UDO Super-6 ► 128 custom sounds
Presets compatible with desktop / rack & keyboard.
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What’s in the bundle?:
You will receive all the sounds from all my demos plus extra. This is 128 patches / presets and 16 sequences.
What format / import method?:
My patches come as computer files that you load into the Super-6 by using its flash drive feature (when you connect your Super-6 to your computer, it appears as a new disk drive and you can just open it and cut / copy / paste the files).
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; just pick the textures or dynamics that you like and easily fine-tune them to suit your exact taste or purpose.
Any external stuff?:
I did not use any external FX in the demo; all the delays, noises and other effects are part of the Super-6 engine & mod matrix. This is a standard factory unit – you don’t need any custom wavetables or add-ons for the patches to work.
Notes on grades lower than 3/3:
[modern]: sounds modern but “1980’s Roland” specs keep potential limited
[organic]: warm & organic but for more dirt / VCO feel go Prologue / Polybrute
[engine]: things hard-wired to LFO1; switches; only 2 FX; matrix limits
[flex]: one LP/HP filter, static waves; just chorus and delay; no chorus fine-tuning
[ui]: no display, so instead of menu-diving you have to shortcut-dive or guess values
[soft / mgmt]: no patch names, editor / librarian only third-party & paid
Phase 1: UNBOXING (Build Quality)
When I opened the box, in it I found a burlap sack. Out of the burlap sack came a pearl-white, heavy as a tank piece of kit. On the one hand it seemed like nothing special – a desktop synth with good-old Roland-style sliders and Prophet-5-style buttons. On the other hand it seemed beautiful, inspiring & inviting to tweak some patches or create some music. I don’t know if Axel Hartmann was responsible for designing both the keyboard and the desktop, but for me the desktop is the better looking model. Whichever way we look at it, one thing is indisputable: these toys are top of the tops in terms of quality & design. Solid like a rock, pretty like a scolecite. There is absolutely nothing irritating about the tactile side of this synth – no stiff / wobbly knobs like in the PRO-3 / REV-2, no clicky buttons like in the SUB-37 / Argon-8. It’s a pleasure to look at and touch.
Phase 2: EXPLORING (User Interface)
Then things made a U-turn. When I started to look more closely at the synth and wanted to actually tweak it in some meaningful way, the user interface seemed alien and I was constantly getting lost. There was not a single hour without me having to consult the user’s manual. There were so many acronyms and symbols. Some examples include: “U SIZE”, “DDS”, “SUPER (DDS1)”, “SWM”, “DH”, “W1” (I thought “WTF”). Also, there was the shift button which enabled or disabled certain features. And the synth had no “SAVE” button for saving patches, let alone a screen to make sense of the mod matrix. There was no easy way out – I had to simply learn it all. But my educational course lasted no longer than a day, and then things made another U-turn, this time in the positive direction. This is relatively quick, especially if compared with synths like Korg Modwave / Wavestate, which are much more difficult to grasp or move around just by intuition.
Phase 3: PLAYING (Roland Sound)
The Super-6 tibmre seemed “good” and satisfying from the get-go. I instantly recognized the Roland Juno / Jupiter sound and I thought that UDO not only copied the looks, but they also transplanted the internal organs to make a modern-day clone of the Japanese classic. But then again – I was confused. First of all, the sound was unmistakably reminiscent of the aforementioned Juno, but it wasn’t 100% right. So I thought to myself: why did they make the synth at all? If engineers want to clone a sound, they better clone it right ot not do it at all. The Super-6 sounded too clean & hi-fi, too polite. I tried to animate or degrade the sound somehow, but there was no satisfactory way to do that. The chorus did not have the Juno-esque noise. The filter drive was controlled by 3-position switches. The cross-mod was sending / receiving only the pitch signal and not the waveshape signal. DDS2 (Oscillator 2) could only be detuned 6 semitones instead of the usual 7.
Phase 4: MORE PLAYING (U.D.O. Sound)
I was again frustrated. I thought: dang, 2200 Euro for a Juno clone of debatable Juno sound quality? I had to leave my synth chair again and go back to the computer to read the manual. I wanted to understand everything about this instrument, this time from a more technical angle; explore every nook and cranny of the engine. And again, this was the right thing to do, because things started to move fast forward. Tweak by tweak, I managed to move out of the Juno spehere into completely new realms of sound (more into JD-XA / Virus TI / PPG Waldorf timbres & territory). I took advantage of the (reversable) Cross Mod, the LFO1-working-as-Oscillator feature, the Oscillator2-working-as-LFO feature, and finally the Oscillator-to-Filter modulation, and the Super-6 changed from an “analog clone” into a curious sound design tool. During just one day (or 8 hours in other words) I made around 20 varied patches (this is quick!). And even if these patches / structures are nothing sophisticated or ground-breaking, I still find the resulting sounds special.
Despite the static, single cycle waves (their shapes cannot be tweaked like in Argon8 or Modwave) and other limitations (one filter, the aforementioned non-continuous controls / switches), the Super-6 kept me inspired and willing to re-listen to the sounds I never cared about and would never want to re-listen on other synths. The Korg Opsix / Modwave boast their wave folding capacity, wave blending and what not. But whatever you do with the wavefolder on the Opsix or the wavemorph on the Modwave, it’s extremely easy to end up with a sound that is dry, flat, thin, abrasive & not interesting in any manner. The Super-6 also has a way to achieve a wave folding / phase modulation effect (by putting the cross-mod oscillator setup in reverse), and even if the result is not as deep or intricate as in the Korgs, it sounds pleasant and usable almost instantaneously. By the way, this is one of the qualities of vintage synths – many times these instruments are nothing special in terms of features, but the sound alone (and the immediacy) is big enough an appeal to keep and use them. And I think I’m hearing echoes of my vintage Akai AX-80 in the Super-6, so it’s definitely not a one-trick pony. There is some magic hidden in various spots of the sliders.
So this is how I would generally describe the Super-6: the engine has a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and whichever way you go with it, it will sound (at least) good. There’s a lot of patch structures you won’t be able to achieve, but you can make the Super-6 sound warm or cold, analog or digital. For many people this is a better situation than having a “most powerful synth with no limits” and having to wander around this limitless landscape in search of a sweet spot, possibly ending up in a state of analysis paralysis. I praise the Novation Peak / Summit in my write-up, but I know that some folks view it as exactly that: a deep synth with a lackluster / characterless sound. I don’t agree with the opinion that Novation is totally devoid of “character”, but I’m sure such people will find more character in the sound of the Super-6, and this character is there from day one, even if it’s not as strong as in Oberheims or Korgs. But read on, I have a warning for you.
Phase 5: BINAURAL ON! (The British Sound + Stereo 2.0)
You’ve probably heard about the UDO company when the Super-6 was announced and made a stir in the community by introducing the word “binaural” to the general public. If you don’t like nerd talk, let me just say in simple words that it introduces a new kind of stereo sound with just one click. This is stereo 2.0 – when you activate the binaural switch, the Super-6 turns into a two-synths-setup where one is playing in the left channel and the other one is heard in the right channel of your headphones / speakers (polyphony is then halved). This creates even more stereo depth than the usual methods of using chorus or delay. The idea itself is not new – there are many synths that can be binaural if only their architecture allows that. You can create binaural patches in synths like the REV-2 or the Hydrasynth, but you have to do it in the mod matrix (HS) or by combining two layers of the same patch (Rev-2). On the Super-6 you adjust the spread with LFO 1 – a dedicated slider is right there on the front panel.
It’s a very cool feature, it makes the patch sound more lively, but I think the stronger part of the synth is the core sound itself. Just like in the case of Modal and Novation, the UDO sound can also be described as the “British sound” – clean, hi-fi, amazingly smooth. But the Super-6 is the warmest and lushest of them all, and the binaural feature makes it even more lively and breathing. So if I were to keep one synth out of the British trio just for the sound, it would definitely be the Super-6. It’s 100% “eargasmic”, very soothing.
Of course there’s also the negative aspect, like with every other synth. The binaural Super-6 sounds so “omnipresent” or “spacious” that in the context of a mix it may “steal the show” so to speak – if only psychologically and not technically. Also, the binaural effect may be great for pads and drones, strings and effects, but for some people it won’t make a lot of sense to make binaural bass patches for example. Sometimes you just have to turn it off… What I’m saying is that the “binaural button” is not an equivalent / counterpart to the “vintage knob” on Sequential synths – a miracle shortcut that you can use day and night to make all your patches sound “better”. Also, some people may not like the kind of “flanging” effect that is created by the binaural audio path and would rather prefer to do the panorama work after they’ve recorded the takes / tracks. It’s a matter of approach & workflow.
One more word about the technical side of this feature: if you use the LFO 1 for some extreme modulation speeds, the binaural effect becomes impractical. That’s why this feature should have its own independent LFO.
Phase 6: CONCLUSION
So here’s pros and cons: the synth has no display & no menus. It’s good for the old-scholers, but not so good for the sound designers. It’s hard to tell slider values or mod matrix assignments. If you forget a given mod matrix source-destination association, there’s no way to know what it was. That’s why it’s not a come-back synth. If you start building your sound, you better finish it.
There are two LFOs, but the LFO 2 is only sine, and the majority of parameters are hard-wired to LFO 1. The DDS1 waves are static single cycle waves. Some of the features like Filter Drive, Chorus & Filter Keytrack are controlled by three-position switches instead of continuous sliders. The same switches are used in Korg Prologue for example, and it translates into the same limitations.
The mod matrix has 8 modulation sources: [Osc 2] / [LFO 2] / [Env 1] / [Velocity] / [Aftertouch] / [Ped-CV] / [Pitch Wheel] / [Note]. As you can see, [Osc 1] or [LFO 1] or [Env 2] or [Mod Wheel] are not available as mod sources. It’s somewhat limited. The binaural feature adds some movement and atmosphere to the sound, but this affects the “stereo panorama” aspect of the sound rather than the “texture / dynamics” aspect. A deeper mod matrix would help.
However, when all things are considered, I like this synth and I think it’s unique. The only thing I don’t like about it is the price – but if you build things in the UK, they won’t be cheap. The strongest magnet for me is the way this synth sounds – vintage yet modern, organic yet “pro”, smooth yet being able to spice things up and make them dirty to a noticeable degree, even if far from the West Coast or the Japanese masters. I feel a significant amount of love & attention to detail invested in this instrument on the part of the creators. Also, what’s important is that at the end of the day the synth manages to rise above all the aforementioned engine limitations and become a user-friendly factory of delicious, exquisite sounds. Again, I find this case similar to my experience with Korg Prologue – a synth that is limited but sounds fantastic within those limits. The only difference between the Prologue and the Super-6 is that Prologue sounds “eargasmically dirty” while the Super-6 sounds “eargasmically lush”. It’s a different kind of texture, and the UDO synth sounds much better in person / on audio monitors then on Youtube – it’s kinda audiophile’y (maybe it’s the FPGA oscillators, because I felt that the Peak / Summit also lost some dimensionality on Youtube).
OUTRO / NEXT UDO?
Let me wrap it all up with an analogy: the Super-6 is like a connoisseur wine that has a perfect balance of flavors and scents. It’s expensive, not the most versatile drink like water or milk, and it needs appreciation. Then magic happens: you get a little bit drunk and all of a sudden the world seems a warmer place. The warmth, depth & smoothness of the Super-6 sound is one of a kind, there’s nothing else quite like it in the synth world. Add to that the good interface (making sounds is as easy as opening a bottle of wine – you just need to find a corkscrew at the beginning), and we have a very proper instrument. I’m very curious about what UDO will come up with next in ther line of synths, because if they start this way, the bar is already high. I wish they went more in the Hydrasynth (chameleon) direction: deeper mod matrix with more filters, LFOs, FX or waveshaping, so that further instability, expressiveness or “dirt” could be introduced to the sounds. A minimal effect of this kind could also be achieved with a Korg Modwave-style kaoss physics pad. Maybe this synth wasn’t made with a view in mind to behave this way, but the more mutable the sound, the higher it sits in my hierarchy;)
UDO just announced at the Superbooth that the new firmware release supports MPE. We’re going in the right direction:)
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