Steinberg, along with composer and producer Msixty7, has released a rather sumptuous polyphonic synthesizer for Cubase’s instrument behemoth HALion. They say it’s an emulation of a classic and very famous 80’s analogue synthesizer but seem reluctant to say which one exactly. It’s usually either the OB-Xa or the Prophet 5 and this definitely has an Oberheim feel to it.
With a name like that you would immediately imagine there’s some kind of Bob Marley tie-in but this seems to be about big pads, stabs and synth sounds rather than anything particularly dub inspired – so we just have to go with it.
Steinberg says that RAST-A models “the musical influence of individual hardware components on sound”. They also talk about oscillator drift due to temperature and the accuracy of their modelled analogue filter. This is not some kind of sample pack based instrument, this is good and deep virtual analogue synthesis.
The GUI editor looks pretty neat with all the familiar style buttons and knobs you’d find on the Oberheim synths. There are 6 voices to play with and each can be tuned and shaped differently. The two oscillators per voice can be set to saw or pulse waveforms with sync and pulse width modulation. Separate ADSR envelopes for the filter and the amplifier and a simple LFO patching matrix makes it look very very simple to use. In fact, it really feels like it’s been designed for simplicity and ease of use.
There are also some deeper settings hidden away behind the virtual front panel to offer things like per-voice portamento, detuning and drifting options.
A couple of slightly unusual things are that you can change the colour of the GUI (woo!) and apparently having “fewer presets” is now a key feature.
I like it a lot. The sound is pretty amazing for a virtual instrument and the front panel is refreshingly straight forward. It may not have enough tinkering for people into deeper synthesis but you can’t deny the loveliness of those sounds. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
RAST-A is available now for Windows and MacOS for £51. You’ll need to have HALion 6.2 (£300), HALion Sonic 3.2 (£214) or HALion Sonic SE 3.2 (included with Cubase 9.5 and above) to run it.
Updated compatibility information: RAST-A also supports AU and AAX and is compatible with the freely downloadable HALion Sonic SE, so you don’t need Cubase or full HALion version to run it.
- RAST-A webpage.