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 earlier this year at NAMM. GMedia was set up in a booth downstairs with soft-synth developing cohorts Ohm Force. Ever since it’s debut Imposcar has become THE soft-synth to have. Why is this so? Is it because they spent two years perfecting the filters alone? Is it because only about two-thousand of the original Oscar synths were produced -making it not the easiest retro synth to find? Is it because GMedia had the foresight to include Paul Wiffen -one of the creative forces and main sound designer behind the original Oscar synth? Or is it because on top of modeling the Oscar itself GMedia added to the hardware synths original capabilities without changing the fundamental way the synth operates? Well, of course the Imposcar is making waves for all these reasons, so lets check it out. The Original

Ever since I saw a picture of the original Oscar back in the late eighties I’ve wanted to get my hands on one. It seemed that anything that looked that unique had to sound unique. I’ve never had a chance to dabble around on an Oscar synth -but I have heard it in recordings -mostly from Underworld and Ultravox. Also, as mentioned in the manual, just about everyone has “heard” an Oscar synth as it provided the bass sound for the Band-Aid project –„Do They Know its Christmas“. The Oscar was (and still is) a unique synth in that it was a monophonic synth that used digital oscillators and had a great filter section with a cool “separation” control and ‘filter drive”. The Oscar suffered a bit from the technological “revolution” of polyphony and MIDI (MIDI wasn’t on the original units -but was quickly added). making it a bit of a fish out of water in its day. Yet, if the GMedia Imposcar is any indication -the Oscar had to be one of the coolest sounding synths around -hence it’s cult status today.

The Imposter?

GMedia’s Imposcar looks almost identical to the hardware version -with a couple of extras here and there. I was using the AU version on OS X running Logic as the host. Installation was a breeze and I simply had to plop the preset banks in the proper folder to get me going. Generally, I’m not so big on presets -especially on a soft-synth that models a synth that was meant to be programmed. But I will say that the Imposcar ships with some great preset from the likes of Paul Wiffen (who made patches for the original Oscar), Billy Currie from Ultravox, and a host of others. Another nice thing about the presets is that they give you a good idea of what Imposcar can do -as there is a wide range of sounds this soft-synth can make.

The Oscar was a different-looking synth, and at first, the Imposcar can be a little troubling in finding your way around -but within a few minutes and a couple of glances at the extremely useful and well-written manual, you’ll have no problem. My only complaint is that sometimes it is hard to see the value/position of the knobs and encoders since they are a bit small. GMedia solved this problem by having a dynamic contextual field that will display the name of the preset or the value of whatever encoder your mouse is hovering over, which is great.

The Basics

Imposcar is based on a two oscillator design. You’ll notice right away that they are designated as OSC rather than VCO –this reflects the fact that the original Oscar had digital rather than analog oscillators. You get all the basics –Triangle, Sawtooth, Square, PWM, plus Variable Wide Lead, Double Pulse, Gritty, Full Organ, Harpsichord, Strong Lead, UserWave 1, and UserWave 2. That’s thirteen in all and really covers the bases and more.

One of the great things about Imposcar is that you can mess with Additive Synthesis via UserWave 1 and 2. Simply select UserWave 1 or 2 and then select W1 or W2 on the Edit Mode knob to bring up a nice little grid that you can draw in your own wave (defining the level for up to 24 harmonics), or start from one of the predefined waves from Gmedia. This was something that was included in the original Oscar but was not as functional or easy as it is with Imposcar. The ability to work with Additive Synthesis exponentially expands the sound design aspect of Imposcar and I was able to come up with some great pad sounds and even some very different bass sounds.

Along Came Poly

One of the great aspects of Imposcar is that it brings all the uniqueness of the original Oscar to the masses while making great additions that weren’t available in the hardware version. One of the biggest of these is Polyphony. While I’d have to say my favorite setting was playing the Imposcar in monophonic mode, you have to appreciate being able to go 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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