This time I am going to introduce a bundle of thirteen products by the Dutch synth freak and virtual instrument designer Rob Papen. I am going to check on the usability of the bundle as such rather than focus on the single instruments and try to find out who would profit from buying the whole package instead of picking a few favorites. (For detailed information on RAW and Punch-BD check my reviews here)
For 585 EUR / 699 USD I get hold of all 13 Rob Papen products available at this time. (Compared to 1170 EUR if you buy them as single products) – though I already saw it at a lower discount price with some German retailer. Five (5) synth: Blue II, RAW, Predator, Subboom Bass, BladeThree (3) sample based instruments: RG, Punch & Punch BD (Though all of these are partly synth as well) and five (5) Effects: Delay, Verb, Distortion, Amod & Predator FX.
Most instruments for electronic music are covered with this bundle. Punch will deliver drums, Sub boom Bass the Bass, a rhythm guitar will play in the background with RG and plenty of synth sounds to choose from are available. The fx section will spice up your mix. With the download (boxed version also available) I bought the 32 & 64 bits version featuring VST & AAX forPC and in addition AU for MAC. The 1,2 GB comes with a second serial for a second PC and as always with Mr.Papen are very easy to install and register.
When handling a Rob Papen instrument, you will recognize it in a second. All of his instruments have a rather clean surface and the most important functions are directly accessible. SubboomBass might be the only exception, as the graffiti orientated graphic design is more distracting and you have to click through various functions. All instruments are very intuitive and most of them also feature an easy mode, displaying only the main settings, which is a good starting point. If you dig really deep into the single instrument you probably can’t avoid checking the (well written) manual now and then. Which is easily accessible with a button on each of the instruments. Nothing to complain.
You get what you are looking for, and more. Each instrument promises a certain sound. When looking for that exact style, RP will make you happy and there is no need to buy any other synth. The bass sounds are earth shaking and low, punchy, wobbling and grumbling. The leads are cutting and just every sound does, what it is supposed to do. Rob Papen kind of created a trademark feeling that I get whenever I test some of his instruments. This makes the different stems glue together very well in the mix.
The five synth differ only slightly in sound, not as much as I would have expected. The main difference is with some synth the sampled waveforms, that really add another dimension in sound. RG is a real highlight that can sound like a guitar on the one hand and like a synth on the other. Blue 2 and RAW are my personal favorites when it comes to sound, and these Predator FX are really good to use on plenty of recordings.
In general, the effects sound really good, when used as a decent effect, but what highlights them is, they are very strong if you intend to alter a sound completely.
Maybe it is due to Rob Papens’ Dutch origin but this package clearly aims at the EDM producers. All the needs for the production of contemporary electronic music are satisfied. On top, there are many inspirational functions, that will change the work-flow (f.e. the xy pads with some synth) and open up a new space of creativity and a source for new noises for all sound-designers. Also many sounds perfectly blend with a real band setting or an orchestra and might just be that thing that makes your project sound unique. Blue 2 also delivers perfect sound for scoring tv & games (with great sampled voice wave forms).
One of the biggest advantages with almost any Rob Papen instrument is, you can learn how to create your own sounds by working with the fantastic presets with out hours of reading through manuals. If you are not into making your own, no problem, there are so many presets you won’t get tired listening to them. Once you learn how to handle one RP instrument, it is very easy to transfer that knowledge on the other instruments.
I got to admit that one week of testing barely scratches the surface of what is possible with this package. I try to conclude a few things anyway.
This package surely adds value to any collection of tools. Producers and Sound-designers of all kind and levels will find sounds that end up in their projects. The synth sounds are unique and very inspirational, but they cover a couple of presets of classic sounds as well (Juno, 909..).
All the instruments have plenty of presets to choose from or to use as a basis to start tweaking your own sounds. Whether it is bass, pads, bells, arp, leads, distorted or clean you will find standard sounds as well as totally wicked sounds. This bundle is not a tool, which will serve all your needs (and I don’t think it intends to do that). Most projects will require extra sounds from sample based instruments or additional effects like eq, saturation and compression.
Although the synth sounds deliver an incredible diversity of sounds, they clearly focus on modern dance & urban music. In the end, I feel like most people won’t be needing all of these synths and choosing one or two favorites instead might be the better option as the synth often have a similar feeling to them (SubboomBass uses the Predator engine for example (plus a few extra pitched-down wave forms)).
Therefore I deducted a few stars in my rating for “Content” though this doesn’t have to be negative as it focuses on a niche and the price is very affordable. And you get great FX on top. It is not really comparable to other bundles like Komplete or FXpansion Electronic Producer Bundle, so I can’t tell you to buy the one or the other. And making music without at least one Rob Papen synth certainly is no option (for me at least).