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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

Adam Szabo JP6K Synth Review

Back in 1999, Trance music was everywhere – on TV (Viva, MTV etc.), on the radio as well as in clubs, discos and huge events. Paul van Dyk was a god, so was Chicane and others. Plenty of tracks released and surprisingly most filled with modern, fresh sounds. Probably that’s because released tracks were actually selected ? Ok, nevermind 😉

1999

Here are some classic examples of Trance music produced in 1999

Chicane – Saltwater

Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia

Do you like such trance ? Well, I love it (even if I also like Michael Jackson, Queen, Depeche Mode and my older brother was forcing me to hear Metallica, Slayer, Kreator 😉 )

One of the trends was uplifting / epic / anthem / emotional trance focused on building huge trance anthem melodies powered with positive, warm, smooth, non aggressive sounds.

Supersaw

Rank 1 – Airwave

Cygnus X – Superstring

Do you recognise the sound ? Yes, that’s the Roland JP-8000/8080 and it’s Super Saw oscillator which described trance music for the next few years. Sure, at the end it was boring to the death, but the beginning it was creative, fresh and beautiful.

Adam Szabo JP6K

I remember that I always wanted to recreate that Rank 1 – Airwave pad (or other “supersaw” sounds) but for some reason I couldn’t do it. I mean, sure, with tons of processing it was possible to get that smooth, warm, full pad but it was way too complicated. Every software plugin that claimed to have a supersaw oscillator (or something similar) actually failed. It was too thin, or too bright, or too dark, or too much phasing – well, it just wasn’t good enough.

So how about now ? It’s more than 10 years later – is there any synth which captures the beauty of the supersaw sound ? Yes ! One guy – Adam Szabo (you should know him from his great soundbanks) released his plugin named AS JP6K. It’s goal is to remind you that good old, 2000’s when trance wasn’t such crap as it’s now 😉 What does it mean ? Yea, you know it – it means that JP6K has two “supersaw-like” oscillators implemented, as well as Filter section (12/24 db, High-, Band-, Low- pass filters), one LFO unit which can modulate pitch or filter or amp, there is an EQ, Delay unit and that’s pretty much it 🙂

Compared to current monster synths such as Synapse Dune, Waldorf Largo, JP6K seems very limitating (for example you can’t assign Mod Wheel to the filter env for example, you need to do this “manually” in you DAW; there is only supersaw “waveform”, there aren’t any sine, square, triangle waveforms 🙂 ) but I’m telling you – it was designed for one thing (supersaw) and it does it perfectly. It lets you create all these lushy, smooth, warm pads, melodies, plucks and, I guess, it’s the closest supersaw hmm emulation (?) I have ever heard and it’s very easy to use.

Everytime I’m playing with the JP6K I’m surprised how flexible this soft synth is. It’s just two, same (extremely flexible) oscillators but it turns out that there are tons of possiblities. The factory soundbank contains 114 presets and it’s more than enough to give you that good old trance sound or “anjunabeats” trance feeling (without a piano of course 😉 ).

The GUI is designed very well – it’s clean, it focuses on main feature “supersaw-like” oscillator and that’s a good thing.

So, is it worth ?

Well, if you’re looking for pure Roland JP-8000 emulation then you should probably just … buy the Roland JP-8000. But if you need an amazing supersaw sound (not necessary trance related) then 25 EUR is really a bargain. Why ? because these 2 oscillators are just the best 🙂

I absolutely love the pads, these machine can produce. If you’re not a trance (or similar genres) lover then probably most presets won’t fit your musical taste but still you should reconsider buying it. If you need some warm, smooth pads – JP6K is truly great for it (but not only of course – it’s great for leads, basses too). Fully deserved “Value for Money” tag 🙂

Don’t forget to check the demo. My reviews are subjective so use your own brain to make a decision 🙂

Below audio demo with some of the factory patches (credit goes to the authors)

ps. I did create few (factory) presets for JP6K, it was a pure pleasure for me (try my “PAD – Epic Trance” preset 😉 ) – some good old trance memories came back 🙂

PRICE: 25 EUR

More info: AdamSzabo.com – JP6K

ARPG8R – 32 Step Midi Arpeggiator Vst Review

Pentacom ARPG8R is a midi arpeggiator unit available both for PC and Mac OSX. I must admit that I’m not a fan of typical arpeggiator plugins shipped with DAW applications. Most seem uninspiring and just too limited to impress me somehow 😉

But let’s start from the beginning. While the plugin is still in beta, I didn’t have any problems. The installation process went very smooth. Using ARPG8R in project is also easy IF you know anything about routing – you need to load ARPG8R as VSTi instrument, load favourite VSTi and route the signal from one to another. If you’re beginner, don’t worry – the official website has step by step tutorials how to setup up ARPG8R in popular DAWs such as Cubase, Fl Studio, Sonar, Live.

Features

ARPG8R has (up to) 32 Steps sequencer which means … a lot of fun 🙂 You can create your own patterns or use the existing ones (there are 6 presets). Creating patterns and overall using ARPG8R is very comfortable, mainly because of great GUI. The design is minimalistic, very clean. Reminds me great GUI designs created by D16.pl guys (ie. Nithonat). I like the interface a lot – it really invites you to spend some time with ARPG8R, to tweak some knobs, use pads etc.

There are six different arpeggio modes. While Up, Down, Up/Down are self explanatory, there are still three additional modes. It’s Manual – the arpeggio is based on playing order. The first note you hit will be the first note in arpeggio. Poly mode just plays every octave at once (good for creating “trance gate chord” effect), and Custom mode helps you to create some unique combinations. The screen from the left describes modes pretty well.

You can set the arpeggio range to up to 4 octaves. Arpeggio can be triggered both by midi keyboard (good 🙂 ) and just by laying down chords on piano roll. The other option is transpose arpeggio by +/- 12 semi tones. Small feature but can be a time saver (ie. you don’t have to manually transpose your midi clip) – very handy.

Secret weapon

I used some midi clip, well it’s a typical trance big chord (from Tiesto – Elements of Life track) with some notes stacked and spreaded across three octaves.
One feature I really like (best feature ?) is a section called Insert. It has three modes available:

Off – plays the typical, classic arpeggio just like any other arp plugin.
Lowest – it inserts the lowest note before each step which creates nice arpeggio bassline.
Highest – similar to lowest, it inserts the highest note before each step.

It really changes the way arpeggio plays and I like the effect.

Of course there is a Gate knob which makes the notes shorter and the Shuffle knob – tweak it and the whole arpeggio will start to swing 🙂

Final words

While I don’t use standard arpeggiator unit, included in Ableton Live, at all, I’ll use ARPG8R for sure. Why ? Because it’s creative and it’s fun. Some happy musical accidents may happen while tweaking pads, shuffle, gate konbs, insert modes. All parameters can be automated, and below there’s an example. First – the raw chord, and then ARPG8R turned on 🙂

Raw chord – ARPG8R Turned OFF

Same chord – ARPG8R Turned On

The price is somewhere around 10 $ (it’s converted from Japanase Yen) and it’s a bargain 🙂

ps. The chords are from Tiesto – Elements Of Life 🙂

PRICE: ~ 10 $

More info: Pentacom ARPG8R

E-Play Divorce VSTi – 25 Electric Pianos Review

There are tons of electric piano synths / sample libraries available, both free and commercial. Most popular (random order) are:
Andreas Ersson LazySnake (free)
GSI MrTramp (free)
NI Elektrik Piano (discontinued)
AAS Lounge Lizard EP-3 (199 $)
GSi MrRay Mark II (32 E)
AcousticsampleS E-Pian (49 E)
Scarbee Eletric Pianos (69-109 E)
Pianoteq Electric Pianos add-on (49 EUR)
Motu Electric Keys (209 $)

Motu Electric Keys offers stunning 40 GB sound library, which translates into 50 keyboard instruments (electric pianos, organs, clavs etc.) but other products usually offer just one (or two) electric piano sampled / synthesized. CFA Sound E-Play Divorce is an exception here – it brings 25 electric pianos on the table.

What does Electric Piano mean ? Unlike a synthesizer, it’s not an electronic instrument but electro-mechanical. It produces sounds mechanically and the sounds are turned into electronic signals by pickup devices. The earliest electric pianos were invented in the late 1920s but the popularity began to grow in the late 1950s, reaching it’s height during 1970s. Tone production method varies from one model to another. For example tone production in all Wurlitzer electric pianos comprises a single steel reed for each key, activated by a miniature version of a conventional grand piano action and forming part of an electrostatic pickup system using a DC voltage of 170v.A mechanical sustain pedal similar to that of a conventional piano is fitted [wikipedia]

Do you need some real world examples ? The first one is typical and popular Wurlitzer EP-200A piano. The song is: Queen – You’re My Best Friend

The other example comes from Fender Rhodes piano and it’s: The Beatles – Don’t Let Me Down

Let’s get back to the main topic, which is: CFA Sound E-play Divorce.

The whole package weights 1.99 GB. It contains a rompler unit (VSTi) with 25, 32-bit Mse piano multisamples (1,1 GB) and 25 NKI Kontakt files, so you can use Divorce as a Vsti synth/rompler or as Native Instruments Kontakt Sample Library. I like this concept a lot. Not everyone has NI Kontakt (ie. I don’t have) and on the other hand Kontakt users will (probably) prefer to use Divorce NKI files instead of rompler.

Ok, so first – the rompler unit. It offers pretty basic stuff such as ADSR envelope, panning options (modulation + speed) and reverb. Not much to be honest but … I like it. It’s not CPU hungry, I could easily insert 4-5 instances of E-Play Divorce and ie. route them to my “effects” channel with custom (DAW) effects such as EQ, Reverb, Delay. One more thing – scrolling through different pianos is very fast – samples are loading instantly.

How does it sound ? It DOESN’T recreate standard electric piano sounds, it’s not an emulation / recreation of famous electric pianos. Instead, it really tries to bring something new, unique. There are 25 (which is quite a lot for one product) different pianos:
– so called “Lo-Fi” pianos (8-bit, Lo-Fi, Bit crushed, Degraded).
– pianos passed through the tubes, amps etc.
– “weird” pianos passed through the phaser unit for example
– gentle, warm sounding pianos.

I can see at least three ways of using Divorce:

Layering

Rompler is low CPU hungry so it’s perfect for layering. Just load three, four Divorce instances and play with presets a little bit. You can achieve some unique sounds (ie. by combining “preamp” piano (nice lowend) with brighter one, you can produce quite “big”, “full” sounds).

Demo – shows bells-like pad with 4 layered instances of Divorce (+ Ableton Live ping pong delay, reverb)

Divorce + other Products

I love playing Divorce along with my TruePianos Grand Piano. It turns out that all these “Lo-Fi” pianos add some very nice harmonics to the default sound. On the other hand “Tube” / “Amp” pianos can bring additional “air” or some nice low-end flavour. Of course, it’s totally recommended to experiment. For example, you can layer it with guitars, pads, strings, as well as short, plucky sounds (bells, marimbas etc.)

Demo – first Truepianos virtual instrument dry then Truepianos + one Divorce instance

One instance

Just follow your creativity. It’s suited for many genres, from Jazz to Electronica. I can even imagine sidechaining Divorce (plus layering it with err some pad 😉 ) just to create Progressive House tune similar to Deadmau5 – Ghosts N Stuff

Tons of possibilities…

Official mp3 demo:

My opinion

E-Play Divorce is a great addition (addiction ? 😉 ) to my arsenal. I love to layer it and overall I’m impressed. You can’t compare it to another product because the sounds are pretty much unique. It consumes low CPU and the price is very fair. As far as I know, demo version will be available very soon…

PRICE: first 100 copies are discounted and cost 25 EUR (standard price is 40 EUR)

More info: CFA-Sound E-Play Divorce VSTi

Poise Drum Sampler

Drum Synths, Drum Samplers, Step Sequencers, Loop Workstations – Vst Cafe doesn’t shine here 😉 Well, I have a good reason – quality stuff is pretty much commercial and expensive.
Short example:

# FXpansion GURU (249 $) – complete Loop Workstation with advanced beat slicing, step sequencing, sample editing and other features.
# Native Instruments Battery (179 EUR) – state of the art Drum Sampler.
# Linplug RMV (139 EUR) – drum synth & drum sampler with huge sampled and synthesized drum library.
# Audio Damage Tattoo (79 $) – latest drum synth (no samples, drums are synthesized) & sequencer with strong randomization features. Nice value compared to price.
# FXpansion DR008 (99 $) – 8 year old 🙂 but still powerful drum sampler & drum synth with 96 pads.
# Ableton Impulse / Drum Rack – intuitive and user friendly drum samplers available only for Ableton fanboys 😉

All of these plugins are top quality but at the same time they’re expensive. How about free stuff, then ?

# E-Phonic Drumatic 3 – nice free drum alternative (but much more limited) for Sonic Charge Microtonic drum synth.
# Tatapoum 4 – drum sampler with quite strong step sequencing features. Actually, it nicely surprised me when I first tested it.

There’s also Computer SR-202 distributed freely with Computer Music magazine, there’s Odo DR-Fusion drum sampler and that’s pretty much it.

Are there any ‘Akai MPC series’ software clones ? 🙂 You know, 16 pads, amazing workflow, good features, pure fun ? There is one option, quite unknown to be honest. It’s Poise, from One Small Clue, 16 Drum pads sampler, heavily inspired by Akai MPC series. The official website states:

“Direct, straightforward, no frills and no bloat! Poise aims to make working with drum samples quick and painless, allowing you to focus on making music. “

and it’s all true. Poise was designed to be quick, intuitive, powerful (and at the same time simple) and painless alternative for these “big” loop workstations.

First – GUI. Not too big and not too small. It’s very clean and it’s skinnable. I like the dark one skin but I’m sure that you’ll find the one you like (ie. with white background). Overall, design gives nice feeling.
Sample Browser is the first thing that got my attention because “small details” start here :). All you need to do is to use “add folder” option, choose your drum samples folder and you’re set. Then you can drag & drop samples (Poise supports WAV, AIF, SND formats) on the drum pad and have some fun. So, where are the “small details” ? 🙂 Each folder is opened with one click not double click. You can quickly preview each sample thanks to included preview function – there’s even a knob to set the volume preview…

Bigger details ? Layers. Just drag and drop up to 8 samples per drum pad and play them in round robin, random, layered or velocity switching mode. Isn’t it great ???! Another one ? Outputs. There are up to 16 outputs, so you can route (send) each pad to it’s own channel bus (in your DAW) and add a touch of reverb or compression. This is really huge. As Ableton user, I use this feature all the time with Ableton Drum Rack.

Going back to small details. Each layer on a pad can be tweaked separately or grouped. You can copy or swap one pad to another. There are hotkeys available (turned off by default) to improve the navigation even more, ie. F5 Opens/Closes browser.

There are of course sample editing features like Amp Envelope, Pitch Envelope. You can change the overall volume, balance, pitch of each layer. There are effects available: Distortion, Low Pass / High Pass Filter and Ring Modulation. There’s also small and neat “reverse” sample option.

I was trying to find some weak sides but it’s not that easy – Poise is a complete drum sampler 🙂 It comes with 30 drum kits – honestly, I don’t know if they’re good or bad because I used my own samples all the time 🙂 You can load / save your custom drum kits using Poise DKT format. Well, there’s one downside – it’s Windows only plugin.

Here’s a nice video (I’m not the author) which covers most of Poise features.

Ahh, almost forgot 😉 The price. It costs 49 $ which I belive is very fair price. We have a quite unique plugin here. All Akai MPC lovers will love Poise and those who never tried such workflow will find it great too. Up to 8 samples / layers per pad is really an amazing feature. Poise definitely has great value compared to price. If you’re still not sure, there’s demo version available.

PRICE: 49 $

More info: One Small Clue – Poise

Wusik Station

Since few days I’m proud user of Wusik Station – a hybrid vector & wavesequencer Sampler. Unfortunately I had not enough time to fully explore each feature (most time I spent playing samples 🙂 ) so this small review will be focused more on economical aspect 🙂

Currently, there’s great promotion available called – The Wusik Summer 2009 Group-Buy. Since 163 users already decided to buy Wusik Station, the price is now set at very low level. Instead of 120 $, Wusik station is now available for 60 $. Not cheap enough ? I agree – without sample libraries it would be rather high, especially for vstCafe “requirements” 😉

BUT, for 60 $ you’ll receive tons of sample libraries. First – Complete Sound Set libraries which contain about 4 GB of samples – it is compressed, so overall I assume it’s about 6 GB !!! Additionally, you’ll receive 200 Wusik Sound Credits (which I don’t have because I didn’t buy it via this promo 😐 ) which translate into another few GB of samples – check the libraries available and the credit costs here. 200 credits is very much…

Now, my thought – during last few days I really liked Wusik Station. It’s nicely designed, it has a lot of features (many effects, sequencers, layers) – actually my home studio lacked good sampler and Wusik Station filled that niche. And samples libraries ? Very good stuff. Wusik Station introduces it’s own format WusikPRST / WusikSND but you can also import WAV and SFZ (format developed by Cakewalk) files (you can convert Soundfont (SF2) files to SFZ with some freeware converters – for example sfZed).

More features are described in manual available online at
http://www.wusik.com/download/Manual.pdf

PRICE: 59.95 $

More info: Wusik Station VST

Messiah – a Prophet 5 inspired synth

What would you say if I asked you about Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 Vintage Synth emulation ? Most of you would probably point me at Native Instruments website and their Pro-53 virtual synth for 199 EUR. Others would say – pick SCI Prophet 5 or Prophanity, they’re freeware.
But, is there a third option – cheap / average priced, commercial, quality soft synth ? Fortunately, there is. It’s called Messiah, it’s created by Gunnar Ekornås (remember Minimogue VA ?) and after 3-4 hours testing session I’m really wondering why this synth seems hmm forgotten. To be honest, even I, vst instruments freak ;), had problem to notice it. Actually it was one Vst Cafe user who recommended me this softsynth and it convinced me to give Messiah a try.

First I started with the presets. Factory bank contains 128 presets – there are leads, arps, basses, effects, chords, guitars – it’s almost everything. I was surprised because many presets sounded very nice. At this moment I didn’t know anything about the whole concept of Messiah. All I saw was an upper gui part which looked quite similar to Pro-53 (or maybe I should say Prophet5 VA 🙂 ) and the keyboard at the bottom.

But then I started the real testing. It turned out that there are additional three pages with knobs, buttons, switches. I remember this moment perfectly because it was just – “woow” 🙂

Messiah has three very innovative oscillator types:
1. Morph oscillator – you can morph between 4 waveforms (11 waveforms to choose such as: sine, saw, square, triangle, ramp, soft ramp, peak ramp, peak, octava, cluster1, cluster2)
2. Unison oscillator – 7 voices (and you can put this oscillator into 5 voice unison for 35 voices) for creating fat detuned sounds.
3. Flexi oscillator – two separate waveforms that can perform PWM, Ring Mod, Phase distortion and more

Messiah development took over one year. An author has been analyzing Prophet5 soundfiles (for example at filter design stage) to reach the best effect. Sure, it’s not 100 % accurate emulation but it’s actually more than just an emulation. These oscillators are really doing the great job and they’re NOT killing the CPU – Messiah is very low CPU hungry.

Is it worth ? To be honest I don’t remember the sound of Pro-53 but one thing I do remember – I didn’t like the unison – the more detuned sound (and since I’m much into trance, I like to detune everything 😉 ) I had, the less brightness and more noise I heard. Fortunately, Messiah unison sounds as it should – fat, detuned (if you want to), but still pretty bright and without noise.

The most important thing – it’s very hmm creative synth. I was giving myself about three hours to write this short review but I failed miserably. “Tweaking knobs” part just took too long 🙂 I managed to create few nice presets ranging from Usher – Yeah, Deadmau5 plucks to trance pluck. Factory presets are very nice too – especially I like presets called “Depeche” – I spent half an hour playing “just can’t get enough” 😉

Don’t forget to check the demo – you shouldn’t trust the guy you virtually know nothing about 😉 The demo is fully functional + silence effect, which to be honest is too frequent. At first I thought that there’s some bug in Messiah hehe

Last word – Messiah needs more attention. It’s an amazing, powerful synth. Sure, there are tons of free plugins – some (for example Synth1, Outmeal, Atlantis) are as good as commercial. But if you have them all and you need something new – Messiah will give you that new feeling. It’s pretty unique synth – good enough to be a commercial product. Great work Gunnar! 🙂

Here are some examples I did during Messiah testing (there’s tiny amount of external reverb – rest is Messiah)

Price: 30 $ (or 40 $ with Memorymoon – plugin inspired by Memorymoog polyphonic synth).

More info: http://memorymoon.com

Audio Damage Fluid – chorus unit

Couple months ago I was wondering why most software chorus plugins sound similar to each other and actually rather poor. I couldn’t find an answer and what’s worse I couldn’t find the plugin I like. I mean, come on chorus seems a simple thing to implement in software but for some reason most choruses are just terrible.

Presented chorus is finally the plugin I was looking for. It’s … Audio Damage Fluid. Some of you may not be surprised because Audio Damage plugins (effects only) have attained a cult status among users over recent years. Almost every plugin is reviewed very high by magazines such as Computer Music or Future Music. Also the pricing policy is worth mentioning – plugins (compared to quality and creativity they offer) are cheap and there are no problems with transfer license. I know it because I bought it “second handed” – who knows maybe that’s why my Fluid sounds nice, and it has more analogue soul 😉

Fluid is an analog-modeled stereo chorus suited for subtle phasey widening as well as full-on modulation mayhem. Actually, it makes chorus a usable effect again. I can just insert Fluid on my, for example, pads channel and it’ll give them nice, wide sound. Inserted on dull, motionless analogue synth channel, will give depth and richness. And I don’t have to sit whole day tweaking it – presets are nice and the gui contains just five knobs.

While Fluid is simple outside, it’s not inside. It took several design iterations followed by several tweaking iterations before developers accepted the effect. It’s internal structure is not based on any existing design. Of course it has similarities to other chorus algorithms – especially analog chorus units and multi-effects DSP hardware ones but it has it’s own tricks (as most Audio Damage plugins) too. Most vintage chorus processors used only two or three modulated delays – Fluid uses a network of five modulated delays and four fixed delays.

So why most chorus plugins sound just dull, lifeless and this one is totally opposite ?

I have a theory: lots of people don’t know what a good chorus sounds like. Lots of plug-in users and plug-in makers have not heard really nice hardware chorus units. They have no point of reference. Hence plug-in makers build blah-sounding choruses based on the simple concept that you allude to. Just about every book on music related DSP will describe chorusing as a simple one-delay/one-LFO process, so many plug-in makers will code that up as their chorus plug-in, listen to it and figure that’s what it’s supposed to sound like, and leave it at that. End-users hear the result, go “bleah!” and move on to some more interesting-sounding plug-in.

Features:
– True stereo analog-modeled chorus effect
– Feedback control for extreme special effects
– Optimized for low CPU usage
– Full MIDI learn on every parameter for hardware control (VST version only)

ps. Mac version is also available. Unfortunately, there’s no demo version (?)

PRICE: 29 $ (transfer license available)

More info: Audio Damage Fluid

Novation V-Station Synth

Novation V-Station is a VST Instrument with the same real 3-oscillator flexibility as the award winning, hardware K-Station, with awesome liquid analog filters, 8-voice polyphony, FM Synthesis, FX and the kind of phatt sounds similar to all Novation synths. Amazingly, after 6 years it’s still the truth 🙂 Getting the best from the new V-Station is easy. All the primary sound-shaping controls are there on the main screen – clear, concise and refreshingly simple. Recall a named factory preset, tweak it to get ‘your sound’ and instantly save it in any of the 400 program locations. Need more? Just click and you’ll find additional functions and controls on the other three screens.

Novation V-Station is written very well, code is highly optimized . With current computers, you can run a lot of instances and you won’t kill your CPU. Also, all users of Novation Automap controllers should be very happy. V-Station fits there very well, mainly because of the natural values that each knob has. For example that values for Oscillator waves are: Sine, Square, Saw, Triangle… not like in most plugins just 1, 2, 3, 4 (or even 1.345, 2.534, 3.654 – some SynthEdit made plugins). Well, if you don’t use Novation Controllers it won’t matter, but if do (for example I use Remote Zero SL with nice leds), you’ll really benefit from such natural values.

Novation states that you can load sysex preset files from Novation K-Station and A-Station but to be honest there are some problems. For example, Oscillators are always set to sine wave. Another thing is just 8-voice polyphone. While it’s enough for Leads, Basses, FXs, Arps, it can be not enough for Pads. But still you can ie. sample your pad and then you’ll have more polyphony. Don’t forget that this synth was released at the beginning of 2003. Six years ago, 8-voice polyphony was enough.

I know that there are many dealers selling V-Station. But the problem is that in some countries prices hasn’t changed for years (and remember that at the beginning, the V-Station price was set to 150 pounds !). But thanks to ebay, you can find some better deals :). For example, I bought V-Station (for a friend) from Inta Audio (registered UK company) just for 25 pounds (+ shipping). With RoyalMail, it took about hmm 5 days to deliver it to Poland. But remember, it’s an Ebay – use your brain to calculate risk 🙂

It’s worth noting that after six years there are tons of presets – free (the second example) and commercials too (first example created by vengeance-sound quite a loong time ago 😉 – it’s 128 kBit mp3 quality so not the best one).

Some would laugh 🙂 but Novation V-Station reminds me … LennarDigital Sylenth (or vice versa 🙂 ). Why ? There’s the same simplicity, GUI is not overcrowded. Some would even call those synths simple, especially compared to for example U-he Zebra2. But there’s one thing – amazing sound quality. Yes, still after 6 years, V-Station has an amazing sound quality. When I bought Novation Remote Zero SL controller (5 months ago) and mapped all V-Station knobs I had a feeling like I use a hardware synth.

More info: www.novationmusic.com

PRICE: 25 pounds + shipping (via Ebay or via www.dv247.com)

Scanned Synth Pro

Previously available for 60 EUR, Humanoid Sound Systems Scanned Synth Pro is now available at an astonishing price of whatever you want to pay!
Scanned Synth uses a unique new form of synthesis inspired by advances in digital music theory. It is designed to create rich complex digital tones and fantastic sound effects, while using simplifed controls and traditional synths techniques such as filters, lfo’s and effects. Perfect for biting metallic growls, movement filled pads, and weird modular-like sound effects, ScannedSynth Pro provides a unique sound that is constantly changing and new every time you press a key. Featuring a revolutionary synthesis engine, combining the powers of both Physical Modelling and Wavetable synthesis, with simplified controls and full MIDI automation, ScannedSynth Pro is both simple and complex, powerful and easy to use.

As usually, don’t forget to check the demo version first (host compatibility etc.) 🙂

Sam Inglis, Sound On Sound, October 2007

“…I like Scanned Synth Pro a lot. I like a synth with an individual sound, and Scanned Synth Pro has personality and character in spades It seems to create an unsettling, ominous atmosphere without even really trying SSP is also capable of producing some surprisingly punchy analogue-style bass and lead parts that would work in the most conventional of dance tracks… It seems to produce sounds that fit well into an arrangement, whether its surrounded by electronica or live recordings. Theres little of the glassy, unreal quality that can make other types of digital synthesis so hard to work with in a mix… Scanned Synth Pro has already brought a new dimension to the projects I’ve used it on.”

Hollin Jones, Music Tech Magazine, November 2007

“When it comes to unusual synth noises, there’s a lot on offer in the VST world – and Scanned Synth Pro competes with the best of them… A VST plug-in for Windows, it combines physical modelling and wavetable synthesis to create a new method of sound generation that the company calls scanned synthesis. Using this method, Scanned Synth Pro can create unique and unusual digital tones and sound effects, but its interface retains the kind of terminology and controls that are familiar to synth users.”

PRICE: whatever you want (50 euro cents is the minimum I guess – paypal processing cost)

More info: www.humanoidsounds.co.uk

QuikQuak Glass Viper Synth

The official Glass Viper’s website describes this synth very well. It’s a synthesizer with unique waveform shaping, that has a deep and natural sense of movement. Going beyond analogue simulation, into a truly organic sound, from simple old synths to grungy filthy basses, or delicate pianos to strange unnatural film effects.
Instead of taking a sample or oscillator and applying just filters and FX techniques, Glass Viper bends the actual shape of its waveforms through a series of moving control points. Up to four of these swirling and changing sounds can be layered together to create a huge range of instruments. Glass Viper allows you to really shake things up with a deep, natural sense of movement.

From the start, Glass Viper’s goal was to make sound creation visual, and distance itself from mathematics. Making something with a unique sound was also a priority, and in a world full of synthesizers, this had to mean a fundamental difference. Without the complexity of many changeable modules, Glass Viper encourages play and experimentation. Most of the presets available were born from experimentation, rather than setting out to make a particular sound.

Some people on music production forums are actually stunned that this synth didn’t receive more attention. The whole “moving waveforms thing” is great. Maybe the GUI is not the best one but the rest is innovative, quality piece of software. Currently, on my list there are two synths I would love to have – Lenner Digital Sylenth (a little bit too expensive for me 😐 ) and Glass Viper.

Don’t forget to check the demo too. After all, it’s still just my opinion 🙂 But to be honest, I have a feeling that it’s almost mission impossible to find better synth for 35 pounds 🙂 Mp3 preview demo shows some of the 128 presets (no external effects used – just pure Glass Viper)

Price: 35

More info: Quik Quak Glass Viper