User Interface: Rene and company have done a good job at Cakewalk. Rapture's interface is quite functional although it may take some time getting used to it. Having done so, you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of data squashed into this multitimbral or single channel instrument; you decide as you work with it.
Sound I was somewhat concerned when I saw the word wavetable synthesis as part of Rapture's features. The synthesis is wavetable based, but the wavetables are frequently single and relatively tiny. The good news is the wavetables are well designed and enable a large number of sounds, mostly of the synthetic type, and frequently used as a performance based synth. Many of the presets use two or more of the six channels available. They are similar to Korg's Combination patches and fairly similar to the Korg Radias' implementation of its various synth engine's techniques. The major difference being the Radias has 128 waveforms, one per sound, and a huge synth engine beyond, but both use extensive splits, layers, Mod Matrix expressions that some synths just don't feature.
Lastly, the synth engine, besides being compact but brutally capable, features many forward-looking ideas such as large, changeable controls of envelopes and functions such as pitch, filter cutoff and resonance ala Absynth. Unlike the prior reviewer, I don't feel Absynth and Rapture are all that similar. Their approach is not at all similar. Also, comparing Rapture to M42 isn't exactly fair. Keep in mind I'm a big fan of M42 and it's cousin M41, but they too work differently and can't get the same ammount of sounds per patch, nor can they work multitimbrally. They have two oscillators whilst Rapture has up to six, and they are heavily editable in comparison. They are different synths and that is the only reason I point these things out.
Features Though it took me a couple of weeks to really get the idea behind Rapture I'd have to say it is a massive synth! The presets sometimes didn't serve it well, nor did the somewhat skimpy manual - though it should be pointed out that while skimpy, the manual is exceptionally good and if read, will teach you the synth's 'way' of making sound. When I say the sounds are sometimes a disservice, I don't mean the quality. In fact, there are some star sound designers and Cakewalk has released two new sets. Also, you can import your own samples. They are meant to be small, but I experimented with wavetables as I know them and got PPG/Wavetable type sounds. That said, you can get those sounds once you understand the way Rapture works.
One of the most pleasant things about Rapture, and this is where the synth programs can confuse, is that it can make perfectly simple, deep synth sounds as well as sizzling leads and patches that range from tepid to non-stop undulating and changing. And to me, that's the beauty of Rapture. As a lot of people go for the incredible and flashy things it can do, I like synths of this type to be able to do everything, particularly since they have the capability to.
The arpeggiator is excellent, consider using it over several channels. The LFOs have over 100 waveforms. There is an X/Y controller and waveshaper ala' Z3ta. There isn't a sound you can't make in here, but that speaks for digalog sounds, not rompler stuff.
Documentation Great manual in many languages but short. Though short it is fact filled and that is better than most any hard or soft synths out there.
Presets As mentioned, the sound developers and patch designers are like a who's who of great quality work. There's about 400 patches in a nicely designed database that helps you find what you are looking for.
Customer Support Cakewalk and RGC audio have always offered great service to me. I'd expect nothing to have changed. Value For Money The first week I got it I questioned Rapture's value. There are a lot of killer synths at the $200 /$300 range. But once I learned to use it, the value is very, very reasonable.
Stability I have yet to have a crash with Rapture and I'm using it on a Athlon XP2400 with 1 gig of ram. It does use considerable ram so don't bother if you don't have a gig minimum.
Conclusion Slick design, smart interface with many options and excellent quality sound. Pros: can take the place of a few synths Cons: you probably have those synths Realization: You may have a lot of the sounds Rapture can do all over your synth library, but there is a nice syncronicity to Rapture's sound. It is in the Native Instruments, VirSyn range of sound quality and should be a serious contender as your next synth.
I don't encounter any issue with it. Nothing abnormal after six months of use. Either in the wavetable synthesis either in the sample reading, even with very big samples and the six layers used. Have you sent reports of issues to the Cakewalk support?