As the tools for music composition get more and more capable, so they can also get harder to use. But this latest update to Quadral, SoundIron's big Kontakt-hosted synth engine, aims to do the opposite and make the kinds of complex and evolving soundscapes used in film and game soundtracks accessible to everyone.
The concept behind Quadral 3 has to be reasonably simple to understand, then, and luckily it is! You get four layers of samples to mix with and a kind of virtual joystick to do the mixing. The X-Y pad in the middle of the screen allows you to move between the four quadrants that are situated around it.
Each of the quadrants can have a sample loaded in – and one of the updates to v3 allows you to load in your own sounds here – and you choose these by sample type, or mood. Then as you move the X-Y pad, the sample's relative levels adjust accordingly.
However, you can also use the X-Y pad to automate parameters and add rhythmic modulation effects, and the X-Y pad can also be assigned to MIDI CC values so you can control or automate its positions using your DAW or hardware controller.
Check out this video, as Soundiron's Craig Peters demonstrates the UI from around 3 minutes onwards.
Quadral 3 ships with more than 300 presets spread over six categories: ARP, leads, pads, bass, effects and plucks. From what we have seen, it really is just a case of using these – and heaps of automation to create lots of movement – or mixing and matching the supplied samples, or even your own imported ones, to create more of your own preset sounds.
A set of macros allows you to set up sweeping changes across several parameters simultaneously, and Quadral 3 also features its own cutomisable effects rack (below) for even more sonic flexibility.
Soundiron says: "Quadral 3 is a powerful sampled synthesis engine, ideal for film and game composers who need a fast workflow while maintaining their creative spark. Dive in to tweak and automate every parameter with total control, or just click Randomize to generate a virtually endless universe of fresh ideas."
Quadral 3 does seem like like an awful lot of synth engine power per dollar so we'll be getting the software in to review soon.
For more information head over to the Soundiron website.