Drifter is, at heart, a simple idea: build the ultimate pad machine. A synth dedicated to, and optimised for, pads. Big swooshy pads. Smooth analogue pads. Crisp, shimmering digital pads with grainy washes of sound running through them in stereo. Crusty vintage pads that crackle and tremble and sound like they’re emanating from old tube amps tied together with frayed patch cords. Delicate ethereal pads. Warm pads like wooly jumpers.
Lots of pads, basically.
Drifter doesn’t try to be a lead machine or a bass monster or anything other than a great big pad playground. It’s built from the ground up to create evolving, textural sounds with lots of movement and stereo interest going on. The central engine is based on three Drift Clouds, each of which harnesses twin waves which you can dial up from a variety of analogue and digital sources – smooth analogue tones from our vintage monosynths, crispy digiwaves from Ensoniqs and Yamahas, and of course the Korg Scale Noise we love so much. The twin waves of each Drift Cloud can be set drifting across the stereo field using the Drift controls; the big Drift slider increases the difference between the two waves to emphasise the amount of movement.
Built into each Drift Cloud are further LFO-based movement controls: Pitch and Amp are self explanatory, while Grain harnesses a modulating bitcrusher of the kind we used to such happy effect on Uproar to introduce shifting, sleeting clusters of graininess to the clouds. This is great for gently roughing up a pad that’s a little too smooth, or for creating the impression of noise across a tone.
The Drift Clouds are similar but not identical, so while cloud 1 has a Pitch LFO, Cloud 2 does away with that in favour of a simple octave selector, and Cloud 3 allows for full-range coarse and fine pitch adjustment – great for dialling in fifths or sevenths and detuning them against the core sound. Global High Pass and Low Pass Filters (the LPF with a dedicated envelope) slice up your frequencies and help carve the sound into something beautiful.
And best of all, the Glitch control has pride of place. We’ve spent a lot of hours tailoring its behaviour very carefully to the parameters available in Drifter, so that its “hit rate” of getting you a starting point you like (or even a finished patch you want to save) is really high. Whenever you’re feeling bored, give it a click 😀
Finally, Drifter ships with over 100 factory patches carefully sculpted by us here in the lab and by our lovely friend Anatol Locker in his garret. These cover the key areas of pads, pads and more pads, with some extra pads thrown in for good measure.
Drifter really exemplifies everything we love about synths: wonderful, evolving sounds, loads of knobs and sliders, but also a big orange button you can hit and get instant gratification. If you like synthesisers (and you do, don’t you?!) then we think you’ll love Drifter.