- Rod Papen wants the Go2 to be your new workhorse softsynth.
- Rob Papen plug-ins are known for their ability to do one thing and do it well. But their synths can be daunting in their complexity, so the company has endeavoured to create something a little easier to delve into. There was a gap in their stable for a cheap, simple plug-in with all of its controls accessible at once. With Go2, Papen is reaching for that prized workhorse position in your VST folder.
It doesn't take long to realise that Go2 is a lot more involved than it first appears. Despite technically only having one oscillator, there's a hell of a lot you can do with it. For example, you could turn it into a quasi-second oscillator. Using the Spread knob, it's possible to stack an additional, detuned waveform atop the first. Then you can add a third oscillator one octave below the original with the Sub knob. Turning it to the right gets you a square wave, and to the left, a sine. Already, one oscillator has become three. The main oscillator has two waveforms, allowing you to morph between them in a few different ways. The waveforms themselves range from the classics (sine, saw, triangle) to more complicated wavetables lying under the banner of Spectrum Waves. A number of these are based on real-world sounds, such as glass, vocals and organs. You can blend between the two with the dedicated Morph Amount slider, or, to its right, an XY pad. It's also possible to play the two approaches off of one another by combining both methods simultaneously.
The Morph Amount slider has seven different modes that define how the two waveforms are combined. This is perhaps Go2's key feature. Mix blends between the waveforms using volume, much like a crossfader, while Morph combines their harmonics on a per-partial basis. Ring uses Wave B to ring modulate Wave A. Similarly, FM uses Wave B to modulate the frequency of Wave A. Waveshape (which the manual makes no mention of for some reason) and Inter mix the wavetables together in an additive, FM-type way. Finally, there's Range, which calculates the intermediate waveforms between the two chosen ones. I couldn't quite figure out how this one works, but it's certainly the most erratic of the bunch, flicking violently back and forth between seemingly random interpretations of the waveforms. Below these are three knobs that define the waveform's horizontal symmetry along its X-axis, generating an effect that's more or less like pulse width modulation. The SYM control skews the waveform's bias left or right, while the Speed and SMOD knobs define the rate and amount of the modulation.
The XY pad is closely linked to the Morph section. It can modulate almost all of Go2's parameters, including the oscillator's waveform morphing, which you can dial in via the two X-Morph and Y-Morph knobs on the pad's left side. The four XY Free knobs to the right control the modulation amount of any parameter you choose. What's nice is that you can define a destination just by drag-and-dropping from the parameter you wish to control directly onto the XY Free knobs. I found this much more intuitive than drilling down through the various pop-up menus.
The pad itself has a couple of different play modes. You can control the position of the playhead on the XY axis in real time, either by dragging it around with the mouse or assigning it to a MIDI controller, or record the playhead's movements and play it back. The path is highly editable after the fact, too. Each of the path's points (up to 128 in total) can be added, removed or moved around freely, and right-clicking the pad accesses a dedicated menu offering a multitude of options for tweaking or completely reconfiguring the modulation path. The path can then be played back once per note, looped, set to run freely at the speed it was recorded or synced to the DAW's tempo.
If you're after even more morphing modulation, a mod matrix allows any parameter to be controlled by a multitude of sources. External sources are available, but if you want to keep things in the box, you'll need to use the LFOs and envelopes dotted around the interface. Besides the filter and amp envelopes and the LFO that controls the speed of the oscillator's symmetry modulation, there's also a free LFO and envelope, which exist purely for your modulating needs. Parameters can be dragged and dropped onto the mod matrix in the same way as the XY Free knobs, although can't drop onto specific slots—instead, they're added to the next available slot.
An Arpeggiator/Sequencer section sits next to the modulation matrix. Something of a Rob Papen signature, it's incredibly powerful, enjoyable to use and does a great job of bringing out the latent musicality in even the most intense of patches. What's new to Go2, however, is the addition of a Chord function. Expanding on a typical Unison mode by tuning each additional voice to create harmonies, it allows you to play chords with a single key. This has been incorporated into the sequencer in such a way that it's possible for each of the 16 steps to play a different chord.
There are highlights among the more standard features, too. The filter and amp envelopes can be set to either exponential or linear modes. The former tends to work well for sharper, more percussive sounds, while linear is particularly nice for pads. There's an optional Drift mode, which replicates the tuning abnormalities in older, analogue oscillators. The FX section is also solid, running in serial with a dedicated Chorus up top and the option of a Flanger/Phaser or Delay/Reverb down the line. It's a shame you have to make a choice between the latter two, but the fact that all FX parameters can be modulated partly makes up for it. Additionally, the filter's Comb option is particularly gnarly.
All in all, Go2 is hard to fault. Rob Papen appears to have achieved what they set out to do: create a cheap, workhorse of a synth with enough bite and depth to keep you entertained in the long term while not being too complex. The extensive morphing and modulation system is enjoyable and simple to use, meaning it's just as easy to dig into unique, wild-sounding synthesis as it is to knock up the most basic of patches. Its price, sound quality, versatility and ease of use mean that Go2 might just live up to its name.
Ease of use: 4.2