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VectorSectorbyGeneral Vibe

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Reviewed By Spitfire31 [read all by] on 18th June 2005
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Mac.
Last edited by Spitfire31 on 18th June 2005.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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A long time ago, I owned a Sequential Prophet VS keyboard for a couple of years. I sold it because I got fed up with OS bugs and a troublesome keyboard. For instance, if the synth wasn’t placed absolutely flat, the case would twist and as a result the keyboard would send aftertouch all by itself!

But I’ve missed the unique sound of the VS ever since, and so I was very happy to discover that General Vibe, the somewhat enigmatic company behind VectorSector, was releasing a Mac OS X version and at the very reasonable price of 129 USD.

First of all – does it sound exactly like a VS?

I don’t know, exactly. Sorry, it was too long ago…

Does it sound good?

Emphatically, yes!

And it really does sound very much like what I remember from my hardware VS, including all the factory patches.

Interestingly, General Vibe has come up with some rather witty alias names for the original patch names, presumably for copyright reasons. For example, the original patch #44 Anahorn has been renamed HubertHoratioHornblower, and #03 Volkanik is Vesuvian in the VectorSector version.

The bad news is that most of the parameters, except the wave numbers, use different denominations compared to the original VS. So, you can’t simply type in the values from old VS patch sheets and there’s no way of dumping sysex into VectorSector.

Also slightly disappointing, the Doubling feature of the VS is missing, as well as the rather natty arpeggiator.

However, VectorSector is not a great CPU hog and on my 1.3 GHz G4, I could easily invoke two instances of the instrument, effectively emulating the doubling feature. Can you spell F-A-T?

One feature that would have been very handy is a way of soloing the 127 waveforms that are identified only by numbers 0–126. The VS had a special program for auditioning waves using the joystick while disregarding filters, effects and envelopes. Something similar should have been simple to implement and would have made it so much easier to find the right sound building blocks.

And sadly, there’s no MIDI learn feature. So, you can’t move the virtual joystick in realtime from a MIDI controller – velocity, pressure, mod wheel and keyboard position are the only available external controllers in the modulation matrix.

Surprisingly, there’s no documentation at all with the download. The rather sparse website has some basic information on the synthesis principle, with a five months old promise of ”more info soon”. I’m not holding my breath.

Happily, the excellent original Sequential manual is available as a free PDF download at www.retrosynth.com/docs/pvs/index.html. Apart from making for interesting reading about what was a truly groundbreaking synth, it gives a thorough and pedagogic tour of the programming of the VS.

However, the General Vibe VectorSector isn’t very hard to get to grips with, if you have a smattering of programming experience. Just changing a couple of waves and tweaking the filter settings will quickly give you new and surprising sounds.

And, to recap, the VectorSector really sounds great to my ears. It’s quickly become one of my favourite VIs and it’s strange that it hasn’t created more of a stir in the communities, considering that the hardware VS is a sought after, cult status item. Download the demo and give it a spin – it has a unique sound, with a huge palette of colours.
Reviewed By Mandala Music [read all by] on 5th March 2005
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I am glad the developer(s) decided to release Vector Sector. It is a much, much cheaper alternative to buying a hardware Prophet VS.

Vector Sector comes with 100 presets which sound great and which are very easily tweaked into your very own creations. Selecting from the 100+ waveforms while editing is hit or miss, because there is no description of the waveforms. (However, I can't deduct much for this because even in the original Prophet VS manual there is only a partial listing/description of the waveforms). General Vibe on their web page says that the waveforms were modeled after the original waveforms of the hardware VS to allow authentic sounding VS patches using the Vector Sector program. The resonant filter sounds good and the polyphonic glide is well implemented.

There is only one page of explanation on the General Vibe website. I assume they will add more explanation and description later.

A big plua for this software version is the ability to save your edits with names that you can see when opening your edits folder. The original Prophet VS presets only show up as numbers in the various editor-librarians that support it.

You can't layer presets within Vector Sector but I haven't tried running more than one instance of the program at a time within Sonar 4.

The program hasn't crashed at all while I have been running it. (I use a Midi Guitar as a controller and I appreciate the flexible choice of either enabling all midi channels in omni mode or selecting 1-16).

Vector Sector is a great improvement over trying to edit sounds within the original hardware VS. But I wish Vector Sector editing window were a little larger to allow easier reading of the parameters as you are editing them.

I haven't tried to contact General Vibe for tech support so it is hard to rate especially since I am not having any problems with the software.

I have been comparing Vector Sector to the original VS because undoubtedly many prospective buyers of a used hardware VS will wonder if they should go the software route instead. If you already own a hardware VS, you won't be able to transfer your sounds to the Vector Sector but the program is easy enough to use to make your own creations or to edit the 100 presets that come with the program. Also all the original Prophet VS keyboards and rack units date back to 1987 and parts are getting scarce so I am especially happy that Vector Sector will be around to offer software Vector Synthesis in the future.

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