If you are looking for some of the most hauntingly beautiful, ethereal pads as well as evolving, resonant, rhythmic soundscapes, look no further than this truly amazing virtual instrument.
I have spent a very long time looking for THE instrument that could create some of the most stunningly beautiful pads that I have ever heard and have finally found it.
If you write Ambient, New Age, Down-Tempo, Chillout type music and are looking for some of the most spectacular pads you have ever heard, do yourself a favor and preview the demo of this instrument.
The only thing more amazing than the sounds of this instrument is the price tag.
I give this virtual instrument the highest possible recommendation. Download the demo and go through the presets. I think you will be so impressed that you will end up buying the full version.
Interface: Extremely well laid out with every control on the main page. There is no navigating to sub-menus; It is all there right before you.
Sound Quality: Stunning, Haunting, Beautiful, Ethereal, Other-Worldly are some of the words that come to mind. As I mentioned previously - I have been spending quite some time previewing various soft-synths for my specific requirement (Pads, evolving pads, resonance-sweep pads), and this was the one that I ended up buying.
I occasionally verge into the space-music/new-age genre, and it's hard to find a software synth that covers this territory - sure, I could use a beefier synth and work it over with a bazillion effects, but my CPU hates me already.. enter Algomusics M42 Nebula.
All the technical details have been discussed, so I'll focus on what's important to me.. the sounds, and the range of presets (since I'm not a sound designer). This review is for the latest 1.11 release.
The sound vary from long, slowly evolving pads to lead sounds and rhythmic sounds.. the pads are to die for, the lead sounds are decent and the rhythmic sounds are a major treat. I've found that layering M42 with a rhythmic patch over another synth playing long sustained notes can give you all the trippy space sound you'd ever need in life.
The presets are mostly excellent, I have no complaints at all - just about everything is eminently useable. The only bad thing I can say about it, is that for my music I'd not use it solo as a lead synth as it (to my ears) isn't "beefy" enough.
I've had no problems with M42 in either of my hosts, Orion Platinum 5.8 and Tracktion 1.6. CPU useage is pretty good, even on my now-ancient P4 2.53GHz box.
Value for money? This thing is cheap, buy it already! I've spent more on beer during a serious night out and had less fun! :-p
Summary: it's not an end-all/be-all synth, but for spacey sounds, rhythmmic pulsations, and being an EXCELLENT synth for stacking it can't be beat!
it is a long time that i want to write a review and i encouraged other customer to do one, but i didn't take the time.
and begins the polemic about SE synth and review.
i was agree with some critics but whatever you think, this synth need to be PLAYED on a keyboard and you will understand why there is such a big buzz or maybe you will not believe what you heard, how a small SE synth can be so good and so cheap ?
this synth prouve that with two litle synth, ( 1 DCO and a soundfont player), one chorus and a delay you can have a LOT of fun.
i have to correct something, when i said play on a keyboard, it does NOT mean that you need to be master with 7 years of practice, it's the contrary with one finger you are blown in the deep space of sound.
with the 1.1 version the interface has been shrinked to a very reasonnable size.
another great update is the selectable soundfont, you can load your own soundfont carefully crafted in your bigger and very expensive synth !!!
i just want to try this, it's look like a dream
i give a bad rating on stability issue just because SE synth and Orion are not very friendly.
One crash was when i was looking for the automation of the warp module and i swaped between automation type vst parameter and midi CC while running.
i want to add that i played this synth only with orion platinum 5.8 (the only hosts i use) and that M42 nebula is my first vsti purchase (i immediately fall in love)
i will repeat, just try it with your keyboard even your computer keyboard !!!
If you like spacey/ambient/pad sounds, then M42 Nebula is the instrument to do this. You can produce a wide range of evolving and rhythmic sounds. The presets are showing this very good.
User Interface is nice but a little bit confusing, but the manual is describing all in a good manner.
Customer Support and Value For Money are outstanding and this synth never crashed on my machine.
I really have no serious complaints about this synth.
M42 Nebula was the the first SynthEdit creation that really convinced me the platform had come of age. Except for some extreme individuals the following will be true; M42 is a wonderful, advanced pad and spacy sound synth.
Based on a soundfont oscillator and traditional oscillator through a signal chain of digital oscillator to filter, to amplitude filter, to mod envelope and into the interesting stuff - the LFO, Pulsar (a specialized arpeggiator) and finishing with a mod matrix. Replace the DCO on oscillaor 2 and put a soundfont front-end with nicely selected samples and followed by a effects engine featuring chorus, cross delay, pan controller, synth mixer and finally, the warp control which enables you to program functions to a x/y controller. Not to be forgotten, the global section allows for splits, layers and variable pitch control per oscillator.
I often have concerns about soundfonts. It's not that the format is bad, more that most sets I've heard are not well designed and often are a hodgepodge of sounds made as a "thrilling experience of REAL sounds". Fortunately, the set included with M42 are chosen for use within M42's thematic standard with high quality samples that bring out the most in M42's design.
Don't forget the non-sampled oscillator. It also has lots of character and a quality that lends itself to evocative sounds. Combined with the generous soundfont library and the modulations, arpeggiations and general synthesis capabilities available in M42 it is a testimant to good synth design.
More importantly, there is vision as to what a pad synth does. M42 is based on proven techniques in synth design with one hidden weapon, a generous set of presets by Tim Conrardy. In it's own way Tim's programming and mastery of M42 Nebula make this similar within context to synths like Albino, where a developer works in concert with a synth designer and sound programmer make for a synergism that makes learning and playing M42 Nebula vastly easier than the wealth of controls available.
At $45 this is a steal if:
* you actually enjoy pads, spacy sounds and overall capability in synthesis
* keep an open mind as to what this synth's purpose is
if you long for the synths of old where all sounds seemed possible and probably were
If a more established company's name was on it the price of $99 wouldn't be unexpected nor unreasonable. At $45 it's a killer synth.
I put M42 Nebula in the same special catagory of synths like Rhino, Albino or z3ta+. Yes, each is a monster synth whereas M42 is more focused on one area but it is priced suitably and is testimate to what a motivated SE developer and excellent patch designer can do when working together.
Note: M42 is not a harsh sounding synth and as such might not work for those looking to do industrial. Listen before buying. The demo is very good and will give you a good idea of what awaits you in the full version.
The M42 Nebula from Algomusic is the brightest star in my softsynth arsenal. From rich strings to deep, evoloving pads, it's all here. Dr. Ambient's programming and Tim Conrardy's sound design have combined to make one of those rare "it doesn't get any better than this" moments.
The GUI is large by intent, making all of the settings available in one workspace. The flow is logical, left-to-right.
The sound of the M42 is astounding for a product at its price point. It is comprised of two independent synths - a virtual analog synth and a SoundFont playback synth that uses a pre-made SoundFont bank as its base. Each synth has its own DCF, DCA, MOD EG, LFO (with Arpeggiator), "Pulsar" (rhythm generator w/Sample & Hold) and Modulation matrix controls. The Arpeggiator and Pulsar sync to host BPM. The virtual analog synth can be tuned independently of the SoundFont synth. Each synth has a mono-mode with legato and portamento available. A Global section contains settings common to both synths such as channel, bend, vibrato, and split ranges, however, each synth again can be set independently of the other. Output effects include stereo chorus and delay, a panner, and a mixer. The final effect is an X-Y controller called "Warp", which activates a distortion/filter effect. The Warp X-Y values can be controlled via MIDI CC 12(X) and 13(Y). That is not to say these are the only CC's recognized - the well-written documentation also includes a CC Map that covers access parameters to all important settings in each synth bank.
The independence of each synth allows one to be used while the other is muted. Each is certainly capable of producing good sounds - but the fun really begins when the two are played together. Throw in tempo-synched arpeggiation if you want it and/or the Pulsar and soundscapes can evolve from very simple beginnings to rich and beautiful complexities. The factory patch bank supplied by Tim Conrardy plumbs the full range of the M42's sonic capability, but by no means exhausts what is possible.
Customer support is good - both developers regularly post on the K-v-R forums and as I mentioned previously, the user manual is well-written and easy to understand. Truth is, M42 has never crashed on me in any host I have used it in, so outside of new feature suggestions, you are quite likely not to need support at all.
In terms of value for money, well let's just say the VFM meter pegs hard right.
The M42 Nebula is a bravura debut by Algomusic. Try the demo. You won't be disappointed.
Edits: Spelling corrections
M42 Nebula is my favorite synth for complex pads. Do to its pulsar modulator, its arp LFO, and its tempo-synced independent left and right delay lines, it excels with rhythmic evolving patches.
It has a very thick tone for a 2 oscillator synth. Other synths require the layering of numerous oscillators in unison to acheive a fat sound. M42 on the other hand does just fine with a simple 2-voice chorus.
Each patch is created using two oscillators. One of these is a virtual analog oscillator and the other uses a SoundFont as its source. As far as I can tell, user-defined SoundFonts may only be used by replacing the factory ones. This is a limitation. However, it's not terribly restrictive when you consider these SoundFonts are only shortcuts to a more complex source waveform (think D50 pcm waves) and the M42 provides 20 of them. The real magic is all in the modulation matrix. There are two envelopes, a pulsar, and an LFO for each oscillator which may be combined in various ways.
In addition, M42 includes a unique distortion it calls the Warp effect. It has a very aggressive, unique sound which I'm quite fond of. However, use of this effect results in patches with low volumes.
The UI is well done. All controls are on one screen for ease of use. The documentation is a comprehensive set of HTML files (pdf available too I think). Presets are good (thanks to sound-designer Tim Conrady). They display nicely the instrument's capabilities.
Only quirks I've encountered with this synth relate to my own underpowered PC. My Athlon 850 does not always work well with the cpu demands of some VSTis. On a patch I was creating I heard distortion until I turned off the chorus effect. I saved the patch and rebooted the PC. The distortion was gone though the patch was identical and had the chorus enabled...
M42 was created using the SynthEdit compiler. If you've got preconceived notions about the quality of SynthEdit VSTis, you REALLY owe it to yourself to listen to this synth. Chances are, it'll make you a "believer".
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