For a free Arp Solina style string plugin, I'm not sure you can beat this. I have used it in a bunch of my tracks and it sits nicely in a mix. That is really the true test of any plugin for me whether free or purchased is how well it gels in the mix and context of a song. The interface is pretty minimal, but you get what you need. You get three built in effects - delay, a vibrato and an ensemble. The two modulation fx really help give various string patches that swirly/watery quality that just sounds so nice. You get a pretty decent amp and filter section, and the ability to adjust the stereo delay effect level, feedback, input feed to the delay, as well as the delay time. There is also an octave select which is nice - I think most DAW software usually has a little midi plugin to shift the octave up or down, but nice that they added this.
You get 40 patches with Algo String Synth, and they cover pretty much anything you might need for this type of synth. You may need to tweak the attack or release on some patches to fit your track or style but there are plenty of variations here to get you going in the right direction.
I use this plugin in Ableton Live and it runs really good on my dual core dell optiplex. Never had any issues with it at all. There really isn't documentation that I know of, but it's so simple to use that a user guide really doesn't seem necessary. I never had a need for Customer Support - this plugin is super simple. If you've used other VST synth plugins and understand some basic things about synthesizers in general, this is a walk in the park.
I like vst synth plugins that play nice with my cpu, sound good in a mix, and don't get in the way with a lot of silly and useless knobs. So I really dig this plugin for that reason - you drop it into a track and it sounds great. I get to focus on writing music and not fiddling with a bunch of different controls trying to get a good sound.
It's a free plugin, so again i don't think you can go wrong here.
USER INTERFACE Excellently done. Small and compact, pleasant to look at, and easy to understand.
SOUND Stringsynth can create all sorts of analog string synthesizer sounds, from thick rez pads to thin, glassy layers. And they all sound gorgeous! Honestly, it would take effort to get a sound that's NOT good out of this thing. If you have any interest at all in vintage synthesizer sounds - and maybe even if you don't - this is a must-download. Simply amazing.
FEATURES This is where StringSynth trips up a bit, but understandably so. It can do great string synthesizer sounds, but not really anything else. Now, understand, there are lots of different synth-string sounds to be heard; the number of great presets in the thing prove that nicely. However, this doesn't change the limited nature of the VSTi.
PRESETS Lots of great ones, by a number of different authors. They're all great, and there's a very good variety of sounds; I'd say they explore the capabilities of the synth pretty thoroughly.
Very often on KVR we will see a thread where someone is pleading with us to help them get "that cool string synth sound" or the "ARP" sound. Well, look no further than this little secret. Well loved among those who know it, the AlgoMusic String Synthesizer is a bonafide KVR classic, one of those too-good-for-free gems that you wish was out there (and actually is!). Invented by KVR's venerable veteran Tim Conrardy, this synth was really designed with an obvious purpose in mind: to make great, phasey, analog synth string sounds, and that it does.
Upon opening it, you are greeting by a thin, soft, pleasing interface; it really looks like a gentle-sounding instrument. I think this is a fantastic and effective interface. I subtracted one point because it took me quite some time to figure out that you have to hit a button to switch to the delay section. I do like the overall size of this interface, very easy to work with in a host.
Then I started playing, and right when you hit that second preset, there it is: ARP Solina goodness! I can almost feel myself transported back to some post-apocalyptic 70's European Sci-Fi!!! The presets by TC and fellow KVR stalwart Ugo are outstanding, and this is one synth where I hardly ever need to change the presets; it's god such a good selection of sounds, it's really a set-up-and-go synth. It is very straight-forward though, if you are a tweaker, and the controls are immediately familiar to most synth users.
Really not much else to add to that! Oh yes, there is no documentation with this - but you don't really need any! - and the AlgoMusic forum here on KVR is excruciatingly helpful if you need guidance. This is a truly great synths, one of the top reasons to come to KVR.
A quick disclaimer: I do not own, nor am familiar with, the ARPs or Solinas of yesteryear.
That said, what a gift this is! I'm a sucker for nice pads and great strings. Often though, I find it hard to have a distinctive pad that "sits" in the mix. StringSynth does both: sounds great and mixes well. Compared to other free string/pad instruments, this seems to have a more ethereal quality. It also is a bit more versatile than others, with the possibility to tweak up a few leads and even a bass or two.
An overview of my thoughts on String Synth: PROS: SOUND: With the pitchbend controls, this can be a very expressive little synth. Which leads me to mention that String Synth does allow nice control over portamento, Vibrato, Pitch bend, delay. These FX really make or break string sounds in my mind. I found that some of the presets sound similar when first tested, but upon playing them, the settings make a drastic difference in the sound achieved. GUI: - This is one of my favorite GUI's. It is clear and small but easily navigated. Pushing the blue squares on the top of the display changes the controls underneath them, as if they were tabbed panels. I wish more synths did this, as you don't have to move the mouse much to access another set of controls. Overall, it is very clean and functional. SUPPORT: I have found Algo Synth to be very responsive to feedback and questions. While I have never had any inquiries or problems with String Synth, Algo Music has been generous with their responses in other issues. PRICE: It is very generous to offer this synth for free since a small fee would also be reasonable. Algo Music has certainly been very kind to the vst world.
CONS CPU: This 'lil guy can eat a lot of CPU, especially with a high polyphony. Anyone who downloads this is hopefully aware that it is a Synthedit creation and uses CPU accordingly. It's not prohibitive, but it can be substantial. This is more an issue for luddites like me still working on sub 1ghz Athlons/Pentiums OTHER: Two other thoughts occur to me, but they are really negligible in the big picture. A numerical display for the faders might have been nice and secondly, a sine waveform/combination to complement the saw and pulse waves would have been nice as well for reeeealllly mellow pads. These are hardly cons though, and do not detract from the excellent execution of this fine string synth.
NOTE: documentation=5. There is a cc chart included but nothing else. Of course, the controls are pretty basic. I wish there were a N/A value, but there isn't so I split the difference. It is free you know.
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