Swedish devs Kilohearts have been knocking out interesting software instruments and effects for a while now, and Multipass is probably their most interesting to date.
What is it? It’s a modular multiband multi-effects processor – try saying that quickly – available for Mac OS X and Windows, as VST and AU plugin.
What does it do? Multipass splits audio into a maximum of 5 frequency bands into which you can drop effects modules – Kilohearts call them snapins – to any or all of these bands. In the full version there are 17 snapins, in the basic version you get only 5.
When you open Multipass, you are presented with a flat 2D grey/brownish GUI with blue rings around Ableton style controls. This is easy on the eye and the workflow is immediately obvious.
Across the top is the Kilohearts logo and the preset browser dropdown button. Below this on the left is a set of 8 macro controls and on the right is the modulation section comprising: 2 LFOs, 2 envelopes, MIDI in and SNAKE (don’t ask).
Below again is the main edit area with five tracks for the frequency bands flanked by pre and post FX sections for full bandwidth effecting.
Each track has independent mix controls and a send to the post FXsection. The frequency divisions can be anywhere between 60Hz and 12KHz and are easily moveable allowing rapid band selection on the fly or by numbers.
Into each track/band can be loaded as many FX snapins as you like, from the available effects, dependent upon which package you buy – see boxout:
As well as this there are snapins bundled with their plugins Faturator and Disperser. The bundled effects are of a good standard, if somewhat vanilla, with Faturator and Disperser being the standouts.
With Multipass, it is super quick and easy to set up complex effect states. The workflow is exceptional, and once you have moved on from sensible things like multiband compression and taming difficult sounds, sonic experimentation is the order of the day. Being able to drag and drop the snapins in and out quickly makes for a lot of fun and results are often greater than the sum of their parts. The macro system works as expected, as do the modulators, although I would like to see more LFOs.
Conclusion Overall I think Multipass is an excellent product. A concept that is often possible, but difficult to achieve in your DAW, put into a simple, easy to use interface. Not only this, but being able to experiment quickly and in real-time means that you don’t necessarily need to know what effect you are after before you start.
However, I have two issues with Multipass:
There are not enough ‘interesting’ effects. Although, as said before, the sum is generally greater than the parts, it would be nice to drop something special in there. Kilohearts have said they are planning a reverb, which will help, and Faturator and Disperser are interesting and often unpredictable.
Pricing structure. The full package AKA Modular Madness is 229 EUR (a bundle discount when buying all at once as opposed to buying everything separately for a total of 293 EUR), the Producer Pack is 149 EUR and the 5 snapin basic set is 89 EUR. I think this is too expensive. Even though it is a great product (and you should try it out: a 30 day evaluation license is available).
So, Multipass is great, brilliant even. It is so easy to use, so quick to get good results from, so much greater than the sum of its parts, but it doesn’t quite tick all the boxes. Maybe it is a little too workmanlike, and with time it will prove invaluable, but for now, at this price and maybe lacking some more esoteric snapins, doesn’t quite hit the spot. Will 2016 bring the killer feature?
FYI: Multipass is on sale until the end of the year!