Peak, Novation’s eight-voice polyphonic synthesizer, has been on the market for a while. Despite its accessible interface to create sounds, the users still asked for a good software editor.
This software editor is now available, not from Novation but from Sigabort: MIDIsynth-Peak. Novation is no stranger to Sigabort, even for the Circuit and the Circuit Mono station this English company has already created a software editor.
MIDIsynth-Peak is more than just an editor, you can also store your presets and banks in it. The software is available for Windows, OSX, and OSX, and can be used as plug-in in your DAW as well in stand-alone mode.
MIDIsynth-Peak is easy to install and you can get started right away. Your peak needs to be connected to your computer with USB, MIDIsynth-Peak automatically detects your Peak and you can start using the editor.
What immediately is noticeable would be the layout. Sigabort has not chosen to transfer they Peak layout 1:1 in software, but has opted for its own simple layout in the most positive sense. As an example, the two freely assignable ADSRs are not placed next to each other, like on the Peak, but above each other which makes it a lot clearer. Additionally, you can choose different skins if you want to.
MIDIsynth-Peak has a number of different views, one for all basic functions, a modulation matrix, XY controls and a parameter view where you can map your own parameters and edit them directly in a view, say the most used ones. In addition, there is a performance mode that is designed for touch screens.
If you want to start with sound design, choose an initial patch or an existing sound on the Peak you can click Fetch in the MIDI synth key editor. The parameters of the software correspond directly to the same position of the Peak. You immediately have a good overview of all parameters, and if you look in the mod matrix you also directly see which function is linked to which parameter.
It hits the nail on its head and that is why I love a good editor. A good and clear overview. Now the Peak is not a synth of many menus except for modulation. As with almost all synthesizers, which seems to be quite logical.
So, when I go straight into using the editor, I notice that I play a lot more with modulation that I did this on the Peak itself. The more I make more complex sounds the more modulation options I am using without noticing. I have discovered even more of what the Peak can do through MIDIsynth-Peak, and have come to appreciate the synthesizer even more.
Another special thing is that MIDIsynth-Peak has put a lot of thought in the touch screen view. Even though it is not a table app but in Performance Mode you will find a number of useful sliders that allow you to quickly tweak your sound. You can assign 16 parameters yourself, and you have access to the v-macro controllers. With V-macros you can create eight virtual macros, with which you can control 4 parameters per macro. With MIDI you can reassign it to a MIDI track in your DAW, giving you even more control over your sound, and as already mentioned, can make even more complex sounds.
With the MIDIsynth-Peak, storing your home-made patches is a piece of cake. This makes Novation’s alternative more or less redundant. The advantage of components is that this software neatly keeps track of whether a firmware update for your Peak is available, but that is also the only thing.
What also is a nice feature of MIDIsynth-Peak is the Random button. With this you can have the editor itself come up with a new patch. For that the program utilizes every option that the Peak has. Now you might think: that will quickly become a mess and there will be no useful sounds! And yes, that is true in 99% of the cases. That is why an option has been built in which allows you to exclude certain parameters from the randomize function. With a few tweaks you can get surprising sounds.
I am a very big fan of the Peak, which shouldn’t be a surprise after reading this review. But the same also applies to the MIDIsynth-Peak software. Some the layout may be a little too much 8-bit looking for some, but for me personally this makes things clearer.
A plus is also that MIDIsynth-Peak software can be used both in plug-in and stand-alone.
If I had to look for any negative aspects, then I would have to use a microscope, so in my opinion MIDIsynth-Peak is a must have for every Peak owner!
The MIDIsynth-Peak editor costs £40.00. You can buy it directly from the Sigabort website. The OSX version for your iPad and Iphone can be found in the Apple App Store.