UI I'm not supposed to use this word, but Tassman's UI sucks --- especially the builder is really, really bad. It is such a pain to connect modules and work with (sub)patches. Why not use bigger icons for modules/subpatches and write a label on the in-/outlets. Changing the number of inlets or outlets of subpatches is not immediately reflected in other (subpatches) and...well, so many other annoying issues. Work hard on the builder, AAS, and you will end up with a wicked product, but for now it is just...so poor. Also, the tree browser is not a suitable interface for accessing both instruments, presets, performances, modules and subpatches. Please rethink this --- load instruments as files, access modules and subpatches in toolboxes (as in e.g. Visual Studio), etc. The keyboard shortcuts are too few --- and do not cover what you really need (e.g. show/hide browser). The look and feel of the modules in the player is actually quite good, although not visually perfect --- and too big. It should be possible to select other colors and styles for the modules.
Sound The sound is IMO the best analogue/physical emulation around...only rivalled by Arturia's VST instruments. I love this sound --- combined with good live modulations (wheel, breath) this instrument makes me want to play and play. Arturia's Minimoog in the only other VSTi that feels as expressive as some of the Tassman instruments.
Features I think Tassman has almost all the modules you need to create exiting synths. I does need a better sample player, though.
Documentation Given the non-intuitive UI, the documentation is insufficient. Not misleading or badly written, just insufficient, especially on the builder and the modules.
Presets Some awesome synths among the intruments, some of them with a good deal of presets...some presets are even really good. BUT --- not enough. To show of the capabilities of Tassman, more synths and more presets with each synth should be provided. Also, they sould be better organized and described.
Customer support I have not personally used AAS suppport, but I have been following their activity/repsonses on KVR and elsewhere. Also, I have to say that the slow evolution of the product indicates a lack of user responsiveness...combined with the upgrade policies so far, it drags down on this rating.
Value for money I got Tassman 3 for $130, with free upgrade to version 4. That was OK, but the full retail price is absurd given the current state of the product.
Stability Rock solid as standalone, but it has crashed in Cubase SX 2 a few times --- therefore I would be very reluctant to use it in a project, despite its very good sound.
All in all... The sound is just wonderful, but the UI and the (in)stability in Cubase SX turns me off. I am happy to have this VST in my collection, as I think I will play with it often, but I doubt that I will use it in a project until after a few updates. I'll stay on the upgrade path, though.
I first bought Pentagon at vers. 1.0, but never really liked the sound (IMO it kind of lacked depth or breadth - fuck, it's difficult to explain) or GUI (dark/confusing), so I never really used it. With vers. 1.3 this has all changed --- I'm a true believer now!
User interface: Beautiful & Logical. The skin for 1.30 really does wonders. Knob inertia ...mmm. Virtual wood ...aaahhh.
Sound: With 2x oversampling the sound comes close to true analog. IMO one of the best analog emulations so far, even rivals the MMV.
Features: Contains almost everything you need for semi-modular analog modelling, even good quality effects. Could use some more pre-defined waveforms, though. Why not throw in all the waves from z3ta+?
Documentation: Generally quite good, but the sections on user samples and pentagon as fx/vocoder could IMO be improved.
Presets: A lot! And good ones, too --- perfectly showing off Pentagon's capabilities as an analog emulation. Many more to download from KVR.
Customer support: Well, just see how active and responsive René is on KVR. Says it all.
Value for money: Absolutely. Compare to e.g. MMV at $250.
User interface: Logical screen layout, good and relevant context menus and keyboard shortcuts (try arrow keys in phaze/cell editor). Personally, I don't like the "organic" GUI style, but that's of lesser importance.
Sound: Being - basically - kind of a rompler, the sound depends a lot on the supplied multisamples. They are generally good, but some of them are not looped as well as they could be --- and there are IMO way too few of them. I am sure that Wizoo will release extra sample refills, but that's just more $ up my pocket. Filters are OK, but nothing special. All in all, good - but not remarkable - sound quality. The FX are not really worth using, though, but this is even mentioned in the manual.
Features: The phraze/cell editor and the modulation design (including the vector modulation) allows for some real extreme sound design. With the option of using your own samples, the possibilities are endless. Personally, I especially like to use Xphraze as a quick sketching tool for polyrytmic and odd sig figures.
Documentation: OK - good. Some keyboard shortcuts are undocumented, though.
Presets: Too few and too narrow selection. These days, I expect no less than 300-400 high quality presets with a commercial softsynth in this price range, and with Xphraze there should have been *a lot more* to demonstrate the sonic possibilities of this instrument.
Customer support: If not for Michael from reFX, who is very active on this forum, I would have given a 0 in this category. Steinberg has the worst support that I know of. So as long as Michael is doing the support, I give a 9. When/If Steinberg takes over, I'll be back to edit :-)
Value for money: OK - even though it should have come with many more samples and presets. The options of the phraze editor and vector modulation makes it worth the $.
User Interface: Visually nice, but to hard to see values and too hard to use controls. All in all not user friendly. Optimum resolution seems to be 1152x864. Run in 1024x768, controls have the right size (on a 19" screen), but you cannot see all. Run at res. 1280x1024, and controls starts to get too hard to see/use. I like to run Cubase at 1600x1200, but at that res. you cannot work with the MMV interface.
Sound: Top quality, in every respect. Clean oscs. Sharp and responsive filters. Some of the best I have heard.
Features: A lot of sonic possibilities in the combination of modules. However, the preset management is extremely annoying. Also, there should be keyboard shortcuts to frequently used features.
Documentation: Big user manual, but IMO very badly written.
Presets: Too few (yes!) and definitely too little variation. Some collections really shines, though. A synth with this potential should come with presets that demonstrates its capabilities much more.
Customer Support: Have not needed it yet, but during delivery (with which there were some problems) Arturia was very responsive and helpful.
Value For Money: Will come in time, after a few updates probably. For now, the annoying GUI, the preset management and the instability really drags it down.
Stability: Seems to have the P4 denormalization problem. Sometimes gives extreme (ouch!!!) noises when switching between presets. Sometimes MMV's sound engine seems to crash on high CPU loads; only restart of Cubase will bring sound back. Stable most of the time, though.
Other: I realy hate the copy protection scheme (have to insert the original CD now and then). I have had it for 3 days now and already inserted it twice. Damn, that's annoying.
UI: All controls are visible, easy and fast to access/use. This is the type of GUI that I personally like on a VST instrument: one screen with (almost) every control visible. Sound: Best I have heard in any VST. Period. I own almost all commercially available VST instruments, but Albino has the best sound of them all. The oscillators are so pure and the filters are so warm. Always sounds good in both high and low registers. Good for both analog and digital sound types. BTW, I did not like Albino's "cousin" Delta III very much as I found the sound somewhat cold and slightly metallic, but Albino is way different in that respect. The filters make the difference, I think. Features: The synth structure, the number of different modules, the quality of each module and the large waveform collection makes it possible to create so many types of sound, that this synth will be my main synth now (used to be Pro-53). Also, I guess I will not be using my VAZModular much anymore, as Albino does the fat and heavy layered (typically modular synth) types of sound I usually create with VAZModular. I would, however, really like to see a sampleplayer module in Albino one day. Documentation: In depth and well formulated coverage of all features, appendices listing important info. Presets: Best presets I have *ever* heard with a VST, although the Pro-53 presets are also IMO very good. All nicely organized in various categories. Albino comes with over 500 presets in 19 categories. Customer support: Have not needed it yet, but based on my previous experience with LinPlug, it is fast and efficient. Value for money: Top score, even at $149. This is an extremely versatile synth with fantastic sound, nicely presented and documented. Stable as a rock in Cubase SX and VSTack. Superb (and many) presets. What more can you ask? Stability: When using the GEN function, it crashed on me once and once ended in some sort of self-oscillation. Otherwise rock solid.
Judging the synth design from the screenshots, I thought it able to produce many interesting sounds, but no...not really. The sonic variatons are limited...all patches have a similar sound to them. The OSCs simply lack character and the ability to use samples and wavesets doesn't really compensate for that - if I want to play back samples, I use a sampler. Some of the filters are pretty good, though. There is no midi sync on LFOs or other timebased modulation. The presets do not IMO demonstrate any interesting perspectives.
The user interface is quite annoying, with a large number of identical windows. Bank and patch management is tiresome. Totally mouse oriented, very few keyboard shortcuts.
The effects are no good, but being a VST host it can use other VST/DX effects if necessary.
Mail support is excellent as Martin responds quickly to mails, but the forum is sooo outdated and useless.
Haven't crashed when used as a VST in Cubase, but considering the simplicity of the synth structure I do think it's a CPU hog.
Sorry to give these poor ratings, Martin, but I was truly dissapointed with this, and -except for the step sequencer- I don't think I'll ever use it for anything.
Well, you can make it sound like a pure analog synth (route A-F osc/ops via Z), like a wavetable synth a la PPG or like a pure FM synth...or any combination of those, so it has almost endless possibilities. If you could use your own wav files in the ops, it would be the perfect synth, no less. A complex, but rewarding, beast to work with. Seems to have a few bugs, though, with sudden CPU usage bursts causing clicks and noise. All in all, however, an instant classic and as essential to your VST collection as Pro-52 and PPG Wave 2V. Man, I remember my first FM synth (Yamaha CX5 Computer, around 1983)...we have come a long long way since :-) Only 256 presets included with FM7, but since it can read DX/TX sysex banks, about 25.000 patches (which was what I found in like 15 mins) are avaliable for download out there. FM7 reads them just fine.