Alright. Haven't written a review in a bit, but ... I just have to when it comes to Phaseplant. It's THE new kid on the block, I believe taking the crown from Serum. Hear me out:
You can pretty much define your synth. Number of oscilators (quite a variety of them in fact), samplers, granulators ... then you can route them to effect lines. In those effect lines you have all the power of their snapin (plugins in plugin) system. Stroke of a genius really, because these snapins can share not only audio, but also MIDI triggers, modulations and automatization assignments with the synth. That opens SO many possibilities. ... oh and have I mentioned that the whole oscilator section has audio-rate modulation? It can do any kind of FM routing you can imagine. Wanna do linear FM from a wavetable OSC? No problem. Wanna do exponential FM from a granular sampler? Easy. Phase modulation by static noise? Not even a drop od sweat. Come on. THIS is synth-nerd heaven.
I have never seen a synth with more thought-through user interface. If you're used to regular V/A's, there will be a learning curve, yes, but stuff you can do in this thing rivals the likes of Falcon or Reaktor. Even surpasses them in some aspects (wavetable editor for example). Yet it never feels like you've stopped making music and started "coding" the synth. It stays ... fun. Love it.
Clean. Stable. No high-end smearing usually heard on other "multipurpose" synths. No problems there. It has the same "aspect" as Serum. It's not warm out of the box. You need to make it warm with a bit of saturation and flutter, but hey. That's actually a plus in my book. Makes it more versatile.
As a cherry on top, these guys NAILED the whole plugin economy. Let's face it, the market is so saturated by now that just selling plugins is not profitable enough to even live by. Only hanful of people can do it and it's usually for brand loyality reasons. That's why you see all the subscription models popping up. But Kilohearts's subscription is the only subscription I don't mind paying. Here's why:
!!!EVERYBODY TAKE NOTES!!! This is how you do subscription. They nailed not just the synth itself, but also the sales aspect of it.
And also if you bump into theese guys at a convention, they're awesome to talk to. :) My fav developer at the moment.Read Review
Arguably the most versatile soft synth at the moment. The only downside is that you need to invest into the Khs Snapin pipeline to get the most out of it, but it's absolutely worth it. All of the effects are high quality and the modular nature allows you to do whatever you want. Great UI too. Phase Plant presents limitless sound design possibilities, the day I started using the whole Khs Toolbox was the day I could never live without it again and I mean that very sincerely.Read Review
I tried the demo and really think this is a great new synth; even for a person like myself who (because of tired overworked eyes) isn't always able to find my way around a typical full-to-the-brim synthesizer GUI. Kilohearts' subscription model (giving back to the user a great percentage of invested money) the and bundle options are a little higher than I would like, but its okay, if it were easier to grasp (it would be nice if Kilohearts would put a one-page comparison on the website, like NI and Image Line have.) But this synth is extremely easy to get into, in a good way. And the results are inevitably original. The presets one creates tend to become attention grabbing ear candy pretty quickly - I came up with about 5 or so presets that definitely are useable. The fact that it was relatively easy to learn was great. It was a new world - Using waves and wavetables as modulation sources in an unlimited way, something that my old Bitwig license and my Serum demo haven't done to that extent.The closest thing I've experienced with this kind of bizarre creative potential was a feature in Cycle by Amaranth Audio, in which I was able to modulate an entire synth using another synth's created waveform. (Don't ask me how I did it now, it was a non-advertised feature at the bottom of the interface.) Music genres like dubstep haven't been my thing. I guess NI's Massive had an impact on its development. Serum was apparently another significant move towards helping artists of genres like that, and it has its fair share of features that match and even surpass what's in Phase Plant (filters, distortion, certain things in Serum's warping, number of stock wavetables, ability to lock preset fx chains and load new presets over them). And yet Phase Plant is more customizable in genera. It has staggering flexibility, that goes into areas of sound design that I think Serum isn't very well cut out for. VPS Avenger is another synth with a lot of promise, and Falcon is as well. But while the GUI's of those, and the import and workflow requirements for the visually impaired, were prohibitive, Phase Plant is not that difficult to get started with. I watched about 30-45 minutes of tutorials online and needed to follow up for about 30 minutes more to learn how to mess with the wavetable import and editing, which were less obvious than I would have thought, but still pretty straightforward. And the results were exceptionally "moving". One thing that makes me think twice about giving a 5 star review (but there's no other synth with this specific and very useful feature set to my knowledge, so 5 stars it is) is the confusing price structure.
My demo included the ability to modulate fx parameters, which at times was important to the result, and at times not. There is a subscription plan that allows (until otherwise stated) one to use $100 in coupons after 12 months (consecutive or not) of subscribing, which costs about $119.88. That's pretty fair.
Some of the snap ins are probably not that needed, so I'm estimating that in about 2 1/2 years one should own a working system, IF one could add the individual parts at the price they come to in their respective bundles.
Or, does one purchase the Pro Bundle and be done with it. This comes with pretty much everything except Carve EQ and Slice EQ (and probably this is not essential for my workflow since I could parse my sounds and do EQ'ing and modulating after the synth; but there's always the chance that modulating some EQ parameters within the plugin could get interesting...
From my understanding $349 covers the cost of the synth and all the synth-needed plugins EXCEPT the EQ's Faturator and Disperser (premium ones). I've done a list that I think sums it up (if you work for Kilohearts please let me know to correct any errors. If the Pro Bundle was $270 I would have purchased it tonight. On the other hand some are arguing that it would take more than 5 years at $120 per year to cover the whole package. Other synth purchasing decisions were easier to assess. I bought Falcon for about $300 and got a $100 coupon for their soundbanks. And unfortunately thus far I've not decided on doing Kilohearts subscription thing or the Fabrice and Steven thing (I may do one of these and I don't think I should do both, which bugs me), and I usually purchase things when I feel inspired and want to break off something tangible that adds to my creativity.
Lastly let me say that I did not find the filters in Phase Plant to be exceptional, and the distortion wasn't insanely good, and I recognize all that. I still feel that this is a 5 star synth workstation, certainly that will be getting better. I want to support it. I realize that the guys who create presets for synths like Spire and Sylenth are not going to be capable of doing unbelievable work in Phase Plant right off the bat, but you guys should link to at least several exceptional Phase Plant preset makers, one way or the other. I'm not a pro, but if I can learn it in an hour and 10 minutes, this is a missed opportunity. Look at it this way, the average musician-preset creator does what appeals to them and sometimes this overlaps with what is popular. To me it would seem that what would be good for Kilohearts would be to find some preset makers to capture Phase Plant's capabilities while still satisfying the market with usefulness and a good preset pack price point ($20).
Epitaph, er I mean Epilogue - My understanding of pricing options:
NOT IN SLATE ALL ACCESS PASS
Phase Plant $ 169
Kilohearts Equalizers $ 99
kHs ONE $ 19
Ensemble $ 29
Flanger $ 29.
NOT INCLUDED IN PROFESSIONAL OR ULTIMATE
ULTIMATE TOOLBOX BUNDLE
FREE WITH PHASE PLANT
About 6 months ago I gave it 3 stars and a long review.
I have been using it for the last 6 weeks and my mind has changed so much I decided to delete the old review and give it 5 stars.
I have dabbled with many synths, but only deeply learned Serum and Zebra 2, and now Phase Plant.
I use Phase plant for fun, as a hobby, I am not selling my patches or music. Thus, I cannot say if it is better or worse for genres of music.
What I can say though is that now I don't use Serum or Zebra 2, because I can do anything I want on this thing.
I got some money so bought ALL the Kilohearts products - at first I thought it was not value for money, but now I know it is, more so, given that all the phase plant FX units can be used externally in your DAW - try Multipass on different channels in your mixer...it's very very good.
The only FX it doesn't have is a granulator, but you can get grain effects by modulating loop points and offset points in the sampler. I have a granulator synth but I have not felt the need to use it. The lack of a true arpeggiator is not missed because I use Cthulhu if I want powerful arpegiation and the pahaseplant LFOs are lovely for making arpeggiator patterns as an alternative (but more limiting) approach to arpeggiation.
I use one instance of phase plant on a MacBook Air 2015 8MB 1.6 Ghz i5.......if I use the POLY function then it is very CPU heavy for my small machine, but for what I do, I cannot hear the benefit of that feature, so it's not stopped me loving this synthesizer.
Well Done Kilohearts.Read Review
Let me start by saying I am a big fan of Kilohearts. They make great, innovative products and they are a fantastic company to deal with, which makes it easy to give Phase Plant a solid recommendation. The method of product delivery and update is terrific and makes normally tedious admin easy. When Phase Plant was released I already had a handful of Snap-Ins and their synth plugin, kHs One, so I was confident it would be a decent synth. At first the price was higher than I was willing to contemplate so I didn't download the demo until they had a half-price sale last year. It took me about two minutes with the trial version to decide to spend the money.
I thought Phase Plant (PP) would be good to use in a more stripped back state, with just the minimum number of modules to deal with. My plan was to make a few different set-ups as presets - e.g. a 2 Osc V/A synth, a simple wavetable synth, etc. - almost like a Reaktor type set-up, and then patch those preset layouts as needed in my production work. You can definitely do that and get good results but what I discovered is that you get even better results from more complex set-ups and that PP's architecture makes it really easy to experiment with lots of different things, like placing distortion before the filter or between the oscillators and stuff like that. It's quick and easy and I find it very inspiring.
I started with just the basic set-up, plus the Snap-ins I already had and that was plenty, especially as you still get access to all the other Snap-Ins via the presets. So, for example, if you want to use a particular effect you don't own, just find a preset that uses it and construct your own layout around that. It sounds like cheating but, trust me, doing that makes you earn the privilege and you'll only do it once or twice before you realise it's just easier to buy the Snap-Ins you like and use. Since buying PP I have also bought another 3 or 4 Snap-Ins at full price and an extra 6-8 when they have been on sale for 50% off. I intend to buy everything that goes on sale for half-price until I have them all.
Sound quality is first-rate, no matter which oscillators you use. PP has a crisp high-end and a nicely balanced bottom end, which makes it very easy to work into a mix. Feature-wise, there are literally a million options but one area where I do find it comparatively lacking is in the filter department. A recent update added more modes but they all lack much character. They do the job well enough and you can coax more out of them with some effects but it would be great to see a few more options, especially some modelled filters with different character.
Modulation is easy with drag'n'drop, colour-coded so you can see what is modulation (blue) and what is an audio path (orange). The three separate effects lanes give you lots of flexibility with your signal routing, allowing you to have three separate synths in one or one synth with three times the power. The preset browser is pretty good and there are some excellent presets to fire your creativity. Saving your own presets is a breeze and they get saved into a separate User folder, making them easy to find again.
Overall, Phase Plant can be quite daunting and getting the most out of it can be a lengthy process. But the shear depth of ability and breadth of options available to you make it well worth the time and effort. If I wasn't such a cheap-skate I'd have known this a year earlier and been on board from the start, because it is definitely worth paying full price for. Now that I have a decent library of my own patches, it is one of the first synths I think of whenever I need a new part or want to replace an existing part that isn't working as well as I'd like. It is so capable it can do pretty much anything.Read Review
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