If you’re a regular reader of DJBooth Pro Audio, you’re likely familiar with the name Softube. We’ve featured the Swedish plugin manufacturer in several previous reviews for their outstanding work in analog-modeled EQ’s, compressors, and channel strips.
Long known for their best-in-class analog-modeled effects processors, 2019 saw Softube branching out in a markedly new direction with the arrival of two flagship synths, Monoment Bass and Parallels.
According to Softube, Monoment is a thoroughly modern bass plugin capable of offering producers chart-ready bass sounds with minimal tweaking, offering a quick solution for producers searching for massive bass leads for electronic, pop, and Hip-Hop. In this review, we’ll put Monoment to the test to see if Softube can match the magic of its effects processors with one of its first virtual instrument offerings.
Setup and First Impressions
If you’ve been using Softube plugins through the years, you’ve likely seen the company go through a handful of evolving installation and authorization mechanisms. Thankfully, with the arrival of Softube Central, Softube’s new standalone installation manager app, the company’s excellent plugins are no longer bound to the dreadful Gobbler platform. Simply download Softube Central, install the plugins you’d like to demo or own licenses for, and you’re off to the races. Note that all Softube plugins require iLok machine or dongle authorization to function, and are offered in all major plugin formats (VST, AU, AAX).
Opening Monoment for the first time reveals what very well might be my favorite Virtual Instrument interface to date: it’s thoroughly modern, sleek, and intuitive, with a rich black faceplate and elegant silver knobs for most controls. One major win in Monoment’s favor is the plugin’s immediacy and ease of use: I was up and running tweaking sounds and laying down bass parts within seconds of firing it up for the first time, without any need to consult a manual. While Monoment does offer limited tweakability compared to plugins like Massive X, Avenger, and others, it’s worth noting that you don’t always need incredibly deep plugins to arrive at outstanding results. If you’re after quick, chart-ready bass leads, Monoment has a lot to offer.
Overall, Monoment is an outstanding bass plugin offering some of the most radio-ready leads I’ve heard in 13+ years of producing music. This is not a plugin that will have you endlessly tweaking for hours, creating advanced modulation routings, and designing highly customized bass tones. Instead, Monoment excels at offering larger than life bass leads which require, in many cases, absolutely zero additional processing or tweaking to fit in just about any mix. If you’re in the heat of a creative moment and need something that sounds good right now, I’m hard-pressed to think of a better offering than Monoment.
Monoment offers two sampled oscillators per patch, in addition to an “Analog Dirt” layer, which can be used for enhancing the attack or tone of the patch (it’s quite similar to Serum’s “Noise” oscillator, although you can’t load your wavetables). Although Softube is intentionally vague about precisely what legendary synths they sampled for Monoment, it’s evident that some real thought and care went into the sampling of vintage gear for this plugin—the analog tones sound incredibly fat and lifelike, in many cases delivering more ‘oomph’ than my Moog Sub 37 and DSI Prophet 6. Monoment’s dual oscillators don’t offer much in the way of customization—there’s no unison or hard sync here—but, again, this isn’t the intended use case of the synth. In addition to some heavyweight analog classics, Monoment’s oscillator sub-menus also offers a decent range of digital sound sources and oscillators. Monoment offers a convenient blend control for the two main oscillators, along with a variable “Aging” control, which adds, to let Softube tell it, “Noise, Drift, Grit, Mojo, Dungeons, and Dragons.”
To the right of the oscillator bank, you’ll find a dedicated Low Pass Filter with 6, 12, and 24dB per octave slopes, along with variable resonance control and some very rudimentary filter envelope controls. Monoment’s filter sounds outstanding—although there’s nothing in the box that genuinely rivals analog classics like Moog’s ladder filter circuit, Softube has done a killer job here, offering a filter that sounds wide, powerful, and juicy when pushed hard.
While we’re on the topic of envelopes, it’s important to note that Monoment offers a pretty unconventional lack of shaping options: there’s no ADSR amplitude envelope to adjust, nor does the filter provide ADSR control. In place of these standard controls, Softube allows the user to control the overall shape of the bass patch using a one-knob “Punch” control paired with a discrete Release knob. While I was a bit shocked by the lack of control here at first, my opinion quickly changed the more I used the plugin. Although I certainly can’t argue that the limited controls Softube has opted for here will work for every production use case, the one knob controls work much more often than not. They usually produce what I’d call happy accidents that are much harder to come by with traditional envelope controls. On more than one occasion, I stumbled into a bass patch with a slick amplitude shape that just grooved perfectly with the track I was working on, despite the lack of manual controls.
Monoment’s Effects section rounds out the plugin’s interface, offering controls for Drive, Ambience, EQ (bass and tilt), Multiband compression, and Stereo Spatialization. In my testing, the drive and Multiband units were the standouts here. I recognized much of the drive unit’s sound from Softube’s other plugins, like Harmonics, and the Multiband offers the closest thing to Ableton’s ubiquitous OTT sound as you’ll find outside of Live or XFer OTT.
If I had to describe Monoment’s sound in one word, it would be HiFi. However, the plugin is capable of immense, dirty, and driven bass leads, every sound that comes out of the plugin sounds polished, airy, and like it’s been fed through serious amounts of high-end analog gear.
While there’s an immense amount to love about Monoment Bass, there are a few issues I hope to see addressed in future updates. For one, there’s no control for controlling pitch bend amount, which seems like a significant oversight for a bass-focused plugin. Additionally, the complete lack of a mod matrix seems like an oversight. I fully understand the desire to keep things simple and offer radio-ready bass tones with minimal tweaking. Still, I can’t help but wonder if a mod matrix hidden behind a tab in the interface wouldn’t open up some much bigger sound design possibilities without cluttering things up for producers who want to keep it simple. Finally, it’s worth noting that if you’re accustomed to leading synths like VPS Avenger or XFer Serum, Monoment does not currently offer support for loading your wavetables and samples.
In Conclusion/Recommended For
I’d unreservedly recommend Monoment Bass to any producer looking for a superb collection of chart-ready bass leads in a sleek, minimal, and speedy interface. I’ve owned or tried just about every VI on the market, and Monoment gets you to the finish line quicker than anything else I’ve tried in the majority of sessions. For songwriters doing co-writes and under pressure to whip up something commercially viable in a matter of minutes or hours, Monoment will likely be a handy tool. Although the plugin could offer a bit more in terms of tweak ability and expansion, it’s hard to argue with the sonic results it delivers: Monoment sounds massive and polished, delivering top-notch sounds in seconds.
- Sounds unbelievable
- Beautiful, minimalistic interface
- Loads of radio-ready sounds in seconds
- Most sounds don’t require any further processing.
- Filter and resonance sound beautiful, even at extreme settings.
- Excellent Multiband compressor and drive controls
- No user wavetable support
- Very limited tweakability
- No mod matrix
- No pitch bend amount control
DJBooth Pro Audio Rating: 9/10