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Latest reviews of Plogue products

Reviewed By enroe
February 22, 2020

This is an answer on the Review of "Tagirijus" of the 17th February 2020 - because his 3 points need some explanation:

1. Installs two additional programms (TableWarp and Aria or so) and will not deinstall those, if you deinstall sforzando.

This is true. But:

The Aria-Player is the sample-playback-engine of Sforzando. So this is a necessary part of Sforzando. The TableWarp is just an Example-synth installed along with Sforzando. It is very small - only some kb - and it sounds quite useful.

2. Is not a SF2 Player, but needs to convert the SF2 to SFZ first.

Also this is true. But:

Sforzando is not dedicated to SF2. SF2 is ONLY a nice add-on. Sforzando can read sf2 - more or less - and converts it to sfz. The "more or less" means that:

3. Will not play / convert it correctly so that the patches are not playbale.

This might be the case for certain sf2-files. Just because Sforzando is not dedicated to SF2. If you need a real SF2 Player you should look for something else.


So let's come to the topic of "Sforzando": Sforzando is basically a monotimbral sfz-sampler. And it is one of the best, because it is (1) easy to install, (2) easy to use and (3) easy on CPU. For me Sforzando is very stable (windows-10), and you can use a lot of instances at the same time. The handling is straight forward and if you are advanced you can create your own GUI.

Also the sfz-format has tremendous advantages: You just can edit any sfz-sample file with any text-editor. So you have full control and you can simply change and adjust any multisample to your special needs. SFZ is not a proprietary format - and so it is future-proof. That is important if you want to be sure that you can use your sample library in the future without hassle. In the development of SFZ there are the versions 1.0 and 2.0. Sforzando can play version 2.0 - and it understands some additional sfz-commands.

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Reviewed By Tagirijus
February 17, 2020

1. Installs two additional programms (TableWarp and Aria or so) and will not deinstall those, if you deinstall sforzando.

2. Is not a SF2 Player, but needs to convert the SF2 to SFZ first.

3. Will not play / convert it correctly so that the patches are not playbale.

Read Review

Reviewed By nixward
March 12, 2019

This is really a suprisingly great plugin. You can really get some great result if you put some effort into it. Try to use several plugins at once to create a choir, for a free VST this is amazing. Check out the video review: https://youtu.be/BvgAYGM1_Nk

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Reviewed By topaz
August 21, 2014

I absolutely bidule.

It really is a huge problem solver for me.

I have the standalone in my startup, it fixes things like the poor velocity output from my keyboard controller, it remaps a stock Behringer FCB1010 foot controller to control the selected track control script for live 9.

And remaps to use the FCB1010 as a stompbox using guitar rig 5.

I use it as a vsti in live 9 to host MIDI plugins like Cthulhu.

I really would be lost without plogue bidule.

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Reviewed By sphaira
August 20, 2013

This is a SFZ file player that has tremendous potential. Directly dependent on Aria Engine (used for sound banks Garritan) this player plays perfectly the SFZ 1.0 and SFZ 2.0 versions. The forum engine is very reactive, competent people can quickly respond to simple or advanced topics (some of the developers of the engine are themselves on the forum).

A SFZ file can be placed on the player (with drag & drop possibility) that reads and instantly updates the SFZ file when it has been changed. The parser of SFZ opcodes indicates whether the file contains errors or unkown opcodes.

Tested with up to 15 simultaneous instances I have not had a complaint from any slowdown in my machine (Dual Core CPU 2.6 GB).It is available on several platforms (Mac and PC) that really boring for the developer of sound bank.

Specificity of Sforzando is that it contains a panel MIDI controls. This panel makes the SFZ file d├ępendent player but brings a lot of control over the patch.

The biggest flaw is that it has no effect and is not multitimbral but it is difficult to find a synthesizer / sampler of this quality for free.

I think this player is the SFZ player of choice because it is reliable, robust and accurate and there is more and more high quality sound bank in SFZ format.

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Reviewed By plastedre
August 20, 2013

Sforzando is a player of SFZ file extremely powerful. The developers have developed Chipsounds and Aria engine. Sforzando use Aria engine single player mode without effects.

The quality of sound output is extremely accurate, I tested in comparison with Cakewalk SFZ and Sforzando is capable of playing WAV files smaller without penalty (like Single Cycle Waveform). The player can convert Soundfont SF2 to SFZ in the folder of your choice (change the folder in "settings" panel).

Filters are good I know that conventional LP6, LP12, LP24 and LP48, which allows me to create all layers of analogue beauty. Editing is done using a text editor (personally I use PSPad) and the file being played by Sforzando is updated automatically making it very comfortable editing.

Reading sample format is WAV and OGG, but I discovered that the FLAC format is also included which allows you to create large banks without keeping the sound quality (to my opinion OGG is not a professional format).

I regularly asked on the forum to know various details of the SFZ programming and I was pleasantly surprised to get answers quickly and accurately (the forum is mainly dedicated to Aria engine).

I regularly use this sampler / synthesizer to create my sets of banks in my own music. Opportunities for external modulation (with the use of "controls" panel) can compete with a synthesizer (such as Synth 1).

Even with large banks of sounds (multi sampled) my processor does not suffer. This is a sampler that does not have all the advantages of Kontakt but is doing well in various situations and is more flexible.

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Reviewed By Sendy
February 7, 2011

No review for this yet? Allow me, then. This is a long review, because of the specialist nature of it's subject, so bear with me!

Ooh, where to begin? Having cut my synthesis and music composition teeth on a Commodore C64, and having been an avid gamer since a small child, playing on my friends' NESes, Ataris, and owning a Breadbin and later an Amiga, the sound of those tiny, cheap and mostly rushed and improvised sound generators that provided the soundtracks to our fantasy lives, has understandably become a part of my roots.

The idea of a software instrument which simulates not one of these chips but a whole slew of them is a seductive idea to a lot of people, myself included. It is, however, a tough tightrope walk, and runs the risk of simply being a 'retro bleep machine' trying to cash in by yoinking on Ye Olde Nostaliga Heartstringes. I'm pleased to report, however, that Chipsounds does pretty much what it says on the tin, and it does it 'virtually' to perfection.

Many of these chips produced nothing but square waves, so it's easy to dismiss this product as, well, a bunch of square waves! But when you consider the ridiculous amount of research which has gone into the development of this software (much of which is made public on the Chipsounds blog) you realize that you're not getting 'a' square wave, but THE square wave, generated by a facsimile of the digital logic used in the original chip.

Factors such as intonation, pitch resolution, volume and sample level limitations, and the very way waveforms are generated are taken into account, rather than merely copying a waveshape and spreading it across the keyboard. The sounds are uncannily accurate to any audiophile who was around in the 80's and early 90's.

All the abilities of each chip are present, and there are a lot of them, so the variety of sound is startling, especially when you consider that you can layer sounds from different chips, using their different abilities and weaknesses together to create some massive sounds... So much for "a bunch of square waves"! Not only are the lovely square waves present and correct, but the famous quantized 'nintendo triangle', the PWM and raspy sawtooth of the C64, downright gnarly lo-fi modulations on the Gameboy wave channel, and maniacal buzzing from several of the other obscure chips I can't remember the name of are ready and waiting to be deployed. The 4-bit-and-below sampling capabilities of the Nintendo and C64 are also supported, allowing you to throw in samples and have them run through an emulation of these systems' sampling abilities (the Ninny had a lofi sample channel, and on the C64, it was done with clever abuse of the sound chip by programmers), something which is not possible with mere bit crushery, contrary to popular myth. There are a lot of sounds here, far too many to cover in this review.

So... Not only can you make arrangements of Lady Gaga covers in authentic NES BGM style with this product (go on, you know you want to!), but I've made a lot of cutting edge shifting tones, albeit with a lofi edge, with it. Several times I've had people ask me what synth 'x part' was in one of my tracks and it's been an experiment which came from Chipsounds - in fact, it's the one synth I have that consistently draws compliments, and I have a lot of awesome synths.

The negatives? There has been a bit of controversy about the use of samples in this software. Samples are used, as far as I can see, to capture oddities such as 'chip failiures' and other lab nightmares which are impossible under standard emulation models. They are fun little extras. They are also used in the SID emulation for some of the more obsure waveforms it can produce, but as I understand it, these will be replaced by emulation in due course. While we're here, sync and ringmod are missing from the SID emulation, and while it's filter is suitably weedy and grimey, with a nice dose of internal clipping, it doesn't sound *quite* right to my ears. If you care only for SID emulation, you might want to shop around a bit first, and try a more specialized product. That said, remember that this part of the product is being worked on as we speak, and is still capable of being very evocative.

Another downside is that the emulated sound, suprisingly, is very 'clean' despite being lo-fi, because though the chips are emulated near-damn-perfectly, we are hearing *only* the chips and not the D/A converters and subsequent crappy signal chain which would inevitably brown up the sound before it reaches our ears. It seems a product is in the pipeline for emulating this section of the signal chain, and the youtube demo of it looks promising! I hope some of that tech makes it into Chipsounds.

It would seem there is a lot to look forwards to. The last update we had, a slew of new chips and features were added, multiplying our possibilities by some ridiculous geometric function. Not only am I looking forwards to more updates, but they even listen to what users have to say on the Plogue Chipsounds forum, and a couple of my ideas for expanding the synth may even make it in to the bargain! It's things like this that make the act of buying a synth that much more satisfying, because the rewards keep coming :)

Is it for you? That, I can't tell you. But what I can say is that for me it was easily worth the money. Collecting and modifying the mass of consoles that this thing emulates is simply beyond me - my area is making sounds and music. I was quite happy to pony up and have the mad chip scientists do that part for me.Read Review

ARIA Engine
Reviewed By marce
August 20, 2009

ARIA Player review:

Im reviewing the ARIA player that has been released with GPO4 some days ago, so i will concentrate on the sampler engine itself more than in the library.
It makes sense because you can load in ARIA external content, not only the GPO instruments. That feature take my attention time ago, since im missing a good sfz player that can deal with big libraryes, not only with small ones.
First thing i made after installing it was testing the load of external content: I converted my Sampletekk PMI Bösendorfer 290 to SFZ time ago. It worked fine with the free sfz player but i run out of memory for the other tasks, since it eat something like 2GB. Well, ARIA loaded it very fast! and im realizing that it streams from disk: low CPU and RAM usage but same excelent quality as SFZ usually have.
Second test was with a library i converted from the free "Erans sampling project". They were .sxt reason programmed converted to SFZ, and using the Keyswitch opcode. I have tryed the converted library with keyswitches with other samples that can load SFZ files, but so far, any of them was succesfully, some ignore the opcode and others has problems. The only that to the right job was SFZplayer, loading them in RAM. I tryed it with ARIA; it load the library very fast ... and in the GUI was displayed what Keyswitches were available and in a different color the one i was using. Really nice. Appear that some "opcodes" have been added so, now i can label the keyswitches and they will be displayed with their proper name in the ARIA player.
So far, i found ARIA to be a very refreshing product for the sample enthusiast; i highlight this things:

*It is back-compatible with SFZ files. You can load your own material without limitations.
*It support most of the advanced opcodes&programming of SFZ and adds it`s own for enhance your samples.
*It is stable
*Supports Stream from Disk is Multi-Out. This two features combined make ARIA hard to beat if you are working with advanced SFZ files, because there are not much options with this features.

Well, only rest to say that the GUI is very simple, if you like, appear you can make any skin for it simply editing png's and xmls.
I believe that is more than positive for a 1.0 product.

Best Regards.

Marcelo Colina

PS.: I put an "8" under documentation since i feel that SFZ specif is not very well documented yet, even is not exclusive thing of ARIA. The developer has been very kind to help me with the new opcodes.Read Review

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