Review: Explorer 4 Bundle by Rob Papen

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Rob Papen’s Explorer 4 is an extensive bundle filled with cutting edge synthesis tools. This bundle is extremely feature driven with a great selection of presets to quickly find awesome sounding patches.

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Review: Explorer 4 Bundle by Rob Papen

Rob Papen is a master at synthesis and has been releasing great instruments over the years. Now, they have taken their most popular synths and effects, and have bundled them up together in the Explorer 4 package. The synths cover all types synthesis and styles. Be it ambient pads or drones, all the way through to sequenced synth lead parts for EDM styles and synthesized percussive sounds.

Rob Papen Explorer 4 is available for £265.83 from Time+Space

Crossgrades or purchases of other Rob Papen libraries are available also available from Time+Space.

 

Thoughts

This isn’t going to be an extensive review on each instrument as there is just too much to cover in one article. Instead I’d like to have a quick look at the selection of instruments and point out some of the high points of the bundle.

I was introduced to Rob Papen’s products with Albino and Blue. These were amazing synths with super detailed and complex sounds and tons of usable presets. With the newer instruments they have still kept the ethos of the company, which is great synths with a great selection of presets. What is also pretty cool is that they have included the newer and older versions of their synths in this package, so you get Blue 2, and the original Blue. There’s the original Predator which is the successor of Albino, and then Predator 2 as well. This just gives you extra synth options. Now let’s take a look at some of the synths.

Blue II
Seeing as Blue was my entry into Rob Papen’s synths. let’s start with this. Both Blue and Blue II are really cool and deep synths. What I found is that I really liked using these synths to create sequenced sounds, and smooth pads sounds. This seemed to be the strength of the instrument. The gem of Blue II is that it’s a 6 oscillator synth, with a whole slew of waveforms you can add to each oscillator. Plus, it incorporates a method called ‘crossynthesis’ where you can combine vintage waveforms with modern synthesis waveforms giving you a very unique sound palette and with this it can produce really lush, complex sounds, and even smooth sounding rhythmic sounds, which I’m a fan of.

There’s also some advanced routing where you can use the oscillators and modifiers and route them around the modulation matrix of the synth. The amount of filters this synth has is crazy! I think I counted up to 28 filters. So if you’re a sound designer, this synth has to be in your toolkit.

Predator 2
With Predator, you have quite a complex instrument, and the highlight of this instrument, especially Predator 2 is that it has a wide array of waveforms that you can choose from in the oscillators. Predator 2 has 128 waveforms to choose from, so you can imagine that this takes this 4 oscillator instrument to a whole new level. Plus, each oscillator can house 2 waveforms which it can morph between each other, so the possibilities are endless for synthesis fans.

There are some unique elements like the variation dial that allows you to dial in some randomization of the parameters data. You can turn this dial to alter the settings in the patch, giving some quick and easy alternatives to the preset you’re in.

There’s an array for envelopes and filters you can use, so if you wish to design your own sounds with the wavetable view and the filters, then the synth world is your oyster. Plus, in the XP pad, you can do motion recording where you record in the movement of the XP pad, and then this is played back going through the same XP path each time.

Raw
Raw is a saturated, distorted synth perfect for filthy bass and lead lines for the likes of modern EDM productions. It’s a simple 2 oscillator synth, but with an extensive selection of effects, mostly distortion effects. The waveforms on the oscillator aren’t as plentiful as Blue and Predator, but the effects are really there to punch your sounds in the face. I am a big fan of the filters and using these to shape the sound even more. Add to that the the spread dial that would spread the ear-wrenching sounds across the stereo field.

Punch
Punch is an electronic drum machine with a built in sequencer for generating patterns. The drum sounds are mainly synthesis generated, but you can use sample playback as well.

I found the sequencer patterns setup in the presets to be a bit lack-lustre so a little extra work is required to building up your sequences, or you can program in your patterns in your DAW, which I’d rather recommend anyway. The drum sounds are nice and crisp and clean, and will work well as an electronic compliment to your drums in a production. So, for example you could layer these electronic sounds up against an acoustic kit, or maybe you’re going for a retro sounding track then the patches from this instrument will fit perfectly.

Blade
This is an addictive synth instrument, so it deals with sine partials and harmonics and you can create interesting and complex timbres with this synth. The controls are a bit small on the UI, but once you get familiar with them you’re mainly going to be focusing on the large XP Pad, which is the feature of this instrument. With this area when you play a note, an atom-like node appears in the pad and follows a motion cycle in the pad. With some of the patches, when you play numerous notes, many of the atom-like nodes appear and go on the same cycle path, so you can really get some interesting evolving sounds with this instrument. You can even record in your own real-time path, much like Predator. There’s a lot of flexibility and customization with this instrument and how the sound evolves and this path can even be linked to your DAW tempo, which is pretty cool, thus it will always be in sync with your projects.

SubBoomBass
This instrument has a selection on synthesized drum sounds, and bass and lead sounds that would work great in EDM productions like HipHop, Trap and Dubstep. Going by the name it obviously caters for the low-end register sounding instruments. Like the other synths in the bundle with this one there’s a huge selection of presets you can jump through. I did find the interface text a bit small and hard to read, but other than that the instrument is very easy to navigate and tweak the dials. Going through the presets I preferred the more percussive sounds. I think these could easily be slotted into productions to change up their rhythm, but I think I found better sounding bass sounds in Predator and Blue.

RG (Rhythm Guitar)
This instrument is meant to simulate the strumming style of a guitar. It also takes these rhythm generating sounds to other types of instruments so it’s not only guitar sounds. The instrument was okay, but I was more impressed with the other synths in the bundle. To me, it’s not a high point in the package, but it’s a handy thing to have, especially if you’re not a guitarists and you need that strumming element in your productions.

Effects
Included in the bundle are also some effects: Audio Modulator, Delay, Distort, EQ and Verb. I’m guessing these effects are similar to the effects that are included on some of the instruments. Some of them are pretty standard like the EQ and Reverb, but standouts for me were the Audio Modulator and Distort units. With the Audio Modulator you can get some unique audio processing applied through the effects. Some of the presets make your audio bounce across the stereo field for some wacky results. So maybe they’re cool to use for some extreme processing.

With the Distort unit, what I really liked about it is how you can select some distortion models, and then also add some LFO modulation to the effect for crazy distorted sounds.

These two are really overboard, but you never know when you might need some of these crazy effects in your productions. The EQ offers up some fabulous IRs to shape your sounds and also, the EQ has a very nice visual display of the frequency spectrum when playing back your audio.so if your EQ plugins don’t cut it in these areas, then maybe this would be a nice addition to your effects rack.

This is a super extensive synth bundle, plus it includes some extra effects that you can definitely use. Rob Papen has always been known for their super-detailed synths and their sound quality and you can’t go wrong with this bundle. Predator, Blue and Blade are standouts for me and I can see myself using these synths in my future productions. They’re on the cutting edge with synthesis and its great having tools like these that are so feature driven with a great selection of presets to quickly find awesome sounding patches.

 

Facts

 

This is a bundle of synthesizer instruments, plus a few effect processors. The bundle requires 6 GB to install and is compatible on Windows Vista/7/8/10 (32 and 64 bit) with VST and AAX plugin formats, and Mac 10.6 (32 and 64 bit) for AU, VST and AAX. It contains 9 instruments, and 6 effect processors.

Rob Papen Explorer 4 is available for £265.83 from Time+Space

Crossgrades or purchases of other Rob Papen libraries are available also available from Time+Space.

 

Demos of Explorer 4 Bundle by Rob Papen