances the gains of odd and even par­tials), Stretch (com­presses and spa­ces out par­tials) and Ensem­ble (ran­domly mod­u­lates par­tial gains for a cho­rus-style ef­fect). The Spec­tral Fil­ter, mean­while, at­ten­u­ates and boosts par­tials to both em­u­late con­ven­tional ana­logue fil­ter­ing and al­go­rith­mi­cally shape the fre­quency con­tent in

“Enor­mous, wildly an­i­mated sounds of in­cred­i­ble depth, com­plex­ity and char­ac­ter”

more un­ortho­dox fash­ion, from ex­treme roll-off slopes and res­onators to re­sponses de­fined by the curve drawn into En­ve­lope 4 or the User Wave (see Turn­ing the ’ta­bles). Key and ve­loc­ity cut­off mod­u­la­tion are di­rectly ap­pli­ca­ble, as is one as­sign­a­ble mod­u­la­tion source.

The fi­nal en­gine mod­ule is Uni­son, where up to seven uni­son voices can be blended in, ei­ther ad­ja­cent to or at fixed in­ter­vals (fourth, fifth or oc­tave) away from the played pitch. The De­tune and Spread con­trols off­set the uni­son pitches and pan­ning, while ‘Phase Only' mode has De­tune ad­just­ing phase rather than pitch.

Push­ing the en­velopes

The three en­gines are lev­elled and panned in the mixer, from where each is in­de­pen­dently routed (or not) to an ana­logue mod­elled res­o­nant fil­ter. This of­fers nine Lad­der, SVF, MFB (mul­ti­ple feed­back) and MS-20-style modes, and over­drive. Again, mod­u­la­tion via key, ve­loc­ity and an as­sign­a­ble source are on tap.

The fil­ter feeds into an ADSR amp en­ve­lope with per-voice pan­ning, but that's only the tip of the mod­u­la­tion ice­berg, as Europa in­cor­po­rates four en­velopes and three LFOs, as­signed in an up­front mod­u­la­tion ma­trix. This only has eight slots, but each source can be aimed at two tar­get pa­ram­e­ters, with a sec­ondary Scale source mod­u­lat­ing their mod amounts.

The LFOs are ba­sic but suf­fi­cient, run­ning from 0.05-50Hz un­synced or 1/64-8/1 synced, and fea­tur­ing a good va­ri­ety of wave­forms, in­clud­ing stepped and ran­dom, and a De­lay con­trol for post­pon­ing the on­set. The en­velopes, on the other hand, are of the multi-break­point, loop­ing, syn­ca­ble kind that blurs the lines between en­ve­lope, LFO and step se­quencer – hence, pre­sum­ably, the com­par­a­tive sim­plic­ity of the ac­tual LFOs. Shapes and se­quences are cre­ated by mov­ing nodes around or draw­ing free­hand, and a healthy se­lec­tion of pre­set curves is in place to get you started. At the end of the sig­nal path, a se­ries of six re­order­able ef­fects (De­lay, Re­verb, Dis­tor­tion, Com­pres­sor, Phaser and EQ) pro­vide a synth-ap­pro­pri­ate de­gree of con­trol and sound great.

Euro’ zone

Europa is a mag­nif­i­cent in­stru­ment, belt­ing out enor­mous, wildly an­i­mated sounds of in­cred­i­ble depth, com­plex­ity and char­ac­ter, but also more than able to serve up phat, solid basslines, work­horse pads or el­e­men­tal leads when re­quired. The sin­gle-win­dow in­ter­face and well­cal­i­brated al­go­rithms make the cen­tral spec­tral/ har­monic pro­cess­ing an­gle in­tu­itive and easy to use with­out be­ing dumbed down, and the ver­sa­til­ity of the en­velopes is an­other high­light. The only thing miss­ing, re­ally, is a wavetable ed­i­tor, but that would just be a nice thing to have – it cer­tainly doesn't feel like a ma­jor omis­sion.

Rather bril­liantly, there's a fully func­tional web-based ver­sion of Europa on the Propellerhead site, so you can try it for your­self from right within your browser. And try it you must, as Europa is the most pow­er­ful and son­i­cally im­pres­sive synth Propellerhead have ever built, con­fi­dently hold­ing its own against the likes of Serum, Dune 2, Thorn and co. We ap­plaud the de­ci­sion to let users of all DAWs get in on the ac­tion.

“Rather bril­liantly, there’s a fully func­tional web-based ver­sion of Europa on the Propellerhead site”

ZOOM Step through five lev­els of zoom to cater to your screen EN­GINES Ac­ti­vate and switch between Europa's three en­gines USER WAVE Europe can host one ex­ter­nal sam­ple for use as a wavetable EN­GINE MIXER Bal­ance the lev­els of the three en­gines OS­CIL­LA­TOR Load up a wavetable and hit that Shape knob MOD MA­TRIX Eight slots, with two tar­gets and a Scale in­put per source EN­VE­LOPE DIS­PLAY De­sign en­velopes and step se­quences MODIFIERS Ap­ply two wave­shap­ing ef­fects to the os­cil­la­tor EF­FECTS Six re­order­able ef­fects for pol­ish­ing up your patches SPEC­TRAL FIL­TER Ap­ply ‘fil­ter­ing' di­rectly to the par­tials UNI­SON Up to seven uni­son voices with de­tune and stereo spread HAR­MON­ICS Mod­u­late the par­tials in var­i­ous mad ways ANA­LOGUE FIL­TER A reg­u­lar mul­ti­mode job with over­drive

The en­velopes can be sus­tained for hold­ing at a par­tic­u­lar point, or looped for LFO-style ma­noeu­vres

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