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SoundToys 5 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ObsoleteAcc99 [read all by] on 22nd July 2016
Version reviewed: 10.11.6 on Mac.
Last edited by TheoM on 24th July 2016.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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Hi, below I will do a mini review of each product included in the Soundtoys 5 bundle. At time of review I am using OS X 10.11.6, Protools 12.5.2 and Soundtoys 5.0.4. I've had absolutely no crashes nor found any bugs yet to speak of. CPU usage across the board is very reasonable. I'm on a 2.8ghz, i7 quad macbook pro.

Tremolator - i got to say, this tremolo is absolutely incredible. I never experienced anything like it, and i tried every tremolo plugin in existence. You can do patterns, and tons of steps per pattern as well as every conceivable sync time, but what sets it apart is you can draw the *shape* of the volume ducking, with as many "shaping" dots as you want, and then you can smooth it (or make it completely rigid like a gate), and simply click on steps to enable or disable them within a pattern. Perfect product. Every sort of tremolo sound is possible. 10/10

Phase Mistress - a bit disappointing, as it has no bass preservation (like uhbik bass sanctuary, and other good phasers which have a high pass of some kind on the signal actually being phased), so it's useless for anything with bass in it, as it increases the bass dramatically near the peak of the cycle. BUT, it has tons of emulations including classics like mutron biphase of course, a plethora of tempo sync options (incl very short or long sync times) and sounds lovely on synths and keys. 6.5/10

Filter freak - I am really not a fan of this product. I find it grating on the ear when pushed (there are various distortion modes you can choose from which help smooth it somewhat). Put cytomic's the drop after it, and it really shows how bad filterfreak is. Also there are no resonance volume compensated models, so the moment you increase resonance, volume starts dropping relatively. This just doesn't work for any sort of modern music IMO. I guess the 1% CPU vs the drop's 10% means something in this case. The only good thing about the product is the very easy to use modulation which can be synced to BPM, controlled via envelope, or speed adjusted with hz LFO. Although this helps somewhat to redeem it, the basic sound quality of the filters are just not there. Get the drop, waves metafilter or softube mutator instead. 2/10

Radiator - amazing ability to increase warmth, presence and punch, as well as perceived volume, whilst actually lowering the energy requirements the sound is using in the sound field. But don't worry, this isn't a limiter of any kind, rather a very high quality pre amp saturation algorithm. 9/10

Decapitator - Very nice distortion overall, especially fantastic on bass. Mixed results on drums, but ok on most other sources. 5 different distortion modes as well as a hp and lp filter with one push "bump" knob, which gives the filter a preset resonance peak. This allows quite a nice bass boost whilst cleaning up the low end. The distortion's punish mode is too harsh for most sources I tried it on, to me it just sounds like digital mess. The mix knob really sweetens the usability of the plugin though, and without the punish knob, very nice sounding saturation or obvious, pleasant distortion can be had. 8.5/10

Echoboy - Very disappointed there is no resonance on the HP and LP filters, and to get a crazy overdriven sound (like logic's tape delay, or the TK delay plugin)is not that easy even when the feedback is cranked. TK sounds much better when driven hard, and logic tape delay still just kills everything when overdriven, with sweet, addictive feedback distortion, which echoboy simply does not do as convincingly.. Regardless of all the delay models on offer, i am still not enthralled with the final sound of any of them. The groove and shuffle add something unique however, and can really bring life to the sound source. Still, it's usable, more as a standard bread and butter delay with a few fancy features, rather than a special FX one. Mono, Stereo, ping Pong and grid modes are available. 6.5/10.

Primal Tap - at first it appears to be a standard delay but in reality turns out to be so much fun. Automating the multipliers and the delay time, as well as the freeze function, leads to out of this world effects madness. Can also be used very well as a bread and butter delay. Once again, the sound of the feedback when driven hard disappoints me somewhat, as does the lack of resonance on the filters, just like Echoboy. Still, a great plugin overall, and I rate it 8.5/10.

Devil loc deluxe - Delicious, crunchy, and (optionally) lofi sound. I can't find this flavour of compression with any other plugin. It's just crazy on certain drums and bass sounds, and even vocals. Furthermore, it behaves like an actual hardware compressor in the attack, which is not true of at least half the software comps out there. I have tried 100's of compressor plugins over the years, and this is truly unique. Elysia mpressor, kush ubk, eventide omnipressor and ssl mic comp, would be closest "crush" competitors, but just don't have that flavour of the soundtoys. A GR meter would have given it a perfect score, so, a 9/10.

Panman - it's probably the best auto panner i have used, but it took time to actually get used to it. The drawing mode is very tiny and fiddly, and it's tricky to get a smooth automated panning cycle.. the preset shapes don't make any sense to me.. for example, it goes gently to one side then jumps to the other, and that's with a preset sine.. A sine should flow the same way from left to right and vice versa. Opening up the advanced controls reveals a flaw in the pattern design which must be corrected manually, as it's off kilter, and thus, annoying. Regardless, as far as auto panners, ultimately it can do what you need and probably a lot more, with a bit of effort. Also has plenty of tempo sync features. 7.5/10

Microshift - the first doubler since waves that has probably finally overtaken it for my number one spot. Even though the waves, and izotope nectar doubler, both have a lot more control over the modulation, the soundtoys microshift just sounds so lush, there is something, a certain quality to it, that the other doublers just can't sound like imo. Actually, it seems to sound so great on everything, being simple as pie to use, with instant results. Try it on vocal, guitars, pads and leads, and pretty much any other instrument! However, don't be tempted to over do it just because it sounds so good, as that defeats the purpose and will muddy a mix. Use it selectively on a sound here or there. 9.5/10

Crystallizer - honestly, i am not a fan of this for applying it to rhythmic patterns such as drums. Try as i might, I barely ever get a usable result (it just sounds like a cacophony to me, whereas i would have liked an easy way to create *organised* rhythmic chaos with it, if that makes sense). However, on instruments and pads, is where it shines. It's capable of creating some beautiful, magical soundscapes. Ultimately, it really needs more control over the rhythm section.. perhaps they could add a pattern generator to it like the tremolo, for example. 7.5/10

Little alter boy (the only little without a "big" alternative currently) - hilarious plugin (and good too!). You are either into the robotic kind of special fx it does on vocals, or not. Good quality formant optional pitch shifter (you can use this as a straight pitch shifter and/or harmoniser, without using the special fx features), with relative semitone snap or shift click fine tune. Instant Cher mode, as well as robotic mode (everything is the same pitch basically, it's a lot of fun). I can't wait to see what the big brother brings. Optional distortion can add grit and presence. 8.5/10

Effects rack - great idea, i wish it had undo, and i wish you could hide the fx window on the right (which you can), but STILL be able to add fx in the main window (which you can't). Still, terrific idea that has a global wet/dry. Using the rack saves extra inserts in your DAW, and has some really wacky and fun starter presets to show you how the soundtoys effects can all be combined. In a nutshell, you drag and drop to add or remove sound toys plugins (non "little" versions only), then combine them and reorder to your hearts content. 8.5/10

I won't review the other "little" plugins, as they are just cut down versions of the bigguns, and are all worthwhile, bar perhaps little primal tap as it misses way too many features. D'Lok, little radiator and little microshift are all very good one trick ponies that do their job with a minimum of fuss.

Overall, a good plugin pack really. For me, it isn't worth the full $599 asking price, nor would things like decapitator on it's own be worth $199. I think that's ludicrously expensive for a single distortion plugin these days. But on SALE, it becomes worth it to either buy 1 or 2 individual plugins, or the whole bundle. In a nutshell, price is really the only major issue for me, and missing features i'd like to see in the delay and crystallizer plugins. Also, removing the speed time and pitch plugin was a bummer. It should have been updated to 64-bit AAX and AU, so it could be used as Pro Tool's (or Logic's) offline default time and pitch algorithm. A 64-bit VST version would have also worked in hosts like Cubase that have an offline plugin processing function. Although not the best algorithm in the world (radius and elastique pro 3 are superior), speed is better than what comes with some daws, and would have therefore still had a real place in the plugin world.

Overall Bundle score: 8/10. Recommended.

Orchestral Strings One [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ObsoleteAcc99 [read all by] on 19th January 2013
Version reviewed: 1.3 on Mac
9 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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Wow i honestly feel terrible bagging a freebie to such a degree, but when something has no use, i don't know how else to rate it.

This is the worst string "sample" i have ever heard, much much worse than freely available soundfonts that can be found on the net, for example.

There is a *very* loud click at the *very* short loop point of the sample which makes any sort of sustained sound impossible.

it is unable to play chords from everything i have tried to do (MAC AU 64 bit version), has 5 articulations which are also affected by what seems to be single note polyphony? For example pizzicato can not be played in succession, it's one note, then 2 seconds later, another note. That seems to be the only way.

The sound quality is horrendous, as is the on board metallic reverb, the strings sound dull and lifeless.

Adding unplayability, sample quality, loop point click, and general noisiness of the instrument, i can't see any scenario where it can be recommended.. i mean, with many of using SSD's these days, why would you even consider using 600mb of precious ssd space on this?

This instrument has had a very negative impact on my opinion of sound magic. I was interested in some of their piano libraries, but there are no mac demos, and i am thrilled i did not take a chance and spend money on one.

the other problem is the language they use on their own webpage claiming special technologies used in this free instrument. I have never really been one to fall for "plug in tech jargon" but with a wide range of products, and now also owning a windows laptop to use for certain tasks, i was interested in checking out their other windows only products.

They have done irreparable damage to their "reputation" by releasing this free string instruments citing the same tech savvy jargon they use on their expensive paid products. I actually feel they have exposed themselves with this instrument as selling snake oil. So i thank them for saving me time and money in the long run, and now i feel silly for defending Shane in the forums here from time to time..

Avoid, and even if you can't help yourself and want to try it, avoid.

Vanguard [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ObsoleteAcc99 [read all by] on 14th December 2004
Version reviewed: 1.04 on Windows.
Last edited by ttoz on 14th December 2004.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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This is actually now my favorite software synthesizer, taking the crown from my previous favorites Rhino and Z3ta. The reason for this is because somehow it ends up in all my tracks, where to this day I still haven't used z3ta in a track EVER, and only used Rhino in a couple... My love of those two synths stemmed from the sheer pleasure attained from just playing them, and I wasn't really noticing the fact that they weren't fitting in with my music.

Let's be realistic, Vanguard is primarily a trance/dance/euro style synth. An that's what I write. I also do some ambient style stuff, and for this i find vanguard is capable of some stunning sound fx style patches, which integrate really nicely with ambient music.
But yes, mainly I use it for "techno"..

GUI: How CAN it get better than this? it is so well laid out that even a newbie won't feel intimidated. It has a superb "edit" toggle button, which will flip the UI from full functionality to just a preset flipper that looks like a slimline rackmount hardware synth. I love the fcat that there is a master volume control that isn't affected by flicking patches. Also, the gate, arpeggiator and effects section are so logically laid out...Vanguard just doesn't feel intimidating at all.....

SOUND: Punchy is a good word to describe it. crisp..quite "fat"..not what i would particularly call "goose bumps warm" though..we'll leave that for imposcar...the fx section is actually quite good, refx reverb algo is very useful for dance leads...the delay is quite versatile, and the gate and arpeggiators are outstanding. Also worthy of a mention, I was initially unsure of vanguard's pad capablilies, but realised that virus like pads ARE possible...it just takes a good sound designer to make them hehehe.

Features: Alot of this ties in with the gate and arpeggiators. because of the way these interact, the sheer scope of sounds and sequences possible is staggering. I mean you have every tempo subdivision possible for example. Also experimenting with the glide button can provide some very interesting results, particulary in combination with the arp and gate. it is very easy to take a great preset, and retweak it a hundred different ways with just a few buttons. The fat button feature is another example. spin it clockwise and let it do it's magic.

DOCS: straightforward and detailed pdf.

Presets: A highlight. a stunning 128 preset signature set by none other than Manual Schleis of Vengeance Sound. There is also a more unusual bank of fx and the like from Markus Felei, and another more "universal" called DHS singature sound bank. 384 factory presets included. tons of freeware banks, most of them superb, take it to well over 1000. What sort of presets overall? well, bass, leads, lots of rythms, and pads...to top it all off there are inexpensive commercial banks by Xenox, Bigtone and ProSounds. Particularly the Bigtone one is a must have. Also, i must mention the great inbuilt preset/bank load save features, there to be useful for hosts that are deficient int his department, there are convenient up down arrows and a big clear preset display, as well as load/save buttons right on vanguard's gui. One press int he middle of this display brings up the entire 128 presets of the currently selected bank in a single window.

Customer Support: a support forum is right here at KVR where Michael promptly attends to any questions. I have also never had an email go unanswered longer than 24 hours:)

Value for money: 100 bux almost make ME feel like a cheat! considering the huge amount of use it has been getting. a purchase i have NEVER regretted.

Stability: has NEVER crashed, and I can vouch for the AU version here too as I was for a while on mac. I can also vouch for the mac vst version and of course, what I use now, the pc vst version. rock solid, i never get an "uneasy" feeling when inserting an instance into a project, like I do with many other synths and fx.

Overall, if you are a dance maker and don't get this, your really are not working with a full deck. simple as that.
Wusik Station [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ObsoleteAcc99 [read all by] on 5th December 2004
Version reviewed: 1.09 on Windows
7 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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One of the best synths ever and in my all time top 10.

UI: The fact that this is fully skinnable and the abundance of already available skins means that there will be a style that is to everyone's taste. I am not going to lie, i haven't deeply explored the synths editability, because i am generally a tweker rather than a preset programmer, but for when I have needed to tweak a parameter it's all there logically laid out. Everything "makes sense". This is with the default black skin (which i love).

Sound: Very high quality, clean but not clinical. very warm, capable of both really analog and digital sounds at the same time.

Features: This is a huge beast to discover. the sound can extend almost far as full songs in a preset! Definitely NOT a one trick pony. the versatility of the available patches proves that.

Documentation: I have skimmed over the entire PDF manual and it is very thorough. it seems no details have been left out, every single button and fucntion is fully explained. When i have needed to refer to the manul, i type the search word for the query i have and have always found what i needed to know.

Presets: A delight. there are over 600 included, of fantastic quality, alot of moving pads and keys and atmospheres. beautiful. then there are the third party banks which have started to surface all over the place. TC's minimoog is a perfect example of the versatility of the synth. I actually think this is going to be one of the most supported plug in's presets wise, ever. There are already close to 1000 presets available, and HEAPS are on the way.

CustomerSupport: I shouldn't even have to say anything here. William is at the top of the game, in definitely the top ten of all time for b est support. super fast email responses, super fast forum reponses. any bug is quickly squashed. the guy is on the ball. top notch.

VFM: this is running under a constant group buy which every month allows the synth to sell for as little as $49.95..and it seems to always make that low price so it's very polular! this is what I paid for it, and it is possibly the best $50 ever spent on a synth. just think how some places just sell preset banks for other synths for more than that! This is actually something i woudl expect to sell closer to the $200 mark.

Stability: Right from the word go, I have not had ONE SINGLE CRASH with this plugin, EVER. which is more than I can say for alot of others! Even if there are minor bugs, William always squashes them quickly, and has a good beta test system going. superb.
Rhino [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ObsoleteAcc99 [read all by] on 4th August 2003
Version reviewed: 1.08 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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First I'd like to give a quick summation, that IMO, this is the world's finest software synthesiser bar none...

UI: very functionally laid out.It makes "sense".Yes there is alot of info to get through, but you find that every option is where it should be, i found out most by myself without referring to the manual at all...Also it looks damn good, there a bunch of skins available now too...i still prefer the default blue, although the alternative skins do offer better text legibility

Sound: Umm, it's hard to write a review here because i'm afraid of saying anything that might sell this synth short...it's impossible for words to do it justice..
but, i will try:
incredibly lush, warm, fat..there is absolutely no tinniness in the sound at all..and yet it's so clean..alot of the times clean means digital and clinical..but not here....this is the only softsynth that can pull my heartstrings to such a degree..this all comes at the expense of needing a rather beefy cpu to enjoy this synth...but, ,all the other synths that are in the same price range and same cpu usage, a perfect example being disco dsp's discovery, really do sound positively tinny compared to this...

Features: Absolutely so much more than a one tricker..the sounds available offer every category, this synth seems capable of doing it all..There's also a comprehensive, HIGH quality effects section and on board wave sequencer thingy..more about that in the presets section

Documentation.. a well laid out, functional pdf is available

Presets: as of v1.08, there are 384 available..to not be able to find ONE that sounds crappy, speaks for itself..there is EVERYTHING here, some lush pads/strings, ep's, cool clav's, drums, and REALLY COOL wave sequences, that make a wavestation sound like a kiddie's toy in comparison...and for me to say that is a major thing, because i LOVE the korg wavestation...
The default bank show off a little of what this baby can do, then the other downloadable's are in another leauge again...there is polysynth, analog monosynth(fantastic), electroloops(lots of bpm synced drum wavesequenced styles and some bizarre stuff too), the new ambient pads bank, and the dx7 bank, whcih really is the BEST of dx7 stuff, but with rhino sound quality

Customer Support: the fact that Tick has responded to every single support request, and the regularly attended forum here, where no one's questions have ever gone totally ignored, earns top marks here

VFM: well, the best 100 euro i have ever spent on software, ever. the amount of smiles i get everytime i just press a key and rhino generates sound is priceless

Stability: As of 1.08, this is ultra stable and crash free. i've tested in tracktion, chainer, and logic 5 extensively

Conclusion: put simply, if you own a pc, love vsti's, and don't get this, you are doing yourself a huge injustice. if you own a mac, you might want to consider buying a pc dedicated just to run this awesome synth
Sonik Synth [read all reviews]
Reviewed By ObsoleteAcc99 [read all by] on 1st March 2002
Version reviewed: 1.14 on Windows.
Last edited by ttoz on 2nd August 2003.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Everything has changed since I first reviewed this synth...i actually wanted to delete my review altogether but I wasn't allowed to..but my horror experiences over the last year with the sampletank engine have totally changed my thoughts, and here I am going to say the honest truth....

UI: It LOOKS nice, the effects are all easy to control and you know what's going on..it's laid out logically..the major problem is, you can't flick through presets with the arrow keys, it takes a mouse movement and a double click for every sound, and over time becomes really tired..
Also, the red is a bit strong, it would be nice to be able to alter the colour scheme, although this is scheduled in ST2

SOUND: pretty good overall...there is quite a variety of sounds and nothing stands out as actually being really "bad"..but there are some sounds that just don't grab me too much, i was particularly uninspired by the pads, funnily enough, as that was my main reason to purchase this...but the qulaity of the sampling is also good, everything is clean and doesn't sound tinny or too digital

FEATURES: well besides a lack of vst automation, the fact that there are cool on board effects that really allow you to shape the presets in a variety of ways, the score is above average here...much easier to work with than a hardware rompler for example!
I don't bother with the import options, as i am unimpressed with the results

Documentation..To be perfectly honest, I still haven't read it, so i am giving an above average score to be fair, as i cant really comment if it's bad..

Presets: relates directly to the "sound" section above

Customer Support: Well this IS a joint IK and SR product and IK have the worst customer support(IMO) in the business...
Since my problems have been technical and SR aren't responsible for that area (IK is), I have to way the percentage of the score IK's way...I would give "1" if it wasn't for squids attempts at helping me out sales wise, which earns the extra 3 points

Stability: where I use it, in Traction and Logic 5.51 in Win2k, I have NEVER had a vsti crash my host as many times as this one does. It is so unpredictable and unreliable, I feel sweaty and nervous just inserting it into a project...so i don't anymore!

VFM: the lowest score, ,since it is to me, never been used in a project, i bought it over a year ago when the aussie dollar was very weak, and it has been sitting on the shelf for 6 months totally unused..so there IS no value for money, it's like money in the wind....
What makes the score even lower here is how much of MY time I have wasted chasing up support requests with IK...it's worked out to far more than the time I have actually used the product