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Charlatan

 My KVR
Synth (Analogue / Subtractive) Plugin by BlauKraut Engineering

Charlatan has an average user rating of 4.33 from 9 reviews

Rate & Review Charlatan

User Reviews by KVR Members for Charlatan

Reviewed By cyrb [read all by] on July 29th, 2021
Version reviewed: 2 on Windows.
Last edited by cyrb on 29th July 2021.

I'm giving it four stars only because it's been exactly 6 years since it was updated, and it desperately needs quality of life and bug fixes. Otherwise I'd give it a 5.

At first glance, Charlatan presents as a very simple and limited virtual analog synth, but what sets it apart is its quality analog oscillators and filter. It's oscillators and filters sound excellent and lively, made better by the subtle (almost unnoticeable) analog 'drift' effect employed under the hood, which is uncommon in free plugins. Also, it's kind to your CPU meter, so don't be afraid to use more than one instance.

In essence, Charlatan is somewhat comparable to Roland's Juno-60 or Korg Polysix in terms of capabilities and philosophy. But it actually has more features, such as a proper second oscillator, oscillator sync and ringmod. It could also be considered a stripped down Jupiter-8 or Prophet-5, but in general, it's its own take on the 80s poly synth.

Because of its limitations and wanting to keep things simple, you likely will not stray too far from typical 80s sounds like basses, pads and poly sounds. It's just not as versatile as your typical semi-modular hybrid soft synth. Though I'm sure it can be useful for House, Techno, and other surprising areas. Charlatan is particularly great for basses; some of the best 80s style basses I've heard in a free plugin! It holds up even for synth brass and stabs. It can do string machines, transistor organs, and all sorts of other keyboard sounds as well. With its noise oscillator, it makes surprisingly useful filler FX. Some have even managed to squeeze out dissonant drones and usable drum sounds.

So in essence, it's dead simple and limited, but that's not a bad thing. Limitations breed creativity as they say. It sounds good enough to easily fill the 80s polysynth role, but is versatile enough that you can still find new and interesting timbres by experimenting. Also, don't neglect on the Unison and Stereo modes. Older versions of Charlatan did not have this, but they can really add a lot to the sound.

That said, it's not perfect. Osc 2 can only be detuned up to 6 semitones, which means... no 7th chords. Does the creator have a vendetta against 7th chords, to stop at exactly 6?! There are also bugs. Sometimes I found patches don't load properly, glitches out, or don't sound right, particularly if in POLY mode. And it doesn't seem to honor initial pitch bend messages for fine tuning, though this may not be exclusive to Charlatan. An additional way to alter the drift amount would also have been huge in a free plugin. But these are not deal breakers.

Using it with a chorus is a necessity: The free TAL Chorus LX is a great load-once-and-forget chorus, but any decent BBD or multi-voice chorus will do, but that's a whole other topic. Also you'll want a good reverb. TAL's free reverb plugins are well-suited for the job (I personally like the older TAL-Reverb-2 for its tone) Then there's also Supermassive (free), which can be warm and spacey.

Click here to read all 9 reviews

Comments & Discussion for BlauKraut Engineering Charlatan

Discussion
Discussion: Active
mztk
mztk
25 December 2011 at 11:27am

excellent synth, sounds great. perfect for all sequencer lines, with multiple

instances running. would like to see more from this dev in the future, taking

the concept a bit further. top-notch go-to machine. (would be nice to set different

background colour, too, next time ;) )

solidtrax
solidtrax
28 December 2011 at 1:28pm

That's also what we think and hope for (and more). Would be awesome to have a highpass filter and some more osc-options/waves f.e.

Gernburgs
Gernburgs
24 January 2012 at 6:16pm

I actually have grown to love this VST. The Organ 1 sound preset is so phat it's just awesome!

Great VST!

rayola1
rayola1
24 January 2012 at 9:30pm

sweet but solid sound. filter sounds great, would love to LFO and envelope modulation

thank you very much!

I hope for more...

jcs.sts
jcs.sts
12 June 2012 at 4:38am

Sounds great, especially the demo track on y'alls site. any chance of an OS X version for when I'm away from my Windows rig?

TEKing66
TEKing66
7 January 2013 at 12:16am

Just discovered the Charlatan synth, and I must say that for a free VST I am very impressed.

ZenSound
ZenSound
6 June 2013 at 9:43am

The best characteristic of this synth is that it is extremely simple and easy to use.

I like the sound especially playing keys and basses in poliphonic mode.

Would be fine add modulation to the LFO with the Mod. Envelope.

Cheers.

Complex.

THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED

Elffin
Elffin
7 August 2014 at 9:54pm

Great sounds from a neat synth.

Will their be a better preset browser in future?

oscillian
oscillian
8 March 2015 at 9:40pm

https://soundcloud.com/oscillian/dark-dawn.

Track made with 12 instances goes to show the scope of a lovely plugin.

BlackWinny
BlackWinny
10 March 2015 at 5:36pm

A beautiful demo! Great.

mars974
mars974
5 May 2015 at 5:02pm

Hello dominic I downloaded the 2.0 b file, except that it is version 1.4.1.

kobraaji
kobraaji
21 May 2015 at 1:56am

someday we will have a Linux version?

muausucua
muausucua
1 June 2015 at 1:15am

Im having trouble loading preset banks... I wanna use Charlatan in a DAW called Stagelight, but there is no button in the host to open complimentary files, like these preset files.

In Ableton it was easy to do because it offers a button to open preset files, but still, the presets won't show up in Stagelight. Is there another way to add presets?? I just don't see how within the GUI in Charlatan?

arseniy2
arseniy2
9 February 2016 at 8:36am

Please add the key tracking for the volume. I mean the key tracking that makes the volume for the notes different. Like the higher the note the lower the volume and vice versa.

Similar to the key tracking for the filter.

overhishead
overhishead
16 January 2017 at 10:16am

it ought to be possible to set up a multitimbral charlatan array with some sort of MIDI filtering and routing. i'll bet Reaper could handle that.

musicalmemoriesuk
musicalmemoriesuk
15 June 2016 at 4:13pm

Have just downloaded and instaled charlatan as i was its a good synth for a beginner so looking for a tutorial or help with using it.

overhishead
overhishead
16 January 2017 at 10:11am

this is an incredible instrument that has replaced (the previous king of freeware synths) for me. Charlatan is so ergonomic, easy to navigate, almost too simple, and it is almost impossible to make it sound bad. It is refreshing that it is not yet another clone of some other synth, and that it is a sincere attempt to deliver the goods without getting ahead of itself in terms of usability and expected behavior.

Mat-tvank
Mat-tvank
7 August 2018 at 6:01am

Very good filter sound. Quick GUI edit and a nice unisono option. Still state of the art and placed on one track in the mix.

Rack Extension?

Ivannn
Ivannn
1 February 2019 at 7:42am

I don't know do you still read that or not but we're looking forward Charlatan 3.0 :).

I'm kidding but if you have time it'd be really lovely.

Anyway Thank you a lot! It's great synth.

btw What's the trick? :).

BBM85
BBM85
28 May 2020 at 8:33pm

Great synth that I use to make some retro beats. Wrote a blog about it to support the developers that you can read from here: https://beatsbymirakle.beatstars.com/blog/the-best-things-in-music-happen-by-accident-charlatan-synth-8247

Also made a beat with it that you can listen here: https://bsta.rs/1f580ff9

Had fun with this synth, so I hope the developer get to see that.

BBM85.

beatsbymirakle.beatstars.com.

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