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Reviewed By Motion [read all by] on 15th November 2005
Version reviewed: 1.01 on Windows.
Last edited by Motion on 15th November 2005.
14 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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Whilst SURGE is clearly a complex synthesiser,using it is almost contrary to that sophistication,this is no easy feat and a lot of careful thought has gone into the GUI,it's implementation,presentation and navigation.SURGE is effectively 2 scenes,A and B which you work between if you wish to have splits and layers.

The 3 excellent sounding band limited oscillators each have 5 algorithms to choose from which are classic (pulse,saw/dual saw oscillators which are morphable with a sub oscillator and self sync),sinus,wavetable(about 150 included),SH noise or external audio input,you can also set them up to do FM and 3 carrier modulator configs are available,ring mod is also featured,depending what you select appropriate and extensive oscillator controls appear for the respective choice,I won't go into all the details but having the all important sub oscillator at 1 octave down is present for extra fat with syncable pulse width along with keytrigger/retrigger,the other 3 you see in the oscillator section are fixed x2 for ring mod and a seperate noise oscillator all with independant level control and a master gain stage on the output,there are also controls for oscillator drift to induce imperfections along with noise colour and a seperate high pass filter,you can route the oscillators individually to either or both filters,the wave shaper has 5 options and unlike many these sound very good indeed.

There are 10 filter types including a 1-4 pole selectable 24LP ladder that can go into self oscillation,these impressive sounding filters have 7 different configurations of various series and parallel routings including the waveshapers placement in the filter signal path with user controllable feedback.The 4 stage FEG and AEG are tempo syncable for the ADR portions.And while I'm on the subject of tempo sync portamento!is included.

The Lfos which are tempo syncable are extremely comprehensive with various modes such as freerun,retrigger,random and unipolar with 8 preset waveforms along with a drawable 16 step sequencer with a modifiable loop point and all
with,rate,phase/shuffle,magnitude and deform and finally 6 stage EGs with tempo syncable DAHDR portions.Be advised in advance regards self induced changes to your spatial awareness.You have been warned.

The FX are very flexible with 9 choices these cover various tempo syncable delays,phasers,frequency shifters but with vemberaudios quality algorithms and smoothness,you can bypass sends,scene fx or everything,the setups can also be globally saved with the patch.

The GUI of SURGE is beautifully designed and logically laid out that you always feel in control,this is a synth that works with you and for you,you never feel lost and everything feels so well tuned and honed that when you apply or change functions they precisely tally with your thinking and the sound goes exactly where you expect it to go,this is particularly noticeable when modifying the lfos because you can jointly see and hear what is happening as the graphic waveform changes providing accurate visual and auditory feedback that is very tight timing wise and in sync with the targeted parameters,there appears to be no perceptible lag or latency with whatever you are manipulating or ajusting,this I'm sure contributes substantially toward the instant feedback and responsive sonics that come about whilst working with SURGE and makes it such a joy to use.The precision of it all is fabulous.

A great strength is the rather unique mods,by pressing the middle mouse button after highlighting the respective mod source all the available destination controls become highlighted in blue which is just about everything for the hardwired ones and the 7cc's including fx controls,the 1st 6 "voice" lfos can't mod the fx but the 6 scene lfos can!!With a few flicks of the wrist just move whatever and the respective range is set,unclick job done.

Soundwise this is where SURGE really excels.Subjectively think ARP Odyssey,Oberheim Matrix Series,Oscar,PPG,Prophet VS,DX7,Alesis Ion and Clavia Nords come to mind.Yet despite this description SURGE still manages to sound it's own man,somehow tiptoeing in between the cracks and beyond.SURGE remains smooth and clean but not clinical due to the removal of interpolation artifacts and other aliasing nasties.

SURGE is an extremely versatile,creative and superb sounding synthesiser which is up there with the best.All this achieveable in a graceful and easy manner given the intuitiveness afforded by the great all round design.

If you don't think you need another synth then SURGE may just change your mind,if you don't own one and need one then SURGE deserves to be considered near the top of that short list.

Both stability and developer support are excellent and a good manual is available along with numerous presets.SURGE costs 180 Euros/Dollars and is excellent value given its comprehensiveness.A Mac port is also coming.

The above review is an edit.Please PM me for a copy of the original.
Reviewed By Motion [read all by] on 27th July 2004
Version reviewed: V1.0.1 on Windows.
Last edited by Motion on 1st August 2004.
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EST has a great GUI,everything is laid out with all other functions 1 click away.EST is adorned with tasteful cool icon work throughout its various pages.The main volume level control with tri colour gas plasma metering includes dynamic polyphony count which is a nice touch.It's not easy to get the ergonomics of such an interface right given all the features and size of the GUI.The main visual difference from ERA is the track/kits with its 12 sample triggers/loaders.A mixture of widgets and icons with a combination of left and right clicking with dragging in ESTs interface lets you access and ajust all the functions.

EST has 12 polyphonic sample parts,the sound twisting and sonics are considerable when the samples are manipulated with ESTs functions and that's where the fun really begins.

For more general info on the various stepping functions and controls etc please see the review on ERA.EST has 12 polyphonic sample parts,Slot functions such as forwards,backwards and one shot,sample offsets can be set for simple beat slicing along with unison and chord mode,various filters are on offer with cut off and resonance.There is 2 X lfos with several modulation routings,there is also modulatable envelopes with various routings and assignments per part.You can also use the samples as oscillator waveforms for a 12 part synth.

There is a cool live arpeggiator function and the glorious gates,fills and hits functions.There is lots of features and not enough words I can say here.Check out the specs yourself.

A very good Pdf manual is supplied with integrated tutorials to get you up and running and explains the rudiments of EST as well as ESTs more sophisticated offerings.

To get you going there is a nice downloadable pack from SonicBytes which contains various samples,banks and presets.You will be wanting to roll your own very soon and stamp your own sonic style.The 7Fan Sound Block 01 and 02 sample banks are 3rd party and cost about 5 Euro
each,various patterns are included,these will really show off how great EST can sound when you start mixing it up.

As ever support is first class with Holger.

You really need to bear in mind with EST the price,it's 69 Euros,when you consider the live playing,improvisation and sheer jamming power,then include all the other functionality it is incredible value for money.

EST behaved admirably in Tracktion,Sonar and Pro5 without a crash,I hammered EST with mad tempos and all sorts and it didn't fall over.

Why would you want EST? "Isn't it just another sampler" well the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.There is something about old school step sequencers(except this ones on steroids)that lend a particular quality and character to the style and sound,in other words EST has its own special charms and the workflow is great.Holger is also implementing timestretch functions which will sonically enhance the creativity of EST further.

Another sound thug!from SonicBytes and a class act at that.
Reviewed By Motion [read all by] on 29th June 2004
Version reviewed: 1.0.7 on Windows.
Last edited by Motion on 29th June 2004.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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Clone Boy has been about for just a short time now.The Gui is very functional,everything is nicely laid out across 2 pages which consist of the main controls and the clone scope page,each of which use a mixture of sliders and buttons,the spectral windows give very good visual feedback.Overall the Gui is both attractive and at times visually quite hypnotic.

Now the sound!!...this is what this little beauty is all about.After using the clone for a few months now I have increasingly become quite enamoured by the sound and creative power of this little sonic gem.By imposing the spectral shape of one sound upon the other you will get the most fabulous spectral squashes,squeezes,squelches and smears,depending on your material.
Describing the Clone Boys sound...well think of it like this...the resulting sound being related to the original source but different,what you get is this hybrid fused sound which can deliver many unique,creative and useful sounds.With drum loops you can obtain some of the fattest,hardest,sharpest sonics.There are many other sounds from cross breeding the rhythmics of melodies and chords.

Using the Clone gain,window,mask,freeze,smooth and threshold functions in conjunction with the receive,transmit and clone buttons allow you to radically or subtley alter the "sound shape",there are many variations to be had with these controls whether it be on whole tracks,loops or samples.
Midi automation is not implemented at this time but the Clone will respond to host automation providing you with even more twisting power.Whilst you can be quite directive with the Clone,experimentation is both rewarding and a lot of fun.You can also use it as a single instance.Clone Boy does more than it says on the tin in a quick and easy way without the hassle and complexity of doing this sort of thing by other means.

The documentation is succinct,well written,straight forward and to the point,providing you with what you need to know.

Presets are not required,it's roll your own because the sound will be radically different depending on your source material.You can save and recall setups matched to known material if you want to use it this way.

Paul at Elevayta is responsive,helpful and very informative.He is easily as good as the best devs here at KVR with support.

The asking price for this is farcical given what I know and get out of this plug.Do not be misled by the low asking price.Clone Boy 1.07 is a thoroughly professional plug,as is its other 2 bretheren,the Wide Boy and Freq Boy.

Clone Boy behaved well.I experienced no crashes in Ableton,Pro5,Logic,Sonar or Traction.

For the creative sound hound,experimentalist,DJ or others.Clone Boy is a dirty dark secret...well not any more because now you know.Jamming or tracking live with the clone can yield very musical results because of the way it provides similar variations but being seemingly different but at the same time retains a sense of continuity.Very Potent stuff indeed.
Reviewed By Motion [read all by] on 26th April 2004
Version reviewed: V1 on Windows.
Last edited by Motion on 11th July 2004.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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So as far as us Muso's are concerned a lot of us like to buy kit that makes sounds,in that respect we feel a bit awkward when shelling out for those essential quality cables or necessary midi interfaces etc when we can have that hard earned cash go towards some nice Vsti or FX...well how about a couple of awsome midi tools based on traditional step sequencers and then some that rip the guts out of all those nice sound modules and provide you with an infinite variety of
arps,hooks,loops,melodies,drum rhythms and chord progs that can make you sound the biz?

Hello ERA Tone and ERA Drum.Firstly the Gui's are excellent,they are very intuitive and well laid out in an obvious way,a substantial part of their use and efficiency for fast working and ideas generation is that you can use ERA's randomise button(this is scalable so you can alter the amount of randomisation that occurs)on many of its functions such as gate,roll,delay,chords,note steps,volume etc and if you don't like it drag'n'drop the appropriate icon to the trash can and go again.There are 16 programs each containing 16 patterns.Here is just some of what you can do in V1:

Skip,mute,alter gate times and chord the notes,by using the control functions that you insert at steps you can have notes move in various directions within your sequence,by utilising the various "turn functions" you can have the sequence bounce back at that point and go to another point,you can drive the ERAs tempo at multiples of the hosts tempo(using different programs)for polyrythmics,slide notes up,down,left,right and transpose,delay and tie them...there are many global functions that remain individual for that dedicated program,this will allow you to as mentioned before have multiple tempi and traspositions all going at once!!.

You can live record into the sequencer(if you have multiple instances open, pressing record or solo on your working instance will mute all others or you can mute individual patterns) which will cycle and remove existing notes till you get what you want.

There are functions which let you use your midi keys to call up patterns or use a split which lets you transpose the pattern and call up different ones...you can place pattern changes for that program at any step and assign any cc to be spat out to your hardware or vsti's,you can set up midi in and out channels and set various offsets to the overall functions,so get looking up those tables if you want to sequence your filters and osc's etc,add all this together and you can start to see the immense power that SonicBytes are delivering.

They were rock solid in Traction and behaved without a crash.

V1.1 is about to be released,what a juicy pile,take a look!Asking price is tiny!!

A couple of midi maniacs that are slick,fluid and quick.These are great composistional tools,but above all else addictive,musical and a lot fun.

Right now these are are the King and Queen,nothing touches them.Get them now and be very impressed.
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