Review: Headphase by AudioReward
Great synth that brings back Nostalgia of the ‘Boards of Canada’ sound.
The Drift Control is amazing at emulating the tuning inaccuracies of old vintage synth gear.
Large selection of 1323 custom snapshots for the instrument.
You can only get to the presets through the Snapshots folder. It would have been nice if there was an easier way to get to the presets, like a dedicated preset browser on the instrument
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Review: Headphase by AudioReward
Headphase is an instrument inspired by the Boards of Canada electronic act. For the library AudioReward used a collection of eclectic vintage analogue synth gear. This gave them a unique sound and AudioReward have replicated the types of sounds you would hear from Boards of Canada’s catalogue of gear.
The Kontakt instrument has 2 waveform voices, a set of filters, LFOs, 4 send effects, and 4 different inserts effects for each voice on the instrument. It has 80 voices you can choose from, and the Partials approach allows for much randomization in the instrument.
The instrument also includes a Gate sequencer for rhythmic effects, plus a Drift control to emulate the tuning inconstancies of old analog gear.
Headphase by AudioReward normally sells for £25.00. At the time of posting it was avialable for £17.50 at KontaktHub
AudioReward has drawn heavy inspiration from Boards of Canada for this instrument. So much so that if you’re a Boards of Canada fan, when you browse the patches there is a sense of nostalgia and you’ll fall instantly in love with the instrument. When I played through a couple of the first few patches it immediately took me back to when I first heard the ‘Music Has the Right to Children’ album. That was such an inspirational electronic album for me personally. Those synths that were used had such warm and character to them, and it’s great to see those types of characteristics coming out in a software synth.
One thing’s for sure, the instrument is not short on presets. There are 1,323 custom snapshots and these have been categorized into the following main sections: Effects and Movement, Keys and Plucks, Leads and Pads.
Now you can guess what most of these are going to sound like from their category names. I’d say the least obvious is the Leads section.
You’d expect these to be punchy lead sounds, but instead following the Boards of Canada fashion, these are evolving, layered synth sounds.
You’d expect these to be punchy lead sounds, but instead following the Boards of Canada fashion, these are evolving, layered synth sounds. If you listen to some Boards of Canada, you’ll realize why these are called lead sounds. Generally, these lead presets sound best when single notes are played. Other than that all the different sections and presets are great.
Under the Effects and Movements menu, there are some great textures and soundscape elements in here. Evolving rhythmic sounds, to weird glitchy sounding low pads.
Then in the Keys and Plucked this has a variation of piano and synthesized plucked sounds. There’s definitely some great piano key sounds in here which are using multiple voices plus the drift control to give them a unique flavor.
As mentioned above the Leads sounds are not quite what you expect, but very usable when layered with the other types of sounds in this instrument.
I do wish it was easier to navigate presets instead of having to go to the Snapshots folder and then sifting through the different categories. Maybe I missed something, but a presets browser would have been easier to use.
I was particularly drawn to the Pad presets. I found that these had such rich textures, and could work well as any low lying pad sound or soundscape for any composition.
Also included in the instrument is a Gate Effect so that you can give different sounds a rhythmic pulsing element. So if you find a nice pad sound, try adding a Gate with a rhythmic timing and see how much further this takes the patch.
And there is quite a selection of different voices. So you can choose from 2 different voices from the 80, and then use the Partials control to random control and process these voicings.
The Partials technology is very interesting as it uses randomization of the controls, and then you sculpt the sound within these defined random parameters. The Shape, Sculpt, Shift and Smooth Dials have degrees of randomness to them. It is quite a different way of thinking when adjusting these parameters.
The Drift Control is my favorite feature. It adds in that element of tuning inaccuracies of old vintage gear. How it works is it slowly moves the tuning of an instrument over time. And this drift in and out of tuning really gives that ‘classic nostalgic’ feel to the synth. It’s something that’s hard to replicate and has such a unique and distinctive sound.
When you make a complex sound with rich voicings and random partial control, plus the drift control, you really start getting some lush, rich evolving synth sounds.
Overall this is a great software synth instrument that emulates the classic sounds used in Boards of Canada’s repertoire. The Pads and leads have these lush sounds to them. The effects are great for extra embellishments to add to your nostalgic music compositions.
Even if you’re not a Boards of Canada fan, this instrument can easily be slotted into your template of sounds for some greats pads and textures in your productions. Especially the unique use of the Drift Control and how it emulates the tuning inaccuracies of old analog gear. That flaw from analog gear is priceless in giving you that vintage synth sound.
As with all of our reviews be sure to check out the official demos and videos below to make sure this instrument is right for you.
This is an 800 MB size library Kontakt instrument and uses an innovative approach with ‘Audio Design Partials’ which help give the rich sound timbres in this instrument. It requires the full version of Kontakt 5.7 or later, and can be purchased from:
Headphase by AudioReward normally sells for £25.00. At the time of posting it was available for £17.50 at KontaktHub