Soonth releases Blocks, a fun and quirky modular synth plugin for macOS and Windows.
Blocks functions as an AU/VST plugin or as a standalone application.
Modular synthesis is the ultimate way to build your dream synth. It’s kind of like Lego for sound designers, piecing together modules (Oscillators, Modulators, Effects, Utilities, etc.) from various manufacturers and patching them however you see fit.
The trouble is that it can be a little intimidating for beginners, to say the least. To a beginner, a modular setup can look like a spaghetti junction of patch cables, akin to a 1940s telephone exchange.
There are some great free modular synth plugins, like ModulAir and VCV Rack, that also serve as educational tools. While Blocks isn’t going to replace advanced modular synth plugins, it takes keeping it simple to another level.
You start with a blank canvas of seven channels, each with seven module slots. Clicking on an empty slot will bring up the Block selection menu, including Sources, Modulators, and Effects.
You can add up to six Sources (oscillators), including Saw, Sine, Square, Triangle, and Noise. Once you have your Sources, you can start adding modulators (LFO, ADSR Envelope) and Effects. In the Effects list, you’ll find Filter, Reverb, Delay, and Mixer.
A source sits at the top of a channel, and the audio flows down, making it really easy to follow the signal path through your chosen effects.
When you click on an active block, you’ll see the individual controls for that block appear. To add modulations, it’s a simple drag and drop. For example, if you drag and drop LFO1 to OSC1, you’ll see a menu to select the parameter you want to modulate.
Active modulations are shown in the Modulations tab on the left and can be adjusted there.
You can also stretch Effects across multiple channels.
With Blocks, Soonth has pulled back the covers and left nothing but the essentials, and it’s a lot of fun. Everything is highly visual and intuitive, which is a fantastic way to highlight different module types and their functions.
It’s not feature-packed, but it’s quirky, great for learners, and fun for anyone – pretty cool.
Blocks is in its early beta stage, so stability isn’t where it needs to be yet, and I did experience a few random crashes in standalone mode. Soonth encourages users to reach out with any issues or suggestions.
Download: Soonth Blocks (4.39 MB download size, EXE installer, 64-bit VST/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)