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User Reviews by KVR Members for ACE (Any Cable Everywhere)

Rate & Review ACE (Any Cable Everywhere) Now!

Reviewed By sramsay [read all by] on 9th July 2019
Version reviewed: 1.4 on Mac.
Last edited by sramsay on 9th July 2019.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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You probably can't name a softsynth that I don't own. And this is -- by far -- my favorite.

tl;dr: Reviewer gushes for several paragraphs.. .

Ultimately, this is a synth with two oscillators, two filters, two LFOs, two envelope generators, and two VCAs. Yes, you can patch anything anywhere. But before we even talk about that, let's talk about those five elements (or four of them).

Because really, ACE is a study in what happens when you try to make those five things as good as they can possibly be. The oscillators are among the best I've ever heard in any synth of any kind. Just absolutely luscious. Filters? Taken by themselves, they're probably not as jaw dropping as the ones in Diva (by the same developer) or Cytomic's The Drop (the only filter I've ever used that can actually bring your CPU to its knees if you push it hard enough). But they are gorgeous, and more importantly, it's very hard to put everything underwater with them. They just gel perfectly with the rest of the synth. LFOs and envelopes? What's the big deal? The former is just some kind of extra wave, and the latter is a fancy volume knob. Think again. The LFOs have as much character as the main oscillators, and the EGs are incredibly flexible (with a "snap" function that will tighten them up when you need it, and a "fall/rise" rate knob that basically gives you another stage). They can do lazy, and the can stand at attention. In other words, we're dealing with fantastic components.

My advice? Don't patch anything anywhere for a week. Or a month. Or a year. Because honestly, that sync knob will keep you occupied. Or the ring mod on the second oscillator. Or the mixer panel. To really appreciate ACE, you have to commit to exploring it normalized. It is just astonishing how good it sounds.

And after that? Well, what can I say. Everyone knows the drill. You can patch those EGs to anything. Those glorious oscillators can modulate each other or anything else (and you can stack each one eight voices high, with separate tunings). Or use the LFOs -- which, again, are as fantastic as the mains -- as oscillators in various kinds of FM configurations. Or run the filters in series. Or crossfade things through the mults (or do AM). Or glitch the thing out with crosstalk and simulated capacitor failure. Or use the mapping generator as. .. anything you'd like it to be. It is seriously endless.

And none of this really exhausts all of the little details that conspire to make this an incredibly flexible synth. Some days it sounds like a mini. Some days I can get it to sound like some kind of Buchla fantasia. Some days it's doing squeaky clean synthpop. Some days it wants to growl like an MS-20. Some days it's doing outtakes from a Tomita record. And really, all of that makes perfect sense, because as the dev put it:

"If you really want to compare ACE to a classic modular synth (or three), think of it as a pimped-up ARP 2600 using modules from a Roland SH-7 with (almost) the patching flexibility of an EMS VCS3 / Synthi A – but polyphonic."

As said, I own a lot of softsynths (including emulations of ARPs and EMS rigs). Like many, I have spent a lot of time and money chasing down "features." Eight oscillators! Four types of comb filter! ACE taught me how absurd all of this is, because at the end of the day, it's all about the Big Four. Essentially, ACE is a modular rig for the non-insane. Other reviews have echoed this sentiment, but it's really true. The fact that it's really "just four and four" is entirely liberating; it forces you to think about what you're doing and why, and yet I've never had more happy accidents with any other piece of music software. You will die at your keyboard before you run out of sounds to make with this thing.

A few other quick things:

1. ACE is not loaded up with FX, but the chorus is the most gorgeous I've heard in software. Its default setting (and the same goes for the delay) are beautifully subtle. And there's a phaser that manages to not take you instantly to Itchycoo Park (unless you want to).

2. The press was very insistent that this is an advanced synth that is emphatically not for beginners. I get it, but having spent a lot of time with this thing, I'm not sure I really agree with that. It would certainly require some patience, but plenty of people learned synthesis on rigs like this, and I have a feeling they were better for it. One of the consequences of being able to override the normalization is that you can isolate the components very easily. I can imagine a fantastic guided tutorial where we start by patching the oscillator directly to the VCA in gate mode and go from there -- adding one component after another and dealing with things in small segments. It would be really educational. It's certainly taught me a few things, and I considered myself pretty knowledgeable before I got it.

3. ACE is not "Bazille Lite." Seriously. The interface is similar, and Bazille has more of everything, but they are very different instruments. Bazille's oscillators, in particular, sound completely different, because it's trying to emulate and facilitate various kinds of FM/PM sounds. It's more accurate to say that Bazille is the "digital" complement to ACE's insistently analogue setup (though that's not fair in a way, because the one can imitate the other to a degree).

4. That said, there have been rumors of an ACE XL (or maybe just wistful requests for one). I suspect that's not coming any time soon, but the devs didn't dismiss the idea. I would buy such a thing in a nanosecond, but honestly, I don't find myself wishing ACE were more powerful than it already is.

I'm writing this review ultimately because I think this synth is massively underrated. It wasn't heavily reviewed, there aren't a lot of tutorials, it looks intimidating, and despite having hundreds of presets, it's never going to be anyone's goto rompler. I also think a lot of people bought Bazille without really realizing how different this thing is. It's an absolute classic. And a monster.

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Discussion: Active
10 June 2014 at 8:23pm

Hello. When i'll buy it i'll can use this synthesizer on two my computer?

10 June 2014 at 8:44pm

Of course, since the copy protection of ACE is simply "Serial Number".There is no challenge/response by Internet. You receive a serial number to enter at a launch to quit definitively the demo mode.



28 December 2015 at 9:16pm

Wonderful product, just one question after the last release (v1.4):

why now VCF1 has on the main input the label "vco2" while using it (according also to the default signal flow in the manual) it is routed to the main mix?

Thank you.

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ACE (Any Cable Everywhere)

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