INTRO ArcSyn by SPC Plugins is a virtual analog modulator synth that is not based on any particular vintage hardware, but successfully captures the essence of that era of beasts.
The purchase, download, install, and authorize process is simple and smooth. There are no dongles of any kind i.e., iLok, SmarkKeys, etc. Upon launching, the first thing users will notice is a striking interface. Some will consider it strikingly ugly, while others will find it simply striking. I fall into the third camp — it grew on me! The GUI is original-looking and has the SPC vibe, a la shades of gray with yellow and a touch of white. There is certainly contrast! The color scheme is similar to Gater-Pro, which is one of the most popular plugins in its class. Regardless of aesthetic appeal, ArcSyn's interface is cleverly designed. Having said that, it can be a little confusing and intimidating at first. However, after a short time it should make sense. Everything is exactly where it should be, and it's easy to navigate. The knobs and sliders are responsive. I have no difficulty turning or sliding with my mouse or trackpad. There is an online manual, but I have yet to peek at it. The developer has an excellent attention to detail, so I'm sure it's well-written and easy to understand. According to SciFiArtMan,"Reading the online manual for this synth is almost mandatory if you want to truly understand it! There's definitely some outside-the-box thinking here!"
Most importantly, ArcSyn sounds great. I'm a synth purist — not a big fan of hybrids that mix different kinds of synthesis with samples. ArcSyn uses waveform synthesis. "All oscillator waveforms are generated from scratch." There are over 70 one-of-a-kind waveforms on board, my favorite of which is the sub-harmonic for the low overtones. There are several LFOs and a mod arranger that can be used to sequence up to 16 waveforms. Additionally, users will find an ADHSR, two routing modes (Series and Parallel), and mod matrix with 16 slots. There are many modulate filter options and modifiers to expand the madness.
One of the biggest reasons I installed and use this plugin are the self-oscillating filters that are based on the Oberheim Matrix 12. Back in the day, I was the proud owner of a few Oberheim keyboards and rack modules. Anything that delivers a pinch of that old sound is okay by me. Why oh why did I sell them? Anyway, I'm not sure how ArcSyn would hold up in a direct comparison, but several of the presets bring back fond memories. Speaking of which, there are more than 350 presets, many of which are usable and/interesting. My favorite patches are the drones. They are pure SciFi paradise. One of my favorite features is the Randomiser, which quickly generates patches. I found this to be the best way to discover the perfect sound. In less than a minute more than a hundred patches can be generated, and most of them will be duds, but there's an excellent chance that at least one will be explosive. Every synth should have this feature ArcSyn also has an excellent preset management directory system.
FAV FEATURES • User-friendly • Amazing quality sound; Unique wavetables • Versatile • Useable presets — some are inspiring • Randomize feature is addictive and really useful • CPU friendly • Stable • Great price • Talented, creative, responsive developer with proven track record. Gater-Pro is in my favorites folder.
OTHER THOUGHTS • This would be the perfect synth for alternate skins • Key-sync? • I look forward to 3rd party soundsets.
SUMMARY ArcSyn is an excellent virtual synth that is capable of sounds that range from silky smooth to rough rumble. I agree with Ave Mcree, who wrote,"[ArcSyn] is one of the best synths that came out this year." In the right hands, any and all genres will benefit from this VSTi. It produces everything from creamy pads and textures to punchy plucks and anything in between. I love the subs! The flexible modulation options make ArcSyn perfectly suited for genres using textures, pads, and drones. This may or may not be the "workhorse" or "go to synth" for all users, but it should easily justify its existence in plugin folders by filling voids and getting plenty of playing time. The bang per buck ratio is really good. It's certainly worth the price. As advertised,"unexplored sonic territory" is more or less possible; yet, what I dig most is the vintage vibe with the unique modern twist of seemingly endless modulation possibilities. Without hesitation, I give ArcSyn two strong thumbs up. Great stuff.
RATING I'm rating ArcSyn a 9 at this time. It's a new release, and there are a few little things that could be improved and/or added. I'm certain my rating will increase to a perfect 10 after the next release or the one after.