GEAR REVIEW: Soma Laboratory Cosmos

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Buckle up campers and check your purse strings. The Soma Labs Cosmos is the most revolutionary and wildly fantastic creative device I have ever played. No kidding. I placed my pre-order over six months ago and never was a device so worth the wait and so far exceeded my expectations. It’s kind of pricey but when you consider what you will get out of it it’s totally worth it.

At its heart, the Cosmos is what Soma calls a “drifting memory station” in that it creates evolving, overlapping delay loops that cross and blend back and into each other over and over again in unique and unexpected ways.  It’s not really a looper per se but an ever-changing landscape of combinations.  That said there are actually a lot of controls to tailor your sound that is very thoughtful. High and low pass filters are almost a given in this platform so that the buildup never gets too overwhelming. That’s an extremely smart feature as I can tell you no matter what device you use when you’re adding many layers it could possibly get messy.

While the real magic in the Cosmos is basically created with multiple delays you can in essence record audio so Soma Labs has included a record switch that also doubles as erase all. This is key because perhaps you’re in a performance and you feel it’s reached the climax or is getting out of hand you can then erase all and immediately begin creating a new landscape. Or use the dedicated erase switch in the middle of the Cosmos to erase the last part you’ve recorded. Used judiciously, this erase switch can keep your creations under control so that you’ll never need the erase all functions until possibly the end of your piece. Additionally, there’s also a reverse switch so you can instantly throw everything in the opposite direction and play on top of that.

But the fun doesn’t end there. The knobs across the top of the unit greatly impact your creations and really take them into the stratosphere. The large knob in the middle is where you choose your algorithm. From two delay combinations, four delays, and giant reverb to granular mode, each one of these imparts a very different type of sound memory on your input and are very different and unique.  I suggest playing with all of them one at a time to really experience what they can do and hear which is best for you. You can also change them on the fly in the middle of a performance.

The blur knob works differently with each algorithm from adding cross feedback between delays to modulating grains. Drift modulates the panorama of delays with an LFO or modulates the grains with the LFO depending on the chosen algorithm. Drive simply adds gentle distortion much like a typical guitar overdrive pedal. The sup/com knob does two things: in the middle, it does nothing but counterclockwise it’s a suppressor which suppresses the incoming sound vs. existing sounds based on the volume of the incoming signal. The compressor does what you’d expect and compresses the incoming signal with maximum compress full clockwise. Feedback is how many repeats your soundscape will have and the mix knob controls the overall mix versus your incoming signal. There’s also stereo I/O and it needs 12v of power to operate (supplied with the unit).

Soma has done an incredible job with the Cosmos and it’s blowing my mind.  It’s in stock now at Soma Labs retailers and online with a street price of $649, but well, well worth it.

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