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Lokomotiv [read all reviews]
Reviewed By elena2 [read all by] on 8th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1.1.3 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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In a word: I love Lokomotiv. Despite its simplicity (few parameters) it is capable, with some creativity and little efforts, of some very original and *rich* sounds and textures often hard to achieve with other synths. I too love the hard sync. Filters are great and by intelligent usage of resonance and keytrack one can easily achieve whistle-like sounds without having to play with tens of parameters. By using distortion over highly detuned sawtooths interesting sounds can be obtained. Sound quality is superb IMHO. Even the most basic waveforms sound interesting and rich with this synth. The included presets aren't perhaps fully indicative of the full potential of this synth. I'd have rated it 5/5 if it were not for a little bug (I contacted the author hoping he will cooperate and fix it though): sometimes the noise generator stop working. I am experiencing this with Reaper (I don't know whether the same happens with other DAWs or HW configs though), and only (possibly ?) when multiple instances of Lokomotiv are used and depending on the order of tracks. By now I could circumvent this by simply changing the order of tracks though. A good and versatile little synth, great job. I hope to see a x64 version soon with the bug I listed fixed.
Keyzone Classic [read all reviews]
Reviewed By elena2 [read all by] on 8th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
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This is IMHO one of the best pianos around, I am referring to the Steinway Piano preset, even better than many commercial instruments or gigabyte-sized sample libraries. I usually add some external EQ for a more natural sound though. I'd have rated it 5/5 if it were not for some minor issues: -The parameters *apparently* cannot be stored (this at least happens with Reaper, I could not try with other DAWs). If I need to modify something from the defaults (tuning in my case) I have to set it by hand everytime I reload my project. This is very annoying (I'm trying to contact the author to understand whether it is an actual bug or a problem with Reaper) -The GUI panel takes some good seconds to open, something I never experienced with any other VST -The A and A#2 (Steinway Piano) have a very subtle hissing noise at beginning which in piano solos can be heard and slightly annoying (something resonating while recording, possibly the samples were not fitlered/cleared) Despite all, it's definitely a *great* piano considering it's free !! One of the pianos I like to play the most. Good work. I would like to see the issues I listed above fixed someday though.
Pi and Phi [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Uncovered Pitch [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Mac
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Have been testing this for the last few days and it really does what it says on the tin-whatever you put through it simply sounds better! I have many exciters and "vintage" EQs and none of them could open up a mix-or single track/group-as well as Pi & Phi. It feels like you can reach inside the sound and the controls are very forgiving too so it's hard to make it sound bad.

Obviously if you add a lot of mid-and-top enhancement then the low end is going to sound less deep in a loudness-matched setup. Apparently this is going to be addressed in a future update, but until then it works great to use their equally-new Musiqual Red, Blue and Green EQs to add low-end weight and make the sound even more expensive. To me these don't behave like regular EQs, but more like analogue colour or tone boxes with added sound-shaping capabilities.

There is no manual and very little other info but when you put Pi & Phi(and the other 3) into a sweetening chain and then take them off(with loudness matching of course), it feels like you've just gone back to making demos instead of records. The plug-ins "envelop" the sound with an open, satisfying, 3D, big-studio quality that is hard to "un-hear". Thumbs up.

FilterGrizzly2 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By The Chase [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 2.0 on Windows
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A fat filter with a great tube distortion. While it's a filter first and foremost, I like the overdrive so much that it's one of my go-to distortion units.

I would love for it to feature a bandpass mode and LFO modulation but that would be asking a bit for a free plug-in that sounds this good.

TNT [read all reviews]
Reviewed By The Chase [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows
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This is a solid distortion unit, especially in its overdrive modes. It's nice that it comes in multi-band and single band options, which should be standard for distortion VSTs. It excels for the types of distortion used on drums and bass in drum and bass, but also works weirdly well for polyphonic/melodic distortion such as an electric guitar or epiano.

SpatialVerb [read all reviews]
Reviewed By The Chase [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 5.7.2 on Windows
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The best early reflections you can get in freeware. I don't even use the ER sections in my reverbs anymore, instead I layer this in parallel, or sometimes in serial with my main reverb sound.

City Piano [read all reviews]
Reviewed By The Chase [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows
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This is the best truly free Piano rompler in the freeware world, especially since it comes wrapped up in a self-contained VST:

  • The piano is bright and recorded crystal-clear in stereo.
  • Proper release samples make a big difference compared to faking note-off sounds with an envelope.
  • Few free pianos have 4 velocity layers.
  • The VST it comes in is stable and loads quickly.
Grace [read all reviews]
Reviewed By The Chase [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1.0.4.9 on Windows
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An intermediate-functionality sampler with a solid core sound (good pitching, envelope curvature, and filters). Supports drag-and-drop from your host's browser which is a critical function for samplers. It would be nice to have more looping options and more complex envelopes but for a free sampler it's unbeatable for most people's needs.

Panzertank PM4 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By The Chase [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows
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This synth is ancient, but I haven't found a better one for learning FM (phase modulation and frequency modulation are identical with sinusoidal operators - the DX7 was phase modulation, marketed as FM because FM is conceptually easier to wrap your head around).

How to pickup FM is one of the most common questions among electronic production communities. Most people make it much too hard for themselves by watching confusticating tutorials and starting with fully featured synths like Dexed. All the tutorials, user manuals, wikipedia pages in the world don't hold a candle to simply locking yourself in a room with a simple synth like our guy Panzer here.

There are only 4 operators, each operator's parameters are vertically lined up (making it easier to visualize what's going on), and schematics for each algorithm (the different routing configurations between operators) are right on the panel for quick reference. You have no excuse for not having learned FM, and this is unbeatable for learning FM on.

Compu78 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By 2cynikal [read all by] on 6th June 2018
Version reviewed: 1 on Any OS.
Last edited by 2cynikal on 6th June 2018.
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A perfectly realised, easy to use Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm. To say that this is a brilliant Kontakt emulation with great attention to detail and beautiful GUI is probably understating it a bit. It's great to see Forgotten Keys back in the game and releasing such fantastic products. Recommended to anybody after a virtual CR-78.