Wide Blue Sound spent 17 months working on ELYSIUM, most of it getting the synth engine — skilfully combining live hybrid instruments (such as gamelans, mallets, pianos, and a beautiful string section recorded at a church in New York) with multi-sampling some of the most sought-after synths in history — and UI (User Interface) just right so that things flow with the greatest of ease. Evidenced by the ear- and eye-catching end result, it is clearly time that was well spent since the groundbreaking, critically-acclaimed UI itself is duly designed to maximise power and flexibility while minimising resistance.
Digging deeper, ELYSIUM’s MAIN page features two layers: PERC and SYNTH. Self explanatory, the former includes many types of percussive tonal sounds, including guitars, mallets, pianos, and, of course, synths. It is possible to add MORPH and BASS sounds simply by turning those namesake knobs, while the associated Analog, Flux, and Spread controls can easily add variety between each note played. SYNTH should already be familiar to owners of Wide Blue Sound’s previous, popular ORBIT — designed for the rapid creation of stunning cinematic synths and atmospheric textures — and ECLIPSE — pioneering new sonic territory, with a massive synth sound that is heavy, forceful, and aggressive — KONTAKT plug-in instruments, but boosted by some special features never before seen in a synth, such as 11 traditional and custom-shop filter designs. Creatively combine up to four pads that include beautiful atmospheres, synth pads, and even a live strings section, then run them through one of the three engine modes — PULSE, CHOP, or FLOW — to craft anything from energetic rhythms to blissful atmospheres. Those three engine modes can transform lush, sustained sounds into rhythmic performances, so simply choose a mode, then adjust how it hits using the custom-tuned controls for each mode. Meanwhile, the DEPTH knob brings in a sustain bed made from any of the four sounds, all of which can be filtered using the settings icon.
Intuitive sequencing of those PERC and SYNTH layers, or any of their individual sound sources, comes courtesy of (optionally) using the PHASE SEQUENCER spread across the lower part of ELYSIUM’s MAIN page; put simply, choose which layer plays when, and how fast their engine runs. Digging deeper into the PHASE SEQUENCER itself, it also allows for step-based PITCH, ACCENT, and ACTION, the latter’s feature-packed functionality extending to include Triple hits (ratchets), Tightening notes, and Reverse/Fade-in notes. Needless to say, performance features include the usual suspects — MONO, GLIDE, L (force legato — to force glide), and input QUANTIZE, while keyboard SPLIT decouples the PERC and SYNTH layers so it is possible to split chord voicing between the two — BASS in the PERC layer and a string section on top, for example.
Elsewhere, the innovative Sound Browser allows anyone to preview the entire pitch range of a sound before loading it into a patch, so if seeking, say, an appropriate bass then it is possible to preview all sounds in their bass range before committing. It is also possible to filter by MOOD or the type of instrument that was multi-sampled for ELYSIUM. But better still, said Sound Browser includes a GENERATE section, allowing anyone to algorithmically generate PERC and SYNTH sounds based on MOOD tags, or generate entirely new PERC and SYNTH FX chains! CANCEL allows for freedom of experimentation, since it is always possible to revert back to what was there before opening the Sound Browser by hitting that button.
Beyond that, the FX page features one of the most comprehensive effects sections seen in any synth, with 31 electrifying effects (spanning stomp-boxes, amplifiers, adventurous modulation- and chorus-based effects, saturated delays, reverbs, and more), 300 effect presets (not including convolution reverb presets), and 600-plus practical and creative impulse responses in 27 reverb categories — ranging from nine world-class reverb units (like the famous Bricasti M7, EMT 250, and Lexicon 480) to funky harmonic plates, household items, and actual samples of other live instruments — to provide both a beautiful and fun experience when creating the most ethereal and otherworldly sounds imaginable. Indeed, it is possible to create full FX chains for the PERC layer, SYNTH layer, and MASTER effects bus, or users can conjure up immediate inspiration by generating entire effects chains at the click of a button — similar to when working with the Sound Browser.
But saving the best until last, the MOTION page provides six stylish sequencers with which users can creatively automate any of ELYSIUM’s parameters, including an ability to change the PERC layer’s MORPH and BASS sounds on every step, while its innovative TIDE module makes it a breeze to create multi-bar swells or quick EDM-inspired LFOs. Supportively, sequences can be both generated for inspiration or hand-drawn for precision. Put it this way: with ELYSIUM, there are always a wide array of MOTION sources — with over 130 modulation destinations — to add motion to patches!
Plentiful — 300-plus — presets from world-class sound designers who are also music producers in their own right are already available in ELYSIUM, so getting going is as easy as selecting a preset that sets the synth controls for the heart of motion! Moreover, ELYSIUM includes three useful sound locks to retain certain parts of the patch when changing presets: Rhythm Lock (locks all rhythmic elements of the PHASE SEQUENCER and synth engine itself), Pitch Lock (locks the PITCH sequence in the PHASE SEQUENCER), and FX Lock (locks the entire FX page) — perfect examples of the dozens of thoughtful and innovative features found throughout ELYSIUM to help make sound design a more fun and practical experience!
Ending on a high note, Wide Blue Sound CEO Nathan Rightnour reasons: “Our favorite thing about ELYSIUM is that we’ve created an unprecedented variety of ways to add motion to your patch over time, while keeping things musical. Everyone users it in a different way, and we were surprised at the huge range of patches that the sound designers sent back to us. Every single sound designer had a unique voice that came through the instrument, and they all loved exploring its unique features. That’s when you know you have an expressive instrument.”