There’s no doubting that Electra 2 is a very accomplished VST. It’s effectively 4 synths in one interface with 14 different combinable synthesis methods; 46 oscillator types; 38 filters; 32 effects and >1000 waveforms. The good news is that it also has a low CPU load too.
Considering all of this under the hood, the GUI is extremely well laid out and easy to navigate around. There are clearly defined sections for oscillators, filters, arpeggiator, envelopes, settings, effects, LFO and mod matrix. Each of the 4 synths has 3 oscillators and you switch between synths by clicking on the relevant ‘synt’ tab which then allows you to change the settings of the different sections for each synth. I really like the way each tab is colour coded blue, orange, green and red and has a backlight effect. It’s a very nice touch that the tab acts as the light source meaning the light moves along depending on which tab you select.
The oscillator section is usually the first one I check out and it is really well featured. As well as the usual controls for volume, octave, fine tuning, FM and mix there are other controls of ‘inter’ which adjusts the harmonic relationship (use with FM) and pulse width for ultrasaw spread and wavetable position. You can also sync and mix between osc 1 and 2 or osc 2 and 3. There are plenty of options too – the wavetable has 36 waves; ultrasaw has 12; noise / fractal has 13. Sample and custom wave are also provided but disabled in the demo version. The fact that you can use up to 12 of these in various combinations with all of the control in the oscillator section means you can create an almost limitless range of sounds just from the oscillators.
One other point to note with the demo version is that it doesn’t allow you to save presets or save songs so the next option is to check out the presets. Electra 2 comes with 1230 presets in 25 categories. The first thing you notice is the quality of the sound – it is excellent. The second thing you notice is the truly extensive range of presets available. There’s a huge range of bass sounds, modern synths, vintage synths, and some great bell type sounds. I was very impressed with the excellent keys sounds because I always struggle to find good sounding ones and there are several excellent presets. It doesn’t end there though, there are also excellent atmospheres and excellent arps which include bass, rhythm and multilayer varieties. There’s also ‘droidwobble’ which contains dubstep type sounds and even though that’s not my style there’s definitely some sounds in there I could see myself using.
Normally with a review I would create some presets to use in a demo song, however, in this instance the demo doesn’t allow this so I’ve created a demo using presets. The limitations meant that I had to record the sounds to audio and then reload in a separate project as samples. I used the customary ferric tds, density mkIII and TDL feedback compressor on the master channel and mangled the sound a bit using glitch (Illformed) and subvert and cryogen (Glitchmachines). No other effects were used. It’s called ‘vocas industria’ after one of the presets that was used:
The filter section is impressive too, it has 2 filters for each synth which can be used in series or parallel. They have analog, drive and ring settings which give some great tonal nuances. As well as the expected LP/HP/BP there are also some EQ, phaser and comb type filters plus some really cool fractal ones that give very interesting effects when used with analog and ring settings.
The envelope section has 4 envelopes – volume, filter and 2 auxiliary ones which can be assigned to the mod matrix. This means that you can automate the filter settings and get some great sounding filter sweeps easily or unusual sound effects.
The in-built effects are very good too, there is only one per synth channel and a shared master effect but they are great sounding and reverbs on the master effect are really impressive.
I really like the arpeggiator too, it’s really well thought through to give a more musical sounding result than a lot of others that I’ve used.
I’m really impressed by Electra 2. It has a great range of modern and vintage sounds which you can use straight out of the box. More impressively though, whether you choose a simple process with 2 oscillators or a more complex process with all 4 synths and extensive modulation you can easily create your own sounds and have a massive range of control. It’s incredibly powerful, very versatile and the possibilities are almost endless.