Yes, I know, this synth is ancient, like 10 years or so. And the company has a bad reputation because of some trouble years ago, lots of customers were pissed by abysmal service. Afaik that was the fault of a former employee that did not take his job seriously. The developer as such seems to be a friendly guy, who does answer inquiries, although he has switched to developing other things instead of music plugins. Occasionally there are maintenance updates for his old synths, though.
Anyway, regarding the synth as such, I have both the Trance Pro and the Professional as both were part of a bundle. Since they are virtually identical, what I write applies to both. The only differences are the GUI color, the factory presets (I hate Trance and similar genres, thus the presets on the Trance Pro are crappy in my view), and most importantly there is a slight sound difference because of the Gibbs effect used in the Professional. The Professional sounds a bit warmer in my view, fewer high frequencies... Some people have said they are the same in terms of sound as well and that offering those two versions is a rip-off. That is not the case, they do sound different, I have created the very same patch using absolutely identical settings on all parameters (easy because the marker on the knob turns yellow at every other scale line), there is a clear sound difference. Personally I prefer the Professional's somewhat more muted sound most of the time, only for brass and other metallic sounds do I use the Trance Pro. If you think you can simply turn down the cutoff frequency on the Trance Pro to achieve exactly the same sound, that does not work, it changes the whole sound.
Superwave has a supersaw reputation because of the oscillator setup. But frankly, I never use that irritating sound, I hardly ever detune the 7 waves per oscillator beyond, say, 10:30 or 01:30 max. Combined with equally slight detuning of the two oscillators as such, one can get pretty pleasant pads out of those synths. Sounds one does not expect from a SE synth, let alone an old one. If necessary, the typical thin SE sound can be achieved by switching the oscillators to single-wave mode. Dual-wave mode sounds a bit thicker, but the superwave mode really boosts the sound to a different quality level. Interestingly, it consumes very little CPU even with both oscillators running in superwave mode, which by the way works with all waveforms, not just saw. There is no unison mode or sub-oscillator, though. But with those 14 waves per voice you can get pretty fat sounds like Quincy Jones synth basses, string ensembles etc. For certain sounds such as guitars the single-wave mode works fine, of course. You would not want multiple waves there, not even two oscillators because of the phases. In this case - 1 single wave per voice - the synth can get a bit quiet, even when setting volume to max.
Speaking of phases, the synth is funny in that it needs to warm up almost like hardware :D When you open an instance, you have to play around for 15 seconds or so before the oscillator/wave phases have shifted enough to produce a good sound.
The whole osc-filter-amp-delay chain is dual, i.e. each osc has its own filter, amp, and envelopes, and you can pan them individually, allowing for a wide stereo sound. Often however you will use the same filter and amp settings for both oscillators, in which case you simply lock the second filter, amp, envelopes to the first ones. That is one advantage of the paid version over the free P8: the envelopes also have such lock switches. Thanks to the dual layout you can do nice sounds, like picking the same osc and filter settings, but unlocking the envelopes and thus creating multi-stage envelopes. Nice for brass ensembles etc.
By the way, another advantage of the paid versions is that you can set the velocity as you please, unlike with the P8, where it seems set to 100%, which can be irritating, especially for people who are not good keyboard players. But I guess it is meant to be irritating, else nobody would buy the paid versions. Nor does the P8 have pulse width knobs.
What I also like is that the filter envelopes are always retriggered, which unfortunately is rather rare. Very handy when playing pads with certain envelope configurations.
Regarding the cons, for such cheap synths there are few. One is the resolution of the LFO rate slider. Cycling through the LFO Beat options is also a pain in the ***. While there is a kind of modulation matrix, it unfortunately allows for only one single modulation, i.e. one can't set up several sources and destinations. The basic sound of the filters is not top-notch of course, no 0fd or anything fancy, but at least there is very little aliasing compared to other SE synths. Finally, it would be cool if one could load Professional patches into the Trance Pro and vice versa, after all, they use identical parameters. This way one could easily compare which of the two is better for any given patch.
All in all, I really like those synths, the Professional is my go-to synth until I get my hardware synth for Christmas. Since I make mostly old-skool 80s music (RnB, Fusion, Jazz), I am happy that I can get decent electric guitars (clean, not distorted) and basses, pads, brass etc. out of it. Of course the sound is not as good as with Diva and the like, but it is far better than with most SE synths, and that in a very CPU efficient way. A dozen instances and more are no problem even on my AMD computer :).
PS: Almost 1.5 years later, this synth still is one of my go-to synths. Since I am emulating real instruments a lot now, the two independent synth lines are really cool. I can build a sound like with building blocks. On this electric piano patch for instance I used one line for the click alone, and the other for the sound as such:
This is without any effects, when adding reverb or chorus, it sounds way better :)
Three things I would like to see improved, though:
- The filter should have 24db variants as well, especially lp of course. That would be really great.
- They should add a global static hp filter to get rid of low frequencies like on the Juno's.
- The envelopes are pretty snappy (different curve compared to the P8), but there is some strange behavior regarding certain combinations of kb follow and envelope amount. Seems the kb follow control determines whether or not the envelope can be set to a negative amount, which is unusual and probably not supposed to be that way. On the P8 the envelopes work as they should.Read Review