Review: MOK Waverazor 1.0 - EMusician

Review: MOK Waverazor 1.0

A softsynth that offers a unique approach to waveshaping
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Waverazor, the first product from MOK (Media Overkill), neither looks nor sounds like other synths. The core of its sound engine is waveshaping, a type of synthesis most often associated with Don Buchla’s West Coast methodology. Yet, Waverazor’s methods for shaping waveforms is decidedly different from Buchla’s.

The plug-in treats waveforms as pliable sonic material. You can make simple waveforms more complex by changing their shapes, sometimes radically, or alter harmonic spectra by splicing together portions of different waveforms. This 1.0 release doesn’t allow access to parameters such as envelopes, LFO modulation, or filter types unless a patch is specifically assigned those parameters as macros. Instead, most controls are specific to Waverazor’s three oscillators. A more complete version is forthcoming.

Clicking on a patch name opens a browser of factory patches and templates. A pull-down menu lets you select from a list of 52 arpeggiator patterns, which sync to either host tempo or a specified rate.

Designed with an intuitive interface, MOK Waverazor 1.0 is capable of creating fairly aggressive sounds.

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The central waveform display is called the oscilloscope. To its upper left and right are macro controls for various functions such as oscillator detuning, effects mix, keyboard tracking, and amplitude modulation. The circular x/y pads below are called vector controllers, which you can use to sweep the wave index and to modulate filter cutoff and resonance. The designer of each patch predetermined the precise functions of the vector and macro controls, all of which respond to automation in your DAW. A resizable onscreen keyboard appears below.

The oscilloscope (center) displays Waverazor’s output as animated waveforms. The ring surrounding the scope is divided into five sections called partitions. Four partitions have arrows for zooming the display in and out, and a Pause button in the fifth freezes the waveform.

When you select an oscillator, one or more cycles of its waveform appear in the scope. Waveforms are divided into segments, and the number of partitions in the ring indicates the number of editable segments. Waveforms may be simple, like a sine wave divided into quarters, or complex, like a wave sequence where every segment is different.

Select any segment for editing by clicking on its partition. You can replace waveforms within segments, apply variations, change frequency and loudness, and adjust phase and DC offset—all of which affect timbre, from subtle to extreme ways.

Waverazor 1.0 is a work in progress: It offers a fascinating means of creating new sounds, though it doesn’t allow you to create patches from scratch or deeply edit existing patches, so its versatility is limited. Moreover, a few onscreen controls aren’t yet implemented. A revised version, with full parameter editing, is in the works but will cost twice as much: However, purchasing the current version entitles you to a free upgrade.

Waverazor excels at harsh, aggressive, and bizarre timbres that are more suited to industrial and experimental music than, say, new age or ambient genres. But one thing’s for certain: Waverazor 1.0 will grab your ear in a mix. Check it out by downloading the trial version from its distributor, Tracktion.

STRENGTHS
Generates uncommon timbres using versatile and intuitive waveshaping controls. Sizable discount for early adopters.

LIMITATIONS
Incomplete functionality. Needs more factory patches. Labels difficult to read. Pleasant sounds are difficult to achieve.

$75
tracktion.com

Writer, synthesist, and EM editor-at-large Geary Yelton spends most of the year in Asheville, North Carolina.