WhiteNoise Audio has complteted a hatrick by unleashing ZeroVector, their third high quality synth since they started.
Impressions: Great sound quality, wonderful filters and a good deal of twittering, chirping, massive sweeps, evolution of sound and of course, great traditional sounds like basses and leads. Even traditional patches have a sound that slices through a mix. ZeroVector has that intangible quality that is appealing. It's interface is a thing of workflow bliss.
Sounds: If you think a analog wavestation that isn't tied completely to vector synthesis would be a good instrument to have, ZeroVector is it.
Pros: x/y pad assigned by mod matrix, vector pad with recording and variable speed playback of movements, modulation matrix, clean design, a unique sound that manages to feel familiar.
Cons: perhaps cost, but you pay for quality which is something that should be abudnantly clear to those who shop for new commercial and shareware synths.
The balance of this review discusses the GUI, controls and to a degree how to program ZeroVector.
ZeroVector is a killer synth. You won't be starving for sound in this exceptionaly well designed synth. Each of the three oscillators has a total of 35 waveforms to chose from including none (or off). Oscillator one has semitone, detune, clone and volume controls. This is the "small" oscillator set. The 2nd one has an invert, sync and key off button with additional frequency modulation controls and oscillator three has invert, ringmod, sync and key off.
Of interest is the vector section, a triangle facing towards the right side of the compact interface. There are controls for recording and rate. When recording you can do so freehand in which case every movement and nuiance is captured. You can also draw straight lines but after a bit of practice you'll get to love the freehand mode. Once you finish recording you have developed a relationship with whatever has been assigned to the vector controller. At it's minimal the oscillators are noted at each junction. The speed of the traveling controller is modified by the control with the same name.
There are also envelopes for amplitude and filter. The envelopes are five part ADSRV types. In terms of filters there are two located on the interface's top right with several filter types including three formant styles. Cutoff and Resonance are available as well as Envelope, Key Scale and Drive. Filter two has Cutoff and Filter with an A:B switch that allows either or both oscillators to work as well as a link button. You design the two filters and based on their arrangement use the Mix button to fine tune.
There are also global conrols such as skin change, global volume, bend, pan, amount of polyphony and choice of polyphonic or three different mono modes; fingered, retriggered and plain old normal mono.
The Arpeggiator mode has the standard up, down, random, etc. controls but is spiced up with 16 patterns and up to 4 octaves. There are length and swing controls as well.
What we've got here is a fairly powerful synth that has a cool feature in it's vector pad. However, this is the first of two pages. The fun stuff starts on page two.
There is an eight part modular matrix that features sixteen modulation destinations including page 2's X/Y pad, a stock feature so far on WhiteNoise synths, and a welcomed one. There's also destinations for the multi-envelopes, pad and volume along with controllers that can be assigned to the vector pad. Now things are getting interesting, and indeed there's the 14 routings in the modulation matrix including filters, amp envelopes, filters and so on. Wisely the envelope 1 set is next to the mod matrix. It too is ADSRV.
There are two free envelopes that are graphical and multi-point, or in their case, multi-bar. It is possible to save presets besides the ones supplied and create complex types of envelopes that can be applied as desired in the mod matrix. Another great feature is the scalability of each envelope. The solid bar below the envelope can be set to any combination from a small segment to the complete envelope, besides that, each envelope has a horizontal length slider. This changes how long the envelope takes to complete one cycle. There are also buttons that set how the envelope will behave! It is so deceptively simple that newbies will approach this synth and simply try things out. And what a surprise they are in for! Little things can cause major changes. There's also a series of effects either on or off based on buttons. They include a brilliant distortion, chorus, phaser, delay (with sync), reverb and EQ. Several of these effects can be controlled through the mod matrix making for subtle complexity. Finally, there's the x/y control which sends midi.
In all, Zero Vector is a major synth with tons of capabiliies and tons of personality.
With ZeroVector White Noise, previously known for more experimental additive synths, has jumped to the head of the pack with this excellent subtractive. ZeroVector is a fairly conventional subtractive synth architecturally but stands out with a lush, rich & sweet sound and a distinctive sonic personality.
ZV's *huge* unison mode is the best I've heard in any softsynth. It's simultaneously big and very clear, unlike the noisy unison modes on a lot of other softsynths. Combined with the oscillator cloning feature ZV sounds bigger than anything except perhaps Vanguard, and it sounds a lot cleaner than Vanguard can.
ZV also has an excellent filter. Comparable even to impOSCar and Albino for a warm analogue sound with a very musical resonance. The vector pad makes it possible to make some very dynamic and interesting sounds, great for pads and ambient textures. The effects section is pretty complete and easy to use.
My only complaints are that the UI is a little hard to read quickly and that the vector pad needs a loop mode. Replacing the knob graphics with something more obviously directional controls would help a lot. With these changes and White Noise Additive-style midi learn this would be an easy ten. As it is now it's a very, very solid 9.
Let me first say that, like the other reviewers, I am a beta-tester and have watched the ZeroVector grow from childhood through adolescence to maturity. It's an astounding soft-synth!
While I am not a sound-engineer in terms of pre-set design -nor am I a terribly technical person- I am a musician...and this is simply one of the most versatile, "musical" synths that I have had the pleasure to play. In my musical world, it has sat quite splendidly in a mixex and has been the crown-jewel in a couple of creations.
There is a rich sound to this VA-type synth which can result in pure aural ear-candy. The sound is clear, warm and profound. Probably one of the best soft-synths I have ever had the privilege to get my hands on. The availability of the Vector-Pad and XY-pad also give a lot of programmable depth and variance to a pre-set. (Actually, the Vector-Pad is programmable and automated whereas, I don't believe the XY-Pad is automated -though I wish it were - still in all, it's great). There are several different wave-forms to use in three different oscillators.
There are alot of pre-sets by several different parties, including the creator. They are wonderfully varied and also make excellent leaping-off points for those who want to take the sounds further. This synth can do alot and even I have found programming to be quite intuitive. I haven't quite mastered the envelope formatting - which is a bit different than other synths- but similar to other White Noise creations. This is my fault, not the synth's and can be attributed to late-night lazainess. I also don't believe that there's a MIDI-learn function, which I would love. This does not detract, however, from an incredibly useful product. I have immediately assigned it a place in my soft-synth pantheon.
In sum, I'm still getting to know this instrument but I know it well-enough to find it immensely useable and musical. It is definately a must-try.
I had the luck and joy to be another betatester of this synth, and while i know and own many great commercials and free synths, Zero Vector is definetly a gem for me, something special, it really pushes the limits of VSTI synths further. So while the following text may sound like an ad of the synth, it is the true opinion of the writer; luck has it that there is a demo version available which allows judging the synth without having to trust another raving betatester :-).
Why this rave ? First and most important of all, the basic sound. Due to good basic waveforms and very good filters, Zero Vector sounds extremly smooth and "creamy", very hardware-like, with an added misty and dark quality. The sound fits extremly well into any mix and works, surprsingly, very good with all synths i own, be it the digital or VA kind. If possible, i honestly would give it a 11 in the present rating system, the +1 for setting the standarts higher. However, the quality possible can have a price: rather high CPU usage. Especially with Clone and Unison and the Arpegiator, some patches CAN eat much CPU; however, turning down these features before the final mix, freeze and ever-faster computers allow to circumvent the CPU demands - and, of course, many presets use only moderate CPU.
Then there are the features. Many basic waveforms, various filter models with diverse options of filter drive and configuration, including very cool smooth-sounding vowel filters, Clone, Sync, FM and Unison options, the easy to use Vector Pad and the flexible Modulation matrix - with roughly 20 destinations and sources on each side -, the three additional LFOs/ Envelopes, the arpeggiator and a compact good effect section allow for an extremly broad range of sounds. Very good organs and Epianos, lush strings and choirs, hard basses or synced leads, beautiful plucked sounds, cool moving arpeggiators, strange ambiental voice sounds, oriental leads, f....-up brachial noise, dancy hoovers - the list what this synth makes great and with style goes on and on, just check out the presets for some of its possibilities.
Speaking of the presets - there are at the moment over 500 with growing tendency, and quite simply they are really great - i could do entire albums with them without missing much save drums (which ZV does also well, btw.)
The reason there are so many great presets is simple and another point why Zero Vector is a gem for me: It is easy to program. The GUI is laid out clear, the signal flow is easy to apprehend, and the mod matrix, drawable envelopes, the uncomplicated FX section and the vector pad allow a playful attitude in sounddesign instead of sincere programming.
The manual follows this intuitive approach; while rather short, it guides the newbee towards an understanding of the synth in a tutorial vein without missing detailed explanations.
Other points ? The customer support of Dave is very good, the synth is stable, and personally i like the (skinnable) GUI alot, especially the second white skin. Zero Vector isn't cheap, but considering the league it is playing in, the immense universality and its sheer quality, it is very reasonable priced.
Let me say up front that I was lucky enough to be a beta tester for ZeroVector, but let me be clear: this is an honest and impartial review. If it sounds like a rave, it is because I love this synth!
Quite simply, I can't think of another VST with the kind of power that ZeroVector offers that is easier to program. It begs you to create your own sounds.
Interface: Clean, elegant, and very intuitive. It comes bundled with 2 skins, and is skinnable. Very cool.
Sound: Rich, liquid and rich. To my ears, it sounds a bit like the venerable CS-80V. Capable of wispy, aggressive, and all points in-between. But try and write your own presets on the CS-80V and you will appreciate the elegant simplicty of Zero Vector.
Features: Very flexible. But again, not at the exprense of ease-of-use.
Documentation: It is a testament to the ease-of-use of this synth that I have never once had to look at documentation. Add to that the fact that as a guitar player, I am not the most experienced sound designer. But given that I am able to create sounds that exceed my own expectations, I could not be more thrilled.
Presets: Lots of 'em, and they are a strong selling point. No, I don't say that because I wrote a bank. ;) A bunch of very talented soiund designers wrote banks, and the default bank does a terrific job of showing-off the range of the synth.
Customer Support: Dave Wallin is a g0od guy, very professional and very responsive. Nothing but good things to say here.
Value for money: If only for the sheer ease of programming, this is a good value. When you factor in the flexible sound, the growing number of free banks (I'll be posting more myself over the next few weeks) it's an even better deal.
Stability: Rock-solid on my P4 using Cubase and Chainer. I have had some issues using MiniHost, but that seems to have been limited to my machine.
Wish list: I would like to see more waveforms - especially the ability to import (or create) your own. I would also like the abiity to define your own default sound bank.
Bottom line: I own most of the "usual suspects" and many of the big name synths, and I have to say this is becoming my go-to synth - especially when I want to "roll my own" sounds. Very strongly recommended.
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