In the early 2000's there weren't many emulations of string ensemble synthesizers that were popular in the late 70's. Of course you could throw some modulation effects on a basic rampwave patch if you wanted to, but it was nice having a free string ensemble ready to go, with some clear attention to detail spent on having such particular voicing and modulation resemble that of the vintage machines it is emulating.
There may not be much use for it now; the sound has held up about as well as any other VST from 2002 - but this quirky little synth brought me much entertainment in an age when there simply weren't many VSTs around, especially of this type, and especially for free. I'll still use it from time to time, with an oversampler that breathes a little bit of life back into it.
I downloaded Cheeze Station on a lark, but I've fallen in love with it. It doesn't do much, but I like what it does and have never had any stability problems with it. I'm now using it in more and more of my band's live songs, ranging from backing strings to lead synth solos. I always get the feeling that the sounds are very "full" - not tinny or thing at all.
My drummer says it's perfectly named because it sounds so cheesy, but I think it gives our material a unique sound and I'm not afraid to sound cheesy. I just noticed that the Big Tick website is accepting donations, since this is free software, so I think I'll go drop a few bucks in the kitty.
Reviewed By brok landers [read all by] on 26th September 2003 Version reviewed: 1.3.2 on Windows. Last edited by brok landers on 6th October 2008.
first of all i have to say that i own a solina and a crumar multiman, wich are both stringmachines of the 70es, so i had an comparsion.
its a nice little synth wich uses almost no cpu power. it can do some nice, oldstyle pads.
but thats about it. its absolutely NEVER even half wa close to a real stringmachine like the solina or the vp 330. its just not done by putting a fast, cheap chorus after a cheap oscillator, not to mention the phaser or the reverb, if you want to call it so. listen to jean michelle jarres equionox or oxygene. he often fed the machines into a vintage phaser ... this is how a real stringmachine (well, one of the best, the eminent 310u) sounds ... or listen to the strings of the old vangelis recordings, you´ll understand the important difference.
all in all a nice vsti, considering the price ;=), but since they compare it to the old stringmachines they lost it in these terms. it simply has nothing to do with a real stringmachine, which is sad, as there`s none in the vsti world that matches the sound and behave of a real stringmachine ...
cheeze machine is smooth sounding and easy to use. the sound is not versatile at all, but that's a good thing. i'd rather have a small collection of simple instruments each with a strong character of its own than a programming monster with a hundred buttons and no soul
one trick ponies shouldn't score high on features, but this one gets extra points for having a stand-alone version included
I can't believe I've never taken a minute to review this little bit of freebie perfection, so there you have it. I don't write anything that could be described as electronic music stylistically, but I'm amazed how much I find myself using this thing for its quirky and character-ful sound. I'm sure its sound can be created on other synths and fx, but why bother? The Cheeze Machine has total vibe and a surpisingly lush, musically useful output.
In a recent project, I layered it with Dan Dean's solo strings for Giga. Shorten the envelope A and R so it can keep up with a fairly eventful string arrangement. Wow, what a neat, phasey depth it added. The point of this, I guess, is that it's not for pads only. It can track lines as well, and sound pretty good, even though it doesn't have distinctive "attack characterstics" in its own right.
It layers beautifully, it mixes well. It's just a little piece of pure happiness, really.
It's right up there at the top of my freebie list (Well come on; Crystal's kinda blown it for everyone else, hasn't it?)
Reviewed By declan [read all by] on 8th June 2003 Version reviewed: latest on Windows
I love the Cheese Machine, it does have that '80's analogue-synth string sounds, but it actually sounds better to me than my old Korg Poly-6 that I was desperate to get back. The reviews I've read seem accurate to me, the only thing I have to add is that a lot of what is best about this synth is it's warmth and depth. The only criticism I'd have is that it's strengths are it's weaknesses: it's hard to coax a bright, sharp sound out of it. I've found myself using other far more CPU intensive alternatives to punch up the sound in places. I don't know if this is kosher or not, (so k-v-r) delete me at will) but the new synth-edit creation Sympho combined with the Cheese Machine is really surprising. You get some "real" sounding string effects even if you're not going for it. By itself the Cheese Machine still delivers more than it promises.
I'm surprised I'd never gotten around to reviewing this as I've had it for so long. This is truly a must have freebie, a one trick pony, that does that trick rather well. Do you want chessey 70s style string/pads, with little fuss? This is one of the two VSTi's that will do the job, easily and very well. The other is Crazy Diamonds, and frankly everyone should own both, they're very similar, but still sound very different. The idea with this seems to have been to provide VST users with something along the lines of a Solina String Ensemble, i.e. easy analog string sounds. The sounds sit in a mix very well, and sound even better when layered with either more complex synth string sounds, or string samples. Download this for the one thing it does very well and you'll love it.
Reviewed By Peel [read all by] on 12th January 2003 Version reviewed: 1 on Windows
The basic oscillator waveform is nice -- organ-like -- and reacts well to the brightness knob.
This is one of those synths where the effects, if used, tend to totally dominate the sound. This synth tends towards creating simple phase-heavy, chorus-heavy pad and organ sounds. Unfortunately, IMHO this is not a sound with a lot of character; in fact, I find that on many synths I expend a lot of effort trying to avoid this kind of sound. Others' tastes may vary.
I have found that with low brightness values and no phaser, however, the ensemble effect can create nice vibrato effects (for example, the cheeze flute preset). This is a sound I like, and I have put it on my list of sounds to use.
Overall, this is a one-trick pony sort of synth, which shouldn't be taken as a criticism -- in fact, more often than not that is a good thing. And this synth's interface takes the right approach, being perfectly suited to the niche of the synth; you can dial in the sound you're looking for in seconds, even if you're fairly new to the synth.
This synth is good at what it does, but whether you love it or hate it will largely be a matter of personal taste. Although I don't generally like the sort of sound this synth specializes in, and I believe that sonically, many other synths can do the same thing, this synth's interface (and price, or course) are enough to earn it a permanent spot in my collection.
Why is it that you pay £200 for a sampler and can't get a single decent pad sound out of it?
Praise the Lord for Big Tick and the Cheese Machine! Pure simple atmosphere applicable everywhere. I use this in every song now and would not be parted from it.
I don't care about whoops, buzzes and loops, I want the kind of VSTi that makes me feel so good I want to cry. And this one does. I wouldn't really call it a "string ensemble" synth, but there aren't really words for the kind of bottled mellowness this applies to everything. Wonderful.
I'd love to get more presets for this one, please guys load some up if you've got any!
Almost a year ago exactly, I went out looking for an ARP OMNI 2. I'd been missing that gooey, swirling wash that you hear on Tangerine Dream, JMJ, and even "Closer" by Joy Division. I came home with a battered hulk of a thing that may have once been an OMNI 2 (it was) for $200. I've used it on just about everything until now. Bick Tick's Cheeze Machine will have the OMNI's chair in this year's ensemble. The lush, artificial pads, the phased "Equinoxe" sweeps, it does it all, and without the noise floor of the OMNI 2. It sounds marvellous, and the GUI is gorgeous! Okay, it doesn't have any rust-colored leather panels like the OMNI (YUCK), but the wood grain and brushed aluminum panel makes one look for the "Univox" nameplate. I'm giving it high marks for features, 'cause it has a built in reverb, and hey, this is 1977, right? That's a bonus! Never bothered to look for documentation, as it says all I need right on the front-panel. There are a smattering of good presets (twice as many as my ARP!), and I've already used one or two in songs with little tweaking. It does seem to sit nicely into any track, more than some modern string pads. It's stable as heck, never a glitch (though I can't figure out how to set my Prophet on top of it!). And it's from Big Tick, so the support, if needed, would be great. As for value, see the above figure to understand what I would pay for this sound. Thanks, Tick!
Owned the Hohner String Ensemble back in 1981(list price $2700 U.S.). No programmability. No f/x. Power transformer in volume pedal enclosure that constantly malfunctioned. Ribbon cable connector cable between pedal and keyboard that constantly needed difficult and expensive repair. Am I happy? YES! Thanks,Big Tick!
Reviewed By kelly [read all by] on 26th March 2002 Version reviewed: 1.x on Windows
This instrument is very useful for chord arrangements. Sure it dosent have too many presets but basically it's just an AR envelope, a sawlike wave with nonres LP, and three effects, so it has a limited range. But that's no problem, because with this it's about the atmosphere created by that simple combination of DSP components, and it adds up really well.
Install it or start using it more today, it sits really well in a mix(esp with some eq) and you'll find yourself coming back to it for the backing of tracks a lot. I've had a problem with hanging notes in orion with specific sequences but i cant say this is cheezemachines fault for sure. Overall it's perfectly stable in my experience.
Reviewed By Tronam [read all by] on 6th March 2002 Version reviewed: 1.3 on Windows. Last edited by Tronam on 25th February 2007.
This is a small, focused and unassuming virtual synth with one purpose only: cheesy string pads!
It's a lot of fun to play with and harkens back to the string machines of the 70's made famous by folks such as Jean Michel Jarre (among many others). The string sounds are not intended to be of "orchestral" quality or nature, but more a simulation of the unique timbres of early era synthesizer simulated strings. The sound quality is excellent and it's very easy to program.
Though the raw oscillators are pretty fixed, you have enough control over the chorus, phaser and reverb to create a good variety of swirly pad sounds. I did have a few issues with changing the settings live, even locking up my host (Orion PRO) a couple of times, but this only seemed to happen when making big changes in the number of voices or in the chorus.
Bottom line: It sounds good and it's free, so there's no reason not to have it in your VST folder, unless you simply dislike this kind of sound. Though I wouldn't necessarily call it a one-trick-pony, it's certainly designed for a certain style of sound and is by no means an all rounder.
Amazing synth strings. One of the best sounding VSTIs I have ever heard, free or otherwise. Cheezemachine is really inspiring to play and has its own character. Minimal features, but its a string synth, so thats kinda the point. Seems like a good stable plug-in, as Ive used it for hours now without a problem. Highly recommended.
Reviewed By [read all by] on 15th February 2002 Version reviewed: 1.3 on Windows. Last edited by Dingo865
on 15th February 2002.
The three most common problems with free VSTi's are that they are either a) cheap sounding, b) undocumented, or c) technically inferior (including the GUI). Cheeze Machine manages to avoid all three - and does it in style.
This is not a universal synth, so don't expect to use it in everything, everywhere. It does produce, however, great synth-strings that are good enough to sound real, but synthetic enough to have their own character. Beautiful interface, ease of use - what else would you want?
For a great ensemble, try loading 3 different Cheeze Machines and playing them simultaneously, but with 3 different presets... tres kewl!
Reviewed By Deuce [read all by] on 15th February 2002 Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
Well, This Vsti sounds really nice. It has a great Interface (well, actually two...there are two versions with different interfaces) The sound is nice, it becomes nicer if you ad some phaser or flanger/reverb effect... Useful to recreate old "analog string" machines (Solina, Crumar Performer to name a few...) It doesn't have many presets, but the one provided are pretty good. And Hey, it's FREE!
Reviewed By shortyedwards [read all by] on 30th January 2002 Version reviewed: 1.3 on Windows. Last edited by Doug
on 30th January 2002.
YES! This is a wonderful one trick pony. A string machine that takes you straight... into the 70's. It's sound forces me to play Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us A Part" or Bowies "Warszawa" from the classic 1977 album "Low". Again and again. Thank you for this instrument Mr. Big Tick. But wait! It's not enough. Let us pay something for this!
This freeware is limited, but good at what it does. Little editing available, but it has self-contained effects that create a surprisingly broad pallette within its realm. Especially good for ambient effects. Nice GUI. I would have liked some more presets, but it is devastatingly simple to use, and you can only do so much anyway, so it's not really a big deal. Not a meat-and-potatoes freebie like mdaPiano, but cute, simple, and lots of pseudovintage fun. Thank you, Big Tick!
Reviewed By x_bruce [read all by] on 20th December 2001 Version reviewed: 1.x on Windows. Last edited by x_bruce
on 26th February 2002.
If you like string synths this is a great little synth to add to your collection. The sounds are crisp to warm, brittle to lush. For a free plugin you get a nice interface and effective but limited editing.
Pros: great synth string sounds, easy on the processor Cons: a one trick pony, not much depth for editing
I'm glad I downloaded this VSTi, it was useful almost immediately.
The more I use Cheeze Machine the more I like it. It's one of the best freeware plugins available even though it's limited to string sounds.