Phase plant Review

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Phase plant overview

Type: Synth + Effects (VST)
Name: Phase Plant
Creator: KiloHearts
Version: 1.8.17
Available Versions: VST / AU / AAX
Pricing Options: 169$ - 499$ one-time payment / 9.99$ monthly subscription

TL;DR

Phase plant is an easy to use modular style software synthesizer. It has an animated interface and colored knobs that help understand what’s being manipulated and the modulations that happen.

If I need to carve a new sound in my creation, I will usually open Phae Plant first, just because results are achieved faster in it.
With that being said, it’s far from perfect for the advanced sound designer. I believe professional sound designers will demand a software synthesizer with more possibilities and less limitations.

Overall Rating:
4/5

REVIEW

It is an extremely versatile environment for sound creation, and depends on the price plan you choose, you will get more or less tools to work with respectively. The full price plan which is called “Kilohearts toolbox ultimate” includes: 3-Band EQ, Bitcrush, Chorus, Comb Filter, Compressor, Delay, Distortion, Dynamics, Ensemble, Filter, Flanger, Formant Filter, Frequency Shifter, Gain, Gate, Haas, Ladder Filter, Limiter, Nonlinear Filter, Phase Distortion, Phaser, Pitch Shifter, Resonator, Reverb, Reverser, Ring Mod, Stereo, Tape Stop, Trance Gate, Transient Shaper, Snapheap, Multipass, Disperser, Faturator, Carve EQ, Slice EQ. All these effects can be modulated if used in Phase Plant.

The sound generators offer many options to control the sound, you will get: classic analog (sine, saw, triangle, square) generator, wavetables, noise generator and sample player. Each generator has internal parameters to control the sound which include: unison controllers, sync, level, frequency shift, phase shift, pitch shift, detune, stereo width, slope (for noise types), blend, randomness, loop controls (for sampler types).

Phase plant overview

Two more impressive and very useful tools that you get with Phase Plant are Snapheap & Multipass. Both are used as effects on your audio or instrument tracks and will give you the ability to easily create your own effect processes and modulations. Cubase isn’t the best for creating automatic modulations for effect parameters, to overcome this shortage, I usually use Snapheap & Multipass. They are easy to use and can involve all the KiloHearts effects that you bought in your current plan.

Snapheap is free and can be downloaded on the official website. It comes with over 100 presets that will work even if you don’t own the effects (KiloHearts calls effects modules “Snapins”). Some of the Snapins are free too and can be downloaded in this link. To enjoy the unlimited possibilities of all the paid effects, you will have to purchase the effect (Snapins) bundle.

The modulation sources of Snapheap and Multipass include macros, 2 LFOs, 2 envelopes, pitch and midi.

Snapheap will apply the effects on the whole sound source and Multipass is like the multiband version where you can choose to apply certain effects on different frequencies, it gives you the possibility to divide the sound into 5 frequency bands.

Snapheap overview Multipass overview

 

What are Phase Plant’s strengths?

Because of its well-built interface, you can get good results in short times. The animations make it easy to realize how the sound is being modulated, the colored knobs are easy to see on the interface and show how the modules interact with each other. The interface is clean and there are not too many unnecessary design elements, which makes it very easy to focus on what’s really matters. The rest of the pros are listed below.

Is it the perfect synth?

Depends for whom… maybe for beginners and for some intermediate sound designers.

Advanced sound designers will find it a bit restrictive. Although it has many incredible tools, it still lacks possibilities that make great synthesizers so powerful. For example, the glide (portamento) is a global effect, so there is no possibility to apply it only to a certain voice or group of voices specifically… The rest of the cons are listed below.

And nevertheless, it’s still my go-to synthesizer for many of the sounds in my productions.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easier to use than most of the other soft synths I tried.
  • Clean interface that helps understand the connections between modules and get the idea of how existing presets work.
  • I could stack 27 analog sound generators into 3 groups inside one instance of Phase Plant, so it is limited, but 27 sound generators are more than enough for most uses and it’s certainly much more than what other soft synths on the market are offering.
  • The wavetable editor is easy to use and includes useful and helpful features.
  • The bundle of effects that comes with the most expensive version opens many possibilities to synthesize new sounds.
  • Its limitation is also its strength. The LFOs can actually create some pretty interesting rhythmic results because it stretches the pattern into a specific time frame. This gives you the possibility to create complex Poly-Rhythms quite easily.
  • It comes with Snapheap and Multipass which can be inserted as effects in your DAW and create impressive modulations and processes on audio and instrument tracks.

Cons

  • No built-in option to create Arpeggiators. Hand drawn LFOs are a possible workaround, but then you will have the problem of the notes’ lengths stretching when you change speeds.
  • There is no option within the LFO to create Poly-Metered sequence, and since there are no Arpeggiators, Poly-Meter is hard to achieve in Phase-Plant. You can use the midi editor of your DAW to build Poly-Meter parts, but then you won’t have real-time control over polyphonic, out of sync parts and other real-time capabilities of the synth.
  • No ability to use scales fixed LFOs, it can be achieved by hand drawn LFO but it can’t stay on the scale if you transpose.
  • Glide (portamento) is global, which means you can’t assign different glide settings to different sound generators within one synth instance.
  • There is no way to modulate individual harmonics in additive synthesis.
  • The release envelope curve can bend in but not out, again, it’s limiting for sound design.
    Release envelope limitation
  • The attack envelope curve, on the other hand, can bend in and out, but its maximum bending doesn’t go all the way at 100% as it should, which is not a huge problem, but it limits the creative applications you can use it for.
    Attack envelop limitation
  • If you want the full package of effects, you will have to buy the most expensive bundle – which is quite expensive. At the time of writing this article it’s 499$.
  • To me Phase Plant is somewhat heavy on CPU in some presets, especially ones that use the sound generator unison together with the global unison which will multiply any existing unison. For example, if you use sound generator with unison x4 plus global unison x4, you will actually get a x16 unison.

 

Summary

So, why is Phase Plant my go-to synthesizer? Because it’s easy to create fast and accurate results with it.

It’s true that it lacks a lot of important tools, it’s disappointing in a way because this synth has the potential to be the king of all soft synths, but there is a reason that makes me come back to it every time: I don’t need all the options to create great sounds.

It includes so many Snapins to play with and modulate that even with the limitations that come with it, it is still a wide sound creating playground for many applications. One such effect is the Disperser, which can help immensely in creating hard hitting kicks without raising the volume.

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