This time we have something different – Heat Up 2, a huge ROMpler workstation instrument plugin by Ignite VST.
Heat Up 2 is Ignite VST’s flagship instrument, their best creation and their most complex plugin to date. This instrument can be run as a VST and Audio Unit plugin (32-bit & 64-bit) and uses a simple method of authorisation on up to three installations. So if you want it on your home computer and at the studio, no problem, they have got you covered.
It comes a time when after a number of synthesizers, you simply want a workstation filled with “bread and butter” sounds, ready to be loaded and played, with a series of customisations and fast workflow in mind. Heat Up 2 has them all plus some cool extras.
I have to admit at first that I was a little circumspect regarding Heat Up 2, not because of it in particular, but because I wasn’t too attracted to this kind of virtual instruments in general. My previous experience was limited to Nexus, Hypersonic 2 and Alchemy, plus the array of freeware ROMpler instruments about I am writing for several years now.
But Heat Up 2 has impressed me with the first opening. The look is right and “shapely”, modern and familiar same time, with some very inspired design influences from another well-known commercial ROMpler (I will let you guess which). The GUI is compact with 3D rotary knobs and a big display in the middle, in which will be shown the parameter in use, the sound library, an animated waveform, but also will give you access to additional effects and sequencers. A big plus for the interface is the ability to be scaled according to your needs.
As a cool factor, I have to mention that Heat Up 2 comes with a series of skins to choose from – attractive and pleasing to the eye. Also, you can change the display text and highlight color, as well as the color intensity. So, in terms of appearance, it doesn’t lack all kinds of options to make it personal as possible.
At the bottom of the display, there are six buttons giving you access to different windows and parameters. From the left to right we have “Scope”, a complex but clean graphical representation the waveform of the sound you currently play – in fact, an oscilloscope that allows observation of the signal. Next in line is the sequencer with up to 16 steps and note length and sequencer speed selectors. To add a step, simply left click, to delete it – right click. Also, to get started in no time, you can choose from a wide library of pre-made arps, chords, mellows and sequences.
The third bottom page is 3-band equalizer with on/off selector, that allows you to shape, cut and boost the sound. “Browse” is the in-depth sound browser giving you access to the library in use, split into categories/sound types. You can go through the vast factory library either by using the mouse (one click) or using the keyboard up and down arrows. Workflow, baby! Now that we are to the sound library, I have to mention that Heap Up 2 comes with a massive 16GB library containing anything you can imagine, from basses to organs, leads to pianos, bells to strings, brasses to pads, drum kits and much more. These sounds are suitable for a wide range of urban styles including RnB, hip hop, trap, EDM, pop dance etc. On top of that add the RnB Essentials Expansion Pack which comes totally free (bonus) and the possibility to enrich the sound palette with 11 expansions for urban, grime, film music, pop and more.
The last two pages are the gate with smooth, steps and speed selectors – another great way to add dynamism and movement to the sound, and the FX page which gives you access to tons of cool effects. We’ll have a detailed look at these later. Oh, and let’s not forget about the “Stereo Shaker” rotary knob situated in the middle of the flame logo which adds “ping-pong” left to right panning movement.
Moving on to the top of the display, there is a row with three menus: first is to select the expansion, the second to choose the instrument type and the third is to pick the preset sound. It allows you to select the desired expansion and sound, no matter in what page you are. Very well structured!
Let’s say you worked hard on a sound, making fine adjustments and adding some effects and you want it saved as preset, to use it on other projects too. Yes, it is possible with Heat Up 2: click the double arrows icon and save it in a new or existent category. The settings page (accessible by clicking the two gear icon at bottom right), besides some graphic customisations about I wrote above, lets you choose the parameter triggered by the modulation wheel and the global reverb type.
Now let’s take a look at the effect processors that come with Heat Up 2. From top left, we find a filter unit with low pass and high pass filters, typical parameters such as cutoff, resonance and mix, as well as filter ADSR envelope. On the same row at the bottom, there is a reverb module with width, room, damp and mix knobs. The reverb type can be selected from the settings page in the middle display, you have plate, room but also the original sample reverb option.
The delay unit has parameters for delay speed, feed and mix, and you can put it in sync with the DAW and turn on the ping-pong effect. “Flanger/chorus” module comes with usual controls such as rate, depth, pre-delay and mix. The last module from the main interface is “Master-Out” with volume and pan, a level indicator and ADSR envelope.
The “FX” button situated in the display allows for more. There are two pages of effects: overdrive and distortion, wobble speed and depth, stereo enhancer, phaser with speed, feed and depth, a simple tremolo unit, ring modulator and compressor with typical parameters and a “Make-up” gain knob. Here you can also add “Atmosphere” to the sound, basically layer any preset with sound effects such as chimes, rain, vinyl, tape, wind etc. You can correct the volume of the sound effect layer as you wish. Last but not least, Heat Up 2 has portamento knob, polyphonic/monophonic selectors and a glide rotary knob.
Heat Up 2 is an amazing ROMpler with tweakable sounds and a high-quality factory sound library. It has a very low CPU usage, loads the presets fast and it sounds amazing. The user interface is crisp and clean and very easy to use even for a beginner.
The sound can be customised with an array of effects, arpeggiator and gate. If you want more sounds (although the 500 factory instruments/580 presets will keep you busy for a very long time), you can buy expansions for various urban and pop music genres. The current factory library offers everything you will need into your urban productions, all the presets are 100% usable, all killer, no filler.
The sound quality is very good, most of the presets use reverb, delay and other effects, but even if you turn them off, Heat Up 2 will still sound great. The plugin engine loads the sample seamlessly, there are no indicators that the sound is based on samples.
Heat Up 2 has changed my perspective on ROMplers and I’m glad I had the honor to review this gem. I’m very sure that Heat Up 2 will be the foundation for my next musical productions. Highly recommended!
Heat Up 2 costs $149 for a limited time (normally $169) and with the purchase, you also get RnB Essentials free expansion pack.