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Reviewed By tommyzai
December 3, 2012
*Disclaimer: I'm a songwriter, producer, and educator. My writing style may seem a bit over-the-top like a billboard ad, but my user review is sincere and authentic. I only write about a product I think is extraordinary, hence the high rating. I don't work for developer. In fact, I rarely work at all. :-) I hope you find my findings useful. — Tommy Zai
Ultra Analog VA-2 by Applied Acoustics Systems is a versatile subtractive synth that covers the full spectrum of analog sounds. I was, and still am, a big fan of VA-1, but VA-2 is all that and much more. Like its predecessor, this synth does not directly emulate any specific vintage gear; but is a unique virtual analog beast in it's own right. There are many great factory presets that show off the synths capabilities; however, I found it easy to start from scratch and create my own patches. The low-end delivers deep, punchy basses that are free of mud. Great synth brass! But, what I like most are the sweeping, atmospheric sounds. They are really creepy and set the perfect mood for my tracks. The filters and resonance help to create a smooth and pleasant texture. Tracks recorded with VA-2 are alive and sit well in the mix — not lost or overshadowing by the other tracks. I could not hear any weird alias artifacts from the oscillators in any of the factory or custom-made patches — so nice and pure. What a treat.
Ultra Analog VA-2 lives up to its name — Ultra + Analog. It can do it all really well – thick basses, warm strings, deep pads, punchy plucks, and crisp leads, etc. It doesn't have the some of the frills and gravy other synths pile on, but it has more than enough raw, juicy meat! I agree with Hollin Jones of Music Tech, "Ultra Analog is a joy to use." This plugin could easily be the go-to subtractive synth for any e-musician, producer, or sound designer looking for the vintage analog sound. Tommy Zai gives Ultra Analog VA-2 two oscillators up! Thank you AAS for creating a timeless virtual analog synth.
REVEW OF PREVIOUS VERSION
Ultra Analog VA-1 by Applied Acoustics Systems is a rich, warm, fat analog monster worthy of much more attention. On the surface it appears to be a simple little plugin, but under the hood there must be a lot going on! It can produce punchy, powerful bass and cutting leads. The interface is neat, clean, and easy to navigate. Most of the work can be done on a single window. The CPU consumption is light. The look is cool. The sound is super. The only thing I would suggest improving is the size of the little switches on the interface. Otherwise, this is one big, fat, fantastic classic analog sounding soft synth that is a great bang for the buck! It is exactly what the name suggests — Ultra Analog.
Reviewed By Aiynzahev
February 13, 2012
I bought Ultra Analog a while ago, and for whatever reason It just sat in my folder not used for a long time. I kept thinking however that there was something special about it, this thought had been the reason I'd bought it in the first place. I had planned to give it a thorough check out but never did, until finally I thought it would be a good idea to make a trance sound-bank for it.
Now, at least when it comes to trance, Ultra Analog is not one of the big name synths. This comes down to its simplicity of features and marketing. However despite its simplicity it does have enough features to make it quite versatile. As has been said, the features have been chosen carefully. A choice of both exponential and linear envelopes, multiple filter types, 6 distortion algorithms, dedicated pitch modulation and vibrato, up to 4-voice polyphonic unison, legato, an arpeggiator and the ability to route filters in series or parallel add up to a lot of flexibility.
Two filters with 8 types each to choose from give this synth a lot of character, they include notch and formant, and they are very good. If you were to class sound as warm dark or clear and bright these are warm and it is easy to make this synth sound fuzzy, characterful, soft, harsh but never sterile. It is very easy to get all kinds of colourful tones out of these filters, especially at high resonance.
A few complaints I did have though is that it is easy to make the sound distort (I mean in the bad way), this is partly because the knobs and level displays are all quite small making it a little more difficult to judge the gain levels. I remember it took me quite a while to get used to properly setting up patches to avoid huge gain jumps at certain filter intervals. The Envelopes are loop-able but not sync-able. Finally I wish the LFO had a sawtooth waveform, but this could be overcome in other ways sometimes.
On the one hand the GUI is a little annoying because it is small, but on the other hand this compact view helps the work flow. It is really nice having every control immediately visible and it really helps you visualize the signal flow.
Once you get used to the its parameters it is very quick to use. I initially intended to make 128 patches for it, but in no time I had made 180 and although I've called it a day for my first set I could easily see myself going back to it to create more. The filters can morph the sound of this synth so much that you really feel that you have a whole world of sound to discover, especially when routed in serial. They change the character more so than many others I have used. It is easy to make beautiful sounding patches on this synth, especially once you learn to avoid overloading it, and in the end that is what you want a synth for.
One final thing, I have had problems with some analogue emulations before when trying to get them to work in a modern style. Sometimes their sound is just not flexible enough to get away from a "vintage" sort of sound and sometimes they have such an unstable sound that I simply could not make them work in trance music. I think it might be due to the phase of the oscillators. I am happy to say that VA-1 really does well here. It does have the warmth of analogue and yet it worked really well for trance music.
Finally, as AAS are well known for their acoustic emulations, I did not think it was strange to describe the sound character of this synth as "at times acoustic". If you listen to the first piece on my audio demo you may agree with me. I've made patches like this before on other synths, but they do not sound like this.
This is a really useful sound to have in a synth and It is one of the things that makes me want to come back to it later as I feel it could do with a lot more exploration. I really do think it has a unique sound.
About the score, for me 10 does not represent perfection because I believe there is no such thing when it comes to something like this. 10 is where I really feel that a synth meets all expectations for what is actually has. What I mean is, I wouldn't dock a point because there are no wavetables when its clearly designed to be an analog-style synth. I gave it 9 because there were some minor annoyances with the levels and couple of other things I mentioned already.
Still sounds very good to me. I am more impressed now than I was then. I have lowered the score to reflect
1. It has some glitches occasionally.
2. As useful as its features are it is also very expensive. For this price you can get more features synths and more realistic analogue emulations.Read more
Reviewed By groovizm
May 16, 2011
Reviewed By factorypresets
November 28, 2009
Soundware for Ultra Analog VA-2...