Featured Spitfire Audio BT Phobos by Synth Guru
Product: BT Phobos
Developer: Spitfire Audio
Formats: AAX, Audio Unit, VST/VST3 for OS X 10.10+ and Win 7+.
DRM: Spitfire Library Manager required for install and for authorizing the product
Demo: Not available
Spitfire Audio presents BT Phobos, an extremely powerful and one of a kind polyconvolution synthesizer conceived by renowned composer and electronic music pioneer BT (The Fast and The Furious, Monster, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). Together, BT and Spitfire Audio joined forces to develop and produce this revolutionary form of synthesis which utilizes up to four sampled sound sources and up to three Convolers consisting of Impulse Response (IR) sources. This synth comes fully loaded with over 20GB of BT’s own personal libraries. Phobos combines rhythmic sounds with the tonality of an impulse response, thus creating the concept of “Polyconvolution.” Not only that, Phobos plays these sounds polyphonically through a full-fledged and powerful synth engine. The results are incredible, rich evolving sound textures that are oozing with percussion beats and micro rhythms. Enter into this amazing realm and come explore some of the most captivating drones, pads, melodic and harmonic sounds your mind has only dreamed of. Inside Spitfire BT Phobos there are over 90 sextillion sound combinations and each is fully customizable and unique. Indeed 90,471,680,541,391,700,000, is a very large and colossal number!
Sound Sources: The user interface looks very futuristic and something that you might find on the console of a Sci-Fi movie starship. Across the top there are four slots available for the sound sources. Each source has individual ADSR controls, High Pass filter, and adjustable Wet and Dry parameters. In addition, there’s a Mappings section that’s essentially a modulation matrix for the sounds. Here modulations can be as complex as you want them to be. There are a number of presets such as Velocity-Main Level, Bend-Pitch Shift, Envelope – LPF Cutoff, just to name a few. There’s so much more including Bias & Scale, Global Bend, Global Pressure, the vast list of options and possible combinations are truly astounding. There’s a graphic curve that can be adjusted to further customize the sound. Each sound source also has a random feature that randomly changes the Wave and Parameters including the ADSR envelope, HPF, and Wet Dry parameters. Sound sources can be muted and turned back on as needed. Sound sources also have advanced controls for adjusting Pan & Level, Env, Curve, Start Offset, Pitch & Speed, Simple and HQ Interpolation, Time/Pitch, various Filters, Gates Low & High, Mappings, and Randomize.
Convolers: There’s three Impulse Response (IR) sources that can be loaded as W, X, and Y. The signal from the sound sources can be routed via the X,Y,Z IR’s to create some phenomenal rhythmic, evolving sound textures as well as a multitude of other incredible sounds. Just like the sound sources, the IR slots have a Mappings, Wave, Params, Mute, and HPF but in addition, they also have Pitch and Output controls.
Convolution Triangle: At the centerpiece of the BT Phobos user interface, is the Convolution triangle. Inside the Convolution triangle lie four smaller triangles or pucks that represent the four main sound sources. Each puck can be moved freely within the triangle and can affect the strength of the Impulse Response. You can think of Convolution triangle as a type of mixer. As the sound source pucks are moved, they cause the edges of the triangle to vibrate denoting the strength of the sound in terms of the proximity to the IR source. Placing the puck in the center of the Convolution triangle equally distributes the strength of the sound source across the X, Y, Z Convolers. Each Convoler has advanced controls for adjusting Pan & Levels, IR Env, Hold 1 & 2, Curve and V-Release.
Factory Presets: The factory presets were designed by BT, Christian Henson, Paul Thomson, Richard Devine, and Spitfire Audio among others. There’s over 700 presets at your disposal or you can craft your own by combining up to four of the 2,300 available sound sources with up to three Impulse Response IR’s. Sounds can be selected by category i.e. Atmos, Bass, Ethereal, Evolving, Loop, Multi Pitch, Orchestral, Pad, Percussion, Pulsing, and many more. Sounds can be further associated by Any Key (Notes: C, C#, E, Eb) and so on, by tempo, by loops, or tonality. The overall Pitch and Gain of both the sound sources and IR’s can be globally adjusted by controls on the main panel of the user interface. Lastly, Sound sources can also be used as IR’s.
Global LFO Controls: There are four LFO’s that can be enabled, each has assignable Tri/Saw, Pulse/Sq, Random, and Sine waves. Additional controls include Init phase, Rate Scale, Dotted, Triplet, and a slew of Resync options.
Keyboard Range: At the bottom of the interface there’s a horizontal grid for all four sound sources, and all three Convolers. These can be mapped across the keyboard so that they are triggered only when selected keys are pressed, giving the user an even greater degree of control over the sound. Here you’ll also find the traditional synth Mod and Pitch wheels.
Sound Quality: Overall this is an awesome sounding plugin and the quality of the sound is truly stellar. I have a large collection of soft synths including several Granular synthesizers and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that nothing compares to the magnitude of Spitfire BT Phobos! This is definitely the real deal when it comes to Polyconvolution Synthesis. The scope and depth of this plugin reminds me of the rabbit hole in the movie, The Matrix. It’s incredibly vast and reaches deeply into the imagination and is undoubtedly a great choice for Polyconvolution style sounds requiring evolving textures, rhythmic, percussive pulses, and amazing morphing atmospheres. Words cannot describe the mind shattering sounds that can be created with this plugin. There’s no demo available for this product but you can hear sound demos at the Spitfire Audio website. With over 90 sextillion sound combinations, the possibilities seem truly endless.
Ease of use: At first, the interface can seem a bit overwhelming but after using the plugin on a regular basis, one becomes very familiar with the layout including the advanced controls. It’s actually pretty straight forward and very well designed. It pays to read the manual though, which by the way is excellent in explaining how everything works and how everything falls into place. I love the ultra-futuristic design of the interface, simply brilliant!
Features: A great set of features that has very powerful controls to custom tailor your sounds to perfection. It’s like having all the condiments of a master chef at your disposal for creating a delicious masterpiece only that the masterpiece is this particular case is a wonderful Polyconvolution synth, yum! The amount of available controls is simply earth shattering. To get an idea, be sure to check out the BT-Phobos signal flow chart. I’ve attached a screenshot below but you can see a larger version at the Spitfire Audio website to appreciate it in greater detail. Despite all the positive notes regarding this plugin there are a few cons: The user interface looks tiny on wide screen, high resolution monitors. I have heard a number of complaints about the size of the interface. I find myself having difficulty reading the labels on the advanced controls due to the small/unreadable text. The way to temporarily get around this, is by looking at the interface pictures contained in the manual, which are large and legible. If a resizable UI is developed to match the size of the pics in the manual, I’d say we have perfection and a win win for everyone. I’d highly recommend a resizable option in the future, perhaps as an update so that users can get the most out of this monumental plugin. The other cons are that sound sources and Impulse Response (I.R.’s) cannot be imported and you cannot save presets. I can confidently say however, that these cons are by no means show stoppers. I still highly recommend it.
Bang for buck: Great value for this one of a kind and revolutionary polyconvulution synthesizer plugin. You won’t find another one like it on the market at this time, anywhere!
Overall: This is an outstanding and I dare say, epic plugin for creating deep ethereal textures that will invoke altered states of mind and send you and the listener into a dreamy wonderland of mythical type sounds. As I used Spitfire BT Phobos, I felt instantly transported into another dimension full of captivating drones, enchanting and beckoning ambient textures. BT Phobos is oozing with both melodic and harmonic sounds that are full of rhythmic elements! Highly recommended for mixing engineers, film scoring, composers, musicians and anyone else wanting to delve into the realm of polyconvolution synthesis.
Click below for full resolution (1080p) screenshots.