If I had to pick only one synth to do everything I wanted, Octopus might just be that synth. And I am speaking as a big lover of H.G. Fortune synths. Octopus does everything well and most things exceptionally. For Ambient pads, I don’t think anything can replace Absynth, but there are some excellent pads. Some of them are a little quiet. It can do harsh, powerful leads and really beefy basses, almost as beefy as MHC Industrial tones, which must be close to the best. It is a bit lacking on percussion presets and on bells, however by manipulating the existing presets you can make a wide range of voices. It’s not that difficult to use intuitively, just by twiddling knobs. If you put the cursor on a patch box you can drag the value up or down. However, coming with over 300 presets, with more downloadable, there’s a lot of useable stuff in there. There is also a detailed and comprehensive manual. This synth has been out for a while and I am surprised there are not more presets – certainly it seems like an excellent engine for producing them. It is very powerful and can produce a very large range of sounds. You can also load your own waveforms. It is the sound that really impresses with this synth - the sound quality is rich, deep, and quite warm.
There are a lot of very powerful free synths on the market, (Mvm Kobe, Isonnu, Synthopia, Oatmeal) which may not look so impressive but can do some terrific things, and there are also some synth manufacturers whose synths are very inexpensive. It takes something special to make you pay for a mid-priced synth – this synth is about $200 Australian at current exchange rates. Octopus is one of those machines that may be worth it.