You’ve seen kick drums that emulate the 808 and such, or synths with a couple knobs. UltraKick goes way past that, for complete sound control.
If you’re content to just drop four Roland sounds on the floor and leave them there, move along – nothing to see here. UltraKick represents months of obsessive work by creator Daan Pothoven for a different breed of producer – someone who wants to dive deep inside a sound and transform every detail.
That doesn’t mean it’s intimidating, though. Oh, sure, you might forget that it was a kick you were trying to make in the first place, because this is kind of an interesting experimental synth for all sorts of deep sounds. But everything’s graphical, it’s loaded up with some useful presets, and it’s intuitive enough to make minor or major tweaks inside that bang of the drum.
Here’s a little tour of the UI:
The architecture is simple but much more open than most kick drum synths out there. There two oscillators plus one noise generator. Each oscillator gives you control over 8 partials for additive synthesis-style kick sculpting. Then by overlaying envelopes for pitch and amplitude in the same UI, and updating the resulting waveform onscreen as you make adjustments, you can draw in the way you want your kick to sound and get instant results.
It’s also uncommonly easy to tune, thanks to this architecture, since you can move things up and down with a single click.
From there, there’s a rich semi-modular “audio flow” section you can use for distortion, effects, spread, and the like.
Everything is organized in an easy, “what-if” format, so you can click to randomize settings or transpose or punch in precise values or call up presets for different sections.
My only gripe with the whole thing is, this being built as a very elaborate Max for Live patch, performance can be a bit sluggish at times. I rather hope this catches on enough to merit a ground-up native plug-in. On the other hand, I think there’s no doubt that if you own Max for Live, you’ll get your thirty bucks’ worth. (Pricing is £23.99 / €30 / US$36).
You can also count on exceptional support, as the tool is seeing release via Isotonik Studios, who have built various monster tools for Novation and Ableton (and seen some regular coverage round these parts).
Full specs from the developers:
100% synthesis: no samples involved.
8 partials per oscillator with unprecedented options for sound design.
AUDIO FLOW tab: reveals all audio routing, makes synth easily understandable.
Tuning: move all frequency-related envelopes up or down with a single click.
Envelopes overlay: maintaining overview at all times.
Spread settings for frequency envelopes: create organic sounds with no effort.
Action menus for quick actions like envelope randomization and osc partial presets.
Accurate waveform image rendering.
Flawless sound retriggering: absolutely no clicks, even at high retriggering speeds.
Numerical envelope point programming for high precision sound design.
Built-in help/tips section and mouseover hints throughout the interface.
Robust preset system with easily interchangeable preset files.
Here’s the creators’ walkthrough:
And a demo track:
Full details / product page: