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Icarus [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Introspective [read all by] on 16th June 2017
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Mac
9.00
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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Icarus is Tone2's magnum opus.

If you are familiar with the company, you will know that there's a particular "quality" to their synths: a fairly digital sound, a fairly scratchy reverb, a feeling of "technical excellence" at the expense, perhaps, of refinement. Those qualities are still here in Icarus, but they seem to have "owned" that, more or less, and produced something that really stands out. Icarus has a striking *clarity* to its sound, a snappiness to its envelopes, and an elegance to its workflow that is quite compelling.

If there is a standout negative to this, it is that Icarus more or less makes the rest of their synths superfluous. My first Tone2 synth was Gladiator, and I loved it. ...Then along came ElextraX, and I felt I no longer needed Gladiator to get the same kind of sound, so I stopped using it. ...In fact, ElectraX was so much easier to use and such a capable synth, that even after extensive demos of their other synths (notably their FM and "transwave" synths), I felt their was too much overlap in the sound to warrant another purchase. And again, when Icarus was released, I listened to the demos and thought "meh: this is just a reskinning of ElectraX."

I forget what the catalyst was—perhaps a YouTube video comparing Icarus to Serum or something—but eventually I broke down and downloaded the demo. I bought it a few days later. Indeed, the workflow here is quite similar to that of ElectraX, though I like that it's not "four synths in one," which is something I always found a little irksome. Everything is a bit more "succinct" here, in ways that are difficult to qualify, but was actually the *sound* that hadn't quite come across to me in the demos I'd listened to. The hypersaw sounds fuller, the wavetable scanning seems smoother, the filters are a little more refined, and the effects ... well.. perhaps they *use* them a bit less in the presets or something; that Tone2 reverb still has a quality to it that I *strongly* dislike (turning off the reverb is always my first tweak for Tone2 patches), but it bothers me much less with Icarus. :)

Tone2 has really outdone Serum in terms of wavetable manipulation: every feature here is a delight, from the drawing tools to the randomize function: you will end up with very pleasing results with MUCH less work. They are really to be lauded here. The resynthesis is always great fun to play with and can result in your own very distinct patches.

(A quick note: I do NOT think that Icarus "sounds better" than Serum. There is still a *crispness* to Serum that Icarus does not capture. Serum sounds much more ... clinical: I am going to play EXACTLY these frequencies, RIGHT here. Icarus reminds me more of a Virus, here: still very digital, but somewhat "warmer" or perhaps "smoother". If you own Serum, you do not *need* Icarus. ...but if you are a wavetable-junkie and really like editing them, you will find Icarus a delightful addition.)

The mod-matrix here meets all the modern requirements: drag-and-drop but *also* right-click assign, and *also* directly editable. Assignments are graphically displayed along with their depth and can be modified right from the affected knob. A good number of envelopes (4), a good number of LFOS (4), surprising number of waveshapes for the LFOs, the arp can be used as a mod source, and one mod slot can affect the depth of another. (This is actually less powerful than a matrix with built-in depth modifiers, but it'll do—it is at least clear, here.) A good number of slots—I haven't found myself wanting for more, yet (though, eventually, I'm sure I will. I always do).

The filters are really amazing here: there are SO MANY of them, and the "typical" ones are very high-quality and the "creative" ones are a lot of fun. The drive is not the highest-quality, but it's available and it does contribute to the quality of the sound. The display is also highly appreciated: while it's not *attractive*, it's actually one of the most useful graphical representations of a filter I've seen: very fast and very detailed. You really feel like you can see *exactly* what the filter is doing.

I'm not personally a big fan of Tone2's effects, so I largely skip this section. They "work," but the controls are a bit weird (rather than knobs, you "drag" text values). There is, as Aiyn Zahev said (of another synth) "a cheeky duck knob" to the effects, though, and that's nice for when you want THAT sound.

The EQ and limiter of limited (har har) quality, but, again, they add to the sound.

Really, the "stand out qualities" to this synth have to be the wavetable oscillators (PARTICULARLY the editor), the diverse filters, and the *cracking* all-on-one-page workflow.

Icarus is one of those synths that doesn't quite scream "we are aiming squarely at synth X." If it did, I would have to say it was aiming at Serum. ...which would be a shame, because I think, ultimately, Serum is a superior overall synth. That having been said, personally I actually find Icarus a more *usable* synth. It's more immediately creative, it's a bit broader in sound and usability. ...I've never really gotten a *truly* satisfying pad out of Serum, for example: that's just not its strength. ...Icarus handles them with aplomb. For me, Icarus is more of a stand-in for an Access Virus or a Blofeld or the like: a decent VA, albeit on the digital side, with that "wavetabley" sound that excels at pads and plucks.

I don't care about making dubstep basses, so don't ask me if it's good for that. ...I doubt it could touch Serum for that sound, though.

[shrug] I am finding this difficult to express, but: I reach for Icarus more often than Serum. Serum, for me, is something *specific, * for cutting, standout sounds. It screams "here I am!" regardless of how you use it. Icarus is more of a broad tool that handles almost everything very well, AND it is best-in-class for wavetable editing, hands-down.

I also own VPS Avenger ... and ... yeah... I would have a *really* hard time selling you Icarus if you were looking at Avenger. You're just going to get more bang for your buck, there: better-sounding (sounds very much like a Virus), better depth ... just a whole lot more "to" it. ...Unless you're still looking for that Wavetable editor, which is decidedly superior in Icarus. ...Think of Icarus like a Blofeld, here: would you still buy one if you owned a Virus? ...If so, then, yeah, you will want both Icarus AND Avenger. If you just want one, go for Avenger, period. (You might also prefer Icarus if you were one of those people who hate REALLY broad synths for being really broad. Icarus has more personality.)

All of that said, Icarus, today, is certainly one of my top-ten VSTs, right up there with Serum, Avenger, Omnisphere, Strobe, Diva, RePro, and LuSH. For me, I would probably even put it in my top five. Perhaps I cannot *quite* tell you why. ...it's probably because I *love* wavetables. :) When it comes down to it, if you are a studio-minimalist (or just don't have the money for overlap), Icarus is a hard sell. You'll probably want either Serum or Avenger. But if you just love sound-design and can handle having another creative synth in your arsenal, you would be remiss to pass over Icarus. It is really something very special.

A final note: I am aware that there is a group of users on KVR who feel it is their duty to downvote all "overly-positive" reviews. Conceptually, I understand their motivation: to account for some of the "hype" that surrounds synths and to point out that "things can always get better." So be it; I am powerless to stop them. I do, however, have a message for them: you are idiots; get over yourselves.

Presswerk [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Augren [read all by] on 16th June 2017
Version reviewed: 1.1.1 on Mac.
Last edited by Augren on 16th June 2017.
10.00
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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Beautifully musical sounding, highly (yet sensibly) configurable dynamics processor with moderate CPU load.

I was comparing several reputable compressor plugins and was reluctant to try Presswerk. I'm really glad I ended up taking it for a spin.

For my personal priorities (don't need spectrum analysis in a compressor plugin), and for my personal taste Presswerk is by far the best sounding compressor plugin currently on the market, with just enough configuration flexibility to cover all my tracking mixing and mastering needs.

Highly recommended.

Abstrung [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tatanka [read all by] on 14th June 2017
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Any OS
10.00
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Hi, .

I like to give you some very first impressions of Abstrung the new library by (in my opinion) much underrated Audiofier:

http://www.kvraudio.com/product/abstrung-by-audiofier.

I already have Sequi2R and the follow up Sequi2R EX (with a lot of expansions included) but skipped over the first version of their new series vesper cause "bells and whistles" just not my sounds.

Now I could not resist the new Abstrung, same concept then Vesper but with "strungs" (Abstrung :lol:) and plucks (my sounds :D).

Took some time with nearly 20 GB download to get evrything working but then I was just overwhelmed :o .

Me, the preset addicted and NO nki-instruments, no snapshots ????

NO, you really dont need. After this I will open my pc an look for this bunch of mini composers where they have been hidden.

NO, thats NOT random, not at all. Evry click brings a new (whatever magic does that trick) well designed preset :o :o :o.

AND: you can choose a sound category from the browser for the random sound generation.

And if you do this it is far more then just a plucks and strings thing.

Choose "spacey" and in no time you have a texture, soundcape, pad, athmophere whatever you like.

Have not come further now, four other categorys waiting to be explored.....

And magic goes on. If you have the sound you like in general there are two alternative ways to go on: use the crystal engine (no, I wont try to explain, you must have a look on yourself) it just adds kind of magic to your sound or use a very polished and feature rich double step sequencer following the root note and scale you choose.

I must admit ad this point as a hobby musician with more enthusiasm then knowledge I never really managed to master Sequi2r in all its possibilities, just to much for me so I am really fine with using the presets and just playing a little bit with the sequencer on first level.

But was makes this series so outstanding is the ease of use:

- choose a soundcategory you like
- use the sound composer (no, I wont call it random cause it just isnt :lol:)
- and then add the magic with crystal or a double sequencer.

Of couse there are a bunch of special fx, I dont think I will need them much but of course they are there and as easy to use as the rest.

So I will go back to magic :party:

Have a look at it if you like, it is really marvellous.

Free Clip [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Johnny Blade [read all by] on 14th June 2017
Version reviewed: 0.9.1 on Windows
10.00
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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There are a lot of clippers out there. Some paid, some free.

StandarDCLIP and KClip Pro are excellent paid plugins; Clipmax and Free Clip are excellent free plugins.

However, the amazing quality of the free ones has not justified the demand for the paid ones, and I can quote Free Clip as a major responsible for this.

After a few weeks of exhaustive testing, at least on the personal criteria of my own audition, I feel comfortable and secure in stating here that Free Clip is top.

Using it for mastering purposes in "Hard" mode, 1x Oversampling and -0.1dB Clip Ceiling, I got the most transparent result I could expect. No other plugin, paid or free, hit Free Clip.

A single lack I felt - the parameter "Gain" could be able to handle negative values. But this absence does not stain the surprising quality of this plugin, since I use the alternative features of my DAW.

Free Clip, with due respect, makes it unnecessary to use commercial alternatives.

TB Reverb v4 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ATN69 [read all by] on 13th June 2017
Version reviewed: v4 on Windows
9.00
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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I been looking for a reverb with a graphical EQ and then I found this new TB Reverb v4 from Toneboosters. It is very Clean and it can produce a long tail as well. It is simple but nice and easy to understand. Best of all it's cheap and a lot of reverb for the Money.

ASIO Link Pro [read all reviews]
Reviewed By mrlucmorin [read all by] on 12th June 2017
Version reviewed: 2.4.4 on Windows
1.00
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I'm giving this rating not for the product, but for the support from O Deus.

Many people are complaining that they don't answer their emails anymore.

The online purchasing service is also down, and so is their online license registering process. Users with a valid license code can't register their product, and people on other forums are starting to complain.

If the company is dead, the least they could do is be clear about it on their website, and I'm of the opinion that they should consider releasing the source code to the open source community.

I just want to be clear. I've had a few years of good usage of the product, but now that my DAW laptop died on me, and of course, I want to build a new DAW computer, I can't re-install the Asio Link Pro driver.

energyXT [read all reviews]
Reviewed By bmertelj [read all by] on 10th June 2017
Version reviewed: 2.7, 3.0 on Windows
9.00
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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EnergyXT is a great piece of DAW.

And I say that after working with it for 7 years and having tried many others and watched yt videos of almost every other DAW widely used. The functionality in terms of number of features can be discussed, there are definitely some missing that some consider essential and are common with most leading DAWs, but there are also some that eXT users use very much but are really unique to eXT, so unknown to others.

Probably the worst thing about eXT is its (public) reputation, or better, lack of it. Like, for example, this thread, the list of evaluations. The last eval here was written 10yrs+ ago. This is terrible! Not that it just seems nobody is using it, I know there are several users, but the last eval is about a dissapointment because the V2 is not an upgrade of V1. That could be called a marketing mistake from the designer but somebody should explain that here, or at least the author could call it for what it is. And unfortunately it seems that people loved V1 (I haven't tried it) and somehow got discontinued. However, the V2 evolved over time to V3 and now we have a decent and in some aspects a uniqely special DAW - IDEAL FOR AMATEURS with low budget - and not in any negative aspect of the word.

The GUI and usabilty are in most areas unmatchingly good. Of course this is felt only after you have used for a while. And then if for some reason you want to go somewhere else you just realize how valuable its usabilty is:

  • Very clean interface ("less is more" logic) with all the functionality very easily accessible.
  • Extremely low CPU usage - it literally works on any laptop or PC.
  • Powerful and simple modular pane where you can combine more plugins in a visually clear manner.
  • Small GUI elements (unfortunately not resizable) allow for very good use of monitor space (medium resolution monitors, laptops).
  • Very simple, intuitive audio parts management (stretch, volume, tune, transpose, cut, split, glue, fade in-out, x-fade).
  • powerful integrated drum sample player with:
    • unlimited sample pads (with inserts per each pad).
    • huge collection (30+) of sampled rhythm machines (Roland, Korg, Akai, Alesis ...) - from small to huge w. up to 180 drum sounds.
    • inserts and sends on each pad.
    • sampler playback functions (transp., filter, chop).
  • strong PM synthesizer w. good sample player.
  • quite some quality presets, samples and loops available on the product website.
  • simple automation interface and support for automation recording from VST GUI.
  • each track with integrated EQ.
  • User friendly built-in theme editor, for nice colors and quite some custom themes available online.
  • Complete set of customizable keyboard shortcuts.
  • ...

I just tried to list some special features that are really well implemented and distinguish EnergyXT in the huge DAW world.

Konkrete 3 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By dune_rave [read all by] on 10th June 2017
Version reviewed: 3 on Windows
10.00
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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This is a great drummachine. I like the euclidean beats sequencer the most. Plus there are many sections to tweak, many special drum sounds to use. You can drag MIDI out to the daw also. The beat shifter is also interesting conception, some may call this generative music... There's a freeze button in the beat shifter that stops patterns from changing/shifting. I also like the focus map feature on the starting page. So there are many cool functions to create the rhythms you like. I don't write more bout it, this have to be heard.

EGDR808 - 808 Drum Machine [read all reviews]
Reviewed By MisterHunt [read all by] on 6th June 2017
Version reviewed: 2.13 on iOS
1.00
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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This app is really disappointing and frustrating. It looks like an 80's drummatix but that's where the Similarities end. Its not programmable and doesn't work as promised. These developers have given apps a bad name.

This is how they work. They bombard you with promises to unlock features with purchase but it's a trick - a trap - a fraud. It doesn't unlock the features and the app doesn't work as advertised.

There are so many better free apps than this for drums. And the best paid drum one is garage band.

The best part of this experience was learnt a lesson. There are crooks in the app business. And to be more careful when I part with my hard earned.

'This app is crap - spread the word.

MIDI Shape Shifter [read all reviews]
Reviewed By arturmeinild [read all by] on 6th June 2017
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows
9.00
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Very powerful tool for generating and transforming MIDI signals. A superb and flexible alternative to traditional host automation.