Modal Cobalt-8 ► 150 custom sounds

Patches compatible with 8m & 8x, OS ver 2.0 and higher.

FAQ / read before you buy

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What’s in the bundle?:
You will receive all the sounds from all my demos plus extra. This is 156 patches / presets in total. You will also receive all the sequences that I play.

What format / import method?:
My patches come under the name “WCOG” in a soundbank saved in sysex format – they can be imported with the ModalAPP or any sysex manager. My sequences come in “.mid” format and can be imported to your DAW.

What genre / style?:
There is no one style, because YOU decide what style these patches will be played in. It’s a wide variety of sounds that are meant to inspire, make you look at the synth in a different light and give you a great choice of directions. Some patches are bread & butter, some offbeat; they’re the result of me trying to find the limits of the instrument. The sounds are ready-to-use in music or can serve as starting points; you can pick the textures or the dynamics that you like and tweak them to suit your exact taste or purpose.

Any external stuff?:
I did not use any external FX in the demo; all the delays, reverbs, noises & sound deformations are part of the Cobalt8 engine / mod matrix.

Notes on grades lower than 3/3:

[modern]: sound is modern but some modern ideas are missing from the engine
[organic]: it does sound organic & smooth, but also very clean & stable
[engine]: not enough waveshaping, no loopable envelopes, too few mod matrix slots
[flex]: limited engine needlessly keeps the versatility down
[ui]: pushable knob & seq control + button combinations irritating
[build q]: solid, but not as solid as Peak / Summit for example (plastic parts)


I bought my first Cobalt-8 in 2021 and I returned it after 2 short days. This was my second return ever. The first one was Korg Wavestate. I returned the Korg it because the dry sound, the convoluted interface and the lack of an editor was too much for me to bear. I thought there were cooler-sounding & easier-to-use synths out there.

My reasons for returning the Cobalt were entirely different. The synth itself did not seem bad or difficult to use, but all the woes from my Argon-8 days returned with such force and such frustration that they overshadowed any positive feelings I might have had for the instrument in question. I’ll mention the most irritating aspects below:

1 – The Memory: Just like Argon-8, the Cobalt-8 did not save the chord or the tempo value within the patch structure – these and other settings sit in the “global” domain.

2. The Joystick: it would sometimes not return to its neutral / centered position after doing some pitch bending. My Argon-8 joystick behaved the same way, so I thought it couldn’t have been a coincidence – it must have been Modal’s failure to design and build a proper joystick.

3. – The Volume Drop: just like with Argon. Half of the knobs that I touched made the output volume go down. Using Chorus, Reverb, Oscillator Mix or Oscillator Spread brought about the necessity to substantially raise the gain. It worked like a punishment or a penalty which went by the following rule: “if the sound designer decides to use a given feature of the engine, Modal will take away a portion of the overall volume for each of these features”. The “patch gain” offset did not always help, even if set to maximum.

4 – Intelligent Machinery: The synth refused to create a “Note-to-Cutoff” modulation assignment because it was intelligent enough to know (and inform me) that this assignment was already present in the hard-wired assignments menu. Too bad it was not intelligent enough to realize that sometimes people want to be creative and multiply the modulation effect by simply repeating the same assignment in the mod matrix. It was like asking: “Mom, can I have another apple?” and hearing the answer “But you already have one, in your stomach”.

5 – Needless Limitations: The oscillators had no free-run option, which made the Unison pretty useless. The Keyboard Filter Tracking was weak. The MEG (modulation envelope generator) could not be assigned to control the Filter Cutoff.

From one way looking at it, these things were trifles that could be ignored. On the other hand they were surprisingly irritating, because it looked like the synth had been released half-baked on purpose. Almost every original idea I came up with was blocked by the architecture and the “intelligent” messages. It’s really frustrating to me if I’m not able to take things to the next level when I know that the synth does have the potential and the company does have the ability to utilize that potential (a fact which was obvious after the Argon-8 firmware update). Sometimes you need that “extra push over the cliff” and go to level 11, but Cobalt only went to level 10, if you know what I mean;) [link].


Firmware 2.0 brought some interesting add-ons, and if my first reception of the Cobalt-8 was lukewarm, now I can confidently say I like the synth. What do I like it for?

Number 1 – The firmware upgrade creates an interesting & challenging environment of features. If Cobalt worked and behaved like all the usual suspects, I would have probably made all too familiar sounds with it. Once refreshed, the blue machine started to tread its own paths and forced me to change my ways too. I appreciate that because it means less routine and less boredom. To me the Cobalt-8 is a player’s synth and a sound designer’s synth at the same time. It constantly keeps me balancing between these two worlds. Sometimes the front panel controls are enough to come up with a nice-sounding and interesting patch, sometimes it is necessary to use all the mod matrix slots to “get there”. It’s easy for the simple stuff yet needs a moment of deeper thought if you want to sail out into the wider ocean.

Number 2 – Being more than anticipated. Cobalt-8 has relatively low chances of being admitted to the “chameleon club” where Hydrasynth, Opsix and Modwave reign supreme, but it has a niche of its own and this niche has large enough space to lose oneself in. Using the “Vintage Mode” frees up some of the mod matrix slots that had previously been used to mimic the vintage / organic behavior. The new effects (like the Unisonizer) and the new filters boost the synth’s potential by a quarter.  It’s no longer a one-trick-Modal-pony. Oh, and did I mention that the last time I heard a filter being so crunchy was in 2008 with my ’96 Roland JP-8000?:)

Number 3 – Originality & uniqueness in an unfamiliar area. I usually use saw waves when I work with analog / VA synths because sawtooths have a lot of harmonics to use or to filter out, but Modal is the only synth where I tend to use sine and triangle waves – and I’m excited with the results. The produced sounds are strong yet soft, simple yet having an ear-catching presence. This is what I’ve said in my Argon-8 write-up: that Modals have this organic / orgasmic quality that just makes you want to keep listening to the sound the same way you want to keep eating milk chocolate. Also, I have to finally say I’ve found a synth with the perfect envelope shape. I’ve always been saying that I’m not a fan of Sequential’s envelopes, so now I have to say whose envelopes fan I am – Modal’s!

Number 4 – Build quality. The keyboard is sturdy, the knobs and buttons are comfortable and precise. Thank God the company used a color different than black, gray or white for the front panel. Argon (the chemical element) is colorless so I can’t blame Modal for their choice of gloomy-gray, but cobalt (the chemical element) is blue so the synth could not have turned out any other way;) BTW, there’s too many dark synths – we need more colors in the synth world.

Number 5 – The price. There are not that many full-sized, knobby VA synths with aftertouch for that money. If we make a comparison in terms of features / potential, we’ll have to come to the realization that either the Cobalt-8 should cost twice as much as it costs now, or the UDO Super-6 (the British competitor) should cost half of its current price. Right now the Super-6 costs 4 times as much as the Cobalt-8. Truth needs to be said that UDO sounds superb to the point of being unsurpassable, and maybe this is what you’re paying for when you buy the Super-6. Modals can also sound top-notch, but they represent a different type of “vibe” with their sound.


Speaking of algorithms: Cobalt-8 has a lot of algorithms (a fact which may seem exciting on paper), but there is no interaction between the 2 oscillators. The algorithms and the changes they produce in the timbre are a little bit like friends who visit each other for Christmas but otherwise live solitary lives for the rest of the year. I’ll say it differently: let’s assume I choose “Spread Saw” as the 1st algorithm and “Filtered Noise” as the 2nd algorithm. Usually I would create some interaction between these two, for example cross-modulate oscillator number 1 with oscillator number 2 (then you could look at the results as osc 1 and osc 2 having a baby). Alas, it’s not possible. You can only mix the level of the oscillators – make one louder and the other one quieter (in other words: make osc 1 and osc 2 meet up and sing together). Where’s the mutation, where’s the fun? This is the biggest letdown of the synth from my point of view.

Next: the mod matrix has only 8 slots and I am running out of them almost instantaneously after I start designing a patch. I like to introduce some motion into the sound & infuse it with some texture. As I’ve said earlier, the Vintage Mode frees up some mod matrix assignments, but still – eight slots isn’t really a lot of room for maneuver. And bear in mind it’s all happening before I even dare to assign the joystick. In order to control a parameter with the joystick I need to find & take… a free matrix slot!

Speaking of the joystick – it is very good-looking and tactile, but it cannot control the modulation depth of any particular mod matrix assignment – only individual parameters. That’s disappointing.


I have to say I’m kinda confused by the “Extended VA” moniker. What does the extension part refer to? The algorithms? Oh come on. The Brits always have to come up with some fancy name. Oxford oscillators, FPGA, extended VA… what else? Royal filter?;)

Extended analogue or not, the Cobalt seems to be a much better choice for analogue sounds than Argon. I don’t fully agree with Modal’s catchphrases about it having “unparalleled modulation options”, “going far beyond” this and that, etcetera, etcetera. Seems like marketing hype is the necessary evil of our current society structure & system – if you don’t hype up your products, someone else will hype up and sell theirs and drive you out of business and force you to set up a tent on Skid Row.

But after putting all that marketing jibber-jabber aside and after considering all the technical aspects, I have to say the Cobalt-8 is a synth with an interesting architecture and a charming (tempting, sensual, mushy, soft – you name it) sound. This sound is not inspiringly dirty or wayward in the vein of old analogue synths, but it has a quality to it that makes it equally enjoyable. I often find it more satisfying to listen to the “rounded” and “smooth” Cobalt-8 sounds than the same sounds made on Prophet-6 or SUB-37, which seem too “jagged” and “crude” in comparison. The modern American school is a force to be reckoned with, but the smaller Britain seems to have more sophisticated or nuanced methods of achieving the same goals. And as a whole, the instrument gives you as much in return as it takes away from your wallet. It would be a tough choice if I were to pick just one Modal. I would probably go with the Argon because it’s more versatile (wavetables + modifiers and stuff), but I’m sure I would miss the patches I’ve made on my Cobalt. They’re less fancy, but they sound more congenial to my ears.

If Modal is planning to release a new synth in the future, I suggest they focus more on the user interface. I believe the company tried to do their best, but older companies like Korg are on a different level altogether – and we should all aspire to reach that level (I am hinting here at the perfect handling of the sequencer on the Minilogue XD and not so perfect one on the Cobalt-8 / Argon-8). Modal, please drop the clickable knobs and make the display show values of all modules – this also applies to the envelopes! Graphs are nice, but oftentimes digits / numbers are good (or even necessary) to have.

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