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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

Wusik Station V6 Special Sale

Wusik Station is one of the nicest samplers / romplers available. If you want to jump on Wusik wagon, now it's a good moment. There is Special Sale available which means that till June 1st Wusik Station V6 + Wusik Eve synth cost only 39 EUR (upgrade from previous version costs 29 EUR).


Is it worth ?
Well, I don't like to repeat myself (I praised Wusik products few times). Let's just say that Wusik Station V6 comes with 15 GB of sounds and there's everything there: leads, pads, basses, effects. I would say that Wusik EVE V3 synth alone is worth around 39 EUR so this offer is really a bargain.

More info: Wusik Special Sale
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U-He Tyrell N6 Patch Contest - Free Soundbank

U-He Tyrell N6 Patch Contest is closed - the winner gained fame and free copy of any U-He synth :) But there is one more thing - free, 53 presets soundbank is available to everyone to download. 29 sound designers created these presets so the patches are far from boring :) I created one patch too but it didn't win ;)

More info: U-He Tyrell N6 TPC-01 Soundbank Download | Patch Contest Results
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Contralogic Feldspar Virtual Synth

Previously available for 17 $, Contralogic Feldspar is now a freebie. Pretty nice freebie, actually. It offers around 600-650 presets and features a range of tempo-based modulation options. There are 16 LFO waveforms available and ring modulator unit which introduces 18 algorithms. The GUI is elegant, there's manual in pdf format - well written.

Overall, gated sounds and arpeggios are what Feldspar does best. Sure, it probably won't replace 100 EUR worth commercial synths but still Feldspar is worth mentioning.



Download: Contralogic Feldspar
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Image-Line Plugins Sale

Image-Line has announced the Maxx Plugin Sale which means that Sakura, Sawer, Morphine, Toxic Biohazard, Poizone, and Drumaxx plugins are now just 49 $ each, instead of 99 $.

Honestly, I think that it's a great deal. I bought Toxic Biohazard some time ago (promo too, for 49 $) and it was one of my best deals. I also have Drumaxx which is pretty interesting drum synth. Sawer, Morphine, Sakura seem not bad too ;)

ps. There's also a deal for FL Studio integrated plugins Newtone & Pitcher. On June 1 Newtone will be $99 and Pitcher $49 but for now you can pay $12 USD and get both.

More info: Visit Image-Line Shop
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This is what Dubstep sounds like to your parents

This is what Dubstep sounds like to your parents ;)


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15 Virtual synths that went under the radar

I like to praise free or cheap virtual synths but how about those commercial synthesizers that went totally under the radar ? Of course, it's all subjective. My assumptions may be totally false. After all, I'm not a world class producer :) so I can only judge plugins by using them, reading reviews, blogs, forums etc.

The concept of this article was inspired by some similar topic created on KvR Audio forum. The point is: there is a group of quality, popular and hyped synths that people people talk about all the time, such as: U-He Zebra, Lennar Digital Sylenth, NI Massive, Camel Audio Alchemy, ReFx Nexus, FxPansion DCAM Synth Squad, Synapse Audio Dune, U-He ACE, Waldorf Largo, NI FM8, Arturia stuff. There is also another group - synths that bring quality on the table too but are much less hyped or got "old". And these are the synths I would like to introduce.

Sugar Bytes Unique - website

Released: April 2007

Secret weapon:
- great filter that can work in Vowel Mode for mouthwatering vocalized sounds
- very playable - the video speaks for itself :)
- step sequencer, X-Y motion controller can act as modulation sources
- two oscillators that offer basic waveforms + 'triple saw', 'triple FM'

Audio Demo:


Final word:
As the name implies, it's indeed an Unique synth :) Vowel filter is great.

Price: 129 € / 149 $



Future Audio Workshop Circle - website

Released: January 2005

Secret weapon:
- two oscillator modes: analog and wavetable (selection of more than 100 waveform shapes)
- clearly designed GUI, nicely presented modulators
- randomize presets feature

Audio Demo:


Final word:
I always wanted to have it but it's too pricey - quite often it costs more than absolutely top class plugins. Or maybe is it the top class plugin too ? :)

Price: 149 € / 199 $



Image-Line Toxic Biohazard - website

Released: March 2008

Secret weapon:
- 6 oscillators which can load custom waveforms
- hybrid synthesis engine, combining the best of FM and Subtractive synthesis
- FM matrix - it's much more advanced than "one knob FM synthesis" but also not as complicated as true FM Synths ie. NI FM8
- powerful and one of the best sequencers available

Audio Demo:


Final word:
I don't like the factory presets (too much of ambient, atmospheres) but except this, it's a real monster synth with very good sound quality. Combination of 6 oscillators + FM matrix + custom waveforms is very flexible and very powerful. Very underrated synth. I use it as "new Sylenth" (but yea, I needed to create my own presets).

Price: 99 $



Korg Wavestation - website

Released: March 2004

Secret weapon:
- able to import original Wavestation series data via SysEx (SYX) files
- vector Joystick (Midi controlled too) which allows to morph between four oscillators
- over 1400 presets and 700 PCM Waveforms
- 55 Types of on-board effects
- very playable, feels like a true Wavestation

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Compared to hardware version, programming is much improved but still, due to it's complexity (a lot of mouse clicking because some editing options are nested) it requires patience :)

Overall, it's a lovely synth with very wide range of presets available. Ok, maybe it won't fit 2011 dubstep genre ;) but it perfectly reproduces early 90s sounds which won't get old that fast :) 50 $ for this is a real bargain.

Price: 50 $



Vember Audio Surge - website

Released: October 2005

Secret weapon:
- multiple oscillator algorithms including: Classic, Wavetable, FM
- 1010 patches
- for such deep synth, the GUI is really well designed but it requires some learning curve
- a lot of features, algorithms: Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Phaser, EQ, Distortion, Conditioner (EQ, stereo-image control & limiter), Rotary speaker, Frequency shifter, Vocoder

Audio Demo:


Final word:
I guess the most powerful thing in Surge are the oscillators. In VA mode each oscillator provides modulatable shape, width, sub-oscillator level, width, self sync and detunable unison. In wavetable mode each osc provides modulatable shape, skew, saturation - it reminds me Z3ta+ powerful waveshaping.
Overall, it's a very deep synth which doesn't try to be "warm" as some VA synths. It can be warm, analogue, if you want to, but it can also sound digital. The GUI requires some learning curve.

Price: 99 € / 99 $



Progress Audio Kinisis - website

Released: November 2009

Secret weapon:
- innovative timeline system
- one screen GUI

Final word:
Kinisis is mainly suited for those who need something truly innovative. There are no standard ADSR Envelopes, instead there is a timeline system that gives you detailed control over how a parameter changes over the course of a note.

Price: 85 € / 110 $ / 80 Uk Pounds



Linplug Octopus - website

Released: December 2005

Secret weapon:
- Dual matrix synthesizer - one is FM Matrix and the other is general modulation matrix
- 8 Oscillators that can be modulated via FM Matrix
- each oscillator can be powered by additive synthesis or single cycle waveforms (there's also save option)
- load samples into sampler

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Just like other synths listed here, Octopus is unique synth too :) It offers 8 oscillators and each can modulate the other by using FM Matrix. The concept is similar to Toxic Biohazard. BUT Octopus oscillators, instead of waveforms (which can be loaded too), use additive synthesis. I own a copy of Octopus and to be honest it's still on my list of synths I need to master :)

Factory soundbank contains more than 550 presets, which is very nice result, especially taking wide range of Octopus possibilities into account.

Price: 129 $



Schwa Olga - website

Released: February 2008

Secret weapon:
- warm, analogue, fat, classic VA sound with the touch of overdrive

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Compared to other synths in this article, Olga has quite basic features but in this VA case, it's more about the character and Olga definitely has it. It feels like a mysterious (knob, slider labels are in Russian :) but you can change it), analogue synth you found on some old attic :)

Price: 80 $



QuikQuak Glass Viper - website

Released: October 2007

Secret weapon:
- quite unique organic synthesis thanks to 4 editable waveforms, that can move independently during play
- 12 LFO's with independant speed and gain envelopes

Audio Demo:


Final word:
It offers unique waveform shaping through the series of moving control points as well as plenty of LFO's, Envelopes. It also brings some organic feeling.
One thing which could be improved is GUI but for such price Glass Viper is a real bargain.

Price: 35 UK Pounds



DiscoDSP Discovery Pro - website

Released: July 2007

Secret weapon:
- inspired by Clavia's Nord Lead series (imports Nord Lead 2 / 2X SysEx data)
- multilayer (four layers) synth with 3 oscillators per layer (2 standard oscillators with ring mod, FM mod and 1 wave oscillator that can load WAV / SF2 files)
- constantly updated with new features added

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Well, DiscoDSP Discovery didn't go under the radar but I just wanted to spread some love and mention about it :) Very deep synth packed with quality features, constantly developed.

Price: 149 € / 199 $



Loomer Aspect - website

Released: January 2009

Secret weapon:
- warm and analog sound
- good, large visual interface
- nice modulation possibilities

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Semi-modular structure offers enough of programming possibilities and at the same time it doesn't make the synth too bloated. Programming presets is intuitive and entertaining. I guess it's also thanks to clear and intuitive interface.

Price: 65 UK pounds



Korg M1 - website

Released: March 2004

Secret weapon:
- 3100 presets sounds, 950 PCM Waveforms
- original M1 and T-series data can also be imported as SysEx (SYX) files
- new functions often requested for the original M1 (ie. Resonant Filter, greater sound processing capabilities)

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Just like Korg Wavestation - it's a lovely synth for a bargain price with stunning amount of presets. If you are after a "bread & butter" synth then there is enough sweet chocolate here to enjoy it :) But also don't forget that the original Korg M1 was produced between 1988-1994 so you won't find here Deadmau5 plucks ;) Instead, you'll find famous 'M1 Piano' sound, electric pianos, organs, synth pads, drums, picked basses which are still in use today.

Price: 50 $



Audjoo Helix - website

Released: November 2008

Secret weapon:
- wave-table-shaping oscillators (waveshaping concept combined with wavetable synthesis)
- CPU friendly
- amazing "super-saw like" sound thanks to up to 16 waves detuned per oscillator

Audio Demo:

Final word:
A little bit forgotten by the community because there are virtually no promotions, discounts for this synth :) But people who own Helix, love it.

Price: 149 $



KV331audio Synthmaster 2.5 - website

Released: October 2010

Secret weapon:
- wavetable/wavescanning synthesis added in 2.5 version
- rich wavetable content - over 400 factory wavetables !
wave-table-shaping oscillators (waveshaping concept combined with wavetable synthesis)
- clean GUI inviting to program own presets

Audio Demo:


Final word:
With 2.5 version, totally redesigned and very affordable (compared to features it offers) synth

Price: 99 $



Madrona Labs Aalto - website

Released: September 2010

Secret weapon:
- old synth Buchla-inspired complex oscillator
- simple functional GUI

Audio Demo:


Final word:
Madrona Labs Aalto is heavily praised on Gearslutz Board (analogue synths lovers board ;) ) and not without a reason. It's a very nice synth, different than the others. It's like - even if you have Arturia Moog Modular V (based on Moog Modular), even if you have Xils-Lab XILS 3 (EMS VCS3) or Xils-Lab PolyKB II (RSF PolyKobol) there are still some old school analogue and unique goodies available, such as Madrona Labs Aalto.

Price: 99 $

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MilkyTracker music application

With mobile gaming industry growing so fast, there is, sometimes, a requirement to compose some catchy, oldschool, 16bit-computers soundtracks. How to achieve such task or at least find some inspiration ? Well, the easiest way is to go back to the 90s, to the Amiga Demo scene / gaming industry which produced hundreds, thousands of great soundtracks.


Amiga Scene Demo: 9 Fingers (Spaceballs, 1993)



Amiga Game Music Compilation



I guess it's worth mentioning that Amiga scene didn't have Ableton Live or Logic Audio ;) The most common music sequencers were so called trackers which offered completely different workflow.
A tracker's musical interface is traditionally numeric: both notes and parameter changes, effects and other commands are entered with the keyboard into a grid of fixed time slots as codes consisting of letters, numbers and hexadecimal digits. Separate patterns have independent timelines; a complete song consists of a master list of repeated and concatenated patterns. [wikipedia]

Sounds oldschool ? Yea, but combine:
- unique Trackers workflow
- audio chip limitations : Amiga audio chip - Paula, had 4 independent hardware-mixed 8-bit PCM sound channels and sample rates from roughly 20 Hz to almost 29 kHz
- architecture limitations : sound was created pretty much from very short waveforms (similar to single cycle waveforms) looped, hard panned left or right (there was no really stereo) + short sampled stuff (computer memory limitations)
and you'll quickly achieve that oldchool, 16-bit computers era vibe :)

MilkyTracker (yea, I admit, it's an excuse to write about Amiga music :) ) is an open source, multi-platform music application which recreates the workflow of old Amiga music platforms (ie. Pro Tracker). It also attempts to recreate the module replay and user experience of the popular DOS tracker program - Fasttracker II.

Is there anything usable for non 16-bit era freaks ? ;)


Actually there is. MilkyTracker sampler offers quick way to create your custom single cycle waveforms. All you need is to click new, pick the size of the sample (256, 512 etc.) and you can generate common waveforms but also draw your own (and hear the changes in real time !), smooth them and of course save as wav. It's a really quick way to create new waveforms for VST Instruments that can load custom waveforms (ie. Toxic Biohazard, Jeremy Evers Atlantis and tons of others)

Download: www.milkytracker.org
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Creative Sampling and D'n'B

Such videos prove that creative person can sample Blender, Hoover sound and then create prosounding Drum and Bass (or virtually any other) track :)




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One Synth Challenge

Shameless promotion of pretty nice initiative - Kvr Audio One Synth Challenge. The challenge is, as the name implies, to make a song using just one synthesizer including percussion sounds :)
Each month new "challenge synth" (freeware) is announced. Currently U-He Tyrell N6 is on the table and there are 13 days left until the deadline.

The prizes very nice, including U-He Zebra, Wusik Station V6 + Wusik EVE V2, MaxSynths Cryologic (or other) + soundsets for many virtual synthesizers.

Current entries:


More info: Kvr Audio One Synth Challenge - OSC 28: Tyrell N6
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Free Korg KPR-77 Drum Samples

Another nice freebie released by UK Sound Designers - Wave Alchemy. 280 drum samples (recorded directly to 1/4" analogue tape) from the Korg KPR-77 drum machine. This sample library is available for all Wave Alchemy customers which means that registration is required but it really takes about 20 seconds :)

Don't forget to check their commercial sample libraries as these are one of the best drum sample libraries available.

The KPR-77 was originally manufactured by Korg in the early 1980’s and was advertised as a cheaper alternative to Roland’s successful TR-606 drum machine. Surprisingly this quirky little analogue machine is capable of producing quite powerful drum sounds, we are especially fond of the toms, snares and claps!

Tape KPR-77 contains three pre-mapped drum kit patches for use with Kontakt 2, 3, & 4 and Battery 3. Each kit makes use of extensive velocity layering, round robin sample playback and choke groups which in turn capture the quirkiness and expressiveness of the original unit.

Audio Demo:


Download: Free Korg KPR-77 Drum Samples
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10 NI Massive Dubstep Presets - Free

Free, 10 presets suited for Dubstep, Electronic. Wicked Leads or Basses - hard to describe so check the audio demo :)

10 Free Massive Presets - Neuro Bass Hive by Durk Kooistra

Download: 10 Free NI Massive Patches
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Benny Benassi - Cinema (Skrillex Remix) Bass Reproduction

Quite huge video tutorial by Mr. Bills Tunes about recreating Benny Benassi - Cinema tune remixed by Skrillex. Several plugins used including U-He Zebra, NI Massive, Ableton Operator. Quite neat tutorial if you're into Skrillex-like music. First video is the final result demo.













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Indie Dev Collective Spring 2011 Sale

There's pretty nice sale announced by Indie Dev Collective (which gathers independent plugins, soundware developers). From 9th May till 23rd May there are ~ 25 deals available with up to 65 % off.
Is there anything interesting ? Well, for example HG Fortune plugins, good for atmospheres, textures, pads and overall ambient, space (? ;) ) music are on sale.

ps. Don't want to create another blog entry but there is also one very nice deal. Swedish Multisampled Instruments Developer - SampleTekk offers their entire product database 50 % off. All you need to do is to write 7ye3w (via KvR Audio forum) when checking out in coupon field - the discount will be applied to the regular prices in store. The deal is available till 15th May. There are some lovely piano, organs multisampled...

More Info: Indie Dev Collective Sale | SampleTekk
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Audio Myths Workshop

Very interesting video about ... audio myths. Lasts an hour.



ps. Actually it's pretty amazing how human brain can be ... programmed (forward to 5:30 if you're interested)
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Do expensive cables make any difference at all?

Do expensive cables make any difference at all? We went to Urban Chain studios with Mike, John, Charlie and myself to test the following cables:
£7.13 Junior special (Home made from crappy bell wire)
£20 Van Damme
£55 Chord cream
£100 Monster cable
All cables are 4 meters long with Neutrik XLR connectors. We tested the cables with both our ears and our eyes and do you think we could find a difference?


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Talking Wobble Bass for Dubstep Video Tutorial

Yet another NI Massive Video Tutorial and it's again about talking wobble Dubstep bass thing ;)


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Ableton Reverse Reverb

A quick (3 minutes :) ) way to create reverse reverb effect in Ableton Live


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12 Bit Grand Piano - NI Kontakt Library

Another quick freebie today. It's from pro|tone, it does sound nice and it's a 12 Bit Grand – a mellow grand piano with a crunchy lofi taste.
Specification:
- 1 instrument
- keyrange c1 – c5
- 24 bit stereo wave
- 17 samples inside
- Kontakt 3.5 or higher required

Download: 12 Bit Grand Piano
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1977 Mark I Rhodes Stage Piano Soundfont

jRhodes3 is a multisampled (by Learjeff) 1977 Mark I Rhodes Stage Piano. It's available as Soundfont (SF2) format. It contains 65 samples in 5 velocity layers. Oldie but goldie ;)
Learjeff soundfonts are free for anyone to use in their music (just like most / all on VstCafe - I stay away from weird, mysterious soundfonts available from pretty much unknown sources).



Download: Learjeff's Soundfonts - jRhodes3
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The Taijiguy Mellotron Samples SFZ

The Taijiguy Mellotron is a multisampled 30 year old Mellotron M400S instrument. Samples consist of two complete sets: the full three octaves of the MkII 3 Violins and the full 3 octaves of the MkII Combined Brass. These samples are freely available with Sfz mappings.
The samples are not the latest but ... who cares ;)


Download: The Taijiguy Mellotron
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Amazing Micro Korg Performance

Well, it's just an amazing performance :)


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Spicy Guitar - Free Acoustic Guitar Vsti

I didn't have an opportunity to test Spicy Guitar properly but quick test shows that we have a nice freebie here :) It's an acoustic guitar simulation synthesizer which introduces 9 real guitars (4 folk, 2 classical, 1 flamenco, 1 jumbo, 1 gypsy) modeled, "intuitive" chord detection system and wide range of guitarist playing techniques such as bends, vibrato, palm muting, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and artificial harmonics.

Overall, it seems a very playable virtual instrument. It's available both for PC & Mac and as far as I remember it was a payware (or donationware) before.





Download: Keolab Spicy Guitar
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Casio VL-Tone Soundfont / SF2

Who knows, maybe somebody will find it useful ;) Do you remember the sound of cheap / cheesy piano ? Well, now you have a chance to bring these memories back ;) - free, sampled (SF2 format) "piano" preset from Casio VL-Tone Instrument.

All 53 notes in the instrument’s range are individually sampled at 48 kHz from the VL-Tone’s line output – so you can recreate the authentic sound of this classic vintage instrument.

How to load SF2 files ? Download free SFZ+ Professional

Download: Casio VL-Tone Soundfont (SF2)
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A Club Track's Frequency Map

Just a small tip initially introduced in Future Music Magazine (hope they won't mind :) ) - a club track's frequency map.
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Kirnu - MIDI Arpeggiator Vst plugin

It's been more than four months since last VST Effects entry so it's time for an update :)
Kirnu is pretty neat MIDI Arpeggiator plugin. It has a lot of features, it's available both for Mac & PC and ... it's free :)

So if you need an arpeggiator, grab this freebie because it's probably ;) the best freeware arp.



Download: Kirnu Midi Arpeggiator
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Synth1 Gecko Soundbank

Very nice soundbank for Synth1 - it's called Gecko, it contains 40 presets and I like the audio demo a lot :)



Download: Gecko Soundbank for Synth1
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Martin Lüders Pg8x VSTi - JX-8P inspired synth

PG8X is the latest freebie inspired by Roland JX-8P analog synth. The author - Martin Lüders used SynthEdit software as a framework (GUI etc.) but the modules are custom written (C++/Assembler).
I don't have JX-8P so I'm not going to compare it vs PG8X but the official topic on KvR Audio forum has almost 30 pages and is full of people who had JX-8P and their comments are mostly very positive.

Audio Demo by KvR Audio member Shiffbauer


Download: Martin Lüders Pg8x
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