I had the chance to work with Nemesis as a beta tester and sound designer for the factory patches and I have to say that Nemesis is one of the most interesting synths of the last years. What makes it particularly interesting to me is the ability to create sounds for a wide range of musical styles; this was already possible with other instruments (for example ElectraX, one of my favourite synths ever), but Nemesis is a little step forward from this point of view.
In this review I'll try to give a short explanation of what I consider the most important peculiarities of Nemesis.
Awesome. This is one of the first things I've noticed when I put my hands on Nemesis for the first time. Unlike many other soft synths that, to my ears, have a muffled sound that needs to be corrected with the EQ, the sound quality of Nemesis is comparable to some of the best hardware synthesizers. The overall sound is balanced and well defined.
As for the previous Tone2 synths is possible to enable the psychoacoustic processing (I really like it), which adds more freshness to the overal sound and helps to make the sounds stand out in the mix, if needed.
There are also several other options in the "configuration" tab which help to better shape the sound of the instrument: Bass Boost, High Boost, two different "Punch" modes (light and heavy), a low cut and hi cut EQ. It's also possible to enable a softclip or a soft limiter (or a combination of both) for the master out, this is very useful when working on modern sounds/songs.
From this point of view the Tone2 synths are the only ones, as far as I know, to provide a wide range of options to shape the overall sound. I consider it an invaluable tool for sound design and when working on my own songs.
Not much to say here. Just like for the previous Tone2 synths the workflow is very intuitive and easy to understand. The user interface is clean and tidy, this makes it much easier to understand how the synth works.
The factory library contains more than 1000 sounds well organized in categories that can be selected in the new patch browser. The quality of the patches is very high and is well suited for many different musical styles: during my tests I've been able to create dance, rock, orchestral and atmospheric music using only the factory presets and with the minimum effort.
The most interesting sounds are those which uses the NeoFM synthesis. It's not so difficult to find some sounds reminiscent of the classic sounds of the FM synths from the past, but at the same time they have something "new" and the overall feeling is more modern and fresh. I really like its ability to recreate also those sounds typical of the sound expanders of '90s, and not necessarily FM based boxes. From this point of view I think that the ability to reproduce a wide number of sounds has been increased further in Nemesis.
The arpeggiated/sequenced patches are also in my favourite list. The new arpeggiator offers a lot of new possibilities and it's very fun to use.
The atmospheric sounds are simply fantastic and combined with the pads are an excellent tool for New Age/Atmo songs.
Being an FM synth the organ and bass sounds are excellent.
There's no need to say that the more modern oriented sounds are top notch and make the most of the new synthesis types.
SYNTHESIS AND PROGRAMMING:
Here's where the fun begins... Nemesis offers 22 different synthesis types! 8 of them are based on the new NeoFM concept but the synth features also classic FM synthesis, wavetable, PWM, formant and more.
The great advantage of the new NeoFM synthesis is that, unlike in classic FM, it's possible to use a wide range of waveforms, and not only sines. Until now any attempt to use different waveforms in FM led to results of little interest from a musical point of view. With Nemesis is possible to explore new possibilities in the realm of sound design, without necessarily cross the boundaries of experimental music.
The NeoFM knob can be used to select the FM amount for each oscillator. This is the most important control for the OSC section and it's also where the magic happens. Usually I like to set a value for this parameter and leave it as is or apply just a bit of modulation (with the LFO routed to it, for example) to let the sound "move" and make it more organic. By the way there's no need to say that it's possible to contol the NeoFM knob in realtime to create a lot of interesting effects, from sounds that resemble a filter opening to the most wild things. The NeoFM knob reacts in different ways depending on the synthesis type, so there are a lot of possible combinations and sound variations that can be played and tested.
Clicking on the oscillator waveform display gives access to the popup menu from where is possible to select the waveform to be used (or load a custom waveform). But the real interesting thing is the Additive Spectral Editor (that can be selected from the same menu): from here it's possible to edit the waveform harmonics and this means that the possibilities to sculpt the sound are endless considering that the synth features 4 oscillators (coupled as carriers and modulators). The Spectral Editor is one of the funniest things in Nemesis for a sound designer, here's where you can really play with the sound and create a unique waveform to be used as a starting point for your patch.
The modulation matrix is one of the most important aspects of this synth. The right choice of sources and destinations can really make a huge difference. I've found really useful to use the second envelope, in addition to the main one, to control the main volume to create powerful bass sounds with an incredible punchy sound, for example. Another interesting trick is to create different waves for each oscillator, with different harmonic values, and then automate their volumes and pan positions in the matrix: the result are some fascinating organic sounds difficult to obtain with other instruments.
In addition to the usual top notch reverbs and delays the FX section has been expanded with some new effects and new routing options (serial, parallel, L/R split and more). One of the most important new options here is the "duck" option that can be selected as a destination in the modulation matrix to control the duck level by the modulation source. Among the new effects is worth to mention the reverb feedback: this new reverb model sounds fantastic! I like it a lot for atmospheric sounds and long pads.
Last but not least Nemesis features a new stereo trance gate, very useful for rhythmic stuff.
Given the nature of the instrument the CPU load is reasonably low even in my old computer. The software is stable and I never experienced any crash so far.
It's been a long time since I enjoyed a synth so much! I'm very picky when it comes to choose an instrument to be used regularly in my setup, especially with soft synths. My preference goes to those instruments that can be programmed very fast and that have a great sound and playability. The last time I enjoyed a synth so much has been with ElectraX. Now I'm more than happy to have added Nemesis to my synth collection.
If there is still room for improvement I would like to have an additional LFO (an additional LFO is always welcome, eheh!) and a third envelope generator. Other than this I think Nemesis is a very stable and powerful synth with his own character and peculiarities with unique sound shaping options.