Modal Electronics’ Argon8, with siblings 8M and 8X, is one of the most fascinating synthesizers to have joined the market since the virtual analogue revolution started being overtaken by the, er, analogue one.
Which, to be fair, Modal’s also quite happily involved with, taking a very innovative approach to design. Its flagship synths are held in high regard, but also not necessarily within the reach of most musicians – a marked contrast from the CRAFT and SKULPT pocket-sized desktop synths.
The Argon8 is notable for bridging that gap – delivering powerful wavetable synthesis, VST integration and a fresh sound for under £500 in desktop module form. Designed in Bristol, there’s a community-driven feel to Modal’s desire to make powerful synthesis affordable – and a lot of the feedback has manifested itself in Argon8’s V2.0 firmware.
What’s changed in Argon8 2.0?
- Improved audio stage, with global patch gain boost
- Seven new envelope modes, with ‘Long’ variations for ambient heaven
- Polyphonic 64 step sequencer mode for the real-time sequencer
- MPE support and new chord inversion modes
I’ve yet to try an Argon8M, or even encounter one in the wild, but the demos suggest it would be at, or near, the top of any £500 budget, and the 37-key keyboard version sounds like the ideal home studio synth. These changes do nothing but make that appeal even stronger, particularly the potential for evolving drones enhanced by longer envelopes and the existing complex morphable wavetables.
Users of MPE controllers will appreciate the sound engine’s ability to respond to polyphonic expression – as more sequencers and keyboards join the market with poly aftertouch, pressure and ‘wiggle’ type controls, and those who don’t want to play everything at once can delve into an eight-note per step sequencer with multiple triggering modes for live and sequenced performances, using four lanes of parameter-lock animation.
An additional performance feature comes in the form of chord inversions for instant inspiration and experimentation… at which point, it’s time to download the a manual to see how that’s implemented!
MODALapp updated too
Modal’s one-stop shop for managing and editing all of the synths, as well as quickly getting to online manuals, MODALapp has been updated to reflect the new parameters in the Argon8. There’s a new preset bank to showcase the enhanced capabilities, and an updated VST will put control of your synth into your DAW. Mac owners will receive the update automatically via the app store.