It's a crime that this thing is offered for free. You've got a polyphonic 2 oscillator synth with effects, LFOs, and more routing options than a MiniMoog. And they're using it just to promote their other products.
A warning: this review is critical. That's not to say it's a bad review. Actually, the product is great.
There's a couple of nastinesses about the user interface. The full waveform name isn't displayed. The knobs to my mind sit rather uneasily between a 2d and 3d look. The worst bit, though, is the preset manager, which fails to open in the correct directory. This is, of course, a matter of taste. I just don't much like it. On the other hand, the interface is simple and easy to use (unlike plenty of other synths). In particular, the ability to octave-shift the oscillators is very easy to play with.
Is the sound that "classic analogue"? To my ears, not quite, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The presets don't necessarily jump out at you, but there's a lot of workman-like, usable stuff in there.
There are, however, a lot of waveforms, and the jewel in the crown: polyphonic note stealing. Human played pads sound wonderful with this (you can also achieve the effect through careful editing, obviously...) It's a pity none of the presets have limited polyphony to show this off immediately.
As you've probably gathered, I use this thing for pad sounds. Synth basses don't really interest me, and, good though it is, I think there are better free synths for leads.
Feature-wise, I'd say it was "just right". There's enough features to be useful and creative with it, but it doesn't have the kitchen sink and if you want more, you can go buy Albino...
Have to admit, I've never actually read the manual or used the technical support, so I've given them 10. I've never seen it crash either, so that's a genuine 10.
Value for money and value for time is excellent. I guarantee that if you download it and start messing around, it won't be an hour before you can find something to use on a tune. I wouldn't have Alpha dominate the tune but frankly, too many synths try to.
If you've got too many synths already, you really don't need another. On the other hand, if you're starting out, or you just want a different texture for one song, go get it, it won't disappoint you. This isn't one of those free synths where you get what you pay for. It's one of those that leaves you feeling like you've stolen from the developer.
With Magix Samplitude Music Studio 17: no problem.
With Mutools Mulab: No problem.
With SAVIHost: no problem.
With VSTHost: No problem.
With BigTick Zen: No problem.
Beware! Like many VST's Free Alpha is provided to be installed as 32-bit but also to be installed as 64-bit (in the case of FreeAlpha you must launch the same installer twice and make your choice each time).
32-bit VSTs must be used only with 32-bit DAWs.
64-bit VSTs must be used only with 64-bit SAWs.
So... always the same recurrent question which in 95% of the cases resolve the problem: are you sure that you try to use FreeAlpha 32-bit (named "freealpha.dll") with Ableton Live Lite 32-bit and that you try to use FreeAlpha 64-bit (named "freealpha 64.dll") with Ableton Live Lite 64-bit?
blackwinny, thanks very much for the reply. (I use Ableton Live 9 Suite, 32-bit, by the way.) I read the 'Read Me' system requirements for Alpha too quickly, misreading that ProTools was required for it to work. .. my bad - it works just fine. i'm trying out the free version as I'm keen to use its microtuning capabilities.
How to scroll the next Presets after "LD intrusive Lead 2 vv".
There is no scrollbar, cant drag and pull, mousewheel no function...
If i click the browser-button, in the wrapped alpha panel, in bitwig 2.1, i have more presets available...if i choose one of the not visible presets, the preset view in alpha itself jump to the first preset (Alpha !!! BT), but play sometimes the choosed preset not always. Its confusing.