Corona by discoDSP is the encounter of (clean) Digital Operator Oscillators and (dirty) 'Analog' Filters with Distortion. This hybrid-concept became popular in the 80s with hardware synthesizers like the Korg DW-8000. Corona trumps (technically) their digital flexibility with exotic LFO shapes, [like X*(X*2-1)] adjustable envelope shapes and their dirtiness via different distortion types on two stages of the signal path plus a hard hitting limiter at the end.
Dual serial filters:
A comb filter would be a very useful addition!
Assignable modulation sources besides the 3 LFOs and Envelopes:
the combined oscillators can be used as modulation source.
both can modulate as they are or as ABS operator.
Otherworldly effects or unstable tones are easy to archive.
The sound of Corona is different... but on purpose! I can recall a patch in my memory right now. Never heared such a monkey-thing before. The overall sound sometimes reminds me of early ROMplers but with high resolution. It shines on stabs, vocal-like arpeggios, bass layers and strange FM-things.
Corona is an underrated gem that deserves more recognition, IMHO. I've come across quite a lot of synths, and I don't normally review them unless I find something particularly striking. In Corona's favor is not only its unique oscillators, but stylistic versatility and fresh sonic character. The sound itself is quite solid and the synth has potential for wide appeal if marketed better.
It has a very modern sound, clean and bright. Thanks to the neat phase modulation options in Corona's oscillator section, I've gotten some killer dubstep basses with that deep, metallic flavor, which is then run through 2 different filters and a bunch of different distortion options. At the end of the chain is the chorus, delay and limiter. Try using the delay set to very fine vales for a more subtle stereo widening effect. Works great on those "skrillex" basses.
In my opinion, Corona just plain sounds good. The basses that can be dialed in are hard and agressive, and the leads just plain sing. It sure as hell ain't analog, but it doesn't try to be. Like ReFX's classic Vanguard did back in the day, Corona embraces the digital sound, and does so with finesse by bringing its unusual character to the table.
A lot of the info I get on this synth suggests it is marketed more to the dance/edm crowd. While it does Dance/EDM sounds well enough, provided you don't _need_ the very best unison feature, the vibe I get from actually programming some sounds on it is more in the downtempo and breaks vein - Hip Hop, Trap, Dubstep, Breakbeat, Moombahton, etc. The charcter of the unison, chorus effect and oscillator phasing options lends itself VERY well to those genres. IMHO, it is THESE guys that Corona could have been better marketed to.
This synth has some good sounding filters. They definitely have a fullness to them, not the weak and lifeless character you find in some synths out there. Even the effects just sound good. Corona sings its own tune in beautifully digital ways without raping your ears in the 10 - 18 kHz range. The key with programming this synth is in having a soft touch. As the oscillators are based on a form of phase modulation synthesis, Corona is capable of some extremely harsh textures that would excite the dubstep, industrial and noise ambient fans. More subtle settings yeild laid back, singing leads, digital pianos, chill basses, and even those popular Trap stabs with a little trick using the arpegiator to get those abrupt stops.
The star of the show is the "combine" menu within the oscillator section. It encourages you to experiment and find interesting tonal colors/interactions. It is a unique trick with tangible results, which Corona brings to the table in this competative market. There is a decent mod matrix with 8 sections which covers most of your standard programming needs. You have separate LFOs and envelopes for each filter, an amp envelope, mod envelope, mod LFO, and a dedicated vibrato section. The strength of Cornoa is not in having a huge feature set, but just sounding good in a fresh, current way. There are enough sound creation options that you won't feel your creativity is being painted into a corner. Where there is a lack, there is something to make up for it. The LFOs offer some non-standard shapes in addition to the standard ones. There is a wide variety of filter drive and distortion types, as well as filter types. Lastly, you have sample import. I personally don't use that function, though I might check into it more later. You can apply the same "combine" function on your imported samples, making them interact in unusual ways.
Corona is highly stylistically versatile. It does Trance, Hip Hop and Dubstep sounds all equally well. Browsing the factory patches definitely gives a different impression, though. They are mostly dance/edm oriented, with a smattering of stuff for other genres scattered about. The quality is variable as well. You have dance stuff from Cyforce, which is consistantly good, some good stuff from a few others, followed by the bulk of the patches, of which many were cool ideas, but didn't feel "polished". Self promotion alert - I have a set available for Corona, covering "non-EDM" genres: http://xenossoundworks.com/corona.html.
Value For Money
$169 for the synth. It's up to the person demoing it to be the judge. I'd say it's worth it to those that want to stand out from the crowd while still being able to make many of the same types of sounds those synths are known for. IMHO, it holds its own against the big giants Sylenth and Massive, while offering something under the hood that neither of them have.
- It's easy to cross the line from musical to chaotic and harsh with heavier parameter settings. Keep a LPF on Filter 2, adjust accordingly, and you're covered.
- Many people judge a synth by the factory patches, and Corona's included sounds are a mixed bag. A more solid factory set, IMHO, would have sold this synth better.
- Ugly GUI. I use the white one, which strains the eyes, but the "dark" GUI is even worse. The sections look a bit choppy. Perhaps a redesign that visually merges these blocky sections with the background would do the trick. From a marketing perspective, the developer might look into upgrading the GUI, as, unfortunately, looks matter in selling a product. He has a real winner on his hands, but I don't feel it was marketed well enough in several key areas for many people to see that.Read Review
My first review here. I feel like this synth deserves some recognition.
This may seem like a bit of a "no-brainer" of a statement (heh heh)... but for me the sound of a plugin is always its main attractive force. I'm not easily fooled by fancy gui's and clever marketing schemes. It piqued my interest when I read that Corona had been updated with zero-delay feedback filters (maybe some of you are rolling your eyes right now because of my previous statement about clever marketing schemes, but bare with me :P). So I checked out the demo.
It actually wasn't immediately apparent to me how awesome this synth sounds. Like so many plugins, the presets don't really do it justice. I'm always in pursuit of a lively, present, and organic sound. And those are three words that I would certainly use to describe Corona. I swear I've coaxed the best sounds I've heard from soft synths out of this thing. I've realized that it is the combination of an unique and wonderful filter and very complex and flexible oscillators.
I've heard some people say that filters are not ultimately important in a synth, especially if you're not doing filter sweeps all the time. Well I beg to differ. Even if there is no filter modulation or movement going on, the filter is altering the harmonics in a significant way. The filter on this synth (of which there are two in serial) is very interesting, and very sensitive. It has a saturation circuit with several different curves available, and adjustable drive amount. By pairing the right drive settings with the right filter type, you can really get some wonderful tones. Running it in zero-delay mode (alt mode) is almost always preferable to my ears.
Then there's the oscillators, which are the most obviously unique thing about this synth. There are 3 osc's which can be 'combined' using several different processes. I don't really understand what the processes are. I just think of them as alternatives to FM or ring modulation. You can set how oscilator 1 and 2 are combined, and then you set how the third is combined with that signal (at least I think that's how it works). You can also adjust and modulate the phase of oscillators 2 and 3. There is a library of waveforms for each osc, or you can LOAD YOUR OWN FREAKING SAMPLES... tons of possibilities. Even with out the filters there are an overwhelming amount of tonal possibilities.
Both the filter and the oscilator section are very sensitive, which to me means you can dial in just the right sound. Combine this with a powerful modulation matrix, and you can create some very organic sounds. There are 2 random modulation sources, which is something every synth should have IMO. Dial in a sound, then use these two sources on osc tuning, phase, cutoff etc and see if you're not a bit shocked at the sound that you hear.
Also, overall I would consider this synth to be a good balance of flexibility and power: 3 lfos, 3 envs, 3 oscs, and 2 filters. Nothing too overwhelming, but you can really get a huge variety of sounds out of it.
OK other than the sound and basic features what else can I say... I like the GUI quite a bit. Simple, large, and not confusing. Easy on the eyes. It has a nice little chorus on it, and some simple delay, which I feel like are the only effects you really need built in. The unison mode is great too! Especially when using random modulation, because each voice will be modulated differently, combine that with the spread parameter and SUPER PHAT LEADS BRO.
I think that about sums it up. Check this synth out. It's thabomb.comRead Review
(i wrote this review yesterday morning, then got an email from discodsp last night about an updated wave library for corona. just dL'd; there are now an insane number of waveforms to play with).
In my ongoing mission (hmm…should i mention the stardate?) to find the 'right' synth plugins, i've been downloading demos like crazy. but have added very few synths to my arsenal.
i have discovery pro, so got an email inviting me to check out the corona demo. this looks like a stripped-down DP, so skipped it at first. i finally decided to check it out, and it was worth it.
to be honest, i actually like this better than discovery pro. not because it's cheaper, and simpler, but am liking the SOUND of it, always the most important thing (to me at least; this is how i live with, say, 'ugly' plugins…it's the SOUND that hooks me).
the GUI is, at first glance, very simple (a good thing in my book). i was tweaking immediately, it's a very-basic layout. having said that, there are a lot of great options tucked in drop-down menus. and i like the 'subtle' touches, i.e. the indicators (the live mod movement, for example, in the filter cutoff knob, or the oscillator phase knob). so lots to explore (versus a stiff learning curve).
i LOVE exploring, that's the point. rather than spending a day with a manual, i want to spend the day turning knobs, hearing what happens.
the new filters are great; a lot of patches work much better with them (and some patches sound better with the 'normal' filters). really interesting, the difference between the new and the original filters.
there are some great presets, but corona still needs lots more. was looking for (and not finding) arp presets, but…it's really easy to add an arp (i use these a lot). the arp definitely needs more presets, but it's easy to make your own. i'd love to be able to lock in an arp, and scroll thru sounds (i posted the idea on the 'instruments' forum here, and the developer said he'd add it to his 'to-do list'…). what's really impressive is the number of waveform choices: along with the usual sawtooth, triangle, etc…there are a LOT of 'classics' (roland, waldorf, korg, etc.), and some others as well. this should keep soundbank designers busy (and out of trouble).
this is very important thing to me: ease. am a preset-tweaker (as opposed to a sound designer), i want to be up and making music as soon as Logic opens; that's my modus operandi, and it works for me. so plugins with very busy architectures, too many 'hidden' functions, or half-assed soundbanks (and i've encountered all of these things) don't work for me.
overall, like this one. i can see myself actually using this more than discovery pro… and will add some soundsets to the mix (i think most of my income goes to soundsets).
what i like:
the GUI (for it's directness)
ease of use
extremely minimal effects section, and no reverb (easy to add one in a channel strip, i guess).
the mod wheels, as they're reversed from the way they are on physical keyboards
needs more (& better) presets, new ones especially to make use of the new filters and waveforms.
am an avowed minimalist. i don't need very many synth plugins. but like this one, and will see where i can fit it in on new projects.
last thought: there's been a lot of discussion on the forums about the quality of reviews here, too many '10's'. for myself, am only reviewing plugins i OWN and can recommend. if something is below par, i wouldn't use it, or spend time writing about it.
as always, check out the demo.Read Review
Latest 4 reviews from a total of 4