Review: Folio Bass by Channel Robot (currently 70% OFF)

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Folio Bass is highly versatile and deeply customizable. It stands out as a synth bass in its layered and fluidic approach.

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Originally published Dec 6, 2018.

 

Review: Folio Bass by Channel Robot

Folio Bass is a “dual voice bass ROMpler” featuring over 300 samples meticulously recorded and processed with analog equipment. Created by Channel Robot, Folio Bass is highly versatile and deeply customizable. It stands out from other synth basses in its layered approach and fluidic and independent control of those layers.

Folio Bass sells for £75.00 from Channel Robot

Thoughts

I was unfamiliar with the installation process for this library. The installation/authorization process is done within the instrument window and you need to save over the instrument or else it will ask for authorization each time it is opened. For me it worked to save as patches and samples and not as a monolith. Once authorized, you’ll see the Designer window. The extra wide UI has 5 tabs: Arp, Designer, Gates, Sends and Effects.

Folio Bass plays two voice layers simultaneously. Voice types are sorted by category: Analog, Smooth, Synth, Gritty, New Synth, Alternate, Modeled, Scapes and Cycles. The dialog box stays open while you try different patches. This is really helpful because you don’t have to navigate through menus over and over. A feature like this is something that seems simple, but honestly saves a lot of time and makes it easy to quickly try multiple combinations. The selected patch for each voice and independent controls for each are shown in the Designer tab. At the top, there are buttons to randomize voices, filters and modulators. Each voice has controls for volume, pitch, pan, envelope (AHDSR), vibrato and tremolo. Vibrato and tremolo actually share the same box to save space in the UI and you just turn them on with the radio buttons and click the name to see the parameters for one or the other.

In the middle there are three filter controls: filter (low pass, band pass, high pass), filter LFO and filter envelope.

At the bottom, each voice has 4 different sends and you can control the amounts independently. Here is also where you can crank up the sub bass and control the round robins. The round robins for Folio Bass are achieved with an engine that makes subtle changes to tone, pitch, and timing in real time. This greatly enhances the performance capabilities of this instrument. There are independent controls for the dynamics of each voice. This lets you adjust the velocity responsiveness of the instrument. If you tend to play keyboard in a heavy manner, you can flatten the curve so you aren’t hitting peak velocity all the time. It is also fun to make the curves different for voice 1 and voice 2. Beneath the dynamics window you can transpose the voice by semitones (up or down max 2 octaves). I used this to create interesting harmony between the two voice layers.

There is also a neat control for Slide. This is not a portamento; it is like the ornament in fiddle music where you slide into the note you are playing. The slide controls let you slide up or down and control the speed of the slide. You can create delightful chaos by having one voice slide up and the other slide down (probably relevant to note here that you can reset any parameter by Command Click or Control Click on its control).

Several of the controls have a hidden modulator (open the dialog box by clicking the small dot near the name or beneath the display value of a given parameter).Within the dialog box you can set the modulator as retrigger or one-shot and it lets you save all your settings as a preset. I like that there are so many controls on this window because it lets me quickly experiment and visually compare the settings between Voice 1 and Voice 2. It is also nice to try the same patch on both voices and then apply different parameters and effects to one of them.

OK, the next bit was a little confusing, so bear with me, but remember that each voice has 4 sends, The Designer tab is where you control the amount of each send for each voice, but these sends are actually shared by both voices and the Sends tab is where you assign any of Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser or Convolution to a particular slot. Now, each voice also has 4 effects slots, which are independent of the other voice, and these are what appear in the Effects tab. You choose either Voice 1 or Voice 2 at the top, and then have the option to choose from a number of effects for each slot: 3 Band EQ, Lo Pass, Band Pass, Hi Pass, Vowel, Formant, Distortion, Lo-Fi, Amp, Cab, Skreamer, Rotator, Compressor, Trans Mstr, Tape Sat, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Reverb, and Delay. So in the aggregate, you can really apply 8 effects to a single voice, and the numerous ways to combine the effects between the shared sends and the independent effects slots allows for a lot of interesting results. It’s a little annoying that you can’t adjust the sends amounts from within the Sends window, especially because each voice can independently control the amount on any of the 4 slots.

 

Next is the Gates tab, where each voice has 2 gates. Gate A automatically feeds into Gate B, meaning polyrhythmic textures abound. Each gate has 9 functions to choose from: Gain, Lo Pass, Hi Pass, Band Pass, Distortion, LoFi, Formant, Skreamer and Rotator.

Finally, the Arpeggiator, which is–to use a technical term–wicked. This goes way beyond what you think of in an arpeggiator. Each note you play is fed into a 16 step sequence and you can input up to 8 notes. If you click the question mark next to the note number in any of the slots, that slot becomes activated for random mode and clicking the Randomize button at the top will generate new parameters for tempo, number of steps and velocity. On the top is a target range which lets you split your keyboard so that you can play lead with one hand and accompany yourself using the arpeggiator on the range assigned with the other. On the bottom you can set note lengths, pan, transpose and fade-in for each step. The tempo of the “param lane” can be different than the note lanes, which means you’ll have the potential to create sequences longer than 16 steps.

Overall I was very pleased with this protean synth bass. It has facile controls over parameters and innovative features that allow you to fluidically morph the sounds. I like that a lot of the controls are in one window and still laid out neatly. I was truly impressed with some of the details in this instrument including the arpeggiator.

Facts

The library requires the FULL VERSION of Kontakt (5.8.0+)

Folio Bass sells for £75.00 from Channel Robot

 

Demos of Folio Bass by Channel Robot

Videos of Folio Bass by Channel Robot

 

 

Contributor Alex Mueller reviews Folio Bass by Channel Robot
“Folio Bass is highly versatile and deeply customizable. It stands out as a synth bass in its layered and fluidic approach.”