UDO Super 6

Is it analogue? Digital? Modular? A bird or a plane? Well, this Spotlight review certainly incorporates a few of those things. Fresh-faced in the synthesizer game since founding in 2018 in Bristol, UK, the UDO Super 6 is both their first product and synthesizer (that’s right, please take note that this instrument is the first thing they’ve released). And they have truly birthed a beast. Join Headliner as we delve into why the Super 6 polysynth deserves your attention at the very least.

UDO delivers us a fantastic mixture of presets but, crucially, the opportunity to manipulate sound on top. So often, synths are either all presets, or the opposite extreme: 100% customisation. With the Super 6, you really do get the best of both worlds. Its tagline is ‘inspired by the classics, built for today’. In the case of this product, these are not empty words. That said, the presets sound excellent if you quickly need a great sound to work with off the bat. Huge leads, the more cutesy square sounds are offered, FM-style bell sounds, ambient pads and plenty more. Speaking of ambience, the built in delay buttons really do the business. And if you really want to go full-blown ambient, adding reverb via a pedal or a plugin sounds stunning on this thing.

A Sound Choice

The sounds on offer give the opportunity to opt for retro sounds from the ‘80s onwards, or you can keep it more contemporary. This is in part thanks to UDO’s hybrid technology that brings together the powers of both digital and analogue. The analogue side gives you that unmistakable warmth and organic feel you just can’t get from a virtual synth in your DAW or a purely digital synthesizer. Plus, there’s that charm in the touch of wonkiness (much more subtle than if you bought a really old synth) that synth-heads are renowned for loving and seeking out so much. Speaking of adding plugins, I had the Super 6 plugged in via a UAD x4 Thunderbolt, and the two sounded quite unbelievable together. It’s a great build — not too large and unwieldy, but doesn’t come close to being so small that it limits the functionality of the synth. Too often, modern synths have tiny keys that feel a bit too plastic and too light to the touch. The weight on these keys feels just right. All 49 of them! A great number, as it means you don’t have to reach for the octave button constantly. It’s definitely a performance instrument that’s for proper keyboardists as well as producers and electronic experimentalists. Modern synths often boast a central display with a screen as the centrepiece, but UDO’s designer felt these are sometimes unnecessary and distracting from the music and sound designing process. Hence the Super 6’s common sense design; all the buttons and faders are single purpose. Single purpose features are increasingly rare on the newer synths of the world, but this decision makes everything wonderfully user friendly and enjoyable. And of course, it’s great to have an instrument that gives us some respite from screen time.

How Does It Sound?

The Super 6 boasts its own USB port. You’ll still need a guitar cable to plug it into your DAW via a soundcard (again, I used the UAD Thunderbolt). But UDO has plans to start posting additional waves for this bit of kit, and via USB you will be able to load them straight onto the Super 6. The LFO 1 control is where some of the real fun begins, as you can really start toying around with the pitch and wave modulation. And if you’re in stereo, you can enjoy the full binaural potential of this thing, as the detuning shifts in and out of tune. A fantastic feature with no need for additional effects or pedals to achieve. The Super 6’s main filter is an analogue 4-pole, 24 dB per octave, resonant low-pass filter using a classic polysynth filter design from Sound Semiconductor (SSI). Similarly to the LFO control, it’s one of those classic features that makes a physical synthesizer such a fun way to lose all track of time, something you just can’t replicate in a virtual synthesizer. It’s also where the modulatory features come into play, with its own dedicated faders and LFO modulation.

And just as an aside, there are two colour options, a sleek and subtle grey, or baby blue for those wanting a bigger splash of colour at home or on stage. The onboard arpeggiator and sequencer are also classic touches on the Super 6. The former has the all-important hold button, as seen on some of the best instruments from the ‘80s. Whereas you occasionally see performers using recent keyboards having to place an object on the key when this feature is not available. The sequencer allows 64-step patterns, which you can save to your computer with USB if you run out of the 64 slots within the synth. It’s quite easy to see why UDO’s Super 6 has caught such a buzz of hype around it, as the amount of boxes ticked makes it a stunning all-rounder. If you are in the market for a premium synthesizer, newcomers UDO absolutely deserve a look. If you do invest in one, make sure to clear some space in your diary.

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