Review: Dirty Modular by Samplephonics
Huge variety of sound sources besides simple waveforms
Intuitive and visually pleasing UI
Fat and warm sounds
Step Sequencer is quite limited compared to most.
Dirty Modular is a product that blurs the line between Sample Library and Synthesizer. With the look and sound of an old-fashioned analog modular synth and the sampling power of Kontakt, this library presents tons of presets and custom options for those of us looking to create electronic sounds with a dirty and modern twist.
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Review: Dirty Modular by Samplephonics
Based on 8,496 audio samples from a modular synth, this instrument for the free Kontakt Player gives you access to the vibe and presence of a modular synth for a fraction of the cost, plus it takes up a lot less room.The library gives you options to craft your own sound, whether that be weighty basses, twisted soundscapes or soaring leads.
Dirty Modular normally sells from Samplephonics for £119.00
Usability / Interface
If you’re an analog synth-head, you’ll likely feel right at home when you open up Dirty Modular. Its interface was designed to emulate a hardware modular synthesizer, using mock cables to route your signals through different filters, effects, oscillators, and envelopes. Even if you’re new to synthesis, the visual presentation of this interface makes the whole process fairly easy to understand.
All of the sound design and manipulation is done in one control panel. It can look a bit crowded at first glance, but everything is well organized into sections. It also feels easier once you realize that most of the time you won’t be using more than 25% of those knobs for a particular sound.
The flow of the interface is very much like reading a book – two oscillators first at the top left, then proceeding left-to-right and top-to-bottom across two filters, two FX slots, then down to 3 LFOs and envelopes. The oscillators sport the typical Amp, Pitch, Fine tune, and Pan knobs. Osc 1 also has a noise knob. There are 3 filters available in the two filter slots – high pass, low pass, and band pass. Past the filters are the FX inserts, which have basic effects available excluding Delay and Reverb, which have their own space to the far right. It’s worth noting that the FX inserts only have inputs, so you can’t use both of the FX on one oscillator by chaining them together.
The three LFOs and Envelopes can be applied to the amp and pitch of your oscillators, or to the cutoff or resonance of the filters. The LFOs are fantastic for adding rhythmic motion to your sounds, and have Sine, Triangle, Rectangle, and Saw waveforms available. The rates of oscillation are based on your DAW’s tempo. One of the things I appreciated the most is the ADSR envelope – the knobs have a visualization of what each one means below them. This makes it easy for a newcomer to understand what exactly the envelope does to a sound.
The step sequencer is very limited compared to what is featured in most modern libraries. I can understand that it is emulating an analog sequencer, but some more advanced features such as the ability to adjust both pitch and amp per trigger would have been nice to have. This isn’t a huge issue though, considering most of what you could do with a sequencer could be done with MIDI programming after all.
Standing alone by themselves are the poly/legato and glide controls, the “show cables” button (in case you need to read something that is hidden behind a cable) and a save button, allowing you to save your current patch as a preset.
You can save your presets in the “user” folder in the presets panel. Here you can also find the factory presets, which are divided into two categories. The “creative presets” folder is where most of the useful and designed presets live. The “waveform combinations” folder contains more raw and weird sounds. These, however. are just named as numbers and letters, so it’s not a lot of fun to browse through them. They definitely could benefit from more descriptive names.
While there are already a huge variety of soft synth plugins with basic waveforms, oscillators, filters, and effects, Dirty Modular aims to provide a little bit more. By starting with simple waveforms, you can easily create fairly complex sounds, but they won’t go beyond anything you could do with other similar analog-modeled soft synths. However, the oscillators in this library can output much more than just simple Saw, Square, Sine, or Triangle waves.
The real unique power of Dirty Modular opens up when you start exploring the creative waveforms. These allow you to start a sound with something already mutilated and designed. By clicking the dropdown in the oscillators you can access a huge amount of warped waveforms, along with the basic synthesis options. Distortion on top of already distorted starting points really leads you to the “dirty” part of this product’s title. Whether you’re exploring classic analogue sounds or avant-garde experimental oddities, there’s plenty to play with in Dirty Modular.
As with all of our reviews, please make sure to check out the audio and video demos to make sure that this is the right tool for you.
Dirty Modular contains 8,496 samples from modular synthesizers, weighing in at 6.8 GB. It is compatible with the free Kontakt Player and comes with 150+ presets.
Dirty Modular normally sells from Samplephonics for £161.99
At the time of posting Dirty Modular was available for 70% OFF for the special price of€49