- 5 GB Library
- 300 Go-To Presets
- Ease of Navigation
The talented Hollywood team at Output has come up with yet another groundbreaking Synth. This one is a Bass instrument called Substance. I was curious to see what their next product would be, and it’s just as exciting as the first three.
OUT OF THE BOX:
Output now has a download manager App called Output Hub. It handles both downloads and updates for their products. Once installed it will link to your Output products and make life very easy. Substance has about a 5 GB library, requires a minimum of 4 GB Ram, 8 GB recommended, and runs in Kontakt free player ver. 5.5.1 or newer. See https://www.native-instruments.com. There is an optional offline downloader if you don’t like to connect your DAW computer to the Internet. I have used this option for a previous Windows based DAW for safety.
IF LOOKS COULD KILL:
Once opened in Kontakt, Substance shows up as a dark industrial and very hip looking instrument. It’s elegantly minimalistic in design, and user friendly with 300 amazing go-to presets. The beauty here is the simple layout, ease of navigation, and minimal learning curve.
Substance has six user pages, each with tabs on the top to quickly go between them. Directly above them is the Preset Menu for quickly loading patches, along with Macro and Arpeggiator Menu buttons.
The heart of the MAIN Page is a cool pie-shaped circle divided into three pizza like slices (Layers) of the Three Layer Engine. Each Engine Layer is made from a combination of electric and acoustic basses, full live brass sections, huge polysynths, and dirty analog synths. There are nine categories of sound sources to choose from. It’s very fast to make custom combinations from the patch starting points. Outside this Engine circle are four Macro Sliders: Filter, Shape, Dirt, and Wet. These enable you to adjust up to six parameters at once with a single slider. These can be easily automated to provide energy and drama inside your DAW or Live rig.
The EDIT Page is divided into three sections, one for each sound source. Here you can access ADSR Envelope, Pan, Spread, Transpose, Tuning, Sample start, and choice of Monophonic or Legato modes. The Advanced button accesses key range, glide time, and velocity sensitivity per layer. The EQ Page has a three band EQ for each Patch layer. There are also visual graphic boxes that show your EQ curves, and a Global EQ to affect all three Layers together. The FILTER Page shows 10 Filter Types and ADSR settings with access to Cutoff, Resonance, and Velocity Sensitivity per layer. It’s a very powerful page. The FX Page shows a rack of Six Effects for each of the three sound sources. They include Distort, Pitch, Delay, Motion, Comp, and Reverb. Each effect has several typical parameters you can choose from. At the bottom of the FX Page is a Global FX button with Distortion, Compression, Delay, and Convolution Reverb that affects all three Layers simultaneously. The RHYTHM Page is where you can add Modulation per Layer or Globally. The Mod sources can be controlled manually, or with a number of waveforms. Alternatively you can choose or create Step Sequence Patterns for unique rhythms, or go wild with the Flux option.
The first thing I noticed about Substance was the attention to detail in everything from the GUI to the Presets. Oftentimes Bass Synths make me feel as though something’s missing, and getting them to sit in a mix can become an exercise of trial and error. As I thumbed through the Substance Presets, I kept feeling like, Wow! If only I had these sounds back when I was working on this or that project. Each preset has an associated tag to make searching for the perfect sound quick and efficient. I pulled up some songs that already had programmed bass from other Synths etc. Some of these I spent hours on layering and creating the right sounds. When the original was switched out with Substance, it won over the original almost every time. Also, when I switched my speakers to mono, the Substance Bass didn’t fall apart due to phase issues. By combining three engines, the Low-end spectrum is really complex, fat, and holds it’s own in a mix. These Basses are devastatingly and wonderfully deep, diverse, and musical. Substance has everything from vibey smooth analog filtered sounds to extreme Dub Step stuff that would be perfect for film or EDM.
Substance is like the future of Bass. One could say that it’s in a class by itself. It’s a one-stop shop that will inspire and make you sound like a genius whether you’re a novice or a pro. If you are programming for live, you will be able to give your FOH engineer plenty of luscious energetic low end like never before. I’d give it 5 out of 5 stars.