I am a previous owner of Manytone's Ultimate Bass Kit sample set, which has been my go-to bass sample set (in Wusikstation) for the last few years. I wondered if Manybass would be sufficiently better-sounding to make it worth the $120 purchase (four times the price of UBK, which is admittedly a tremendous bargain). Short answer: it is, and then some.
Manybass consists of a sample set and a playback+effects engine (based on the sampler engine from AraldFX) to play them. The samples are compatible with Wusikstation as well. The bass guitar sounds have a realism that's very exciting, and they are supplied in a range of articulations (picked, fingered, slapped, etc.) that can be layered into a multi-sampled keyswitched patch for performance. The range of sounds covers just about anything you would want a bass guitar to do in a song, and the basic tones are augmented with a very useful set of effects that includes amp simulation, cabinet simulation, compression, EQ, phasing, and so on. The value of these effects is increased by an "FX Wizard" that basically asks what you want the bass to sound like (punchy, soft, deep, etc., etc.) and then sets everything up accordingly. Fast, effective, and a good learning tool too--I wish more of my synths had this feature! The GUI overall is beautiful, easy to understand and use, and a pleasure to work with. Several dozen presets are supplied, with names that make it easy to understand at first sight what kinds of material they're good for.
The amp and cabinet modeling aren't very extensive--you get only three amp models, for example, though a much wider range of cabinet models--but what's here sounds very good and adds plenty of value to the package. The cabinet models in particular produce a wide range of tones that can fulfill any number of roles in a mix, and are well worth exploring for any given song. I happen to own the Line6 Gearbox Gold plugin (which itself sells for a price higher than Manybass), and of course the range of amp models, cabinets, and effects in that package far surpasses Manybass's; but if you don't own another amp modeling plugin, the one supplied with Manybass will work fine for a wide range of musical applications.
The application has been very stable for me under Sonar 6.2.1 and uses relatively little CPU. It takes a little while to load a sample set on my Athlon x2 4800+ machine, but that's par for the course with big sample sets. It's a lot faster than Wusikstation in this regard.
Manytone supplies additional soundsets on their website for free to registered owners, and the plugin will play Wusikstation soundsets in addition to the bass sounds supplied with Manybass. I'm looking forward to hearing what Manybass's effects section will do with some of my Wusikstation electric piano soundsets in particular. I have had occasion once or twice to email the developers, and they have replied promptly with useful information.
The volume level of the presets is a little low under Sonar, something that Computer Music noted in their review of the plugin also (for whatever DAW they were using to test). It's not a big problem, but I'd like it if the plugin put out a little more level.
That minor issue aside, this plugin offers excellent value for money. There are certainly a wide range of plugins available, at multiple price points, that produce great bass sounds. For that matter, free plugins are avialable that do a good job on a range of synth-y basses. But if you're looking for something that does bass guitar in particular superbly well, this plugin is well worth the moderate asking price. I can't imagine that you'd need anything else to do great bass guitar lines, except maybe a great bass guitar and a killer bass guitarist to go with it.
Update on May 21 2008: Manytone is having a sale on their Ovation Acoustic and Upright bass sample sets, and I decided to lay out the additional $39. These sets are of excellent quality, and add signficant range on the acoustic-sounding side to Manybass. The presets that come with this package, however, are not designed for Manybass--either Manytone's Manyguitar or Wusikstation is required. I own Wusikstation, and the presets sound great in that synth. (In fact, they show exactly how great Wusikstation can sound when the sample sets are top quality.) If acoustic bass sounds are a big part of your music, and you own either Wusikstation or Manyguitar already, this package by itself is an excellent purchase.Read Review
I will not attempt to cover all the bases of ManyGuitar (MG)in this mini-review (please see Manytone.com, the Manytone KVR forum, and other reviews for additional info); but rather touch on a few highlights which caught my interest and quickly gained my respect.
The included soundsets are excellent. Tuned to near perfection, the core instruments were clearly sampled and programmed with care for their primary intended purpose - which is to inspire. Not only are the instruments realistic representations in their own right, with manipulation, they can moonlight as other instruments as well– see my later comments below.
Suffice to say, with around 1.2 Gigs worth of samples, there is something for all tastes – from dirty, wailing electrics to clean, bright acoustics to phatt basses. And the developers are not just sitting on their laurels, with mention of the following upcoming soundsets for use in MG: vintage Les Paul and archback guitars, an acoustic upright bass, mandolin, tons of new electric basses, etc. – you get the picture. Fresh sounds for all.[MG can also directly import all current Wusik and DASH SND files].
The G.U.I., in many ways, is the strength of MG. Besides being very retro-cool and downright pleasing to the senses, the thoughtful layout provides an easy avenue in which to visualize the signal path – from instrument to filters to amp to effects - and to quickly and effectively tweak the living crap out the sounds with impressive results!
At the heart of this capability is the coherent nature of the integrated design. Everything is located on one small layout, so there’s no hiding from the opportunity to tweak, twist and warp your sound.
One of the more ingenious aspects of the design is how uncluttered the interface appears despite the large number of dials, switches, sliders and readouts jammed into such a small area. If you look closer you will notice the absence of the customary tick marks and numerals centered around each rotary dial for the purpose of gauging your settings. Instead, one central readout – located in the middle of the G.U.I. – serves as the sole readout for all of the dials! Simply slide the mouse cursor over one the dials, and Walla, the current value is indicated in the central readout.
Three amps, eq and a boatload of cabinets provide a lot of potential iterations for shaping your sound. I particularly like the inclusion of the tiny – and I mean “tiny” – 8, 4 and 2 inch speakers! These are great for getting those thin vintage tones, as well as “down-sizing” an instrument to better fit in a mix.
The included effects are quiet, warm and easy to dial-in; Chorus/flangers, delay/echoes, etc. My favorite is the included tremolo. Two knobs and you’re there; no messing with filters or chorus to get a killer “wave.”
In use, MG is a joy to play and program. First put off by the fact that the developers had the audacity to not include a vintage Rickenbacker 325 guitar;-), using the picked Strat soundset in conjunction with the myriad of filters, amps, cabinets and effects, I quickly learned the reason for their madness and was able to dial-up a pretty darned good 325 imitation in short order(particularly when used in context of a song). Ditto for those sweet old Gretsch hollow bodies via one of the included solo electrics and some basic amp work. Neither of the two examples were spot on, but they illustrate the greatest assets of MG which are ease of use and potential sound sculpting – even for tweak-impaired individuals like myself.
This is one sweet VST. The only sour notes coming from the absence of a compressor and reverb to touch up those otherwise perfect presets. I prefer to use reverb as an insert and to adjust settings separately for each instrument, providing a subtle variance in the overall depth/soundstage. In this context, it would be a big plus not to have to set up multiple FX channels in Cubase with multiple FX instances eating up valuable CPU processing.
Thankfully, MG itself barely tickles my 2.6 P4 processor, even with multiple instances running. And the support is very responsive at Manytone, so I know if I keep bugging them, I’ll eventually get my verb;-).
Overall, my hats off to Paul, Greg, “Amoebe” and the rest of the ManyGuitar crew for crafting a solid gold product, and with a few additions, a pure platinum edition at that.
Oh yeah, did I mention that this beast only costs $89.00?
Note: At the time of this review, running through May 2006, Manytone is running a GroupBuy on Manyguitar and their Manystation sample/synth player; with potential discounts up to 50%.Read Review
Manyguitar is an excellent new guitar 'rompler' from the developers of Manystation. MG borrows alot of the really great guitar/bass samples in Manystation, plus adds nearly 400mb more to the mix. These samples are then run through an excellent-sounding new VSTi engine, complete with amp/cabinet sim + fx.
User Interface: MG's interface is thoughtfully laid out - its very easy to visualize the signal flow. From an art design standpoint its quite nice to look at as well. My only complaint is that overall its a bit small and 'cramped'. ie. The knobs controlling modwheel and aftertouch modulations are truly tiny at 1024x768. Those at higher resolutions hopefully have huge monitors...
MG is also skinnable, and comes with a second, simplified, skin. This skin looks even better than the default! But unfortunately - as its meant mainly as a 'preset playback' skin - its missing alot of essential control parameters. So most users will stick with the default skin.
Sound: MG's guitar samples are across the board excellent. No loops - full decays. Not only that but the bass samples are surprisingly some of the best available anywhere.
Add to these great samples the new amp/cab fx and you have something really special. I am not an guitar amp expert but these sound excellent to my ears. They react appropriately to dynamic playing, and can span the entire spectrum between 'vintage crunch' and 'overdriven howling'. A bit of amp/cab added to the basses delivers an incredible sound too.
The Filters/FX in MG are very well done too. They are mostly taken from EVE ONE, which is a good thing. The phaser/chorus sounds very rich; the delay has a pleasing, vintage echo tone; and the filters are some of the best I've heard.
Features: Everything you need for guitar sounds is present in MG. Well, almost everything. A spring reverb would have been a useful addition, as would have more amp/cab modes. And the delay unit, while excellent quality, isn't capable of ping-pong effects.
Perhaps in a future update? Anyway these are pretty minor omissions - and all can be solved with your own external fx if you really need them.
Documentation: MG is very easy to use. But there is a very well-written PDF documentation if you require it.
Presets: MG comes with a bank of 128 presets. MG is so easy to program that these aren't really required, but its still appreciated. Some designers have gone pretty wild and designed some spacey tones that you might find useful - if only as a starting point.
I would have liked to have seen the presets organized a bit better though - if nothing else, just something to seperate the 'normal' presets from the spacey new-age stuff.
Customer Support: Paul @ Manytone is a friendly, helpful presence. And his forum here on kvr makes it easy to get in touch if you need to.
Value for Money: Comparing these sounds to other guitar sounds available in more expensive products is no contest - MG wins hands down. Stuff like Sampletank, Hypersonic etc. don't even come close. At $90 VFM is off-the-charts, really. And the lower-priced upgrade from Manystation is a no-brainer.
Stability: I have had no issues thus far. I've used the EVE ONE platform MG is based on for a long time and it is one of the most stable VSTi I have ever used - so this bodes well for MG in the long-term.
In terms of CPU-usage MG is a massive winner. Even with amp/cab + all fx enabled you will barely feel any cpu hit with a reasonably powerful system. On my Athlon64 3000+ 10 simultaneously played notes (with amp/cab + all fx) takes only 5.5% cpu! So I'd estimate I could hit about 200 notes polyphony on my system, and probably much more than that without all features turned on. Thats alot of guitar... But if you still have a slower system, you can always use the flexbile polyphony controls to tone down MG's resource usage.
Overall: An excellent plugin by my fellow Canadian! Highly recommended to anyone looking to add some awesome-sounding guitars to their tracks. The price is just icing on the cake.Read Review
USERINTERFACE: The interface of the Simple Shiny Sampler from manytone productions and Linplug is exactly what the plug-in's name says it is: Simple and Shiny. With light wood side panels, a wood grain inlay, a black screen with red LED-Like dialog, and Shiny silver knobs and buttons, the 3S gets the point across rather well. It's got that classic "Linplug-Look", Which has pretty much been abandoned, so it's nice to still see it around. The one thing that bugs me about it is that it's rather small. If it were slightly larger there would be less strain on the eyes. Other than that it's great though.
SOUND QUALITY: This is where such a simple plug-in sampler might fail...but not 3S...plays back all wave files of 8-16 bit, any samplerate up to 96khz, and mono or stereo exactly as they were recorded. I haven't noticed any coloring of the audio at all. Pristine sound every time.
FEATURES: It's in the features area that one may not be interested....not becuase they are bad...but because there aren't a ton...keep in mind though, it's called "SIMPLE" shiny sampler...and that's exactly what it is. It's also free. With all that being said, I think it offers beautiful features. The Pro-Level sample rates supported and the velocity splitting alone are more than worth the download. Offers the basic Volume, Pan, and Pitch controls which all work flawlessly and loading/mapping samples is extremely quick and painless. There is only 1 thing i can really think of that would push the rating in this category to a 10. That would be the ability to set a different pan setting for each of the 4 samples (this would increase productivity when using it to act as your drumkit). It also comes with some fantastic didgeridoo samples!
DOCUMENTATION: 3S comes with a very in depth online manual in html format. True, it isn't the most complex sampler out there...but i was actually suprised at how complete the manual was. It takes the time to describe every detail of the synth and also gives the user some tips/suggestions on how to use it creatively.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Personally, i've never needed any support for this vsti. However, Manytone Productions has ALWAYS proved to be very helpful when i've had questions about their products. Never had to wait longer than 24 hours for a reply to any emails, etc.
VALUE FOR MONEY: Well, lets see folks...it's free. Doesn't cost you a thing except for some download time. It's not a huge download either so it should even be friendly to those still on dial up modems. Well worth it if you ask me.
STABILITY: Perfect. I have never had a crash, glitch, or otherwise with 3S...Even after using it in several hosts (EnergyXT, Nuendo, Logic (PC), MiniHost, etc..)
OVERALL: 3S is definitely worth a look, especially if you're new to sampling or just looking for a quick and easy sampling solution. It can be more versatile than it first appears as well...For example, you can layer up several 3S instances, each with a different set of 4 velocity split drum samples, and create a pretty sweet sounding drum track.Read Review
There are so many soft synth VSTi's, what makes Manystation special? Basically it's the Wusikstation engine, but with a very pretty GUI and totally different soundsets. That means: 4 oscillator layers and two wave sequence layers, 4 filters and 4 EQ's per layer, 8 envelopes, 8 LFO's and a 6x6 Mod Matrix (Wusikstation), 1.4 GB samples and 10 banks with approx. 700 presets (Manystation). That means that you can a) use the preset as-is, or tweak them, and b) create new presets with all the samples, or c) add your own samples and create totally new sounds :D.
The sounds consist of a lot of guitars and basses, cellos, a few other instruments and quite a few synth soundsets (that I haven't really touched yet). Even just the guitar, bass and cello sounds are worth buying Manystation, these sounds are very beautiful, and inspirational. I'm originally a guitar player, but I found myself playing guitar on the keyboard with the Manystation sounds for quite a few hours. (and I still have about 500 presets to go ;))
With the Wusikstation engine you can use the mod matrix to add Aftertouch and Modwheel (etc) control, to create more expression. Some presets have this out of the box, but it's very easy to add. (IMO this should have been be more consistently applied in the factory presets).
The stability is good, running in high-quality processing all the time, and never had crashes or other types of problems. Although it can be confusing for Wusikstation owners to have 2 different versions when soundset formats (doesn't happen often) or other features change. Of course this is a good thing as well, the wusik engine is actively being developed, multi-timbral features are being added while I write this, etc.
The power of Manystation lies in the soundsets and presets, and while the factory sets are really strong, the extensibility makes it even better. Manytone have announced additional soundsets (both free and paid), and of course it's also possible to use the Wusikstation soundsets with Manystation, for those who cannot get enough.
For all kinds of questions Manytone support are active at KVR, and of course the Manystation and Wusikstation community is very supportive.
In this review I did not write in depth about the sound processing qualities of the engine (e.g. the quality of the effects or filters), because it's not my forte, and because the resulting sound sounds very good to me. Same thing about the CPU-load: I never have problems when using it, so I didn't feel the need to investigate the actual CPU-load.Read Review
Well - I shall be the first one to review this and put forward my comments on it.
Firstly - I was looking for a "rompler" style synth that game me some more natural sounds - I own EVE, which contains a lot of vintage sounds and some good "odd" synth swirly sounds but perhaps not a lot of "bread and butter" sounds. I then followed a trail from EVE to Wusikstation, picked up "The Second Wave" and then took up the discounted offer of buying Manytone.
Well - I am very impressed. The interface reminds me of of the good old synth workstations (korg etc.) and for the first time I can see me actually programming my own presets.
And the presets? They are fantastic - honestly, I paid about £40.00 for this synth (my triton cost me about £800!) and this contains a huge range of presets - going from guitars, basses, synths, pianos and much much more. The basses and guitars need special mention - I don't own Halion or Kontakt but I must say that these are the best that I have heard on a soft synth. The tremolo guitar is awesome - worth the money alone.
Essentially you have loads of sounds to create your own presets from and its also very easy and clearly laid out. The effects are also very good - The Second Wave soudns give you an idea of what you can really do - plus the matrix (again used in some presets) could you allow you to program deep evolving passages of sounds from one button!
CPU hit? Well - I run a Pentium 4 3.0ghz (HT) with 512 ram and I notice some issues when running on High quality mode, but this maybe due to the lack of ram. This has been addressed slightly in the new patch and I will be purchasing new RAM shortly. However, if you put the synth into normal mode it plays fine.
The people at the Manytone were very helpful when ordering and overall cannot praise this enough. It's a really good "workhorse" and could be the staple synth for a lot of my songs. Excellent work!Read Review
I found 3S to be a decent little sampler. It plays samples on time, without pops, and it doesn't crash. If you're looking for a simple sampler that you can toss into a project easily and reliably, I'd definately recommend it.
Manytone's customer support was fantastic. The first reviewer gave it a "1", but I have a feeling that's just due to the review process here at kvr (e.g., if you haven't used customer service, then do you give it a 10, or leave it at 1? There's no way to not rate it.) I had a couple questions initially, and they were answered via email almost instantly...and it was a friday night even!
Ok, on to what I think could be improved:
1) It's limited to 4 samples per instrument. But hey, it is FREE and you can fire up as many instances as you want. More samples would mean fewer piano rolls, and easier to program velocity sensitive instruments.
2) I wish that MIDI note numbers were used instead of note names. 3S's "C1" did not match C1 in all of the applications that I tried. Not a real problem or anything, just confusing at first. I also found it a little bit tricky to select note names with the mouse.
Aside from those issues 3S is a great little sampler. Download it!!!!!Read Review