Wow! I don't know how perfection can become more perfect but with the addition of several new modules, what was already an extraordinary synth experience just went a notch higher and the VazMod just keeps getting better. I don't know Vaz's creator, Martin Fay, but I picture this peripatetic figure scurrying around a work room trying to implement all the new ideas that spring from his fevered brow as new ones erupt. I VERY seldom review but after spending 30 minutes with the new version, I gotta rhapsodize.
The Vaz Mod can -simply- do about anything and do it incredibly well. The filters are non-pareil - and at this point, there are several different filters to choose from. To my ears, Vaz can convincingly whisper molten silk or rend space with dirty,rasping screams that give famed hardware components a run for their money.
There are several oscillators, including sine(FM), stock, granular, wavetable (that can load samples), and the newest, curiously morphing Cosmo oscillators - don't know quite what they do yet. Modules include waveshapers. inverters. scalers. Several different LFO shapes, etc. etc. Just about everything can patch and modulate everything else and create either amazing emulations or -as in my case- sounds that have not been heard by Earthlings before. One can also have as many modules as your CPU will allow. I'm not even covering the sequencer and arp possibilities.
Don't be afraid! Although I've owned Vaz products for most of my synthesis career, I finally decided to make a stand and start learning modular synthesis in an effort to stop being quite so dependent upon the kindness of strange sound designers. What Vaz offers is a fall through the rabbit-hole of almost complete freedom. I was totally intimidated (for years) but after making the decision to learn, I can't go back. I now realize that -once the system is grasped (and -to my surprise after procrastinating in fear for so long- it really did not cause me to break much of a sweat), Vaz modular methodology is really quite simple and common-sensical. And a blast. What makes it hard and fascinating is that the choices are infinite.
I would love to see a completed tutorial - although I'm more than happy for Martin to continue bringing new modules to life rather than write the final chapters. I would also love to see more presets by sound designers that utilize the new modules. OTOH, Vaz can open patches from old versions and from the Vaz2010...so there are many many patches to get one up and going and creating masterpieces.
It's the road less taken, y'all. I truly love and can rhapsodize about the other synths I have (including the Reaktor Sessions and Tera) but for me, Vaz is a truly amazing and accessible journey deep into the world of the modular and it does not cost thousands of dollars and expansive knowledge of voltage and ohms to get me there. If you can't tell, I HIGHLY recommend it if you are serious about synthesis.
Well I really bought this in a whim as the upgrade path from Vaz2010 seemed pretty reasonable (especially as it's so long ago that I paid for Vaz2010!).
User interfaces are a personal thing and VM's is very simple, sharp and functional - which is the way I like it.
The sound from VM is simply awesome and VERY analogue.
I have Reaktor and Tassman as well and VM is by far the easiest to get into straight away...I was building + experimenting within minutes. The same cannot be said for Reaktor (much as I love it too).
I can't really comment on the new features in VM3 cause I never owned the others but, as mentioned above, it took me no time at all to start using them.
Documentation is pretty basic but covers most aspects. There is definite room for improvement here (although I think Martin has a well known aversion to writing manuals so I wouldn't hold your breath).
Presets are limited but effective - expect plenty more where they came from. It also reads Vaz+ and Vaz2010 presets.
Customer support has always been excellent with Vaz.
VFM is difficult to assess for me at this stage but it certainly isn't a ripoff.
Stability so far is rock.
VAZ Modular 3 has just appeared and it deserves to be rated. I'll justify my rating later, but it's easy to understand that any modular system with a top-notch sound would be 10 in most cathegories since it covers so many possibilities that excels over most software synths.
Someone said that VAZ was the most saved secret on sound arsenals, and that's true since VAZ+1.7 hit the market long before the VSTi revolution. Since then I've enjoyed the hard or soft, but always warm and rich sound of it. The sound is superb, probably couldn't be better on a Virtual Synth (hardware or software).
As a modular system I won't avoid to say that VAZ is the "real" modular concept after all my experience. People may by surprised by its menu popups systems to link modules at beginning. Other synth painting "realistic 3D" cabling just look nice on screen, VAZ modular simply allows to "connect everything everywhere" and on that sense it has the real Moog spirit on it (this is my honest impression). The popup menu connectivity is so clever that Martin Fay already introduced it on his first VAZ ever and is still, for me, the best way to work on a "computer modular". Other elements are so well integrated and easy that once you learn it is the most fast modular system I ever met (and I know most of them).
The new version adds many new modules, but considering that some modules (sequencers, oscillators and filters) hide several levels of use and options it means literally that using the "small modules" approach on Nord Modular or Creamware's Modular, VAZ3Mod would list the double number of modules that it already lists. Another good detail of great base-design.
After long beta-testing processes its stability is rock-solid, its DXi and VSTi integration is superb (it can work as monochannel or multichannel, windows resizable, synth on any VST host as any other freewy-ware out there) and the standalone version with its practical 16 channels mixers allows to use any laptop as a high-performace station everywhere.
There's no weak points but I haven't rated less than 10 on two categories. Documentation. Well, VAZ Modular has always being sold through email sending (fast serving as another good argument for it), so the documentation is not bad but it's a help file that could be better, specially for starters and people with a short synthesis background. Presets. Well, considering the modular possibilites there's so much to explores that the miriad of 1/2 oscs models inside the library doesn't make justice. The sampling and granular possibilites would require to be sold on a CD full of professional patches and wave files. That could push VAZ Modular to a completely new level and public perception.
There's still new things that could be implemented, new modules (and I bet some are on the way to a 3.1 version) but it's suffice to say that VAZ Modular simply can not decive any one with a good electronic music knowledge. For me it's a classic still not surpased.
Vaz Modular takes a different approach to building a patch than the other modular synthesizers. This package is focused on building modular synthesizer patches and nothing else. The process of building your synth is much easier than Reaktor or Tassman, but not quite as eloquent as the editor for Nord Modular. You insert different components onto the screen and arrange them to form the layout you want. Patching the components together is a little backward to me. You do not use patch chords. Instead you start with the component that you want to receive control, then choose a component that will be the source. Example: Click on the filter amount and select from a list of possible controllers; various ADSR’s, LFO’s, etc.. Several components can effect a single target, and a single component such as an ADSR can be directed to several destinations. Once you are comfortable with this method the flexibility is very nice.
With either the Vaz Modular, Vaz 2010, or Vaz Plus the sound is distinctively VAZ. I have owned some of the old Arp analog synthesizers and Vaz is the closest thing I have found to that sound and feel. It does not carefully emulate a single Arp with all the little peculiarities as does the Oddity. Instead it gives you that well known Arp sound. Gritty with lots of harmonics and the eg’s have a lot of snap.
Because of the strong, gritty, distinctive sound Vaz can be a bit difficult for some to use. It is too easy to create patches of pads that take over a mix. With care and control this synth can be a “must have” for trance sounds. I prefer to use it for art patterns and bass sounds. The arps can cut through a mix without needing a lot of volume. With a bit of control to vary filter settings it is very hard to distinguish the Vaz from a real analog sequencer. The sound effects that can be created by Vaz are unmatched by other VSTi’s.
This synth is very stable and quite decent for CPU usage. It comes with a manual that describes all of the modules but so much more could be done with the documentation. It is one thing to tell what a slew limiter does. But I think missed a good opportunity by not going deeper and telling you how and why you want to use a slew limiter. 255 different modules will give you a lot of flexibility, and fun. Version 2.5 also works as a VSTi or DXi, meaning you no longer need a loop back device to run it inside a sequencer.
I still remember when I was testing Vaz Modular after downloading the demo. A patch that had several arp’s going in the included sequencer actually made me say “Wow!” I knew I had to buy it, and this is the strong point. In my view nothing does arpeggios as well as Vaz. If you do trance or want to fake a real old style analog sequencer this is a must have.
By the way, the picture on this page is just the sequencer. Go to the web site to see the real Vaz Modular.
Nobody else has reviewed this synth which doesn't surprise me as this is one of softsynth's best kept secrets. I created my first patch for this synth in November 2000 and have never looked back since.
I use many other softsynths, but this is still my favourite - it simply inspires and inspires. I have never had so many ideas using any other instrument (both hardware or software).
The first thing I like about VAZ is the filter that is simply gorgeous - especially the Type C 12db. Thanks to the 64bit rendering this sounds warm and then some.
Secondly I like the flexibility that is offered this being a modular synthesizer. Although it isn't as flexible as say Reaktor, you can still nonetheless coax a wide range of sounds from it. This may not be to everybody's liking as I know some that subscribe to the 'quick and ready' sounds brigade. I consider the presets of VAZ to be average. If you are prepared to roll your sleeves up and get dirty - it WILL reward. I am not saying that you will get 'in the zone' every time, but more often than not you will. I have created some 150 sounds for the VAZ now and all of them using the waveforms supplied.
What prompted this review was news of the latest version 2.5. VAZ has long seemed like a stray wandering the streets looking for a home. I am so glad that it is now to join in the VSTi party. This I am sure will appeal to many. It will improve my workflow instead of having to trigger using Hubi's loopback from Cubase. This is so refreshing after Fruity Loops followed the same path.
VAZ isn't perfect (is anything?). There could be improvements and I am a bit disappointed that new osc waveform types weren't included in the new release. It could also use some cosmetic improvements like its little brother VAZ 2010.
This is however one cool instrument that I could never live without. This is my first review so I hope that I have done Vaz Modular justice. I am running out of characters so cu...
Latest 5 reviews from a total of 5