Seaweed Audio has announced the release of Fathom Mono, the freeware monophonic version of the Fathom Pro ($35) modular wavetable synthesizer in VST plugin format for Windows-based digital audio workstations.
Fathom Mono is identical to the full Fathom Pro version feature-wise, except for its limited polyphony and the lack of ability to save edited waveforms. Everything else, entire synthesis engine included, is exactly the same as in the full product.
At its core, Fathom is a fully modular virtual synthesizer which allows the user to connect any two components together. The patching possibilities are only limited by the synth’s twenty available signal flow slots and, of course, the processing power of your computer. To help with monitoring the performance while creating a patch, Fathom shows a real-time CPU load readout in the upper-right corner of the GUI. The components are shown in a large panel in the middle of the interface with a handy real-time waveform display in the background. The patching of virtual cables is quite elegant, with a simple drag and drop workflow which doesn’t result in confusion and unnecessary clutter. The visual representation of the signal flow is also pulled off quite well, with easily identifiable modules and connections.
A modular synth ain’t no fun if you don’t have any interesting components to patch together, though. Thankfully, there’s tons of cool stuff to play around with in Fathom, from its five powerful oscillators to 30 different filter models, unlimited modulation sources, and custom waveform import (in WAV format). The oscillator types on offer are alias-free analog and additive, impulse and frequency pulse oscillators, and most importantly, the wavetable and wave draw oscillators which open almost limitless sound design possibilities. The filters are no less impressive, covering a range of common variants, along with the Butterworth filter and various analog-modeled filter types.
During my brief test of Fathom Mono, I was blown away by the sound quality of its engine, and the sheer fun of its patching workflow. The range of sounds that could be created with Fathom Mono is huge, although the free monophonic version will be mostly limited to leads, bass sounds, sound effects, and drones. I can only imagine the type of huge pads and other polyphonic sounds one could create in the full version. I won’t have to imagine for long, though, because Fathom Pro is now at the top of my synth purchase list.
The only slight drawback to this otherwise excellent virtual instrument, at least in the current version, is the user interface. Whereas it shines in some areas such as the excellent control layout and signal flow overview, I did notice quite a bit of lag while tweaking certain controls. The lag isn’t caused by the CPU, at least as far as I could figure out, because the CPU meter was constantly hovering around 10% during my test. The lag is most noticeable when adjusting the modulation parameters. Now, this could be limited to my DAW (MuLab), or my computer for some reason, so I’ll update this article if I find that the GUI performance is better on my other machine.
Apart from that, Fathom Mono (and even more so the full version) is an impressive synthesizer, and one of the hottest freeware releases so far this year. It’s the kind of synthesizer you simply need in your arsenal if you want to go super crazy with patching and sound design. Although it’s not the only powerful freeware modular synthesizer on the market, Fathom Mono gets seriously close to being the most powerful one. Currently only available in VST plugin format for Windows, the synth will also be compatible with Mac-based digital audio workstations in near future, as announced by its developers.
Fathom Mono is available for free download via Seaweed Audio (48.8 MB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin format for Windows).