We knew something was coming and when it’s Analogue Solutions you know to expect something fat and full of fruitiness. Impulse Command doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s a ferocious battleship of a synthesizer console.
It’s an all analogue affair except for the digital effects at the end of the chain. There are 2 detunable VCOs with saw, triangle, pulse and noise waveforms and a sub oscillator. There are 2 LFOs and 2 separate 24dB low pass filters. It has 4 VCAs, 2 after the filters and 2 to dynamically affect the Sub and VCO2. And there are 2 ADSR envelopes. You can a choice of modulation for aspects of the filter and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes shenanigans going on that brings all sorts of discovery aspects to the sound. And failing that there are patch points for creating your own modulation routing.
Much of the power of Impulse Command comes from the dynamics and the way it spreads itself about in the stereo field. Dynamics can be applied all over the place from MIDI velocity or from the envelopes. This is a desktop analogue semi-modular synth that actively encourages you to plug your MIDI keyboard in to find extra interesting features. You can use it on the filter, you can use it on the sub-oscillator or VCO2 level. There’s no mixer as such instead the blending of the oscillators comes from the use of velocity and envelopes and so you find yourself pushed into experimentation to wrestle out the right blend of tones – that’s where the fun begins.
The two filters are split left and right and create this amazingly animated sound across your speakers. Again MIDI velocity can come into play and there’s a fabulous “Aggro” knob that dials in some cross modulation.
The digital effects contain 8 different possibilities in both mono and stereo with 2 controllable parameters and range from reverb, to delay, flanging and bit crushing.
There are two sequencers inside the Impulse Command. There’s a 16-step analogue sequencer run by the 16 knobs at the bottom. This is primarily for modulation and you can route it to the filters but you can also route it out the patch bay to plug it into other things like pitch. You can also send it to the mysterious “Patch” section. The Patch section lets you select between 8 different internal patches that combine the VCO2 and filter in different ways – there’s no more explanation than that, you’ll just have to experiment.
The MIDI sequencer is like that on their Treadstone synth. It’s in constant record and captures the last 16 notes you played and directs them to the pitch of the oscillator.
A handy “Reorder” knob messes about with the direction and order of the recorded steps on both sequencers.
Impulse Command is an imposing synthesizer on the desktop with an astonishingly dynamic and explosive sound. Light the blue touch paper and stand well back.