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Synth Britannia - 1:30h video

Depeche Mode, OMD, Pet Shop Boys - Synth Pop generation documentary Watch

15 interesting synths

Virtual synths that somehow went under the radar Read article

NI Kontakt instruments

Free and affordable NI Kontakt libraries Read more

Sylenth EDM Soundset

165 modern presets, created by me, for Lennar Digital Sylenth synth. Visit

400 Modern presets for V-Station

Tons of presets that will bring a new life to the Novation V-Station synth Visit

Cakewalk Z3ta+ 2 presets

155 Synth / lead and bass presets inspired by many modern electronica genres. Visit

Free Organ synths / samples

Best, free organ synths / multisamples Read more

Soft Synths released in 2011

Interesting soft synths released in 2011 Read more

Free String Machine vsts

Freeware String Machine plugins Read more

Bootsy epicVerb

epicVerb is a reverb device that aims at both: Tight small rooms and ambiences well suited to modern drum and vocal productions up to large "epic" halls as known from high quality outboard gear. This reverbs sound ranges from rather concrete or even edgy up to smooth, transparent and artifact free reverb tails. It is designed for maximum flexibility and usability and to take place as a true high quality stereo main reverb.

EpicVerb features two different sounding reverberation modes and 6 different stereo early reflection models. There are some standard reverb controls like time, damp, pre-delay as well as reverb tail modulation and detailed control over very first reflections as an option. It offers different reverb time handling for high and low frequencies as well as a musical sounding EQ section containing two "BootEQ" equalizers and additional high- and lowpass filtering.

Plug-in specification
* PC / VST compatible
* SSE and Assembler optimized sound engine
* State-of-the-art digital signal processing
* Smooth reverb tail processing without any ringing or metallic sounding artifacts
* Different reverb and early reflection modes for maximum flexibility

Since epicVerb release, it has quickly became both the best sounding and the most flexible free reverb available (the other one is SIR1 Impulse Response Reverb). If your DAW lacks some good reverb plugin or you just need a change, then you should try epicVerb. It sounds as good as some commercial plugins.



Download: http://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/
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How to make simple trance lead in Genesis CM from scratch

Creating some classic trance lead in Genesis CM is very easy. The best thing about Genesis are Oscillator modes. Each oscillator has it's own specific mode. In my tutorial, OSC1 uses Full 22voices mode (quite similar to Unison knob in other synths) which is great for fat, detuned sounds. The OSC2 mode is set to Quad Mode - it produces thin, bright sounds.

By mixing OSC1 & OSC2 you can create sound that is fat, detuned but at the same time, pretty bright.



There's one thing I hate about Genesis CM - the way the knobs are turning. It took me far too long to just adjust knobs - especially setting EQ knobs was painful :) Ahh, almost forgot. To get the exact sound as on video add an external EQ and reduce the frequencies below 100 Hz and bump some (+ 2-3dB) around 4 kHz. At the beginning my plan was to completely omit Genesis CM Eq (the buttons are just too small) but then I changed my mind and decided to show at least some main EQ'ing in Genesis (unfortunately the quality of the video sound is not as high as it should be - Genesis sounds better than video ;) ).

Don't forget to check released Greeg Genesis CM Soundset (49 presets Sound Bank). You'll find there quite similar preset + other ones of course :)

Feel free to embed video on your blogs, websites etc.
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NI Massive Video Tutorials

YouTube and all other Video sharing services can be pretty nice source of interesting tutorials. This time I'm going to show three tutorials for commercial synth - NI Massive. I wish I had NI Massive :)

Progressive Bassline in a minute



Simple Bassline




Like Physical Modelling



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U-he Zebra CM Presets

Here's the collection of 408 presets for U-he Zebra CM. These are not mine presets, it's just a collection which I've gathered from the Internet. So looks like all the credit goes to the authors (readme files inside zip file) :) As far as I know, there are even few free presets developed for Zebra 2 version which work for Zebra CM (to be clear - most Zebra 2 presets won't work in Zebra CM).
What can I say ? Just download and enlarge your p... :D , nah, enlarge your Zebra CM presets collection :)

Download: Zebra CM Presets
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U-he Zebra CM

ZebraCM is quite heavily stripped version of great VST Plug-in U-he Zebra2 (which costs 199 $). It has less oscillators, lfos and all other stuff I can't count ;) Also the GUI is different - Zebra CM has classic analogue style design while Zebra2 is hmm more modern. But in the end - it doesn't really matter.



There are at least few types of freeware (and magware) plugins: bad ones ;), good for 1-10 % people interested in soft-synths (usually such synths can produce one certain sound nicely), good for specific genres (for example GenesisCM, commercial Sylenth are great for Trance genre) and good for everything. Zebra CM belongs to the last group - it's very flexible and can produce nice pads, basses, leads, sfx - just everything.

Zebra CM comes with around 140 presets and it has one benefit over Zebra2 - it's simplier :) There are much less tabs, screens and sometimes that's a good thing. After all, if you feel that you need more deep synth - you can buy Zebra2 :) Zebra CM is a magware - which means it's distributed with every issue of Computer Music Magazine (Since issue CM111). Probably I said similar sentence at least few times ;) but it's really worth to buy / subscribe at least one issue of Computer Music Magazine. Zebra CM is a must have.


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How To Make Bass Sound with Novation V-Station from scratch

Sometimes people ask me about my soundsets. They usually ask if I create presets from scratch or start with some other presets and then tweak them. I realised that creating video with the whole process of making preset from scratch can be actually a nice tutorial. Well, here it is :)


This short tutorial shows how to create nice (in my opinion ;) ) house / electro bass sound with Novation V-Station VST Instrument. Well, actually it's high layer bass sound - you can layer it with some subbass to get real bass. Notice how FM Level Knob can dramatically change the sound. Also take a look at Oscillator 2 - it has volume set to 0 but when I change it's waveform, it still affects an output sound (thanks to FM Synthesis).



Remember that you can set full screen or / and real size of the video - it'll help you to spot the details (just click the "cross" (?) icon). You can find this preset in Greeg V-Station Soundset but it's better to actually create it from scratch :)

This is my first video. I'm completely newbie with creating videos so give some feedback, maybe some tips :) Vimeo seems to have nice sound quality...

ps. Feel free to embed this video on your blogs, websites etc.

Download: Video in best quality (47MB) - you need to be logged on vimeo.com
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Sound Advice Articles - part II

It's time for second part of Sound On Sound magazine advice articles. As previously, simple idea: question / answer:

* Are all convolution reverb plug-ins created equal?

* How can I make the most of a small studio space?

* Is it safe to run everything off one power outlet?

* Is it worth recording at a higher sample rate?

* How do I lower the latency on my laptop?

* Where has all the bass gone?

* Why don't my synth basses sound good on a hi-fi?
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GTG MX 2008 VST Synthesizer

GTG Synth MX 2008 is a polyphonic synthesizer with 3 Oscillators. It's very nice synth for spacey effects, moving pads thanks to 3 LFO's. Each LFO has it's own strengths. For example third LFO can be used for either hard-sync modulation or small vibrato - we can even choose between smooth and stepped modulation which is can very cool feature (great for some weird, sci-fi sound effects).

There's fat low/high pass filter, stereo tremolo, chorus and delay. The interface is very easy - I like it a lot. At the first sight, MX 2008 looks like an average freeware stuff but if you start messing up with 3 LFO's you'll realise that it's a very good synth capable of creating unique sounds. 45 presets are pretty nice too - lot's of pads, moving effects etc. Who knows, maybe it's the best GTG Synth :)



Download: http://www.gtgsynths.com
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Making sound with Ableton Operator

Three great tutorials made by Timofey.

Making Sebastien Leger - Majuro in Ableton Live



Making Kid Cudi Vs Crookers - Day 'N' Nite



Making Laidback Luke & A-Trak - Shake It Down



All you need is Ableton Live 7 + Operator (default Ableton synth). Ableton project files included ! Just visit http://timofey.be Download Section
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Sound Advice Articles

Sound On Sound magazine has pretty nice "advice section" with more than 300 answered questions. The form is similar to FAQ - one question and an answer. Here are the articles I find useful:

* Why do people stand Monitors upside down?

* Which order for mix processors?

* What should I EQ to improve my muddy mixes?

* How can I get more effective synth bass in my mixes?

* How do you know what EQ frequencies to cut?

* Should I EQ the whole mix?

* Should I EQ first or compress first?

* Should I buy a Headphone Amp?

* Should I mix on high-end headphones or low-end monitors?
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GTG Synths - EP 2008 electric piano

GTG Synths has released GTG EP 2008 - free electric piano VST plug-in. It's a simple E-piano with a bright sound. Controls: Tonebars color, tone, decay and level. Tines level and click. Amp decay and level. Chorus tremolo and speed. EP 2008 contains 8 presets, has nice GUI and sounds good. So, if you need electric piano - try GTG EP 2008.



Download: http://www.gtgsynths.com
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U-he Triple Cheese

Triple Cheese is a unique sounding freeware synthesizer plugin. It has won the first place in the KVR Developer Challenge 2006. Unlike many other synthesizers that use synthesis forms like substractive (oscillators and ?lters), fm (interacting oscillators), additive (piled up sine waves), Triple Cheese mainly uses various forms of comb filters (chromatically tuned delays) to create or modify sound. So, it's a little bit different than most of the stuff you've already seen. No, it does not have any analogue sounding resonant lowpass filter :D

The basic idea is this: you have three cheesy modules (hence Triple Cheese!) that either generate sound, or manipulate what's been created by previous modules. So, if you're bored with hundreds of subtractive synthesizers - try Triple Cheese. It's definitely refreshing synth and it's available also for MAC.



Download: http://www.u-he.com

Additional Sound Bank (77 presets): RetroHead TC Bank V1.0 by 1-2-Many
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Making M.A.N.D.Y vs Booka Shade - Body Language sound with Operator

Some will say that recreating sounds from famous songs is not the most creative way to build your own style. But hey, you can learn a lot from it :). Gustavo Bravetti created pretty nice tutorial about frequency modulation synthesizer called Operator (one of Ableton synths). During tutorial you'll create that sound used as main melody in M.A.N.D.Y vs Booka Shade - Body Language.


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Deadmau5 - Ghosts N Stuff in Ableton

Living in Belgium since 2002, it hasnt taken long for Timofey Reznikov to make a name for himself in our flat country. A native of Russia, Timofey, at 27 years old, has become a local favourite in the Belgian clubbing scene, thanks to his personality, his extensive music production training and experience, and his DJ skills. I admit, I don't know any of Timofey tracks but I know that he created some amazing tutorials for Ableton.

First tutorial is called: "Making Deadmau5 - Ghosts N Stuff in Ableton". You probably recognize the track - nice organs + creative bass section.



The best thing about Timofey tutorials is that you can download whole project from http://timofey.be !!! To load "Making Deadmau5... " project, you'll need Ableton Live 7, Operator, NI B4, Arturia Minimoog V and AmpliTube
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RemixCompetition.com

RemixCompetition.com is a website about ... remix competitions :) The idea is very simple but actually I was looking for that kind of site for ages. "Remix Competition" has just relaunched and it needs support. Maybe VST Cafe is not the biggest site but I like the concept a lot and decided to support them :)


You can support them too. If you know about some competition which is not listed on "Remix Competition" - send (via email) the authors an info about it.

More info: http://www.remixcompetition.com
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New Sound Separation Technique

Separating single sound from the full track is not an easy task :) There are few common techniques but actually one (the most innovative I guess) interested me the most. It requires you to use Photosounder & ... Adobe Photoshop :) In the example, the author isolates instrument from the chorus of Ohio Players' Funky Worm.



More info + mp3 demos: Photosounder.com
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Greeg Genesis CM Soundset

Well, it's pretty late so it'll be short :) Here's my latest sound bank called - Greeg Genesis CM Soundset. It contains 49 presets (Basses, Leads, Pads, Sfx, Pluck sounds) for Genesis CM synth - mostly trance and "analogue" stuff. Genesis CM is exclusively available with every issue (since CM127) of Computer Music Magazine. You can find more info about Genesis CM here

Mp3 demo (no external fx used) shows mostly some trance patches but like I said - it's not 100 % trance soundset.

I've created the demo earlier, when the soundbank was ready in about 60 % (I prefer knobs tweaking rather than "create demo" part :) ). You can even hear some occasionally clicks here and there. I guess I'll have to create some additional mp3 demo soon :)

As usually, feel free to comment, request future sound banks - it's always nice to see that people actually care :)



Download: Greeg Genesis CM Soundset

update: the soundbank is now available at my private blog - feel free to visit it
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GSi WatKat

The most famous Tape-Echo Unit in Britain, and possibly in the World, the Copicat also happens to be the first repeat-echo machine manufactured as one compact unit. It was designed by Charlie Watkins in 1958, apparently after he heard a similar sound effect generated by two linked studio quality tape recorders for the Italian singer Marino Marini. The Copicat is still being manufactured by Charlie Watkins, at a list price of £745. But, actually there's a digital clone of Copicat, created by GSI - WatKat
It sounds very lo-fi, noisy, irregular. When you turn it off and leave the tape loaded, the tape bends in proximity of the capstan, and this turns into a periodic pitch fall during echo playback; plus, it gets hot and the background hum gets worse in time... you should turn it off every now and then; the tape is never completely erased, and the capstan motor flutters... and it gets worse if you touch it while it's spinning; heads tend to get dirty very soon, infact you should clean them often. This is true for the actual hardware unit, and for the digital simulation as well!
It's definitely worth a try, you might like it. It's a simple little tool that actually has a history - for example Elvis Presley’s electric guitar player liked it so much. If you want to understand the whole idea behind getting a tape echo (mp3 example of tape delay (not Copicat) below) - read "Tape Delay In Your DAW" (Sound On Sound) article.



Download: http://www.genuinesoundware.com
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Novation controllers

Pretty often I use Novation controllers such as Novation Nocturn, Novation Remote Zero SL. I've noticed that quite a lot of people recognize them as typical Midi Controllers which is only partially true :). Both controllers use Novation Automap Technology - it automatically maps all plugin parameters to your controller. But that's not the most important thing - I prefer to create my own mappings. There's better thing. You can control your plugin via controller and vice versa :) Also, it doesn't really matter if your controller (such as Nocturn) has 8 knobs - you can virtually map as many parameters as you want (and then scroll between the pages).

Why do I use Novation controllers (mainly for creating presets), what is Automap Technology ? You'll find out below:

* Sound On Sound Novation Nocturn review
* Sound On Sound Novation Remote Zero SL review
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NI Kore Player

Kore Player is a free software instrument with a production-ready 300 MB sound library. Built on the same principles as Kore 2, the Next-Generation Workstation, Kore Player includes six Native Instruments sound engines under the hood and provides ready-to-play sounds that can be browsed and tweaked via the intuitive interface.

The included sounds (50 presets) are good + you can always buy commercial sound packs. Well, that's not the end :) Kore Soundpack Compilation Vol. 1 is additional free sound pack which includes 100 Kore Sounds plus 700 Sound Variations, taken from twelve different Kore Soundpacks.

Download: Kore Player
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KS Abyss FM8 Sounds

KS ABYSS FM8 Sounds is a collection of sounds for Native Instruments FM8 synthesizer and Native Instruments KORE 2 Workstation. FM8 synthesizer is based on frequency modulation synthesis (also known as FM) and it is very good at it. FM has a different approach to synthesis than the classic analog (subtractive) synthesis. Basically an oscillator (operator) is altered or distorted by a modulating signal (other oscillator) resulting in a more complex waveform and radically different-sounding tone.

Well, I don't have NI FM8 but judging by the mp3 demo, Abyss FM8 collection sounds nice :) ABYSS FM8 Sounds is a pay-what-you-wish product meaning that it cost as much or as little as you want to pay.

ABYSS FM8 Sounds features:
* 20 original sounds, each with 4 extreme variations (80 sound variations) for Native Instruments FM8 and KORE 2;
* each sound comes with custom ARP and MORPH info that allows you to create cool sequences and to morph between it’s four variations;
* each sound features velocity and modulation wheel information for even more control over the sounds;
* all future updates with new sounds are free;



More info: http://www.kreativsounds.com
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Yellow Tool Independence

Independence Free 2.0 is based on the powerful Independence 2 audio engine. Beside audio file import, all Independence software features are enabled - so Independence Free is pretty much a Rompler. Free version comes with stunning 2 GB sound library of selected premium instruments from the Independence 2.0 Core Library, including Acoustic & Electronic Drum Kits, Acoustic & Electric Basses, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Electric Pianos, Synthesizers, Ethno & Tonal Percussion, World Percussion, Pipe Organ, Arpeggiator, Groove Instruments, Arranger and Step Sequencer patches.

Few years ago you would have to pay for such products as Independence Free, now thanks to modern marketing it's free :) Independence Free is actually a teaser of bigger products such as Independence Basic (12 GB library) and Independence Pro (70 GB library).

Download: http://www.yellowtools.us
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Vember Audio Shortcircuit 1 Sampler

If your DAW lacks some good, classic Sampler, you can't afford commercial samplers, this post is for you :) Vember Audio Shortcircuit sampler (version 1.1.2) was created as a reaction against the ongoing trend where software samplers are being designed with the primary intent of library playback. It is intended for people who consider a sampler to be a musical instrument in its own right, and not just a way to emulate other instruments. It has been a very high priority (for developers) to make sure that adding and editing individual samples is as fast and logical as possible.

The sample hierarchy in shortcircuit allow you to place samples directly at the highest level of the multi, without having to deal with instrument hierarchies and patches. Want to add a sample to your song? Just drag & drop the sample into shortcircuit and you're ready to go. Samples can be put in groups for multi-sampling and kit-building, but the complexity is only there when you need it.

Sound quality is of highest concern, and shortcircuit uses very high-quality interpolation to ensure that your samples sound as good as the source material, regardless of the pitch you play them at. All filters & effects are calculated at the precision required for them to sound the way intended and oversampling are used when required to prevent aliasing.

Sample/Intrument import:
* RIFF wave-files (.wav) (8/16/24/32-bit & 32-bit float, mono/stereo at any sample rate)
* AKAI S5000/S6000/Z4/Z8 .akp banks (partial)
* NI battery kits (partial)
* Soundfont 2.00 (partial)
* Propellerhead Recycle 1 & 2

Download: http://www.vemberaudio.se
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Synapse Toxic II (2.5)

Synapse Toxic II (2.5), released on 15 January 2009, is the latest virtual instrument I bought. When I tried the demo version (fully functional except saving presets + some ocassional noise), I was actually stunned that almost no one talks about it. There's almost everything in this synth. First, Oscillators - six (!) alias free with about 50 waveforms available. Then, warm filters, precise envelopes, 2 LFOs (also with 50 waveforms), great FM Matrix. Effects section is also powerful - Equalizer, Distortion unit, two Chorus, Flanger and Delay units (and Reverb). There's unison option too, and panning possibility for each osc (just like in Z3ta+ for example) and excellent sequencer with load / save sequencer patterns option.

The GUI is nice and clean - everything is on one page, no hidden pages, no switching between tabs. "Preset whores" ;) will be satisfied too - there are about 600 presets divided into 10 sound banks. It's a killer synth capable of creating almost any sound - pads, leads, basses. Even if you won't use FM Matrix (which is one of the most user friendly FM matrix I saw), it's still powerful synth worth much more than 49 $ (that's the Toxic II v2.5 price). If I were Synapse, I would set the price to about 99 EUR level because the synth is so powerful. Luckily it's costs 49 $ and that's why i have it (I'm on the budget hehe) :)

Is there something that Toxic II doesn't have ? Well, I would love to modulate the pitch of each Oscillator with LFO but it's not possible - you can only modulate whole 6 Oscillators pitch. Also the mp3 demo is not the best one so be sure to check functional demo version :)



Update. Here's my demo:



PRICE: 49 $

More Info: http://www.synapse-audio.com
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Synth Programming Secrets Articles

If you really want to understand all the stuff related with Synth Programming then you should read the whole Sound On Sound magazine series called Synth Secrets. It contains stunning amount of 30 parts (plus another 32 parts related somehow with Synth Secrets series) !!! and covers almost every aspect of synth programming.

Beginners should start from Synth Secrets part 1: What's In A Sound?, more advanced users can pick any part from this link (list of all available Synth Secrets parts). I guess that Synth Secrets articles + earlier introduced "How to make a noise" guide should be enough to learn "a little bit" about Synth Programming :)

ps. Almost forgot, all articles are available for free, you don't need to buy Sound On Sound subscription, or register or other crap :)
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Guide to Synth Programming by Simon Cann

"How to make a noise" book by Simon Cann is the most comprehensive guide to synthesiser programming techniques and covers:

* subtractive synthesis
* FM
* additive synthesis
* wave sequencing
* sample based synthesis.



There are two versions of the book available - the free download (in PDF format), and another version (which is available with the patches) that has higher resolution/less compressed graphics making it suitable for printing. The book is 116 pages/80,000 words long so you may find it preferable to print it.

The examples in "How to make a noise" are based on five synths:
* Camel Audio Cameleon 5000
* Big Tick Rhino
* reFX Vanguard
* Wusikstation
* Cakewalk Z3TA+

To illustrate the points raised, over 200 patches are available to accompany the book. The patches (together with a higher resolution version of the book, see below ) are available for $10. You don't need the patches to read the book, but it will help and will save you a lot of programming drudge.

Don't forget to check other, music related books on Noise Sculpture - commercial stuff but quality too.

More info: http://www.noisesculpture.com/htman.html
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Sound On Sound Magazines for free

Sound On Sound (http://www.soundonsound.com) is a monthly music technology magazine. It includes product tests of electronic musical performance and recording devices, and interviews with industry professionals. You can buy 3 months eSubscription for 9.00 £ and get an instant access to huge database - articles (first ones are from year 1994 !), reviews, tests etc. 9.00 £ is really cheap for such excellent stuff but there is actually a cheaper way - free way :)

I usually don't bother registering the stuff I bought (especially hardware) - I'm just too lazy hehe. But there's at least one exception. Register any M-Audio product at www.m-audio.com and you'll get a coupon which gives 3 months Sound On Sound magazine eSubscription absolutely for free.
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Cool sharing service - getDropbox !

This may look a little bit spammy but there is amazing service I use every day. It's called Dropbox and it offers the easiest way to share and store your files online. Especially it's great when you have more than one computer (ie. desktop + laptop, or computer at work and at home).

Dropbox keeps a certain folder on your computer in sync with all your other computers. You don't need to upload any files via web interface (which is pain in the ass if you have multiple files) as in typical sharing services. All you need to do is just copy file (ie. in Total Commander) to your dropbox folder and all the synchronizing stuff will be executed in background.

You can have shared sub-folders with other Dropbox users, it has a gallery feature, a public folder (accessable via www) and also versioning control. I use it at work (actually i stopped using pendrive because of Dropbox) and i use it at home. I love it and you'll love it too!

Best of all, it's free..

You can register here - you'll get extra 200 mb space (added to the default 2 GB space). Check this link for video demo
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Greeg Genesis CM Soundset preview

So far I created soundsets for Novation V-Station and Minimogue VA. The next soundset i'm going to create is for Genesis CM synth, which is exclusively available with every issue (since CM127) of Computer Music Magazine. You can find more info about Genesis CM here

The sound bank is completed in about 80 %. This time the main music genre is trance ( + of course some Electro, House stuff). It'll still take few days to complete the soundset but the mp3 demo is already available (no external fx used). Feel free to comment :)


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SIR1 Reverb

SIR1 is a reverb device that works with "impulse-responses". Impulse-responses are generated by recording short broadband signals and their corresponding room-reflections. What you get contains the information needed to reproduce the same room with other signal.

What's the idea behind SIR reverb ? You load 'impulses' (usually wav recordings) of any reverb, that was captured (real world places or from hardware) and the plugin recreates it for you to use on your own material. So quality generally depends on the original reverb source/recording.

SIR1 reverb is free while it's bigger brother - SIR2 costs 125 EUR.

Download: http://www.knufinke.de/sir/sir1.html
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Wavetable Pack by Arty

There are at least few Vst Instruments (with wavetable oscillators) that let you import custom Single Cycle Waveform files. The most popular i know are: Z3ta+, Vember Audio Surge, Jeremy Evers Atlantis, Future Audio Workshop Circle, Audjoo Helix etc.



Arty - member of Vember Audio Forum has created Wavetable Pack for Vember Audio Surge synth. Pack contains 402 (!) wavetables in wav format.

Some of these are real beautiful and some of them are converted from Instruments and so on. Just try them and you will see how many sounds you can make with surge its unbelievable !!! So great!!!

While Wavetable Pack was developed for Surge, you can try to use some other wavetable synths too. For example, I tested Wavetable Pack with powerful, free Jeremy Evers Atlantis synth and it works great. It's an excellent addition for every wavetable synth (that has import custom waveform option)

Download: Arty Wavetables
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Martin Eastwood Audio Compressive

Not every DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is packed with tons of good vst effects. Sometimes you need to find some better reverb, delay effect or compressor. Martin Eastwood Audio Compressive is free compressor written in a combination of C++ and assembly for maximum CPU efficiency.




Compressive consists of two audio compressors:
* Compressive Pro is an external side chain vintage analogue modeled RMS compressor. The external side contains a 3-band EQ and mid/side controls to allow complete control of audio dynamics.
* Compressive Lite uses the same algorithms as Compressive Pro but has a reduced feature for minimum CPU usage.

In my opinion (well, i know that there are quite many people with same opinion :) ), Compressive is best free available compressor - it's even better than some commercial products.

Download: http://www.martineastwood.com

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Stereoizer VST

Stereoizer is different than most Stereo Widening plugins. It's modelled after an old hardware-synth that Hbasm (author of this plugin) has. I admit - I'm not an Stereo Widener expert, so here's a little bit more technical information, which explains why Stereoizer sounds very nice.




It works by adding a phase-inverted, discrete chorus with a slight delay to the dry signal. Unlike a typical chorus effect (which is supposed to turn a solo-instrument into an ensemble sound) this stereoizer is more transparant. Its also not a typical "delay" effect, or a "surrounder" which isn't really mono-compatible.

This plug-in is mono-compatible: People who listen to your music in mono will not hear the stereoizer at all ! They will only hear the dry signal. This has the benefit that you can use it, for example on bass sounds. Stereoized basses won't sound bad on sound-systems where there are only one loudspeaker (sub-woofer) for the bass.

But you should be careful with the MIX fader: When you go beyond 90 degrees (in other words, when you move the fader down on the red area) the sound will begin to decrease in volume for people who listen to your music in mono. This is because the dry signal will begin to derease in volume when you go below mid position. The signal that remains, is the phase-inverted signal (the wet signal).


Mp3 demos - each mp3 preview contains unprocessed sound first and then processed by Stereoizer:





Download: Stereoizer v1.1
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Value for Money: Homegrown Complete

VST Cafe is growing fast :) Today i've created new category - "Value for Money". Which products will have a chance to get there ? Well, i guess you know it - those that have great value compared to price. I'll try to put there commercial plugins, presets, sample CDs and maybe some hardware too. But remember, "Value for Money" is just my subjective opinion. To make the things even more clear :) - no i'm not working for any company related with music industry, plugins, sample cds etc.

Anyway, it's time for the first "value for money" hmm award ? :)

Homegrown Sounds is selling their entire 9.5 GB sample collection called Homegrown Complete for crazy price 50 GBP (earlier it was 140 GBP)! It includes the following 14 sample CD/DVD (most have been reviewed by magazines such as: Sound on Sound, Future Music) titles:
* Organic Breakbeats
* Elemental Guitar Loops
* Radiance
* Alien Landscapes
* Alchemy
* Homegrown 800
* Full Frequency
* Guitar Textures
* Timbres
* Sand in the Sarnies
* Bubony
* Organic Chaos
* Frequency Arps

You can preview any Sample CD thanks to mp3 demos and even download some free examples. Sample CDs contain large WAVs (compatible with any application / Sampler) with glitch free loop points, NN-XT patches, Halion fxp's, EXS24 Instruments, Kontakt Intruments. Homegrown Complete library is instantly downloadable. You can take as long as you want to download the files, after purchase they will permanently be in your Files section in your my account page.

Definitely great value for such price.

PRICE: 50 GBP

More Info: http://www.hgsounds.com
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NuBi Plus

I'm no expert on authenticity but many users at Kvr Audio forum (which is btw the best one ? :) ) report that NuBi Plus is pretty nice Hammond organ clone.

At the beginning, NuBi Plus version was commercial but then it became free. It comes with a Spinner - separate effect which is an emulation of the Leslie cabinet. Overall, NuBi has very nice interface, about 30 presets, sounds very good and is very low CPU hungry - there are people who used it on 400 Mhz laptop :) It's one of the best vst organs available.

NuBi Plus is no longer available as download link but actually you can get it quite easily - just request it from the author. All i know is that attaching NuBi zip file and sending it to someone, who takes time to request it, makes the NuBi developer happy :)

ps. If you like NuBi - don't forget to thank author for it :)

update. NuBi Plus is no longer available, instead of you can have NuBi LE version - also pretty nice.

More info: http://www.fxpointaudio.com
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GTG WS2 Synth

GTG WS2 is a Hybrid synth with waveshaper and phase modulation oscillator. I admit, it's not the deepest synth but hey, sometimes a specialized one synth is fun too :)






This small VST instrument (with 40 presets sound bank) is capable of creating very nice dirty sounds like this:



as well as more melodic ones:



The idea was to make a synth for "dirty" sounds, crunchy attacks and live tweaking saturation. But also for melodic "instruments" like synthetic guitar-like sounds and plucked hybrids.

Download: GTG Synths
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Greeg Minimogue VA Soundset

Minimogue VA (version 2.1) inspired me to create a new soundbank. It's called Greeg Minimogue VA Soundset (not so creative, i know ;) ). It contains 27 presets - suited for Electro, House, Electronica genres but you can also find some organs and harmonica sounds.

Well, i'm still learning about synth programming and i hope that i can improve a little bit more :) If you like my free presets and want to encourage me to do more of them - give me some feedback. Any kind of feedback is appreciated. If you have some requests about next sound bank (i'm leaning towards Genesis CM) - post comments :)



Mp3 Demo Preview was created using just one instance of Minimogue VA + some external drum loops and ocasionally some EQ'ing / Ping-Pong Delay (cos Minimogue doesn't have any of these effects).

Download: Greeg Minimogue VA Soundset

If you find my presets, whole blog useful - donate. By donating VST Cafe you'll prove me that publishing nice presets for free is the way to go :) Why Donate ? Read here :)
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Ugo Rez 2.0

Ugo Rez is a virtual analog monosynth, with a highly resonant low pass filter, that is capable of a wide range of sounds, from funky squishes, beastly basses and screaming leads, to tight arpeggiations, atmospheres, bells, and interesting effects.

Features:
* Phrase arpeggiator.
* Sub oscillator.
* Detune (modulatable via aftertouch).
* Highly resonant low pass filter.
* Pulse width modulation.
* Overdrive.
* Dual Delay.
* Phaser (with velocity modulation).
* 3 LFOs.
* Host BPM Sync.
* MIDI CC control over most presets.

Being a monophonic single-oscillator synthesizer doesn't limit Rez as you would think - just listen to the presets in mp3 demo. There are two full .fxb banks, so that's about 256 presets good for all kind of electronic genres. It just sounds great. I guess the big secret is the filter which is really outstanding for a freeware. Combine this with Drive function and you'll receive very fat sound that even some commercial synths don't have.



Download: http://www.ugoaudio.com
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Linplug Free Alpha3

Linplug Free Alpha3 is one of the better free VSTi's. Partially inspired by the classic polysynths of the 80s, Alpha3 is good for everything - presets cover wide range of sounds from basses, leads, to warm pads.
There are actually four versions of this subtractive synth: Alpha (commercial), Alpha CM (Computer Music magazine exclusive), Alpha Keys (Keys magazine exclusive), Free Alpha. You can compare all versions here. The sound quality of freeware version is of course very good thanks to bigger, commercial brother (which costs 79 EUR) :)

One thing i like the most in Alpha - it's so easy to program it. This soft synth is great for those who want to learn basics of subtractive synthesis. The GUI is clean and looks very professional. It almost invites you to program new presets :)



Download: www.linplug.com (PC & MAC version)
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Hypercyclic by mucoder

Hypercyclic is another creative, "midi-out" VST plugin developed by mucoder. This time it's an LFO-driven MIDI arpeggiator, gate effect and step sequencer for mangling MIDI input chords. Two tempo-synced LFOs can be used to modulate various parameters to create interesting rhythmic effects and chord variations. A unique feature is the possiblity to modulate the sequencer step size itself, which is useful for creating glitchy stuttering effects.

The sweetspot for hypercyclic is the narrow border between chaos and regularity - in other words, how to induce a certain pleasant randomness, yet forcing everything to align again on the bar or beat boundaries.

Hypercyclic has won 2nd place in the KVRAudio.com Developer Challenge '07.





ps. Read documentation (in PDF format) to learn how to setup hypercyclic with your VST host.

Download: http://www.mucoder.net/hypercyclic/
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Tonespace by mucoder

Tonespace acts as more intuitive music keyboard, combined with a chorder. It automatically generates chords to MIDI-out while you move the mouse around (or just play via keyboard) in a grid-like space - great for slow IDM chord pads. Or try the blues scale with your bass rhythm track of choice for some "sweet jamming". Tonespace supports over 50 different grids, 14 scales, 18 keys, 30+ chord types and 15 chord voicings - it's great educational tool for anybody wishing to learn about scales, keys and chords.

Technically tonespace is a midi VSTi plug-in (Windows-only currently). When you play, it generates midi output. This output you can then feed into another instrument capable of turning midi into sound, like VST Instrument. Or you could record the chord progressions you played to a midi track. Note that you need a host application that is capable of routing VSTi midi output to synths.

It has been tested with:
* Ableton Live 5 (works with Live 7 too)
* Cubase LE/3SX
* Sonar 6
* EnergyXT
* Fruity Loops Studio 6

Tonespace is completely free of charge - you can use it in your performances - both non commercial and commercial. There's also very detailed online manual + pdf version.

Download:
http://www.mucoder.net/tonespace
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Chimera

Chimera VST is quite unique synthesizer with more than 50 included presets. It's noise driven synth focusing on haunting leads, pads and atmospheres with elements of wind, water. Three noise generators are connected through pitch controlled resonant bandpass filters. The result is an angelic and smooth synth.



Take a look at short Future Music - June 2006 review:
Now here's a little cracker and it's freeware too. It uses white noise to generate sounds, passing it through bandpass filters to create pads, atmospheres, organs and percussive sounds. Novel, cool and a kind of 'sci-fi synth' if you like. It's getting some great feedback and, best of all, it's free as a bird.

ps. Majken updated Chimera plugin - it will no longer crash when running multiple instances on multicore systems.

More info & Download: http://www.majken.se
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Green Oak Crystal

Crystal is a semi-modular software synthesizer featuring both subtractive synthesis and frequency modulation (FM) synthesis. It offers huge modulation control with over 90 parameters which may be modulated, multi-stage envelopes with graphical editors, extensive tempo sync of envelopes/lforates/delay times, built-in effects for chorus/flanging/comb filtering/echoes, and a band splitter for effects processing by frequency band. Not only that, Crystal has wave sequencing, granular synthesis, program morphing, MIDI learn, and imports soundfonts. The musical applications for Crystal are literally boundless.

Mp3 Demos:

What more can i say ? Just listen to the mp3s :) It's one of the most sophisticated and generous free vst instruments ever. It's strength, obvioulsy is movement and modulation - patches are nice too (you can find more at official website).

Download: http://www.greenoak.com
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Ableton Live - Icy Shimmer Effect

Check out http://www.nickstutorials.com for free and commercial tutorials, created by Nick Maxwell, using only the native tools in Ableton Live. Ice Shimmer Effect tutorial looks quite nice :)
This is the first in a small series of free videos I'm doing on sound design with field recordings. Here I take the sounds of unsheathed knives and a closing door to create a sound effect.



More info: http://www.nickstutorials.com
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Todybear MiniHost - Host / Bank Manager

Todybear MiniHost is a powerful and full-fledged ASIO host that loads a VST plugin (instrument or effect) and processes it in realtime.

It offers many features, such as:
* arpeggiator, step-sequencer, CC gater
* chord maker
* send MIDI data to VST plugins from external MIDI inputs
* virtual MIDI keyboard, the computer keyboard or MIDI files
* process live ASIO audio input or a WAV file
* record audio output to WAV (16 and 32 bit)
* browse through the presets
* preset randomizer with script support and mutate option
* drag n' drop support
* support for VST MIDI plugins that generate MIDI data

What do i think ? It's good VST host but, in my opinion, it's great for managing your Fxb banks. Minihost has pretty advanced tool called Preset Manager. It allows to load / save banks, load / save presets, copy / paste presets, copy presets between two fxb banks. So, if you need to organize somehow your presets, banks then Todybear MiniHost is definitely tool for you :)

Download: Todybear MiniHost
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SQ8L VSTi - Ensoniq SQ80 emulation

The Siegfried Kullmann's SQ8L is a software model of Ensoniq's classic 1980s synth SQ80. The SQ80 features 3 digital wavetable (75 waves) oscillators for each of its 8 voices which are fed through analog 4-pole lowpass filters (-24dB gain) with resonance. Sound parameters can be modulated by 4 envelopes, 3 LFOs and several MIDI sources. Default soundbank has about ~ 160 presets. The SQ80 also has a predecessor, the ESQ1, which can do most of the same stuff.
SQ8L was and still is a lot of work. Never the less and despite ongoing improvements it is still provided for free. If you like this software, you might want to consider a donation to the Programmer, Siegfried "Sigi" Kullmann.



Download: http://www.buchty.net/ensoniq/index.html
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NUSofting Groove Analogizer

Previously sold for $29 (and now free) Groove Analogizer is an "audio controlled drum synthesizer", it means that like a vintage electronic drum tone generator (e.g. Simmons) the percussion sound is triggered by an audio input, not by a MIDI message. This also means that you must not load, Groove Analogizer as a VST instrument, it loads as a VST effect, usually in an insert slot. But it's really a synth: the sound of three oscillators is triggered and shaped by the audio input in many ways.

How triggering works ? A trigger can be any kind of percussive sound (it means with fast attack time and fast or moderate decay / release time), both mono or stereo, it can be a wav file or another VST instrument.

Mp3 Demo: during the first three bars you hear only the trigger, a drums loop, from the fourth bar you hear Groove Analogizer, with the "OFFSET" control of OSC2 automated for some pitch sweeps:


Download: http://nusofting.liqihsynth.com/grooveanalogizer.html
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DrumKits from The Thrillseekers.co.uk

For close to 10 years now, The Thrillseekers have been at the forefront of the world's dance scene. The story started back in 1999, where, with a relatively basic home studio Steve Helstrip constructed the trance milestone that is "Synaesthesia". Signed and released by Neo Records in 1999, at the height of the trance explosion, it has gone on to sell over 1,000,000 copies, across its numerous, repeated worldwide releases.

He's worked with pioneers like Trevor Horn, shared co-production credits with Chicane and co-wrote on Ferry Corsten’s Grammy award winning ‘Right of Way’ album. He has remixed Tiesto and Armin, amongst many others, and reworked Sonique’s "Feels So Good" into a worldwide, No. 1 record.

Why am i writing this ? :) At http://www.thethrillseekers.co.uk you can find very nice message board where Steve Helstrip posts a lot. Registered members (free registration of course) can freely download Drum Kits (in WAV format) used for productions such as "The Last Time", "Circa Forever", "By Your Side", Basses etc. There are, naturally, nice tips by Steve:
I generally use 3 or 4 pads layered, to create a big, spacious sound. Another trick is to play the chords 1 octave above and below the main chord, but mixed in much quieter (not always necessary, though). My pads are a collection of samples, and hardware synths. I rarely use softsynths for pads. ... Lots of lush lexicon reverb and delay add to the ambience.
and even some presets ie. great pad for commercial VST Korg Polysix - quick example:


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Synth programming for beginners (part II)

It's time for the second part of basic synth programming tutorials. In part one we (or maybe i should say Computer Music Magazine) covered the most popular synthesis - Subtractive + Envelopes and LFOs. Second part is about basic effects such as Delay, Chorus and EQ.


As previously, tutorials were created by Computer Music and are freely available in PDF Format (so you can nicely print it) at http://www.computermusic.co.uk or directly:
* CM The Essential Guide To... Delay
* CM The Essential Guide To... Chorus
* CM The Essential Guide To... EQ
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Remote Zero SL - Minimogue VA mapping

Sometimes, free VST Instruments can be really inspiring :) Few days ago I tested Minimogue VA - i liked the sound, GUI wasn't overcrowded and i knew that it can be a perfect synth to automap it's parameters into my Novation Remote Zero SL.

Novation Automapping technology had some problems with Minimogue VA - totally random placement, many parameters without it's names - practically unusable mapping. So I decided to create my custom mapping from scratch. It took about one evening but the result is nice - most parameters (two pages only in Remote Zero SL) are mapped and named properly.

Now i really like Minimogue synth - it inspired me quite a lot and, thanks to mapping, i managed to create few presets pretty quickly :) Probably, in next few days i'll release free soundset for this best, free Minimoog emulation.

Download: Minimogue VA Mapping for Novation Remote Zero SL
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Minimogue VA

The Minimogue by Voltkitchen is based on the most popular analog monosynth of all time! This amazing softsynth sounds close to the original Minimoog, yet has tons of additional features not present on the original Mini (as well as the Minimoog Voyager!), including 5-note polyphony, an Arpeggiator, 16-note Step Sequencer and more....

GUI looks clean and "fat" ;) Sure it's not as perfect as Arturia's Minimoog V, or GForce Minimonsta but still it is the best freeware moog emulation.

Download: http://home.no/gunnare/index.htm
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Airbase Tutorial - 007 Bass kick - kick bass

Today is definitely a tutorial day ;) Jezper from Airbase has released another part of his tutorials presented at Airbasemusic.com. Now it's time for part 007 - "Bass kick - kick bass" described as:
A short tutorial on how you can turn the right kick into a bassline, perhaps giving you new inspiration on how to write your tracks.

As usually, this tutorial is quality stuff - well, all Jezper tutorials are about quality :) In my opinion, his tutorials are even better than most commercial...


*You can also watch his tutorials in high quality 720p format

Don't forget to visit http://www.airbasemusic.com - there are some great additional materials, for example you can download whole Ableton Project for tutorial 006 called "Declaration of content" (which is my favourite).
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Synth programming for beginners (part I)

There are so many great tutorials spreaded all over the Internet. There are also many beginners who want to learn something about synth programming. So ? It's time for some good tutorials in PDF Format :)




First tutorial called "The Essential Guide To... Subtractive synthesis" covers all the basics needed to start programming your own synth - doesn't matter if it's real or VSTi (as an example CM101 is used). You'll learn basics about oscillators (and waveforms), envelopes (amplitude, filter), filter, LFO etc.

The second tutorial "Envelopes and LFOs" covers, i bet you know ;), envelopes and Low Frequency Oscillators.

Both tutorials were created by Computer Music and are freely available at http://www.computermusic.co.uk or directly:

* CM The Essential Guide To... Subtractive synthesis
* CM Envelopes and LFOs
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Andreas Ersson polyIblit

Are you a beginner who wants to learn something about synth programming ? PolyIblit will help you - it's a classic subtractive synthesis (which is most popular synthesis) soft-synth, packed with almost every "analog" tools you need.




Features:
* three oscillators with standard waveforms (sine, triangle, pulse, saw) - oscillator waveforms are generated using BLITs (Band Limited Impulse Train) which gives oscillators with very low aliasing.
* two DCOs (Digital Controlled Filter), two DCAs (Digital Controller Amplifier)
* Noise generator and Pulse Width Modulation

PolyIblit is not that basic though - it's nice synth for more experienced synth programmers too - there are four LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillator) and four ADSR Envelopes. Sure, the GUI could be better but even with those all lfos, envelopes, it's still clean. Overall - it's a very good synth packed with everything you need to start learning about synth programming.

Download: http://www.bostreammail.net/ers/polyiblit.html
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Greeg Novation V-Station Free Soundset

Here it is, my first public released soundbank. It contains 16 Electronica / House / Electro Sounds for Novation V-Station softsynth.

To be honest, it was a quite tough lesson. I've learnt a lot not only about synth programming but also about overall process of creating soundbank :) Earlier, sure i had respect for all those synth programmers but strangely i thought that it's much less time consuming process. I didn't know that the more time you spend on synth programming, the better effect you want to reach. As a result you end up tweaking your sounds more and more :D Now i know that creating soundbanks is also about organizing your work / job / hobby :)

Here's the mp3 demo (no external effects used, only V-Station stuff):


If you like my patches then let me know about it. If you don't like - well, then contact me too :) The zip file contains soundset in fxb format.

edit. There was some error when loading soundBank (probably "automapped" plugin caused this) - anyway, i updated the zip file (+ included bank in mid format) - it should be fine now.

Download: Greeg Novation V-Station Soundset

Update: latest soundbank - 76 presets
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Sonata VSTi

SoHa Sound Design Sonata is pretty nice synth for strong single-shot leads, strings and pads. It has quite unusual synthesis and that's a very good thing. There are so many analogue, subtractive synths that i'm glad it's not the another one :D.

Good, creative VSTi stuff :)






Sonata features two separate but similarly controlled generators, one for the sound's immediate attack and another for the fundamental tone. Both consist of rich harmonic spectra which are filtered to provide desired overtones. Each possesses its own exponential decay envelopes for amplitude and filter, and its own ADSR envelope.

Sonata produces sounds with consistent timbres in both high and low registers, allowing for better two-handed keyboard performance and ranged melodies. As a result, sometimes each note can get a little CPU-hungry.





ps. You can find additional soundBanks for Sonata at sohasound.com

Download: http://www.sohasound.com
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