Ryan McCambridge discovers why this new ‘Creative Hybrid Instrument’ is more than just another softsynth.
There has been a lot of excitement in the synth communities that I frequent around UVI’s Falcon. It’s promised a breadth that doesn’t come along very often, which is sort of the point of Falcon. UVI is calling Falcon a ‘Creative Hybrid Instrument’ in an attempt to encapsulate everything that it does.
On the surface, one could view Falcon as simply a softsynth, but looking under the hood reveals a powerhouse that runs the gamut from simple analogue shapes, through to FM, wavetable, all the way through to granular synthesis. There are even modules dedicated to drum and plucking sounds. Digging deeper uncovers a platform that welcomes third-party libraries and sounds, sampling capabilities and macros to help facilitate live performance. For those mad scientist types, the rabbit hole goes down even further, offering the capability to script custom event generators and instruments. The possibilities are seemingly infinite; that is the essence of Falcon.
It only takes a few notes to realise that UVI has created something quite special here. UVI’s thoroughness with Falcon has resulted in an instrument that sounds stunning, and with the 15 different oscillators the palette covers almost anything. Where Falcon truly excels though is in its ability to take those raw sounds and manipulate them. For starters, there are 80 effects to mangle or polish your sonic creations, but ultimately the modulation capabilities are what will entice passionate synth programmers. There is a nearly limitless matrix of modulation possibilities, all of which can be assigned with a simple right-click on the parameter.
This streamlined approach to modulation assignment is probably one of Falcon’s best assets because it makes programming straightforward and limits the time spent in menus.
UVI has provided tools and presets to help users quickly perform simple tasks within the many modulators and sub-modulators. The ‘Drunk’ modulator is worth mentioning as it randomly modulates a source, offering an easy way to simulate analogue artifacts like pitch drift. There is also a step envelope, with full control up to 128 steps, included in the possible modulators, which has a plethora of pre-programmed rhythms, if needed. Falcon’s modulation section also offers a modulation mapper editor that runs between the modulation source and the parameter itself, which remaps the modulation control signal based on the shape of the stepped mapper editor. Given the number of controls that are potentially needed for a complex patch, Falcon offers tabs to easily navigate between important aspects of the instruments and also has flexible resizing of the main window, and pop-up windows for a closer look at modulation parameters.
A ‘Sound Design Ecosystem’
Falcon is natively surround capable, outputting up to 10.2 channels, which at this point is the most users will really need. With its sample playback capabilities, you can see that Falcon may want to encroach on Native Instruments’ Kontakt, which has in many respects cornered the market on instruments for composing. Falcon will load both UVI and third-party libraries, but only time will tell if it sticks as a platform for that purpose.
I could also see Falcon being an asset to those who have a basic grasp on programming but are looking to push their abilities forward. Conceivably, one could use only Falcon to create a song from start to finish. That said, as with any complex instrument, there is definitely a learning curve to Falcon, but the payoff is having an instrument that offers the kind of depth and flexibility that will appease even the most demanding of programmers.
Falcon is an incredible accomplishment and presents a great value for everything that it packs in. Ultimately though, Falcon’s best asset is also its biggest impediment: it’s incredibly expansive. This is an instrument for synth programmers and sound designers and though it has some great presets, it might scare off the faint of heart who are just looking to cycle through pre-made sounds. If you thrive on flexibility and manipulation in your synths, Falcon could be an incredible addition to your synth arsenal. In fact, it could be your arsenal. But if you like specific instruments for specific tasks, Falcon may be a bit overwhelming. Falcon rewards those who are willing to put some time into it, and I imagine that even the most demanding of user will appreciate the instrument.
- 15 oscillators covering a wide range of modern synthesis methods
- 80 high-quality effects categorised for easy navigation
- 8 modulation generators
- Native support for channel configurations from Mono to 10.2
Ryan McCambridge is a freelance audio engineer, writer, producer and programmer from. He has taught audio production in workshops and universities, is the creator of the production blog Bit Crushing and is the frontman of A Calmer Collision. www.bitcrushing.com www.acalmercollision.com