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Thorn
Reviewed By digitalboytn
February 28, 2020

There is not much to say about Thorn that has not already been said...

Everything about this synth is top shelf...

This is coded by a very smart cookie who knows a thing or two about DSP and the importance of having a clear and functional layout...

Because everything is basically on one page, the workflow of Thorn is fast and efficient...

This synth is capable of producing so many different sounds - from warm analog to harsh digital - and it has it's own "character" which blends well with other instruments in the mix...

Because of it's unique nature, when you are tweaking things to sit it in the mix, you can find so many nice surprises and that makes this not only an enjoyable, practical tool but a fun toy as well :).

The glitch sequencer is extremely cool and you can really dial up some rhythmic goodness there...

I am a fan of Tantra, so to basically get Tantra built into a synth is a serious bonus...

One of the smart features is that you can save the presets for the sections separately, so importing those into other patches is really easy and so helpful...

This is a desert island synth for me...

I have some solid soft synths that I use and most of them have been with me for some time, but Thorn has quickly become a real workhorse and part of the handful of synths that I consider indispensable....

5 Stars to Dimitry for coding such a wonderfully inspiring piece of software...

Thank you...it is greatly appreciated....

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Thorn
Reviewed By BONES
November 26, 2018

I got Thorn cheap as a side-grade from the excellent Tantra effect but even at full price it is an absolute bargain. It would be easy for some to talk for pages about the synthesis method but I'm more interested in the sound that comes out at the end, not what gets put in at the start, so I'll try to make it more of a brief overview of what it's like to actually use.

The two oscillators use spectral (additive) synthesis to create both basic and complex waveforms. You get loads of presets and you can open an editor to muck around with the partials and change the sound, although to my ears you don't get much value from doing that. There is also a Harmonic Filter which removes certain partials, which I assume it is doing digitally, not like a normal filter (because there is also a Comb Filter in the other Filter section). Suffice to say that you have a lot of control over the way the raw oscillator sounds. You get a few options, like detune, pan, volume and unison per oscillator, and each of the three oscillators can be routed to either filter. You can copy/paste settings between oscillators. There is also a separate noise oscillator.

The Filter Section has two multi-mode filters with a great sounding Drive circuit that can add as much meat to the sound as you like. There are around 20 different filter types, that include everything except a notch filter (which you could make by using one filter low-pass and the other high-pass). You can definitely tell the difference between the different filters and you are bound to find one that works for whatever it is you are trying to do. The two filters can be locked together and you have the option of running them in series or parallel.

You get three ADSR envelopes, which include parameters for Key Track and Velocity, plus two MSEGs and two LFO. There is a Mod Matrix for making complex modulation assignments, as well as knobs where it's handy, e.g. envelope modulation of Cutoff. There are 9 high quality effects built in. Of special note is the Distortion effect, which is just about the best distortion I have ever used. It can be very subtle or completely bonkers, depending on the settings. There is also a limiter built into the output section.

There are two separate sequencers in Thorn. The Arpeggio is actually a fairly standard, easy to use step sequencer that works as an offset to the input note. The Glitch Sequencer is something else that really sets Thorn apart. Using both together can give some amazing results. I can't imagine how much more crazy it could get if you also threw the MSEGs into the mix. What's great about using these features in Thorn is that you can make things sound really harsh, like Massive's glitchy sound, or you can keep it smooth and interesting to add a bit of flavour or texture to an arrangement or a sound. It's extremely versatile.

Thorn comes with lots of presets and what I like is that rather than try to dazzle the user with all the capabilities of the synth, many of them seem to have been crafted to allow the user to take them and build on them to make your own sounds. Better still, you get lots of presets for different parts of the synth - there are preset waveforms, presets for the Harmonic Filter, presets for the Arpeggio and Glitch Seq and presets for the MSEGs. This means you don't have to do everything yourself or just use preset sounds. You can very quickly make something that is uniquely yours by combining a few of the existing presets into something new and brilliant (because all your work is brilliant, right?). It's all part of the attention to detail that includes nifty things like being able to shift each sequencer's events left or right to line up with the rhythm you are trying to get. It even has it's own undo/redo.

What I really love about Thorn is that it can have such a great character. The harsher, more digital stuff is good but when it gets all warm and analogue-like it really starts to stand out from the pack. It is great for big, beefy basslines, it has some absolutely sublime pads and the SEQ presets are simply incredible. Best of all, the way it's put together means that you can start creating your own sounds, which will be just as good, almost straight away. It is all so well thought out that everything makes sense from the first time you load it up. Download the trial and listen to some of the presets and you'll see just what I mean. It's so good I have run out of superlatives to describe it so I'll shut up.

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Thorn
Reviewed By Tj Shredder
November 21, 2017

I have a lot of plug-ins now and very good ones too, but the last time I had so much fun, and got so fast beyond just browsing presets, was years ago with a hardware called Arp 2600.

The technical review was given already very detailed by ZaBong, No need to add to that. I keep it emotional.

Instruments touch you or they don't.

This one does and has a very responsive developer. I am controlling it with a LinnStrument, a perfect companion as the modulation posibilities deserve expressive controllers. Though it isn't yet MPE compatible, it is already just fun to play and fun to explore. Plus Dmitry wants to add expresivity for all these LinnStrument, Roli, Continuum and alike controllers... Definitely get at least the demo - the slight noise after 90 seconds is not pushing you out of the music. I bet you won't hesitate to get the real thing soon. A bargain till the end of the year and well worth after it as well...

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Thorn
Reviewed By ZaBong69
October 30, 2017

Dmitry Schaes new synthesizer came as a surprise to me, as I was expecting a Diversion 2 rather than a completely new concept. However, having had an intensive test while producing a new track mostly with this new synth, I can say that I am very happy with Dmitrys approach here, none the least with the extremely fast and intiutitive user interface.

But let's start with the sound: Gorgeously digital on stage one. The three spectral OSCs provide a rich sound source, from analog waveforms to totally digital, yet harmonic stuff only digital synthesis can provide. On top of that comes a selection of spectral and real time effects, and a wavetable-like movement between up to 16 different waveforms. In combination with the excellent FM and RM implementation, you already have a very wide selections of sounds to play with. Next comes a harmonic filter, that, while less smooth than the spectral effects when in movement, can also do a lot for sound shapers like me. If you need noise, or want to add a sample, there is a specialised noise oscilator that can provide that very well. Oh, did I mention that there is unison with up to 8 voices per oscilator? But why mention that, as if anybody would dare to publish a synth in this century without the capability to sound like a Hoover in distress.

I would like to highlight that the FM implementation allows you to use the next oscilator as an input, and use the phase of the modulator osc to shape the sound. Great, this is not found on all synths with FM. OSC 3 is modulated by noise, opening up some classic tricks for percussion sound design.

If you are looking for a more warm and anlog sound than what you have seen/heard up to now, look at the filters. There are two of them, and the filter design (zero delay feedback) is state of the art, with one of the best filter distortion/overdrive sections ever found on a software synth. There is a variety of filters found here, all truly different, and all very much useful. Filters can work in parallel or serial, and sound sources can be routed freely, although not in a way to bypass them completely, which would be nice for sub bass oscilators. I would like to see a peak filter in the future, as this is a good alternative to an eq in a two filter design.

The modulators are a basic set of three ADSR envelopes, two LFOs and two flexible multi stage envelopes. As is always the case, I have my reservations about limiting the number of LFOs to two, as I use them freely running in my sound design for adding subtle movement, but there is a vibrato LFO that can be used as a third LFO if needed - but this has no selection of a waveform like the full LFOs. Modulation can be set up quickly by drag&drop, and fine tuned in the accessible modulation matrix - there are 27 slots, so more than enough for even the most advanced sound design journeys. A thing I haven's seen in any other synths is that the modulation targets do include individual steps of the arpegiator and the glitch sequencer. The doors to some serious generative music experiences is open. For sound designers who appreciate the insanity of recursive modulation: each modulation slot can be modulated itself from the matrix.

Apropos Glitch sequencer: This is a new effect, a sequencer that allows you to apply glitch effects of each step of a running sequence. As this sequencer can run with a different step count (up to 16) than the well endowed arpeggiator, this opens a whole world of strange sequences. The arpeggiator can also handle up to 16 steps and does its job very well.

The FX section is implemented as a series of up to nine different effects of good quality that can be ordered freely. It includes a compressor, and the effect parameters can be modulated from the matrix, as is to be expected for an 2017 virtual synth. Apart from the arpeggiator, glitch sequencer, effects and modulation matrix, all this can be controlled from one screen, with the exception of the waveform editors that you can access if you want to draw some sounds in the OSCs wavetables. You can even import waves as part of the spectral wavetables of as the basis of a whole table. The distortion unit is a little bit too heavy handed for many tasks, but if you are looking for raw poert, that is there.

If you have read so far, you probably have the feeling that some of this sounds very familiar. A synth with mostly one screen user interface, nine effects freely orderable, two LFOs and one vibrato - yes, Thorn seems to be Dmitry's interpretation of the One-Screen-Simple-But-Fast idea followed by the dance-and-trance school of synths such as Hive and Synthmaster One. But where Hive only provides basic virtual analog waveforms, Thorn hits home with editable spectral waveforms. And where Synthmaster One leaves us with a sometimes clunky GUI, the workflow of Thorn feels quite speedy and mature. Thorn punches well above its price point with regards to features and sound quality, and may be a good alternative to some producers for using power wavetable synths such as Serum. Thorn is not that light on CPU as I had hoped at first, especially if you use a lot of polyphony, but it is a synth where you can dial in good sounds very fast.

So what am I missing? Not much honesty, as it is clear that the user interface is designed for high speed, some features such as Zebra 2s or VPS Avenger's insane flexibility can be safely ruled out as impossible to square with this particular design approach. Some design decisions may seem to be needlessly restricting, such for instance only two MSEGs when there clearly is enough space in the GUI for two more. A third LFO would have been nice. But then, should I not rather embrace the limitations as given for now and use these restrictions creatively? Well, I always should, but with Thorn I may have found the synth that sits exactly where I need my set of features to be - not too much, but certainly not too few features either.

There currently some very minor bugs, such as the LFOs retriggering when notes do not overlap, but Dmitry is known as a very dedicated developer who polishes his synths such that you will not have for a fix for a year. Considering the current entry price offer of 69$, I can hardly find any reason not to jump into this offer, even if you, like me, already own more than enough synths. Even at full price, this is a bargain. Yes, Thorn is that special synth that may become your to-go-synth, at least up to the time when Dmitry finds some time for a Diversion 2.

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Tantra
Reviewed By kuzami
April 19, 2015

Introduction:

When Camel Audio went out of business, a very unique plugin became unavailable. This plugin was CamelSpace. Since that day, because I never got to purchase it, I looked around for something similar. I found a few who came close, but they were still not quite what I were looking for. That was until I found this.

GUI:

This was the first thing that caught my attention. Compared to Diversion, which didn't stand out with it looks, this one definetely does. Colorful labels, big and detailed knobs and intuitive modulators. This one has it all, and it makes using it joyful, not a chore.

Modulators:

Close to the top of the screen you find modulators. There are 8 of them, which you can scroll through and edit each as you wish. They function very much like graphical envelopes, and can be edited in a similar way. Clicking and dragging, it's that simple. Each one can be mapped to modulate a certain parameter through the mod matrix.

Effects:

Tremolo: Close to the top you will find the tremolo effect. Not a ton of options, but it doesn't really need to have either. Works well.

Filter: 12 different filters are offered. The standard high-, low- and band-pass filters are offered, in addition to some special ones like the vowel filter. The cutoff, resonance, low-cut and high-cut and each be tweaked to taste with the excellent knobs.

Distortion: You can choose between overdrive and fuzz. Not the most detailed selection, but you can still get some sweet buzz out of it. The drive, fuzz, tone, mono and output can be modulated, in addition to the mix knob, which is found on all of the effects.

Delay: The speed of both the right and left channel can be controlled, in addition to the feedback and a nicely integrated LP and BP. You can choose between a normal delay and ping-pong. It can also be synced and linked. Nothing overly fancy here, but it does the trick.

Lo-Fi: This one emulates the classic bitcrushed effect, and it does it well. The parameters here are bit, rate, nose and tone, and tweaked to taste you can get that lo-fi sound your synth or drums may need.

Flanger: delay, feedback, width, depth, tone and speed found here. Can also be synced. Again, nothing fancy, but it delivers a good flanging effect.

Glitch: This is some sort of stutter effect, where scale and stretch can be controlled. You can also change the buffer size, and change the mode from run to freeze. Smoothness and reverse can also be activated. I recommend messing around with this one, some coolness to be found here.

EDIT: Also worth noting that there are two layers for all the effects, which can be controlled and modulated independently.

There is also an EQ and reverb at the end, to help shape the sound. The EQ is a three-band EQ with frequency crossover adjusting, similar to a lot of vintage EQs. The reverb can be tweaked with the size, decay, bass, treble and mix parameters. I wish there were a few more options here, like pre-delay, but it does have a very pleasing sound.

Performance: In the 1.00 version I got to try out, I sadly found this plugin CPU heavy. Opening up 64-bit Live 9 on my desktop with an haswell i7 processor, I get 0% use according to its internal CPU meter. When I open up Operator and start to play, this rises to 2-3% (preset: Celestial Pad). When I activate Tantra, however, this rises to 15% (with the preset Pad Whirl). Much more taxing than I would have thought, and I hope this gets optimized in future versions.

Conclusion: This multi-FX plugin has a great sound with lots of well-made effects and an intuitive GUI for a low price. I enjoy using this more than I ever enjoyed using CamelSpace, at the time when I had it, and this is more than worthy to fill the hole it left when Camel Audio went out of business. A few options could be added here and there, as well as lower CPU taxing, but a plugin this solid still deserves a solid 9/10.

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Diversion
Reviewed By FarleyCZ
December 31, 2011

Diversion is another synth with big chance to become huge in the future. Quite a few of them recently appeared. So how it stands up?

User Interface 10/10

UI is amazing! It is really clever at connecting to the function part of the synth. For modulation reasons. And it really pays of. Whatever sound you make, you can make it twice as fast here then in any other synth. Author obviously noticed, that these "how would it sound, if I modulate this by that?" thoughts last just for a moment, so he made modulation assigning really quick. Very clever and really amazing idea.

Features 10/10

Featurwise Diversion's true mosnter. Reminds me of Massive, but with few bonus features.
Really clever bit is these filters per OSC. It allows you really subtle polishing of timbre, which is good. OSC FX are great too. It's obvious that author is fan of Zebra. (I'd even like this SUB fx on Zebra's oscilators. :p)

Another amazing feature are these X/Y controls. It does different thing for every waveform. It could seem like nonsense, but did you ever expirienced this situation, where you have nice filter settings, nice modulations, only OSC's doesn't fit the sound? In simplier synths, you need to redesign whole patch again. Here you just move with that X/Y thingy and new color is in...

Bit of FM too. You can modulate everything you see (and even few things you don't). All really quick. Full score here 4 sure.

Sound 10/10

Diversion = creamy. Everything you ever imagined something "creamy" sounds like is in there. It has several drive and distortion stages, that can set this cream on fire. Sound is not Massive-like at all. It's not too digital... or too analog... it has it's own character, but really cool one. Like if AAR had a synth brother.
What I don't like is built in chorus FX, but it has surprisingly good reverb for example.
What I absolute adore is this "acid" filter type hidden down in menu. It really sounds like 303 filters. It's killing with all that OSC and modulation features!

Tip: Don't forget to set the highend setting right to your sound.

Stability 9/10

Few tiny bugs here or there. Nothing dramatic. Only bad thing is CPU usage. It really needs some big optimalisation. Especially unisono engine. I wouldn't mind "unisono per OSC" aproach, becouse on my 2,3GHz i5 is unisono using even 50-60% of CPU with spikes that make Live crackling... It has plenty of other features to make amazing sounds, but with CPU-lighter unisono it'd be almost unbeatable.

Value for money 10/10

I got Diversion as a gift, but this synth deserves the price really well. It's fresh, modern, silk, bit heavy, but perfect. But best bit is it's quickness. Really nice pleasant and complex sounds from scratch in terms of minutes. Included presets are just a delicious cherry on amazing cake. Love this one. :)

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Diversion
Reviewed By LfmC
August 25, 2011

After 10 years on KVR, my first plugin review.
About me: 15 years producing music, last 8 years professionally, and in that time, I've tried pretty much every softsynth ever made :)
Now on to the review... I'm gonna try to keep things simple: This thing sounds great. It's one of those plugins that you just have to try for yourself, preferably on high quality studio monitors.

User Interface:
Nice design, easy on the eyes, single page interface. I'd go with skins support, but that's just me. 10/10

Features:
All the basic features of a VA synth are here, plus some exotic ones like sub/modulator/distortion/filter PER oscillator (so one for each oscillators), 2 multimode master filters, FM/ringmod, effects (delay, chorus. reverb, etc.), arp/trance gate, integrated 2x oversampling that goes up to 8x, true unison mode, oscilator character selector, LFO's, ADSR/multipoint envelopes, modmatrix and more.....

Documentation:
Detailed pdf describes everything in detail, but honestly, if you need a manual for this thing, you're prolly very new to VA synths in general.

Presets:
200 presets, which in not a lot, but they sound great. The programmer is also a sound designer, so I'm expecting more sounds coming in the near future. And most importantly, making your own sounds is a breeze.

Customer Support:
No experience with it directly, but the plugin developer is very friendly and listening to user's feature requests/ bug reports, so I'm gonna assume the support is good.

Value For Money:
At 150$ on the discount now, and 200$ usual price, it's not cheap. But then again, I'd rather have 1-2 quality VA synths, than 10 average ones.

Stability:
Few small insignificant bugs, most of which are being fixed for next update. Nothing major. All in all, very stable so far (no problems in cubase 6 and FL 10). Keep in mind, though: It's a bit of a CPU hog. I suggest at least a dual core for it, quad core recommended for a healthy number of instances (personally running a max of around 24 of them on an i7 930@3.6GHz).

SOUND:
I've saved this for last, because this is the main thing that made me fall in love with this thing and actually write a review.
The high frequencies are amazingly smooth and crystal clear, something I've never found in a VST until now. It has punch, bite and character. It kind of reminds me of my virus Ti in a way that, whatever I tweak, I get good sounds from it.


In case you missed it, this is one of my new favorite VA softsynths. 9.5/10Read Review

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