This is my first review so be gentle with me...you'll notice that I've given Rhino a "full house". This is not gushiness on my part - I've thought long and hard about those points, and I even considered marking some areas down simply to prevent the review looking OTT. But I've asked myself if there are any aspects which have room for improvement and I can honestly say I can't think of any. So, full marks it is...
GUI - cool colour scheme, very 'pro'-looking. GUI is functional and clear, and logically laid out for such a versatile (or complex, depending on your POV) instrument. The tabbed, multi-screen approach isn't for everyone, but I personally think it's far more tidy than having 'menus-within-menus' or multiple windows.
SOUNDS - well, name your poison...Rhino can do punchy, nasty (in a good way) analogue, or convincing acoustic instrument emulations, or cold, metallic timbres, or infinitely evolving soundscapes and atmospheres. It really has to be heard to be believed - try the demo or listen to the demo tunes on Big Tick's website. I'll mention presets later in more detail, but you should also listen to the demos on Daniel Maurer's site. The only downside to some of the fuller, more intricate soundscapes, is the danger of swamping the mix in the context of a full song - but the same can be said for many instruments, it really depends on how and where you place the sounds.
FEATURES - you get six oscillators, two filters (with a variety of flavours), multistage envelopes (for oscillators, filters and a shedload of modulation options - envelopes can be cut & pasted, saved & loaded, and there's a stock of useful preset envelope shapes to get you started), waveshaping, additive synthesis, FM synthesis, sample playback, a quirky but nonetheless useful arpeggiator, microtuning, and two FX slots. The FX vary from the bread'n'butter (Chorus fattens up the sounds nicely, QuadPhaser is very tasty) through barking mad (CrazyComb filter or OktaVerb - bonkers but still useful) to the kind of quality that you want to use on other instruments (8-tap Reverb is excellent). (A standalone effects unit is being considered for the next version, by the way). Each effect has a number of editable (and modulatable) parameters, and many of the parameters can be tempo-mapped too. As far as modulation goes: just about anything you'd like to modulate can be modulated by just about anything else. A particularly useful feature is the bank of six user-definable sliders which can be programmed (via MIDI-learn, which is well implemented) for real-time modulation of any number of parameters - there's no limit to the number of parameters per slider, either.
DOCS - the PDF manual is well-written and covers every aspect of operation comprehensively, without being overly technical. Which is a neat trick, when you consider how powerful this instrument is. There are even a few tutorials on the website, and the developer himself is a nice guy who always makes the time to answer queries.
PRESETS - this is an outstanding aspect of Rhino: there is now a massive library of presets, covering a huge spectrum of sounds. Preset management can be handled conventionally, or a more innovative feature is the database. Users can construct a database for their presets, sorting them into (user-definable) categories. So no matter how many banks you own, you can keep all your pads, lead sounds, etc together. Constructing the database is dead easy - just drag and drop the patch name into the chosen category. Daniel Maurer's presets deserve a special mention - they've extended Rhino's palette by an incredible amount, they're cheap as chips (he also offers several bundle deals), and they're a masterclass in Rhino programming. Instant inspiration!
SUPPORT - can't be faulted. Big Tick is very responsive to user requests and suggestions, which is one of the reasons why Rhino is so feature-packed. The odd couple of tech problems I've had with Tick products were dealt with within a few hours (even though they were down to me, not the product...)
VFM - well, this can be very subjective...but in my opinion, Rhino is a steal for 100euros. Sonically, it covers a vast area so it can do the job of three or four more limited synths. Rhino is by now a relatively mature instrument, but it continues to engage thanks to the occasional upgrades (free) which increase the functionality even more, and Daniel Maurer's consistently amazing preset banks.
STABILITY - rock solid, in my experience. Depending on your processor, you may be limited in terms of simultaneous instances (although it's nowhere near as CPU-hungry as it's earlier incarnations), but I've never known it to crash or cause a crash.
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Some of their old awesome VSTs are already re-released in 64-bit and some new plugins were created during the last months. It is probable that all their other best BigTick plugins will be re-released too, Rhino included. Now... when... Nobody can't tell but I think that they are probably already working on them.