Put aside omnisphere and all those over priced programs because this is the all in one for free synths. I don't really ever write reviews for VST plugins but this is absolutely nuts. The sound manipulation is super crazy if you know what you're doing and all the presets are top notch. From trance to trap styles to 80's synthwave you name it, If only I could give this 6 stars.
If you are looking for a synth with an excellent sound which is cheap and easy to program you are right here.
This test relates to FireBird+ v1.9
I am FireBird user since 2 years now. I have use it in several professional tracks and also did sounddesign. I really know this machine ;-)
User Interface: The best user interface of *ALL* vst plugins. At the first view it looks like a one trick one-trick-pony. But it's extremely effective and very easy to use.
Fun: FireBird+ has the best usability of *ALL* vst plugins. It's simply genious. Playing with this synth is pure fun. If you press the random button you get a new sound - but a usefull one.
Sound: FAT. From science fiction to analogue. The demo mp3s don't really show it's real power. It's not only a trance machine. Be sure that you download the demo of v1.9. A weak point of FireBird v1.2.1 was the reverb. Tone2 has improved this and a lot of other things with FireBird+.
Features: At the first view it looks like a one trick pony. But it's definitely not. Fetures which are not often needed are hidden in the setup screen. The synth is smart and does a lot of things 'audtomatically'. That's why there is no knob necessary.
Docs: Avaliable in a lot of translations.
Presets: The synth ships with more than 300 presets. Additional 700 are available in soundbanks. All presets are usefull.
Customer support: Unlike big companies like NI or Steinberg you get personal support from pros. You're a person, not only a number.
Value for money: It's a steal and an absolute must-have. It costs only €59. It's worth €119.
Stability: Tone2 has provided several free updates. FireBird+ v1.9 is rock solid.
One of the best syths out there. Great sound, excellent usability and cheap. A MUST HAVE!
[UI] the interface for firebird is awesome. there are several skins to choose from and they are all very well done. a LOT of attention to detail and TLC went into the UI. the simplicity of layout and the beautiful tactile feel of the controls is really great. the setup screen is dead simple and it's very easy to use this synth to achieve great sounds quickly. everything important is on one screen and all of the complexity is hidden away from you leaving you only to worry about your sound (the way it should be IMO). the only slightly confusing thing is how the modulation wheel mapping is in the setup screen. it's odd only because setup is usually a global thing, but in firebird there are patch based settings in the setup screen. not a deal breaker for me though at all :)
[SOUND] firebird sounds incredible. it's got some huge sounding filters and the distortion / drive is particularly awesome. the sheer number of filter types on offer is quite insane - but coming from tone2 we expect nothing less than greatness. the various waveforms available are versatile and cover a very wide variety of sound creation possibility and it's simple to quickly change and sculpt the sound by combining them in different ways. my *favorite* part of this synth is the FAT and ANALOG knobs in the sound source section, simply twisting these two at various degrees (which are obviously tuned with TLC to really be useful) is so much fun. you can alter the brightness, tone, and thickness of the sounds to be much more intense as needed, or back it off (which i find myself doing more of because firebird has so much balls) to make things fit more into a given mix.
[FEATURES] the features available are very good and easy to use. there are all the staple features you'd expect from a great synth and a few you wouldn't like an advanced IQ micro-tuning system that actually makes a significant difference to the sound output. it's this kind of attention to detail that firebird has all over. there are governors for polyphony and quality for machines that are older or slower as well. i have 0 complaints about the features. Markus (the developer) even added a feature that I requested to allow for my inacurate pitchbend to work better.
[DOCUMENTATION] the documentation is adequate. i didn't really need it though. it's available in 3 different languages, which is nice.
[PRESETS] the factory banks (3 of 128 each) are awesome. the 3rd bank is a nice touch as it is the "init" bank so you can roll your own sound bank with ease. bank A and B have some excellent sounds for electronic music. really good ones that illustrate what this synth can do. the sounds range in category from bass to lead to pad to others and are useful and organized by prefix so it's a snap to dial in a sound you are looking for without hunting around too much. i've already mentioned the fat and analog knobs but i need to mention them again because with those 2 knobs every preset gets a new life. the randomizer is quite a cool feature too that is built into firebird and 90% of the time provides something new and interesting and somewhat useful.
[SUPPORT] customer support from tone2 in my experience has been great. i've not had any issues with the synth besides the one i mentioned with my pitchbender and that was addressed in v1.9 after almost 3 months of no word from the developer it was quite cool to get a personal email announcing the availability of the new version with that support added in. it was an excellent gift and will keep me a customer of tone2 for a long time to come.
[VALUE FOR MONEY] the cost for this synth is €59, $79 which is a total value in my opinion for what you get. after spending quality time with this synth you can tell that a huge amount of effort and insight went into it's plans. the price is fully justified and then some. well worth the outlay.
[STABILITY] i've had no issue with firebird in the following hosts: cantabile 1.2, orion platinum 7, tracktion3, energyxt 1.x, ableton live6, flstudio 7, and renoise. i have not used firebird in an extreme scenario yet though, mainly i use it for bass and lead sounds to compliment other synths when doing electronic music.
[SUMMARY] if you need a good synth with very high quality sounds for a modest price you can do a hell of a lot worse than firebird. if you are new and want to learn about synths and how to program sounds firebird is an excellent choice as it's so damned easy to use and easy to get a good sound out of. it is very encouraging to design sounds when the sound coming out is beautiful to your ears.
I was reluctant to give this synth a 10 in every category, because to some people that might imply that it can't possibly be improved, but *anything* can be improved, and I just wouldn't feel right about giving it anything less than the best scores in all categories.
This is where Firebird really shines, IMHO, because you can have the greatest-sounding synth in the world, but if it's a chore to use, then, well. . . you won't be using it much! This thing is a joy to work with. The controls are presented in a logical, fashionable, and usable way. Call it German engineering. ;-) It must be understood, however, that simplicity of design does *not* imply lack of functionality or a dearth of features. Read on.
Although it *can* be used as a virtual analog synth, Firebird sounds refreshingly digital. The filters are simply outstanding, and there are plenty to choose from. The user has the option of selecting low, average, high, or ultra quality, which is great when you want to have several instances of Firebird active and don't have the fastest CPU in the world. I use the low or medium setting and then switch to high before bouncing tracks or rendering the song. Did I mention that it sounds fantastic? It does. ;-)
A very nice arpeggiator, a good LFO that's routable to any one of several places, many quality effects, glide mode (1 key or 2), and the ability to apply "modifiers" to the oscillators (which incredibly enhances the amount of sounds you can create).
The manual is basic, but well-written and easy to read.
You'll want to make your own, but the ones that are included are excellent and show you what's possible. (Well, *hint* at what's possible, anyway.)
Marcus provides very good support to his customers.
VALUE FOR MONEY:
It's *so* very well worth the price. For far less than 100 dollars, this is an unbelievable deal.
The latest version of Firebird+ is 100% stable. It's also very quick to load and totally "glitch-free."
I've tried the great majority of VSTi synths and this is my favorite of them all. I end up using it time and time again because it's a pleasure to use and it sounds great.
FireBird is a synth I had been looking at for a long time and was very interested in. Loved its easy to use yet powerful features/sound shaping possbilities. But something was missing for me. The sound just wasn't quite as nice as I wanted it to be. I always thought "gee, this synth just doesn't sound as good as it should, it's almost there, but not quite." Well, this issue has been fixed, big time.
FireBird+ is a huge improvement over the previous versions sound quality wise. The filters have been seriously upgraded, the overall sound is much better, and this synth is absolutely among the very best sounding software synths ever made.
As I already said, something I really love about this synth is the fact that it's really not hard to understand and it's quick to program, yet the sound design possibilities are remarkably broad thanks to the HCM synthesis approach. It's just really fun to work with. I seriously can't say the word "fun" when it comes to tweaking some other synths I like. FireBird+ is one of the very few that are powerful as well as fun to program.
If you're into synthesis in general and are looking for a synth that can give you the possibility to produce sound in a different way and that can give you powerful, mean sounds, lush sounds, windy sounds, organ sounds, and unique sounds you don't hear from anything else, you really shouldn't miss it.
It's now mid 2012 and this synth still holds up nicely, and the sound has been improved significantly again since version 1.8, but that was a while ago. Unfortunately, it seems that FireBird won't be getting some of the newer features and improvements like those featured in Tone2's Gladiator (newer HCM engine, better oversampling, newer filters), so it seems FireBird is pretty much abandoned in favor of the other HCM synth. It's still nice for what it is, and unique.
I have great news for you if you missed out on the Firebird group buy here at KVR. Firebird is easily worth the full asking price ($69 at the time of this review).
I casually monitor group buys here at KVR and had decided against getting Firebird based on 1) the fact that I own a couple of other synths that I thought filled a similar space in my toolbox, and 2) comments from users (and a review in CM) that say it is ideally suited for trance, a genre that is far afield from my own purposes.
I can't remember what prompted me to try the demo, but that was what changed my mind, and fast!
The first thing I noticed was the sound. Since sound is subjective, I will just say that I liked it right away. When I listen to a synth I always try to envision whether I can use it in my own music, and with Firebird I was able to hear it almost instantly. I am not a trance expert, so for all I know it *may* be ideally suited for trance, but I was able to imagine it playing a role in my pop/rock/acoustic/ambient recordings.
The other things that really made a difference for me were the arpeggiator (which has a built-in gate) and the drop-down programming menus. The same way that some people prefer to use a roland-stlye "XOX" pattern sequencer, I wish ALL my synths had drop down programming menus. I'm a preset tweaker by nature, but Firebird makes me want to program my own sounds (and I have been doing just that). The "Random" button will give you a whole new leaping off point, including which waveforms are used in the patch. A couple of my "Random" patches were so good I just saved them the way they were without any tweaking at all.
User Interface: the interface is uncluttered, and designed to keep things simple. It does this well. A few users on the forum (myself included) have commented on the appearance of the gui (chiefly the knobs) and Markus has responded with openness and interest. If you break down the gui into its functionality and its appearance, I would give it perfect marks for functionality and say that I wouldn't mind if it got a little bit of a facelift.
Sound: I like it. Try the demo.
Features: If other devs are smart, they will adopt Markus' best features on their own synths. Menus, arpeggiator, random button. In addition, I like that rather than having fully-programmable FX, he has multiple types of the same effect and you can tweak 2 parameters of each. Not revolutionary, I know, but this idea is in keeping with the user-friendly concept of Firebird.
Documentation: Haven't needed it much, but I did glance over it to find out what the "Pop" button does.
Presets: It comes with 300, and they do a good job of showing what Firebird can do. Since it is so easy to program, I would love to see Markus host a preset exchange.
Customer Support: While I haven't had any issues that needed resolving, I gave a ten here because of three things: First, Markus' presence here at KVR. Second, he once sent me an email just to check if his messages to me were arriving marked as SPAM. Talk about attention to detail! Third, like I said, I haven't had any issues that needed resolving, and that is a good thing! I emailed Markus with a couple of feature requests, and he responded very quickly.
Value For Money: It's great. Sign me up for any expansions!
Stability: No problemns there.
I told Markus I would like to see a mute button for each of the oscillators. I would also like to see some more pattern options for the arpeggiator/gate. I would also like to have lots more sounds (which I understand is in the works). I would like to have several skin options. These things are minor and Markus has said that the version 1.1 update will be out soon.
I was given this synth to betatest and to be honest it was good 'ol fun testing this one.
Firebird is a synth with a very rich sonic palette, good featureset, high quality oscillators and low on cpu use. On top of that you have the possibility to switch to low, medium, high or ultra quality oscillators.
It offers beginners an easy way to get fast results as well as tweakers the features to go beyond the standard patching. It does however take a bit of looking beyond the everyday VA controls to see where some of the more advanced features of Firebird can actually take you, a quick glance at the interface reveals perhaps an ordinary VA with some extra flavours thrown into it, but it is much more then just that.
The Harmonic Content Morphing gives you wavetable like features, but takes it all a bit further and gives it's user many more ways to manipulate selected waves. Wavemodifiers like sync, flange, hyper, spread and the other twenty modifiers give good results when used in combination with any of the included waves, often instantly giving something exciting and useable. Combined with the loopmodes, lfo's and good sound quality it's easy to come up with presets that would have been hard to program with other synths.
On top of that a nice bunch of filters are included, Resample, M-shape, Vocal and several FM types for example make it easy to come up with somewhat more extreme presets, or when used moderately with the loopmodes good ambient drones and pads.
Firebird already comes with a good selection of presets but additional soundbanks have been announced, next to that I can see more waveforms expanding it even more.
It's a good synth if you're looking for something that delivers the basic stuff but also packs that bit of extra, especially if you're into more experimental sounds it's easy to get outstanding patching done on this one, but if you simply want a good bass or lead it's just as easy. The only con for me would be that I would like to see more mod possibilities, seeing however how much already can be done with version 1, I can imagine features like more mod destinations make it into a next version. I'm looking forward to see what the future will bring for Firebird and Tone2.
User interface 8/10 -------------- It may not be the most sophisticated looking synth ever, but it's clearly laid out and very easy to use in practice.
Sound 10/10 ------------ If you're looking for a synth for dance or electronic music, this is THE ONE. It's fat, it's huge, it's powerful, and it sounds contemporary. It's not just a trance synth either, it's equally at home for electro, breaks, drum'n'bass, and even outside of electronic genres if you're prepared to tweak.
The sound quality is great (you can even adjust the quality to save CPU, and turn 'high' quality on when bouncing).
Another plus is the Harmonic Content Morphing and the Modifiers. The Modifiers allow you to alter the waveform harmonics, for example by stacking one wave on top of itself but an octave higher for a richer sound. There are many modifiers, and it pays to experiment with them because it can pull your sound in new directions you may not have thought of. And Harmonic Content Morphing - this is my favourite part of the synth - most of the waveforms are actually like wavetables, and you can adjust the speed and way that Firebird plays back these wavetables (we call them Morphtables in the manual). The Morphtables can be played back slow or fast, and it really gives character and movement to your oscillators. It's like have an LFO altering the sound of each oscillator over time, and it can make it sound *really* big and juicy! One of my favourite tricks is to use a slow loopspeed (eg BPM/8) on lead or pad sounds to turn them into fat juice. This combined with the "Fat" knob (kind of like a unison) can create some monster sounds
Feaatures 8/10 ---------
The sheer range of sounds available from this simple synth is staggering. It looks very simple, and is very simple to use, but there's just the right amount of features to make it a very powerful synth indeed. Just look at the number of waves available - plenty of different waves for almost every occasion. It may not have a multipage modulation matrix, but it can certainly achieve alot of different sounds. I wouldn't mind another dedicated LFO though, that's why I didn't give Features a 10
Documentation 8/10 -------------- I wrote the manual so I can't comment on this one (I wish I could put N/A). I've put down 8/10 though because I know it's not extremely detailed, but I wanted it to be straight to the point as a reference guide.
Presets 9/10 -------- The presets are very dance/electronic orientated, but they're very good (and there are three factory banks which come with it). I'm not normally a preset junkie but I've found alot of the presets useable with little, if any, tweaking.
Customer Support 8/10 ---------------- Markus seems to have good customer support, attending to all enquiries/bug reports eventually. It's pretty good support for a one man show, as he doesn't have a dedicated support person (he does it himself)
Value for Money 10/10 ---------------- I didn't pay for this synth - I was given a not for resale licence from Tone2 because I wrote the user manual.
Quite clearly 10/10 for value for money though - I would gladly pay twice the asking price for Firebird. It's really really affordable, and you get alot of power for your money.
Stability 8/10 -------- It did crash a few times when I first got it, when I was trying to insert it into a complex project I had going, but it hasn't happened for a long while. I think it might be something to do with my host/computer, because now that I've started projects from scratch there have been no crashes. I'm not sure if Firebird can be blamed, even though Windows said it was Firebird that was crashing... very strange. I haven't heard any else have this problem though
I really liked Firebird from the first moment I installed the demo. The interface is incredibly clean, intuitive, and filled with a number of immediately useful presets. The built-in arpeggiator couldn't be easier to use. This instrument is much deeper than first take, which says a lot for how well-thought out and organized this instrument is. My biggest use so far has been for basses that get noticed in a mix, and for string textures and pads that have motion, and more subtlety than most other approaches. This short review only hints at the versatility of the instrument, which can also do some nice vocal textures. Leads are terrific here also, and I can't think of another plug-in that can take you faster to the sound you're thinking of within the pallet that Firebird offers. As far as stability is concerned, never had a problem with it. Try it out for something versatile, powerful, intense, subtle, and shimmering -- it really has a character all its own. At this price it's really a bargain, so don't pass it up. Don't assume that the simple interface means simple sounds without much variation -- just the opposite! Looking forward to the next stuff from Tone 2 -- this instrument is terrific, it's full of some really inspiring sounds. The only negatives, in a way, are that some of the presets are kind of overpowering, there's more potential for subtle textures than the presets reveal. It also tends to be fairly hot, so make sure you adjust the volume down if you need to on some of the presets. I tried this in Fruity Loops, in Cubase, and in Ableton, no compatibily or interface quirks that I can think of. It's certainly a nice alternative to yet another subtractive synth, or virtual analog hybrid, wave sequencer, etc. Give it a go, you won't be disappointed once you dig into it a little bit. If this were a hardware synth, it would be flying off the shelves at about 20 times this price. Wish I could run it on my Mac also.... :)
Wow...I'm rather suprised this synth has not been reviewed yet. What you get is very good for the asking price. For one thing, Firebird has anti-aliasing oscillators. This allows for the creation of convincing analog sounds as well as very clean, smooth digital textures. You can get quite a variety of sounds out of this thing...it can sound like an analog synth, an FM synth (using the unique FM filter), a wavetable synth (by using the more motion based oscillators and modifying them and messing with the loops) and also timbres unique to the type of synthesis Firebird uses (Harmonic Content Morphing synthesis, I believe it's called). There are some very interesting filter types in Firebird-- FM filters, an AM filter, 30db Lowpass (for those screaming acid lines), a vocal filter, a desamble filter, etc, etc. This allows for very different textures than most synths out there. Most of the parameters in Firebird can be synced to host tempo-- a very important feature for those into ambient/electronica. Even the oscillator loops are tempo syncable. Firebird comes with a couple hundred presets to get you started (for those who use presets). However, Firebird is dead easy to figure out and novices should be able to crank out new sounds from scratch in no time at all. Although this synth is quite capable of more commonly used timbres (FM and analog), I think this synth is built more toward those who wish to stand out from the crowd and be different. It has found a lot of use in my DAW for creating etherial soundscapes, ambient textures and cold, futuristic tones. I've even managed to get some glitch-esque tones out of it through thoughtful programming. Only cons I can think of is that CPU usage is moderate. Not a CPU hog, but not synth1, either. On my 3.6 Ghz machine with 2 GB ram, if I play a thick chord and turn on the FX, CPU usage is about 12%. Not bad, actually, but could be better considering this isn't a big synth with pages upon pages of menus and a snotload of oscillators per voice. I recommend Firebird not only because of the price, but because of the synth's sonic character as well. If you dabble in the more futuristic and spacey music styles, go out and grab this puppy.
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