First let me start my review with this from the manual:
EMM Knagalis is a specialized AU and VSTi sample-based synthesizer, modelled around the structural elements of the Sitar, the famous Indian lute. But the same elements also work for bagpipes and other "ethnic" instruments. Its basic sound set includes various stringed and percussive melodic instruments, such as the Santur (Indian salterium), the MBira (thumb piano), and the Shamishen, as well as many Bagpipes, a wind instrument which was included in the sound set because its legato playing style and drone accompaniment fitted the design of the synth.
The EMM Knagalis sample set includes three layers:
Sympathetic Resonance Layer (polyphonic)
Drone Layer (monophonic)
Using this design, it is possible to emulate any melodic instrument which features sympathetic resonances and drones.
The Drone and Sympathetic Layers are also used to enhance the emulation of different ethnic instruments; for example, in the MBira sound, the Drone layer is used to simulate the buzzing effect produced by tiny metal pieces nailed to the wood box of the instrument. Similarly, the Sympathetic Layer adds the rich polyphonic resonance of the other reeds of the thumb piano.
EMM Knagalis brings you an experience beyond that of standard ROM players. The clever architecture, and the unlimited
custom and ethnic scale modes of this VST synthesizer can give you sounds much closer to real world ethnic instruments.
If you are still reading I can tell that to my ears, it is very easy with no or little knowledge, to create realistic sounding ethnic instruments.
The plugin comes with 30 soundsets (instruments) and 111 presets and 99 different scales so there is plenty to start with.
It is also possible to make user defined scales and even though you can't load your own samples you can blend the existing soundsets.
The manual explains this in a good and understandable way.
I can highly recommend this plugin if you are looking for that ethnic flavour in your tracks, and don't wanna use static samples, but instead create your own melodies and have a lot more control over the sound and feel of the instrument(s).
Installation went smoothly and it is very friendly on the CPU too.
I gave it 4 out of 5 stars because you know the five stars are reserved for that mythical plugin we're all forever waiting for :-).
Highly original and very authentic "feel" of the sounds. To get the most use of it, get familiar with the controls, they are simple to understand. The sound quality is good and the brings so much spice to my arsenal of synths and samplers. I am no expert in world sounds, but this plugin brings an aura of different cultures, beyond conventional sample libraries.
Keep an eye on the scaling system and the Master controls along with the Drone settings. The behavior is mostly controlled by these settings. You might want to use an external reverb instead of the one provided to get more varied sound out of it.
Ok. Let’s get down to the facts. This is not your normal subtractive VA. This is not FM. It is not like 500 other VSTi’s around. But is this a positive or negative? Good products get copied until there are hundreds of copycats. 100’s of different products fail and are quickly forgotten. So do you need something like EMM Knagalis? If you don’t have a subtractive VA, you need that instead. If you don’t have FM, you need that instead. If you don’t have a drum machine or sampler, you need those more. But, if you have the basic covered then go for something different. Does anyone really need 10 different VA’s?
Knagalis brings a bit of variety and flavor to my VSTi lineup. Sometimes this is just what is needed to give a bit of inspiration. It is not something that I would grab for most songs, but it is something that I can play around with and come up with an idea that may not have happened with a standard VA. For this reason it is a nice addition to a mature lineup.
Pro’s: Good sound. Easy interface. Different. Great support.
Con’s: May not be as useful as many other VSTi’s that you probably already own.
Let me be clear that although I was a beta tester for this instrument, my opinions are not influenced by that honor.
This little wonder is clearly superb in not only it's preset sounds, but in it's ability to be tweaked almost endlessly. From Sitars to Shenai's to other strings and flutes and will more ethnic scales than anyone could ever use!
As a beta tester, I get to somewhat suffer the birthing pains along with the Dashsignature developers, but anyone can follow along by reading on the kvr forum and see the process for themself. I mention this because in that forum, you will see attention to detail and sound quality addressed again and again. These issues are handled and improved by the Dash team in a very rapid and excellent manner and the results show up for the end user in the fantastically superb quality of the instruments. EMM is no exception. In fact just today there is a minor update to make it work more smoothly in an FX wrapper that was only updated itself a few days ago!
If you care for ethnic sounds, Bagpipes, various odd strings, flutes, etc. this VSTi is a "MUST" have item.
I will suggest a buying tip to users also... check out the package deals for the sets of VSTi's from Dashsignature.... wow, what generous and great offers!!