Modal just announce the COBALT8 synthesizer which is available for pre-order. It’s a 37-key (with channel aftertouch) virtual analog synthesizer with 8-voice polyphony Up to 8 oscillators per voice for up to 64 simultaneous oscillators. It has a street price of $749.
After watching a few videos I’ve come to really enjoy the sonic character of the machine it’s rather mediate workflow. It also supports MPE.
This sent me down the rabbit hole to watch a bunch a videos. I thought I would curate some the videos I found helpful into a blog post to save some time for those who also might be curious about the machine.
Throwback to 2015
But first a trip down memory lane. I happened to attend NAMM 2015 which was the year that Modal showed off their first synth the Modal 002.
So I made some trips over to the Modal booth and was blown away by the sound and all the modern tech they wrapped around the 002 synth engine. I went back multiple times throughout the show.
Somewhere along the line I bumped into JK Swopes from the awesome SoundsandGear.com who’d I’d only known through YouTube. He and I then made a trip to the booth. As you can see we were quite impressed with the 002!
Here is a video from the booth. I make a guest appearance at the 2 minute mark.
While I really liked it, the $5,200 price tag was beyond my synth budget 😲.
Of course as time went on Modal released more affordable instruments.
Enter the ARGON8
Fast forward to 2019 when Modal released the ARGON8 wavetable synth, initially in a 37-key form factor at a $749 price point. This was followed by a 61-key and rack version. I mention this because at first glance the COBALT8 might seem like a blue ARGON8 when in actuality it’s quite a different beast.
And Now… the COBALT8 37-Keys Synth with MPE
Modal just announced the COBALT8. While it uses a similar chassis it has a different synth engine and some unique features and interesting Arp and Sequencer workflows. On top of all that COBALT8 adds MPE support! And beyond it’s feature set, wow, I really love the color – haha.
Let the Video Watching Session Begin
Here is Nick Batt from Sonic State offering a COBALT8 Modal Electronics – 1st Look. OnE thing he mentions is video is he feels the workflow choices and control choices make the synth engine more immediate than in the Argon8. He also comments on the sound at 13m57s…
“There is just something about it”…”It’s quite different from the Argon8″…”It just really seems to come to life”..”This synth sounds quite good on first look”.
Next up a BoBeats video COBALT8 review & comparison with Argon8 // Which synthesizer is right for you?!
More Form-Factors Coming?
As I mentioned the Argon8 has multiple form-factors. The web site list these as the “Argon 8” series.
Clearly the Cobalt8 is on a similar chassis as the Argon8 so I think it makes sense they’ve designed COBALT8 with these other form-factors in mind.
Probably the best evidence of future form-factors is provided on the web site where the COBALT8 is listed in a “COBALT SERIES” sub-menu.
Cobalt8 Ticks a Lot of Boxes For Me
Here are some features that resonate with me.
- The sonic character and how it easy it is to add movement to sounds without much menu diving. Gorgeous.
- Full-sized keys with channel aftertouch.
- 3 independent and user-configurable stereo FX engines for Chorus, Phaser, Flanger (Pos), Flanger (Neg), Tremolo, LoFi, Rotary, Stereo Delay, Ping-Pong Delay, X-Over Delay and Reverb that can be arranged in any order.
- Sequencer with step-time and real-time modes with pre-roll and overdub with 4 lanes of automation and ability to also enter animation per-step.
- Ability to map and modulate FX params.
- Ability to assign mod targets to sources without menu diving.
- Polyphonic LFO’s for making complex polytheistic sounds.
- 8 Polyphonic filters.
- Mobile and Desktop editor.
I must say that I’m super tempted. I love the sound and think it would compliment my Elektron rig with Octatrack, Analog Four, and Digitone. I love Fatar keyboards and I could use this as a controller with my Analog Four and Digitone where I could also take advantage of aftertouch. For me 37 keys sweet spot for poly synth a a nice compromise for portability. Also the MPE support is super compelling to me as I’m curious how I might create sounds and perform with my Sensel Morph. I’m a big fan of synths with in-the-box FX and the ability to modulate FX would be great for performance.
Will I finally add a Modal to my synth lineup with the COBALT8? Hmmm. Let the betting begin.
- Official web site, specs, user manual, software editor… https://www.modalelectronics.com/cobalt8/