ADZE comes as a zip file (2,07MB ~ 2.177.684 Bytes) and contains the dll & a pdf. No keyfile, no ilok. Demo (STOOONER) is fully functional but limted to only two sampleslots instead of six.
SPECS & INSTALLATION.
32-bit & windows only. Unzip in your VST directory and you are done.
ADZE is a PERCUSSION RESYNTHESIZER and comes with a lot of unique features. LOLWUT? A percussion re- what? Basically it's a sampler specialized in playing back ONE HIT (DRUM) SOUNDS.
ADZE loads ONE SAMPLE per file slot (six available), maps it to ONE KEY on your keyboard (eg C1 or C#1) and automatically maps it to the SAME NOTE in every other OCTAVE (eg C 2 or C#2, C3 or C#3 etc) so you have the same sound playing the same way on the same note each octave. Eg if you load a kickdrum sample into file slot 1 then you can play it back on your keyboard with C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 etc. It won't get pitched, it still sounds the same on every mapped key. This is a pretty neat concept if you take into account that you only want to play back percussion sounds which normally don't play a melodic structure and therefore don't need any frequency transposition.
If you would load the same kickdrum into a generic sampler chances are high that either your kick will be transposed over the whole keyboard range in every pitch you can think of OR mapped to only one specific key which you have to search for. And believe me: I have done this more than one time. ADZE is a real timesaver because I don't have to look for the root key, then transpose it from C1 to C3, transpose my sample from C1 to C3 because my keyboard starts with C2 and don't has a C1 key, then hope everything went fine, realized that it went not, hit every key on my keyboard because when I hit C3 I do not hear my sample, found it later on C4 but played way to fast, looked for root key again … I think you got it.
Not ADZE: load sample, hit key, done.
But it's even getting better. After you have loaded your sample ADZE performs a one time FFT analysis. The bigger the sample the longer it takes. But you can force ADZE to shorten it. Some of ADZE's feature will be applied directly into the frequency spectrum of the sample. Therefore they will be calculated new everytime you change one of those settings and can't be modulated. Not every feature will be applied via FFT though (eg the Filter).
And now that you know that this unit is not suited for playing back your 4,8GB Steinway Grand Piano multi-thingy sample library let's go on and see what it can do what other units can not..
Simply load it into your DAW and that's it.
If you have worked with a synthesizer or sampler before you will already recognize some elements. The layout of this devive is pretty straightforward like a classic synth Osc -> Filter -> Amp layout (from the left to the right) but with it's own enveolpe concept :
File Panel -> Pitch Panel -> Spectral Features -> Pre Amp Panel -> Filter -> Amp.
Each slot comes with three envelopes. The most obvious one is in the AMP section on the right side and behaves like a standard ADSR envelope that some of you might know from other plug ins. There is also an option to change the env Attack contour from linear to exponential.
The other two enveolpes are « hidden ». Nah, not really, but if you are looking for some more ADSR stuff you won't find it. There was one moment where I thought that the AMP envelope acts global and is connected to all of them. But I was wrong. Finally I got it and I have to say that the concept is bloody brilliant and easy to understand once you get your head around it. Both FILTER and PITCH envelopes each have a predefined contour which behaves similar to a DECAY stage in a 4-stage enveolpe. This contour can be shaped via the CURVE knob and defines how the envelope shape behaves "over time". I might be wrong but as far as I understood it it behaves like this: fully left = concave, 12 o'clock = linear, fully right= convex and either decreasing on default or increasing when inverted. In other words : the pitch drops (raises if inverted) and/or filter closes (opens) more slowly and pleasent on concave, gradually on linear and pretty fast and spikey on convex. The RATE parameter controls the speed of it or how long it takes from start to finsh : fully left is so fast that it sounds more like an impulse while fully right it can take utterly long. And finally we have the ENV > knob which behaves like the usual ENVELOPE AMOUNT knob/option on other units. The higher the settings the more noticeable your envelope modulation sounds. Eg on low settings you might only modulate the pitch a few semitones while fully right it easily spans a few octaves.
A lot of unlabeled round knobs under/beside some parameters can be used for additional velocity modulation.
Everything « direct sample related » like the LOAD SAMPLE button, an option to change SAMPLERATE, BITRATE or SAMPLE START point. Six different interpolation modes to choose from which can have a noticeable impact of the sound.
With the above mentioned ENVELOPE you have some unbelieavable amount of control on the pitch of your sound. If you are looking for a little bit of « knock » or some « laser » pitch modulation then this is where you should look first.
Most importantly they can't be modulated. This is where the FFT thingy comes into play. And you won't find these features on any other VST (not that I am aware of). ENHANCE emphasizes already contained frequency content and eg. can give your KICKS some real nice lowend or SNARES some body. SMEAR will fade/blur/timestretch your signal and is pretty cool, SHIFT will pitchshift it and LOW/HIGH will produce a "perfect" shelf eq with some additional twists like "stereoize" a mono signal with or without a definable crossover frequency for lower freqs which then can be set to mono again.
ALL THOSE FEATURES WILL BE APPLIED DIRECTLY INTO THE FREQ SPECTRUM.
Pre Amp Panel.
Haven't played that much with it but as far I can tell it acts as both: an additional gain section for your amp AND for some nonlinearities in some of the filters. This can be modulated via one of different envelopes.
54 Filter modes (lp, hp, bp, br, peak, punch + harmonic + bypass). That's a lot. But more than once you will end up using a lowpass filter on your drums. Unfortunately most people only get half of the concept of a lp filter and use it for cutting the high frequencies only. But if you raise the resonance you also emphasize the frequencies at the cut off point so it can be used not only to cut but also to boost frequencies if you use it with that in mind. And the same « envelope magic » can be applied here as well. Btw those freq cut off markers from left to right (aprox): 10Hz ( I guess), 100Hz, 1kHz & 10kHz.
I have to say that in addition to the ADSR amp envelope (with either lin or exp attack) the CURVE/SHAPE knobs are the way to shape your sounds « the way you want them ». Here you can define even more surgical how your AMP envelope stages behave. Consult the manual for this but think of it like the pitch and filter envelope curve setting with another additional cool "morphing" option.
LFO, MW support, other stuff. Sorry, haven't used that but looks damn cool and I think that I will use them later more often when I feel comfortable with the rest of the unit.
It's totally up to you. ADZE comes with six slots and can be used eg :
- as a drum-machine. Load your drumkit or separate one hit sounds (kick, snare, clap, hh, shaker etc) and play your beat on the keyboard/mpc or program it via the MIDI editor.
- as a drum/sample-layer device because nobody said you can't trigger two or more samples at once : load your « weak » kick into slot 1 and a sinewave sound (have a look at the filesize and length) into slot 2. Now layer to taste and adjust envelopes.
- as a sound designer tool : load a sample into slot 1 (eg a sinewave), adjust pitch, add PUNCH filter –> now render it to wav and load it into slot 2, turn amp 1 down, transpose MIDI (or hit key), shape ite g with ENHANCE and a LP FILTER -> render again and load into slot 3…rinse repeat.
Sound & Performance.
Sound is so unique that I have not really words for it. You have to hear that on your own. CPU is pretty light on my CPU (DC 2.5GHz) once FFT is performed. You can do everything to your samples. Only sky is the limit. And so easy to use once you get the grip and have a feeling for the GUI. Only thing that would be cool: a dropdown list for the filters. It's a pita sometimes switching between different filters.
No presets because there wouldn't be any benefits from it. This is not a synth (well, not really).
Very unique device. I think there is nothing similar on the market right now. Try it on your own. STOOONER is the two voices version and it's free and fully functional. If you like it buy ADZE because for only 13.37$ you won't find anything similar and more fun for your drums.