I've been impressed with several of the previous synths by Krakli, and who hasn't heard the wonderful presets created by synth master Tim Conrardy, so when Cygnus showed up, a collaboration between the two, I jumped at the chance to try it out. I've been so impressed that I figured I owed them a review.
OVERALL: As the name and look implies, this is a concept synth focused on spacey, atmospheric, ambient and SFX sounds. And it delivers all these in spades. Its raw sound (sans FX) is decidedly digital, so much so that it almost seems to employ wavetables or samples, but this is not the case. This is pure programming and with its innovative use of 3 oscillators--each with its own sequencer that can be deployed as either a LFO or step sequencer--a highly customizable stereo chorus and a trippy delay section . . . it can create a staggering variety of sounds from insectoid chittering to strange piano and lead synth mutations, all the way out to cosmic sonic washes and psychosomatic reverberations from the outer reaches of the mind. A highly enjoyable synth!
GUI: I typically do not like "creative" GUI design, preferring ergonomics and functionality beyond strangeness, so I expected not to like the star field design that originally came with this synth. Not so. With the wise inclusion of a Label switch, which lets you clearly see what all the knobs and sliders (aka stars!) do, it turns out to be a very functional and easily understood interface. Add to that the fact that a second more standard GUI is now available (by odo) and it ends up being like no problem.
SOUND: Undeniably, this synth sounds amazing. It's not going to be what you want for your bread and butter type sounds, but for spacey sequence sounds, special FX, atmospheric pad and all sorts of soundworld instruments, it's a must. There's no other synth that sounds quite like this one, at least not that I can think of, so head over to Krakli's Cygnus page and listen to the demo songs there (including mine! Shameless plug notwithstanding.)
FEATURES: Three different oscillators, three innovative LFO/sequencers, several FM modulation options, a little wave shaping, an unconventional chorus and a trippy delay . . . and other stuff. It's hard to talk about the features as this is definitely a synth that encourages discovery and experimentation. But the results speak for themselves. The one downfall to this synth I've found so far is that the automation controls are not labeled. They remain at their default positions, so even though this is a synth that begs to be fiddled with, doing so from track automation is a royal pain in the . . .
DOCUMENTATION: Well . . . there isn't any. Since it was designed with experimentation in mind, don't look for any unless some kind user decides to try their hand at it.
PRESETS: With well over 300 excellently programmed presets (by the likes of TC and, ahem, me), how can you go wrong? This synth is a joy to work with in preset creation. Sit down with it for a few minutes and even if you don't know what you're doing, you'll find sounds that inspire.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Ian of Krakli Software and Tim Conrardy are the best. Highly responsive and passionate about their creation. Two thumbs up.
VALUE: Um, this thing's free, so the Bang4Buck value is like infinite.