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Reviewed By Tea [read all by] on 22nd April 2005
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows.
Last edited by Tea on 22nd April 2005.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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I first acquired this when I was starting out, having bought Cubasis and suddenly realised that I needed a whole load of extra instruments to make tracks with. I downloaded this because it was free, and I'm really glad I did.

* The GUI is immaterial, as there are no knobs and buttons. As it is, its simple and elegant.

** 4Front bass is a mixture of sampled and modelled sounds, and the notes effectively play pretty much evenly across the whole of your keyboard. They're a just a bit thin at the 'top of the neck', but even expensive samples are too, I've found. Overall the sound is good and fat, with a warm, slightly rubbery quality. There is some string excitation (also curiously rubbery), that sounds like someone administering a Chinese burn with washing-up gloves on.

I used it a lot for a while, then went to actual samples played through Kontakt, but I keep coming back to this from time to time, as it has a lot of qualities to it that make it both practical and enjoyable.

*** It sounds alot like a bass guitar!

**** You'd only need docs for this if you'd never recorded music on a computer before.

***** Just the one preset.

****** Customer support is, by all accounts, pretty good, though you won't need it on this.

******* Given that its free, it can't fail to be value for money, but even if it wasn't it would still be worth paying for.

******** Very low cpu load and absolutely no stability problems for me in two years of use!

Reviewed By Tea [read all by] on 17th June 2004
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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This is a strange little VSTi. Part of the 4Front suite that also includes the E-Piano and Rhode[s], it offers a no-frills workman-like, chunky, slightly hallucinogenic bar-room piano-type sound that is great for bashing out ideas for songs.

Unlike the mda piano, which is really more of a sound for fitting into a mix to represent a piano, the 4Front Piano actually offers some pleasure to be had from playing it for its own sake. It has a slightly dirty, crappy, worn-out kind of sound with a strange little twinkle to it which reminds me of wasps buzzing round a pot of honey or people rattling jewelry over a corpse. Really.

The quality of the sound is pretty consistent right across the range, with no notes overpowered by others when playing two-handed chords, and while in a mix it can be a bit fuzzy, it nonetheless has a unique sound that, while not authentic (I use free soundfonts and sfz for that), is nonetheless part of the piano-family. I recommend giving it a go.

User inteface:
Simple, elegant.

It makes a sound like a piano. That's it.

None, and none needed.

None, and none needed. This is what it does. How many presets does a piano have?

Customer support:
You won't need it, but programmer George Yohnge gives the impression of being pretty approachable.

Value for money:

It has it.
Reviewed By Tea [read all by] on 16th June 2004
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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I first used this piano about 18 months ago when I was starting out with Cubasis. I knew nothing about samplers, romplers or humplers so used it in my first composition because it was all I could lay my hands on. At the time I thought it sounded like crap - shallow, tinny, no facility for expression - and I don't think it actually sounds anything like as rich as the subsequent VST pianos I've tried.

However... I have come to love this little plugin. Partly because I nurture a silly romantic astonishment that a piece of software that you could fit on a floppy disc can contain all the notes right across the length of my keyboard, and partly because it just somehow seems to have a goshdarn character all of its own.

As long as you're not intending to make a feature of it, mda piano can work in even the most sophisticated of mixes, and its numerous editable features only enhance its usefulness.

Of all the free pianos I've tried this is definately a favourite. 4Front is the weirdest, EVM Grand Piano is the most lifeless, but mda piano is a firm fave.

Don't think of it as a rich palette, for making broad-brush authentic creations, but as a cheap retractable pencil for making sketches and maybe filling in some detail.

Interface: idiosyncratic.
Features: plenty
Documentation: none available, none needed
Presets: useful
Support: unescessary
Value for money: definately!
Stability: complete

As Orange Juice once sang: 'You'll always have a place in my heart...'
Reviewed By Tea [read all by] on 23rd March 2004
Version reviewed: 1.83 on Windows.
Last edited by Tea on 23rd March 2004.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Hmm. In many ways this Plugsound edition is great. It's easy to audtition sounds, tweeking possibilities aren't too bad, and some of the sounds, particularly the pianos, are beautiful.

My main grumble, though, (apart from the bloody authorizing shenanigans) is the distinct lack of velocity layers. Some of the pianos appear to have as many as three or four (wow...!) but others, especially the (rather muddy) electric pianos, seem to have a rather pathetic two. This is a great shame, as it makes playing very dificult, as only a small variation in playing velocity can make the sound leap from one layer to another - from a very pleasant jazz piano, for example, to the kind of clanging staccato that you'd only expect if you were hamering away at it.

No amount of tweeking in Plugsound or Cubase seems to resolve the problem. This is a great shame as, given that it effects all the sounds, and some worse than others, it makes the whole thing feel somewhat cheap and nasty, as if velocity layers had never been invented, and given the price of the plugsound packages (I have the Fretted version too) is really quite dissappointing.

While there are many good sounds here the whole thing is cheapened by the lack of subtlety, and for this reason I wouldn't urge anyone to rush out and buy the fretted or keyboard modules. A shame.
Reviewed By Tea [read all by] on 23rd March 2004
Version reviewed: 2 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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There are lots of free organ VSTs out there, all of which - being completely ignorant of programming - I'm pretty impressed by. LightBag (?) stands out though, not just for the degree of its authenticity (which is not fantastic, but is pretty good in parts) but for what you can do with it, as demonstrated by the excellent collection of presets. There are lots of usefull knobs and buttons to twiddle, all of which make an immediate difference to the sound, and the interface, like the sounds, is satisfying, unpretentious and appealing. There is also an excellent manual in .pdf. I've not needed customer support, though there is an email address supplied on the download page, and so far it hasn't shown any signs of instability. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this, and it definately comes recommended.