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Corona is an underrated gem that deserves more recognition, IMHO. I've come across quite a lot of synths, and I don't normally review them unless I find something particularly striking. In Corona's favor is not only its unique oscillators, but stylistic versatility and fresh sonic character. The sound itself is quite solid and the synth has potential for wide appeal if marketed better.
It has a very modern sound, clean and bright. Thanks to the neat phase modulation options in Corona's oscillator section, I've gotten some killer dubstep basses with that deep, metallic flavor, which is then run through 2 different filters and a bunch of different distortion options. At the end of the chain is the chorus, delay and limiter. Try using the delay set to very fine vales for a more subtle stereo widening effect. Works great on those "skrillex" basses. In my opinion, Corona just plain sounds good. The basses that can be dialed in are hard and agressive, and the leads just plain sing. It sure as hell ain't analog, but it doesn't try to be. Like ReFX's classic Vanguard did back in the day, Corona embraces the digital sound, and does so with finesse by bringing its unusual character to the table. A lot of the info I get on this synth suggests it is marketed more to the dance/edm crowd. While it does Dance/EDM sounds well enough, provided you don't _need_ the very best unison feature, the vibe I get from actually programming some sounds on it is more in the downtempo and breaks vein - Hip Hop, Trap, Dubstep, Breakbeat, Moombahton, etc. The charcter of the unison, chorus effect and oscillator phasing options lends itself VERY well to those genres. IMHO, it is THESE guys that Corona could have been better marketed to. This synth has some good sounding filters. They definitely have a fullness to them, not the weak and lifeless character you find in some synths out there. Even the effects just sound good. Corona sings its own tune in beautifully digital ways without raping your ears in the 10 - 18 kHz range. The key with programming this synth is in having a soft touch. As the oscillators are based on a form of phase modulation synthesis, Corona is capable of some extremely harsh textures that would excite the dubstep, industrial and noise ambient fans. More subtle settings yeild laid back, singing leads, digital pianos, chill basses, and even those popular Trap stabs with a little trick using the arpegiator to get those abrupt stops.
The star of the show is the "combine" menu within the oscillator section. It encourages you to experiment and find interesting tonal colors/interactions. It is a unique trick with tangible results, which Corona brings to the table in this competative market. There is a decent mod matrix with 8 sections which covers most of your standard programming needs. You have separate LFOs and envelopes for each filter, an amp envelope, mod envelope, mod LFO, and a dedicated vibrato section. The strength of Cornoa is not in having a huge feature set, but just sounding good in a fresh, current way. There are enough sound creation options that you won't feel your creativity is being painted into a corner. Where there is a lack, there is something to make up for it. The LFOs offer some non-standard shapes in addition to the standard ones. There is a wide variety of filter drive and distortion types, as well as filter types. Lastly, you have sample import. I personally don't use that function, though I might check into it more later. You can apply the same "combine" function on your imported samples, making them interact in unusual ways.
Corona is highly stylistically versatile. It does Trance, Hip Hop and Dubstep sounds all equally well. Browsing the factory patches definitely gives a different impression, though. They are mostly dance/edm oriented, with a smattering of stuff for other genres scattered about. The quality is variable as well. You have dance stuff from Cyforce, which is consistantly good, some good stuff from a few others, followed by the bulk of the patches, of which many were cool ideas, but didn't feel "polished". Self promotion alert - I have a set available for Corona, covering "non-EDM" genres: http://xenossoundworks.com/corona.html.
Value For Money
$169 for the synth. It's up to the person demoing it to be the judge. I'd say it's worth it to those that want to stand out from the crowd while still being able to make many of the same types of sounds those synths are known for. IMHO, it holds its own against the big giants Sylenth and Massive, while offering something under the hood that neither of them have.
- It's easy to cross the line from musical to chaotic and harsh with heavier parameter settings. Keep a LPF on Filter 2, adjust accordingly, and you're covered.
- Many people judge a synth by the factory patches, and Corona's included sounds are a mixed bag. A more solid factory set, IMHO, would have sold this synth better.
- Ugly GUI. I use the white one, which strains the eyes, but the "dark" GUI is even worse. The sections look a bit choppy. Perhaps a redesign that visually merges these blocky sections with the background would do the trick. From a marketing perspective, the developer might look into upgrading the GUI, as, unfortunately, looks matter in selling a product. He has a real winner on his hands, but I don't feel it was marketed well enough in several key areas for many people to see that.