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Reviewed By Z3R0T0N1N [read all by] on 23rd December 2006
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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EST is nearly unique in concept, and totally unique in execution. This is one of the most flexible, fun, useful, and totally stable VST plugins i have ever used, and i wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new and fun way to use samples in thier music.
GUI: extremely well done, and very attractive, the GUI is deceptively simple and clean while keeping all of the myriad functions at a click away. I'm sure there was a great deal of thought that went into the layout, because it comes through in pure useability. It would be easy to make a mess of something so deep, but SonicBytes has made this powerful instrument a joy to use.
I only have one negative comment, and that is that the function selectors at the top-left could maybe be in a more logical order; but then, perhaps there is a reason that i have missed. Basically, it comes down to taste more than function, and it has never hindered my enjoyment of this instrument.
Sound: Since the sound comes mainly from samples, it can be as good as your source material. But the quality of playback is very high; samples are played back very accurately, with no aliasing. The shaping abilities are numerous and of high quality, including the filters which sound excellent, and have a nice overdrive option. If the goal is, for instance, to use EST for an analogue style bassline synth, the filter is smooth enough, even at high resonance, to be perfectly convincing.
Features: too many to go over in this space, this is packed with unique and useful features. The main feature is the sequencer; it has both piano-roll and drum grid, switchable with a single click at any time. Switching from piano roll to drum grid part way through composing a sequnce, and back again, is totally fine, and is useful for tuning certain drum hits in a sequence, or many other purposes. It has 12 slots, each of which has its own piano roll, as well as sound settings. The sequencer is a truly incredible piece of engineering, and is equally capable of creating an entire track as it is of being a simple arpegiator. Each sequence can have up to 16 variations. Each step can be different in up to 10 ways from each of the others, by using the 'values' lanes. I could go on for an hour and still not cover it all; the only way to really understand what it is capable of is to try the demo, and read the excellent illustrated manual.
the other main feature that i will mention is the different sample modes; these include five different loop settings, and interestingly enough, an 'oscillator' setting wich includes five different oscillator 'mix' modes: sub1 through 3 which are suboscillator settings, normal, and noise which allows you to mix in a white noise signal to your liking.
There are more features, but that's what demos are for :)
Basically EST can be used as a multitimbral sampler, a groovebox, a classic 'workstation' type of instrument, or even a multitimbral synthesizer. All that, and nice to look at too!
Docs: EST has a PDF manual, and an online guide. They give a basic, easy to understand overview of all the features. It could perhaps be more indepth, but it is a very good way to get a basic understanding of EST.
Presets: i would like to see more presets come with EST, But there are soundsets available from 7fan which include presets, and are quite good sounding.
Customer Support: Holger, of SonicBytes, is a friendly and helpful person who does his very best to help customers through any difficulties they may have, as well as listen to (and even implement) feature requests for his products. There ought to be more companies like SonicBytes.
Value For Money: top! the price of this instrument is more than reasonable for such a powerful and fun plugin. In fact, it's downright cheap! It has been more than worth it.
Stability: i have never had EST crash, or even glitch. NEVER. It is among the most stable programs i have ever used. It's very stable in every way, and CPU consumption is much lower than one might expect for such a thing.

All in all, this has been an excellent purchase. I bought it well over a year ago, and it is still easy to find new and fun ways to use it. EXCELLENT!

-g
Reviewed By Motion [read all by] on 27th July 2004
Version reviewed: V1.0.1 on Windows.
Last edited by Motion on 1st August 2004.
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EST has a great GUI,everything is laid out with all other functions 1 click away.EST is adorned with tasteful cool icon work throughout its various pages.The main volume level control with tri colour gas plasma metering includes dynamic polyphony count which is a nice touch.It's not easy to get the ergonomics of such an interface right given all the features and size of the GUI.The main visual difference from ERA is the track/kits with its 12 sample triggers/loaders.A mixture of widgets and icons with a combination of left and right clicking with dragging in ESTs interface lets you access and ajust all the functions.

EST has 12 polyphonic sample parts,the sound twisting and sonics are considerable when the samples are manipulated with ESTs functions and that's where the fun really begins.

For more general info on the various stepping functions and controls etc please see the review on ERA.EST has 12 polyphonic sample parts,Slot functions such as forwards,backwards and one shot,sample offsets can be set for simple beat slicing along with unison and chord mode,various filters are on offer with cut off and resonance.There is 2 X lfos with several modulation routings,there is also modulatable envelopes with various routings and assignments per part.You can also use the samples as oscillator waveforms for a 12 part synth.

There is a cool live arpeggiator function and the glorious gates,fills and hits functions.There is lots of features and not enough words I can say here.Check out the specs yourself.

A very good Pdf manual is supplied with integrated tutorials to get you up and running and explains the rudiments of EST as well as ESTs more sophisticated offerings.

To get you going there is a nice downloadable pack from SonicBytes which contains various samples,banks and presets.You will be wanting to roll your own very soon and stamp your own sonic style.The 7Fan Sound Block 01 and 02 sample banks are 3rd party and cost about 5 Euro
each,various patterns are included,these will really show off how great EST can sound when you start mixing it up.

As ever support is first class with Holger.

You really need to bear in mind with EST the price,it's 69 Euros,when you consider the live playing,improvisation and sheer jamming power,then include all the other functionality it is incredible value for money.

EST behaved admirably in Tracktion,Sonar and Pro5 without a crash,I hammered EST with mad tempos and all sorts and it didn't fall over.

Why would you want EST? "Isn't it just another sampler" well the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.There is something about old school step sequencers(except this ones on steroids)that lend a particular quality and character to the style and sound,in other words EST has its own special charms and the workflow is great.Holger is also implementing timestretch functions which will sonically enhance the creativity of EST further.

Another sound thug!from SonicBytes and a class act at that.

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EST

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