GOOD: Great sound - as if a SID chip died and was granted its wishes in heaven
BAD: And now imagine those wishes illustrated by programmers rather than GUI designers
I bought this after realising I wanted something challenging, 8-bit-like and deep. I couldn't have gone for a better option than QuadraSid. I've tried the 'others' - and they're oddly limiting (even within the context of the chiptune).
First of all, if you only want SID style sounds, then that's fine. QuadraSID asks 'what if you could stack a ton of C64s together and link them all via MIDI'. The answer is a mind-blowingly big sound that is a real testament to the old chip, and a fun new flavour to add to your sonic menu.
Depth-wise, there is a ton of modulation here if you want it. It is almost modular in nature, with all of the complexity and flexibility implied. You'll probably have to read the manual a couple of times before the concepts click (I'm still baffled by how you edit the Galway drumsynth voice!).
It sounds great: no effects, but I swear I've heard reverb at times, the sound is so lush. Arp leads - perfect. Big sync-ey basses - no problem. Thin, biting pads - yuppity.
It's all here, and then some.
The wave table is one of the best things I've ever seen in a synth - ever. Being able to program a series of steps with different waves, filters, pitches in such a simple manner makes this incredibly powerful. Create drum by sweeping a pulse down... and then swap it at a super-fast rate with a noise channel. Classic 8-bit drums in about 4 seconds. Amazing.
Due to the fact that this sticks slavishly to the concept of 3 SID voices x 4 SID chips, actually programming the thing becomes a mess pretty quickly.
Loading separate patches into the 3 voices is a bit fiddly and weird, too. Add that all your changes are updated live (no saving!) and you can run into trouble pretty easily.
There are no tabbed panels or other modern design helpers used to clarify this critical feature: just clicking on tiny bits and pieces of text. How do you use RingMod? Well, you need to understand that it uses the previous channel... and that channel MUST be on Triangle mode. How do you know? By spotting that in the manual.
It's a step too far toward genuine emulation. It doesn't lead to more intuitive workflow or quirks that are useful. It's just clumsy.
And why am I limited to 3 voices? Because the SID only has 3 voices? Well, that's great - but why not just allow me to pretend I have several SIDs which I can use at the same time rather than this silly multi-timbral thing?
Ultimately, the GUI is clunky and exceedingly unintuitive - which is a shame, because all the functionality is there waiting to get out if you can find it... and remember it between sessions.
I can't help but feel there is a good case for re-building this little beast into a more modern, sleek interface - keeping the sound and modulations intact (See Loomer's Aspect for an idea of how it could look better).
It's a great, unique synth, but so clunky and unintuitive it'll only ever attract a very hardcore audience willing to dig.
But... I'm glad I'm one of those few.