Rob Papen - Predator 2 - Computer Music Magazine
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
The long-awaited Predator 2 (VST/AU/AAX) sticks with the same largely skeumorphic design and keeps all the main synthesis controls immediately accessible from the front. With its considerably expanded architecture, this results in an even busier interface than that of its predecessor.
The layout remains perfectly logical and it doesn't take long to learn your way around, certainly, but synthesis novices will have a hard time relating to it - which is where the new Easy Mode comes in.
Clicking the Easy Page button switches to a much sparser GUI containing just the most important synthesis controls, the X/Y Pad and the Variation feature, which enables a variable degree of randomisation to be applied to the synth parameters and/or the FX section.
Distilling Predator 2 down to just enough parameters for broad-strokes changes, Easy Mode gives beginners and live performers a friendlier, less cluttered environment in which to work.
Impressively, you can even manipulate the path by dragging its constituent nodes around in Edit mode, which updates non-destructively to reflect the Point and Space Quantize settings. A well stocked menu of edit Commands provides a toolbox of handy processes, too, including Set to Circle/Square/Line, etc, Reverse, Flip, Rotate and Spiral, the last of which prompts for a number of 'turns' from which to construct an inward or outward twist.
You can also create a wavetable (or Wave Set, in Predator parlance) of up to eight waves in the User Wave tab and load that into an oscillator, in which case the Morph knob transforms into an index control, scanning through the waves in stepped, mixed or morphed manners. Of course, the Morph knob is accessible as a target inside the mod matrix, and all in all, Predator 2's well-judged, transformative multi-wave functionality more than makes amends for v1's lamented lack of wave selection modulation. It's ace.
Another new feature that workflow-savvy sound designers will fall in love with is the ability to save and load presets for each section of the synth. Every oscillator, filter, effect, envelope and LFO, as well as the Arpeggiator, X/Y Pad setup, Mod Matrix, etc, can have its current status captured in a discrete file for reloading at any time - so, so cool.
And speaking of presets, v1's full vault of over 6000 patches has been ported over and encased in a better looking, more functional browser. It's a jaw-dropping universe of sounds that hours can easily get lost in.
Predator 2 is a thoroughly worthy successor to the original and we find ourselves even more in its thrall than we were in 2007. It's far more versatile and interesting, the GUI retains that instant, hands-on feel as much as it can without getting totally crazy, and - thanks to the new features, overhauled audio engine, awesome wave mixing and, er, wavetabling, and an effects rack that still qualifies as one of the best in the business - it sounds simply phenomenal, whether it's belting out gut-punching basses, razorblade leads, ear-tingling pads or intricate FX.