I really don't get this VSTi. It supposedly does everything but I'm not hearing anything special.So, I purchase what seems like one of the better soundbanks, designed by 'an expert' and still the results are just tepid, mild, bland and uninspiring. My 2C. YMMV.
basically It can do any effect you can want but that is also a problem it does everything. and the layout is not very easy to understand right off the bat. its a good vsti so far I like it but i have little need for many vsti stuff.
Well, as with anything related to music -- it is all very subjective... I got it a week ago, and having wonderful time with it. Already put it in production use, and it is VERY inspiring for ME. One thing I would agree -- the main rule of GUI design had been broken (do not surprise the user). Very powerful and fat sounding. Arpeggiator section just blew me away. My 2C.
well maybe for some people setting things up with more of a tab setup would be better. honestly I cant think of any real things to improve on for something that kind of does it all. to much to really slim down.
Agreed. This post is over a year and a half old, and still there doesn't seem to be a search bar when looking for a preset... (i just bought it two weeks ago)
and the manual for this AWESOME synth is sorely insufficient. This is a very, very powerful synth with a lot of capacity, but given that, a more in depth explanation of some of the controls, routing, tabs, drop menus, etc (I can't even find anything in the manual telling me how to load presets I have saved o my computer) seems appropriate...
Can you elaborate on the issue of not being able to "identify" what's possible?
I'm actually overwhelmed by this synth capabilities and I'm working with Zebra, Blue and Diversion ATM.
I bought it long ago for less but today I would spend way more to have it.
The optional expansions really shows off what it can be done (and and I'm with you for the standard presets not being enough to demonstrate the depths of this incredible synth) but there too, the expansion are far from covering the enormous spectrum of sounds that Synthmaster can achieve with the different synthesis types available.
The interface it's trying to deal with the multiple, quite a luxury indeed, tools at your disposal and to be fair they did a good job indeed but I don't think there is much more that can be done without changing completely the approach.
Zebra is unique in that sense.
Yes, a scalable GUI would be welcome and popsUp windows such the wave shaper of the old z3ta for detail work on some envelops.
I think you should make the GUI more analog-looking, as opposed to 100% digital. I like the look of something like DUNE or DIVA where there's a more real-life look to them. Synthmaster is more like Straightliner as far as looks go. I just think the more genuine feel is visually appealing. The synth sounds great though. No need to change much there. The ocillators sound incredible.
great organs and trons in that preset pack but if you are into YES, Genesis, Pink Floyd, ELP and other prog rock greats then Nori has other preset banks you will want and these alone make it worth getting synthmaster and in fact it being a true desert island synth if you could only have one this is it.
I wrote a review on Synthmaster and am told now, I need to have ten posts on the forum before reviewing the product? Is this a joke? I'd actually guess, I don't need to post for no reason, just to be able to write a review. Having bought and used the product is a basis to review. Not posting random stuff in advance.
So I'm gonna post mine here then:
A lot of people have described all the positive things and I don't want to just repeat these. There are indeed a lot, that make this VST stand out from others. Yet I haven't read much about the disadvantages, limitations and problems, that come with Synthmaster.
So instead of singing a hymn on the sound and things it's capable of, I'm gonna focus in this review on the opposite and will try to point out some issues and expectations, that aren't fulfilled .
1. The very first thing that got my attention, was the rough, inaccurate parameter handling in Synthmaster. Values displayed in the panel don't change, while the knob indicator does. That means for example, when you're changing a filter cutoff frequency, the knob indicator counts from 34.0 to 34.1, 34.2, 34.3 etc while the related frequency value remains all the time the same with 87,7 Hz. At 35.0 then it immediately switches to 92.9 Hz. What happens in between? I've tried to setup my own formant filters this way, which turned out to be an impossible taks with a parameter handling like that. On higher frequencies the gaps between the displayed values have a size of up to 1kHz! Why aren't the values in between displayed? How is anyone supposed to do accurate settings this way, like e.g. absolutely essential and necessary for formant filters? It's simply impossible.
The even worse thing is, this inaccurate knob behavior goes for absolutely ALL knobs spread over the GUI. Working with something like this in a production is a plain horror to me.
2. No matter what natural instrument you play, if you plug a string, play a key or hit a drum. It usually is a single sound that comes from the instrument on a hit, strike or what ever you want to call it. No instrument does any layering of the ADSR from the former played notes, when you hit the exactly same key again and again and again. The sound would always start over from the beginning. Maybe with a variant sound, but: it starts over! And that's exactly NOT, what Synthmaster does everytime a ADSR phase hasn't arrived at its end. Synthmaster just keeps playing the sound and simply layers a new voice over the exactly same note. The support confirmed this unlogical and unnatural instrument behavior. In practice this produces amplitude layerings without any need and can easily produce volume peaks and other sound problems without any intention or anything wrong in the actual sound design or usage. And of course the result is also redundant CPU usage without any need.
1. There are three filter structures offered in the Layer section: split, parallel and series. The fourth possible configuration (split series = OSC1 -> Filter1->Filter2, OSC2 ->Filter2) for some reason is completely missing. If you're heading for this config, this forces you to waste the second Layer and also setup all the things like filters, envelopes, etc. a second time. Though you'd actually require all these only once. But more on THAT later.
1. The Detune knob has its own life. As soon, as you switch to multiple voices for a unison sound, the dedicated Detune-parameter loses its bipolarity and you instantly get a pitchwise 50% spread sound. Okay. If you now go the other way around and change back from a non-spread and well pitched unison config to a single voice, the result usually is a horrible detuned single voice. That'd make a kinda sense, if there wasn't any Fine Tuning knob and the Detune knob had a double function. But there IS a Fine Tuning knob and the behavior of the Detune appears like pure nonsense. Simply deactivating the Detune parameter, when only 1 voice is selected, would easily solve this. In the Layer section the Detune works exactly like that. In the Oscillator section instead you get these off-pitch results, that make your eyes look cross over your nose, as soon as you hit a key.
2. The Modulators This to me is one of the real disappointments. There is no real modulation matrix. The modulation routings are predefined by some fixed configs, instead of offering a completely flexible and open matrix like in FM8, Toxic Biohazard or Sytrus for example. And more sad, you can't modulate your carrier with any resonance filtered modulators. Instead, with the "Tone" knob only some kind of very simple (and non-resonant) lowpass filter on the waveform is available. Cross-Oscillator or Cross-Layer modulation isn't possible at all. Most of the currently hip FM growl and scream sounds are actually almost impossible to do with the usual standard waveforms and these limitations.
Beside that there are bugs like for example this one: When selecting "mod 3+4" as modulator for an oscillator, the display says "mod 2+4" then. Is this a typo or a real misconfig now? I have no idea. I didn't feel like figuring out, how it's now handling this.
3. Synthesis Types - For the "Basic" synthesis, if you need to inverse your waveform, you have to render it handish yourself and add it to the user library. Way too complicated and time consuming, when a simple "Inverse"-button could easily solve this for all waveforms. Additive Synthesis has this button.
- "Additive" synthesis comes with 8 bands only. An old Hammond B3 organ has 9. The well known Kawai K5000 from 1997 had 128. Of course you could simulate more bands using prepared waveform cycles, but that's not really additive synthesis anymore. The additive synthesis engine in Synthmaster is a VERY basic aproach only. To me this part appears more like an 8-part waveform layering engine. Useful in a way, but far away from being an additive synthesizer with a practical use as such for complex, really additive sounds generated with sinewaves.
Filters: 1. What I'm missing really bad here, is a vowel/formant filter, capable of at least the standard vowels. Like described above, the rough parameter handling additionally makes it impossible to setup your own.
Envelopes & LFOs:
This to me was the main reason to buy Synthmaster. It appeared like a huge, damn LFO modulation monster. And in some way it is indeed. But have you ever tried to sync your LFOs?
1. Multi-Stage LFOs (Mstg1+2) These are actually very powerful tools and helpers. Actually. It turned out, in Synthmaster they are completely useless. At least if your trying to create something else than insane and random chaos in your sound. NI Massive uses this kind of LFOs to achieve accurate sequencing of varying filter sweeps and wobbles for example. Those typical moving and driving dubstep sounds you can enjoy by pressing a single key. If you try to do something like this in Synthmaster, you'll find yourself very soon near a mental crack-up. Absolutely nothing on these LFOs makes any sense or works like expected. Manual timing doesn't work because of the above mentioned rough parameter handling, so you're unable to set accurate timing by hand. Using the Sync option also has absolutely no effect. What you get then, is a kinda grid, that doesn't make any sense at all, nor obviously is related to accurate host timing. Activating the Sync option also doesn't tell you, what you are synced to now. 1/1? Per single field of the grid? 1/16, 1/8? Per loop points? How do I set the speed of these LFOs? None knows and meanwhile having tried everything I can imagine, I'd actually think, these LFOs are synced to the moon phase of some random planet far far away, or maybe your neighbours VST host tempo, inverted and divided by Pi. Adding "Stages" in these LFOs adds spline curves, with absolutely no relation to the synced timing. Start & End of the loop are related to what? The stages? Sync Points? Again something none knows, because their settings lead to results, that don't make any sense at all. Using two Stages and setting the Loop start to 1 and End to 2, with infinite loops should actually repeat these two stages then, right? Well, it doesn't. Setting the end to 3 does, so this might be related to the Stages end points. Maybe. But then, even with Sync enabled and considering the Stages end points, your totally unable to get a synced sound.
I've reported the whole thing as a bug and got the response, I'd get a proper working example preset sent. Well, I didn't receive any till today and am not really surprised about it. The whole Multi-Stage LFO-feature is a total fail on absolutely all levels and does absolutely NOTHING of what you'd expect it to do.
2. LFOs A quite standard thing you'd think, right? Well, they are and they work properly, when you're using them for unrelated stuff. But then again there's that thing about host syncing. Since the Multi-Stage LFOs don't work, you'd have to use the standard LFOs for some less complex wobbles, right? And of course these would have to be synced again. As you might already expect, this too isn't as simple, as it might seem. First let me say, at least some of the expected syncing works, if you regard a few things. For the standard LFOs you can choose a sync resolution, set the LFO speed knob to 127 and... that's it. End of sync story. Your LFO will work accurate only with exactly that speed you chose and you're not able to change that speed while keeping the whole thing in sync. Setting your sync to 1/16 and changing the LFO speed via button to 50% would lead to 1/8 you think? Well, it doesn't. The result is something near 1/8. Just the rough paramter handling you already know from the rest. This is just one example with some obvious values. It also doesn't work with other values. Okay, what now? We could modulate the resolution setting instead, right? Wrong! You can't change it, neither from within the synth, nor from the host via instrument automation. Accurate wobbles with changing speeds in Synthmaster? Dream on and enjoy your dream. Because reality has an ugly face.
Each and every synced wobble sound with varying speeds you get on synthmaster will be out of sync. And it's not the sound designers fault. It's a pure Synthmaster problem. I've also reported this as a bug and got the response, the sound designers hadn't complained about this yet. Well, I'd guess it's about time then.
3. Synth LFOs & envelopes Why I make this a point is, I can't understand why it's possible to spend global LFOs to the synth, but no global envelopes. I find it quite annoying, to be forced to setup the exactly same ADSR envelope twice, when I actually only need one. Why aren't there global Synth Envelopes, when LFOs of the same state are possible? Another thing, that doesn't make any sense to me. And even if it's necessary to stay with separate envelopes, a copy or transfer functionality from layer to layer would be a nice help. Which actually goes for all component paramters of layers and oscillators, that could be shared. But it's not there.
Okay, enough for now. This became already longer than intended. :) But I guess, this gives a good view on the "less shiny side". In fact it's not all 10/10, if you're caring about designing sounds yourself. Withotu a doubt, the things Synthmaster does like expected are done really well. And it sounds outstanding in many ways and for several reasons. But there really isn't only light all over the place.
Just some clarification, refering to my posting above. :).
This was/is just very detailed description of some momentary issues remained. Remained in a very complex project. Happens. Period. Because of these things, that are constantly debugged anyway, Synthmaster still and for sure has no reason to hide. In fact it is, easily despite the things I mentioned, my absolutely favorite synth atm. And believe me, I'm really using it on hardcore level. Most "normal" users probably won't even ever come along half of the issues. And let's face it: Describing all the positive things on the same detail level, would easily have taken tens of multiples of the space the issues required.
So please, don't fool yourself by reading my recent posting in a way it's not meant. I agree on almost all positive things the users before me listed and just didn't want to repeat them all. Still it's all there. And I appreciate it all. so, if you've got the chance to get your hands on Synthmaster, I strongly recommend to get it! You hardly will find something better for your money atm.
The passion kv331/Bulent works with and the frequency he provides enhancements and updates with, makes me feel confident to give Synthmaster 11/10 with my next review in a while. ;))) Okay, that was kinda bootlicking. :-D.
But seriously, I felt the need to avoid misunderstandings and clarify that. Cheers.