There are plenty of adequate resonator effect plugins out there, most of which offer ugly user interfaces and fidgety controls. Often, they are highly CPU intensive, insanely complex and/or extremely expensive.
Fortunately, France-based developer Tritik has somehow managed to provide a far more intuitive and affordable solution, not just financially but also computationally. The result is Moodal: a bank of up to 1,000 resonant filters for modeling physical objects and acoustic spaces, sporting a fully scalable high-resolution GUI with a modest (albeit very powerful) assortment of controls and a feather-light CPU payload, which allows for multiple instances of Moodal loaded up in your digital audio workstation’s mixer.
A preset browser at the very top of the user interface offers some useful options for managing your presets, including a folder-based browser as well as a drop-down menu for a workflow efficient browsing experience. A “Freeze” option provides a list of parameters with check-boxes enabling you to specify controls that will not change when loading presets, which allows you to swap out settings when designing your own presets.
(Even though there’s not yet a manual at this point, tooltips appear in a status bar at the very bottom of the user interface providing a brief description of any given parameter as you hover your mouse cursor over it.)
There are three separate frequency curves, each with adjustable nodes for editing the “Modal Density”, the “Decay Times” and the “Gains” of each resonant frequency. There’s a vertical and horizontal axis for each curve; in all three, the horizontal axis will determine the frequency at which the modal attenuation will occur. Within the “Modal Density” section, the vertical axis will determine the number of resonators that will (likely) be tuned to the specified frequency. Within the “Decay Times” section, the vertical axis will determine the decay time of each resonator along the frequency spectrum. Within the “Gains” section, the vertical axis will determine the resonator output by a logarithmic amplitude scale in dB.
There are just under a dozen remaining controls that are more or less self-explanatory with exception of the “Spectral Constraint” parameters underneath the “Number Of Resonators” slider that performs an obvious function. With the “Spectral Constraint” button switched on, the frequency-dependent “probability function” will be “constrained” in accordance with the “F0” knob, which will determine the fundamental frequency. With “Inharmonicity” and “Relaxation” sliders set to a very small value, the resonators will iterate harmonic partials in relation to the root frequency, but as you increase the “Inharmonicity” value, harmonics spread out like warm butter on dry toast, producing a very dissonant tonality. The “Relaxation” slider acts almost like a spectral cross-fade between non-constrained frequencies and harmonics imposed by the constraint, even though relaxed frequencies are restricted to the “F0” value when “Spectral Constraint” is switched on.
There are up to ten seconds of “Master Decay”, which allows for immense sounds and huge reverberant psychoacoustic spaces, and a binary low/high-pass “Filter” that even further facilitates workflow efficiency. The “Width” fader will equally distribute the resonator output from left to right throughout the stereo field. The “Dry” and “Wet” faders are no big mystery. Seriously, there’s little need for a user manual, even though some parameters could benefit from more documentation. The control surface does the rest of the talking.
There have been some requests (on the KVR forum) for a modulation section, which I agree would be very interesting, even though modulating parameters specific to the resonance engine would be no small task. I would love to see real-time pitch tracking implemented somehow, preferably polyphonic pitch tracking. However, that would be no small task either, since you would probably have to specify a key range and divide the resonators up for each available note. I’m sure that would be a huge undertaking, but the sound is so crystal clear, I’ll confess I have a burning desire to use Moodal as an instrument, as well as an effect.
On the whole, Moodal is a must-have for fans of physical modeling synthesis or anyone who wants to push the boundaries of modern sound design. The combined resonators and frequency-dependent parameters allow for utterly pristine bells, sparkling chimes, otherworldly drones, and dense acoustic spaces.
More info: Moodal (official product page)