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User Interface - Pretty cool, arcade 80's looking, buzzsaw knobs, really easy to find your way around and a decent color scheme. No complaints, pretty well packed really, almost wish more synths were as efficiently planned out. (Rez 2 is maybe the pinnacle of compact efficiency in my mind, but it only has 1 osc, compared to this one having 3.) I'm giving it a 9, for efficiency, and cause I think it matches the sounds a bit eh.
Sound - All the bleeps and bloops you could want, it's an old skool videogame system sound effect/soundtrack buffet. This synth is about 3/4 or so geared toward classic arcade and home videogame system sounds and sound effects. You can get some cool lowfi elektro basses out of it, and some creepy untunable radio static pads, as well as some glitchy arps and whatnot. Bottom line though, it's what you want if you like Nintendo and arcade game sounds and soundtracks, if you do, get it, or at least check out the demo. I'm going with a 9 rating here, because I'm grading it on doing what it says it does and how well it does in that genre, not compared to other kinds of synths.
Features - 3 oscillators each with an arp, and various effects. 3 types of LP & HP filters. Tons of weird modulations. Yeah, it's got some features, and still maintains a nice compact Gui by making good use of drop down menus. Did I mention the modulations ? They are many, and some are quite odd. You can, and probably will, make some incidental music with this syth once you start tweaking the presest a bit. And whether you decide to record it or not, making weird videogame sounds, is actually fairly amusing ha-ha. Another 8 here, for both features, and because the cpu rarely jumped about 12% or so on the presets, and usually hovered around 7%-9%.
Documentation - There is a .doc file included. No fancy pictures, but something tells me that wouldn't help much, this one's a bit wild, you just have to experiment some. Eh, I like manuals with pictures, and this synth is kind complex, so it loses points here. There is a manual, but I didn't like it, so it gets a 5.
Presets - About 100 or so. Range ? Yes. More than just videogame bleeps ? Yes. Everyday workhorse ? Well, no, but it does more than just videogame sounds eh, and not all of them are copycat sounds, there's some cool take-offs on old favorites here. A healthy amount, and a bit of variety to boot, you won't be disappointed, assuming you read this review, and/or know what this synth is about. :) Again, an 8, based on what kind of synth this is, compared to what it's "supposed" to sound like for that genre ya know. (I almost forgot, there's 2 presets that have a very *vocal* quality to them, those alone are worth mention, in addition to all the layered presets that sound like mini-soundtracks, or pads/arps with basslines.)
Customer Support - Jack's around, and if you have a question, he'll usually answer publicly on the forums, or you can email him and he'll get back to you. Jack's kinda salty sometimes, but he does care about his customers, I'd say 7.5, but we'll round it up, since most of his insults get hurled at Mac users, and people like me who want synched delays and hate SE waveshapers ha-ha :P
Value For Money - At $20, it's cheaper than a used Nintendo eh :P I'd have to say it's a more than fair deal, I'm sure there's a few other videogame sounding synths out there, but this is the new version of one of the older best ones anyways, and it can do a bit more than just videogame emulation sounds. It's kind of boutique and not for everyone, but for the people who dig these sounds, I would have to assume $20 will be considered a bargain really. A 9 here, it really is a great videogame sounding synth, and it's only $20 man.
Stability - This is a pc only plug, and it seems to run fine in FL, on a P4 system. The cpu usage is pretty low too really, and the only thing I've noticed, is an occasional spike when changing presets mid-note, which tons of synths do. I'm going with a 9, it seems rock solid, especially for an SE plug.
Final Notes - I belive this is a free update to all previous customers of NeoRetro, so that's a nice bonus for some folks. And yes, this synth is pretty much what you think it is, but, I bet it's at least 25%-50% *more* and better, than you think it is. I give this review an 8. I didn't hardly crack any good Galaga jokes, and I couldn't really describe all the features that well ha-ha.Read Review
User Interface - Very Mad max 2K6, a little on the dark-ish side (no pun intended) and a hair big, as I had to try several times to get ahold of the bottom reverb controls, since they were getting 90% cut off of the screen in FL Studio. Layed out pretty darn linear-lly really, considering the complexity of what all is here, and maybe especially considering what you might expect if you hadn't seen any Jack Dark creations lately. It wasn't too tough to get some sort of pseudo-control over these audio monstrosities screaming for from my speakers, within 20-30 minutes of careful squinting and knob turning. (The squinting was just cause I half expected a decaying half metal hand with a spiked leather glove to reach out of the speakers and slap me if I adjusted too much at a time, not because the GUI is small or that tough to read at all.)
Sound - Well, this is most of what yer paying for right here. Good luck finding a synth, not a rompler, an actual synth, that makes the sounds Jack's make. That said, this one seems to be about horror/sci-fi with a touch of videogameness. It can sound very low-fi Casio circuitbent, or like am old Galaga standup arcade game being run by a revving Harley motor/battery, or if yer lucky, it can remind you somewhat of Hollywood's latest gorefest minus the bad acting. Some of the presets had a cool *metallic* ringing/scraping sound to them, and I dunno what all caused it, but I liked it. Down-sides ? It can be very harsh, loud, distorted, etc. But in most cases, that is part of this synths sound in general, just watch the volume levels kids, or start saving for new eardrums and monitors.
Features - Well, it's made up almost entirely of effects, so I guess sound sculpting-wise it would rate pretty high, and the modulations are many and good too. Other that, again, the fact that this synth makes sounds I don't hear other making ha-ha, take that how you will, it is an effects machine kind of makes it's overall output sound a feature as much as anything right ? I would rate it a hair above average here, and unique in how the features play out in the end. Plus, each oscillator has pitch shifting and a granualizer. Did I mention the bit crusher ? And mind the lfo's, as there are many.
Documentation - Lemme look for a manual or something, hang on. O.k., there's an html manual, and a .jpg IMAGE REFERENCE, both included, so there ya go.
Presets - Well, this one has quite a few, more than some of Jack's do, and they are pretty cool. If you are into this kind of sound, you won't be dissapointed much with the presets I don't think. (Sorry, I'm reviewing this from the standpoint that people might not all be that familiar with what Jack Dark specializes in, and what kinds of rather extreme music styles he caters to.) There's quite a variety of sounds in the presets within this digital-horror genre. Is that better ?
Customer Support - Well, other than the dead cat picture he posted on the forums once, Jack is always glad to listen to your complaint, then tell you to set your worthless Mac computer on fire you infidel !!! Naw, he's cool, he's a K-v-R reg, and easy to get ahold of really. Jack has also been known to do some radical (free to existing customers) updates, this being a case in point. Added value anyone ?
Value For Money - Well, this isn't a workhorse/daily use synth, but you are not likely to find another one that sounds like it this side of over=priced boutique circuit bent ebay creations. That said, it's well worth the money if you like this sound, ie = try demo ya lazy $?#@! See above Customer Support comement above about free updates also.
Stability - It hasn't crashed on me. I will add, that it's an SE creation, so if your host doesn't like SE, then talk to the maker of your host, cause most of us out here dun have any problems with SE stuff these days. Another side note, and this one kinda goes both ways, and I am almost hesitant to mention it, but you'll find out if you try the demo, so whatever. This synth uses massive cpu. However, again, the flipside of that is, 1) it sounds like the end of the world in a good way, and 2) it has sooo many built in effects, that you aren't likely to need to add much to it, so in that sense, you should perhaps cut it some slack in the cpu usage department.
Final Notes - This review and the ratings given, are based on the fact that I more or less knew what I was getting into. If you do not have any real idea, and this review, and Jack's description of this synth don't help, by all means, try the demo first, this is specialized boutique digi-gear eh. Anyways, Jack is still Dark, and if you catch one his bundle deals, you could get this synth, and several others for about 1/2 what a $100 "pro synth" costs. And I'll say it again, if you like these kinds of sounds, this is where you get the hookup, and if not, then pass on buy and wait for the next $100+ VA with tarncegate I guess. Merry x-mas and have a noisey 2007 Jack.Read Review