Review: Explorer-5 by Rob Papen
I've never heard of Rob Papen Inspiration Soundware until very recently. Apparently he (or they) have been making virtual instruments and effects for a while, because they have a huge bundle of software called Explorer-5. Explorer-5 by Rob Papen (RP) comes with 20 RP products, 3 of them being new additions to their Explorer series: 13 virtual instruments (as well as older versions), 6 virtual effect plugins, and Prisma which is a kind of interface that ties their products together. You can buy the Explorer-5 bundle for only $499 on their website.
This bundle is massive, and I probably don't have enough time to cover every single product included in it but i'll make sure to cover my favorites. Take a look at this list of products, and I think you'll know what I mean by massive.
Go2: The power of limitations. RAW-Kick: Edgy Kicks for contemporary music. MasterMagic: Adds a touch of magic for your Mix or Master. SubBoomBass 2: Ultimate bass synthesizer. Predator 2: The Synth that hunts your tracks! BLUE-II: Cross-fusion synthesis at its finest. RG: Electric and acoustic guitar grooves. RP-Verb 2: Most intriguing in RP-VERB 2 – alongside the to a great sound – is the new ‘Reverser’ section! RP-EQ: Silky smooth sounding channel and mastering EQ. Blade: The cutting edge of today's synthesizers! Punch: Speaker busting and body rattling drum machine. Punch-BD: Based on the BD module of the multi-award winning Punch virtual drum synth, RP-Delay: Delay insanity. Reverser, 6 lines, 8 filters, 4 LFOs and more. RP-Distort: Wicked FX unit that will distort or alter your tracks. RP-Amod: Spice up your vocal track, liven an instrument and even beef up your drums. RAW: Cutting edge EDM synthesizer with the focus on 'distorted sounds' SubBoomBass: Ultra-deep groove bass synth with a built-in step sequencer. Predator: Phat analog style synth with killer presets and first-class features. PredatorFX: Filter, modulation, vocoder and effects plug-in. Prisma: Get creative using Rob Papen's take on instrument layering.
Before we dive into the products, I want to do a quick cost breakdown of the Explorer-5 bundle. Its available for $499, which means that each product is only $24.95 on average. I haven't done a total count of the presets across all the virtual instruments, but I believe its over 10,000 - less than 50 cents per preset (and i'm pretty sure its more than 10,000). If you have any interest in getting a single Rob Papen virtual instrument, just get the Explorer-5 bundle and you'll be getting a truly killer deal.
Predator 2 is a powerful software synthesizer with almost all main controls visible on screen, and a ton of modulation control. It comes with over 6,000 presets sorted into categories, and even features an 'Easy Page' which allows you to jump through presets and tweak sounds quickly. The real power of this virtual instrument lies in the various modulation controls, such as the XY Pad which allows you to record movements and play them back on a note-by-note basis. Many different controls can be mapped to this XY Pad as well, making it quite the selling point. This powerful XY pad seems to be kind of a Rob Papen staple feature, so you'll see it come up again and again in other products.
Predator 2 Feature Summary:
3 dual oscillators
Advanced wavetable functionality
Stereo on every oscillator and filter
Up to 6 unison voices for each full voice
Powerful XY Pad with recordable paths
4 Envelopes and LFO's
Integrated effects parameters
Check out my video exploring the sounds of Predator 2:
RP-Delay is a very powerful delay effects plugin. The extent of its power is such that when you open it you'd think you were looking at a synthesizer. Seriously, take a look at this thing:
RP-Delay Feature Summary:
6 delay lines in two banks
Mono, stereo, dual stereo, channel split, reverse, and more routing configurations!
Tape delay mode
Integrated multi-mode filter and distortion effects (and more)
Reverser module can reverse the sound at any stage of the signal flow
MIDI CC triggering
4 envelope's and 4 LFO's
4 sequencers with 16 steps each
GO2 is an interesting software synth made to fill one specific void - a synthesizer that has all of its controls and features available visually at one time. Anyone thats a fan of analog synths (particularly older analog synths) and Eurorack might feel a little anxious when they jump into a software or hardware synth with menu-diving. Sometimes the use of menu's on a synth is mandatory to not overwhelm the user or even save cost in the case of hardware synths, but it adds an extra layer between the user and the sound design process.
GO2 provides every control visible at all times in a way that doesn't feel cluttered or overwhelming, and still provides the amazing level of control you'd expect from a Rob Papen instrument.
GO2 Feature Summary:
Oscillator Morph Mode
Spread and Sub Controls
Advanced recordable XY Pad (very similar to Predator2)
Analog modeled filters
Switchable Mony, Poly, Legato, and Arp modes
8-way modulation matrix
ADSR and LFO
Explorer-5 by Rob Papen - Conclusion
Rob Papen's Explorer-5 bundle is an incredible value. If you're in need of more software synthesizers this might be something you want to pick up, and if you don't have any software synths then this might be a great first buy. In terms of sound quality and features the instruments in this package are of equal or better quality to the more popular Massive and Serum. Another advantage is that you'll be using a library that isn't the industry standard for software synths sounds, so you may just stand out - on the flipside this also means there are less preset packs and tutorials available, but Rob Papen Inspiration Software helps with this by providing excellent preset packs and tutorials on their own site.
With over 10,000 presets and 13 synths, you can be sure you'll never run out of sounds. I'm completely overwhelmed by the depth of these instruments, and I still haven't scratched the surface of what they can do. The audio effects are all excellent from what i've seen, but to me they're really the icing on the cake while the software synths are the actually cake.