Ok, let's face it, most people will get this as a cheeper alternative to Soothe. But honestly, I think it might be even better. I've been A/Bing them side by side yesterday and eventhough I can see how Soothe might be quicker to work with, I really like all the other stuff DSEQ brings to the table.
TBProAudio just doesn't make a fool out of you. There are no "magic this and magic that" buttons. That does mean that you can't choose between the "subtle" and "heavy" mode as in Soothe, but rather have to precisely tune the treshold, tilt and strength knobs. But I love it that way. That means the plugin is predictable. That means it won't change sound when developer decides to tune the algorithms.
Another feature I love is the button to switch between linear phase and natural phase filters. Again. Soothe just solves that for you just by not mentioning what kind of filters it uses at all. (and as FFT analysis has to be there for the dtection part to even happen, you can't read that from the delay value) DSEQ let's you choose.
All the missing bells and whistles from Smooth Operator are there as well. Especially delta-listening. And you can even band-limit the delta-listeing area. Love it.
...oh and no iLok needed. I think I finally found my favorite resonance supressor. :).
(Only nitpick I have is that the "selectivity" knob would be cooler if it also drove the GR vsiualisation smoothing. That is solved much better in Soothe. It's visually hard to tell from the GR-analyser that the knob is working untill you really push it. Sound-wise it does what it should, though, so all good.).
Oh wow, this thing has so little reviews here? No way! Ok, we need to fix this. Haven't written one in a while, but I'll give it my best. :).
UVI is a well known developer. What people might not be aware of, though, is what they did in the past. It cought me by a rather spectacular surprise that they have been one of the main forces behind MOTU's software division and also did some work on Spectrasonic's Omnisphere. There are big similarities between last version of Mach Five and Falcon. Falcon builds on that heritage in amazing manner, though. Also I'm mentioning Omnisphere intentionally. I know we shouldn't really make comparisons here, but I feel this one is vital. There is a lot of overlap, but there's also one key difference between the two. I'll get to that later.
Layout & usability:
It's a head scratcher for sure. ...and that's comming from a guy, who's favorite synth ever is Zebra. BUT! All you need is one or two tutorials and you'll start to get the layout. I would change a thing or two for sure, but it has it's logic and it's totally usable. Absolutely killer feature, though, is the tree view. Essentially Falcon's layout resembles a programmer's IDE environment more than a synth. If any of you is a coder by any chance, you'll get what I'm talking about. BUT! ...it's not as complex as Reaktor or Max. It's still a synth for making music, not for endless programming. ...and the layout brings amazing possibilities in terms of complexity of your patches.
Oh boy. Think about an OSC, think about ANY kind of synthesis that has appeared and been popular in last two decades, Falcon has it. Analog oscillators, stacking oscillators, Karplus-Strong based physical model, Razor-style additive OSC with some cool modal synthesis functions, Serum-style wavetable, a little but useful FM oscilator, drum synth, even an organ emulation. ...and I haven't even mentioned sampling yet. Regular samplers, stretching samplers, slicing samplers, granular samplers. Wow. I'm a sounddesign geek. I love to learn about all different kinds of synthesis. This is heaven.
To be clear though, I do think there is a room for improvement. FM oscilator is very basic. I need my algorithm matrix. Wavetable synth could use at least a tiny wavetable editor. Also the granular synth misses one or two tiny features that dedicated synths sometimes have. Bitmap editting/resynthesis would be nice addition too. ...but all that is just nitpicking.
...another oh boy moment. I won't even name the modules, there's just too many of them. From filters to amp sims, to convolutions, full featured graphic EQ with analyzer, amazing reverb, delays, all kinds of modulation effects. (I mean, that rotary speaker sim? Daaaamn it's good.) Too many. And the sweetest part? You can assign effects either on every note, on a single layer or on a whole patch. It takes a little while to get accustomed to the GUI layout, but when you do, you can even chain them, make paralel chains, make effect auxes. It even has it's own mix console. Come ooon. All in ONE synth? Incomprehensible.
Big modular synths, especially the new ones, tend to suffer from having a lot of effects that are low in features or qualitty. Some of them even force you to buy them as "mini-plugins". (I'm looking at you! You know, who you are!) None of it is thankfully present here. Falcon might sound like a relatively new synth, but especially on the effect section, you can see the heritage. You can see there's UVI's whole coding history (15+ years) packed into it. It's strong. Really strong.
Ok, here goes my biggest gripe with the GUI. It's not always clear what modulation are you editting. There's lot of "d'oh!" moments. But apart from that, it's as epic as everything else in this monster. Every kind of LFO and envelope you can dream of, macros, mappers, random generators (nicely named "drunk" :))), step sequencers. It's a bit overkill, but if you feel really nerdy, there's a whole Lua script language interpretter.
Now ... DAW automation. Plugins report finite number of controllable parameters to DAW, so big modular synths tend to have their limits in terms of module counts. UVI solved this beautifully. They just added 128 "host automation" sources that'll appear in your daw once you assign them to a knob in Falcon. Easy, clear and neat. You can assign this for example to a macro knob and use that macro to controll any amount of any parameter inside any layer of your patch.
Qualitty of sound:
It's awesome. Clinical at times, but that's something every big modular synth has to deal with. It's not an emulation of anything. It sound as warm and analog as you make it. You can do that, but it very well gives you an option to not to.
Possibilities & Summary
Ever wondered how an analog saw, a sound of your dog barking, arpeggiated FM bells and a bass growl would sound like mixed together and sent through an ampsim, a rotary speaker and a convolution processor with a sample of your kitchen sink loaded in as IR, all drowned in a cozy reverb at the end? Well Falcon let's you do that. Relatively quickly and with no other synths, effects or patching systems needed. I've always cringed when any plugin developer advertised "limitless possibilities" in their promo videos. Falcon is a first synth about which I think that claim might be accurate.
Yes, for every module in Falcon, you can find a plugin on the market, that does that particular task better. Serum is a better wavetable synthesizer, Dune and Hive are better unisono synths, FM8 is miles better FM synth, Zebra is a quicker and more colorful semi-modular. But I think with Falcon, it's a first time ever somebody tried to put it all into one synth and ended up with something actually useful.
Ok, back to the comparison with the behemoth that is Omnisphere. They are both the "do it all" synths. But they differ in philosophy. Omnisphere is more "rompler-like". You can transform, edit and make patches, but the main use-case is to load a patch from it's amazing library and then edit it if needed. Falcon is quite the opposite actually. It opens with it's humble empty sinewave patch and asks you "What crazy thing you have on your mind today, sir?" ... and then it supplies you with every tool imaginable for you to make that idea come true. I do understand the appeal of pre-made patches and I absolutely respect Spectrasonics as a company, they're awesome ... but to me, to that sounddesign nerd inside, this is much more exciting.
And if you have it the same, if you, as me, think the whole appeal of electronic music is to make your own signature sounds to play with later, then you will love this plugin. :).
Imma be quick on thisone. This is hands down the best dynamic EQ I've used. Don't get me wrong. I've tried pretty much all the major ones and they are awesome, but I always get lost in that "range" parameter. Fix draws you classic dynamic curve for each EQ filter. This makes it super intuitive to use. It also sounds great. I've been able to save some pretty sh***y recordings with it. Can't believe it costs only 19 Euros. It's an absolute steal.
I had high expectations on Serum. It was written by Steve Duda, man, who's been in the background of some of the most influental acts in electronic music, man, who I personally consider a genius. His LFO Tool finds it's way to every single production I make. He is a musical visionary. So did it meet the high hopes?
...well let's start by the basics. It has 2 full featured OSCs, sub, noise, only 1 main filter and a FX section. So in terms of quantity, not so much. Even Sylenth 1 has more OSCs. But there are some extremely revolutionary features on this synth that make it absolute blast. Let me start with the OSCs itself. It seems like quite usual wavetable stuff, but right when you assign your first modulation, you find out, that the graphical view of the waveform is updated and rendered realtime, so you know exactly how your waveform looks like at any moment. When you open the edit window, you find out, that the wavetable is incredibly editable. So far I praised Zebra for having the best OSCs possible. Not anymore. This is mental. You can generate the signal using math functions, analyze wav files, draw them. Then edit them, add random content to them and so on and so on! You can morph between snapshots of the wavetable, further edit them by "wrap" FX. (I miss odd/even FX from Zebra though, but anyway, still great.) There's also a great 16 channel unisono as a bonus. Moving down to the filter. Yes, I miss the second, parallel one. But you get tons of filter types (including really nice z-type-ish morphing ones) and it's graphical view is also realtime updated. FX section has all the usual suspects, another filter, nice unisono-emulator, something that feels similar to Massive's dimension expander, really nice distortion module with another filter, compressor with multiband mode, eq, delay, reverb and so on... All the effects are reorderable and really cool sounding. One of the best in-synth FX section I've ever seen. And then the modulation. Daaamn. You have all three options to create a modulation connection. Drag'n'drop, left-click assignment or standart matrix. All modulations show realtime values on screen and everything modulated by them is also moving. All the envelopes and LFOs have a realtime dot traveling across the shape to show you what part of the curve is currently playing out. Also all the LFOs have full feature set and editability of LFO Tool's LFOs, including shape presets.
Best gui on non-modular synth ever created. Period. All the realtime views allow you to quickly analyze what's wrong in your patch. It even helps you to discover bad habbits you've gained in other synths over the years. As mentioned earlier, modulation section is extremely good. Same goes for the wavetable editor. It's clearly visible that Steve's intention was to simplify otherwise really cumbersome tasks to the point it becomes quick and easy to do on regular basis. You can feel he knew all the weak spots of GUIs of literally every synth on the market, so when he made his own synthesizer, he avoided all of them. Newblies probably will get stuck a little, but definitely much less hard then in other feature-wise comparable synths. It's that good.
Ultra clean. Analog lovers will have to do some pitch modulation and EQ-ing to get the their feel, but come on. It's 2014, not 1970... Especially hi-end is amazing. That's something wavetable synths usually struggle with. Also no aliasing. It doesn't have a "character", but on purpose. You're free to make one. Or not. You decide. I've noticed really short CPU spikes causing clicks, but that's probably becouse of me running 96k on medicore machine. I really have no complains in this department what so ever.
Value for money 10/10
Huge. It's not really a biggest synth featurewise, but every single feature it has, have been tweaked and coded to absolute perfection. Also, you're buying the future my friend. Right now, this beast was endorsed by biggest names in the electronic music filed and thousands of bedroom kids, home producers and pro-guys are discovering it. I think we are about to see rise of complex patches in near future music thanks to this plugin's clever layout and no-nonsense politics. I love it.
Massive. Up to it's name, really. It's as classic VST as it gets. It defined what we want in other VST's now. Violinists have their Stradivari's, Guitarists have their Taylors, Strats, DJ's have CDJs, and producers have Massive.
Sound 9/10 Sound is solid. It may be a bit tougher to push it to mellow tones than for example Spire, Sylenth or Diversion, but that just means it's much more "crystalic", much more pure. It's hard to tell whether it's a good or bad thing. Depends on your preferences. ...and on your patience. If you try long enough, you can make creamy sounds in there as well. The only con I can find is that it slightly changes sound going to and from 96 kHz, but as 96kHz is still kind of waste of your resources and as it's the same with a lot of other VST(i)'s, I wouldn't consider it a big problem.
Features 9/10, GUI 10/10 Ok, ok, I know. We have all kind of synths featurewise much better then Massive, but I don't know why, I still return to this one really often. Ease of assigning modulation to a target is still unmached. All those other synths evolved from different versions. It's a good thing, but once a while you just need a familiar interface. Then it's Massive's time. It's interface stayed the same for years and it's still briliant...
Value for money 10/10 No question about this. For 200 euro, you get thing that defined the modern sound. Thing that everyone else already uses. Think that's gonna stay for ever.
I honestly think Massive is the biggest synth in VST history. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Sylenth, but you see, I remember Massive being around and being legendary back from V-Station times. After that, Vanguard replaced V-Station in it's field, then Sylenth replaced Vanguard, Dune almost replaced Sylenth, Spire is kind of replacing Dune right now ... but Massive stayed, and it stayed as epic as ever. ...and that just counts.
Spire is interesting. Out of the nowhere, in few days, hype like crazy. It reminds me of what happened with Dune few years back. Anyway, is it worth the hype? ...well ...yes.
This is the clever bit. It doesn't seem like, but under the hood, there is quite a lot of features. It starts with cute little oscilators being able to generate it's waveform by morphing, by FM, or by AM synthesis. Then it goes into unisono stage, which aside from classic parameters allows you to control even iregularity of detuning and way how voices are scaled from each other. Filters are cool. Few models to choose from. It ends up with badass effect unit. You see, why to have user choosing between regular distortion modes and bitcrushing, when all it takes is two extra knobs for having it all at once. This is the way of thinking I like. I'd love to see possibility to change order of effect signal chain though. It would take just one more tab at the FX area. The modulation stuff is just cherry on a cake. Whole bunch of LFO's, envelopes and step sequencers with (really) nice collection of destination to route them to.
Really somewhere between Sylenth and Twin. Creamy, warm, but rough enough when you need it. It can lack "concentraion" on high frequencies sometimes, on the other side, when your sound needs to be "softer", Spire is right there for you. Even when you use stuff like FM synthesis that usually tends to be harsh. Effects have great quality to themselfs. Especially reverb is kind of cool for a built-in unit.
User interface is great. It's all really intuitive, straight nice flow. Where it needs to have some tabs, it has them, but only on small restricted areas, so the whole synth doeasn't dissapear when you need to adjust LFO speed, or something. Olny thing I'm missing is some kind of quick modulation assignment. Either knob related pop-up menus, or some drag'n'drop way. Just so we don't have to browse through the whole selection of destination.
Price is set reasonably, eventhough I think seeing it permanently on discounted price would suit the synth much more as it is really nice bread & butter instrument. What makes it extremely valuable though is customer support. Developer is not just responsive, but also active, which is really breath of frash air having in mind another bread and butter softsynth of the history. ;) It still takes a bit higher CPU load, but developer is actively optimizing the code, so it got better already and it will continue to get in upcoming months. I strongly recommend you to try this little thing. Nice, fresh, easy, capable. Really appealing combination. :)
This review will be wierd. Usually I get to know new stuff pretty quickly, but with Harmor, it kinda didin't happen. I love IL stuff. Toxic Biohazard is one of my favs to date, bit I still don't know what to think about Harmor.
This confuses me a lot. It feels like developers thought: "Ok, let see what's cool today and get it all into one synth!" They made it at time, when additive synthesis was popular, so it's additive synth. ...but also you've got "regular" OSC's and the resynthesis mode which I'm not really sure how to switch to other way then just dropping image on certain tab. Also, while mentioning resynthesis, some kind of graphical editor wouldn't hurt. Now it just imports images. It has an unisono engine, some kind of light physical modeling included, some harmonization effects and so on. ...alltogether it's really nice and rich package, it just feel somehow unorganized.
Not bad. Not bad at all. When you manage successfulyl switch to resynthesis mode, I think it has even better results then Alchemy's spectral mode. As far as traditional sounds go, it's pretty good average. It gets interesting when you start messing with all those advanced features, but then you can't objectively compare it to anything. In other words, when you make it sound good, it sounds good, when you make it sounds bad, it sounds bad...
Same problem as with the features. There is a lot to explore. It uses IL's envelope framework to effectively modulate prety much anything ... but the way you "search" for the parameters is really a torture. You've got a lot of functions right in front of you on the "dashboard", but all the additive and resynthesis stuff is hidden. It's not a bad gui, it just takes much more time to get into in comparison with Toxic, or Sytrus.
I might be affected here, becouse I take extremely long times to finish my tracks, but it happens quite a lot that when I use Harmor, I end up replacing it by synth I know better. On the other hand, Harmor is excellent for this "I have no idea what I need, let's go turn some knobs and see!" kind of situation. While that, In synths I know, I sometimes end up with something I've made before. Not the case in Harmor. ...so ironically, it's over-complexity might be a realy good thing that makes the value.
Razor ... eh ... let me tell you. Untill Razor, I thought I'm a audio geek. But once I've seen what this Errorsmith accomplished in freaking Reaktor. I mean WHAT?!?
So what the hell is it? Let's put it this way. Additive synthesis used to be all about "adding" those harmonics to the fundamental. What Errorsmith realized is, that it's not just about level. You have all sorts of other stuff you can do with bunch of partials. Shifting them, retunning them in milion ways, you can mimic filters, mimic analog behaviour and so on and so on. To be fair, synths like Alchemy had function of altering different parameters of partials before, but the way it's introduced in Razor is amazing. Intuitive, quick, clean.
It's hard to compare Razor to anything. Hard to judge on any level. If you like any kind of "traditional" sounds, either electronic or acoustic, Razor will dissappoint you, becouse it sounds like no other thing on earth. If you like experimental stuff, you won't believe your ears. It really is that good. It has it's character, so, espcially when used for bass, you can identify it even in other people's work ... which can be said about 303 also and nobody gives a damn about it, so I guess it's a good thing. :)
Looks nice, well thought. Loving the spectral view. You see what's happening all the time. Nice touch. I don't like how it's big. That's common problem with todays plugins for me. They don't care about 1366x768 pix laptop monitors anymore. :/ (Much worse in Prism though.)
It blows your mind, when you think about this thing being built in Reaktor. I mean it had to take ages, or this Errorsmith is genius on his own. ...having said that, this being Reaktor ensemble drags it down a little. For sure, you can use it to learn Reaktor, but honestly, when just producing, you want it to load instantly, not after opening Reaktor and browsing through your ensemble database. I've seen some ensembles that made it into a real software, kinda hope this happens here also. But aside that, this synth si crazy. It gives whole new meaning to the expression "additive synthesis", I really recomend you to at least try it. :)
WOW2 is interesting. There isn't actually too much space on the market for it. You have great filter work of others. FabFilter, Tone2, FXpansion ... and for modulations, nothing beats LFOtool. ...but you get what's happening right after you start the plugin.
Let's cut to the chase. The sound is marvelous. Super-smooth, rich, not over-saturated (unless you want it to be.) Exceptionally good performance in high registers. Resonancy sounds "glassy". Not "whispery" as pretty much any other filter out there, but somehow "glassy". It all is nice and beautiful until you distort it. Then it's of course exact oposite. But again, the distortion is somehow "right". Re-arrangin sonical texture, as distortion should. Really good.
Really interesting modulation system. You have few modulators like gate-triggered ADSR, LFO, step sequencer ... and it's all assignable anywhere you want. I still think that LFOtool is beter for crazy modulations, but, if it needs to be done here, it can be done really quickly with advantage of juicy filters.
Value for money 9/10
I find SugarBytes stuff a bit on expansive side, so I usually look for their stuff seconhanded. With a little transfer fee, I still support the developers, so it doesn't feel that bad to do. They react to trends (I mean ... WOW2's still is heavily Dubstep oriented), but they try to solve us problems. Like with Effectrix, Artillery, or in this things. All their stuff saves you some time. So if you finnancially can, support them, please. :)
Live started as application for live performances. I never did live performance, but I can imagine you need everything as quick and as agile as possible. With that in mind, they developed pretty unique app that was reliable and well suited for this purpose. (Thanx to it's clever session view thing.)
I believe it was around version 5 or 6 when people started to use Live for classic production as well. I guess main reason was unification of user interfaces used inside and outside of their studios. Around version 7, Ableton implemented better EQ, more cool devices and suddenly people found out, that it's in fact really good and solid DAW.
That quickness of performance tool just reminded. Everything is right under your fingertips and pretty much everything happens in one single window. That's what created Lives amazingly quick workflow. For example setting sidechain compression is question of 3 mouseclicks.
Next thing, that wows you, is its modularity. It's not pure modular DAW, but it has this racking option, that makes it really easy for you to get creative. Wanna layer X synths in one track? No problem. Wanna have several effects on one track working in parallel? No problem. There is not much of possible craziness you couldn't do with it.
Drum racks are amazing too. It's so logical. One track on outside and new track inside of it for every single hit. Easy, clear. Group tracks (available from version 8 I think) allows you to buss several of your tracks completely. If you need some conventional bussing or effect tracks, classic sends also available. ...and everything still happening inside of the one very window.
Unfortunately version 8 went a bit wrong as well. It's great version, best yet, but it has been around for three years or so. Other DAW developers worked hard on new versions. Some functions like vector automation curves, 64-bit instruction code support, or creative stuff like integrated pitch correction are painfully missing in Live. It's great on it's own now, but development should speed up a bit. So point down for that.
Anyway, I'm using Live as my one and only DAW for few years and having no intentions to change that. May be Bitwig can shake this opinion a bit, but that's question of future. Lot of DAWs claim they're quickest way from your brain to the finished track, but imho Live is only DAW you can really agree on that.