Pro­peller­head Europa

Leo May­mind looks at Pro­peller­head’s first AU/VST, of­fer­ing wavetable syn­the­sis with spec­tral fil­ter­ing and much more…

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

Europa feels ca­pa­ble of han­dling any sound de­sign task

Pro­peller­head’s Rea­son was, for a long time, a closed sys­tem with a be­spoke set of tools, but that changed with the pub­lic re­lease of the DAW’s workhorse, the wavetable-based Europa synth, now avail­able as a VST/AU for any DAW (free to cur­rent Rea­son users). So, how does Europa stack up against the big boys? Well, not too badly as it turns out, be­cause Europa in­deed man­ages to stand on its own while bring­ing a few unique tricks.

Start­ing with the red and white lay­out, there’s some­thing im­me­di­ately classy and in­tu­itive about the GUI. Es­sen­tial knobs are given a more 3D-pres­ence, while lesser-used knobs are de­picted with 2D graph­ics. The sig­nal flow of the 16-voice synth is also mir­rored in the lay­out; it fits en­tirely in a sin­gle win­dow, so nav­i­ga­tion is in­cred­i­bly fluid.

Un­der the prover­bial hood, Europa pairs three sep­a­rate en­gines of wavetable syn­the­sis with a spec­tral fil­ter, a unique ‘har­mon­ics’ sec­tion, a flex­i­ble ana­logue-mod­el­ing fil­ter (of which there are 24 va­ri­eties), four en­velopes, three LFOs, and a se­ries of six ef­fects. Each os­cil­la­tor has the choice of 33 waveta­bles, as well as a Karplus Strong plucked-string em­u­la­tion mode. There’s such a wide ar­ray of sources – from the stan­dard ana­logue-modelling tri­an­gle, square, and saw wave to more in­ter­est­ing va­ri­eties like noise sweeps and for­mant wob­bles – just a flick through the choices shows how much breadth Europa holds. The wavetable po­si­tion for each os­cil­la­tor is con­trolled by a shape knob, and can be mod­u­lated via en­ve­lope, ve­loc­ity, or LFO, fur­ther al­low­ing the tim­bral pos­si­bil­i­ties to stretch into the mul­ti­tudes.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing parts of Europa is how the os­cil­la­tors feed into the spec­tral fil­ter, which boosts or at­ten­u­ates par­tials of the sig­nal and has op­tions for comb and res­onator va­ri­eties. The re­sult­ing host of tex­tures is im­pres­sive and un­flinch­ingly mod­ern. The fil­ter it­self is also unique – there’s a plethora of curve shapes, in­clud­ing user-drawn shapes from en­ve­lope slots 3 and 4.

From there, the sig­nal moves into an ana­logue-mod­el­ing fil­ter, it­self with nine modes and a very us­able over­drive. The fact that you are able to se­lect which os­cil­la­tors go into the fil­ter is a nice touch and greatly aids in pro­gram­ming drum hits. The en­velopes come with a nice se­lec­tion of pre-drawn shapes, though there’s also the abil­ity to draw what­ever en­ve­lope shape you’d like. Ad­di­tion­ally, the en­velopes have a loop mode, ef­fec­tively al­low­ing them to func­tion as LFOs as well. The mod­u­la­tion ma­trix be­low is well thought out. Com­bined with the six dif­fer­ent ef­fects avail­able at the end of the chain, Europa feels ca­pa­ble of han­dling any sound de­sign task.

Most im­por­tantly, Pro­peller­head are to be praised for cre­at­ing some­thing that will po­ten­tially let more peo­ple dive into the worlds that Europa of­fers.

CON­TACT KEY FEA­TURESWHO: Pro­peller­head WEB: www.pro­peller­heads.com Three os­cil­la­tor en­gines with 34 pos­si­ble sources. Two ‘mod­i­fier’ mod­ules per en­gine, as well as Spec­tral Fil­ter per en­gine. Multi-stage, loopable en­velopes. Three syn­ca­ble LFOs with De­lay On­set. Six re-or­der­able ef­fects

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