It’s been a big year for Expressive E as their Osmose flagship hardware takes off. But they’ve got strong offerings on the software side, too – and now their Imagine software instrument adds Apple Silicon support and expanded sound capabilities.
Imagine is a unique one, combining instrumental layers that model acoustic properties with a complete synthesis architecture. It’s made in collaboration with Applied Acoustic Systems (AAS), so you know that rather than reinvent the wheel, it employs some of the best-sounding physical modeling tech on offer. The approach is quite different from what tools like AAS Chromophone or the Ableton-AAS collabs offer, however. The acoustic bits are accessible via friendly macros – shine, mute, position, impact – along with more familiar AAS-ish ones (bars, skin). But then there’s quite a deep modulation side, as well, with multi-stage envelopes delivering simple and complex sculpting possibilities, with the option of tempo sync. And there’s even a granular element.
This 2021 release flew at least partly under the radar, maybe because in 2021 we were too busy doing … whatever. Buying Eurorack modules while still working from home or something. But it remains one of the most advanced soft synths out there, particularly in how it adds acoustic modeling and granular elements.
Even from AAS, I haven’t quite seen this kind of acoustic – synth – granular hybrid. And to be clear, you don’t need Expressive E hardware to use Imagine, either; it will happily work with whatever controller you like. There is some built-in integration for Touché, though, so even their entry-level hardware will add some additional hands-on control of articulation.
Apple Silicon support is the banner here, with M1/M2 native support across AU, VST, and VST3. (64-bit Windows works, too.) Having that Apple Silicon is a boon here, as stacking up layers will become computation hungry. Especially on the M1 Pro and greater, though, I’m finding CPU meters are more or less a thing of the past.
There’s quite a lot to navigate here, and of course some folks will want some quick access to sounds. So the other component of the announcement is that you get new instrument layers and 40 free presets for free.
You can also buy an expansion for more – Dusk aimed more at scoring and ambient folks, or Nightdream targeting Trap and club styles. That’s $/€17.99 with a sale on now. Imagine itself is on sale, too at 40% off.
This one deserves a full review one of these days, plus more on what’s happening at Expressive E, so watch this space.
Here’s what it sounds like: