Modal Electronics today introduced the COBALT8, a new eight-voice virtual analog synthesizer that they say ‘reinvents the aesthetics of analogue sounds’.
The COBALT8 offers up to 8 oscillators per voice, MPE Support, 4-Pole Morphable Ladder Filter with Resonance and four switchable configurations, 3 envelopes & LFO’s per voice, deep modulation options, a polyphonic step sequencer with parameter locking per step, arpeggiator and 3 independent effects engines.
Here’s the extended overview:
- ‘Extended Virtual-Analogue Synthesis’, combining traditional technology with modern synth features
- Unique waveform architecture with 34 complex sophisticated algorithms and morphable 4-pole Ladder Filter
- MPE support, integrated 512-note Realtime/Step Sequencer, 32-step programmable Arpeggiator and powerful Animation Lanes
- 37-note key bed with aftertouch, built into a road-ready aluminum enclosure
- Full-size MIDI connections and 3.5mm Sync Ins and Outs
- Access all functions and update COBALT8 via the free MODALapp, available on macOS, Windows, iOS, iPadOS, Android and AU/VST3
Pricing and Availability:
COBALT8 is expected to be available in November 2020, priced at $749.99 USD.
27 thoughts on “Modal Electronics Intros COBALT8 Virtual Analog Synthesizer”
This is a solid deal. That said, most people already own at least one VA synth and there are tons of used virtual analog instruments available on the used market for $250 and up. I have a Novation A-Station, a Sledge and an old Korg MS2000R already and don’t need to retread the same sonic territory.
Still very interested in the Argon8, though.
Do any of those support MPE?
To me this is like a portable synth without the downsides of typical portable synths, like cheap actions, minikeys, bad effects, etc.
Support MPE means very little if you don’t have an MPE controller. So i’d say it is a very small extra.
How portable is the Cobalt though? Something like the Gaia (or the Roland boutiques) can run on batteries, and Novation’s Ultranova is USB powered. But I think you’re stuck using a wall wart with the Cobalt. Still, I like what I’m hearing in the demos.
xrx – once you try it, you’ll never want to go back.
Sean – The Cobalt runs on 9v, which is probably the most common power option these days, so you should be able to run it off of one of those USB battery things. So I’m not sure if having internal batteries is such a plus anymore, unless you want a keyboard or groovebox that you can jam with on the sofa, like a Circuit.
VA’s are not the same just because they are VA’s, They are very unique and sounds completely different, Like analog, or any other kind of instrument.
Agreed. Quality DSP engineering can be extraordinarily complex. Some hit the mark, while others miss it completely, and then a certain portion of it is subjective, both in implementation and sound preference.
Sounds good! Let’s get the rack and larger keyboard out right away! Waiting to announce (like with Argon) will hurt (new) sales.
All Modal instruments have thin and metallic sound.
Except the 008.
definetely not the 002 and 008. This doesn’t seem to sound bad either.
Could it be that there were another designer back at that time called Paul Maddox?
Nice to see a solid poly in this price range – this looks like a huge step up from the minikey synths you get in the $500 price range.
This would pair nicely with the Korg Wavestate to make a very powerful compact setup.
if they do a Cobalt8-m I’m getting one, no room for another key bed
749.00 for a Virtual Synth? Must be a typo. If not a typo, than it’s insane. If I bought into Modal I’d get the Argon 8 37 Key for 749.00….I prefer hardware….but I have Waldorf and Ashun…..I don’t need more wave table/ morphing synths….
This is an actual hardware synthesizer. The term virtual analog refers to the method of synthesis.
I want it because its blue. If you play just one or two master controllers, the COBALT8 would sit neatly on the rack above them, especially as the “bright” voice in a mix. Ooo, look, animation lanes and simultaneous arp & sequencer action. Its the love child of a Wavestate, ARGON8 and the FM Volca.
blue is important feature
I don’t care much for the design, however economies of scale are at play here and thus I understand. It is the first synth I am genuinely interested in, and this marks the return of VA in my opinion. The technology is just beginning to mature.
I’m good with my AN1x I got 20 years ago. It’s a phenomenal VA, great sound, well-built, amazing yamaha keybed. I have zero desire to buy any new VA. I understand companies need to keep selling stuff to stay in business – this may be a tougher sell. It might be a very good option for those new to synths that don’t have one already, but even then you can buy some awesome used VA’s for cheap. Enough rambling… I do hope it does well so Modal can keep making more synths!
my good old virus snow is laughing.
MPE support is nice of course, but unfortunately the COBALT8 is still only monotimbral, like the ARGON8.
Filters are as important as oscillators. The only reason to buy a va these days with so many analogue polysynths out there is imo the flexibility a va filter engine can give. Having a morphable Ladder is ok but you probably need a dozen more filters, especially less steep (6, 12, 18 db).
Judging by some of the soundcloud demos, modal are really banking on a resurgence of the mid-90’s lite jazz sound.
They must be going for an entitely different demographic since they have the questionable old guy selling it instead of jackson, and since they are playing up the 90’s karaoke sounds.
Nell’apologetico comunicato pubblicitario sul loro sito, ambiguamente fanno passare il Cobalt 8 per uno strumento inedito, non menzionando mai il nome Argon 8, mentre è un Argon 8 con in più due algoritmi, un filtro più pendente e il colore blu. Una strategia di marketing scorretta che in qualche nazione occidentale potrebbe essere sanzionata se i censori avessero tempo da dedicare, la quale cerca di prendere al laccio i possessori di Argon e i non possessori, attraverso anche il cambio del nome. Mi sembra che l’etica commerciale sia solo ormai, phon-etica, fiato che esce. Posseggo l’Argon il quale è una macchina digitale dalle inedite possibilità sonore rispetto al mercato del settore odierno. Il suo punto forte è la modulazione di fase che è un altro modo di dire modulazione di frequenza.Certo non possiede le potenzialità dello Yamaha Montage-Modx e nemmeno il prezzo.
This is the best point on here…It’s basically an Argon 8 in a blue shirt with a couple additional features.
It seems SO close to the Argon8 that it’s kind of irritating they didn’t just update the firmware with the new VA oscillator features.