Cableguys are a German outfit making a small but growing range of software plug-ins, the latest of which is Curve 2, an update to its original Curve synth. The name comes from the fact that it’s based heavily around creating and drawing waveforms into multiple displays within the synth, with some nifty advanced features thrown in for good measure. It’s a modest download and there’s a fully functional demo available (preset saving disabled) so you can try it out for yourself. It comes in 32- and 64-bit versions for Mac and PC, in VST, AU and RTAS formats. There’s no standalone version available at present.
After a simple installation you can get started. There are some great presets included and the developer has a setup whereby you can sign in with your email address and download thousands of user-generated presets from their servers, as well as upload your own. Doing it in-app is nice as it removes the need to mess about with preset files. There’s also preset voting to help you quickly identify popular patches.
The synth has aliasing-free oscillators with custom waveforms, noise generation and broad FM options. There are ten waveform slots available and each can be assigned to power and shape many of the various different sections of the synth. For example, you could assign wave 1 to two of the oscillators, wave 6 to the third, and other waves to any of the four LFO slots. The interface is simple but effective and eschews frills to give you a solid but businesslike view of the controls. Helpfully, a contextual info area at the bottom-right corner of the window provides information about parameters you mouse over, as well as the various ways in which you can use them.
There are three oscillator slots, each with pitch, detune and pan options, plus the ability to be sent on to the filter section. There you find two filter slots, each with ten selectable filter types and the usual controls. Below this are three envelopes: volume plus two assignable.
Moving right you get to the LFO sections, each, again, assignable to use a wave and with sync, retrigger or beat modes either fixed or matched to a beat. Pitch-bend can be set globally, as can quality, polyphony and volume.
At the base of the synth is a modulation matrix from where you can view and assign various parameters to each other. You can even get into more advanced stuff, such as assigning FM and glide parameters, among other things. Add unison voices to create a richer harmony and sound with the Unisono section. A Macros section enables the assigning of quick controls.
Ride The Wave
All of this is controlled by the waveform, and in the large display at the top you can select between any of the ten slots available. Into this window you can manually draw points as well as manipulate shapes, points and other characteristics. A range of quick tools underneath enable you to change the view as well as selecting various waveform presets and taking or reverting to snapshots of waveforms. The idea is that you change the sound and also create modulation patterns by drawing here and assigning waveforms to various synth sections. One waveform might affect a sound’s timbre, but another, its LFO setting and hence a rhythmic effect.
Here’s the thing. Although Curve 2 looks a little clinical and to describe the way it works makes it sound rather dry, it actually produces some amazing results. The presets are very good and though I’ll admit I didn’t test all 3,000 it wanted to download from the server, it’s adept at everything from thunderous dubstep bass wobbles to shimmering pads, advanced, complex sequences and eerie effects. These are very easy to morph and modify by simply drawing or tweaking in the waveform views, after checking what exactly is assigned to be controlled by that waveform, of course.
The results you get from Curve 2 are really very good and suitable for all kinds of electronic music, from 70s film soundtrack-style stuff right up to bass-heavy dubstep. The only minor things that could be added are some onboard effects – although you can add these in your DAW, it would be nice to be able to use them in conjunction with the waveforms to get even more creative. Tweaking is easy and the controls straightforward enough once you have grasped the pretty understandable way in which the synth works. For anyone making electronic music or scoring, it’s an excellent tool for your sonic arsenal.
+ Sounds excellent
+ Very intuitive and flexible synthesis control
+ Great presets and more online
+ Good for novice users as well as experts
+ Quickly create and modify usable patches
+ Suitable for all kinds of musical styles
– Some built-in effects would be nice
– … as would a standalone version
An interesting and powerful synth with great flexibility and some excellent sounds.