GMedia’s Imposcar Review: An In-depth Look At A Great Synth 2022

Manufacturer: GMedia
Price: zZounds

GMedia’s Imposcar – Not An Imposter

I first saw Imposcar at NAMM earlier this year. GMedia was set up in a booth downstairs alongside Ohm Force, a soft synth developer. Imposcar has been THE soft-synth to have since its release. Why is this the case? Is it because they worked alone for two years to develop the filters? Is it because just roughly 2,000 original Oscar synths were made, making it the most difficult vintage synth to find? Is it because GMedia had the foresight to add Paul Wiffen, one of the original Oscar synth’s creative powers and key sound designer? Or is it because, in addition to replicating the Oscar, GMedia enhanced the hardware synth’s initial capabilities without altering its core operation? Of course, the Imposcar is causing a stir for all of these reasons, so let’s have a look. The First Edition

I’ve longed to get my hands on an original Oscar since I saw a photo of one in the late 1980s. Anything that looked so different had to sound different, too. I’ve never had the opportunity to play with an Oscar synth, but I’ve heard it on recordings by Underworld and Ultravox. Furthermore, as stated in the instructions, almost everyone has “heard” an Oscar synth because it produced the bass sound for the Band-Aid project “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” The Oscar was (and still is) a one-of-a-kind synth in that it was a monophonic synth with digital oscillators and a fantastic filter section with fascinating “separation” and “filter drive” controls. The technological “revolution” of polyphony and MIDI (MIDI wasn’t on the original units – but was rapidly added) hurt the Oscar a little. It was a bit like a fish out of water back then. Nonetheless, if the GMedia Imposcar is any indication, the Oscar had to be one of the greatest sounding synths around, which explains its current cult status.

The Imposter?

GMedia’s Imposcar is nearly identical to the hardware version, with a few minor differences. On OS X, I was using the AU version with Logic as the host. Installation was simple, and all I had to do was drop the preset banks into the appropriate folder to get started. Presets aren’t my favourite thing, especially on a soft synth that mimics a synth that was designed to be programmed. But I will admit that the Imposcar comes preloaded with some fantastic presets from the likes of Paul Wiffen (who created patches for the original Oscar), Billy Currie from Ultravox, and a slew of other artists. Another advantage of the presets is that they give you a decent notion of what Imposcar can achieve, as this soft synth can produce a wide spectrum of sounds.

The Oscar was a different-looking synth, and the Imposcar can be a little difficult to navigate at first, but after a few minutes and a few glances at the highly useful and well-written manual, you’ll be fine. My only criticism is that the value/position of the knobs and encoders can be difficult to discern due to their small size. GMedia has a dynamic contextual field that displays the name of the preset or the value of whichever encoder your mouse is lingering over, which is fantastic.

The Basics

Imposcar is a two-oscillator synthesiser. You’ll notice that they’re labelled OSC rather than VCO right away; this is because the original Oscar used digital rather than analogue oscillators. Triangle, Sawtooth, Square, and PWM are all included, as well as Variable Wide Lead, Double Pulse, Gritty, Full Organ, Harpsichord, Strong Lead, UserWave 1, and UserWave 2. That brings the total to thirteen, which covers all the bases and more.

One of the best features of Imposcar is the ability to experiment with Additive Synthesis using UserWave 1 and 2. Select UserWave 1 or 2 and then W1 or W2 on the Edit Mode knob to bring up a neat little grid where you can draw your own wave (setting the level for up to 24 harmonics) or start from one of Gmedia’s predefined waves. This was present in the original Oscar, but it wasn’t as convenient or straightforward to use as it is with Imposcar. The ability to work with Additive Synthesis greatly widens Imposcar’s sound creation capabilities, and I was able to create some fantastic pad sounds as well as some extremely unique bass sounds.

Along Came Poly

One of the best things about Imposcar is that it retains all of the original Oscar’s originality while adding features that weren’t available in the hardware version. Polyphony is one of the most important of these. While playing the Imposcar in monophonic mode was my favourite setting, you had to appreciate the ability to switch between up to sixteen polyphonic modes.

Under Control

If you don’t already own a control surface of some sort and you plan on buying Imposcar you might as well budget for some CC knobs. Not because there are a ton of virtual knobs, it’s just that Imposcar is a soft-synth that begs to be tweaked –especially the filters. Set-up for this is easy, you simply change the mode to CC, click the „L“ under the encoder you want to assign, twirl your knob, and you’re done.

Speaking of the Filter section, Imposcar has one of the best I’ve heard. Which is a good thing as this was one of the only analog sections of the original Oscar, and one of its definitive characteristics. Basically, you have two 12dB filters that can be combined in series to make a 24dB filter. Imposcar goes beyond the original LPF, BPF, and HPF of the Oscar by adding LP, BP, and HP at 24dB, LP, BP, and HP 2-pole mode, as well as combo‘s like LP/BP, LP/HP, BP/HP. You also have a Q/Resonance control and the real killer –a Separation knob. This gives a ton of variety to the filter because you can „separate“ the cutoff frequencies of the two 12dB filters. The filter is so cool that the only downfall is I wish I could pass external audio thru it. Luckily Gmedia has licensed the filter so we will see it appear in other instruments from the likes of Spectrasonics.

Another nice extra for the Filter section is the Filter Drive –basically an overdrive. This was something incorporated into the original Oscar when Paul Wiffen noticed keyboard players sending their synths thru guitar distortion pedals and such to muck up the sound.

And The Oscar Goes To

The fact that Imposcar is so tweakable is one of the reasons it is such a great soft-synth in my opinion. Take two very flexible (and even user-definable) oscillators, add an LFO section that you can sync in Free mode (which works great in Poly mode), as well as Lock, Clock, and MIDI sync, ADSR controls for amplitude, and the filter section, glide, an arpeggiator, chorus and delay effects, as well as control for how notes are triggered and you’ve got a simple, yet very powerful soft-synth.

In fact, I have a feeling the Imposcar could become many audio junkies’ main synth. The nice thing about it is that it is simple and fun to mess with, yet deep enough –with functions like filter separation and user-definable additive waveforms, to program some very unique sounds. You could spend days coaxing new sounds out of this soft synth, but unlike others, it just seems more engaging and surprising. GMedia definitely has a winner with this one.

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