|Developer||AIR Music Technology|
|Type / Tags||Polyphonic Analog Tube SynthesizerSynth|
Vacuum Pro - Polyphonic Analog Tube Synthesizer
The "vacuum" part of the name Vacuum Pro relates to the six tube circuits that lend a particularly analog flavor to each of the main synthesis modules—oscillators, filters, mixer, etc. Vacuum Pro provides a modern, idealized vision of the versatility and potential of analog synthesis, rather than attempting to isolate and recreate just one particular moment from history.
The smart knob model used in Vacuum Pro provides anyone— from novice to pro—the ability to create unique instrument sounds:
- Super-wide, fat, and organic analog sound.
- Two individual parts, expandable to four.
- Over 350 patches.
- Smart Sound Randomizer to quickly design unique sounds.
- 8 Smart Knobs for macro control over parameters.
- Economy mode reduces the load on the host processor with minimal impact on the sound.
- VST, AU, and RTAS.
Reviewed By Sycopation
February 12, 2019
I picked this up for $1 during the Plugin Boutique sale back in November 2018. Hey, why not for a measly dollar, right? Since the price was so low I didn't really delve into it all that much at first, just perused some patches. My thinking was "I already have Diva and Repro, so is it even worth investing any time in?"
But after exploring it some more, this thing is actually really nice. It has such a dark, mean, edgy sound! If I were to make a Blade Runner-style soundtrack, this and Repro would get used a lot. The CPU performance is also pretty decent, especially compared to a lot of other VA synths, and especially when you put it in eco mode (I can't hear much of a difference on most patches). I really like that you can have a Part A and Part B in the same instance and then blend them how you like. You can even modulate the balance between the two using automation in your DAW, which offers a lot of creative possibilities, especially when you combine patches with quite different ADSR parameters. One thing that seems to be missing is the ability to differentially pan parts A and B (if it's there I haven't figured out how to do it yet). It would be really nice to be able to adjust both the stereo width and the pan position of both parts separately. Oh well, I can always do that with bounces and plugins if I really want to.
It's true that it has a "Super-wide... sound" but that sometimes comes with a cost - a lot of the patches have pretty bad phase coherence (read this if you don't understand what that means - https://www.waves.com/tips-for-fixing-phase-problems-in-your-mix). But what I figured out is that can be improved SIGNIFICANTLY by 1) turning off the chorus / phaser and 2) decreasing the stereo width, either by using the on-board Master Width knob (bottom right corner) or by using a separate dual panner / stereo imaging plugin.
The "8 Smart Knobs for macro control over parameters" is also a super nice touch. Another of Air's products, Loom, has similar functionality, and it is super handy for shaping the sound quickly, as well as modulating the sound using automation in your DAW. One single knob is controlling multiple knobs behind the scenes. It's a really easy and effective way to add some life and variety to parts.
The arpeggiator on this thing is suuuuper simple (the four options are up, down, up & down, and random), but I actually don't view that as a bad thing. I have numerous synths that have really sophisticated arpeggiators and step sequencers that are light years more sophisticated than this thing, but I actually like that it's really simple, and offers very few options. It allows me to very quickly decide if I want to use it or not on a particular part, whereas in a synth with a bajillion options I might spend 20 minutes or more just fiddling with the arp. Simplicity is good sometimes. It's especially fun to play with on atonal / percussive material, because you can just keep adding more notes, which will affect the feel / rhythm, but you don't have to worry about sour notes, weird melodic figures etc. I'm getting some really cool results by exporting these parts and then messing with sample chopping / manipulation techniques. Fun stuff.
If this thing goes on sale again, it's absolutely worth picking up. At $150... ehhh... I'll let you make that call.Read more
Reviewed By jzero
August 6, 2018
My experience is similar to that conveyed in BONES review. This thing is a BEAST for warm, fat, in-your-face analog sound. The randomization options are superb, as is the ability to add saturation in multiple places. I purchased my copy from pluginboutique for $1.00. Yeah, F-in ONE DOLLAR?!!! The modulation options are thorough and the sound is killer. Get it now.Read more
Reviewed By BONES
June 21, 2018
I can't believe this synth has no reviews, it's been around for ages. OK, so, in a word - amazeballs! I only bought it a few days ago but it's already my favourite V/A synth. I bought the non-pro version of Vacuum a few months ago. It's only $20 most places and it's a great little synth. My bandmate has had VacPro for a while and often sings it praises but it wasn't until we were working on a remix and he sent me some stems that I found out how good it really is. So I've been kind of using it for a while, waiting for another silly sale price, but I finally gave up and just bought it this week. It has not disappointed.
It's a two oscillator V/A synth with the usual trimmings. It also offers two layers, so you can double up on your sounds, like a Jupiter 8. The developers have used some fancy tube modelling algorithms or something that makes it the fattest, baddest sounding synth you can imagine. It oozes filth, great big wads of it. It's lush, it's phat, it's better than anything else I own at being a big, ol' synthesizer. Demoing the presets instantly took me back to the good old days of the 80s and 90s, when you'd buy a new synth, my ESQ-M came to mind first, and every preset sounded amazing and was full of potential for your songs. Each osc can do 4-part unison and you can "Double" the whole part, for a total of 16 oscillators per part, 32 overall.
At first glance it seems quite conventional but it's sonic range is bigger than I had expected. It does nice metallic sounds and it's hard sync has a richness to it that I really like. There are several points where you can add saturation/distortion in the signal path, which means you can make it as dirty as you like. I like. It has on-board effects that work well enough.
Everything is right there in front of you, it really couldn't be easier to use. OK, you can only see one part at a time but all the controls are there on the front panel for each part. The only part of the UI you may need to open is if you decide to use separate envelopes for each of the two filters. If you do, you need to toggle between them but if you use the same settings for each, then everything is on a single page.
Taking any of the excellent presets and tweaking them to your liking is as straightforward a process as I have ever come across. Everything is laid out logically and well labelled, it's very easy to find your way around. The GUI itself looks really cool, like a synth from the 70s that hasn't been all that well looked after. You can even add dust to the pots if you want! Even with all those controls, it manages to be slightly smaller than DUNE 2, but it doesn't look or feel crowded, none of the elements are too small and labels are easy to read. The arpeggiator is refreshingly simple - up, down, up-down and random modes with plenty of intervals and an on/off switch. There is a small, pop-up settings panel for global settings like pitch-bend range and MIDI set-up.
CPU use is very low. I can run a patch with all 32 oscillators going and the CPU meter in my host never goes above 9% in monophonic operation, and that's from a 4th Gen Core i5 in a Surface Pro 2. On a proper workstation it would hardly register. Playing overlapping 3 note chords takes it up to around 25%, which is perfectly acceptable for such a big sound. It even has an "Eco" mode which processes at a lower rate to reduce CPU use. I think it sounds fine in Eco mode and I wouldn't hesitate to use it if I needed to save some CPU cycles.
Vacuum Pro is a truly amazing analogue modelled synth. I hate using the word but it definitely has what people refer to as that "warmth" you get from classic analogue synths. Of course, none of those old things ever allowed you to stack 32 detuned oscillators on top of one another, so Vacuum Pro takes it to a level no classic hardware could hope to match. It's big and fat and fuzzy and mean and nasty and I absolutely love it.Read more