To me over all this rates a solid 8. It's not a great synthesizer but it's a little over mediocre. It would be pretty much strictly just for presets because there are few parameters to change anyways. The few changes you can make can only affect the preset choose from the many available. 3rd party expansions are available of which I only license Mo'Phatt which is inredible and extremely useful for stand up DJ and hip-hop. From that west to east coast and probably north and south too. I'm sure you can find mo'phat expansion useful for drums and all cool sounds for stand up DJ. The only thing you would need to accomplish that.
To me because the Dimension Pro is only valuable for drums on Mo'phatt expansion. The built in presets on Dimension Pro are not valuable because they aren't of the absolute highest caliber. But they are quite well suited for decent orchestra and decent EDM but with out very many choices in the EDM. The violins are noticeably good and realistic. The reverb can be turned off also. The violins can be use for many uses including hip-hop. Mess with the attack to get that quick sound. It varies but can be done after hard work. Also there are many violins to choose from. Including 1st 2nd 3rd 4rth and maybe 5th I believe. This to me is not biased because I like violins. They just seems much more noticeably better and usably because they are simply better sounding.
Its simple and easy to use for a child. For me all I want out of it is to use my mo'phatt hip hop and DJ drums. They're excellent and top notch and indispensable for hip hop. Again, the reverb can be taked out 99 precent from mo'phatt too. There's a reverb and efx button on the synth. Have at it it's a blast with all the many many MANY sounds on mo'phatt expansion.
PS. NO freezes on my PC. A little difficult to install sometimes if you aren't good with that.
The main reason I bought this synth was to replace my Trinities. So, my review will be based on this premise -- as I'm sure many people have been looking for "cheaper-than-Colossus" solutions. I do mostly electronic stuff, but every once in a while, I'm called upon to do a project that requires these types of sounds.
Installation/Registration: The installation, from 2 DVDs, went smoothly. Registering is easy -- just a web-based form at Cake's site. Then they will email you an auth code. However, I've registered more than 5 days ago, and have yet to receive my email; I have contacted Cake regarding this, so hopefully it will be resolved before the 30 day period ;-)
GUI - The GUI is very clean. Clicking on the Program name launches the Program Browser in a floating window -- this is great! You can quickly use your computer keyboard arrow keys to move to the next preset (which are grouped by category) and load by pressing the enter key. And just found out that the right arrow will expand a category and the left arrow will collapse it, nice touch. Clicking on an Element name, launches a typical windows "open file" dialog.
At the top, there are icons for saving/loading Programs/Elements, options, show/hide Midi and VectorMixer matrixes (the latter 2 also floating windows).
Each element's settings are clearly displayed: keyrange, vel range, transpose, etc.
Choosing settings, you can either click to move forward (through possible values), or right-click to move backward; or click on the 'drop-down arrow' for the pop-up showing all possible settings. Turning knobs, enables a tool-tip style display of current values.
There are 'tabs' for each of the envelope generators and LFOs assigned to pitch, cutoff, resonance, pan and amplitude.
I'm not much of a tweaker, but there seems to be no "undo" function, no indication of original values and no "compare" feature. There is also no "cancel" button when loading programs -- however, they load very quickly, so not exactly a problem.
One thing I did find a little different (say .vs Kontakt) is the tempo-sync values. A "1" represents a quarter note (not a whole note as in Kontakt). Therefore a setting of "1/2" = 8th note; "1/4" = 16th note, etc. So, to get a dotted 8th note delay, you need to actually set "1/2d" and not "1/8d."
Sounds: I went through a lot of sounds and compared them w/Trinity's programs (not combos). Here's how they stacked up to me. Obviously it would take too long to go over each category in detail, so I'll try to highlight some.
Many of the patches in the "Dimensions" category are geared toward atonal/soundscapes/ambient/sound fx... showing off what can be done with the synth.
Pads - If you go preset for preset, it seems Trinity has a little more presence. But with some tweaking, I found DimPro to stack up nicely. For example, I compared two basic Saw Pads. In order for DimPro to sound as good as the Trinity, I easily copied an element and pasted it to the 3 open slots, panned and detuned each element, sprinkle a little chorus + reverb, and good to go!
I would say DimPro has the definite edge in most categories, like: Guitars, Real Basses, Strings, A Pianos, Saxes, Synths/Leads/SynBass, Ethnic, Woodwinds. Other categories are just as good.
Where DimPro may be lacking, IMHO, is in the vocal/choir , brass, organs (I love Trinity's selection) and e-pianos (not that they're bad, just maybe need more e-piano layered patches?). Just not enough variety in these categories. Some nice Orch Hits would've been nice too.
Features: So much great stuff. 16 filter types, 5 tempo-synced LFOs and drawable Envelopes (w/looping) per Element, Drive and LoFi modules, 3 EQs per element, you can even apply a filter to only the "wet" signal of the delay FX. Midi Matrix -- any source can control any destination.
Docs: Typical Cakewalk manual, which is a good thing.
Presets: Very good. With 1500+ to choose from, how can you go wrong! I think some of the presets aren't taking advantage of all 4 Elements...but nothing that a simple copy/paste can't handle!
Support: Rene is active here as well as Cake's Instrument forum.
To summarize: I think this could definitely replace my Trinities (with the exception of good organs, but I don't use those sounds too much). There are soooo many presets, there should be something for everyone. I think I could easily mimic my favorite patches on DimPro. As there is so much more under the surface (the sfz format), I'm sure there are tricks I've yet to uncover. Knowing that there will be some 3rd party libraries coming, that's icing on the cake(walk).