Fors Opal is a new extensive Max for Live rhythm machine and drum synth with various creative devices with Elektron influences.
The music technology industry is constantly changing. It’s a coming and going, regardless of whether it is a company or an employee. As soon as you have contact with a developer, he is already working for another company. This also applies to Ess Mattisoson, one of the developers of the Elektron Digitone FM synth groovebox.
He left Elektron some time ago to start his own company Fors with Felisha Ledesma, who is responsible for the concepts and designs. They have set themselves the goal of designing “novel instruments that are elegant to use and adventurous in sound.” The latest Max For Live release is called Opal and is a very playful groovebox packed with unique synthesizers and sequencers.
Opal (a hydrated amorphous form of silica) is a new rhythm machine and drum synth for Ableton Max For Live. This consists of several creative devices like unique synths, granular rompler, effects, and an inspiring sequencer.
Visually, the devices are reminiscent of the window layout and design of the popular Elektron instruments Digitakt, Digitone, or Syntakt. Just as visually appealing and playful. The features of the respective devices will also be very familiar to every Elektron user. Especially those of the sequencer.
Inspiring Instruments & Effects
Opal comes with four distinct, easily tweakable drum synthesizers. The engines cover a wide range of percussive sounds that can be classic sounds like kicks or even drift into melodies realms.
- Gem: a 2-operator sine-wave-based phase modulation synth (FM) with bipolar and feedback controls.
- Mass: a modal/physical modeling Synthesizer designed for creating all sorts of synthetic organic sounds (semi-realistic percussions, bells, textures…)
- Dust: a noise generator powered by a granular-style (pulsar synthesis) engine capable of anything from pure white noise to perfectly soft spectral washes.
- Slate: a granular sample playback engine with click-less playback and looping, single-cycle waveform support, and flexible loop mode
Then, it comes with two unique effects processors. Void is a fine-tuned reverb with good transient response, while Flux is an automatic sampler effect.
The latter continuously records the output of all the other tracks and divides it into 16 slices that can be played back by the FX track. It can be compared with an always-recording tape loop made for repeating or transforming sections of your pattern.
Each synth engine in Opal comes as a separate Max for Live device, which is very neat. So you can flexibly decide how you route and use it. Each device also comes with a dedicated modulation page with four different modulation sources (LFO, envelope, and random generator per track and sequencer velocity). These are assignable via a built-in modulation matrix
The heart of the opal is a creative, hands-on sequencer that incorporates many beloved elements from Elektron hardware gear. For each track of the five tracks, you get independent control over the length, division, and time division.
On top, you can work with parameter locks, probability, step logic, and ratcheting. Inspiring features that we know from the famous Swedish hardware devices.
Clever, Opal runs in its own window in Ableton Live, and the interface can be scaled up to 400%. So you don’t have to constantly look at the small device windows.
At first glance an excellent Max For Live release. I love the attention to detail of the individual elements in Opal. For me, every device is a feast for the eye. The concept of the instrument is exciting and immediately makes you want to play it. And the sound demos on the website are also very promising.
It’s almost like you’re getting an Elektron hardware unit as a Max for Live device. This is definitely one of the best M4L releases of 2022. Bravo
Fors Opal is available now for 49€ excluding VAT. It requires Ableton Live Suite or a license of Max for Live.
More information here: Fors