Output have been teasing us with hints at a brand new synth engine. It’s here, it’s called Substance, it’s all about the bass and it looks pretty amazing. Will the sound and usefulness live up to the design and aesthetic?
Good name. Output are good at names. Following on from REV, Signal and Exhale the word Substance definitely has a lot of bottom end to it. Output base their instruments on a set of samples and then throw a shed load of modulation at it. Substance appears to follow that path. The sound set is made up of acoustic and electric basses, brass sections, analogue synths and polysynths. Output then go to town shaping, morphing and modulating them into low frequency sonic textures.
There are three layers of sounds blended with effects, filters and modulation. Build in some arpeggiation, “Flux” and a bunch of tweakable macros and you have a very animated and controllable sound machine.
The interface is a thing of beauty. I love how the three sound sources are represented visually, it really is a treat. The effects, filters and other elements are all accessible via tabs at the top. The macros give 4 controls ringing the central bass wheel thingy. These are easily editable and assignable. Each layer just requires a click to bring up the sound source menu so you can very quickly compile your own combinations. The editor includes ADSR, pan, legato and monophonic controls along with stereo spread and tuning. In terms of effects you have distortion, reverb, compression, pitch and flux control, delay and chorus modulation. The rhythm editing comes straight from the their Movement plugin. With a wide range of modulation waveforms to choose from or step sequence options. The arpeggiator is pleasingly complex with some interesting pattern and timing options.
I’m a big fan of Output products. They are beautiful to use and can sound amazing, although the editing power can feel a little shallow. Sometimes there’s too much weird and interesting stuff going on to find sounds that can be readily used in a mix, so be prepared to tweak and take control. The development and depth of the editing in Substance is really good to see.
Substance is available now for $199 for Mac or Windows and requires Kontakt 5.5 or above to run.
More information available on the Output website.