Parsec Spectral Synthesizer – Additive Synth Reviewed

131029-parsec-topstoryWhat seemed like lightyears away has finally arrived to the Reason rack – Parsec Spectral Synthesizer, a new additive synth from Propellerhead is now released. If you aren’t familiar with additive synthesis, a quick web search will enlighten you.  Read on for the verdict on Parsec.

Parsec at a glance…

The history of what an additive synth looks like brings a scary, claustrophobia-inducing image of complex controls to mind. Parsec on the other hand has a simple and elegant design that fits well in the modern Reason rack. One thing that might be confusing at first is the order of sections. Typically the sections of synth are ordered to follow the flow of the sound, such as in Thor. The oscillators are on the left, following those is the mixer, then the filters, the envelopes and so on. Parsecs sound generators are actually in the middle. The signal flow then travels left and then up only to return to the center and drop to the bottom.  Confused yet?Parsec signal flow

For someone that likes to “go with the flow” when they are creating new patches, this is a real kick in the OCD. Despite the fact that the sections are kind of mixed up, Parsec is one of the better looking synths available for the Reason Rack.

How does it sound…

With additive synthesis comes a great learning curve. Not just because of the complexity of it’s inner workings, but because of the options for creating a sound are very different than what most users have previously worked with. Parsec is unique in that the controls are simplified enough to feel familiar to a novice, but are intricate enough to allow a more advanced user to dive really deep into it. That being said, when creating a patch from scratch it may not turn out how you expected it based on previous experience with other virtual analog synths. Although, when playing with a preset, drastic changes to sound can be made with the ever so slightest turn of a knob – which is great! As a general tip to keep in mind, the best way to learn a synth is to play with it (and RTFM).

So, after tweaking some knobs and running through the presets how does it sound? Well…it makes a great lead and can produce some space filling pads. Anything between those two is kind of a gray area. What Parsec puts out in creative, edgy sound design, it lacks in it’s “thickness.” Surprisingly, I don’t think the somewhat “thin” sound of Parsec is a negative. When I said I think it makes a great lead, that’s because it’s thinness helps it sit above the mix. So really, “thin” is the wrong word. Parsec’s sound is “refined” and “polished.” If you want to thicken it up. I suggest layering multiple instances of Parsec in a Combinator.


Good For

Creating leads that really punch through and fine tuning a sound to it’s fullest.

Not So Good For

Reason users looking for an all-around synth.
Additive Synthesis + Reason = All Good

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Brandon plays keyboard/synth for the band Break the Fall, is a Post-Production Specialist for Winding Willow Industries and works full time as a Receiving Associate at Musicians Friend. He enjoys sharing his love for Reason through various types of media including blogs and videos. Any given day Brandon can be found lost in the music, editing videos, or chilling on the couch playing the latest first person shooter.
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