FabFilter’s Twin 3 is a sweeping update to their well-received virtual Twin 2 synth, originally released back in 2009. Fourteen years later, Twin 3 represents a massive overhaul to almost every aspect of the instrument, and it truly is a joy to use. FabFilter’s growth as a company is evident with Twin 3, as they serve up a fantastic-sounding synth with a unique workflow and an eye-popping GUI.
If you’ve been following FabFilter over the years you may have noticed that their penchant for selling us something we didn’t know we needed, and the Twin 3 is no different. Some of FabFilter’s latest plug-ins, like Saturn 2, Timeless 3, and even Pro-Q 3 [Tape Op #139, #146, #132], suggest a propensity toward sound design, and their intuitive way of mapping out features and breaking the mold has reshaped the way we’ve thought about our daily driver plug-ins. With this long-awaited third installment to their virtual analog synth, they’ve done that once again. As someone who has dabbled with hardware and software synths for the better part of 20 years, I found the FabFilter workflow refreshing and inspiring, and enjoyed the feeling of working in a familiar realm, albeit in an unfamiliar way.
Twin 3 is capable of hosting up to four oscillators and all of the other bells and whistles you’d expect to find. There are too many new features to mention here, but of note is the aforementioned redesigned GUI, addition of a fourth oscillator, a new effects section, arpeggiator, oversampling, and a clean and easy-to-navigate preset browser. I’d suggest checking out their site to get a sense of the other improvements, but what we end up with is a beautiful-sounding synth that asks us to think in a different way. The layout of the synth is both alien and intuitive, and the visual feedback is akin to your favorite screensavers from an old '90s PC married with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Oscillators and their parameters are on the left, envelope and mod section on the bottom, effects to your right, and filters in the middle. Once familiarized with its space age workflow, it’s a sound designers' playground. If you’re someone who enjoys diving into the “tweakability” of FabFilter’s other plug-ins, or find your current workflow a bit stale, this is definitely for you. If you’re someone who heavily prefers the traditional synth layout and workflow, you may be a little frustrated at not being able to initially achieve certain sounds as quickly as you’re used to. However, with a little practice it’s a lot of fun.
As someone who tends to find a preset that gets me into the ballpark and then fiddles with knobs from there, FabFilter makes it easy to browse around and flag favorites. After going through the presets, and even checking out some incredible user-made ones, I feel this synth excels at beautiful, expansive, ear-candy laden sounds. It’s so pleasing to listen to once you get sounds moving around your speakers. The tone is both pristine and rich, a description that other FabFilter users will likely recognize as being exactly on brand. In all, something as different as the Twin 3 will always be beloved by some, and simply not for others. I encourage you to download the 30-day demo and see if it’s right for you!