PWM Malevolent Review — a NEW Semi-Modular Synthesizer… But how good is it?
If youre swedish male volunt thats, how i read it, this synthesizer here is made by pwm and i think that its their first synthesizer – and they also provided me with it for this video here, however, as usual, they dont have any say over the content. They dont get watched beforehand, so i can say and do whatever i want now. I first saw this synthesizer here at superboot 21. It was the last day there and my brain was totally fried, so i just got a quick demo by the inventor, the designer and inventor of the synthesizer, and it did seem really cool and affordable. But i was too tired to shoot a demo with it, so they sent one over. So here we are so we have these side panels and i think they just snap on here on the side, so it shouldnt be too difficult for another company to create lets, say wooden ends here. If they want to, we got a quick start guide here: patch cables, quite colorful nicely braided, usb a2 type c, so overall feel its its not too light like its not a heavy synth, but its definitely not too light feels nice feels sturdy. The plastic doesnt budge. If we take a look at the back here, we have power, we have usb, we have midi out midi in on full size din, we have clock out clock in phones and line out, the keys are mini keys and they are definitely not the worst.
Ive tried. Theyre not the best either so somewhere in the middle, even though its a small sin, the knobs are decently spaced, and i, like this taller form factor here, so you can see that the knobs are pretty tall. They have a little bit of resistance to them, feels pretty nice to turn and, as you can see, theres no battery compartment. So i wouldnt be surprised if you could power it over the usb well see about that later in terms of the synth. Here we have an lfo, we have two vcos, a mixer section, a filter section. We have envelope one and two and we have some corresponding inputs and outputs for the envelopes we have drive and what i think is amplitude modulation over here and then theres an output module. So at a first glance its very clearly laid out. You can see what module does what so, it should be a pretty easy scene to get going with, especially if youre a beginner looking at getting your first semi modular next up, lets plug it in and test it. So i made a first little patch here kind of uh, droney Music. You can make a pretty fast kick drum. I really like to drive Music, pretty aggressive stuff. I can see why they named it malevolent: Music, Music and heres. A music theme with malevolent and everything youre hearing is from the synth. Basically, ive sampled sequences into the machine added some small effects, a little bit coarser there, a little bit of reverb there, but all in all its the malevolent youre hearing, except the drums Music, so Music Music.
So here i made a really nasty patch and you can just tweak a few things and get a lot of different flavors out of it different flavors of nasty and gnarly, but still different, flavors Music, so Music, Music, Music, Music, woof next up lets make a patch From scratch and go over some of the features and how you can use them so first up, this is a nicely laid out synthesizer. We have two vcos here so analog oscillators and they have three waveforms each and you select them by pressing these buttons here. So you can actually mix between them, and then we have a mixer section. Also, it has an auxiliary input that you can use and noise level. We then have the filter and analog filter with different filter types, so we have low, pass band, pass and high pass and, as you can see here, theres green text and the green text indicates what is being normaled so where the signal is going. If you dont patch – something if we, for example, want to take this low pass here and change it to a band pass, we just take mix out here. So now nothing is sending to the filter Music. Suddenly we have band pass. We can do high pass Music. So fun thing that you can do with the filter is that you can take a signal low, pass it and lets take noise. You can hear the noise is low passed, so the low frequencies are coming through, but not the high lets take the noise and insert it into the high pass.
So it basically works like a mixer with some filter. Magic happening im not entirely sure what it is and how it works, but it does something its interesting Applause, Music and then over. Here we have the outputs for the two envelopes attack decay sustain and release envelopes. Their outputs are located here. They are also normaled to a couple of different things. For example, the vca here is normal to envelope two and the filter here is normaled to envelope one. So we can use the filter envelope here by just increasing this knob. Here then, were using this envelope here. To control the filter, something that isnt normal is the velocity from the keyboard, and we can use that here. This is the filter, modulation, one and two inputs, so we can basically patch anything in here to control the filter frequency. So now the velocity controls the filter and over here we have a drone mode and amplitude modulation, one and two. So we can control that vca here, basically using two sources, so its normal to envelope number two and then we have drive, which i really like Music. So, Music, you can really crank it and get some gnarly tones out of it. So the oscillator section on this scent is interesting. It has some fairly unique features. So, first and foremost, you have three waveforms per oscillator and you can use all three of them together. So basically, blending between them and you can also change the shape of them, Music, so Music and whats neat and not super common on semi modular synths, is that you can modulate the wave shape so its normaled to the triangle: lfo Music, Music – and we have the Second oscillator: we can bring it in, for example, as a sub lets add some drive and some envelope to filter.
Let me show you. The little filter trick that i thought was useful saw out into the high pass just adds some of that high frequency content back in, even though ive low passed. It now lets get back to the oscillators here for a second, because when i look at a new synth, i always look for whats unique. What sets it apart and on the oscillator section, besides having the blendable waveforms here and the wave shape, which is kind of unusual on this kind of synth theres, also two frequency modulation inputs for each of the oscillators, meaning that you can take whatever output from the Synth itself and modulate the oscillators or from some external device like a urec module, for example, or another semi modular synth, and the reason why i think this is important is because for a mono synth to be a little bit different, you have to be able to Create richer harmonic content and one way to do it is by frequency modulating the oscillators series apache. I did by controlling the pitch of v01 with the output here from vco2, and then i have a lot of frequency modulation, its normal to envelope number one here. I also took the mix output here. Band pass im also taking this here. The pulse through the high pass and yeah lets have a listen Music. So we have this band passed, bass, sound and then, when you introduce the filter envelope, Music and when you introduce the frequency modulated, second or first oscillator Music, we can turn down the level Music, adding in some harmonic content in whats.
Otherwise, a pretty standard, boring bass line Music. You can, of course, also frequency modulate between the oscillators. Take the output here into the fm one or two input and Music now lets just quickly listen to the filter, so you get a feel for what it sounds like without a lot of things going on so heres. The low pass lets add some resonance like im. Not sure i like the sound its, not a particularly beautiful filter, but then we create a sound on. It sounds big and aggressive and interesting sounds good seems like it could fit very well in a mix but just listening to the filter, not super beautiful, and then we have the band pass Music, a bit more noisy and very squelchy squishy kind of neat Music and Then we have the high pass Music. So definitely an aggressive filter doesnt sound that beautiful when you listen to it solo, but when you make a patch, i think it comes into its own right, a bit more but yeah you. Let me know what you think about it, and then we have the arpeggiator Music and there are different arpeggiator modes that you change by holding arp and changing that joystick. Here you can also change octave range Music. We have pitch bend and we brought up so after testing the malevolent for a few days. There are a few negatives that i want to highlight some stuff that may or may not be important to you.
Let me briefly touch on them, so theres a few situations where knobs doesnt do a lot in the first say quarter or to 11 around 11 when you turn them so, for example, the rate of the lfo doesnt do much until it hits 11 here somewhere and Then a lot of things happen. You know it ramps up pretty fast. If you continue to turn it, and the same goes for the cutoff at least on my unit. Not a lot happens until you pass quarter two, then you start hearing something we dont hear anything until 10 2.. Now i would expect something to happen when i turn the cutoff from its lowest point to quarter to ten two, but not a lot happens now. Another potential negative depending on your taste, this is definitely more a taste question. The vca cuts a bit of the higher frequencies. So to my ears, this is actually quite pleasing. I usually just turn down the cutoff anyway, because i dont want all of that. You know high frequency noise on my base, patches, im, not sure if its an intended thing or if its just you know something to do with the circuitry inside of the synth, but it should be noted now. For me, these are not deal breakers, but i did find something that was a little bit annoying, and that is that the resonance on the filter does seem to affect the pitch of the signal a little bit at least the perceived pitch.
It could just be a change to the harmonics and not affecting the fundamental frequency and here its very noticeable so thats, something which can be a little bit annoying its, not something that is noticeable on every single patch. It depends a little bit on what waveform you use and how you use the filter, but its something to keep in mind and to some of you. These are deal breakers and to some of you, this seems like really nitpicky things and most synthesizers have small issues like this, so with those negatives out of the way lets talk about the positives because theres a lot to like here as well. First up, i really like the drive it really works. Adds a lot of character adds a lot of oomph to the sound, and you know not: every drive circuit on a synthesizer does this well, but it works really well for the malevolent. So if you really like, like aggressive bass, sounds big, bombastic bass sounds with a lot of character or other types of aggressive sounds. I think that this is a sin for you for sure. Whenever im nitpicking about a sinned, i try and take a step back and ask myself: did i enjoy using this synthesizer? Did i enjoy patching it did i enjoy creating something with it, and the answer is yes, its nicely laid out, first and foremost, its easy to use its easy to understand its easy to patch its fast, so thats, a big plus in my book.
I dont really like the color. It has sort of this retro meets ira kind of green and black white vibe that yeah its its not for me, but i really like the overall design of the unit, its fun to use. So, for example, if youve been eyeing the minibrute 2 or the bass station 2, but you want something different. This could be it its a very like aggressive bass, lead synthesizer that can do a lot and also integrates well with urac and other semi modular gear. So, overall its a good synth with some tweaks. It could be a great scent and thats pretty much where i end up, so you, let me know in the comments.