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AlioNoctis combines many of the benefits from H. G. Fortune's ProtoPlasm, STS and Atonoise plug-ins with the ease of use many still love from the STS-21. Sound-wise it goes beyond all the aforementioned plug-ins with vivid atmos, complex textures and pads but also some rhythmic sounds, all of which can be enriched by the "out-of-this-world" flavour of the "Inferno", "Spooks" and "Bass Enhancer" features.
Basic features of the Pro Version:
- Three digital PCM-wave oscillators powered by 128 selectable waveforms.
- 3rd oscillator with 8 slot wave-morphing selectable.
- Oscillator Mix via X/Y Pad and various modulations.
- Two resonant filters (24db Lowpass and 12db Highpass).
- Three ADSR-style envelope generators.
- "Inferno" for adding generated upper harmonics.
- "Spook" 1 & 2 effects with X/Y Pad and various modulations.
- Super Modulation X/Y Control Pad to modulate up to 10 destinations simultaneously.
- LFO Section with 7 LFOs plus one Sample & Hold; most with BPM synced tempo and key sync.
- Very efficient Bass Enhancer.
- 8 dedicated Lazy buttons.
- Straightforward and easy access editing on the GUI.
Pro version now free as NFG (Nearly Forgotten Gem)
Reviewed By Francisco Cepero
June 26, 2009
This synth is primarily for evolving textures -- just play a minor-7th chord with it too! -- hence the 3 SoundFont oscillators; there's no virtual analog imitation here. That said, the sound, even without any audio effects, is quite splendid. The one SoundFont included in this package (and hardwired into the free version) has waveforms like "ManyClocks" and "Syn3Osc" that fascinated me to create a few presets including them. I find it strange that oscillators #2 and #3 were selected to be detuned from one another: read further below.
The third oscillator has a wave-sequencer in which, when used correctly, could bring a lot of interest to a song not dominated by bass. The inclusion of both low-pass and high-pass filters with their own envelope generators is a real treat, along with a LFO modulating each envelope. Somewhat I feel it would be even better if the envelope decay parameter had a longer range, to combine with a zero envelope sustain and hear a gradual increase or decrease of the cutoff frequency. The Inferno/Spooks section is essential for inventing sounds with an attitude! It was wise of Fortune to provide as many modulators as possible in that section; in addition the Super Modulation could be used to mess about with the Inferno and Spook mix levels.
The Super Modulation joystick is perhaps this synth's best-known feature to those who haven't heard how it sounds like. For the lazy composers out there, it would be enough to use two slow LFOs to move the joystick around. However, I recommend automating it, especially while a bunch of notes are held.
Alionoctis Pro comes with three banks, plus a so-called "Init" bank, each with 128 presets. The included presets are good for the most part, but too many of them fill in almost all the locations of the Super Modulation joystick. You could get great sounds using one or two destinations per joystick direction. The candidates are usually filters mix, direct-filter and pan-delay, since those don't otherwise have dedicated modulators. Take it from me: this is a great synth to create presets with; I can't say the same thing about many others which only have single-cycle waveforms.
Usually I don't make a big deal about the GUI of a VST plug-in; I focus much more on sound. It might turn off religious people, but it's actually quite harmless in appearance. Also this design is a step up from many of the author's earlier efforts.
As many of you already know, Fortune has an excellent reputation around here, and he's available via e-mail, so I don't have to say anything else about that. His website contains enough information about the products available, and has links to watch some cool videos, with his VST instruments in action!
There are a few things I discovered which are a tiny bit annoying. The note velocity-to-amplitude switch is left off by default; that means if you depend on that, and load in a project containing this synth without any further adjustment, all notes would play back at maximum velocity. Also sometimes, the button of the state of the third oscillator doesn't remember its setting. More than once I loaded in a preset and expected one sound for the third oscillator, but it was changed to some other sound, set in the first step of the wave-sequencer. Note that giving too much emphasis to the high-pass filter with a high cutoff frequency might make the output too quiet -- in that case, consider modifying the direct-filter knob! The Inferno Mix and Spook Mix knobs turned all the way to the right leads to harsh sounds! So watch your ears and speakers, people.
I had been a registered user before buying Alionoctis, but the full price of non-registered user is good enough, since you can't get these PCM waveforms anywhere else. Besides, with the Pro version you get the privilege of using any SoundFont sound you want, to mangle into the filters, delay and Inferno/Spooks section! Well, that's as long as you remember that this synth is great for playing chords with, and is not for heavy trance or phat bass or anything else like that.Read more