Predator 2 utilises the same subtractive synthesis foundation as the original with a few notable exceptions. There are still three oscillators with selectable waveforms but, in addition to the whopping 128 wave types in the original, Predator 2 gives you eight slots in which you can tailor your own waveform. You either draw your wave into a graph or adjust the levels of the sound's partials in a separate window. Each oscillator can now host two separate waveforms, with the ability to morph and mix between them in a handful of different ways. Add this to the oscillator features already built into the original—including a sub on each oscillator, symmetry modulation, ring mod, sync and more—and it's clear that Papen and Ayres weren't afraid to get complex this time around.
Predator 2's filter section has also changed. The original had one full-featured, multi-mode filter followed by a high-pass filter, and in the sequel they've added another full-featured filter to the mix. These two main filters can be run in parallel mode or split to process the left and right channels separately. A choice of 27 filter types (including the unusual 36db slope design) can be assigned to each filter, but Filter 1 now has three distortion modes to help you throw some subtle dirt into the chain. I found these filters to be perfectly serviceable but not quite as spectacular as those found in the likes of U-he's Diva.
The Play Mode section has two helpful new additions. First is a much-improved unison function that lets you play up to six voices simultaneously with every note, regardless of the selected mode. In my tests I found that switching unison modes has the side effect of stopping the arpeggiator, a niggle that was big enough to be annoying during sound design. Then there's a new chord mode, which lets you program up to eight notes to be played either at the same time or strummed like a guitar. Programming the notes of the chord requires you to pull sliders in the multipurpose tabbed area in the middle of Predator 2's UI. Perhaps offering the ability to record notes via MIDI would make for an easier workflow.
One of the more interesting things about Predator 2 is how many features and algorithms it borrows from other Rob Papen products. This includes the EQ from RP-EQ and a reverb algorithm borrowed from RP-Verb, which are embedded into the multi-purpose window in the centre of Predator 2's UI. Having these two effects in the synthesis framework is a great addition and nicely complements the other 27 effects modules. Perhaps the most important of the transplants is the XY pad. It's a surprisingly complex modulation controller taken from Blade, the additive instrument Papen released in 2012. This lets you use the position in a two-dimensional graph to control up to four parameters, which includes pretty much anything you can think of, from oscillators all the way down to the FX module controls. You can set the XY point by mouse or MIDI CC but it gets more powerful when playing back a motion path that has been recorded or generated using dedicated tools.
All of this adds up to one of the most feature-laden subtractive synths I've come across in recent memory. This could be a bit intimidating for some folks but the developers added an Easy Mode to help out. When enabled, the UI is simplified to include only the most important controls and the result is much closer to a typical VST instrument. There's also an enormous preset library that would benefit those who aren't comfortable diving into the deep synthesis architecture that Predator 2 offers. But, as is the case with many other Rob Papen instruments, a large swath of these presets are rooted in trance and EDM genres.
If you're looking for a synth that can get deep into sound design and advanced synthesis, Predator 2 certainly brings enough to the table to make it worth the price of admission. It doesn't have the raw analogue feel of some of its more modern, CPU-crunching competition, but it offers synthesis capabilities that many can't match.
Ease of use: 4.0