impOCSar 2 (AU, VST, Mac-only RTAS) updates
the popular impOSCar soft synth, which was
derived from the 1983 OSCar synthesizer built by
Oxford Synthesizer Company. New features includes
extended oscillator flexibility, new patch
browser, a great arpeggiator section, and built-in
effects that vastly extend the sonic palette. You
can also choose three different GUI sizes to accommodate
anything from laptops to big screens.
Sounds Interesting impOSCar has always
been one of my “go to” synths for its lush pads,
hard-edge leads, and high usability. impOSCar
2’s oscillator section has been revamped; of the
13 selectable waveforms, the pulse width and
variable pulse width waveforms (with a fixedrate
LFO for those waveforms) can now be applied
independently to each oscillator. You can hand-draw
user waves in the User Wave Matrix, using
24 harmonics, then save/recall them to supplement
the factory waveforms. The program also
includes a selectable white/pink-noise generator
and ring modulator. Furthermore, impOSCar
2 now responds to polyphonic aftertouch.
New Unison Modes impOSCar 2’s 16 voices
(same voice count as the original) come in
handy when using the improved unison modes,
which produce sounds as thick as honey. These
modes range from two to eight stacked voices;
additional controls for detune amount and panning
spread let you fine-tune these massive stacks.
Mo’ Modulation Adding a second LFO to
the mix provides a lot of flexibility in treating
sounds and controlling impOSCar’s typically rich
sounds. Very deep sync-control assignment options,
with 11 sync choices, complement the usual
waveform select, rate, and delay (labeled Intro)
controls. You can then adjust the depth and mix
the two LFOs together for some interesting effects,
thanks to the independent delay and rates.
Arpeggiator The updated Arpeggiator provides
simple yet powerful control of octave-shift,
up/down direction, pitch, and play orders—it
was easy for me to create lots of very musical
arpeggiation. Other functions include the handy
keyboard hold and chord memory (which the
manual suggests was borrowed from the Oberheim
OB8); this provides chord playback from
a single note that’s also influenced by the
arpeggiator’s pitch and play settings.
Patch Browser The new Patch Browser is a
welcome addition that allows for all presets to
be accessible without having to load a different
bank. Sixteen selectable, customizable user
preset banks let you configure quick recall to
presets, as well as organize presets for particular
projects or live performances.
In addition, any impOSCar 2 bank is assignable
to a program change number. I’d like to
be able to assign my program change bank
select to these numbers as well, although I
see where that could add a layer of confusion.
Extra credit: The presets include sounds from
Billy Currie (Ultravox), Darren Price and Rick
Smith (Underworld), and Paul Wiffen.
Audio Input/FX Mode impOSCar 2 can
also serve as an FX plug-in so you can route
a DAW’s audio track through the rich analogsounding
filters, ring modulator, envelope, and
effects. The great analog sound of this instrument
opens lots of possibilities, especially when
applying realtime control to these parameters.
Worth the Upgrade? impOSCar 2 is a big
upgrade to the original impOSCar. While the
parameters run deep, they’re all accessible
from the front panel—aside from the browser,
there are no submenus or alternate windows.
It’s a great synth for those who want fat analog
sounds, but beyond that, its versatility and accessibility
make it fun to use and tweak.
STRENGTHS: Flexible architecture
includes additive and subtractive
synthesis and accessible controls.
1,000+ preset library; easy
accessibility make it easy to use
and modify. Great arpeggiator.
LIMITATIONS: Can’t delete presets
from Browser. Using the external
input to process audio can be a little
clumsy, albeit rewarding. No 64-bit
version yet, or Windows RTAS.
Reek Havok is a four-time Platinum record
recipient, a drummer, a sound designer for
various instrument manufacturers, and an
interactive exhibit designer.