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Bazille [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 16th December 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by Sycopation on 16th December 2015.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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I am not a super experienced synthesist, so I will not try to give a techy review. I'll leave that to the people who know more and care more. This review is way more subjective and opinion-based.

I primarily use presets (with some tweaking to taste), and this synth does not disappoint with the presets. I've spent 3+ hours going through favoriting all the ones I like and I'm still not even halfway through. But that's what we call one of those good problems. Tastes vary, and these things are very subjective, but I like a higher percentage of presets in Bazille than in any other synth.

Simply put, I just love the sound of this synth. It probably has just about the most unique sound of any synth I've used, and I've tried 50+. It just has a "je ne sais quoi" (to use a douchey French word) that I've not heard anywhere else. Just playing it and listening to it makes me feel... I don't know... nostalgic... or maybe pensive is the right word. I have an affinity for sounds that are vaguely retro-ish and analogue, especially patches that sound like e-pianos. Or anything that sounds vaguely like bells, tuned percussion, or any other sound where it's hard to say for sure if it's natural or synth. This synth does all those very convincingly. To me it's more "organic" and analogue than even Diva. Which is really important to me, because I really dislike the extremely digital-sounding synths you hear in a lot of EDM and electronica these days. I definitely like a more retro sound, and Bazille really hit the spot for me. It just sounds nice in a way different from most other synths I've used, including the other u-he synths. At first I was afraid that Bazille would be redundant since I already have ACE, Diva and Zebra, but it most definitely has its own character and unique strengths. In the course of a week or two it shot to the top of my list, above ACE, Diva, Absynth, Zebra, everything. I'll still use those other bad boys lots (I still can't find anything that beats Diva for fat analogue bass), but this is the first thing I'll try for most things, especially chords and leads.

As I said, I don't do much patching myself, but the more I learn about patching, the more I appreciate the visual, modular nature of Bazille (as well as ACE). Much more than any other softsynth I've used, these two synths make it very easy to follow the signal flow, because the patch cords create a visual map. Either of these would be a fine choice for someone that was trying to learn synthesis from the ground up. I will definitely concentrate on these two as I continue to learn more about synthesis.

I really only have two "sort of" complaints about this synth. As with almost all u-he products (especially Diva and ACE), Bazille will do cruel things to your CPU. Bad, unkind things. Just don't even mess with any of them if you don't have a computer less than three years old with a minimum of an i5. And even if your rig can handle it, you still will probably want to render or freeze most instances. It's that bad. One single instance can spike your CPU, and 2-3 will almost for sure take too big of a bite even on a big rig. The other complaint also applies to all u-he products. I really wish they would switch to a preset browser like you see in Massive, Absynth or Synthmaster. This would be especially helpful in a synth with 1,700 presets! But they stuck with the same format for their newest synth, Hive, so I'm not holding my breath that this will change.

Overall, great synth. Try it for yourself. I DLed the demo pretty much out of boredom, not having any real intention of buying it. Then two weeks later I just had to do it. It won me over.

Royotoms [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 16th December 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by Sycopation on 16th December 2015.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Another awesome free instrument from Alan ViSTa! I am a big fan of all his stuff, especially the tuned percussion. The samples are high quality and I don't think I've ever had any of his VSTs crash on me. Sounds good, stable, super easy GUI, just so simple to use! Sometimes you want a powerhouse like Kontakt with a monster engine under the hood, and sometimes you just want something simple and easy to use that that allows you to just work fast.

I love that each rototom has independent volume and pan control. That gives you total control over dynamics and stereo placement. Having control over reverb level AND lenght is also great. Dialing in the right amoung is really fast and easy. An intergrated compressor would be nice, but hey, I'm not going to complain about something so trivial.

The only actual complaint I have is that it's pretty CPU hungry for what it is/does. But that definitely won't stop me from using it, because freeze/render is your friend.

Good job, mate. I made a nice rototom track with this in under two minutes.

Frostbite [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 20th November 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by Sycopation on 20th November 2015.
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I've only just started to mess with this, but I already love it and can tell this is going to get a lot of use, especially in my sound design-focused sessions.

Even if the only trick it did was the "long reverb," it might be worth the asking price. Basically it just takes the most intense part of a reverb and holds it for a specified amount of time, up to 25 seconds. Very awesome. Obviously, one can use automation of reverb/volume to achieve somewhat similar effects, but this does it 1) much more easily and 2) in a much different sounding way. A way that freezes the sound and just repeats it, but with no audible looping artefacts. I used to spend a lot of time in an audio editor to get effects that I'm getting with this with just a few dial tweak.

It also has the ability to severely transform the input sound. The "bowed metal" preset makes everything sound like, well, bowed metal. Very cool effect with which to create some icy soundscapes. For real, if you're into any genre where you like to create a spacy / barren / cold soundscape, you want this plugin.

One idea for improvement: allow users to type in values, or at a minimum, allow for fine-grain tuning by holding SHIFT.

GDuckDly [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 4th November 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I'm giving this a 10 because it's super unique. It's basically a delay with an integrated compressor. I'll try to do it justice, but you really should just try it for yourself. I don't know of any other delay that ducks the delay line in favor of the dry signal.

The best thing about this, the thing that sets it apart from other delays, is that you can make really strong delay lines (i.e. high in level, relative to the dry signal) without it overwhelming the dry signal. Brilliant. However, as with any heavy-handed compression, do be aware that it can create a pretty audible "pumping." And even a sort of "clicking," especially material with prominent transients. So it's definitely not appropriate for any material where you don't want that. But when you're okay with that, this thing rocks. I think the best use of this is on material that is syncopated (i.e. not just straight eights or quarters), and when you use a note value that it something other than what you can set in most tempo-synced delays (the common stuff - 1/4, 3/16, 3/8 etc). Go for odd stuff like 5/16, 5/32, 15/64 – crazy stuff like that. This thing will start making reeeeaaallly unique rhythms. Put two or more together, serially, or in stereo tandem. And things can get really wild. Creative opportunities abound.

Some people won't use this because the delay is not tempo-synced: big mistake. Read my review of GDelay. Everything I said there applies to this one even more. Learn to use Excel and do basic mathematical functions. Your music will thank you.

And as with all GVST's stuff, it's very CPU-friendly. Barely even registers on my CPU meter.

Suggestion for improvement: it would be nice if you could opt to duck the dry signal in favor of the wet signal. That could be very cool.

FreqAnalyst [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 21st October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Excellent, free product. I use it a lot, so it's actually important to me that it's visually attractive, which it definitely is. Being able to see left and right channel independently is great.

My only realistic complaint is that it is more CPU-intensive than I would like. Not terrible, but high enough that I often shut if off when not in use, and my computer is above average in power.

My less realistic complaint is that I'm bummed it can only do one channel at a time. Yeah, I know, they have the MultiFreq product that I can buy. But c'mon, how about just TWO channels? That still leaves something to be desired for people that realize they really need/want 4 or more, but still gives us cheapskates a great, more useful, free product that might eventually entice us to upgrade to the paid vesion. As it is now, most people have only ever used a single channel analyzer, so they don't know what they're missing. If you don't show them the power of multi-channel analysis, they'll continue to not see the point in MultiFreq, and they won't shell out the money for it.

Just sayin'

FuzzPlus3 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 20th October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows
0 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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Audio Damage makes some good products, but for my tastes, this just isn't one of them. The distortion it adds just sounds completely digital and "fake" to my ears. There might be some good uses that I didn't try out, but overall I just didn't care for it.

Instead try TSE BOD.

A1TriggerGate [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 20th October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by Sycopation on 21st October 2015.
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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I like this plugin a lot. The presets all seem to be geared to dance / EDM genres, which doesn't do a whole lot for me, so I basically never use them.

So, if you're not working in those genres, you might think this thing is way too over-the-top. The solution to that is simple - turn down the mix knob. Actually, I rarely use this over 50%, and I quite often use this as a send effect rather than an insert. I find it easier to control that way.

My favorite use for this is on pads. It just adds a rhythmic component to them. But again, subtlety is key. There is a fine line between adding a relatively subtle rhytmic pulse to a track, and making the whole track sound like an EDM banger.

It's free, but having used it now for 3+ months, it would easily be worth at least $20 to me, and I'm a cheap SOB. It's just sooooo easy to use, and it can really help give a nice "breathing" to an otherwise lifeless part. Just don't try to use it to rhythmize your whole track, unless you want it to be repetitive as all getout.

One suggestion I have for improvement is to be able to adjust the note value of each 16-part pattern. It only allows for 16th note durations, which can be pretty limiting, especially if you're not into dance music.

Multiply [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 20th October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows
1 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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This is a high quality free product. Acon makes good stuff, free or paid.

It's as good or better than the free chorus from Blue Cat (just depends on the sound you're going for). I like it better than the Chorus that comes bundled with Studio One. It's not as good as Uhbik, but hey, u-he rules and Uhbik is not cheap, so that's hardly a slam on this great free product.

Combo Model F [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 20th October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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This thing can sound pretty good if you do it right. It's the best free organ emulation that I have tried. I don;t think you're gonna fool anyone "in the know" that this is the real deal, but it's close enough that a lot of people will probably think it sounds fairly real. Try some amp simulation, distortion, reverb, and most important, a tremolo / pan effect. I actually like it for pedals / drones in the upper register rather than chords in the mid-range, but it does chords reasonably well.

4Front Rhode [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Sycopation [read all by] on 20th October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Don't expect anyone to hear this and be fooled that it's the real thing, especially if it's prominently featured. But it can sound quite interesting nonetheless. I actually often use a bunch of effects on it to make it sound even less Rhodes-like, and I think that often works a lot better.

The low and high ends sound probably the least Rhodes-like of all, but the high end is really unique sounding, totally usable if you get creative with your effects.

I have the Native Instruments Rhodes and AAS Lounge Lizard, and they both sound more realistic than this, but I still keep finding uses for 4Front.

Totally recommended, and hey, it's free.

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