Imaginando has announced the release of DRC – Polyphonic Synthesizer ($25 during the promo period), a polyphonic virtual analog synthesizer which works exactly the same on PC, Mac, iOS and Android (VST plugin version for PC and Mac is currently in beta).
First off, let’s go through some of the basic features on offer in DRC. This is a dual oscillator polyphonic synthesizer with additional sub and noise generators. It features a multi-mode filter (low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and notch-pass modes), two ADSR envelopes, two LFOs, an arpeggiator, and a mixer section with a ring modulator and three built-in effects (chorus, reverb and delay).
The user interface on the desktop version looks nice and clean, although it might take a bit of time getting used to. It is a single panel GUI with multiple tabs in each section. Selecting a different tab shows additional control parameters, so it might take some time to remember where each control is located. On a phone, the interface is as good as it can be, with several control panels and big, easy to use knobs. Same goes for the tablet interface, which is pure joy to use.
The settings menu provides some very useful performance controls, both for desktop and mobile users. You get modulation assignment sliders for the modulation wheel and after touch (they can be routed to the filter, LFO rate, oscillator pitch, etc.), as well as scale settings for the built-in keyboard (useful stuff when you’re on a phone or tablet). It is also possible to adjust the number of voices, choose active MIDI devices, and even change the colors of the GUI.
Sound-wise, I’m quite impressed with DRC. This is not your bread and butter VA synthesizer. The filters sound very raw, there’s definitely some saturation happening under the hood, and the instrument has a really nice character overall.
The thing that really impressed me, though, are some of the minor details and awesome little features that you very rarely find in synths. For example, the filter can be modulated by the second oscillator, resulting in some extremely fast filter movement that can be used to achieve some of those classic FM sounds. Another brilliant touch is the decay setting in the reverb module which causes the reverb to go into feedback when pushed to 100%. You need to be careful when doing this, of course, but it can sound amazing. It goes to show that someone really worked hard on making this instrument unique and fun to work with.
The promo video which you can check out below features an interview with the developers and they say one particular thing that I couldn’t agree more with. They say that one of the secrets behind all of those classic synthesizers that we love (timeless legends like Minimoog, JUNO, etc.) is the fact that their control parameters are calibrated in such a way that they simply can’t sound bad. And this is so very true!
I’ve often used virtual instruments which sound nice generally speaking, but you really have to work hard in order to find that filter resonance sweet spot, a good position to get a snappy decay, etc. By limiting the parameters so that you cover only the best sounding range, you make the instrument much more approachable and straightforward to use (although you do also limit its sonic palette, but it’s a choice you have to make). Anyways, the development team at Imaginado chose to mimic this behavior in DRC and I really like how it worked out.
But the coolest thing about DRC, without any doubt whatsoever, is the portability. You get exactly the same functionality on all major desktop and mobile platforms. What this means is that you can play around on your Android or iOS phone, come up with a great sounding patch that you absolutely love, save it as a preset and then load it in the desktop version of DRC. Amazing stuff!
It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited about an up and coming virtual instrument. Sure, it’s just a virtual analog synthesizer, but the fact that it sounds so nice and that it works across all devices is just so damn cool. I can’t wait to see where this project goes in the future. Major props to Imaginando for this release.
The plugin is free to use for the first seven days, after which you’ll need to purchase it if you want to continue using it. During the 30-day promo period, the price for all versions is reduced by 50%. On iOS/Android it is now $15 and it will be $30 after the initial 30 days. The VST version will cost $25 after the first seven days and $50 after the first 30 days.
DRC – Polyphonic Synthesizer (trial version) is available for free download via Imaginando (9.74 MB download size, ZIP archive containing EXE installer, 32-bit VST plugin format for Windows, 64-bit VST plugin format for Mac OS, also available as an Android & iOS app).