Last year Soundforce showed the SFC-5 hardware controller dedicated to controlling software emulations of the Prophet-5. I remember at the time feeling that it was a somehow strange and rather extravagant notion. Well, it must have been a success because Soundforce is releasing a bigger controller with a much narrower focus. The SFC-1 is designed expressly for the Repro-1 software emulation of the Sequential Pro-One by U-He.
It looks very much like a desktop version of the Pro-One but with the added extras that U-He has added to their Repro-1. It does that weird thing of mirroring software that’s mirroring hardware. But it’s important to remember that this is just a MIDI controller. It has 51 knobs and 47 switches readily mapped to the correct parameters onscreen. There’s a shift button so you are free to map everything a second time to other parameters. The SFC-1 covers the entire added effects section and even has some user knobs for things they haven’t thought of.
It’s made from bent metal and powder coated in black, it’s really very well made and will give the illusion of playing with a hardware synthesizer. The SFC-1 is a brilliant idea that will open up the engine of Repro-1 to far more accidental and intuitive sound generation. If you are a dedicated user of Repro-1 then it could be a very useful device to help realise its full potential.
But it also triggers some thoughts. If you’re a dedicated user of Repro-1 then you are used to using synthesizers in a software environment. You are used to and happy with that mouse interaction. Perhaps you’d use a MIDI controller to map into a few parameters that you’d like to play with or record manual automation for. Would you be looking to turn it into a hardware paradigm?
Then there’s the cost. The SFC-1 is €329 and Repro-1 is €149 so you’re looking at nearly €500 for a software emulation and controller. Repro-1 is NKS compatible and so you can get instant mapping on the Native Instrument S or A series controllers for less than the SFC-1. The other big alternative will be the forthcoming Behringer Pro-1 which will give you a full-on hardware tribute to the Pro-One in analogue circuitry for an assumed price of around €299.
So the SFC-1 is a beautifully realised controller solution for a single piece of software (of course you can map it to other things too) but I’m uncertain about its usefulness in light of other controllers and the alternative of owning a proper hardware synth. If it appeals to you then tell us about it in the comments.
- Soundforce website.