By | October 4th, 2016|review|

Today I will review PADS, a new virtual synth instrument for Kontakt and free Kontakt Player, created by Umlaut Audio.

With its powerful engine, this hybrid instrument is capable to create true cinematic textures, pads and atmospheres.

The interface of PADS is simple and to the point. You will not find glossy effects or hi-tech button animations, just a dark gray & black background with classic knobs clearly labelled. I have nothing against this simplicity, on the contrary, I like it very much, it lets me concentrate more on sound.

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The “MIX” view

At the core of PADS stay two layers with two sound sources each – pads and overtones. You can manually mix them as you wish, or even randomize the entire layers by using the “RAND” button. To make an idea about the synth capabilities, I recommend you at first to browse through the 140 presets and see the parameters changes. The presets are split into three categories – Clean, Complex and Rhythmic, offering you different states of the same instrument, and proving its versatility.

The big button in the middle of the two layers lets you mix between the two sound sources. Speaking about the interface (that I rushed to the above to categorize it as simplistic), this button is the “wow factor” of PADS; the more sound you add from a layer, it takes the color of that layer. At 50%, the two layers combine beautifully in a color gradient and of course, the sound is divided/blended equally.

Each layer has independent control for attack, release, cutoff, resonance and tuning (up to 24 semitones up and down). You can also adjust the pan and volume of each layer, as well as browse through a total of 13 filters types with cutoff and resonance controls.

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The “MOD” view

Clicking the “MOD” button lets you enter the Modulation Panel. This is the place where all the magic happens! It consists of three modulation sources that can be switched between Envelope, LFO and Sequencer. These modulation sources can be assigned to almost any parameter of the two layers, allowing you to experiment and achieve amazing sound textures and sonic movements.

The “ENV” section provides the typical ADSR envelope plus control over Velocity, as well as another “RAND” randomization button. If you choose the LFO, besides the waveform drop-down selector (sine, triangle, sawtooth, square and random) you will find phasing and rate controls. The “SEQ” is a well designed step sequencer with up to 32 steps and 58 step pattern presets (of course, you can “draw” your own pattern).

The “MOD” panel is the power of PADS. I am deeply impressed by the way it was designed, it is very intuitive and urges you to make experiements. By mixing the three modulation sources (each with three switchable types), PADS transforms in a beast of a synth, allowing you to shape the sound to the smallest details.

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The effect processors

But that’s not all. Further sound processing includes 7 effect processors such as 4-band equalizer, a tape saturator to add warmth, lo-fi processor with crush and noise controls, a powerful distortion module, modulation to control chorus/flanger, a simple delay which can be synced to host and the convolution reverbs to add width and sense of space. Add the effect processors and you will have a complete instrument.

Audio demos:

PADS is an instrument synth for Kontakt or free Kontakt player version 5.5.2 or higher. So if you don’t own a full version of Kontakt, you can still use this amazing instrument. PADS is over 4 GB in weight, but the download process is quick and painless, it goes through the Continuata installer. You can pause anytime the download, also Continuata takes care of the installation.

I recommend PADS to all serious producers looking for a high quality instrument to create rhythmic and non-rhythmic textures, complex rhythmic effects, morphing pads, dynamic soundscapes and much much more. This hybrid of sound library, modulation and effect processors will fulfill your desire for sound morphing and designing. Add a simple & intuitive GUI plus a clever concept, and you will love it for sure.

PADS is perfect for cinematic composers in particular, but, with its modern sound and rhythmic capabilities, also useful for producers of EDM, pop and experimental genres.

More info:

PADS by Umlaut Audio