GOOD: Great sound - as if a SID chip died and was granted its wishes in heaven
BAD: And now imagine those wishes illustrated by programmers rather than GUI designers
I bought this after realising I wanted something challenging, 8-bit-like and deep. I couldn't have gone for a better option than QuadraSid. I've tried the 'others' - and they're oddly limiting (even within the context of the chiptune).
First of all, if you only want SID style sounds, then that's fine. QuadraSID asks 'what if you could stack a ton of C64s together and link them all via MIDI'. The answer is a mind-blowingly big sound that is a real testament to the old chip, and a fun new flavour to add to your sonic menu.
Depth-wise, there is a ton of modulation here if you want it. It is almost modular in nature, with all of the complexity and flexibility implied. You'll probably have to read the manual a couple of times before the concepts click (I'm still baffled by how you edit the Galway drumsynth voice!).
It sounds great: no effects, but I swear I've heard reverb at times, the sound is so lush. Arp leads - perfect. Big sync-ey basses - no problem. Thin, biting pads - yuppity.
It's all here, and then some.
The wave table is one of the best things I've ever seen in a synth - ever. Being able to program a series of steps with different waves, filters, pitches in such a simple manner makes this incredibly powerful. Create drum by sweeping a pulse down... and then swap it at a super-fast rate with a noise channel. Classic 8-bit drums in about 4 seconds. Amazing.
Due to the fact that this sticks slavishly to the concept of 3 SID voices x 4 SID chips, actually programming the thing becomes a mess pretty quickly.
Loading separate patches into the 3 voices is a bit fiddly and weird, too. Add that all your changes are updated live (no saving!) and you can run into trouble pretty easily.
There are no tabbed panels or other modern design helpers used to clarify this critical feature: just clicking on tiny bits and pieces of text. How do you use RingMod? Well, you need to understand that it uses the previous channel... and that channel MUST be on Triangle mode. How do you know? By spotting that in the manual.
It's a step too far toward genuine emulation. It doesn't lead to more intuitive workflow or quirks that are useful. It's just clumsy.
And why am I limited to 3 voices? Because the SID only has 3 voices? Well, that's great - but why not just allow me to pretend I have several SIDs which I can use at the same time rather than this silly multi-timbral thing?
Ultimately, the GUI is clunky and exceedingly unintuitive - which is a shame, because all the functionality is there waiting to get out if you can find it... and remember it between sessions.
I can't help but feel there is a good case for re-building this little beast into a more modern, sleek interface - keeping the sound and modulations intact (See Loomer's Aspect for an idea of how it could look better).
It's a great, unique synth, but so clunky and unintuitive it'll only ever attract a very hardcore audience willing to dig.
If you want the best VST-based Commodore 64 synth, QuadraSID is the prime choice. There is one feature in QuadraSID that I don't think gets enough mention, but is a major contributing factor of that VGM sound-- the wavetable. In capable hands, this feature alone gives the user the ability to crank out all manner of classic C=64 drums, sound effects, high speed arrpegios and true VGM leads/basses. There are two soundsets out there that really make this apparent-- Torben "Metal" Hansen's soundbank at Pro-Sounds and my own, soon to be released set at ReFx (Bryan Lee Signature soundset-- shameless self promotion, I know lol. Anyhow...). The sonic character in QuadraSID is very, very unigue as well. By turning on two waveforms in the waveform selection area, you get an absolutely gritty, dirty, digital and metallic pulswave that can be modulated via LFOs or envelopes. It does not sound like any typical VA pulsewave at all. You also get real galaway noise in this puppy. For those not familiar with that, let's just say it sounds nothing like your standard VA white, pink and brown noise. QuadraSID is marketed as being a chiptune synth but its possible applications extend far beyond that :). In unison mode, you can dial in fat Trance leads and basses that are nothing like what you would get out of a typical VA. Creative use of the wavetable and multi-envelopes aid in molding unique special effects fitting for film and video game production. Minimal techno artists might find QuadraSID useful as well.Read Review
reFX had obviously been reading my wish book with this one. I remember the first VSTi plug-ins I used was Chris Huelsbeck's MicroSynt (yeah I know I was about five years late to the party, I was happy enough with AXS before then) and what struck me was how SID-like it was. I approached Chris rather naively and asked how difficult it would be to combine a VST instrument with a SID emulator; he pointed out that there already was such a product - quadraSID.
I was like "Wow, a virtual SIDStation!" and I've been in Galway-heaven ever since. The recent, unexpected release of v1.5 has given it a new lease of life. The new Vanguard-esque GUI and fantastic presets (thank you again Mister Huelsbeck) have really put a new shine on this already superb little plug-in.
GUI reFX opted not to make quadraSID resemble anything like a C64 in all its beige plastic glory (they saved that for Trasher 2). A very functional display - no knobs to tweak! Since v1.5 there's a been a nice compact option with a preset browser ideal for people like me who can't program a synth for toffee.
Sound Well, it sounds like a C64. I read somewhere it's based on the code used by the VICE emulator which is pretty damn authentic; I spent most of my life listening to the real thing and I can't fault it. Multiply that by four and what you get is more SID than you can handle. As if my tracks weren't enough like loading music already...
Features The 6581 and 8580 are there, even the infamous filter bug is there and can be disabled at will! The only thing missing is a facility that would allow me to program it in BASIC. ;-)
Docs All very well documented, not that anyone who's used to programming a real one would need to read to manual. Nice bedtime reading for the rest of us.
Presets Brilliant - all the sounds from the Commodore era are here and that's all I wanted. The fact that the synth is capable of a lot more than a single SID is a bonus and many of the presets demonstrate this very well.
Support v1.5 was a complete surprise, there wasn't huge demand for an update but Mike did it anyway. Not only that but all of the bugs I found were ironed out in v1.5.1 which performs flawlessly on my system.
VFM There are freeware SID emulations doing the rounds, some better than others but nothing can touch this. It's not exactly expensive; neither are the new Rob Hubbard presets (a must) so the cost isn't an issue bearing in mind what you get.
Stability No issues - it does its thing and doesn't give me any grief whatsoever.
Overall Whether you like the SID sound or not, if KVR had a Top Gear style "cool wall" this would be in the sub-zero category, right next to the special fridge that has Vanguard in it. :-)Read Review
reFX quadraSID is a fun and unique synth. It takes a little more effort to program it from scratch than some, maybe due to the fact that you are programming an old chipset with unique attributes rather than programming a traditional subtractive analog, but if you're looking for a hybrid between "that old school sound" and sounds that most other "modern" synths can't make easily (or at all), this is a great choice. If you think you're in for only the cheepo "old school" Commodore 64 sound, then you're selling yourself (and quadraSID) short. It does more than just make classic cheese! (though the classic cheese is certainly there if you want it)
The UI is great (especially this new one). If i had to complain, it would be that the unison mode is a bit clumsy to audition the 1/2/3 unison presets. i also think that the behavior of the note triggering is inconsistent but this may be an inherent aspect of SIDs (i wouldn't know). Other than that, add some of your own reverb/chorus/delay effects and this is a cool little VST synth that's light on CPU use and a GREAT price/value ratio, especially with reFX's holiday discount.Read Review
This thing is special! It's not my all-do all-time instrument but it has some sounds I heard nowhere else and I love these sounds. It can sound like a cheap toy and it can sound very expensive, too. I love the unison, gives some serious walls of sound. The oversampling feature is very cool also, it's a sound shaping thingy and with it I can choose also the amount of alaising I want to have OR NOT WANT TO HAVE! Very low on CPU compared to the big sound it has.
Interface: Great! Very stylish since it has it's new look. Sound: Very good and outstanding, very versatile. Features: Tons of Modulations options, wow! Documentation: Very good manual. Presets: Well there are quite some but I make my own sounds which suits my needs much better in this case. Customer support: Great company, very responsive. Value for the money: Top instrument for a slim price. Stability: Stable, didn't crash. Read Review