This is my first review of a VSTi. I was compelled to write something after using Mr. Ray 73 in a recent project.
I’ve owned and played a Fender Rhodes Seventy Three MK2 quite a bit in my (apparently not misspent) youth and have many fond memories of the sweet and subtly overdriven sounds this instrument is capable of. The modeling in Mr. Ray 73 is very close to the real thing. In fact better than anything I’ve heard in a VSTi, even commercial “Big Name” plugins.
The emulation is quite good but is limited in the upper octaves. Some grunge (aliasing?) is audible and quite pronounced when playing chords. Perhaps this is a limitation of the model and lack of adequate filtering. If you need to play in the upper registers a lot, you may find this to be an annoyance.
In the mid-range of the keyboard and the bass octaves the emulation is quite good with only a hint of grunge appearing in the lowest octave.
There seems to be a small problem with the output (mixer?) stage of this plugin in that with the volume knob turned up high enough, some distortion or break-up is heard. I don’t recall this happening with my MK2 and it could be a problem in need of a fix. High velocity notes, particularly in the lower octaves, will sometimes cause the same sort of peak distortion in the output.
A serious limitation of this VSTi is not with the emulation, but with the controllers most of us will use to play it. Unfortunately, you can’t get the hammer-tine action of a real 73Mk2 from a synth keyboard. And trying to get close to the response of a real 73Mk2 will require matching your keyboard with an appropriate velocity curve. The three included in the plugin (linear, logarithmic, and exponential) are too extreme in their differences to be very useful. I thought that the “HARD” (exponential) preset would get me closer to my memories, but ended up using “NORMAL” (logarithmic) and tweaking things further in my host application.
It’s worth mentioning that to really get the best out of this plugin, it would ideally be paired with an amp&cabinet emulation of some kind. There are a few good free ones around and some rather convincing commercial ones (e.g., Guitar Rig). Pushing Mr. Ray (and even Mr. Tramp) through one of these would be more than worth your while since this is how most people will identify with the sound of a Rhodes 73.
To sum up, this VSTi is musically inspiring and highly recommended. A welcome change from the seemingly endless flood of trance-style SE clones out there. VST developers take note: more like this please!