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15 March 2013

ROB PAPEN EDM SYNTH BUNDLE | £169 / €199 / $239
ROB PAPEN URBAN SYNTH BUNDLE | £169 / €199 / $239

Featuring the Rob Papen dance posse…
Predator synthesizer
Punch drum synth
Blade additive synth
SubBoomBass bass synth

Music journalists are fond of two things: Dreaming up musical genres to use as shorthand when hypothesising that modern music is going down the toilet; and bemoaning music's actual slide down the pan. The deaths of pop, rock, nu oom-pah and more have been reported frequently and widely for years, usually when a journo has taken to a new act that he or she is priming to be the saviour of music itself.

Pick up a music rag, read the writers' angst-ridden reports and meet another bunch of young hopefuls armed with a red guitar and a good PR, all the while attempting to decipher their place in the genre-sphere as defined by hand-wringing journos. By comparison, music-technology journalism is a doddle.

All you need are the facts about a product, some hands-on time, a view on potential and an idea of whether or not the price tag is justified (vast knowledge of music tech and the ability to do writing may also come in handy). As to what the end user gets up to with the gear, who knows? However, it's a fair bet that a software instrument will end up being used to make dance-friendly timbres somewhere along the line.

Dance music has been with us since before people figured out how to bang sticks together (they probably started with hands, or the bones of enemy tribespeople). Such is human nature, the music has to be broken down by genre and sub-genre, partly for the convenience of music commentators, but mainly to sate tribal instincts - the need to form gangs and adhere to their mores is strong, particularly among the hormonally supercharged young with the urge to bang bones.

And that's as good a way as any to lead into a view on a pair of limited-edition synth bundles from Rob Papen: Urban and EDM, available as serial downloads from UK/Euro distributor Time+Space or from Rob's own site.

Aside from their names, the only difference between the bundles is that one includes Predator, Punch and Blade (EDM) while the other swaps Blade for SubBoomBass (Urban). It's clear that EDM covers dance music made with electronic devices, while urban refers to matters of, or relating to, a city. Yep, that's pretty clear.

The important stuff is that the bundles are limited-edition (a run of 100 each, according to Time+Space), they can save you a bundle on buying the instruments separately and that the bundle offer ends March 31.

So, if interested, do you want Blade or SubBoomBass as the third instrument? As with news of the death of music, all four products have been reported on widely (and somewhat more positively), so let's summarise each bundle component, examine the tweaks made since launch and absorb healthy dollops of AV so you can see and hear them in action...

ROB PAPEN PREDATOR 1.6.3d | £109 / €149 / $179


ROB PAPEN PUNCH 1.0.3e | £109 / €149 / $179


ROB PAPEN BLADE 1.0.1b | £89* / €119 / $139


ROB PAPEN SUBBOOMBASS 1.1.2b | £75/ €99 / $119


And so to making a decision. Which bundle is right for your discotheque diversions? You'll have noticed an asterisk by the price given for Blade, the meaning of which is: *Time+Space has knocked £10 off the usual sale price of this synth.

Both bundles have roughly the same monetary value, if you were to buy the instruments separately, and both offer a saving of approximately 45 per cent of the same. The choice comes down to whether you want the additive synthesis of Blade or the heavy bottom of SubBoomBass.

All products are for Mac and PC, as VST/AU/RTAS (where applicable) and are 32/64-bit compatible depending on the capabilities of your DAW and host operating system. They're also stuffed to the gills with professional-sounding presets, but none operate standalone. Demos of each are available from Rob Papen's website, but whichever choice you may make, make it snappy. EDM and Urban are limited-edition and time-limited bundles. When they're gone… They won't be there any more.