Largo is an excellent synthesizer with a great sound; I'll let the other reviews speak to that.
I do, however, feel compelled to point out to those of you reading the reviews before purchase that there is one frustrating caveat to owning this synth and NOT owning the dongle: you can only change machines once (and it will cost you money). This is the message I got from Waldorf tech support:
it seems that you ware using the Soft E-Licenser for storing your License. In this case, your License will be stored on a Harddisk, and can be destroyed because of several reasons. The best way to prevent your Licenses from damage is to store them on the E-Licenser Dongle, and in this way you can also use your Largo License on more than on Computer System. With one License you are able to use on more the one Computer System, but only one time.
We can do a Largo License Replacement but this cost 9,5 € and can be done only one time. That means when you like to have a new Licenser, you need to pay 9,5 € for that Licenser via PayPal and i need a copy of the original invoice (not a copied text, screenshot or photo). You can buy the E-Licenser Dongle in the Shop of your local dealer. We do not sell E-Licenser Dongle. And i would download then your new Licenser on the Dongle.
When you like to buy a new Licenser, please let me know, so i will send you our PayPal Account. Your old Licenser will be deactivated then.
Last note: at least for me, Largo tended to crash a lot during patch-browsing, so do be careful of that. Otherwise, it's one of the best soft-synths available. ...Real shame about the licensing.Read Review
So I am an old Waldorf user who foolishly sold his Q years ago and has regretted it ever since. The software title is on Clearance in many Guitar Center's in the US now and I couldn't resist the $50.00 price tag so I bought one up.
I'm frankly a little frustrated that I've waited so long to get that Waldorf sound back in my kit. The Wavetable options are stunning and add so much character to this synth. You get five total Osc's (Two subs) and a pair of genuine Waldorf filters that sound every bit as good as my old Q. If you're in the market for a VA that sounds like the seventies, go elsewhere... the market is saturated with those and Waldorf isn't interested. This synth cuts through anything with its clean, bright presence. A little Drive on the filter sends you into teeth clenching euphoria and the Bass Boost button on the filter brings warmth, depth and meat to all of that sci-fi goodness.
Being an old school programmer with little use for presets I love the 16 option Mod Matrix. You can adjust every parameter with any parameter here for the amazing sonic possibilities. It is quite possible to program this synth into complete silence... which you might not want to do but it's cool that you can!
Now, the negatives: The LFO timing knobs are very fiddly. They offer a ton of options and odd-ball timings, which may contribute to their sensitivity but it literally takes a minute to find the time you want and get the knob to rest there. This is also true of the Delay times in the effects section. Simply giving me the ability to type the number I want in these fields would solve this. It's an annoyance, for sure. I'm not a preset guy, at all, so I don't really care about the browser, but as many others have said, it's ridiculously bad. The naming conventions for their sounds are more creative than necessary and leave very little to go on. It's just a random slog through an endless series of presets looking for something that doesn't sound like FM bells. Also, if you ARE in to presets you're likely to think that the Waldorf isn't much of a synth. The presets do it's amazing power no justice whatsoever. Flipping through presets on this guy is like taking a drive in a Ferrari with grandma at the wheel.
Overall, the GUI is intuitive and makes a lot of sense. I can't help but think the Waldorf developers spent a couple of precious minutes with the Virus interface before going into development, but that's not really such a bad thing. The sound is everything I had hoped for with the real legacy of the brilliantly unique Waldorf edge front and center on this synth. The Wavetables give a little taste of the Microwave XT (and could have gone a lot further and made me happy) and the filters are amazing!
At $250 it's a good value. At $50 US it is a stupid deal and frankly, there is no excuse for ANYONE to not have this edgy little monster in the virtual rack.
I will try to keep this review nice and simple, neatly stealing the layout from the one of the previous reviews :)
10/10. This is for me, by far, the most attractive and well thought out user interface. It is gorgeous to look at. Everything is right where you'd expect it to be and there are handy preset-routings everywhere so there is no need to dive into the mod-matrix for vibrato and filter mods for example. The graphic envelopes are a nice addition, as is the graphical display of the filter. A really classy look that compliments the sound and fits with Waldorf's shiny new persona.
However.. the Arp and step LFO are ridiculous'y fiddly. There are no sensible readouts to let you know what you are doing. This happens on other synths too. I would like some kind of semi-tone system so if I am using the step LFO to modulate pitch I can plan what I am doing.
The most essential feature. I believe it to be absolutely true that many VSTi's simply sound the same.. and very boring at that. This synth's oscillators have got a lot of character. Don't read that as character like analog synths have though, Largo's character is a little different from that. It has not got the "unstable" feel of analog emulations, it has a sharp, crisp clear sound. Very cutting. Really modern and clean. It gets dirty with the drive and distortion but it's a clean digital dirty. Though it will shear your ears off if you are not careful.
It has a stereo polyphonic unison (hurrah!) so any lovely sound you make can be multiplied by six and spread in the stereo field, either by setting each voice in the stereo field individual (turning the stereo spread dial up to half way) or having the voices pan left and right alternately (turning the dial beyond half way)
The envelopes are exponential (logarithmic) as far as I can tell. This is good for some sounds of course but not as usual for others. It contributes to the overall snappy character of the synth. But why linear envelopes are not included I don't know. It is an advanced synth and would have been helped by this addition.
One final comment on the oscillators though, they are a pain to set up right because of phasing. It might be a bug with my set up, I don't know, but often mixing the oscillators in such a way that would sound fine on another synth sounded messy on Largo. I spent a lot of time avoiding this messy sound.
I will also add that unlike some other synths I've tried the EQ is really useful here and really adds to the character of a sound.
As others have said Largo is a little quiet.
As has been said before, the filters are beautiful. They really are stunning. They are not the warm analog sort which squelch, they are digital, cool and calm but with a really lively "real" feel to them. If this is the Waldorf sound, I love it.
The drive is good, I am not crazy about it because I rarely like digital distortion, however when used in small subtle amounts it really adds a nice sound. Most of the time I use it in a subtle way, but then I began to find that actually if you design a patch for a little distortion the drive actually imparts a very cool character to it. In the end, it is very useful but don't expect it to give you something like an analog distortion from a stomp box for example.
They are interesting but, uh well, lets just say Waldorf would probably not do well in the effects field if they ever released these as a separate plug-in!
Except the delay, which is fantastic! I've not heard a delay like this before. I prefer this to most of my external delays. It has a really great stereo widening feature which makes presets sound very polished professional. When you turn the spread knob though you have to re-adjust the delay time in order for it to remain the same.
It is well featured, but there are some limitations. It does not allow you to modulate the FX parameters for example, but it does at least allow you to modulate the FX mix amount. This is important and I am glad it's there.
It has signal modifiers which are a really useful addition allowing you to apply math functions to your LFO signals and what not. Good stuff. Not a lot of synths I've used have these.
It has comb filters, which are better than others I've tried, Waldorf are well known for these. It has a decent preset explorer which is well featured with conveniences like renaming and moving.
It has three OSCS, the first two load wavetables and have a Sqaure Sub OSC. The later one has VA wave forms only.
The manual is excellent, best I've read. Lots of nice tips about programming various sounds. They tell you how to make melodic patches that play in tune using the comb filters, where to set the filters for which octaves.
It is good enough that if you'd never used a synth before and have no idea about synthesis you should get a pretty decent grip on it by the time you're done.
Very good. When I had issues they got back to me very quickly and solved my problem. I haven't emailed them much about the bugs yet though.
Value for money
At $250 it is expensive. But imo there isn't anything else I could substitute it with and for the quality of sound you get and the capability of the synth it is worth the money to me. I found a good deal where I got it a little cheaper in the UK.
For the most part excellent. Really the bugs have been few. I had a couple of problems with the presets. One time the system crashed (this is rare for my system) and ever preset assignment was lost in the track. That means when I opened the song again each and every track had the first preset Largo loads with so I had to reassign all my presets. Good job they were saved else I would have lost them.
Another thing is it is still sluggish. I have a very up to date computer. HD 2000 or 3000 intel graphics, i5 2500k.
I read once that there is a certain way UI was coded and it would work fine if it were not for some windows specific issue. It was implied that their coding is not responsible for this sluggishness. This was on their forum once.
My last gripe is to do with the programming itself. It honestly feels like the sliders don't actually do anything until you move them about 60% or so of the way. Then most of the modulation they create is in the remaining 40% of space. Irritating.
The drive control is similar. It is light until about 20% of the way when it suddenly jumps up the volume. This makes transitioning from a non-distorted sound to a distorted sound problematic as it makes a sudden jump in volume.
In that desert Island scenario, this would be one of the three synths I kept. I don't know about it being first place but that is not out of the question. I have considered selling it a few times because I don't like the sluggish feel and little niggles, but I never do because it overall is just a really powerful useful tool.Read Review
It's interesting that this is my first review for KVR, as I own and frequently use a bunch of soft synths, but Largo really impressed me. It's got oodles of character, nearly unlimited options for sound design, some of the best (software) filters around, and manages to be fairly unique in a field where it's hard for products to stand out from the crowd.
Largo looks great – it's got a very sleek, professional, metallic look that's unobtrusive and easy-on-the-eye. I also feel that the look reflects the character of the synth well. The layout follows the typical soft synth workflow – Oscillators to the left, filters to the right, modulations and FX at the bottom. While I enjoy working with this UI, there are some awkward points to it: first off, it's a little sluggish. There's a bit of lag when turning knobs, switching windows, and adjusting values. I found the decision to make some knobs smaller/larger than others a bit counter-intuitive in places. The mod matrix is a tad too small when compared to the rest – I found myself squinting a bit when I used it. Lastly, it's a mixture of knobs and numerical values, which is a tepid compromise, if serviceable. Overall, though, I found that working with this interface is fun and fast.
The most important part, right? Well, there's been some controversy regarding the sound of Largo. Some hate it, some love it. And then there's those who'll contend that any synth that is capable of deep sound design doesn't have a "sound" - they claim it's up the user. I belong in the camp of believers in a synth's character. Largo is definitely special. Starting with the Oscillators, which offer the usual, plus a load of high-quality wavetables – a Waldorf trademark (AFAIK, all the PPG and Q tables are there). These raw materials already sound great by themselves and will keep you entertained for quite a while. Get to the filters, though, and Largo really begins to shine. They have a real bite to them, and the resonance can wreak some splendid havoc on your sounds. There are 8 drive types for the filters (I think the Blofeld has more, but maybe they'll update it at some point) which can add subtle to all-out distortion to your sound. The bass boost is there, as well - a lot of Largo's power in this area comes from this innocuous button. The effects sound great, as well. While many synths feature unison, I was quite unprepared for what would happen when I switched it on in Largo – the sound grew in density in a way that left me speechless. "Huge" does not begin to describe it.
Overall, I love the sound of Largo – it's very much got a digital quality, but it can be anything from warm to cold, biting to soft, or grimy to clean. It's actually very easy to steer it into down-n-dirty territory, so if that's your cup of tea, you really should give it a go. This synth can really GROWL, but it can purr just as well.
You can read about these in the specs on Waldorf's website, but I'll mention a few things that caught my eye: Largo offers 4-way multitimbrality. That's 4 synths in one. Yes, you can layer your synths in your host, no problem, but for sound design purposes, this is quite a boon. Each layer has three oscillators, two of which feature full wavetable compatibility and a sub osc. You have ring mod, FM, and sync at your disposal, and your oscillators can be freely routed to the two filters, which can function either in serial or parallel mode. There's a big mod matrix that also features some simple mathematical procedures like "add", "subtract", "and/or" etc... - there are a handful of modular synths that are naturally more flexible in this regard, but I think that Largo has more than enough potential here. 3 LFOs, 4 envelopes, a neat arpeggiator and an FX section (chorus, flanger, phaser, delay, overdrive and reverb) round it up. Honorable mention goes to the envelopes – these are among the best I've used on a soft synth. They offer an advanced ADSR, one-shot and loop functionality, and the attack is lightning-quick.
The UI also features a few sliders for often-used functions, like FM and wave amount – so you don't have to use the mod matrix for every single tweak, which is a nice touch.
Two gripes: setting up the arpeggiator is a bit fiddly. It would also be nice to be able to save your settings.
Bottom line: there are huge possibilities for sound design.
...are there in English and German. Short and to the point, with some humor thrown in for good measure. There are also quite a few neat tips and tricks in there, so it's really worth checking out.
Largo currently offers over 700 presets. They're well-hidden in the unnecessarily obfuscated browser, which could so with an update. They do a good job of showing the synth's capabilities, and are of a high quality throughout. I especially like the soundscape/atmosphere-type of sounds. Although I rarely use presets, some of these are very inspiring.
I have never had to use it, so no comment here.
Value for money:
This is always hard to judge. There are a few synths that have similar specs and are cheaper. I will still give this a high rank, though, simply because Largo is unique – I can get sounds out of it that are simply not possible with my other synths. It's one of a select few that can easily inspire me – and cranking those filters into the red zone gives me goosebumps every time. So, yeah, definitely worth it.
Stability: Granite-solid in Live 8.2.1 and Reaper.
Two more remarks in closing: I evaluated Largo for a month before making my decision (which, btw, is a very generous, uncrippled demo period). I didn't really feel that I needed yet another synth. In the end, though, I was utterly convinced. And lastly, I have to point out that this synth can really tax your cpu. If you don't own a fairly modern computer, you might get into snap, crackle and pop territory faster than you'd like, so demo it before you buy.