With the new R6 update to XS-1, I am in sampler heaven. The most important addition, for me, is that the midi channel I've selected for an instrument holds when I change to a different soundfount, rather than jumping back to a default setting like it did before. This makes it super-fast and easy to audition tons of different instruments to find just the right one. The samples load fast, and XS-1 responds well to real-time switching.
XS-1 is making it possible for me to realize the value of the 6,000 or so soundfonts I have acquired. Even some of those that I didn't think sounded very good can be made usable by tweaking the settings in XS-1.
I use XS-1 more than any other plugin, and it's paid for itself many times over. Great work, Oskari!
GUI: Well, it's not the most beautiful VSTi available, but it's very easy to use.
Sound: Great. Actually it sounds better than my VSampler (for soundfonts that is)
Docs: You dont need it.
Presets: Download free soundfonts from hammersound.net, or wherever.
Customer support: What can I say. I had to e-mail Oskari once when I bought the XS-1 and got my answer almost at once.
Value for Money: Hey, it's cheap.....
Stability: Never crashed...
All in all, this has to be the best Soundfont player available. It's easy on my humble CPU, and the release 3 can load 16 channels. Of course you can stack them all, or split, or why not a combination of stack and split.
If you need a soundfontplayer, you need this one. I use it in addition to VSampler, and it's a great combination.
This is a great VST. Combine it with Vienna, and selected soundfonts from Hammer etc, and you have a huge amount of music making potential!
Version 2 now saves settings, allows a channel to be "emptied", and has a sort of mouse-over help.
Interface: Is OK. Workmanlike, some oddities - why an "M" button for the effects? I queried the "positive and negative" reverb send settings, but apparently this range is part of the soundfont spec. A list of all loaded presets on the main window would have been good.
Sound: Good! Great claims made on the website, and certainly better with sf2s than Kontakt (which has clicky loop points), sound quality close to Halion (which however drops notes too readily). This VST will bring out the best in your soundfonts!
Features: Fine. I don't use envelopes. The portamento is useful, as is the pitchbend range adjustment, and the keyboard sensitivity adjustment. (Sampletank doesn't have these features!) The distortion could use some warmth. The reverb is just OK, but I have Cubase SXs reverb anyway. I would have liked more than 4 presets, allowing its use as a single VST for a whole song.
Presets: this is a soundfont player. Can't really be marked down for a lack of presets.
Support has been fine (email).
Documentation is not really needed for a VSTi of this type - it does what it says on the screen. Command-line format conversion utility should be integrated with main VSTi.
It seems to be completely stable, has a low CPU use, and at this price is a STEAL. Get it.
I have tried just about every soundfont player, free and commercial, and there is no doubt that the XS-1 does the best job of all of them. If you really need a great-sounding, versatile instrument to play your fonts, THIS IS IT.
Most people complain that one sf or another doesn't play in their VSTi, or doesn't preserve envelope settings and such. You have to be prepared that, while there are a tremendous amount of sf out there, a solid portion of them are either corrupted, badly constructed, or player-specific. With this in mind, I've had perhaps one or two that wouldn't play correctly in XS-1 - out of around 60!
The GUI is a bit plain for my taste, and the buttons are smallish considering how much screen real estate is wasted. There's no documentation, so the initial learning curve is steep, but it's not a terribly complicated synth, so you can figure it out in a couple of days at most.
The sound, on the other hand, is pretty much the best you can get from soundfonts! It also comes with a nice range of built-in effects (including reverb!), and a layering capability (4) that allows for some truly creative sounds and sweeps. For the money, it doesn't get any better than this.
First of all I have to say that XS-1 seems to be the best of all SF2-players/samplers for the present, but...
It has problems to reproduce exactly the sound of many soundfonds, because it seems to be difficult to program the filter- and many other parameter-settings of the Zone-, Instrument- and Preset-layers of a SF2. So, you often hear differences in the sound between a soundfont-program loaded in XS-1 and the same one loaded in the SBLive or Audigy. Also some presets of some soundfonts aren´t even loaded in XS-1, so they cannot be played.
The GUI is good and clearly constructed.
There can be layered up to 16 different SF-programs simultaneously and there are many parameters to influence the sound and some internal effects.
There are no docs, although not all is easily to understand.
On some bug reports I got a fast answer, on some I didn´t got anyone.
There are no presets, but it isn´t an instrument itself, so how should it be.
The VFM would be good if it really would fully support all features of soundfonts, as stated on their website.