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.