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Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
April 12th, 2019
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

So, take this review with a little bit of a grain of salt. That salt is, I've been waiting for someone to release a good 64-bit looper VST for Windows for a long time... and in many ways Enso is really good, but in others it seems either weak or not quite finished. I'm not going to explain what looping is so if you want to know more, look up "Frippertronics" or "live looping" on the web. There are tons of resources. .

Enso uses your DAWs clock to create a "tape loop" of your specified length. Unlike other loopers like Mobius, it's non volatile, meaning when you have a cool loop going and you save and quit your DAW, that loop will still be there, just as if it were a magnetic tape. Also tape like, it will allow for the changing of the speed of the tape... but here's where it gets really trippy. You can change the speed of the record head and the playback head to be different rates. The results can be totally psychedelic, in a very good way, but also glitchy. Not surprising when you're messing with the fabric of time-space. You can choose to have your "tape" pure, like a good digital copy, or you can let it run though what Audio Damage calls "FX and Levels." This include tape attributes including saturation and hiss, a low and highpass filter, and a chorus effect with rate and depth controls. I would really have liked to see some extra tape destressing features here, like tape crinkle, cross talk, wow and flutter. That said, I got some very dreamy "Frippertronics" style sounds out of it just using the low pass filter, saturation at about 30% with a schmidge of hiss. Oh, I think I used some chorus to fake a little warble. Make sure you keep the feedback under 100% or you can get in trouble. The results can be really mesmerizing.

Enso does not allow for multiple loops, but it has a thing called "sectors" that let you break a loop up into up to 4 sectors and cross fade between them by a user specified amount. You can get some kind of interesting things going on this way by breaking up a loop, overdubbing on some sectors, not on others. Great for a lot of creative "happy accidents." If you want a more RC or EDP style looper, go to Mobius though. There's no real good way to do verse/chorus/bridge type compositions in a non clumsy way. I see why they did this, as Mobius is free, but in all honesty, I think they should include those types of things in a future update just so Enso seems a bit more "feature complete."

Other things I'd like to see is better MIDI implementation. It only responds to CC, and for some odd reason, things like feedback can't be continuously controlled. (you can via your DAW) Other odd things like not being able to use CC at all to change the play and record speed feel like pure omissions. Enso is definitely a performance looper, but it seems like a lot of what would make it great in that respect has been left out.

So, I'd highly recommend getting this plugin. Like all Audio Damage plugins, there is a lot to love and they make it easy to find ways to be creative, and this one is no different. My only complaint is that they didn't cover enough of the "nuts and bolts" types of things one would expect from an audio looper. That's a shame, but it's still a plugin that's well worth having for what it is.

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Guitar Rig Pro

Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
May 11th, 2009
Version reviewed: 3.2 on Windows

OK, I've finally bit the bullet and purchased Guitar Rig 3 (as part of a deal when you buy Guitar Rig Session you get a free upgrade)

I've talked a lot of poop about Guitar Rig's amp models, but one thing that kept me interested is it's functionality and great effects. So for $199 (and less when I sell the not needed hardware) I figured "what the hell." So I also thought I'd give it a proper review since I seem to find myself talking about competing products a lot.

First: The amps.

Ultrasonic: Honestly surprised. Not what one would ever call warm or sweet, but for some basic clean and high gain sounds this amp model is pretty damn good. Getting a nice clean tone took some doing though. I always start with everything at 12:00 but I had to crank the bass to 10:00, middle to 12:00 and treble and presence almost all the way up to get a nice bright tone. It's there though. Seemed to talk distortion/fuzz boxes really nicely too. (More on that later but Demon :love:

Gratifier: Not too bad, pretty usable in a mix, but it pales in comparison to Amplitube's Tube Lead or Metal Lead T. The Amplitube sims just seem to have a sweeter sounding more natural high end. More tube crunch, while the Gratifer seemed more fuzzboxy and fizzy. It's clean tone was OK but nothing to write home about.

Lead 800. Pretty horrible sounding at all settings. NI should be ashamed of this one.

Plex. Better than the Lead 800, but not by a lot. Stiff and sterile sounding.

Citrus. People seemed to be raving about this one, but tang has more flavor. Classic NI dead amp sound. I was able to dial up a pretty good on the verge of breaking up clean sound out of it.

AC Box. This is supposed to be a Vox emulation. I don't hear it. I've never owned an AC30 TB, but my first good amp was a Vox Buckingham. I was able to get a good tone out of it though by cranking the brilliant volume all the way up and the bass as well. Compared it to the Amplitube AC30 TB... NI: Fail.

Tweeddman: I like this one quite a bit. Easy to get a nice crunchy break up tone. Sat nice after the stomp boxes. Good job NI.

Tweed Delight. This one suffered from that weird gritty break up that a lot of the amps seem to have. I was able to get a few good sounds out of it but I'm sure when I need the fender sound I'll be in Amplitube Fender.

Twang Reverb: I liked this one a lot. More than the 65 Twin in the Fender emulation. I've never owned a Fender amp in my life though so I'm only going by what I like. I didn't like it overdriven, but this amp isn't about that.

Jazz Amp. Don't cross me NI. I'm a JC-120 fan from way back. You missed. The JC-120 sounds chimey and sweet, not brittle and harsh.

High White. WTF? FAIL. I couldn't get a decent tone out of this. What is it emulating? Hiwatt? I hope they sound better than this.

Bass Pro: Nice job. The presets were facacta, but I was able to get some really nice solid state bass amp type sounds here.

Effects. I'm going to cut this short and say all the effects are great. Really, I got Guitar Rig 3 for Psychedelay and the pitch pedal and harmonic syntheesizer, but frankly they're all great. BTW, IK? If you're reading this, copy NI on this front and take they're MIDI learn system while you're at it.

The distortion pedals? I love the meztone, demon and transamp. The rest? Meh.

The EQ stuff is all decent. Love the pro-filter and talkwah.

Reverbs are all good.

Tools? Useful. Nice addition.

MDF: This is where Guitar Rig trumps them all. LFO, Envelope, Step sequencer, analog sequencer and an input level follower. Assign them to parameters... delicious. These and the effects are probably worth the price of admission.

So, I'm going to pretend that amplitube is a few decent amp sims and a alot of great features and effects. That's what I expected but I wanted to become intimate with it and this seemed as good a way as any. I would not make this my main amp sim. No way. But it fills some holes that no other single tool will.
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Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
March 9th, 2009
Version reviewed: 2.11 on Windows

Recently I've been feeling dissatisfied with Razoon's Jamstix and I went out a hunting for a replacement. I came across a post suggesting mDrummer and I figured I'd give it a try. The free version was really promising so I downloaded the demo and had some fun with it. I liked it so much I went for the full version. Note, I had a small problem with the demo and the developer had a new version that fixed the bug up within a few hours. That's service!

Installation: This thing comes with a big library. Not giant, but big. In the neighborhood of 4 gig so it's best to start the download before you go to bed and you'll have it all ready to install in the morning. The installer had a setup file and a fix.exe file in case something bad happened with the big download. All was OK so I didn't have to use it. Installation was a breeze and withing a few minutes I had it up and running in Live 7. First thing I did was go to the tutorials. I love that there are tutorials, but mDrummer, even if you don't have the best voice for recording, please don't use the annoying computer voice. It's fine for listening to lectures by Steven Hawkings, but not for VST tutorials. The good news is it has an extensive help system built into it so your questions are usually answered very quickly.

UI: Really nice help system, although the text is pretty tiny overall. It often breaks from Mac/Windows styles for no apparent reason, which can be somewhat confusing but with the help system it's fairly easy to overcome. Also, thank god there are tons of amazing tutorials up. All developers should have this. The UI is attractive and although somewhat cluttered I can't imagine making it a lot better due to the depth of functionality. You won't be doing too much random mousing around without the tutorials so I suggest going there first.

Sounds: first thing you notice is that the default drum kit/beat sound great. Full, natural and it almost coaxes you to start playing along with it. Even the electronic kit/styles have a somewhat natural non machine kind of sound to them. Hard to put into words but it was probably because the hits had unique velocity and not just regular and accent volumes. The sound is overall very good, but the electronic stuff was a little tame compared to some of the kits that come with Battery Electronic Drums II. I found myself wishing for a filter gain control and some dirt. No matter, it sends MIDI out so all my Battery sets are available to me easy as pie.

Right off the bat I went and started editing the drum synth sounds with mDrummer's on board synth (it has both samples and a synthesis engine) and it was a dream to program. Couldn't have been easier to get a nice interesting Bass Drum tone right off the bat by combining a sine osc and a noise osc. Again, I wouldn't have minded some effects like tube distortion. I love the mScratcher module which will come in handy for my weirder sounds. Some decent effects are on board here, but I was surprised that although you can put effects on each drum there’s no sort of master compressor for the output. Easy enough to put PSP’s Vintage Warmer after it and beef it all up even more.

It comes with a generous library of kits and with the ability to make your own kits and combine kits plus your own synth drum tones... the choice is pretty vast. You can also import your own samples and even set up multi-samples.


If you’re hoping to turn this thing on and select a preset and get the most out of it, you might be a bit disappointed. mDrummer calls itself a drum studio and for good reason. There’s a lot going on. Good thing is it’s all well laid out and covered by a combination of tutorials and the help system.

My favorite function is the “Rhythm Generator.” This is why I got mDrummer and it does not disappoint. You put in a basic snare/bass beat and hit “Process All” and it automatically generates a bunch of very useful variations and fills based on your “seed.” The basic beat editor is as easy as pie, though I found myself wishing it had a live input with a metronome style of input. No matter, I can easily make one in Live and export the clip as a .mid file and import it into mDrummer. If you’re super lazy, as I sometimes am, you can import .mid files from a 3rd party collection like Groovemonkey.

One thing is that as far as I can tell all the processing happens at the moment you hit “process all.” This is mostly fine but it would be really cool if there could be some chaos and variation happening in real time. It’ll also listen to your playing via midi input and adjust itself accordingly though I didn’t have much time to play with that. I do a lot with guitar anyway.

Once you get your beat and variations you can sequence them out in two ways. MIDI input or the Song Structure editor. Both seem equally easy but I’ll probably stick with mDrummer’s midi entry style because I like to create a basic song structure and jam
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Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
January 11th, 2009
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

Well look at me, first at the reviewing page. Do I get a cookie?

I'd sold a piece of audio hardware a while ago that was collecting dust (Lexicon MPX-1) with the idea that I'd replace it with software. Many people here (of course) chimed in and yelled, 'Can't be done! Hardware is GOD!"

Well I dood it. I was in no rush so I fooled around with a lot of demos including the Soundtoys bundle and boy oh boy was I happy when Urs announced his prerelease deal on the Uhbik plug ins. They're a bundle that consists of a filter/fuzz, a few frequency modulators, a multitap delay, an EQ, and a "ambience" processor (I like to call 'em "reverb.)

They're fantastic. All of them. They're an awesome combination of great sound and character that's missing from so many effects in these modern "it'll do everything" times. The UIs are clear and frankly even if you're not a tweaker, they are all designed to let you easily edit and frankly just play with the knobs and rarely are you going to end up with something that doesn't sound great... however they're all capable of very extreme settings so my idea of great might be different than yours. Extreme FSU can happen, though most often they excel at the subtle stuff.

I'm not going to go into each plug (I just realized what time it was) but I will say that the EQ was a big surprise. Awesome. The "bride" preset after a bland Amplitube 2 preset made me weep tears of joy. Urs, what voodoo are you putting in these things? I'd like to refrain from using the word "warm" but I already did so there. The filter can be sweet or very nasty and does really well on guitar and drums. The phase modulator plugs all have unique little twists on the traditional chorus/phase/flange effects that although at first they might seem to cover similar ground, a bit of time with each and you'll realize the genus of each of them. Wiring up MIDI to the Phase control and manually changing it with a pedal resulted in insanely expressive control you won't find in most software or hardware.

So, basically the set isn't even done yet and the thing is so damn cheap that if you're reading this now and have not purchased them you are going to kick yourself if you miss the discount period. I do not miss my Lexicon at all and as far as I can tell Ubik equals and often has better character than the beloved hardware unit. The Soundtoys bundle still may be in my future, but frankly it's going to take a long time to exhaust the possibilities of Uhbik.
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AmpliTube Metal

Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
July 16th, 2008
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

UI: Metal's UI is like a good looking person who's never had to work at being very bright. The part that shows your routing scheme is tiny, yet I get to see lots of tribal tattoos instead. Yay! IK's really got to look at Native Instrument's Guitar Rig for help on this. Little more function, little less form.

Sound: Here's where IK's Metal shines. I'm not a "Keytarist" like the first reviewer. I'm a guitarist. I run an old M-Series Steinberger or G&L Skyhawk into Metal and they both sound amazing. Loads of thick beautiful gain. Very "tough" sounding and present. I've put it up against Guitar Rig 3, Revalver 3, Wave's Guitar modeler and really it's the only one that really did a convincing model of a recorded guitar amp. Each time I try a different software modeler and switch back to Amplitube 2 I get that "ah ha!" feeling and all of the sudden I'm smiling. This holds true for all the flavors of Amplitube. For a tenth the price of the cost of a mic good enough to get an accurate recording (not to mention the studio room you'd need) you get a plug in that's got it all built in. It's really a godsend for all home project studio musicians who need to do a lot with less. On top of the amp and cab models you get a bunch of really great stomp boxes that all have unique tones and should all find a place in your mixes. The studio gear also sounds great too.

Features: IK falls down a little on this one. MIDI control is weak and very basic. This was really made for guitarists who don't want too much flexibility and flash. In some way it's good, keeps things simple. In other ways I wish it had some interesting routing and LFO functionality. If you want crazy experimental sounds you'll probably be putting Reaktor after your instance of Amplitube Metal.

Docs: Meh. Not really needed too much. It's pretty straight forward.

Presets: GREAT! Almost all of them are useful (though all need a tweak to work well with your guitar) A focus on usable sounds and not "flash" like many guitar effects boxes like to do.

Customer Support. Meh. I have in issue with the input meter. Doesn't really tell you how much gain the preamp stage wants to see and I was getting weird clipping until I realized I needed to turn down the input gain when I use the Steinberger (active EMGs are hot) I got a response that was useless from IK and it took a few weeks. Yay.

Value for money: Really think about it. For the cost of a cheap mic you get a great emulation of a truck full of amps and they all sound great and probably way better than you could make the real things sound in a studio recording.

Stability: never had a crash yet with it, but it's a bit of a CPU hog especially when used in X-GEAR. This is especially true when you use a dual amp set up. The only bug I've found so far it that the input meter isn't really showing you much. That doesn't matter too much as you should trust your ears anyway, but if you're clearly hearing clipping and the meter isn't anywhere near the red that should be fixed. I hear it takes a lot of RAM but I've got 2 gigs of RAM and I've never found that to be an issue. I also use a lot of audio loopers that chew up RAM as well so unless you've got a tiny amount of RAM you should be fine.
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Dr. Device

Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
December 31st, 2007
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

All I can say is WOW. I'd heard a lot of hype on CM about this sweet little plug, but you've got to hear it for yourself. Problem with Audio Damage is their audio demos kind of suck and there's no software demo. I guess this keeps kracks down, but you've got to relay on word of mouth, so here's my word.


What is it? On a basic level it's a filter with a delay. Sounds boring, eh? I thought so too. I've already got it. Could it be better than CamelPhat? Well...

In some ways yes. It's a different bird though, so I'll not do comparison beyond saying that both are great processors, but Dr. Device sounds more like a hand made boutique analog processor and CamelPhat is more like something that Korg would have done with DSP. Again, both good in their own way.

Dr. Device's filters sound fantastic. I spent a few hours putting a guitar though it and I couldn't get a bad tone. (Steinberger running though a VOX Tonelab SE) Made a loop using Mobius and ran that through it... amazing. It's got a kind of Korg KAOSS pad approach, but like I said above, a prettier sound (Note to reader, the other christmas present I got myself was Jack Dark's special so I love ugly as well)

The delay sounds thick and analog. Not tape but like the time I duct taped my Ibanez stop box to my Fender Mustang for that special crazy sound you can only get when you have access to the knobs. That's what this plug in feels like. Good times.

My only complaint is that I get a click when I toggle the in/out button and there are times I wish it has some way to get rid of that pop. Quick ramp up would do it. I had this issue with Audio Damage's Replicant but he was quick to issue an update that fixed it so I'm not worried. Great customer service btw.

Interface, easy peasy to use as my friend says. A bit "dark" and I personally could do without the scary pirate skull but that's minor dig. I'm a UI designer by trade so I'm a stickler for such things and I was up and running with it without consulting the manual for anything but MIDI learn. Why not a contextual menu when you right click that gives you a MIDI learn option?

For $50 US this is a must have. CM was "Spot on" as those Brits say. I'd like Audio Damage to release a monster processor that uses this interface style with all it's effects in one mega bundle of joy. Until then I'm sure I'll make great use of this baby.
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Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
March 19th, 2007
Version reviewed: 1.29h on Windows

Mostly I just want to echo (pun intended) the other reviewer's review. This FREE piece of software more or less eliminated a $1500 piece of kit. (Looperlative) It's honestly like having 16 Echoplex Digital Pros (run as 8 stereo pairs) but without the memory limit.

If you're new to the world of looping, this software will probably seem confusing and daunting. The interface is no beauty, and can even be a bit buggy at times, but in the end you'll find that your MIDI controller becomes your interface and it really doesn't matter what it looks like. The good thing about it is that the interface is very customizeable and when you get used to the way it works you can strip it down to only what you need.

Why not mouse around? Unless you're a vocalist, you'll want your hands to play while you are using Mobius. This is a performance oriented piece of software.

So, what does it do? In a sense, it allows you to create 8 stereo channels of loops. Each channel can hold multiple loops, but only one at a time. For instance you can create an A, B and C loop in channel one, and then do the same (I'm not sure how many you are limited to, probably as much as your RAM allows) in the remaining channels. Get it? That's a lot of loopage and each loop can be different lengths or sync or not sync to your clock or host.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. You can multiply, insert, pitch shift, time slip, fade and so much more. It's deep. Very deep. My suggestion, if you've never played with such a device, buy one of the less expensive loopers, like the Boss Loopstations, get the idea of it... then bring it right back to the Guitar Center and start learning Mobius. It's so addicting I swear it will change the way you make music forever.

OK, I just want to bump this amazing and recently updated plug-in. I don't hear much about this VST (comes in a stand alone version too) on this forum, but I have to say that if you have not tried it (it's free Windows VST or Standalone) you do not know what you're missing. If you have tried it and went, "What the hell is this?" you didn't give it a chance. I think people don't quite understand what it can do so I thought I'd post a little example of one way to use it.

1)Start sequencer (in Live) listen to drums for tempo. Put Mobuis in A Send track.

2)Start improvising a bass line until you have something you like. A few beats before the beginning of a new measure I send a MIDI message to it that automatically puts it into record at the start point of the next measure and then ends it a specified amount of measures. (This is part of the new update, but you can also end it manually too. I like to quantize it to a measure, but you can also have no quantize or quantize it to a beat)

3)Then start overdubbing. What ever you like. Make a nice groove.

4)Next, open a new track. Repeat step 2 but this time back off the feedback to about 80% meaning your loop will gradually fade. Make something nice and then exit overdub.

5)Switch back to the first track and then send a midi message that will cause it to switch to a new loop at the end of the current loop and automatically go into record. Your old one is still there, don't worry. Repeat this step as many times as you like. I find 3 or 4 to be a good amount most of the time.

6) Don't forget about track 2! It's fading! Keep that plate spinning and keep adding to it so you have a constantly changing loop that runs over your first track of fixed loops.

7) Switch up between loops while improvising over them, sometimes visiting your 2nd track to keep it running.

Then... Song! This is the tip of the iceberg of what it can do, but if you haven't tried to make music this way I believe you're missing out.
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Reviewed By zerocrossing [all]
February 9th, 2007
Version reviewed: 1 (Demo) on Mac

Wow, I'm shocked no one has reviewed this, so I guess I will. It's my first review.

First I'd like to say that I'm mainly a guitarist, but I cut my teeth in synthesis on old modular stuff at an audio engineering school in NYC, and later saved for a Roland Juno 106. That type of education doesn't get you all that far and I ended up in Music retail. Anyway, I *LOVE* synthesis and in the vain of Adrain Belew and Robert Fripp spent years in love/hate relationships with guitar synths.

So, over the last year I've had to dismantle much of my hardware rig and move to software. It's been a fun ride so far. Recently I asked myself, "why did you ignore Rapture?" I think I thought why have another wave table synth since I had the Korg Legacy Suite. Silly of me. Rapture is a totally different animal So I downloaded a Mac and PC version of the demo software and had at it.

I was blown away. This synth is about to become my go-to synth, I'm sure of it. Sure it's geared towards modern electronica, but the ability to import an audio file to use as an osc makes it AMAZING in a similar way that Absynth (another of my favorites for different reasons) is. This baby can ring like a DX, yet pump like a minimoog... often at the same time. Few VSTi's can really get a filter to "quack" in that really warm organic way that Rapture can. As an ex Virus C user I think Rapture does a better job at modern dance sounds and is easier to program. A A/B'd it to Albino too and I found it better to my ears as well.

Speaking of program, I spend my days (that often run into nights) as a graphic designer/animator and there is precious little time for making new tones. Most of my time has to be spent playing or I end up being a sound designer, which while very fun, isn't as fun as playing IMO. No problem here as Rapture comes with a TON of presets and there isn't a bad one in the bunch.

Then there's the arp and step/wave sequencing ability... wow. It's not quite an M1Galaxy (which I love) synth but boy can you get lost in the evolving, pulsing morphing madness this synth can do.

So... if you have $200, I'd say don't hesitate, go to your favorite retailer and pick this up. It really seems like it could be a "desert island" synth. My only request to Cakewalk is this: Why no MIDI learn with the X/Y pad? Silly. If you want to see how this is implemented perfectly, check out Zebra2 (which btw, is one of my favorite synths ever). Seem silly to include this and expect people to use a mouse or trackpad to control it.
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