Rob Papen Explorer 2 Review. The Rob Papen ‘Explorer II’ soft synth effects plug-in bundle provides you with all the tools that you will need to make electronic music. Containing Predator, Blade, SubBoomBass, Punch, Blue, RP Delay, RP Verb, and RP Distort these plugins will work with Pro Tools, Logic, Reaper and many more.
Having enjoyed music as far back as he can remember, it was during the early 80’s when an enthusiastic young Rob Papen began his early explorations into creating ‘electronic music’ in his Dutch band named PERU. As Papen begun to notch up a number of hit records that led to PERU becoming the most successful Dutch synthesiser band of its time, by the early 90’s [Rob] Papen had become a pioneer in producing sounds that were simply brilliant.
Having confessed that during the process of making music Papen owes 99% of his creativity to the software that he has programmed, Papen has now become an exceptionally well known in-production-house software synthesiser and plug-in brand across the globe. The reason why this is so undoubtedly so is because Papen has buckets of real world experience, a highly trained ear, and the sheer dedication to make sounds become totally unique after the massive success of his band PERU; which broke up during the early 90’s.
However, it is today that we have the pleasure of discussing the latest release from Rob Papen – The ‘Explorer II’ Bundle. This package contains all the materials that you need to make some incredible music with sounds that are guaranteed to make you drool.
What the Explorer 2 Bundle Contains:
Continuing on from the success of the now discontinued ‘Explorer’ bundle, Rob Papen have now introduced the ‘Explorer II’ package during late July of this year that includes a total of nine great plug-ins. Everyone at Rob Papen HQ wanted to present a suite of their must have plug-ins so that the user would have ultimate control, and ease, over the music that they create or shape. Also if you already own the Explorer I bundle, then you can upgrade for only an additional $139 or €119.
Beginning with the Legendary ‘Predator’ soft-synth (that has been the beating heart of Rob Papen instruments for many years), Rob Papen has paired this analogue oldie with a their next generation synthesiser known as ‘Blade’ to allow the user to go from old-skool to new, and just to make those leads pop, the team have included the ‘SubBoomBass’ deep groove bass synthesiser to help things along. Next up you will want a tight drum machine to build your rhythm and groove, so enter ‘Punch’. This nice little number will literally do what the name says; give the track some serious rhythmic ‘Punch’, and works really well with the included ‘RG’, which provides some electric and acoustic guitar sequences whilst allowing easy editing. Finally you are greeted with some of the familiar tools of mixing, such as: ‘Blue’ for ‘crossfusion’ synthesis, ‘RP Delay’, ‘RP-Verb’, and ‘RP-Distort’.
We would like to highlight that Rob Papen plug-ins do not require an iLok to activate, and rely on serial/licence codes. This has allowed all of the Rob Papen plug-ins contained within the ‘Explorer II’ bundle to be issued with second serials so that you can use them on two separate computers.
Throughout the entire range, all of the plug-ins can be used in Mac Systems older than OSX 10.4 (Tiger) and above or Microsoft Windows systems that use Windows XP and above in both 32 or 63bit configuration. Continuing from this, it is interesting that Rob Papen have partially embraced the AAX plug-in configuration because the only plug-in to benefit from this architecture in the Windows operating systems is the ‘Blade’ soft-synth. Having noted this point, it is also important to make it known that there are a number of other well-known developers that have followed this trend. Although moving on, the following versions are available: VST, AAX (Mac only except ‘Blade’), RTAS and AU (Mac only). Having tested the extent of these versions, they all function well in their respective environments.
Uses, Function, and In-Use Thoughts:
Let’s start by saying that this is a very comprehensive bundle of tools that can easily be used to creatively compose, or manipulate, a wide variety of music genres that utilise key electronic elements, from start to finish, like a dream. The sum of all the total parts of this kit is created so that it will work well for users of abilities to navigate. For the just starting, the modest home producer, or the professional, the Explorer II creation aids a diverse range of consumers by including a good range of preset instruments/plug-ins. Likewise, the Explorer II package gives this same ease to the more advanced user by providing them with a high degree of creative control over many of the many parameters that all represent an well oiled [sonic] machine. However, we would like to have seen an dedicated EQ plug-in.
From opening our chosen DAW we have found that it takes very little time for one person to sketch out the basis of an ad hoc track, and of course using the ‘Punch’ drum machine, was always where we begun. Here at The Pro Audio Web Blog we know (for a fact) that ‘Punch’ is one of the most respected creative tools for the music industry ‘crème de la crème’. With ‘Punch’ you have access to the packaged samples on top of the possibility of loading in your own sound samples. In theory you can use whatever [short clip] sound to make a rhythmic treat for your ears… something Björk[ish]. The functionality continues to impress when you spin your ears to focus on the extras that include valuable parameters that includes filters, and groove triggering to make this a great set of tools for studio and live use. Furthermore, you will certainly be finding yourself experimenting with the addictive ‘RG’ electronic and acoustic guitar sampler and like many others, you often won’t have this feature included with separate packages. RG isn’t something that should be pushed to the back, it is a serious tool that deserves the same respect that you will give to your synthesizers.
As we moved ourselves from our happy grooves, we turned to ‘Predator’ for dome fast and hard full sounds that could create a catchy lead line. We found that with a comprehensive system to find presets that actually help you be unique with a the preset morphing, or intelligent preset variation, functionality so there is no excuse to not personally experiment with your own sounds to either become a synth wizard, like Rob Papen, or get down and dirty with your sounds. All of this functionality is replicated to the ‘Blade’, and ‘SubBoomBass’ does exactly what it says on the tin; it gives you pure unadulterated bass that can be distorted or contort to your every requirement for electronic genres across the board.
Once you have finished creating a track centring, or not centring, around the Rob Papen sounds the bundle includes a very thorough triple-A standard reverb plug-in that goes by the name of ‘RP Verb’. This bad man arrives onto your computer with countless algorithms for different (non-convolution) space types that vary from natural[esque] to completely out of this world, oh and did I forget to mention that in the same screen you will have access to Ensemble, Pre-Delay, Colour, Chorus, and reverb EQ. With this sheer attention to detail you have a killer reverb that can smoke some very expensive competitors, and leave you to tweak the reverb on a bus for specific purposes without potentially consuming more CPU usage. In the same mode of insanity, it has to be said that the inclusion of these extreme variables cross over into the ‘RP-Delay’ and RP-Distort. For these elements I do not have the words to express how much you should just download a trial, because then you will begin to appreciate this collection of instruments as one creative tool. However, as mentioned before, we really feel that there should have been an inclusion of a standalone EQ plug-in.
The Rob Papen ‘Explorer II’ plug-in bundle provides you with all the tools that you will need to make electronic music. However, by no means should this package only be used for this one genre, all of the tools it contains can be used for pretty much anything that you could imagine. During use we found the ‘Explorer II’ bundle to be, on the whole, easy to navigate and almost become the only tools that you will ever need. Including a mix of the old and new-skool in one package is very attractive, and we highly recommend that you add this bundle of nine ‘must haves’ to your collection. We would have liked to have seen more of the plug-ins converted over to the AAX format for Windows based operating systems, and the inclusion of an independent EQ plug-in. For this reason The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Rob Papen ‘Explorer II’ bundle with a four out of five rating.