Every now and then, a plug-in just slips under the radar. Released last year, Sugar Bytes' Cyclop came recommended by the likes of Skrillex and Boys Noize, to name just a couple of heavyweight users. But those endorsements were likely to deter as many producers as they attracted (and with the same level of conviction), so perhaps it's understandably taken a while for producers in other genres to catch on.
But catch on they have, and in recent times, we've seen Cyclop being applied in more subtle ways in the studios of many veteran producers, such as Vern (Reflekt, Stretch & Vern), Cicada, Jon Carter (Monkey Mafia) and DJ Farouche (former engineer for So Solid's MC Harvey, Dreem Team and Hoxton Whores' Gary Dedman). So what is bringing them to the party now?
Cyclop is at its heart a stonkingly phat bass-tailored mono-synth (i.e. it only plays one note at a time). It uses a variety of oscillators to produce some of the most speaker-busting bass tones DJ Mag has ever heard (think South Park's 'brown note'), and stays consistently heavy across a wide range of notes, meaning that there isn’t any annoying weight drop-outs in a bassline. There's a really nice range of sound-generating oscillators, including some pretty mental options that let users stack up seven saw waves with offset pitches, and then layer four instances of them using Unison mode. Needless to say, the result sounds very, erm, full!
All this is great, but not unique, so its biggest draw is likely to be a stunning modulator to get all those wobbly LFO sounds we all love. But by using a stepped dial and a list of customisable modulation speeds and types, producers can hop between extremely different tempo-synced wobble settings (and different types of modes) in a way that just can't be achieved in other synths. This can be used for screaming, wobbling lead bass patches, sound effects or even percussive synth loops (the sound-generators extend way beyond just phat bass sounds). There is even a recorder that lets producers play in live knob tweaks, and then these can be played back at any time by the Wobble section (the presets come with a fairly awesome selection of pre-recorded patterns).
On top of these two key benefits, there are a slew of other features geared to the sounds of today. One of the best is frequency-based stereo widening, which is applied from 250Hz to 4Khz. It lets users get huge-sounding wide bass patches that are mono in the sub-region, so they really punch, and which are perfectly phase-free when mono'd by a club system.
Also on offer is a large effect modulation section that is inspired by the Effectrix and Turnado plug-ins (also from Sugar Bytes). Like the Wobble modulator, producers can record their settings and generally get some great evolving chops and glitches.
Of course, none of this would be nearly as useful if there wasn't a huge preset library showing the really wide range of sounds and effects that can be achieved using this innovative synth; but there is one, and it's great.
It's taken a while for people to get past the in-your-face nature of Cyclop and realise quite how useful it is in a variety of ways. Cyclop is as fun and inspirational now as the day it was released. For those looking to spice up their lives and get back to having some real fun in the studio, this could be just the thing. It is decidedly digital-sounding, but not in a bad way, and as the growing list of fans proves, it can be turned to good use in just about any electronic genre, past, present and (probably) future.
|Ease of use||9.5|
|Value for money||9.5|
Huge bass and totally unique modulation make this Cyclop one of a kind.
With this many amazing presets, Cyclop badly needs a good 'Favourites' system for browsing.
Singularly suited to modulation heavy wobbling, but that need not be at the expense of more subtle applications. Every producer (in every genre) should try the demo and scan through the huge preset bank.