Signal by Output – Gearjunkies review

Output is small innovative software company based in Hollywood. The programmers of Output are mostly working on innovative software for the music production environment and are focusing on original software for composers, musicians, sound designers and producers. With their newest creation, called Signal, Output claim to have built the world’s most powerful pulse engine. ‘The basic idea behind the library is to provide users with synth pulses by combining fat analog synths and beautifully recorded live instruments.”

Signal has been created to run on the Native Instruments Kontakt platform, which is basically a sampler enhanced with scripting logic to enable next generation sampling playing. You either need the plain Kontakt software or the free alternative, which is Kontakt player.

The basis of the instrument is a sample library comprising of 500 sampled synths and instruments, totalling in 40Gb worth of samples. Per voice, you can use 4 of those sources with 2 of them being pulse engines (A and B) and 2 of them being additional pulse engines to control A and B. The four faders are the base for each sound you chose, alter or create. You not only can chose from filters and reverbs but also distortion and various other effects. In advanced mode you can go deeper into the interface and chose from more options.

There you also can add effects, LFO, step sequencers, arpeggios and ASDR envelopes to influence the original pulse engines to create evolving sounds in various ways. With these possibilities, you can create endless combinations of tempo and/or loop based sounds with such depth that even veteran sound designers will be surprised. I am myself fairly percussion based and, to that extent, the pulse looks very promising in fulfill that role as well.

When I used Signal for the first time, it took me a while to get accustomed to the user interface, which is very user friendly. Instead for looking on YouTube for explanation, I dived in myself and tried to figure out how Signal worked. The large library of sounds and modulations may seem overwhelming at first, but I would encourage users to create their own patterns and presets. The synthesizer is rather elaborate and using the instrument browsers helps you find sounds quickly which you can use or adapt to your special needs. There you have 25 synths and 25 instruments to chose from by clicking on the icon, which makes it easy to use.

The samples of the instruments sound very good, realistic and have a large dynamic range. The synths sounds a bit digital, which is to be expected for software. Overall the sound is good and dynamic, like I mentioned before. At first the patches sounded darkish, loopish and have a certain feel with a big sound. A big plus is that using Signal hardly needs any EQ to sit well in the mix, which is usually a very good sign.

The price of 238 euro is fairly high for a software synth, but in return you get the latest innovation of sampling technology software out there. It might take you a while to get used to using this software, to get the big sounds you are looking for. This software seems as thought it would be highly desirable to modern composers and sound designers of game, movie and electronic music. It could be seen as a competitor to Omnisphere 2 from Spectrasonics and seems to focused more on tempo based sounds and bit less on spherical sounds.

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