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ZynAddSubFX [read all reviews]
Reviewed By fleetmouse [read all by] on 14th October 2004
Version reviewed: 2.1.1 on Windows.
Last edited by fleetmouse on 17th October 2004.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful.
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This is an astoundingly good piece of work. I've been playing with it and discovering cool things at every turn. It has one of the most powerful oscillator design sections I've ever seen in a VST - easily as complex and subtle as Absynth if not more. I keep clicking edit here and there and finding more editable paramaters - for example you can choose a formant type filter and then edit the formant.

The sound quality is very good, far better than I'd expect for a free project that is this far gone into complex propellerheadedness. The oscillators can be made to sound trashy when you create very complex waveforms but I didn't detect aliasing unless I pushed it really hard and played really high notes.

There are some very usable presets - in particular, some realistic reed instruments, pads and atmospheres, and miscellaneous odd noises. The presets could be more extensive and imaginative - there are worlds of sound design to explore here.

The VST works pretty well in FL Studio - just remember to minimize instead of closing the Zyn window. You can only load one instance of it but it's 16 part multitimbral, so you can direct 16 midi channels to it - in FL you give it a port number in the fruity wrapper, then create midi channels and route them to that port. I'm not using Cubase these days but you should be able to do much the same thing there. In Zyn you click on the button marked panel window to pull up the channel selector which also includes faders and knobs for the volume and pan of each channel.

The documentation is, like a lot of open source projects, not the best - it seems to be scattered and in the process of being rewritten. But it's not hard to pick up on what's happening in the program if you have some synthesis experience.

Interface is not the prettiest but it works well and I was able to find my way around - which is more than I can say for a lot of commercial VSTis.

I'll give the author top marks for support as he answers questions on a forum right here on KVR.

This is an outstanding instrument from a sound design perspective - I want to encourage the author to keep working on it.
Reaktor [read all reviews]
Reviewed By fleetmouse [read all by] on 6th June 2004
Version reviewed: 4.12 on Windows
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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After using Reaktor, my first response to trying some other softsynth is usually "what is this, a joke?"

Reaktor makes sounds nothing else on earth can make. It has a library of over 1500 user created ensembles (synths, samplers, effects, sequencers, algorithmic music generators, live performance devices), all of which you can dig in and modify and learn from. It can sound like everything from a creamy old Moog to a stuttering pile of scrap metal, and anything in between - you have components like samplers, oscillators, LFOs, filters, sequencers, drawable oscillators - this is just scratching the surface - and you can make them interact in very unique and frightening ways.

The sound quality is superb at 44kHz - if you demand better, you can bump it up to 4 times your sound card's sampling rate - so if your sound card runs at 96kHz, that's an insane 384kHz. Take that, Nyquist! (your mileage may vary, this is with my M-audio 24/96)

It's like NI handed me a shoebox of the parts they use to make their products. You can get lost in it for days and weeks at a time. Not a good idea to purchase it too close to a professional or academic deadline!

It can be used as an enormously tweakable assortment of synths - a virtual synth of the month club - or if you have the discipline you can dig in and develop your own monsters.

The only negative is the printed documentation - it's more of a reference than an instruction manual. However, there are online tutorials and you can learn a lot by diggin into other people's work. The forum is also a great resource if you have questions.

Reaktor has been criticised for gobbling CPU, but I find that only the most complicated ensembles are CPU-intensive. I have a 2.4 gHz processor and many of the samplers and basic synths use only 5% to 10% of the CPU.

I find it to be deeply satisfying, one of the best pieces of audio software I've come across. It's not cheap but man do you get a lot of bang for your buck.