I recently was approached with an opportunity to review a dope product in the Rob Papen series of plugins, Predator. From his website, Papen describes his products as “powerful instruments and plug-ins that bring together innovative design, uncompromising sound quality, and musical, production-grade presets to make your tracks shine.” I couldn’t agree more. Here’s why…
I’ll get into some of the things I disliked about the plugin in a sec, but for starters, this Predator sounds incredible. I chose to review the product in it’s AU/VST form for two reasons:
- Reason STILL doesn’t offer AU/VST hosting or Rewire Master (more on this later)
- The Rack Extension version of this plugin is graphically cluttered and not user friendly at first glance
My first impressions were that the AU/VST version I pulled up in LogicX is much more thought out and organized. I was pleased to see hundreds of presets and tons of banks to choose from that were easy to navigate, listen to, and scroll through. While there is a nicely added “preview button” to demo sounds, I was also drawn to the fact that the plugin is in no fashion CPU taxing. This is true to Rob Papen’s design and reputation of solid programming.
I may judge a synthesizer plugin differently than most techs, but for me, I’m simply looking for ease of use and sound quality. I think this plugin captures both. I loved the fact that each sound I chose still left plenty of headroom for me to tweak, compress, filter, edit, and save. In fact, most of the sounds I chose to work with left between -6 and -4 db of headroom. If you’ve ever owned a virtual synth that is too loud out the box, you understand why this is important. I’m a firm believer that you have to get quieter to get louder (producer tip). The sounds fill up the spectrum as expected, but don’t overstep their bounds in unnecessary frequencies per instrument. For instance, the clavs in the hiphop bank don’t take up your lower end space. No need to cut/filter out…it’s pretty accurate out of the box.
Overall sound wise, I was extremely delighted to have this in the arsenal. There were about 20+ sounds I found that had immediate relevancy in my day to day work. Here are some of my favorite patches:
- 031 Lead: Berline Schule
- 025 Classic Synth
- 054 Sub: Lowy Bass
- 094 Pad: Moved 1
- 033 Lead: So Synced
- 071 Sfx: Refaller 3
- 053 Lead: Club Door
These sounds were all unique in their own right, but held the consistency of the plugin together. I loved the fact that each can be tweaked, edited, and saved again in it’s own setting all from the front panel. My experiences with other plugins that shall remain nameless didn’t yield the same useability. The front panel is intuitively laid out, well organized, and takes about 1.2min to figure out.
The filters were ok in my opinion…nothing really to rave about. I still prefer to outsource these tweaks to dedicated units. FX wise, I really loved the reverb on this synth. Each reverb I added +/- added a nice space to the instrument chosen. I’m sure within the Reason enviornment these filters can be patch routed and taken to the next level. I felt limited within this environment without adding another plugin for things like reverb, chorus, delay, but I definitely understand that this is an instrument. The purpose is to get sounds, not great spaces made.
My only real complaints about this instrument is it’s graphic design quality. Just to be sure, I checked some of his other products offered–Blade, Punch, especially SubBoomBass, Blue, and RG, and they all confirmed what I felt with Predator…Rob Papen’s graphic design quality needs some work. While I know this has no bearing on the overall sound quality (see AirWindows), good products are much better presented when they look good. These plugins need graphical updates! To my point, I wanted add that the RE version of this plugin is extremely off-putting. It’s interface comes off cluttered and actually led me not to even download the trial version of Predator.
Overall, I give this plugin a 4 out of 5 stars. Sound quality is superb and the plugin is easy to set up and use. It easily layers with other instruments in your arsenal without being CPU extensive. As long as graphical design doesn’t matter to you, I think this instrument should find it’s way into your library. Saltue to Rob Papen and team for another dope product.