CUBE is a synth with it's special sound. If you HATE alaising then this one's for you. It's sound is very versatile from acoustic simulations to typically additive sounds. It is destined to create evolving sounds via the very extensive envelopes. But this is only one of the most obvious sound areas that CUBE covers. It can even make VERY convincing analogue stuff if you are ever in a need of these sounds from the CUBE. ;-) This synth can sound as clear as fresh water or as hot and dangerous as a volcano. This is not a synth that can produce ONLY nice sounds. The concept of the user interface is DIFFERENT!!! You have to make yourself friends with this new concept as you won't find a cutoff and resonance knob. But when you understood how things are going here you will LOVE the possibilities as you can do a lot more than with a cutoff and a resonance control. It's a breeze to get new exciting sounds: Press the slot machine and make a few tweaks: Save the new sound. You want control: Choose one of the provided source presets, add an EG preset and there ya go. You want it all: It's so cool how fast you can tailor decay times for a few dozen partials with one mouse stroke! change the filter curve, add some breath or movement by mixing in some noise: Sound design is so much fun with this synth.
Additive synthesis has always been the poor relation to subtractive. The biggest problem is the number of partials needed to generate decent spectra, and their control. With up to 512 partials in Cube its plain you cant just set a separate UI ADSR for each!
Cube presents the additive engine via a UI that allows morphing between four sources (A..D). Each source can be edited for partial level, attack, decay, filter, pan and noise. Complex spectral movement is accomplished by morphing between the different sources. There are a set of preset sources (vocal style vowels, Saw/Triangle etc) for you to start from.
The UI is well laid out and presents clear information on its settings. The X/Y morph envelopes can be viewd both as single time vs level envelopes and a 2D vector on the central UI area. Some improvement could be made here as it sometimes hard to find when 'end' of the vector display is which, all envelope points are drawn in the same colour apart from the currently selected. Perhaps the end and start points could also be coloured differently?
Cube seems best suited to sounds that have movement in their high frequency spectrum. This makes it a very good companion to other subtractive synths. Electric Pianos, Pads, Choirs and rythmic pulses etc seem to be it forte. Its quite thristy on CPU power if you just ramp up the number of partials for no reason, but with some tweaking it can be made no more resource hungry than many other VSTi.
The manual is brief but well written and easy to follow. Perhaps a background chapter on additive synthesis would make it better for first time users.
So far Cube has been very stable. No crashes, just a few times the 'randomize' feature has produced a patch thats so complex it overloads my 1Ghz PIII CPU.
In summary, I'm very happy with Cube. It opens a door to a whole new range of sounds and is great fun to use.
PS. The 1.01 version was released just after I posted this review. It now animates the GUI to show the morphing process in realtime. So forget that comment about the vector display being confusing. Its a breeze to work out now. Well done VirSyn.Read Review
For disclosure purposes, I was a beta tester for CUBE.
Having gotten that out of the way I must say CUBE is everything I had hoped for and a few things beyond what I expected.
CUBE is based on additive synthesis. There are a number of segments that additive oscillators can be edited with. The method of editing most intuitive is graphically. Draw the envelope that comprises the additive frequencies that make up an oscillator. Change a few around, it is easy to hear the change in timbre. Consider that you have envelope control as is typical of any synthesizer but that you also have the ability to have up to 512 LFO's that can modulate one another using the "ensemble" control. There is also noise and filter controls. And that's one of four available sound sources.
Beyond multilayering or zones you are able to manipulate sound using what VirSyn call "spectral morphing". Here you create envelopes that are multisegmented. On the main view screen you see them drawn. They can be manipulated by traditonal controls or by mousing on various segments of a line. The effect ranges from subtle to impossible to describe crossfades of sound sources, filter behavior and other simple things such as pan. Best of all, you can play around and see just how easy it is to make sounds.
Speaking of the main view screen, CUBE itself is one screen, you go to the main screen view to change each sound sources editing properties. These include partials (the sound source), attack, decay, pan, filter and noise; all graphically.
On the main screen there are also a setup and effects buttons that take you to the main view screen. Below that interface section you will find the envelope areas which is also hand drawn, similar to Absynth, z3ta, Rhino and Crystal. You can set up morphs in the 'x' and 'y' axis' along with additonal editing features in use. There is a randomize function and highly functional arpeggiator.
CUBE has 8 channels of polyphony. CUBE is a large scale and processor intensive synth although for what it does it is fairly light and the sounds you get are so substantial you won't be playing slabs of chords although CUBE can certainly provide the ability for simple sounds to do so.
It is the cleanest, most impressive sounding software synth to date. It's timbres go beyond describing other than to say if you liked the Kawai K5000 you will probably love CUBE. The bells, percussive, sweeping, resonating, modulating pads and more percussive sounds are exceptional, and you get 300 out of the box to play around with and tweak to your heart's content.
This is a digital synth and sounds like just about the most perfect one you will hear. It is more flexible than FM and far more intuitive. CUBE is an extrodinary pad synth with striking leads, syncopated percussive grooves and morphing that beats the Wavestation.
It is not the ultimate in analog but it does a fine emulation.
Highly recommended. CUBE is now the VSTi quality standard.Read Review
Well, I was at a loss for words when I heard the beta tester tunes, and I knew that the Cube would have a "sound of it's own" as it relied on different technology than alot of other VSTi's, so when the first copies were due to hit the US, I preordered and waited with baited breath!
I was not dissapointed in the least - this is really a wet dream for sound designers and tweakers,
First things first, in Mac OS9 (haven't moved to X for full-on production yet) installation was a snap. It's a CD/Serial number scheme which meant I didn't have to hook the DAW to the internet - always a plus in my book :).
Once installed, I began the exploration - the preset banks are incredible! They are broken down into Lead/Pad/Sequence/Keys/FX-Percussion and Basses, with the "CubeFactory" bank covering select presets from all of the categories. There is no shortage of usable presets in the library, and the best part is - altering the presets on your own!
Interface wise, the cube is a real beauty - it's just nice to look at. You can alter the color scheme too - and all of the paramaters (while seeming alien at first) are viewable within a few quick mouse clicks.
The manual is short, but effective, covering the basics to get you up and running with additive synthesis and "Morphing", Overall, I would've liked more in-depth reference to all of the features available, but I know that I will learn more about this through constant use and exploration.
Now for the sound: incredible! I find myself looking for new and interesting ways to create rhytmic/loop based or modulated sounds all the time, and have relied on Absynth to do this significantly. The Cube is now fighting a hard fight - the sound feels more "digital" yet warm, somewhat paradoxical, yet you'll understand once you listen to the sounds it makes. It's clean, it's sharp, yet it has a character of it's own.
Programming the Cube is an adventure - it's not you're fathers emulation! I honestly had no idea what the heck I was doing at first, but getting into the guts and changing parameters, altering envelopes and going through the various menus and trying combinations of different settings got me acquainted very quickly. I was up and saving new sounds in no time.
There are on-board effects as well, which can really help quickly pump up the character of the sound. There's a Chorus unit, Distrotion (Tape, Tube or "soft") as well as a Reverb and Delay section. All very musical and quite usable!
I want to make specific mention of the time-based envelope morph :) This section is very similar to Absynth, in that you can route modulation envelopes to different layers, as well as sync them to specific time signature increments. It's a very quick process, and in a matter of seconds, you have a morphing patch breathing with life and taking over your song!
It also has a built in Arpeggiator, with some great presets, as well as a dedicated EQ section (Low and high filters).