Review PADS by Umlaut Audio


FantasticBuyUmlaut Audio make a big splash in the Hybrid pond with their entry into the commercial side of the virtual instrument market. PADS is targeted to the media composer audience but will easily fit into the workflow of any composer or musician who is in need of great sounding PADS!

Jump to the Videos of PADS

Jump to the Videos of PADS


Review: PADS by Umlaut Audio

While Umlaut has for years been working to provide bespoke sounds to A-list composers, amongst them – Harry Gregson-Williams, Danny Elfman and John Debney, PADS and their other new offering ARPS – mark the first time that they have made their collective talents broadly available to the commercial composers market .

PADS by Umlaut Audio sells for $99 from Plugin Boutique 


Let’s start with purpose. While Umlaut marketing aims this library at media designers – and with good reason( short deadlines require powerful yet usable tools to get the job done), this library will be a welcome part of your arsenal if you produce electronic music and need that extra something special to either spice up your tracks or create entire soundscapes.

I think that everyone to some degree is affected by “shiny object syndrome” when it comes to application interfaces. I would count myself guilty as charged, so when I first began working with PADS it was not immediately identifiable to me as an instrument that would compete with many of the newer Hybrids that have come out in the past year. Let’s quickly move past that point.

The PADS interface is not flashy. There are no colorful background images but it is indeed smartly designed with a clean and intuitive interface.

PADS contains 2 independent layers with sound sources that can be manipulated independently, panned at the layer level or at the interface level to blend the mix of sounds. Each of the layers provide independent control for the typical attack, release, cutoff, resonance and tuning. In addition, there are a number of filter options available in each layer. Remember I said the clean interface can be deceiving? I found it really effective and while Hybrids in general afford many of the same features, I really like the workflow here despite my initial hesitations.

A - Basic


There are in excess of 140 presets that come with PADS. These snapshots are categorized as Clean, Complex or Rhythmic.  Those titles are pretty self-explanatory when it comes to what you will find. All of the snapshots will provide a new base dual layer sound to work with allowing you to customize and create your own unique snapshots using any of the available parameters to tweak the output to your liking. You can also press the Random button and explore a virtually limitless number of potential sound combinations.

B - Snaps

Clicking on the Mod/Mix button (depending on the mode you are in) will change the top pane of the interface between the Mix Layer configuration panel and the Modulation panel which contains parameter controls for LFO, Envelope and Sequencer.  I really like the functionality this affords within a very small interface footprint. If you are wanting to stack multiple instances of instruments in Kontakt, this still keeps the amount of scrolling to a minimum.

C - Mod

The combination of options on the Mod page allows you to take your sounds into both wild and wonderful sonic territory. The options are available via a dropdown menu in each of the three panels.  These are mix and match as you choose. The LFO section provides dropdowns for selection of both filter options and wave patterns along with phasing and rate controls. The ENV section provides dropdown selections for envelope options along with both standard ADSR and Velocity control. A rather unique feature here is the addition of a randomization button again, allowing for sonic experimentation. The SEQ provides a fully configurable step sequencer with 50+ presets with step count up to 32 and additional modification controls via dropdown. This is probably the area of the library that I spent the most time experimenting and augmenting the sound. Consider that you can combine any three combinations of LFO, ENV or SEQ that you want and you can create unique and  amazing sounds that are all your own!  I really love this section, but alas, it’s time to move on….

D - Waves

The dropdowns are by far the easiest parameters to change given their ease of access (and how sensitive your mouse if on rotary controls!). The waves and filters provide a nice, albeit standard selection of options but again there is a great deal of flexibility it how you tweak each of these parameters to really own your sound.

E - Filters

I really enjoyed working with PADS and found it a top rate sound design tool. Umlaut Audio offers a great starting point with the provided snapshots and through experimentation and randomization, I was really able to unlock an incredible palette of sounds.  I don’t usually use effects included with virtual instruments,  as I prefer to use premium plugins but some elements of the Modulation, Delay and Reverb, etc. are so key to the finished PAD that they are actually a welcome addition. 

PADS is a really great product and certainly the price point is very reasonable. The criticisms that I have are pretty insignificant on balance.

All in all I give PADS an SLR Fantastic Buy based on the comparative functionality, design and price point.





PADS weighs in at 4.9GB and requires Kontakt version 5.5.2 or higher and is compatible with both the full and free versions. A trial version of the product is available for download from Umlaut Audio.  There are 140+ presets and 80 sources timbres provided. Samples are provided in NKX vs WAV format so individual samples are not unlocked for use in other applications.

Dual layer sound sources with 13 filter options along with configurable Attack, Release, Cutoff, Resonance and Tune controls plus panning and volume control all independent to each sound source. There is also a Randomization feature to allow sound sources to be swapped while maintaining the existing configuration parameters.

Full featured Step sequencer (with viewer zoom) for each of the two sound sources that are configurable by the user or there is a choice of 58 provided presets.

F - SEQ Zoom

G - SEQ Presets

There is also a Convolution Reverb with 24 IR presets, Delay, Modulation (Flanger, Chorus), Distortion, LO-FI (bit crush), EQ all with fully configurable parameters all displayed in the following manner:

H - Params

PADS is also NKS compliant for those with Native Instruments Kontrol keyboards.

PADS by Umlaut Audio sells for $99 from Plugin Boutique 

Demos of PADS

Videos of PADS