Weren’t really expecting Nektar the makers of MIDI controllers to come up with a virtual synthesizer until we stumbled upon it in an Instagram yesterday. Well now it’s official, it’s BOLT and it’s all about harmonics.
They are calling them Harmonic Oscillators where the sounds overtone structure is generated inside the oscillator. It feels a lot like Additive Synthesis but where you have a Roll-Off and Harmonics knob to change the shape and intensity of the sound. This means that you don’t really need any filters to subtract harmonics because that’s dealt with inside the oscillator already. So that’s why there’s no filter. Following this so far? Along with Odd harmonic and inverse buttons there’s a button called Deep which pushes the waveshapes to resemble saw and square waves. With an ADSR envelope built into the oscillator section you have everything you need to build your sound. Add in a pair of sub-oscillators and up to 16 voice polyphony and you’re looking at a potentially huge and rich sound.
It’s an interesting way of doing it and certainly brings a refreshing take on the usual subtractive synthesis.
On the modulation side there are 3 LFOs and a Modulation Envelope Generator all of which can be applied to whatever parameter you want and even into each other. The LFOs go well up into the audible range for a bit of clangy FM. There are 13 different waveforms including random and stepped and they can all be synced (or not) generating all sorts of rhythms.
At the end of the chain is an effects section featuring all the usual suspects.
BOLT looks great, the interface is clear if not particularly revolutionary and I’m liking the big display and knob in the middle which sadly only controls volume. It looks like it should be controlling something really creative. It’s great to have a different approach to sound creation because that can really trigger some further investigation and the possibility of roads less travelled by.
At the moment BOLT is $69 for MacOS or Windows and you can download a free demo to try it out.