Review: Phenex Bundle by 8Dio
Wonderfully rich sounds and earth shattering basses
Offers sounds similar to many modular synths
Bundle is great value containing 2 complementary collections
All patches have been processed through a warm analog signal chain
Patches can be 'stacked' to make even more massive synth sounds and effects
Chaos button randomizes effects and possible sound combinations
Can create evocative patterns using 8Dio's excellent arpeggiator
The FX samples are in 24bit wav format and so can be dragged and dropped into the timeline of any DAW without using Kontakt
None really if you want that huge, fat cinematic modular sound
Deep rich synth samples carefully recorded and processed through an analog signal chain! The result? Thick, luscious, organic sounds that combine some of the legendary modular synths of the 80’s, with modern digital synths and organic samples. All packed into 8Dio’s tidy and easy to navigate interface. Phenex offers composers and producers the potential to create beautiful, evocative, and inspiring sounds coupled with killer modern effects. What’s not to love?
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Review: Phenex Bundle by 8Dio
Modular synths have been around for decades. In fact, they were the first commercially available synthesizers. (Check out the cover of Wendy Carlos’ essential album, Switched on Bach) However, they were complicated and needed lots of tinkering and patience. Not to mention, good documentation habits to keep note of what combination of filters, oscillators etc produced what sound! It’s no wonder that they were, to a large degree, supplanted by portable, internally wired synths. Easy to use and transport. The only thing you needed to think about really was your joystick, modulation wheel, and what preset you wanted to use.
So, what if a company decided to sample and lovingly record some of the legendary modular synths, warm the samples up with analog circuitry, tweaking and mangling them, and then give you the option of ‘stacking’ the instruments together for some truly massive sounds? (Think Bladerunner 2049)
That in essence is 8Dio‘s Hybrid Phenex instrument. It’s actually two instruments. One concentrates on analog pads and strings using actual synth, choir and string samples. The other focuses on SFX and sound design. For extra value, 8Dio has bundled the two instruments together, giving you a comprehensive package to create those retro-futuristic soundtracks!
Phenex Bundle sells for $248 USD from 8Dio
Modular synth systems are increasingly popular today. (Though it could be argued that they always were with certain people. Look at pictures of Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman standing before a literal wall of synths with patch cables sprouting everywhere, looking not unlike some gigantic cephalopod!) Modular systems well…are modular! The modules are the different parts ( filters, oscillators, mixers, ring modulators, envelopes) used to create and modulate synth sounds. But in a modular system, you choose and arrange these parts according to what you want to do. You have the power to decide everything.
There are literally many dozens of different manufacturers building modular systems. From pre-eminent companies like Moog and Buchla to smaller, niche developers, the choice is somewhat overwhelming. You can probably find any type of sound that you can imagine somewhere out there. That’s not an exaggeration!
Depending on the format and what you’re looking for, such systems can be quite expensive. By the time you add different modules, the cost can easily rocket into the stratosphere! Then there’s the complexity. While it sounds nice, being able to tweak every parameter can be intimidating. Not to mention time consuming. (Unless of course, that’s your passion.) And if your past experience with synths is mostly which preset to press and playing with the modwheel, then you might be very intimidated by the complexity of a modular system.
So, what do you do if you are looking for that huge modular synth sound without the complexity, learning curves, space and money needed to own and master a true modular synth? Well, you can check out Phenex!
Those who are familiar with 8Dio‘s Hybrid series, will not be disappointed. It uses the same intuitive, easy to navigate interface you already know. And if you’re not, let me say that the interface is pretty self-explanatory. (They also provide a well-laid out manual) So, I won’t go deeply into the features of the interface, since many other reviews discuss the details. But as I said, if you have used other 8Dio products, then you will be familiar with the layout of Phenex.
Most commands are still on the same page. You have the stack button that allows you to ‘stack’ together as many different instruments that you desire. There are thousands of possible combinations, so it’s not likely you’ll run out of runway anytime soon. And it’s also not likely that you will sound like everyone else on the block, unless that’s what you want!
The chaos button is still there. Super handy when you don’t really know what you’re looking for. Just keep pressing it and you should eventually find something to knock your socks off. The effects page of course gives you the ability to tweak and mangle the sounds to your heart’s content. Though mentioned in other 8Dio reviews, one outstanding feature of the effects section is the tempo accurate Textural Convolution pulses. They are rhythmic phrases that you can lay over your sound and can be customized with various delays and deep convolution reverb settings. Though an explanation of how that actually works is beyond the scope of this review, suffice to say, these pulses can mangle and affect your sound in unexpected ways. Again, that’s good or bad depending on what you’re after.
With Phenex you can achieve sounds similar to what modular synths produce, but in much less time and with much less fuss and money. Of course, if the fuss part is your passion and time and money is not an issue, then Phenex might not be for you.
But for the rest of us, it’s an eminently useful instrument that will no doubt quickly become a regular in your synth toolkit . While not giving instant gratification, (you need to do some tweaking to get the juicy stuff), Phenex takes the daunting out of modular synthesis. Another win for Troels and ilk!
21.82 GB Installed (4,500+ Samples)
Vocal Pads & Loops, Mutations & Experiments
Analog Basses, Pads, Strings, Mutations
Complete listing of sounds and presets can be accessed on the 8Dio product page
Full Retail Version of Kontakt 5.8.1 (or later) Required
Phenex Bundle sells for $248 USD from 8Dio
Contributor MCR reviews Phenex Bundle by 8Dio
“Deep rich synth samples carefully recorded and processed through an analog signal chain! The result? Thick, luscious, organic sounds that combine some of the legendary modular synths of the 80’s, with modern digital synths and organic samples. All packed into 8 Dio’s tidy and easy to navigate interface. Phenex offers composers and producers the potential to create beautiful, evocative, and inspiring sounds coupled with killer modern effects. What’s not to love?”