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From The Designer’s Perspective

One of the software bundles I started using quite a bit recently is the eXplorer III release from Rob Papen.

In his Continuing Adventures In Software, Rich Tozzoli makes a new friend.

Rob Papen’s eXplorer III bundle includes 12 plug-ins, from synths to drum sounds to effects. One of the software bundles I started using quite a bit recently is the eXplorer III release from Rob Papen. It’s a powerful collection of Virtual Synthesizers and FX plug-ins that offer up a ton of diverse composition possibilities. Recently, I caught up with Rob himself, as well as Erik Klein of Soultech Marketing to talk further about the products.

RT: CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THE EVOLUTION OF ROB PAPEN PLUG-INS?

RP: The evolution is as the flow goes, like making music. Of course, we plan things, but very often spontaneous ideas pop-up and we go with it. For instance, the BLUE-II project, we planned a few years ago, but some other plug-ins like RP-VERB, Punch and Blade came in between. Which, in the end, is great since we used the technology of RP-VERB and Blade (XY pad) in BLUE-II. So the flow is not very planned in some ways. The same goes for our new project, which was an initial idea from two Dutch DJs. Thinking out of the box is something I love to do, but always with “making music” as the foundation for each product.

RT: THE EXPLORER III BUNDLE, WHICH I USE, FEATURES A LOT OF PLUG-INS—12 IN TOTAL. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT EACH ONE.

EK: Predator—is a monster analog synth; try this one first!

Blue II—is an FM synth with analog style filters; it’s a great companion to Predator.

Sub-Boom Bass—bass synth tones combined with punchy tuned percussion samples. It has a nifty, old-style step-sequencer that can’t be more fun.

Punch—drum machine, rhythm programmer. You can apply the builtin synthesis to the many built-in samples or import your own samples, then use the built-in sequencer to build patterns. Trigger the patterns for live use or to quickly build a song.

Punch BD—based on the bassdrum module from Punch, it lets you stack up to six bass-drum sounds and apply effects like distortion and EQ. It’s meant for EDM and Hip-Hop music, though soundtrack composers will like it, too.

Blade—FM synthesis that is sonically different from Blue II. Control of harmonics through an XY pad creates sounds that continuously move and evolve.

RG (Rhythm Guitar)— lets you create rhythm guitar grooves based on electric and acoustic guitar sounds and a multitude of chord patterns that can be triggered from your keyboard. Makes a great writing tool too.

RP-Verb—rich-sounding reverb with modulation effects. I think you’ll find that it goes beyond the run-of-the mill reverb.

RP-Delay—a companion to the RP-Verb, the added effects like the “reverser,” filters and 4-LFOs make it a musical (and addictive) delay.

RP-Distort—the distortion options can be combined with built-in filters, compressors and a “widen” effect with a changeable signal-flow.

RP-AMOD—classic modulation effects like phaser, flanger, chorus and ensemble can be tempo-synced with your music. It’s actually free to any RP Synth user.

RT: I THINK THE RP DOCK IS SUCH A USEFUL PRODUCT. I FIND MYSELF USING IT TO TRY ALL THE PLUG-INS OUT WITHOUT HAVING TO LAUNCH MY SEQUENCER. HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE RP DOCK?

EK: The RP Dock is a free app for use with any of the RP plug-ins to run them stand-alone. Besides providing instant gratification for using the synths, running them stand-alone may be preferable for live use with potentially less latency and CPU use than running a DAW.

RT: THERE’S A LOT OF SYNTHS ON THE MARKET TODAY. WHAT MAKES THESE A BIT DIFFERENT?

EK: The fact that Rob is a user and producer himself brings both musicality and practical design to the plug-ins, not to mention an attention to sonic detail. Rob and his partner, Jon Ayers, are very responsive to customer input and can quickly integrate improvements and new features. The synths, as a result, are “deep” and innovative, and each synth has been improving and expanding in functionality. Blade, for instance, is a whole new take on doing real-time FM synthesis control using a unique XY interface design he calls the “Harmolator,” which was recently added to Blue II as well. So, advancements in one synth benefit the others, too. There is nothing “throw-away” in the bundle.

RT: THESE PRODUCTS ARE DEEP AS WELL. I LEARNED MOSTLY BY WATCHING THE ONLINE TUTORIALS—WHICH ARE QUITE GOOD. WHAT ’S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP IT SIMPLE?

EK: All the RP synths come with hundreds of presets, many created by leading producers. There’s an option to quickly add them as favorites in the menu. Try switching on and off the arpeggiator mode; you’ll notice some of the sounds take on a completely different life. The arpeggiator will automatically “lock” with your DAW and you’ll be doing amazing sequences in minutes. Punch has presets with instant grooves that you can play from your keyboard that’ll get you going quickly!

If you want simplicity, Predator PL is a “player” version of Predator with just the presets and basic controls, but it’s exclusive through Sweetwater.

RT: ARE THERE TRIAL VERSIONS AVAILABLE FOR PSN READERS?

RP: Sure, demo versions can be downloaded at the robpapen.com page

RT: WHAT’S NEXT?

RP: RAW is next and coming this month. It will also be part of the eXplorer-III Bundle. This special project started with the idea of two DJs who wanted more distortion inside the synthesizer. We took this idea and started building a very different synth. Another cool thing is that we will deliver RAW with preset banks of DJs with fame and name in certain music dance fields. It’s all very exciting.

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