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

Peculiar Percussion

Another free samples, but this time from SampleOddity. Peculiar Percussion is a collection of random objects with "untapped musical potential". It weights 83 mb, which translates into 10 instruments.
There are Kontakt patches included.

Download: Peculiar Percussion Samples

Goldbaby Free Samples

Goldbaby is a sound designer who loves vintage drum machines, synths and studio gear. He offers nice amount of commercial sample libraries but his website is also a nice resource of free samples :)

MPC60, Roland TR-606, TR-808, TR-66 24bit wav samples, rex files, groove templates. Check it out :)

Link: Goldbaby Free Stuff
Link: Goldbaby MPC40 samples

Understanding synthesis

Need basic guide about synthesis ? Adam Szabo wrote few tutorials, perfect for beginners, which cover basics of synthesis (waveforms, envelopes etc.), types of synthesis (subtractive, additive, frequency modulation) synthesis and effect.

Download: Part I (PDF)

More tutorials: Adam Szabo official website

Christmas Sales

Still looking for Christmas present ? I bought Novation Launchpad for ... myself (yes! :D) but some of you may prefer a little bit of software :)

Here are some nice christmas deals available:
I. Plugins
# Disco DSP - 30 % off on all new products (DiscoDSP Discovery, Phantom, Vertigo).
Deadline: 31st December
# 60 % Off PSP sQuad's price (which means 99 $) - a bundle of five high quality EQ units.
Deadline: 7 January (then it'll cost 249 $)
# URS Year End Sale - 40% off the total price.
Deadline: 31st December
# Future Audio Workshop Circle Vst Instrument - 50 % off at BestService
# SynthMaster 2.0 - not necessary a "Christmas deal" but still great deal ;) Price: 59 $
Deadline: 31st December

II. Sample Libraries / Soundbanks
# All Multipacks from Zenhiser.com (nice sample libraries especially for EDM producers) are offered 50 % cheaper.
Deadline: 31st December
# 50 % off and "Special 2 for 1" at BestService - Sample Libraries and EastWest / Quantum Leap Products
Deadline: 31st December
# Orange Tree Samples Strawberry Electric Guitar - sample library in NI Kontakt format 50 % off
# Tons of Sample Libraries at ProducerLoops.com are 20 - 50 % off
Deadline: 31st December
# My Novation V-Station EDM soundbank (114 Presets) is available as special deal since the beginning - nobody knows when will it end ;)
# Nucleus SoundLab - Sylenth soundbank, Zebra soundbank, and Reason refills 50 % off
Deadline: 5th January 2010
# Arksun Soundbanks - 50 % off (very good deal)
Deadline: 31st December

Free - EastWest / Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra

A free, starter edition of EastWest / Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra is available for those who'll answer the short survey.
The best thing about it ? The installation package weights around 1,6 GB - not bad for a freebie ;) Starter version is not time limited and not copy protected. You can also upgrade it to the Gold, Platinum, or Platinum Plus versions.

Two, three months ago I was thinking about getting EWQL Symphonic Orchestra (Silver Edition) but decided save my money - now it's a good opportunity to give it a try...

More info: EWQL Symphonic Orchestra Started Edition

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Vst Cafe

It's a wonderful, first year for Vst Cafe and I would like to thank you for all kind of support, all visits and comments :)
I wish you all the best - best plugins, DAWs, Sample Libraries, Hardware Synths and a nice Santa - who knows, maybe it'll be a Santa from that picture ;) :D

Mad Beatz - D n B, Dubstep free Live Pack

I'm on fire today :D Probably that's because I won't be at work till 4 January 2010 ;)

Two live packs (for Ableton Live) created by KJ Sawka suited for drum & bass, dub step and breakbeat genres.

Download: KJ Sawka's "Mad Beatz" loop and sample pack

Schwarzonator - Max for Live patch

I knew that release of Max for Live will introduce some new, creative patches :) 'Schwarzonator', created by Henrik Schwarz, is just one example. This MIDI effect makes any notes that you play on your keyboard fit into the selected scale, making it easier to play for musicians or non-musicians. It's about helping people to find the right notes and chords in real time. It turns one finger playing into chords that fit together well. Choose from a list of Chord Sets in a drop down menu. Then all notes you play on your keyboard will fit into the selected Chord Set.

The Schwarzonator is free but you'll need Max for Live (yes, I want it ;) ) for it to work.

More info: Ableton, Max for Live - Schwarzonator

ps. Ondra, thanks for letting me know about this :)

Looptv.net - Videos

There are always some resources to explore :)

Looptv.net is a video resource (created by Loopmasters - Sample Libraries store) for producers, musiacians etc. There are some interviews as well as tutorials available - one example: Dave Wallace from Aquasky creates tough Bass sounds by looping a hardware bass sample in Kontakt, and then applying EQ and compression settings from within Cubase.

I don't want hotlink videos because not everyone likes it ;) so here are the videos I find interesting:

Tech Talk - Rob Jones 5 - this is actually pretty interesting. Ableton, Loops, Clip Editor, Envelope Automation and the result is very interesting :) Useful trick.

Jody Wisternoff - In the Studio - not the most informative (a small talk about his worklow - Ableton + Pro Tools) but Jody is one of my favourite producers so I couldn't resist ;)

Looptv.net - Music Production Tutorials - the whole list of tutorials

Kreativt Darhus Dimensional Vector Spider

Kreativt Darhus Dimensional Vector Spider is a Midi transmitting vector sequencer which means that it's doesn't output any sound by itself but thanks to Midi CC events, it can control other plugins.

It's highly inspired by the classic vector sythesizers such as: SC Prophet VS, Korg Wavestation and Yamaha TG-33. They were basically like ordinary subtractive synths but with the exception that they had a crossfading mixer for their sound sources that could be maneuvered with a joystick. This resulted in some great atmospheric sounds when the musician played the keys and at the same time moved the synths onboard joystick.

With the Dimensional vector spider you will be able to achieve the same result. You can control other plugins and create evolving, alive sounds. Imagine, for example controlling great Sonic Charge's Synplant plugin via Dimensional vector spider :).
The dimensional vector spider is likely the most user demanding plugin in this (KVK Developers Challenge) contest. Mainly because you need to know how your DAWs midi and automation is laid out, you need to have a bunch of cool synths to apply the vector spider on and lastly you will probably need some time to understand how the vector spider operates.

BUT(!), if you got the patience, are serious about sound sculpting and get a kick out of spending some time watching a texture grow, rather than trying out 10 different "unison-trance-leads", you might end up finding a little gem here. At least thats my intention.

Nice and unique plugin for more advanced users.

Download: Kreativt Darhus Dimensional Vector Spider

Image-Line Harmless

I was wondering if I should write about it or not ;) Image-Line Harmless is newly released "additive synthesizer doing subtractive synthesis. Or if you prefer, a subtractive synthesizer powered by an additive synthesis engine".
The first thing: price. Until the 31st of December you can pay what you think Harmless is worth to you. The minimum (to cover transaction & handling costs) is set to 9 $ which is a very, very fair price :)

I like the concept of this synth. Even if you're not into an additive (or hybrid) synthesis you'll find this synth powerful and entertaining. It's just every knob means something and you can reach some unique sound very fast, much faster than using classic subtractive synth. I respect Image-Line for a statement that it's not another "real", true, classic, bla bla ;), virtual analogue synth. "This one is digital, and proud to be. Everything is fake, the tone generator, the filter & its resonance, the phaser, all performed on the harmonics, before partials are computed."

There's one downside. At the moment it seems a very buggy synth. Presets which use "Legato mode" can crash your DAW, also some users report unexpected noises, distortions (yea, me too ;) ). Looks like Harmless is not that harmless ;) But I do really like this synth. At the moment it's more like an investment to me - I don't use it but I know that Image-Line will fix the bugs. Then it'll be a very good synth.

More info: Image-Line Harmless

Armin Van Buuren - in the studio Article

Armin Van Buuren - everyone interested in EDM knows this guy for sure ;) - the third consecutive year world best DJ in the world by DJmag.com. Sound on Sound asked Armin to talk them through the production of a top-notch trance anthem and the result is a very nice, informative article about music production, about Armin. Some examples below:

One of my biggest tips would be to restrict your gear choice, because there’s so much out there; restriction is good! If I really look at the essential stuff that we use, it’s all about ES1, ES2 and EXS24, and that’s it!
Trance used to be very much about the sound of Roland’s JP8080 — the very clean Super Saw, a little detune, a little delay, that was it. Right now it’s all about distortion and the harmonics you create when you distort something. We use Logic’s Guitar Amp a lot for that, even on bass lines.
I get sent lots of promos, and now all these kids are using multi-band compression to get their music to sound like my radio show. But that goes through a broadcast compressor, and if you heard it that way in a club you’d walk out of the club a half hour later screaming because there’s no dynamics in there. It’s really important to have some dynamics left.

So we don’t really use compression in that way. If we use a compressor we use it for sound design rather than for the overall mix. ... We do a lot of side-chaining.
If we’re making a track or a remix, we listen to the current sound a lot. You have to go on iTunes and listen to a lot of other records. That’s really, really essential. ... DJs won’t play your record if it doesn’t sound enough like the other records, because they’re building a set and they’ve got to rock the crowd. So no matter how many hours of production you put into it, if it doesn’t sound a little like the previous record or the record after it, then it’s not going to fit, and they’re not going to play it because it’ll make their set sound really weird. So doing research is extremely important.”

Article: Sound on Sound - Armin Van Buuren

Wusik.com Group-Buy 2010

Almost forgot about this amazing deal, both for existing users and a new ones :) Wusik.com has announced (almost a month ago) a new group buy - Get-Ready-For-2010 Group Buy. Just like before, it's packed with great stuff. So, what's included ?
1. Wusik Station - their flagship product, a Sampler / Rompler / Synth instrument both V5 + V6 Beta version (and of course full official V6 once it's released)
2. Wusik EVE V2 - Electronic Vintage Ensemble, which recreates the early age of electronics in pop, rock and jazz music from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
3. Wusik Fuse Box Pre Order (it's not ready yet) - a Multi VSTi Manager / Chainer plugin
4. Wusik membership (for 6 months) - which means an additional gigabytes of WusikStation sounds.
5. Various bonuses (additional sample libraries, dicounts on third party libraries like Prizm)

This Group-Buy Ends on: January 2nd 2010. By entering this Group-Buy you agree to wait until 100 users will be reached, or until the dead-line. What about the price ? 69 users have joined this group buy so the current discount level is 3 but I'm sure that it'll reach at least level 4.

Discount List: ( Full / Upgrade - prices in USD)
Level 1 - 0 ~ 25 Users = $ 99.95 / 79.95
Level 2 - 26 ~ 50 Users = $ 89.95 / 69.95
Level 3 - 51 ~ 75 Users = $ 79.95 / 59.95
Level 4 - 76 ~ 100 Users = $ 69.95 / 49.95
Level 5 - Over 100 Users = $ 59.95 / 39.95

What can I say. Few months ago I had only some VA synths and actually I thought that I don't need a sampler / rompler etc. ;) But I decided to join previous group-buy and that was one of the best, music production related, decisions :)
Huge library (with Wusik membership it's like 10-13 GB or more sounds) which can be always extended by third party samples (like Prizm, which I bought too - around 16-20 GB of sounds !), SFZ support, sampler / rompler but also a synth (Wusikstation) + additional EVE synth. For such price, it's a bargain :) Even now (I have current V5 version of Wusikstation + Wusik membership), I'm still signing for this group buy.

VstCafe Christmas Competition

Very small and very quick VstCafe's Christmas competition is over :) The question was:
1. What was the first music app used by VstCafe's author ?
and the correct answer is: ProTracker :)

ProTracker was released in 1990 (?) by the a group of computer programmers from Norway who called themself Amiga Freelancers. Why ProTracker ? Honestly, I don't know :) but I always have respect for all kind of mod (the format Amiga Protracker used for loading / saving songs) makers. Putting everything (drums, bass, vocal, pads, melody etc.) into just four tracks / channels was a heroic task :) I mean, there were eight channel "trackers" available but I remember that it was some kind of workaround because Amiga had only four real audio channels.

Anyway, congratulations to the winner. I sent him the serial code so if you've answered the question correctly but didn't receive any message, then it means you didn't win ;)

Making Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" in Ableton

How to make Prodigy's legendary track "Smack My Bitch Up" in Ableton. Video describes, which samples were used by Liam in this wonderful track. Reworked by Jim Pavloff.
Amazing video with tons of tricks :)


Spreading some Ableton love ;)

It's just a small, Christmas competition ;) I have one Ableton license (serial code) - Ableton Live Lite 4 E-MU Edition, never registered, never used and it's waiting for new owner :) This version can be freely upgraded to Ableton Live Lite 8 E-MU Edition (at least it worked for another copy I had), which can be upgraded to Ableton 8.

The competition is very simple. Just answer this one question:
1. What was the first music app used by VstCafe's author ?

Hint: check my other website http://www.designasound.com :)

Please send the correct answer to: greeg@inbox.com (Topic: "VstCafe Christmas"). One lucky person will win the competition. Please, do not apply if you already own Ableton. I'll announce the winner on 20th December.

Real Music Media - over 1 GB of free samples

Lack of updates - sorry for that. It's just pre-Christmas time - lot of work at ... work and lot of work at home ;)

Real Music Media has announced that, for various reasons, all of their samples (which means over 1 GB), previously commercial, are now available for free. Libraries:
- Swing Jazz Drums
- Drum Sounds of the 60's
- Synthetic Vortices
- Endangered Rhythms
- Ritornelli
- The Real Snare Drum
- The Taijiguy Mellotron

That's a lot of great stuff... :)

More info: Realmusicmedia.net

28 Ableton Live (basic) tricks

If you're starting with Ableton Live, then MusicRadar.com has pretty nice article available. It's 28, rather basic, tricks for Ableton Live 8. More advanced users probably know most of these tricks but who knows ? ;)

Article: 28 Ableton Live tricks you didn't know

Ableton Scale and Random Tutorial

In this tutorial, Loudon Stearns (Berkleemusic.com - "Advanced Music Production with Ableton Live" course) shows how to use Ableton Scale and Random devices to create a kind of improvised melody from a single note. Useful for adding variation etc. :)

ps. Check the loudonstearns.berkleemusicblogs.com for even more Ableton related video tutorials.

Nomad Factory Blueverb DRV-2080

Does it look like VstCafe is turning into some kind of promotion website ? Well, it's (almost) Christmas - good time to buy some plugins cheaper than normally :) Audiomidi.com has announced another "no-brainer" deal. This time it's a Vintage Digital Reverb unit from Nomad Factory - Blueverb DRV-2080. Official online store sells it for 179 $ but with this no-brainer deal it's just ... 15 $. I admit, I don't know much about Blueverb but I have previously offered Nomad Factory Blue Tube Trackbox plugin and i'm very satisfied with it. Even if I use some other reverbs (Ableton reverb, freeware Jeroen Breebart Omniverb), I'll buy Blueverb for sure. It's just worth to have Nomad Factory plugins in your arsenal :)

The offer ends on 31 December 2009. Nomad Factory Blueverb, just like Blue Tube Trackbox, uses iLok authorization, however you do NOT need an iLok USB key to authorize the plug-in. You can authorize with or without an iLok key.
The Nomad Factory BlueVerb DRV-2080 is a vintage-style world-class recording studio reverb. This “must-have” reverb plug-in includes individual two-band equalization, as well as ambiance, decay RT60 and pre-delay controls.

Whether sweetening mono or stereo tracks, or simply adding dimension to an entire mix, the BlueVerb DRV-2080 has all the flexibility you’ll need to custom craft your sound. Intended to recreate the qualities of vintage-style digital reverbs from the 80’, the BlueVerb is nothing short of amazing. Impressive for tracking, mixing or mastering, the BlueVerb DRV-2080 is a well-designed, superb-sounding effects processor with a unique and attractive sound character .
More info: AudioMidi.com - Nomad Factory BlueVerb DRV-2080

Poly-Ana VSTi cut in half ;)

Admiral Quality has announced a very nice promotion - all of their products are available (till the end of the year) at 50 % reduced price. What does it mean ? It means that their flagship Poly-Ana, analog model synthesizer plug-in, is cheaper than ever and costs $89.98 USD instead of $179.95. Poly-Ana Vst instrument has been reviewed, probably in every music production related magazine such as Computer Music, Future Music etc. so feel free to read the reviews :) Here's a small part from Computer Music's review:
There are a lot of VAs out there but Admiral Quality's has the advantage of offering stellar quality at a reasonable price. If you love your analogues, it would be a crime not to experience what it has to offer.

More info: www.admiralquality.com

Novation Bass Station article

I guess it's worth to write something about old and forgotten Novation Bass Station soft synth. At Phatsobrown.wordpress.com you can find a nice review about it with few nice demo examples. Why bother if you have for example Novation V-Station ?
1. Totally different sound :)
2. It's quite possible that you already have a full version of Bass Station because it was freely included with some Midi Controllers etc.

Article: Phatsobrown.wordpress.com

Novation Launchpad Tutorial

Novation Launchpad controller seems very popular "toy" :) (I couldn't find it in my country, needed to order it from abroad) - that's why I decided to find some basic tutorials about it. Novation TV (official Novation's YouTube channel) has released six, very short tutorials that will help you to set up Launchpad, use it with Automap software or just learn how to use it in Ableton's Session mode etc.


Digital Vs. Analog Mixing. Which is Better?

"There has been a great debate taking place in forums around the digital DJ web. What is the best way to mix songs while DJing: externally on an analog mixer or inside your DJ software? Many DJs — myself included — have always assumed that mixing on an analog hardware mixer is the best option if you have the choice. To put that subjective assumption to the test, DJ TechTools interviewed numerous experts in the industry, including audio engineers, software developers and mixer manufacturers to get down to the bottom of this important question."

Very nice article for those interested in DJing and / or technology :)

Article: www.djtechtools.com

Sonnox Oxford Plugins group buy

I've been watching this deal pretty carefully and I guess it's finally worth mentioning :) There's a group buy option available at Don't Crack store (nice name btw ;) ). At the moment there's 45 % discount but I'm sure that it'll end up (deadline is Sunday December 13th) with 50 % discount on amazing quality audio plugins developed by Sonnox Oxford Plugins.

Well, the prices are still pretty high (definitely out of my range) but if you need top notch plugins then this may be a very good deal for you. The cheapest bundle is Sonnox Enhance Bundle - normally costs 540 $ but if (or I should say when) 50 % discount will be applied then it'll end up with 270 $.

More info: Don't Crack Store

Waldorf Blofeld Keybard

Want to buy Waldorf Blofeld keyboard but need to hear the presets first ? As always, MusicTrack.jp offers a nice, over nine minutes factory soundbank preview video.


20 Ableton Live Quick Tips

20 very handy and very quick tips for Ableton Live, presented by Tom Cosm.
As I was producing this morning, I took a quick step back to look at some of the simple techniques I use subconsciously that I consider to be very important. No matter what level you're at, I suggest learning these tips inside out to speed up the creative process! I will add more parts as I think of them.


Making Justice - Water of Nazareth

Need an audio project to study ? Timofey delivers amazing Ableton Live 7 projects - remakes of some famous (if you're into progressive house etc.) tunes. The latest one is a recreation of Justice - Water of Nazareth. All you need is an Ableton 7 + Operator. No other vst instruments are required.

Download: Download Ableton project: Justice - Water of Nazareth

Best free virtual synths - part III

It's time for the last part of "Best free virtual synths" article - a subjective list of 10 freeware synths I find the most useful.

Green Oak Crystal
Since 2002, Green Oak Crystal has been present in almost every "Top free synths" article. So, how does it look almost 8 years later ? It's still a very good synth, maybe even better than ever. Finally, I can say that it uses a moderate amount of Cpu instead of huge :)
Crystal is one of the most complex freeware synths available. It offers semi-modular design with over 80 parameters, which can be modulated by Midi CC, six LFO's or six modulation envelopes. Each envelope can use up to 9 points available (so it's not a classic ADSR envelope). There are 3 oscillators (voices) available with up to 24 voice polyphony possible. It's worth mentioning that Crystal is available on Mac too. What about sound banks ? There are enough of them + Crystal can import Soundfont (SF2) files.

So it looks like eight years later, I still can't ignore it :) Maybe I'm not a huge fan of it (it's just there was always some another synth I had tons of fun with :) ) but even now it's packed with tons of features. It features subtractive and FM synthesis as well as wave sequencing, granular synthesis. There are built-in effects available such as chorus, flanger, delay unit. Program morphing is another great feature. One "breed" button clicked and you have a new sound.

Crystal is capable of creating a huge of sounds, but it's the best for evolving, ambient pads, textures etc.

What would I like to see improved ?

The GUI is user friendly for sure, it was great for 2002 standards but let's face it - it's (just like Cakewalk Z3ta+, for example) outdated. Plug in too small and the consequence is that there are too many tabs.

Kx77Free Kx-Modulad V2
Kx-Modulad is a free virtual analog modular synth. Even if all modulations are pre-connected (no cables on the GUI) it seems one of the most complex freeware synths available. Take a look at screenshot - it's packed with tons of knobs, buttons :) While almost everyone can use, for example, Crystal, the Kx-Modulad is definitely not for beginners.
There are two oscillators available - each contains two waveforms + sub-waveform, beetwen you can mix. There's also a WaveTracer tool available - waveform generator (based on additive syntesis) usable with Kx-Modulad's oscillators. And there's one stereo Soundfont (SF2) player unit.
I won't go deeper into details - it's a very complex synth which requires bigger knowledge than usually. It's up to you to decide whether you're able to tame it or not. There are 128 patches available that cover 70', 80' sounds and I must say, I like these presets a lot. The synth has natural warm, "analog" feeling and it's capable of creating unique analogue-like sounds.

What would I like to see improved ?
The GUI seems a bit overwhelming, especially when you'll discover that there are like 15 small subpages and every subpage contains like 10-12 knobs hehe :)
There's one more concern - Modulad seems quite CPU intensive. Probably that's the most CPU intensive plugin from the whole 10 plugins recommended.

H.G. Fortune AlioNoctis
This may be a little surprise but it's more like a tribute to H.G. Fortune which offers commercial synths as well as "limited", free versions. AlioNoctis is another vst instrument which doesn't look like typical subtractive 3-osc synth. It's described as "Sounds from the other world" and ... that's a very good description :) If you're looking for "out of this world" atmospheres, soundscapes, textures or pads then there's actually just Green Oak Crystal and ... whole palette of H.G. Fortune's plugins.
AlioNoctis offers three PCM-wave oscillators, each one powered by 128 waveforms. There are two resonant filters available and plenty of various modulations which can be randomized by LFO-s or manually thanks to nice X-Y Pads.
There are three banks, 64 presets each, available which is not much compared to ie. 2000 Synth1 presets ;) but on the other hand - there are mostly atmospheres, pads, soundscapes and PCM-waves oscillators can almost guarantee a fast creation of new presets. I like this synth since the first time I've tried it. It's indeed very easy to create nice evolving atmospheres, pads etc. and X-Y pads (used instead of standard modulation matrix for example) are giving a lot of fun.

What would I like to see improved ?
Free, limited version offers just 5 voices which is not much but it's still an improvement compared to other HGF plugins which usually offer 3-4 voices. I mean, it's totally understable because it's like a better version of demo version but ... six voices would be great hehe. Even if that's only limited version, it's still a very nice, pretty unusual synth.

Minimogue VA
I had a real problem here. Last slot but at least few plugins that deserve to be here :) This time I decided to forget about complexity, weirdness and focus more on just solid, quality stuff. As a result, I picked a successful analogue synth emulation attempt - Minimogue VA. It can be used, just like a real Minimoog, for leads, basses or fx sounds. Sure, it's not as perfect as Arturia Minimoog V plugin or GForce Minimonsta but still it's the best freeware minimoog emulation.
MinimogueVA comes with 128 presets + there are few soundbanks available on official website. It also offers some additional features not presenent in the hardware, such as, five voice polyphony, an Arpeggiator, 16-note Step sequencer.

What would I like to see improved ?
Well, since it's an emulation then I would love to see the overall sound improved, to make it even closer to the real synth. But to be honest - I'm not sure if it's possible in freeware world :) Commercial emulations are not so perfect too and Minimogue VA really does it's job pretty well.
I would like to see one GUI related feature: double click on knob (especially "frequency") sets the knob to it's neutral position.

Green Oak Crystal
Kx77Free Kx-Modulad V2
H.G. Fortune AlioNoctis
Minimogue VA

Best free virtual synths - Part IV

Previous articles:
Best free virtual synths - part I
Best free virtual synths - part II


Access Virus TI2 Polar + Atomizer

It's time for a little bit newer synth in our "Hardware Preview" section. It's year 2009, the synth is Access Virus TI2 Polar with Access Atomizer - realtime audio slicer app. Again, MusicTrack.jp - Japanese video which proves that synthesis is so universal "language" :)


sfZed - SFZ format editor

sfZed is a free visual editor dedicated to SFZ files 1.0 specification. The editor works with audio samples to map them to the keyboard, and shape them to create the sound you want. It can also convert SoundFont (SF2) format to SFZ, giving you the opportunity to change some settings, do some fixes etc. Sfz format contains over 200 settings like velocity sensitivity, loops, reverb, EQ and controller settings to create the sound you want for your music.

Overall, if you have a Sampler plugin which supports SFZ format (ie. discoDSP HighLife, WusikStation etc.) but at the same time you have some old soundfont (SF2) files you would like to use then sfZed may be a very helpful tool...

Download: sfZed

discoDSP HighLife - free VST Sampler

Looking for a free sampler that can load SFZ (not soundFont SF2) format samples ? discoDSP HighLife, a free sampler (well, at the end of 2006 it was retailed for 99 $), can do it pretty well :) It imports Akai S5000/S6000 programs, mp3, wav, raw and sfz files. It's "light", it has not overcrowded GUI, but at the same time it's a very solid plugin with all the basic tools available. HighLife has Amp Envelope, Filter, Filter Envelope, few effects (Delay, Chorus, Reverb) and up to 32 voices polyphony.

Download: discoDSP HighLife

Audiomidi.com - another "No-brainer" deal

Audiomidi.com has announced new, amazing "no-brainer" deals. The XILS 3 is a virtual instrument based on the of the architecture of a classic 70's english VCS 3 - matrix based modular synthesizer. Standard pricing of this product is set to 139 EUR / 199 $ but with this great "No-brainer" deal, you'll pay only 20 $ !!! No-brainer version doesn't bring all the modules and modulation that "full" version provied but it's still a very good deal. XILS 3 is developed by Xavier Oudin (former Arturia) and (according to Computer Music review) "... is a terrific synthesizer that sound gorgeous and is great fun to program".

The second deal seems even better :) Nomad Factory Blue Tubes Analog TrackBox is high-end channel strip plug-in featuring a tube emulator, an expander/gate, vintage-style compressor and a two-band parametric EQ with low- and high-shelf filters. Normally priced at 189 $, costs now ... 15 $.

What can I say ? I bought two plugins (available for MAC and PC) which normally I would never get. Having plugins from such respectful company as Nomad Factory will improve my plugins arsenal quite a lot :)

ps. Nomad Factory Blue Tubes Analog TrackBox uses iLok authorization, however you do NOT need an iLok USB key to authorize the plug-in. You can authorize with or without an iLok key. Same applies to XILS3.

More info: http://www.audiomidi.com