Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
GRUMP
KVRist
171 posts since 11 Jun, 2019 from Darmstadt, Germany

Post Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:24 pm

I am currently exploring the Vst-Market to get inspired, see which way the Development goes and invest (lots of Time!) in hopefully the right Products in the End. It should maybe be mentioned that my Focus is Sound Design and that I want to learn more about the "hidden Details" that are usually not listed by the Marketing.

One interesting Development seems to be the Integration of different Synthesis Methods and Sampling Technology in a single Tool. Let´s call it a Workstation. I am talking about Tools like the following here:

Steinberg Halion - UVI Falcon - VPS Avenger - Kilohearts Phaseplant - MSoundfactory - Omnisphere

My first Question is: do you know any other VSTs that should be mentioned that (want to) play in this League? Tools that should be considered?

Secondly I want to make a Presumption: Tools that offer "endless" Possibilitys have Disadvantages somewhere. What are your Experiences? Which Disadvantages - or peculiaritys - should be mentioned here, what should other Users know before the make their Descision?

And on the other Hand: which Characteristics of those Tools do you like the most and what should be mentioned that you might oversee at the first or second Glance?

I hope that we can specify the Discussion a little Bit later on and get to know those Sound Monsters from a different Perspective.

Details and Sound Designers Opinions about e. g. Omnisphere and Falcon welcome - I frequently ask myself if those Sound Design Possibilities are really accessible for the User or if those godlike Sounds rely mostly on Sampling Magic.
Last edited by GRUMP on Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sound Design - VOX, Airy, Choir

GRUMP
KVRist
171 posts since 11 Jun, 2019 from Darmstadt, Germany

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:26 pm

Let´s start with Steinberg Halion Macro Pages to give a first Example. With a little Patience it is not difficult to create a MP - but there are certain Restrictions:

- You will often miss a Documentation for certain Tasks (like creating/modifying Knobs or Loaders)

- You can not create a Synth as you know it from the VST World or the Halion Instruments without Coding (LUA). Buttons won´t turn to the Patch Settings automatically, you can not use MSEGs just ADSR and you need a Script to set the Knobs to the Values of the Program or you have to use a positive/negative Knob, installing a Sub-Preset loader and storing the Files is quiet tricky and requires a systematic Planning while using a simple Macro Page is really disadvantageous if you want to update it later (for 134 Patches?!), ...

- I feel that it´s no Miracle that there are just a Hand full of free "Instruments" (not worth mentioning) out there and the Number of commercial Developments is very small, too. "Design your own Instruments" sounds nice, but at the End of the Day you´ll simply use an other VST.

An other Disadvantage of HALION is its BUS-Structure, resp. (missing) Connectivity. You just have Sub-BUSses and a Main BUS with linear Routing. Chorussing just the Reverb Signal e. g. is not possible.

On the other Hand it should be mentioned here that the Sampler-Functionality is as outstanding as Halions Wavetable-Section. But: The WT can not be compared with usual WT Approaches. It is focussed on "Resynthesis" of complex Sounds - what might also be disadvantageous if you expect a WT-"Synthesizer". The WT Sound is "different", too by the way.

What I like most about Halion are its Sample Management/Import/Export /Naming Functions and the Workflow in general for creating Multi-Layers Multisample Patches. It is really flexible and powerful. But - For me it is and probably will always be just a Sampler (and currently nothing else because I don´t like the Oscillators, the Unison, the FX, ... ).
Sound Design - VOX, Airy, Choir

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fmr
KVRAF
9162 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:41 am

Wavetable is different from synth to synth. HALion can use the regula WAV wavetables, but, as you say, is in resynthesis that it will shine. And tanh God for that. A really good resynthesizer is welcomed. Right now, HALion and Icarus are the ones to mention.

And you forgot granular synthjesis. HALion Granular is second to none - it's sole competitor is Falcon, which is also a great sampling/synthesizer. These are the only two deserving that name. The others mentioned (VPS Avenger - Kilohearts Phaseplant - MSoundFactory - Omnisphere) are not in the same league, not even close in what concerns sampling, and they also fall short in many other synthesis chapters.

Of course, having born as a sampler, sampling will always be the strongest point of HALion. At least that's what I expect.
Fernando (FMR)

tatanka
KVRian
1282 posts since 13 Jan, 2014

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:53 am

What should definitely be considerated is the Tone2 stuff, especially the new Ikarus 2 and the Elektra 2.

Not enough time and experience so far for an in-depth comparision (maybe someone with more experience with these could join in) especially of all the different synthesis options they offer but what really stands out for me is the ease of use and (for this kind of stuff) relative low cpu consumption.

Especially in comparision to Avenger this two points are seriously different, so much easier to use and much lower on cpu.

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Faiky
KVRist
195 posts since 23 Jun, 2012

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:46 am

It's very difficult to make a decision, I know that. There is always something missing that the other workstation has.
The only thing that really helps is a list of priorities to find out where the focus is. Especially when it comes to working with samples and FM, they all differ greatly. Also in terms of ease of use, they all differ and are very much a matter of taste.
The quality is also always a matter of opinion, whereby each of the mentioned synths has (or can reach) a top quality. Whereby I was not convinced by the resampling at avanger (well, I might be the only one).
I would also concentrate on the current project, think about what you need. Next year you can still look further ;-).
Oh yes and try it out! Download demos and try out what you want to achieve.

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pdxindy
KVRAF
16318 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:41 am

GRUMP wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:24 pm
My first Question is: do you know any other VSTs that should be mentioned that (want to) play in this League? Tools that should be considered?

Secondly I want to make a Presumption: Tools that offer "endless" Possibilitys have Disadvantages somewhere. What are your Experiences? Which Disadvantages - or peculiaritys - should be mentioned here, what should other Users know before the make their Descision?
first question... Icarus 2 by Tone 2 is worth considering.

Second... endless possibilities are their own disadvantage. I've owned a lot of synths and one thing I have noticed is that more and more features do not make more actually different sounds. Also, more and more features means more complexity, usually more work to create the same sound as simpler synths. It tends towards using more resources too. Lastly, none of the super workstations have filters as good as say RePro. The CPU use is spread across lots of functions and so cannot be concentrated in fewer and higher quality modules. So a simple synth like RePro can make sounds none of those super synths can.

Howard Scarr is a world class sound designer. His Zebra presets are great and the thing is, with all the possibilities in a super synth like Zebra, his presets are mostly quite simple.

Saukar30
KVRian
1243 posts since 2 Mar, 2005

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:52 am

Arturia Pigments 2 is close to coming in this league. With its new sampling/granular functions (though limited) are decent enough with the synthesis included.

GRUMP
KVRist
171 posts since 11 Jun, 2019 from Darmstadt, Germany

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:36 am

Aren't all the mentioned too complex to discuss them here?

I think Exchange on this topic should focus on Functions, Advantages, Disadvantages.

It should maybe be mentioned that I am very pleased with Halion - but I bought it as a Sampler. And in Sale for 150. I compared it with Kontakt, Mach5 and Falcon and came to the conclusion that it is out of Touch. The only one that can resample its Outputs. The only one without severe Restrictions as I remember. And a real "Workflow-Horse". Most Important. Every Day. And every Sample Player sounds more or less different, too

But the Rest - despite Granular = Sample Processing for me - is imO not what the Marketing promises. I prefer Zebra or Dune and don't even consider Halion when it's about a Synth Sound. I prefer playing around with restricted Specialists like maybe Vertigo and have my fun with it...

And yes ... Repro for Example is due to its Quality way more fun thank Icarus, Gladiator and stuff like that.
Sound Design - VOX, Airy, Choir

GRUMP
KVRist
171 posts since 11 Jun, 2019 from Darmstadt, Germany

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:50 pm

Faiky wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:46 am
It's very difficult to make a decision, I know that. There is always something missing that the other workstation has.
If it would just be that ... You can´t demo most Plugins that deep that you´ll really learn about their "in depth Functions". You can just check the most important Aspects - especially if you don´t want to spend days/weeks with Analysis and Comparisions. Eveyone who has really dived into a complex Synth has surely discovered one or two Functions he didn´t imagine before - and it is the Same with Disadvantages.
Faiky wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:46 am
The only thing that really helps is a list of priorities to find out where the focus is. Especially when it comes to working with samples and FM, they all differ greatly. Also in terms of ease of use, they all differ and are very much a matter of taste.
The Problem with Prioritys is that they can change quickly with Experiences that you make. I have always underrated Unison for Example until I tried DUNE3 and I was convinced within an hour!
Faiky wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:46 am
I would also concentrate on the current project, think about what you need. Next year you can still look further ;-).
So true. We´ll probably have granular Fart PD Synthesis and Powers doubled next year. But those Tools today are that complex that you better started with Research about them yesterday ...
Sound Design - VOX, Airy, Choir

GRUMP
KVRist
171 posts since 11 Jun, 2019 from Darmstadt, Germany

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:07 pm

Duplicate!
Last edited by GRUMP on Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sound Design - VOX, Airy, Choir

GRUMP
KVRist
171 posts since 11 Jun, 2019 from Darmstadt, Germany

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:18 pm

GRUMP wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:07 pm
pdxindy wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:41 am

first question... Icarus 2 by Tone 2 is worth considering.

Second... endless possibilities are their own disadvantage. I've owned a lot of synths and one thing I have noticed is that more and more features do not make more actually different sounds.
Me too!° (Didn´t expect to say that one Day :hihi: )
pdxindy wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:41 am
Also, more and more features means more complexity, usually more work to create the same sound as simpler synths. It tends towards using more resources too. Lastly, none of the super workstations have filters as good as say RePro. The CPU use is spread across lots of functions and so cannot be concentrated in fewer and higher quality modules. So a simple synth like RePro can make sounds none of those super synths can.
That´s exactly what I think after turning some Knobs with DUNE and beating some of my Zebra Results by far (I don´t use Filters very much, I work more additive and with complex high Frequencys). I also lately discovered BX Consoles (N, SSL E) and I "fell off the Chair" when I immediately felt at Home in this Set of just a few Knobs. Or have you ever tried boosting some Frequencys with eaReckons Analog87 EQs (CM Version available!)? Softube (esp. Harmonics, Tonelux Tilt) should be mentioned here, too). The right FX-Plugins also let you quickly forget about Synth-Options and come back to your Sampler at the End of the Day (by the way - slicing Multisamples is fun with Halion).
pdxindy wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:41 am
Howard Scarr is a world class sound designer. His Zebra presets are great and the thing is, with all the possibilities in a super synth like Zebra, his presets are mostly quite simple.
KISS. That´s all I would say about that.
Me personally I don´t even consider Modulations for Example in many Cases.
Tool-specific Options that you´ll never really get a Feeling for (like e. g. Zebra OSC FX) are really disadvantageous if you ask me. And all those endless Options will maybe not help you much when it´s about Brilliance and "Feeling" in the End.
[/quote]
Sound Design - VOX, Airy, Choir

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Lind0n
KVRist
109 posts since 2 Feb, 2005 from UK

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:01 am

Well I've worked with several of those you mention at the start, and given a choice of only one then I'd select UVI Falcon every time for its breadth and depth of functionality - and the flexible tree structure for audio routing. These days I mostly write VST/AU plug-ins for a living - so if there's something I want badly then I can code it myself - but off-hand I cant recall anything that I couldn't have figured out a way to do it in Falcon...
VST/AU Developer for Hire

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fmr
KVRAF
9162 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:08 am

Subject thread says: "Synth Sampler Workstations", yet I see a lot of VSTi mentioned that (IMO) don't qualify as samplers. The OP himself started with a list that (again IMO) includes some that don't qualify as "Synth Samplers" (IMO, a ROMpler is NOT a "synth sampler").

So maybe start to clarify what are the minimum requirements for a synth to qualify in whatever "Synth Sampler" means :shrug:

Because, to me, stricto sensu, only HALion, Falcon and Kontakt qualify as "synth sampler workstations". Because anything that doesn't allow you to create your own instrument assembling multiple samples per keyboard and velocity zones (e.g. the so many times quoted here Omnisphere), immediately disqualifies it as a "sampler". And only the mentioned three allow you to do that, AFAIK.
Fernando (FMR)

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Faiky
KVRist
195 posts since 23 Jun, 2012

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:46 am

MSoundfactory has a sampler with keyzones, velocity layer, round robin, meaningful automation processes, batch processes (import and trim, copy pitched voices and keep formants...), loading sfz..., too. Unfortunately it isn't listed on the website or in the documentation.

anomandaris1
KVRist
394 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Re: Hybrid Synth Sampler "Workstations" - Details, Experiences, Discussion

Post Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:58 am

fmr wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:08 am


Because, to me, stricto sensu, only HALion, Falcon and Kontakt qualify as "synth sampler workstations". Because anything that doesn't allow you to create your own instrument assembling multiple samples per keyboard and velocity zones (e.g. the so many times quoted here Omnisphere), immediately disqualifies it as a "sampler". And only the mentioned three allow you to do that, AFAIK.
Modular environments can also do this- Reaktor, Polygrid (in Bitwig), Mux, whatever you get in Fl all plugins bundle (Harmor for resynthesis/Directwave connected in Patcher along with other synths), Live suite (racks/Max), S1 sampler with the layered environment etc.

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