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.