Sytrus is Fruityloops most complex and best quality synth to date. Combining equal parts Native Instruments FM-7 and Big Tick Rhino 2 for inspiration it finds an equal balance between the two and brings a very strong analog sound, particularly in it's basic programming mode.
Likes: * excellent sound and equally excellent synth programming that shows off the capabilities of Sytrus * well designed interface that makes programming FM easier than the prior champ, FM-7 * DX-7 sysex import that is very faithful * easy interface that is sufficient for many users to program without getting involved in FM synthesis programming.
Dislikes: * non-resizeable interface which is on the small side on screen resolutions 1024x768 or higher. * too many knobs on the easy interface makes programming a bit difficult at times * try as I have, and by looking at my ratings I think highly of Sytrus, but feel it is a bit too inspired by Rhino 2's feature set
The last I'll mention is *I* feel Sytrus is so fundementally good it didn't need to seemingly "borrow" so much for Rhino 2. I felt this way when I first tried it and still do having learned the Sytrus way. It is obvious the programming is exemplary and makes me wonder what we could have looked forward to without this influence.
Now, for the great news; Sytrus sounds fantastic and if you at all were waiting to purchase Fruityloops XXL this is reason enough. Sytrus has an amazing capability of sounding nothing like what you'd expect of a FM synth. All of it's digital nature can be tweaked out of it making for a great sounding analog in digital clothing. And yet Sytrus is currently the best implementation of FM synthesis. Imported DX-7 sounds are excellent in translation which means you have thousands of patches ready to get for free and able to be supercharged by Sytrus' enhanced sound engine.
My favorite use for Sytrus is to use some tired old FM sounds, I'm not enamored of the DX-7 sound until you can do more modern signal processing, and Sytrus has the goods. There are multiple onboard effects including distortion, delay and modulation effects. Beyond this there are some wickedly good filters that are quite suitable towards the digital nature of sound that FM exudes.
Besides giving FM a pair of balls, there is a lush sound due to the flexible delays and simple programming of FM that makes it so much easier to get sounds that FM was always known for as well as those it wasn't, like sweeped filters, airy blown sounds or flat out analog-styled saws.
You can go from etherial and delicate to harsh and squelchy via FM synthesis, effects or filters. There are many ways of getting to what you want in Sytrus, a feature I expect of any synth that I take seriously. And at it's $179 asking price you better be in a serious mood as this is a lot of scratch for a synth; putting it into z3ta, Rob Papen's Albino (1400 patches and some 3rd party extras to make you wonder what synth was being used); you get the idea. That's why it's a no-brainer to consider Fruityloops Studio XXL. It's the most effective means of purchasing and has come a long way. Now at 5.0 and sporting all kinds of new, included synths, not to mention a studio to work Sytrus through, you have a pretty damn good setup.
I can't help think this was part of Sytrus' pricing. Spend a bit more and you have a lot of kit besides Sytrus to work with. And since FL is both host and client ReWire as well as a VST host and synth, you can use Sytrus anywhere you might not have considered as well as Fruity and whatever features excite you, or perhaps Fruity will become your favorite host.
So is Sytrus a pawn in the Image Line desire to take over your musical chores? In some sense yes, and if you like cutting your nose to spite your face just by Sytrus. Otherwise spend a bit more and get lots of fun things to work with. The bottom line is Sytrus is a serious synth that can justify it's cost. It is $179 good and for FM programming you will get no better unless you prefer FM-7's interface. If you do you'll get less synth for your dollar but an amazingly small CPU footprint compared to Sytrus which is good in its own right.
The X/Y controller is helpful in getting sounds moving and waveshaping is excellent at creating warmer sounds than traditional FM. Waveshaping can also be used to go beyond anything you've thought you heard in digital for you FX and noise freaks.
My prior exception noted and suggestion you try the other synths, FM-7 and Rhino 2 which Sytrus owe lineage to you'll find one of those three to be what you're looking for.
A good synth that misses greatness - barely. I need glasses to work with Sytrus and that's enough to slow me down when working. Workflow is good on Sytrus beyond that and could easily be your main synth.
I use Sytrus for evolving pads, soundscapes and leads mostly. It has a great bass sound and does excellent percussion sounds; it is a FM synth after all!