I bought Phonec because I like the vintage sound of old electronics that is used in the music of Boards of Canada. There is many patches that comes with the synth that are spot on that kind of washed out, detuned "VHS" lofi sound that I love so much! It's also quite easy to come up with your own patches, there is a lot under the hood but it's easy to use because everything is logically laidout and you understand the signal flow right away. The special features are the melt and drift parameters that emulate the sound of VHS. The emulation is as close as you'd expect from a software, and it's quite fun to load a patche and play with the melt function hearing how it morph the sound into a more organic tone.
There is a lot of filters available and the routing options are simple but efficient. I'm not a synthesizer expert when it comes to programming patches, but with Phonec I feel I could make some worthwhile preset banks without it taking too much time. Some of the tones can be hear piercing, so it's important to put a limiter to prevent hear damage as with all instruments). The way the synth is programmed, you really feel that it's open to experimentations, as the parameters covers a wide range of tones.
Even if the price is a bit high for what it is, I feel that it's a must for anyone seeking that particular vintage tone. In a effect chain with tape delays and stereo flangers it sounds terrific!!!
This is the best synth I've found in my hunt for quirky, warbling, and unusual "analog" sounding synths.
It doesn't work like any other VST I've used, mainly because it doesn't have the same features. But everything is very familiar in terms of usability.
Two audible OSC's, one sub OSC, one OSC dedicated to FM or high frequency modulation, 3 LFO's, 3 envelopes (with a dedicated amp and filter envelope, and one assignable), a simple arpeggiator, a simple assignable step sequencer, a funky glitchy delay section, and the wonderful "melt" knob.
There's everything you would want for pads, basses and leads. I haven't gotten many percussive sounds out of it, but mainly because I have spent all my time so far exploring wide slow sounds with it, but with the extensive modulation and FM capabilities, plucks and scrapes are quite possible.
The filters are quite peculiar. There are 4 different lowpass filters, the first sounds very normal, thick, full, but usual. The second adds more "phatness", If I'm not decieved it sounds like a tiny bit of chorus mixed into a "thicker" sounding filter (definitely fun!). The two others cover the "thinner" sounding lowpasses, possibly modeled off of -6db designs.
Awesome! Warbling, digital, analog, buttery, classic, space-age, lo-fi, lots of adjectives to use!
The oscillators come out well, with the sub half way turned up it's already thick. Use an OSC on soft ramp an octave down for the perfect warm mid-layer, this is all with no effects or mods! Now add some subtle filter modulation from a slow LFO and a fast step sequencer, bring in some FM for the attack, and boom! Fat, warping inspiring sounds!
Made something too boring? Just turn up "melt" (a somewhat random lfo that affects pitch and filter that makes it sound like you're using a budget soviet synth while your neighbor switches his heavy appliances on and off).
The delay is very peculiar. You couldn't replace it with a simple pingpong. It suits the synth perfectly.
Ariston pointed out something I left out, which is when the gain is turned up it begins to warm the sound up, and then distort for extra character!!
Not photo realistic (ahh fresh air!). Everything you need to see is on the main page. Different routings for LFO's and envelopes are one click away.
The color scheme is nice, and it's immediately attractive.
They sound great and do a good job showing the synth's "designed" sound. Classic "analogue" sounding arpeggiations and pads, as well as some basses and plucks. A decent amount of ground is covered, from vangelis style sweeps to video game chirps. So much more is possible by making your own sounds, and thankfully the presets touch on a lot of the possibilities, making it easy to learn. There is also the praised "default" patch!
No built in aliasing effects
Can't load your own waveforms
For me the only big downside is the waveform restriction. Maybe we could see this in a future version?
I bought it at the intro price of $34 but I could see it being much much more despite its synthedit heritage.
For a lover of lo-fi, this is "my synth", so glad I found it!
A very nice sounding synth. While I can probably make something like this in one of the synths I have already, this one comes straight out of the box with that Boards of Canada nostalgic sound stamped all over it. As a speciality synth it wins hands down.
That's how I feel. This could certainly be replicated in a synth like zebra, with some added effects, but for me, phonec is much more inspiring, seeing as it leads you in that direction from the start.
Other notable aspects of Phonec: the gain control adds thick, punchy distortion that complements the synth's character well. There's an HFO that can add (envelope-modded) FM to the sound, which really multiplies the sonic possibilities. The delay has detune and a buffer effect tacked on - warbly, untamed soundscapes galore!
The more I use Phonec, the more I love it. It's the biggest surprise of 2012, and my personal highlight.