DUNE is the latest addition to my arsenal; am extremely picky about the plugins i have (i recently deleted two very-popular synth plugins, both excellent, but not what I personally needed); I only keep what i use…(am an avowed minimalist).
What I need most is presets, lots of them. Lots of USEFUL presets.
My workflow goes like this: I open a custom template in Logic, start making music. SIMPLE. I want nothing interrupting my workflow. Once I'm on my way to a worthwhile track, I will THEN modify a sound, customize things. I just want a lot of great starting points.
The architecture is excellent: no layers, pages to click thru, no scrolling. Everything is right there; the GUI is nothing much to look at; instead it is useful. (BTW, is there a way to 'lock' the effects panel so it's ALWAYS there? I can't see any reason to look at a mini-keyboard…I have a real one right next to my mac; please give us a way to hide the keyboard panel).
I can tweak, customize sounds without much thought; this is a very intuitive synth. And there are a great-many things to tweak. (I need to explore the modulation matrix more, seems pretty extensive).
Ultimately, it's the sound that matters. Listeners don't care about what DAW, what plugins we use; it's the sound (and of course, the song) that matters. And DUNE sounds great: Clean, clear, well-defined. Noisy when I need that, lush when I want that. Great for leads, pads, fx...
I feel that I can make a whole song with this (and did, in fact, with just the demo, when I first tried DUNE out).
This is EXACTLY what I want from a synth; to be versatile, and rich (as I am versatile, and want to be rich :-) )
I want nothing to get in the way of music-making; no extreme learning curve, no constant need to check the manual; nothing that ISN'T intuitive, direct, obvious.
So am very happy, and will be using the plugin a lot. PLUS it runs as a 64bit AU (thanks for that).
I rarely find anything worth 10 stars, but DUNE qualifies. It's a 'must-have'.
I planned to review D.U.N.E months ago, but only after spending many many hours with this synth do I really feel confident I can offer any useful insight.
At first glance it may seem that D.U.N.E is a fairly standard three osc, one filter, three envelope and three LFO per voice affair with unison. However this is not at all the case.
D.U.N.E stands for Differential Unison Engine, and what this does is significant for a few reasons to "get" what D.U.N.E is really about. What is so useful about this feature is that it is both not unison and unison at the same time. Unison on most synths is just a multiplication of voices, D.U.N.E can do that too.
You can think of it as an eight layer synth controlled from a single a single matrix, the brain of the synth if you will. So if you have three envelopes per voice for example then with all voices active you have twenty four in total. But that's the beauty of this design. If you activate all eight voices you still only have three envelopes, you actually have twenty one more potential envelopes. Unless you specify otherwise in the mod matrix, all voices will respond to all envelope and LFO routing the same. Then you can simply adjust one for a specific voice.
Its a good middle road between complexity and ease of use. There are some draw backs though. For example, you may change the speed of any LFO for any voice, but you must use more mod slots to do this and you cannot select the LFO waveform from the mod matrix, so you only ever have a choice of three LFO wave forms. You also cannot specify from the matrix whether the LFO for voice four for example resets or syncs. This can only be done from the front page. What this means in effect is once you get past using three LFO's you can then choose to modulate any voice with anyone one of those three and alter the the speed and phase of the LFO for that voice but nothing else.
It can be limiting, but at the same time it really helps to keep things moving. Too much complexity can just overwhelm people.
Now as for the OSCs themselves they are very good. D.U.N.E has a nice strong sound. Its smooth at the same time as it is sharp. Its difficult to describe, but I have been thinking for a while about its sound. Some have described it as flat and lifeless. Interestingly I can see why people would use those descriptions and at the same time disagree with what is meant. While I would say that the synth sounds flat and still I would not use the term lifeless. Its got a precise sound, but its not clinical, I would say its got a tight and focused sound but its not thin. Its not overly aggressive and its not overly soft either.
This is just my opinion, but after a lot of listening and experimenting I think D.U.N.E sounds just right for a lot modern electronic music. If you listen to some of the latest tunes people are favouring a lot of less agressive sounds. Not so much analog sounding, but not harsh digital sounding either. I am thinking for example of Yahel's pop star remix on Oakenfold's Four Seasons. Again this is just my opinion, but D.U.N.E to me is a new and interesting flavour and I think it sounds perfect for a lot of the new sounds being used. It can't do everything though. If I wanted an analog synth I would either buy one or buy an emulation. When making dance music you don't always want a largo overwhelming analog style sound.
However, while I don't always want the drift, dirt and instability of analog sound I do like to have decent analog styled filters for some things, what is nice is that D.U.N.E gives you a choice of lower CPU-consuming filters and Analog modeled filters, which sound lovely in my opinion and really match the rest of the synth in terms of sound character well.
The wave-tables give a huge expansion to the sound. They are all good, they are not always this good with every synth. You should read the manual about the wave-tables, you can do wave sequencing but there can be clicks, you have to work with it. If you want to scan through the waveforms though you can to a degree and its quite smooth depending on which waveforms you scan through. At about the centre of the table there are around 10 waveforms that are perfectly sequential in their harmonic content and are perfect for scanning.
I think Synapse-Audio have done a really good job with the effects, Especially the phaser which operates in three modes. The delay has a diffuse mode which is on of the better sounding delays out there. I expect it inverts the phase of one channel as it gives an wide stereo sound to the delay. It works just beautifully on a trance pluck for example. The reverb is good and here they give you a good choice. I think there are 5 algorithms, the first two are CPU savers, and they sound pretty good.
Most of the time unless I am looking for something specific, if I put the effects on I decide to keep them on, and apart from the reverb I might not really opt to add a third party effect, which says a lot. I also want to praise Synapse-Audio for their distortion algorithms. This might sound strange, but they sound excellent without sounding analog. Some people may think that analog distortion is the warm kind whereas digital distortion is harsh. So it either sounds analog or harsh. This is not true. In my opinion D.U.N.E.'s distortion fits the rest of its sound qualities perfectly, it doesn't try to sound analog but it does sound good.
Its obvious by now that I like D.U.N.E. I've always thought it had something special to offer in terms of sound and the feature set is great. I love how easy it is to set up complex moving patches. One thing I really appreciate is you don't have to delve into its complexity to get good sound. It sounds great with just a typical subtractive set up, meaning you really could just program simple patches and get years of good use out of it, and yet at the same time when you put the work into DUNE you really get great results, and that is a rare quality.
Finally, I want to add that giving it a 10 does not at all mean I think it is the greatest be-all and end-all synth or that it is perfect. My rating of 10 reflects how much of a place DUNE has in my set-up. It means I find it to be an integral part of my set-up, one which I wouldn't now want to be without.
adjusting the score to 8. Although I like the lowpass filters a lot I do not find the hp/bp/comb to be as good.
You may think that you don't need another subtractive synthesizer... but I suggest you try the demo version!
Developers have clearly paid special attention in making the interface simple but effective. Just like in Sylenth1 - you only have the most essential knobs in front of you and even though it may not look like much, it really is well enough.
What sets DUNE apart from the competition is it's special feature where you can do (modulate) whatever you want with the selected unison voices from 1 to 8. I'm only starting to get it myself and see all the possibilities but it really adds a whole new dimension to the synth.
In about 2 seconds you can create a lush, panning multioscillator analog sweeping beauty pad or nice pwm lead (for example). It actually has some patches that sound a bit like physically modelled.
It comes with the most essential FX. 2 EQs for fine sculpting the sound, reverb, delay, chorus/phaser and distortion.
And a very capable arpeggiator!
LOTS of usable sounds and 64bit compatibility both Mac and Win. (VST / AU)
I love the UI of the Dune synth, i was on the beta team from the start and only in the last 2 month or so before release did we get this lovely sleek looking UI. Everything is pleasing on the eye and navaigation is so simple.
The sounds you can get out of Dune are amazing.Right from the off i was getting the Virus TI like sounds and better. I did some factory sounds for Dune during the beta test stages and also a commercial bank of 128 sounds for this synth. The Dune synth itself doesn't take long to master and everything such as the mod matrix and other features are well organised and well placed for easy sound programming and ease of use. You can get fat unison trance leads to lush pads using the Dune sound engine.. Too many features to mention so i'd recommend you try the synth out for yourself just so you see just how easy this is to use.
Way too many to list.. way way too many. Take it from me that this synth is packed to the rafters with special features it just does all sorts :-)
I learned how to use this synth without a manual at the time of beta testing but there is a great pdf manual online.
Top notch throughout.. There are great sounds to be found in Dune from the beta test team and i believe there are other banks available apart from my own to purchase seperatly.. Factory presets are just great.
Perrrrrrfect.. Can praise the developer enough. Excellent guy and a great professional. 10/10
Value For Money
I got it free but i'd say it's excellent value for money.
This synth has never ever crashed on me, both 32 and x64 versions have been rock solid. I recommend this synth highly to any professional studio owner or hobbyist as you won't be at all disappointed. This thing rocks and i would give it 11/10 if i could. I'll be doing more presets for Synapse products soon.. Just get Dune you'll love it.
DUNE is simply stunning. The sounds can be very complex, yet there is great simplicity in using it and tweaking parameters.
The MOD matrix is VERY powerful, lots of options available.
I was amazed at how quick and easy this synth is to program.
The CPU usage is very low in my opinion, I have used it on a Pentium D, as well as an intel i7 quad core.
Low bass notes are very defined, you can really get some nice deep basses out of this synth.
It is also very stable, the only reason I gave it a "9" for stability was an anomaly caused when Ableton Live somehow got set to 22kHz sample rate, and DUNE made horrible crackling and distorted sounds. This may have been related to the system I was using, once I corrected the sample rate, all was good.
Now that I think about it, Dune is very stable and I am modifying my score to a 10.
Great Synth! And, at $139, it is a VERY good deal! Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
I bought this Synth 2 Weeks ago and was impressed about his Sound.
Dune has a crystal clear transparent sound.
A Big Plus is the Arpeggiator. Very easy to use but extremly powefull. The Factory Arpeggio Presets are amazing. The only thing I miss is to save my own created Arp Presets. Maybe it will come soon as a Update.
I like the Interface. There are not to much Faders, Knops or Funktions to overhelm me. It's well balanced and looks cool.
Im using Dune with Logic Pro 9.1.3 and it works Perfect.
In all, Dune is worth every Penny and Im using it in most of my Productions.
The Dune instrument thread at KVR currently stands at 45868 views and 655 posts and a comparison poll with a highly regarded competitor's soft synth currently has Dune tied with 110 votes each.
Do a bit of searching and you'll quickly realise that this is a beast like no-other. A true gem in an overcrowded sea of sub-par soft synths.
The threads at KVR got me interested but it wasn't until I spent a bit of time with the demo that I quickly realised that I was playing with something very special indeed.
To put it simply, Dune sounds absolutely amazing. It has a tone and richness that sets it apart from the vast majority of soft synths on the market today. It sits effortlessly into any of my mixes and this in itself is one of the best qualities of Dune. I've gone through an unhealthy amount of soft synths over the years and I quickly see Dune becoming my goto synth for straight-up warm analogue richness.
A few of the demo presets that blew my mind with the possibilities of Dune were 'Big Fade MK' by one of my favourite sound designers, Michael Kastrup. This lush soaring synth pad perfectly captures the depth and warmth of Dune's sound. 'Protonica Kick PK' is quite simply the best kick drum I've ever heard anywhere in about 17 years of music production. Yes, a kick drum!
Dune sounds spectacular but it's also a joy to use thanks in part to it's unfussy, clear and well designed interface. I love the large central display with the patch name centre stage. All of the knobs are clearly labeled and large enough to tweak without having to page through tabs of options like other synths. Everything you need to tweak existing presets and create your own is immediately available. My only gripe is that the graphics feel a tiny bit soft and could do with being a little sharper.
Overall Dune is a fantastic experience. It sounds fantastic and is already geared-up to be my goto synth for a variety of sounds including warm analogue basses and pads. This is my first written review on KVR. I just felt I had to pop down in words how blown-away I was with this little beauty. Dune arrived from no-where with very little hype but quickly gathered a lot of attention here at KVR, and deservedly so.
Dune looks great, sounds sublime and is a hell of a lot of fun to use. I couldn't recommend it any more.
DUNE is deceiving! At first glance, it looks like your average subtractive synth, but in reality there is a lot more going on under the hood. DUNE distinguishes itself from the vast majority of it's counterparts in several important ways. First of all, and most importantly, the sound it produces is outstanding. Even the simple raw sound of an oscillator has bite (Sawtooth, Square). The sound is crisp and clean from the get go. DUNE produces clear tones with lot's of energy. The Mod Matrix, where you assign sources to destinations, is very elaborate. It can hold up to 24 rows of data. You can use an LFO to modulate another LFO's parameters or even it's own. You can use the arpeggiator's notes or velocity data to modulate parameters. You can also use the Mod Matrix rows to modulate the level of other rows. There are many available sources and destinations. You can even modulate extra parameters that don't appear in the GUI . A quick run through the manual was all it took to familiarize myself with the multitude of choices. Something very unique about DUNE is that it enables us to modulate up to 8 distinct unison voices using the ModMatrix. Unison voices can also be combined and modulated in unique ways. This is a brilliant new concept. One that opens doors to many new sonic possibilities. However, while this "Differential Unison Engine (DUNE)" is a very nice, unique tool, the merits of this synth should not be based on this revolutionary feature alone. DUNE shines in many respects, and even without the unison voice mangling, it would still stand up to the very best in terms of sound quality.
Indeed, is my opinion that DUNE rivals with the best software synths currently available. My first impression was that it sounds very similar to another very popular and very good 2 Oscillator "Dance music" synth. The more I play with DUNE, the more I am astounded at how good it sounds. It's sharp and punchy but also silky and smooth depending on how you handle it. It makes screaming leads and blissful pads. Punchy basses, percussive/plucked sounds that are vibrant with energy. Not to mention the organs...
DUNE features 2 main Oscillators and one sub oscillator. Each of the two main Osc's have their own FAT knob. Put simply, DUNE stacks copies of the Oscillator (7 copies) and the more you turn the FAT knob, the more the tuning diverges between the stacked Oscillators. In essence, this instantly makes the sound fuller and richer. If that's not enough, as mentioned previously, DUNE also offers up to 8 Unison voices. You can solo one or more of these for precise tweaking. You have control over the amount of detuning and spatial positioning of the Unison. To use DUNE to it's full potential, you will end up using up many voices. But not to worry, it appears that this has been carefully thought out. DUNE features 72 note polyphony. More than double the maximum polyphony available in many synths.
Some very good synths give you a great sound but at a high cost. You trade great sound for high CPU usage. The wonderful thing about DUNE is that it sounds great and is CPU efficient. This translates to 5% to 20 % CPU per patch on my i7 920, depending on the complexity of the patch and on the number of voices being used at any given time. I'd say 15% is the average CPU hit. Not bad at all considering the wonderful sound coming out of it.. Bank C039: IDM Sine MK. What a great sound. It only uses one Oscillator, but each of the 8 Unison voices are pitched differently using the ModMatrix. So although only one Osc is being used, we're in fact hearing many voices. It's a wonderful patch. Simple and effective, and it only uses 5%CPU. I'm going to have to use this one in a lounge project!
Back to the oscillators, it is possible to sync the two main ones. In addition, an automatable and modulatable OSC MIX knob blends the volumes of the 2 OSC's so one can easily morph between the two or create changes in the sound over time. Other basic but effective sound manipulation tools include Pulse Width Modulation, Ring Modulation, A white noise generator, and 2 FM knobs that are used in conjunction with 3 different FM Modes. DUNE's filter is very good. There's a choice of 18 different filter configurations. You can get a smooth to harsh sound depending on what you're after. Turn that resonance knob way high for some serious ringing. Keep it low for some beautifully smooth filter sweeps. There's an envelope knob to control how much the Filter envelope affects the cutoff frequency, a key track knob, and an Offset knob that behaves in different ways depending on the type of filter selected. I am a sucker for quality filters. I own many excellent dedicated filter effects. DUNE's filter is of a great caliber. Another major plus for me.
The GUI is rather simple. All of the main synth parameters are displayed on one page. It's very easy to get the job done without having to click on a bunch of different tabs. There are 4 tabs but not for the main synth parameters. I personally love the grey skin. I use Fl Studio as a host and DUNE matches it's color scheme perfectly. The majority of the parameters displayed can be automated and are available as destination sources in the Mod Matrix.
The presets are mostly dance music oriented with some exceptions. I make Lounge/Trip Hop/Electronica and some of the included presets work very nicely for my style. Other presets require some tweaking and others I will need to make from scratch. It is possible to love this synth even if you don't make Trance/House, etc.. I'm living proof of it. I do hope we'll see some more variety in the presets over time, but it seems a few folks are already working hard on some new banks. If you're into making Dance music though, you have no excuse not to check out this synth.
DUNE also features quality effects. The distortion, phaser, flanger, chorus, and reverb are my favorites.
Customer support is very efficient. The developer, Richard, will go out of his way to make sure his customers and potential customers are happy. My inquiries have always been addressed in a timely manner. The Synapse forum seems like a cool place to hang out and the developer has a presence there. You can talk to him directly.
Conclusion: Very high quality sound. CPU efficient. One of the top 10 best softsynths ever made (yup, I'm going to go there), but that's just my opinion. DUNE can be simple to program, but you can also go very deep with the Mod Matrix and spend lot's of time coming up with new interesting ways to create new sounds. It is going to take me some time to understand all of the possibilities. Playing with DUNE is fun, and very rewarding. Such a good sound. I do hope it evolves over time. I wouldn't mind having one more mod envelope, for example. I have a few feature suggestions that I have now posted in the Synapse forum. I highly recommend trying out the demo of DUNE. Great job Synapse. Your best product to date. Superior quality. And I thought Junglist was great...
The user interface is neat and tidy and very easy to navigate. I love the fact that everything is visible on one screen, and yet it doesn't feel cramped. I like the overall style and look and the middle screen is easy to navigate for the mod-marix also. The keyboard can be hidden with the push of a button to reveal the inbuilt FX.
This synth came out of the blue and just absolutely blew me away. While the presets are nice, I found myself coming up with incredible sounds with very little tweaking in a matter of minutes. The user interface is deceiving as the features LOOK like this is yet another synth with the prerequisite standard features, but as soon as you start playing you 'hear' the magic. This synth could handle everything I threw at it, solid wide bass, leads, pads, bells, percussion. The filters sound lovely and the bass retains its 'grunt' and depth regardless of how you tweak the filter. The highs have a satisfying 'sizzle' that is very reminiscent of the virus sound, which I am a big fan of. The filters and envelopes seem to have a super sharp attack that is very useful for contemporary dance music, sharp leads and percussive sounds. This synth has some real balls and is capable of generating some incredibly rich sounds while only using minimal CPU.
In terms of features, there's a nice mod matrix and some capable inbuilt FX, the rest is comparable to the competition. What really impressed me is the different filter types and the sharp envelopes. If you're looking for a synth with millions of tweakable parts, this is not it. But the features that it does have work beautifully and to be honest, is all you really need. I think anything more would be overkill and would just add unnecessary complications.
The documentation is well written and to the point. I've only referred to it once or twice so far as the synth is quite straight forward.
The presets are nice, there's some good variety here that shows off the different kinds of sounds you can get but they may not be the best examples of what this synth can do. I think of them as good starting points rather than a showcase. There's some good variety but nothing that really blew me away until I started tweaking with them.
Haven't had to deal with support yet but the purchase was quick and painless and there's quite an active forum.
I think the value of money is excellent. This synth has a cutting edge sound and while it lacks a massive amount of features, it makes up for it with amazing sound, and low CPU use.
I'm using it with Logic Express and haven't had any bugs or crashes yet.