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Maximal 3

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
November 21st, 2017
Version reviewed: 2.1.1 on Windows

Maximal 2 is a look-ahead limiter that I first came across in its CM variety a couple of months ago.

I liked it so much I bought the full version. The price is a very reasonable sub $40, and there's often a deal going.

I think I paid $26 for mine.

Limiters are very personal, a bit like guitars. Everyone has favourites. So here's my take on Maximal 2.

What do I like about it most?

> First and foremost, the sound. It makes things sound richer & warmer. For me, this is a special kind of warmth, and I love it on lots of things. Instant improvement.

> The volume. I can get a lot more thick volume from a track. It's now part of my standard channel strip.

> It's adjustable & quick to operate. There are up to 8 levels of look-ahead oversampling, so I can use it on my master out if I fancy. It has 4 types of loudness: Clean, Loud, Tape, Tube, which is very handy when you throw different types of material at it. There's also an adjustable attack, which is very handy as well, eg, fine tuning attacks for bass, drums, lead synths and sounds with snap, compared to thick slow pads. So there's plenty to experiment with, without it being overly complex. I don't take it into the ultra dirty zone much, though it gives plenty of crunch if required.

> CPU is very low. Good code in here, so I can use lots of them.

> I can boost Maximal 2 on output, instead of boosting the input channel trim for level balancing, which can sound better sometimes. It's nice to have the choice.

> i can make choices quickly, as in: Tone? Volume? Go for it.

> I also like the cool black interface. Very tasty, and imo expensive-looking.

Oh, and there's a manual.

What don't I use it for.

> Brick wall limiting on tracks. It's more of a volume & rich tone effect, than a brick wall, although there's no reason it can't do this, with the attack set on zero.

> Dynamic orchestral string parts need to be handled with care, as it can sometimes make them sound plain wrong.

I heartily recommend it. I'm a genuine buyer and not paid to say nice things. I just like it xxx.

Read Review

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
June 23rd, 2015
Version reviewed: 2 on Windows

This is more a series of user impressions than a template review.


Dune 2 is about high quality fresh sound.

I came down the Dune CM trail to Dune 1, and now to Dune 2.

It's got a definite sweet colour of its own, really musical to my mind.

- and boasts really splendid presets of all varieties.

And though there aren't many 3rd party presets.

- the Rob Lee work is pretty good and worth considering.

When mixed with Kontakt tracks, Dune 2 needs its reverb taking down, or it can sound a bit fake next to samples.

The arp is quite wonderful with its MIDI file input.

It's good having loads of oscillators too, though I don't always use Dune 2 this way as it sounds too much "like a trance synth" albeit a very good one.

I often use it more like an analog synth as the oscillators & filters are so thick and nice.

- and while I like analog sounds, I'm not a purist.

So most Moog etc emulations sound pretty good to me these days.



Recently I've worked with Blue 2, Massive and Sylenth - and now pass on all of them.

Dune 2's only serious competition is from high end Omnisphere 2, rather than other similarly priced top spec synths.

- as buying a synth in this range is always very much a personal preference.

But even Omni can't sound like Dune does!

Dune 2 isn't as broad a synth as Blue 2.

- but much less synthetic sounding than Massive.

- and much more interesting than Sylenth as it does more.

- but not as experimental as Serum or Synthmaster, which I don't own.

Dune 2 is very decent on CPU for such a fast detailed sound.

- while the price is average for a full-on totally pro synth.

Should you buy.


I started with Dune CM and was immediately impressed by how good, and how different it sounded - never mind that it was free.

So if you can get a copy of Dune CM, try this instead of a Dune 2 dem download.

Dune CM ain't Dune 2, but it's still got that same special something.

- so it'll always be a keeper instead of another duff demo to get rid of.

This vid walks you through the Dune 2 presets.


Read Review
Studio One Professional

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
April 16th, 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

No one's done a Studio One 2.6 Win 7 review yet.

Here's an attempt from a MIDI composer who never records live audio.

I work from "electro" to "orchestra" to "live band", and all shades in between.


I'll not attempt to match feature for feature.

- as all sequencers do pretty much almost everything these days.

- and the key differences are found more in your individual approach to working.

- and the ability to work in your preferred genres, as required.


S1 works in a more Cubase way than an Ableton / Bitwig way.

But everything is far simpler and more obvious than the Cubase I knew.

- and infinitely quicker and easier than the Sonar I never loved.


I didn't believe the claims when I first came across S1 (back in the v1 days)

Nonetheless I downloaded the free Lite version.

- and in 30 minutes I wrote a piece without needing to look anything up. Not once.

It just worked.

There aren't many sequencers you could say that about.

All the grunt work has been taken out of editing & recording.

So audio clips sync as you drag them in.

- and converting a MIDI track to an audio track is an in-place bounce that's a single right mouse click away.

Ditto MIDI editing - obvious and easy.


Everything is stretchy, grabby, droppy, pully, squeezy tactile.

- like "big blocks for little hands".

You can easily make any sort of template - mixer, fx chain, hot key etc.

It's this stunning speed that I love the most.

And yet I'm still learning newer faster shortcuts.


In music you have to "catch the lightning when it strikes"

- and S1 is all about this. Speed of working.


The included professional quality effects are extremely good at what they do.

- and there's a comprehensive set of 40+ of them. Recommended.

Whatever you want - an instrument, an effect, a clip on disk, a mixer track moving, an audio clip tail micro-fading.

- just grab it and do what you will.

There are no hidden pages - just stuff that slides in and out, without blocking or obscuring anything else.


This probably isn't a very good review as I've left tons of stuff out.

This is because all I need is:

> the ability to work as fast & subtle as I can imagine.

> and a top pro spec to back it up.


Downside 1 is the MIDI controller works.

I've never reliably mastered it beyond the mod wheel (blush), in spite of trying.

But I don't believe anything outside of Komplete Kontrol delivers decent, reliable, never-ever-break, MIDI controller support.

So I forgive Studio One for this.


Downside 2 is that auditioning clips from disk won't shift pitch, only tempo.

I suspect this will be fixed with v3.


Downside 3 is that it's not really for DJs or matrix loop mixer-producers. Different concept.

And the forum is only so-so.


If you're out of love with your current sequencer.

- then go to Presonus and download the free Lite version.

- and be writing a song within the next five minutes.

It worked for me, and still does.

9 on 10.

Read Review
DM-307 - Modern Groove Designer

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
February 20th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows


I'd like to make it clear that I'm not a natural drummer, far from it.

This review is about my experience using DM-307 from a workflow, usability and results point of view - and not a rehash of the spec which anyone can look up.

I own BFD & Geist and have tried numerous other drum machines, and never had any consistent luck with any of them - which might be my fault - but that's the way it is.


DM-307 is a great tool for non-drummers (like me) who need a quick route to great sounding beats.

I'm fed up with using regular one-dimensional loop stems - as the basic groove might be good sounding, but there's v little that can be done to change the beatz without awkward non-intuitive detailed editing and effects.

So fills, ramps, builds etc are possible but v fiddly, and prone to make glitches - and they take too long to do.

DM 307 makes all this easy & quick with an exceptionally intuitive workflow.

Actually, it's more than easy. It's fantastic how well Heavyocity do it.

The ample supply of loops can be accessed as:

> individual loops.

> loop menus.

> pre-arranged loop sequences called Kit Grooves.


All Loops come with a variety of trigger keys to add interest.

Around 8 FX triggers and 8 Mutator keyswitches - so without having to deep edit there's instant gratification from simply pressing keyswitches and hearing instant changes.

Heavyocity have done all the work here - hooray.

It's easy to dig into a loop and rearrange the slices to suit, or pile on fx, as everything is there on the page - with no deep menu digging required to produce original-sounding quality results.

Each loop comes with 8 variations pre-built.

So multiply 8 variations by 8 Mutators and 8 FX keyswitches, and you'll see a whole pile of variations are instantly possibly - all playable on the fly or by MIDI note from your DAW.

It literally works out of the box.

How cool is that.


Load a Kit Groove and start playing. The tune is almost there.

A Kit Groove is a preset of 4-8 related patterns that make up the groove.

There's an inbuilt Pattern Sequencer which can handle up to 8 patterns in any order you choose, using The Chainer - so you can loop, repeat, playback in any order that suits your tune.

For any drum sound (kick, snare etc) you can audition from 8 alternative sounds simply by dragging a slider. Voom. Done. New kick.

I like this level of quick customisation.

The choice is restricted to 8 (I think) alternative related sounds (kick1, kick2, etc) to their default kit piece included in the groove.

This beats scrolling through a huge directory of far-too-many kit piece replacement possibilities, which always kills me off.

It's easy enough to create your own patterns by editing the existing patterns. V quick.

The patterns (sorry, Kit Grooves) come as nki presets - lots of them.

And you can trigger the 8 keyswitch effects any time.

Or create your own keyswitches (for when you need that special rise, etc)

And you can create multis with multiple sequencers and kits.


There are a bunch of effects pre-built in. What you'd expect to find in 2014.

They're fine and they do the job.

What's good is that you can apply the effects locally or globally or anyway you want, and do it easily.

So you can work on the fly and enjoy listening instead of hunting through directories of effects, loading them etc.

They also have Punisher and Twister big knobs to play with which, between them, can suitably refine or wreck your sound depending on what you're looking for.


Top modern samples here.

The presets are a bit verby (movie verb), but it's easy to get rid of the verb (one click) either selectively or globally.

You get Heavyocity build quality which says a lot.

Consider: V few sample houses get a Kontakt recommendation. NI actually put Heavyocity right there next to their own for-sale sample sets. That's a lot of trust.

Which means great quality - for you - but at a price.

The sounds can be used for literally anything except v specialist projects.

They're all neatly categorised into genres - with a good range from nearly straight Rock to totally messed-up Dubstep (yummy)

The consistent quality of the sounds is impressive. I haven't noticed any duds yet.

I'm almost tempted to say "Omnisphere quality".


If you're not a natural drum player - or even if you are - I'd recommend getting DM-307 if your wallet can stand it.

It's a workflow to dream about.

My feeling is that a great GUI invariably means a great app. They go together.

So DM-307 is beautiful, usable, fast to work with, and sounds very good.

You owe it to yourself to at least check out the video demos,and soundcloud mp3s to understand the new possibilities that can be achieved.

For me, Heavyocity have finally thought-out the drum machine properly.

It's precise, deep, superficial, organised and sexy with tons of top pro sounds and grooves.

I'd cry if mine was taken away :)

Read Review
AdrenaLinn Sync

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
December 27th, 2010
Version reviewed: 2.03 on Windows

Introduction (updated 10th Jan 2011)

My early impressions of Adrenalinn Sync are excellent.

It's overall category is a multi fx plug with it's main strengths as a filter/gate/delay box

At heart I'd call it a rhythm & filter pattern generating machine, though it does lots of other things too.

It was designed primarily for guitars, but you can use it for anything.

Feed it a riff and it'll go on for ever with new ideas.

Update: If you're using the sequencer it's quick & easy to experiment with variations on your own ideas, or existing presets, and still sound musical.

I find myself burning the midnight oil, discovering new stuff.

Sound & Presets

There are plenty of interesting & varied presets (100 of them), and all are usable as the demo video demonstrates.

It's v easy to make your own effects chains, with room to save 28 user presets.

I bought it because it looked quick to work with - and I wanted something that would be good for acoustic guitar as well as synths or loops.

So far I've made some very good guitar sounds. Some far out, some quite "normal".

Had friends round, and they liked it too. They thought the sound impressive.

I think other plugs may have a wider spec, but with Adrenalinn Sync the GUI is nice and big, and it's easy to see everything, and therefore so quick to tweak.

It's great for instrument players, and maybe not so much for loop manglers.

On that note: With other more complex plugs, with arguably a better spec, it's so easy to vanish into a world of machine programming and forget the music.

I'd suggest these plugs would more suit a different, more machine-focussed type of musical personality.

Under the Hood

Adrenalinn Sync has a 32 step sequencer and lfo to drive the 5 excellent effect blocks - filter, distortion, limiter, volume, and 32 second delay.

No reverb though. But this is a minor omission, and probably deliberate.

The only serious complaint is the browser, which is a long deep column - 128 deep, which is slow for getting to, say, Preset 75 (scroll, scroll, yawn).

Maybe this will be fixed in a later release.

But this is really a small thing compared to the great sounds and overall accessibility.

Update: The fx have grown on me. They look simple, but because of the quality of the algos that drive them, there is a lot of sound variation available, whether filter, distortion or limiter.

My only other complaint is I find the knobs hard to turn with the mouse to register precise values. Maybe a future fix?


Workflow and great sound. Yes.

Because it's so easy and big to follow on one screen - and avoids unnecessary, trivial complexities - you can find a new sound quickly without interrupting your song-writing flow.

IMO this is a major consideration with any plug I buy today.

I've abandoned too many songs because I became enmeshed in programming software, and "forgot the music".

Now, any plug I use has to have a high "kevvvv quotient", ie, it is workflow-friendly, and fast & obvious to use.


Inside minutes you'll be programming your own rhythm patterns.

Or just nicking the excellent presets to get instant new rhythms and sounds.

Feed it and it gives joy.

Update: You don't need to feed it complex twiddly riffs to get good results.

So if you're not an expert player (guitar or keys), then no problem.

Adrenalinn Sync will make you sound better than you really are, which imo is quite something.

It's a real musical all-rounder.

I'd recommend giving the demo a try as you get full functionality for 14 days, and no booby traps.

Plus the tutorial vids are very clear and thorough. Genial Roger Linn is good at explaining - and he has a user forum.

There are 4 useful vids here
www.rogerlinndesign.com/products/adrenalinnsync/in dex.html

Also there are a few interesting performance vids on youtube. I expect/hope this will grow.

For $99 you'll get a lot of new music for your money, as well as a tasty new plug.

Read Review
Triangle II

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
April 14th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

Possibly the best mono synth, whether free or otherwise.

Great for programming from scratch.

Great presets too.

Sound quality top notch.

Very versatile.

Ideal for beginner and pro alike. In fact it's a fabulous synth to learn on.

Because it's only mono and not poly, it's almost guaranteed you will want a Pentagon or Square just to get your hands on a poly Triangle II.

The only downside I can think of is that it's not poly.
Read Review

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
April 14th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

Atmo ... in a word - quality

Many synths have lots of presets, but most of these seem thrown in there for good measure and only get in the way.

The result is lots of VSTIs with too many non-musical, awkward, jarring or odd sounds.

Not so with Atmo.

The presets are all musical, all carefully considered before they were included.

I haven't found a duff one yet.

So far, any preset I've picked at random and listened to has something in there that somebody's thought about in a musical way.

The detail is right.

V few synths can make that claim.

So that's what Atmo gives ... usable professional quality sounds ... ideal for pads.
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Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
February 3rd, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows

I wanted a new flagship uber-synth so I bought Zeta, after looking closely at all the latest top rank competitors.

This is a playing musician's synth.

Zeta begs to be played like a musical instrument.

This is what got me about the demo. I could just sit there and play expressively and enjoy it.

For me Zeta has a magical tonal quality that I easily relate to, something that separates lesser synths from genuine musical instruments.

Many of Zeta's tones have an evolving nature, from fast vibrant solos to long motion pads that you can hold down for ages.

But while many synths are starting to do this, Zeta avoids the synthetic and often harsh sound that comes with multi-envelope pads.

The presets offer masses of choice, but I'd like to also mention the free Lunasol bank, which is really good and full of alternative interesting sounds that you wouldn't have guessed came from a Zeta.

The spec is almost bewildering. No matter how simple the gui, there's still a lot in there.

But if you're eager to get past the basic synth programming stage, then I could recommend no finer machine to refine your skills on.

FWIW my friends who have a Zeta love it too.

Zeta is beautiful.
Read Review
pHATmatik Pro

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
July 1st, 2002
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

PPro is like having a little bit of Acid inside VST.

It's an essential loop tool to own.

Searching for loops at the correct tempo is always a distracting job. PPro eliminates this problem.

Browse and audition and load. It takes seconds to have your loop hard-synced to tempo.

The additional feature set is humungous ... pitch, sends, filter, fx, keyboard control etc.

The only thing it couldn't do for me was take a sublime guitar solo and change its tempo without losing the feel. But asking this much is being greedy.

Accurate pitch-tempo shifting VST is now easy with PPro.

If you work with loops you have to have this.
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VAZ 2010

Reviewed By kevvvvv [all]
May 1st, 2002
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

Bought it on the strength of the sounds and the ability to sequence, but after 6 months I don't really like it.

VAZ 2001 creates quality sound, but the method of getting there is IMO unconventional.

Nothing is quite where I expect it. Sometimes I think this is being different for different's sake.

Be prepared to have to spend time getting to know VAZ 2001.

The forum is also clumsy to use. Again, it works, but like most of VAZ, it doesn't work like you expect. But the support is there if required, and willing and cheerful with it.

If I knew now what I knew when I bought it, I wouldn't have done it.

Sorry VAZ. Disappointment.
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