Overview - it's free, it's a bass guitar synth, it doesn't claim to do anything else and it actually does its job reasonably well. It couldn't be any easier to program to tweak the sound, and although there are better ways of getting a bass guitar sound more accurately, it a useful tool to have. Got mine free with Cubase.
Sound - you can't use it for every occasion you need a synth bass guitar, but it definitely sounds OK for general purposes. I find myself using it more and more simply for the fact that it can be quite tedious to patch VSTi's to make a realistic bass guitar, and I'm not into samplers that much. I sometimes lay down my basslines with VB1 and then load up a different VSTi to get the fine-tuned sound I need, but other times if your not too fussy about the sound, VB1 will suffice more than adequately. As mentioned, it defaults to picked sounds, and I've never managed to completely get rid of the initial picking click - not always a bad thing, but when doing e.g. dub style music when you don't want that click, then it isn't the best tool. Especially if you're going to compress your bass guitar sound - it can be quite annoying as it really shows up the click. But if you do want a picked sound, then it's fine. It will also do a few more synthesized type sounds very reminiscent of an FM synth, so it's not just a one-trick pony - no amzing synth sounds, but enough to vary it up a bit.
CPU - uses barely any CPU, which is why I often use it to lay down ideas with before rendering to audio.
GUI - couldn't be any easier. A complete novice will be able to tweak the sounds with no difficulty whatsoever.
Stability - I've never had any problems with it at all. No glitches when tweaking parameters whilst playing.
Presets - It comes with a handful, and doesn't really need any more because it's so easy to use.
VFM - it's free. No point in not at least giving it a try.
Features - you can adjust the bridge position, the string height, the pickup position, tone etc - all you need really. I would prefer an option to completely switch off the picking click. I would probably use it much more often if it had this. I assume it's a physical modelling synth, but I don't know for sure - but whatever...it sounds close enough to a real bass guitar for general purpose use or for laying down ideas. Not useable in every situation, but I've heard far worse, and to be honest there are plenty of VSTis with the full set of editable parameters that struggle to achieve anything like a bass guitar sound, so you shouldn't write VB1 off. Bass is one of those areas that is surprisingly difficult to get right, and VB1 lets you get the basics right - I'd happily use it for anything middle-of-the-road or pop where it's not that important to get unique and original bass patches going. It doesn't pretend to be a Moog Modular and if you don't expect it to be, then it won't disappoint you too much.
What to say about this classic soft synth? It's unusual. It has a very distinctive way of programming, with a simulated bass guitar and the ability to adjust such things as pick placement, bridge tightness, pickup location, and volume/brightness. One might think that this is a physical modeling synth, but honestly I don't know. The sound is nice, but doesn't sound particularly authentic to my ears.
What this synth is NOT is a fat bass engine. The sounds that come out of VB-1 are undeniably thin. If you want an earth-shattering sub bass or a bass with warm analog punch, keep looking. This synth is totally digital and totally thin.
But is it without merit? Not at all. I find VB-1 to be usable as a 'unusual' synth. You see, I'm a sucker for oddball synthesizers, and VB-1 is definitely an odd ball. I love the fact that I program it using a totally different metaphor than yet-another-virtual-analog. The synth engine, while not very authentic, is unusual enough that, with a little fx processing, one can make some pretty evocative sounds. Usable in a broad set of situations? Nope. But usable in the occasional niche situation? Yes, sometimes.
The fact that this was one of the earliest soft synths should cause one to cut VB-1 a little slack - but in my case, I couldn't care less about history. What I want is a synth that sounds good and works well *today*. Fortunately VB-1 is still a usable tool for niche situations, and is priced right.
There are certain features with this synth that make this synth thoroughly useful, although very unpredictable. The bridge features an adjustable dampener, thus allowing you to vary the decay of the notes. As well, by moving the pickup and pick positions, you can reduce the pick noise to the point where it can be filtered out by any resonant lowpass filter. By properly exploiting these features, the VB-1 can be used a tidy bass synth with a low-CPU requirement and a thick bass sound. I use this synth in almost all my songs, regardless of genre.
Found this a very nasty sounding bass. Really,you'd be better off with a decent multisample for anything other than very tinny sounds. None of the roughness you'd be looking for in a real electric bass and a nasty, supposedly intuitive interface (as a decent bass player, I found it awful- god knows what it's like for someone new to the instrument). Barely used since download. I'm still looking for a use for it. Read more
This is a one-trick pony and doesn't represent itself otherwise. It takes some messing around, but you can get nice realistic bass sounds that fit well in your mix.
I noticed a complaint about the 'clicking' noise on each note -- that's the PICK! Electric bassists who use picks anymore are a minority, so it may seem odd that it defaults to this 60's style of play. There is a knob to adjust this pick noise. Also, you can slide the pickup to change the sound, and set the string damper at the bridge. In addition, you can change the overall tone from murky to quite bright. Like a real bass, you need to play with all these parameters to get anywhere.
Steingberg would have been better served if they dropped the 'natural' user interface and went with all knobs. It'd make the less obvious features, well, obvious.
I sometimes double this with a Triangle set to a low, synched SIN sound to add some subsonic punch without getting warble on the super low end.
Bottom line: This is a solid workhorse bass and should not be overlooked, especially since it's free!
Guitar is my first and primary instrument. I've been playing synths and teaching electronic music for 20 years now and think we live in incredible times. The VB-1 is impressive, there are enough controls on it's nicely designed UI. The actual sound is decent, you can make interesting tracks.
Pros: interesting sound capabilities, free, big fun factor Cons: if you aren't familiar with playing a bass it will take learning the ideas behind bass playing to get interesting patterns (more below), minimal controls
Here's the deal, real instrument VAs depend on understanding the instrument that is modelled, that said anyone can learn much of this by ear, just listen to music with the instrument you're trying to emulate and you'll pick it up. A lot more could have been done with VB-1 and in time we will see VAs that do a better job. For now the VB-1 is an interesting start.