The West Pest is a semi-modular analog synth with some serious power. This semi-modular synthesizer burst onto the scene around NAMM and garnered serious attention for its affordability, its ability to generate intense harmonic character, and the fact that it plays well with others (at least in terms of sound). other synths). We had the opportunity to review one of these powerful synths to break down exactly what we found most appealing.
With three different waveforms to start with, you can create rich, full sounds that were never possible before. You can add beautiful harmonic elements to your soundscape by engaging in robust wave bending.
The dynamics controller uses a process of modifying the incoming signal to make it react differently to changes in volume, replicating the way sound waves behave in the natural world. You can also use an LFO to shape your sound, and there are 18 patch ports for connecting other devices, plus MIDI capabilities that make this Pest very versatile!
Read more about this synth here
What is West Coast Synthesis?
The “West Coast” approach to synthesis is generally to add harmonics to simple waveforms instead of removing them from complex waveforms.
This can be done using two oscillators (sometimes combined into a “complex oscillator”), where one modulates the frequency (FM) or amplitude (AM) of the other. Another West Coast standard module is a waveshaper or wavefolder.
Different envelope generators include two-stage ones, such as an AD or AR, and more voltage control manipulation. A common feature is also voltage controlled amplifiers which have low pass filters, creating what is called a low pass gate.
This approach also includes non-standard controllers, such as touch plates. These days it is not uncommon to use a mix of east coast and west coast approaches in the same system.
My Favorite Features on the Cre8audio West Pest Synth
This desktop synthesizer packs some fantastic features for such a small hardware synthesizer. Here are some of my favorite features in this synth that stood out to me right away.
The resonance button
I’m not sure exactly where the Resonance knob is supposed to sit for best results. This highlights the fuzzy nature of this synthesizer, where everything seems to affect everything else in subtle and non-subtle ways.
The manual says Resonance is part of the dynamics controller, but it’s located next to the Fold button in the Waveform Contour section on the synth’s front panel. I had to experiment a bit to figure out how to use it, but in the end it could produce shrill results.
Resonance increases the amplitude of waveform peaks, which can then overload the dynamics controller input. Therefore, it occupies a middle ground between the two. It also gives the sound a more “waspy” quality. I found a relationship between Fold and Resonance, which combined with Sustain and Release gives you a four knob approach to sound manipulation. So let’s get into the dynamic.
The sequencing engine comes from the East Beast and is simple and entertaining. In sequencer mode, it simply starts playing the note you press. As you play notes, they are added to the sequence in a loop, up to 32 notes. You can enter breaks to break it, but otherwise it continues.
The arpeggiator fits perfectly into the same experience. You can switch modes while the sequence is playing, then hold a few notes, and it will become an arpeggio without skipping a beat. Switch back to sequence mode and you can add more notes to what the arpeggio was. It’s brilliant and playable even on the somewhat crappy plastic button keyboard.
The Generate button is the sequencer’s most exciting feature. It uses algorithms to slightly modify your notes, each time creating unique new melodies. It’s a great tool for finding new ideas.
The synth has a lot of randomization features. For example, West Pest has random patterns, random notes, and a random output option on the multi-function output. East Beast can also randomize oscillator waveforms. If you press the right button combination, each note will roll the dice on which waveform to use. This makes for very dynamic and exciting sequences.
I have to mention the built-in keyboard control system. Two buttons on the side give access to the white and yellow writing under the keys. These include LFO range, clock source, sequencer, arpeggiator options and multi-function.
Some options come with these options that have four LEDs that are below the Fold button. The manual tells you how to decipher them, but usually you can figure out what’s going on just by listening.
Why buy the Cre8audio West Pest synth?
Adding new gear to your music studio can be tempting but not always necessary. Here are a few reasons why I think this synth would be a justifiable investment in your music-making setup.
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First of all, this synth is damn affordable. With a retail price of just $250, you probably won’t go broke trying to afford this synth. In fact, that makes it a reasonably accessible budget synthesizer. And it includes all the features mentioned above for less than many of the other most popular synths on the market; it’s an easy buy!
Modular synths are a big investment, both in learning the complex routing needed to get usable sounds out of them, and in terms of money.
But semi-modular synths allow you to practice your routing and learn the intricate art of modular synths without feeling overwhelmed by the process. Sure, it still takes a bit of getting used to, but this fully patchable synth is easy to learn and makes the transition to a fully modular setup a breeze.
It just looks awesome
The nature of the synth produces compelling sounds. They often have a distorted and mangled tone that I’ve never heard from soft synth products, which is exactly why I’ve been leaning more and more towards hardware soft synths lately.
Too many people are able to whip up the same patches on soft synths, and the fact that these patches and their harmonic content are so unique means that this synth quickly became a go-to weapon in my quest for a unique sound.
Cre8audio West Pest Control Specifications
Key Type: 13 x Key Buttons
Oscillators: 1 x analog VCO
Waveforms: Sawtooth, Triangle, Sinus; Frequency modulation, wave bending
Envelope generator: 1 x EG (sustain, release)
LFO: 1 LFO
Sequencer: 32 steps, 13 presets
Analog outputs: 1 x 1/8″
MIDI I/O: 2 x 1/8″ (in, out/thru)
Other I/O: 17 1/8″ connection points
Power supply: power supply (included)
Power Consumption: Eurorack: +12V/250mA, -12V/190mA
HP Size: 40HP
Depth: Eurorack: 0.98″ (25mm)
Manufacturer Part Number: West Pest
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