Modal Electronics COBALT8, A Deep Dive Into The Oscillator Algorithms

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Cobalt8 Synthesizer is Modal Electronics’ innovative take on virtual analog synthesis using 34 unique oscillator algorithms, here is a deep dive. 

Virtual analog synthesizers aim to sound as rich and statured as their analog brothers but with digital technology. Very few can do it. Potential customers also expect the Modal Electronics Cobalt8 to sound like a Minimoog, Pro-1, etc. However, this is not the case. Cobalt8 doesn’t want to sound vintage or imitate a certain analog Synthesizer from the past.

The Modal Electronics developers extracted the core idea of classic analog synthesis and developed their own approach from it. Virtual analog but thought further. The result is 34 different oscillator algorithms, which consists of a mixture of various waveforms and waveshapers. An algorithm has a basic waveform that can be bent and shaped into other waveforms with the help of shapers. From classic morphing, PWM, hard sync, and RM to experimental ideas (chaos, fractal, or metal everything is included.

Cobalt8 oscillator algorithms

Since many reviewers have only briefly shown or skimmed the oscillator algorithms, it is important for me to show this part in detail. It is the feature highlight of the Cobalt8. These two-oscillator groups are responsible for the sound character of the virtual analog synth. Everything else: ladder filter and effects can also be found in other synthesizers. The star is the oscillator core.

Cobalt8 Oscillator Algorithms 1-13

Let’s start with the first 14 oscillator algorithms that can be described as classic virtual analog shapes. You can find here classic waveform morphing, spread, PWM but also hard sync on saw, square & triangle. VA Crush brings more harmonics to the game by combining a classic waveform with a bit crusher.

  • VA Sweep, Crushed
  • Spread Saw, Square, Triangle, Square
  • Spread Square
  • PWM, Dual, Triangle/Square, Saw Eraser, Triangle Pinch
  • Hard Sync Saw, Square, Triangle

Cobalt8 Oscillator Algorithms 14-24

Further, we have other 11 algorithms that break definitely the virtual analog ice by bringing new forms of shaping into play. Here you can find Fractal, Window, Metal … All Waveshaper with which you can bend the waveforms and add plenty of harmonics. For many, this will no longer sound like an analog-style synthesizer but rather digital. In these, Cobalt8 goes beyond the known and gives the sound designer a lot of sound options.

  • Fractal Saw, Square, Triangle
  • Reverse Saw, Square, Triangle
  • Window Amp Sync
  • Metal Saw, Square, Triangle
  • Ring Mod Saw

Cobalt8 Osc Algorithms 25-34

In the next oscillator algorithms, Cobalt8 goes beyond the known and gives the sound designer a lot of sound options. Cobalt8 goes beyond the known and gives the sound designer a lot of sound options. Away from the thought of taking a classic waveform and shaping it with PWM or FM. Here, you can experience the full package of blatant, unusual waveshapers that gives you new timbres that are not known from analog/VA synths.

From more or less classic ring modulation up to experimental chaos shapers are available. The Cobalt8 can also sound like a West Coast synthesizer with no filter and thanks to its fold algorithm.

  • Ring Mod Square, Triangle, Triangle/Square, Saw/Square, Saw/Triangle
  • Chaos Saw, Square, Triangle
  • Fold Triangle
  • Filtered Noise

All in all, these oscillator algorithms show where Cobalt8’s sound journey is headed. No imitation of classic analog synthesizers but virtual analog reinvented. For many the sounds will sound too digital, others will be happy about the possibilities. Cobalt8 is different and that’s a good thing.

Modal Electronics COBALT8 is available now in a standard version (649€), Cobalt8M (579€), and Cobalt8X (749€) with 61 keys.

More information here: Modal Electronics

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