I did a review of TERA 2 for musicFAQ last year. Now that TERA 3's out, I thought I'd chime in here. The newest in the TERA series, TERA 3 brings some welcome improvements to an already fantastic synth.
There's sample oscillators which can either use multisamples or one sample (the resynthesis algorithm is good enough to allow using one sample across the keyboard). Furthermore, you can have two multisamples in the same oscillator and morph between them. And, while you can't use them as FM carriers, you CAN use them as modulators- think SY77/99 here. How cool is that?
There's a simple arpeggiator for each part now. While the sequencer could be used as an arpeggiator, setting it up could be a pain. For more complex arpeggios, the sequencer is still the way to go.
Speaking of the sequencer (or sequencers- there's 16 of them; one per part), they can send MIDI as a plugin now- both note and CC info. Use it with your favorite loopback device or EnergyXT to drive other synths.
There's a terrain filter- a morphable filter with two 16 pole filters in parallel. Great for forcing vocal formants on a sound, and kind of a poor man's vocoder.
There's a pair of stereo inserts right before the amplifier. Run your filters in stereo for example, or use the spectrum oscillator in stereo mode...
Yes- you heard right. The spectrum oscillator can now be used as a stereo oscillator, with separate spectrum controls. There's also new synthesis methods with it- along with the additive of past TERAs, you have Walsh, wavelet and operator synthesis.
The multienvelopes can be decoupled from each other (they were always in sync before), and you can save multienvelope presets.
There's an AM module, which is like the ring modulator except that you also have the input signal as well as the sum and difference signals.
You can right click on a knob and assign two modulators to it (you used to only be able to assign modulators through the mod matrix on profiTERA and through the dropdowns on the other synths. Speaking of the mod matrix, you can copy and paste settings between patches now, and there's two new mod sources- key alternate and key random.
The 8D settings are available on all the synths now, and not just profiTERA.
These and other such improvements make TERA even more of a monster than it was already. It was one of the best sounding, most flexible synths out there before, and now it's even better. If I were to have three synths on my desert island, TERA would be one of them (the other two being Reaktor and Absynth).
Try the demo and prepare to be amazed :)
I've been using this since it was just called Virsyn. For about a year I went through a minimalist phase and it was the only synth I was using and it was able to do all I wanted it to. Except for loading samples.
Much has been made of the flexibility of this thing but the standout feature for me is the sounds it can make. It may not be the phattest analogue emulation ever made but it can be very warm and fat if you want it to. It can also do nice thin digital sounds that don't eat up a mix if that is what you need. The fx that come with it are nice but I prefer to use dedicated VSTs on inserts most of the time. The filters are great. They self-oscillate when the rez is turned up full and can be as subtle as you want at lower resonance. In particular the formant filter can be used for some great effects.
I used to occasionally run out of modulators in v1 but since they added the looping envelopes in v2 I haven't encountered that problem. Apart from not being able to load samples I cant think of anything this synth really needs. Some people might prefer more fx but there's always the insert slots on your sequencer.
I've seen the documentation criticised for not detailing all the hidden features and there have been a couple of occasions that I haven't found an in-depth explanation of how some functions operate, myself. But there's enough information to work with all the features easily.
The presets are good but not all of them are useable right out the box. Most are and so far they are all just a couple of tweaks away from being excellent. But then if tweaking aint your thing you would probably be better of with a sample player anyway. Whatever, there's enough of them to get you in the ballpark for any type of sound.
I haven't had any stability issues for a long time. Pre-Tera on the K6 I had a few problems and I got to say that Harry was right on the ball with the customer support. He should get an 11 for that category.
Overall I would say that Tera is probably the most versatile synth I have used.
You'll see from the ratings given for this synth that it's good - how good depends on how you work and what you want from a synth. For sheer flexibility this semi-modular synth is just about unsurpassable, judging by my experience. From a corking 303 bass preset to crazy noisy pads, with leads, glassy strings, bells and very convincing drum and percussion sounds in between it is an almost complete sonic palette for any sound artist. With its several different and combinable synthesis elements Tera provides incredible opportunities for genuine sound design, especially those for whom unique atmospheres are key (e.g. ambient, electronica).
A special word about the interface, since for me it epitomises some fantastic thinking about how synths are used. From the outset it seems to employ a hardware "look", but don't be fooled. When was the last time your hardware knobs became transparent when they are not in use? When was the last time your hardware knobs disappeared and re-appeared as appropriate? In addition to these great design ideas, there are some very special little touches which deserve mention: 1., the way the parameter labels convert to values when in use, and 2., the way that there's no need to click on parameters to change them, simply hover your mouse over, see the parameter change colour and then edit (using cursor keys too). These are small but very clever elements of a GUI, which, albeit rather large, is refreshingly intuitive.
Other big plus points to note are the incredibly flexible routing, very complete and easy modulation options, user-definable arpeggiator, and the top notch filters and effects.
Value for money - I bought Tera used at a good price, and therefore this is potentially skewed in its favour. That said, street prices are not so exorbitant now and if I knew then what I know now, I'd still think it was relatively good value, especially in comparison to hardware (if hardware could do what it does).
Customer support is excellent - I even got a personal welcome e-mail from them after having the license transferred to me (the same day it was requested). You can't ask for much more than that. It would be nice to see more presets and activity from users. Updates have been provided frequently from v1.0.
This review is a mere minor scratch on the surface of an impressive and deep synth. Admittedly, Tera is aimed more for the sound designer or the musician interested in creating sounds that are truly unique and inspirational. It is, however, quite a work of art in itself and is a joy to experiment with... I'm learning from it whilst having fun - making this a genuine synth for the long-haul.
Virsyn Tera is a synth which has a lot features,
which need time to be checked out, but if you are
in the material, then it is a outstanding piece of
software. The sound is awesome, clean and clear.
The filters are very good and support the cleaness
of the whole synth. The presets are very impressive
and show the capabilities of the synthesizer.
When other synths trie to be bombastic through the
excessivly used fx, Virsyn reduce to its main target
as synth. The effect section of virsyn tera reaches
a high quality level. Especially the reverb is outstanding. Chorus, distortion etc are very good too.
As Standalone machine it can be used as whole synth
workstation with included step sequencer. Great!!!
The gui is big, but very effective in use. I like
the led chains arround the knobs. They are reminding
me on the Nord Lead 3 :-).
+ Clean and very well sounding Synth, which can
handle a lot things;from VA to FM and a little bit
physical modeling and especially the spectral things
Good Filtersection. The Format Filter is very
interesting. In stand alone mode, it is a whole
synth workstation with the step seq. And the FX
section has a very high quality....
At last, there is a AU for osX Logic audio. cool
- Hmm there are no cons. Only the arp is confusing
why is it only active in play mode of the seq...???
TERA 2 is out and the improvements are massive, instead of faded out controls there are multiple interfaces including such standouts as formant, spectral, FM, analog synth and more. Think of them as templates that make the job of creating patches in this magnficent synth more direct and simpler than the 1.x interface. Beyond this the sound quality has actually improved, a feat in itself as this is one of the best sounding synthesizers to be found. There is more of everything yet it is easier to work in TERA 2. Without hesitation I can recommend this synthesizer as just about all you will need in synthesis. If you can afford the $230 street price this is the synth to start with and build from there.
I should also note, I have and like a lot of VSTis out there. There is a large spectrum of sounds and how to make them. While TERA 2 won't cover all, it will cover a lot of areas, some not yet touched by other synths. The review below is mostly specific although everything is much easier
VirSyn is perhaps the most flexible all around synth available . It is flexible - check out the stats at the top of the page. It sounds great and is exceptionally capable in it's routings through it's modulation matrix.
The interface is functional and mostly straight forward. The term modular refers to the sections of VirSyn Tera you actually use and what configuration you use them in. Smartly only the actual sections of the synth used are computed which is good because VirSyn Tera is somewhat CPU intensive.
On a test system of a Athlon XP1700 w/512 ram VirSyn Tera played 32 notes of polyphony using about 60% of CPU power.
There are around 800 (1200 in TERA 2) presets most being useful ranging from leads, basses and pads. There are few synth sounds Tera can not accomplish although with an additive oscillator it's really down to sample playback.
Drums sound great from electronic squelch to near realistic. The filters are well designed with an elegant sound that can get as rough and dirty as you like. Creating one oscillator pulse waves are but one of the luxuries to Tera's feature set. FM and a host of other synthesis forms are another. There is a nifty 12 channel, 64 step polyphonic step sequencer. This is part of a four page interface, 8D Access - 4 2d controls for fast user programmable synthesis changes, Synthese - the main window where all modules exist and are patched, Mix - a 16 channel mixer with excellent reverb and chorus models along and the step sequencer.
VirSyn Tera occupies the space between synth monsters like Reaktor and VSTis like Z3ta+ or Rhino. In TERA 1 I disagreed with those that compared it to Absynth. While taking different approaches TERA 2 meets Absynth head on although Absynth still owns the soundscape/exotic/otherwoldly timbres, especially with Absynth's 2.0 sample capabilities.
The manual is clear although you will need to spend time with it. Currently othing touches VirSyn TERA 2 for versitility.
Virsyn TERA is a Semi-modular synth which gives a huge range of synthesis methods and sounds: Spectrum synthesis with Morphing, Analog, FM, AM, Waveshaping, Physical Modelling, combinations of all these plus more.
It's got a fantastic sound, it does some of the best synthetic drum sounds I've heard which is quite a lot. The Spectrum synthesis is a killer feature! It sounds great and I always wanted a true Morphing synth. Fantastic pads, well just every type of sound.
The Gui is cool and way better than the old one. Now it's really usable and sexy.
GREAT user support, some of the coolest, friendliest people in this business!
Virsyn TERA is a true synth that doesn't have to be ashamed asides of ANY other synth out there (hard or software) as there are only a few that have this big range of sounds on that high level available. It's worth every single cent.
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