Schwa Oligarc review

A striking multi-effects plug-in that sounds as good as it looks

  • $60
Oligarc puts multiple effects at your fingertips.

MusicRadar Verdict

This multi-effects monster is another sure-fire winner from Schwa.


  • +

    Excellent sound quality. The audio-triggered modulation is fun. Gorgeous GUIs. Individual effects plug-ins included. Super-sweet phaser. Sidechain capability.


  • -

    No S+H wave for the LFO.

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

Even if one doesn't care for hardware emulation in GUI design, there's no denying that the guys at Schwa are true artists. They've consistently produced beautifully turned-out plug-ins that look every bit as good as they sound.

Oligarc has the same sandblasted appearance as Olga, its stablemate, and also borrows its filter design. However, this multimode, resonant affair is but one of a quartet of effects in the package. There's also a dirty overdrive, a chorus and a phaser - all are supercharged and come with a powerful selection of modulation options. What's more, each effect is supplied as its own stompbox-style plug-in.

Oligarc is available for OS X and Windows and comes in both VST and AU formats.

In detail

Oligarc splits the incoming audio and shuttles it across two distinct signal paths: an audio path, and a control path. The latter is used to generate modulation signals in the form of an envelope follower and a gate-triggered ADSR.

Additional modulation is offered in the shape of a pair of LFOs. These can be synchronised to host tempo and offer five different waveforms, including square, ramp, triangle, sine and an analogue-inspired non-linear shape, such as that found on hardware phasers. Oddly, though, there's no sample-and-hold waveform.

The destination parameters for these mod sources are scattered all about Oligarc's pseudo-distressed metal interface. The LFO, ADSR and input controls encircle a centralised meter that reflects the movement of the envelope follower along with the gate activity.

The user is provided with a modicum of control over the input and gate responses. Once you've tailored the incoming audio as you'd like, you can then use it as a mod source. Keep in mind that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the dry audio signal, which can be pushed through unaffected should you wish it to be.

Both the envelope follower and gate-triggered ADSR can be switched between the main input and a sidechain input.


All of this modulation would be pointless if the individual effects didn't cut the mustard. We're happy to report that they perform brilliantly, though - the filter responds convincingly, and the chorus is satisfying. However, the phaser is the real standout feature here, and is bound to quickly become a firm favourite with many. While it doesn't quite achieve the swoosh of a classic phaser, it does add a resonant swirl that sounds as alive as any we've heard.

Schwa has a clear winner on its hands with this package. Though you might already have reasonable examples of each of the included processors, Oligarc rolls them into a complete, exciting entity that's all its own.

Listen to Oligarc in action:




Computer Music

Computer Music magazine is the world’s best selling publication dedicated solely to making great music with your Mac or PC computer. Each issue it brings its lucky readers the best in cutting-edge tutorials, need-to-know, expert software reviews and even all the tools you actually need to make great music today, courtesy of our legendary CM Plugin Suite.