Review: ODDular by SoundDust

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The latest library from Sound Dust is the throbbing ODDular – a fresh take on synth modulation for the adventurous palette.

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Review: ODDular by SoundDust

We have covered Sound Dust products a few times now and it is always exciting to see what they release, being far from predictable. As the title would suggest ODDular lives up to what we have come to expect from Sound Dust sample wizard Pendle Poucher. This time he has added a healthy dose of rare, hardware synthesisers to a well-seasoned broth of malleable LFOs, sprinkled a dash of scripting magic and left to simmer.

ODDular sells for from SoundDust

Thoughts

The main principle was to multi-sample a number of less well-known vintage and modern synths before inserting them into a Kontakt engine that has some of the hallmarks of modular synthesis, but without any mind boggling complexity (or patch cables!). 9 synths have been multi-sampled, from a vintage EMS to one of the latest Moogs. They are presented in 14 separate nki patches, with some synths making repeated appearances showcasing alternative sounds. An extra patch is empty enabling you to load your own sounds into the engine, which is a nice touch.

Each patch has an identical GUI that lays everything out on one page, as is typical of Sound Dust creations. Whilst it is great to see everything at once it does look a tad daunting and the controls are small. I wonder if next time they might employ the new large Kontakt interface for increased legibility. A second RTFM tab takes you to the manual which gives a very concise explanation of all controls and coupled with the walkthrough video should be all you need to get your head around this instrument in about 30mins.

ODDular is all about modulation and modulation of modulation.

ODDular is all about modulation and modulation of modulation, so there is no getting away from the fact that it can get pretty complex in there. As such, it would be tedious to explain the entire functionality in detail, but there are some essentials to know about. The heart of the engine are the 3 LFOs, which are completely independent and can be free running or BPM synced. Each has 8 basic shapes which can be totally abused by ‘remixing’ them with other waveforms to create some of the wildest LFO shapes I have ever seen. A master clock controls the relative speed of all LFOs and there are 3 intriguing options that effect how the LFO behaves when maximum values are reached. There is a detailed range of controls to reset and randomise sources and destinations, either specifically to each or across the whole lot. Within a few clicks you can be entering some pretty wacky sonic worlds! If that is not enough for you the LFOs can also modulate the speed of each other.

ODDular LFO controls

The left side of the GUI is mostly taken up with the sources that the LFOs bend, squeeze and mangle. We have two filters, EQ, amp, tape, device and room, each of which can be turned on and off for easy a/b comparisons. The latter two are convolution types and can really change the sound dramatically.

Each of these elements can be modulated by any of the LFOs all at the same time. This could in theory end up being a nightmare to programme, but Sound Dust employ an ingenious colour coding method to make it very intuitive.

Each of these elements can be modulated by any of the LFOs all at the same time. This could in theory end up being a nightmare to programme, but Sound Dust employ an ingenious colour coding method to make it very intuitive. Each LFO has it’s own colour (blue, red and green) and each source has a 3 little circles to correspond to each LFO.

All you have to do it click and drag in the desired circle upwards for positive modulations (in which case the circle grows bigger and is colour filled) or downwards for negative modulation (the circle grows bigger and is colour outlined). It works great either starting from a blank patch or to quickly understand what is going on in a complicated factory preset. Animations of the modulation also help to tell you just how crazy stuff is getting.

ODDular Destinations

As is the Sound Dust way it goes still deeper, so on top of this we also have a detailed arpeggiator, delay, envelope follower (which is another modulator), aftertouch (on three parameters), ADSR and an XY pad. If this all sounds little bit full on, rest assured there are some excellent presets to get you started – each patch comes with 5 arps, 5 ODD (total audio weirdness!) and 5 pads. Just be sure to follow the instructions to the letter for installing these snapshots correctly.

ODDular Presets

I found the best way to learn ODDular was to load up the default snapshot for each patch and first of all just play the basic multi-sampled synth with no modulation. These are pretty cool sounds to start with, but I picked one LFO only and started routing it to various destinations, before tweaking the LFO shape. Very soon I had 3 bizarre LFO shapes modulating a mobile phone impulse response, a high pass filter and tape saturation, as an arp bubbled on, my fingers pressed harder for aftertouch pitch bend and thus my evening had suddenly vanished!

A way to globally reduce the amount of effect each LFO has would perhaps be a useful addition to easily dial in more subtle changes. I would also have ideally liked a few patterns included in the step sequencer, but there is little else I can think of to improve ODDular. It is a little CPU heavy though, I imagine due to the sheer amount of modulation and animations going on.

In terms of how it can be used there will be certain obvious limitations with this. It is predominantly electronic and often creates outright strange sounds, so while it might not fit a composer or artist working in more mainstream genres, it will be of interest to those on the left field. Nor is it typically EDM, instead I think it will be of interest to artists composing more cutting edge and hybrid type electronica and composers working in more experimental areas. I myself will be trying it in my own Border Scout artist project and on some less conventional trailers, as it excels in creating unusual throbbing synth lines.

ODDular is an exciting blend of well sampled hardware synths and deep modulation. By giving the user the option to use the engine with their own samples it also opens this instrument up to near limitless possibilities. Sound Dust should be applauded for how they keep inventing fresh new sounds built into user experiences that give huge amounts of creative control to the musician at the other end.

Facts

ODDular is a 1.5GB download. It features 15 instruments containing 210 snapshots. A full version of Kontakt is required.

ODDular sells for from SoundDust

 

Demos of ODDular by SoundDust

Videos of ODDular by SoundDust