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Reviewed By djphenaproxima [read all by] on 30th November 2013
Version reviewed: 1 on Mac
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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I went through a phase when I was addicted to trying and buying different reverbs. Reverb, to me, is one of those effects where each one you use has its own unique character; therefore, I felt it was impossible to have too many reverbs. Eos is one of the select few that I'm still happy to have purchased.

If I had to describe Eos' sound in a word, that word would be dense. Eos isn't understated. It's not for adding a little spaciousness to a sound. Eos is extremely rich and cavernous. Some reverbs need to be coaxed into sounding nice and full, but Eos needs to be tamed. It especially sounds wonderful on trance leads and anything that needs to soar and fill out its space in the mix.

The interface is pretty simple; it's attractive, and there are enough options to explore, but not enough to be overwhelming. And for $50, the price is pretty much right. I don't get as much use out of Eos as I'd like, mostly because the music I produce usually doesn't call for such a powerful reverb, but when I do need it, I'm glad I have Eos around.

Reviewed By djphenaproxima [read all by] on 10th December 2011
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Mac.
Last edited by djphenaproxima on 10th December 2011.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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I was asked by the developers to review SynthMaster. After spending a couple of weeks with the plugin, I have still only scratched the surface. This is my honest review of my impressions, but I'd strongly encourage you to try the demo version and form your own opinion. I don't think SynthMaster is really intended for those people who are totally new to synthesis; it's too complex to grasp immediately if you don't at least know the basics. Overall, I found it to have a really cool sound, and it's definitely a keeper.

INTERFACE
I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of SynthMaster's interface. It takes a page or two out of Native Instruments' book - the preset browser and page switcher at the top of the interface remind me of Absynth. If SynthMaster is your first synth, the interface might be a little intimidating - but, to be fair, SynthMaster has more features than you can shake a stick at, and it would have been impossible for any developer to pack it all onto a single coherent page. I'm told that SynthMaster includes a skin designer, if you're so inclined - I didn't try it, though, so I can't speak to its usefulness. The default design is useable and reasonably attractive, if rather plain.

SOUND
SynthMaster sounded quite good to my ears. Its output is bright, clean, loud, and "flat" (in the good way). I felt that it had an appealing harmonic sparkle to it.

FEATURES
WOW! In terms of sheer power, SynthMaster absolutely crushes every other synthesizer I own. Most synthesizers limit themselves to one or two synthesis techniques (subtractive, wavetable, additive, etc.), but SynthMaster does it all. There are two "layers" in a SynthMaster patch, and each layer has two oscillators, making this a four-osc synth. Each osc can be set to use a different technique - single-waveform, additive, wavetable (a.k.a wavescan), vector (four waveforms and a joystick), or audio input. On top of that, the collection of single-cycle waveforms that comes with SynthMaster is ridiculously extensive, comprising all sorts of basic and exotic shapes. In the additive, vector and wavetable synth modes, you could spend the rest of your natural life mixing and matching waveforms before importing your own, which SynthMaster lets you do. Each layer packs four dedicated modulation oscillators for FM, phase, and ring mod.

I especially love the wavetable synthesis, because you can individually set up to 16 waveforms to cycle through. In "basic" mode, each oscillator also has a dedicated tone knob (low-pass filter), stereo width, and up to 8 voices of unison! Excellent.

The filters are no less brilliant, and they have become my favorites overnight. The analog ladder filter, in particular, has a really pleasing character, especially at high resonance - it almost sounds like a formant filter, and I love formants. The filters have a "digital" algorithm too, which is functionally identical to the analog emulation, but with intentionally less character. It goes without saying that the filters are multi-mode (low-pass, high-pass, band-pass), including a few modes I've never seen before.

The number of modulation options available in SynthMaster borders on insane. It packs a colossal modulation matrix. MIDI learn is a snap, and you can quickly set up modulation routings by right-clicking on the controls. Each layer has four standard-issue ADSR envelopes, a pair of "2D envelopes" (which I didn't get a chance to try, but I certainly haven't seen on any other synth), a pair of flexible multi-stage envelopes, a pair of LFOs, and a key scaler.

I confess I didn't get a chance to go very deeply into the FX - some of the presets used them, though, and they sounded fine to me, especially the on-board reverb. SynthMaster packs more effects than any other synth I own except for my personal gold standard, Predator. FX parameters can be modulated too, so overall it seems that you get a very useful and good-sounding FX section.

DOCS
The manual is all business - concise, easy to understand, and strictly a reference - it's totally devoid of theory, contributing to SynthMaster's "not for newbies" vibe. It's filled with screen shots, which is a plus. I found it pretty useful for learning my way around SynthMaster's interface.

PRESETS
I didn't spend much time using the presets, because the synth itself offers so many things to play with. I scanned through them briefly, though, and although I don't think the preset collection is anywhere near as good as Predator's, it clearly demonstrates SynthMaster's versatility. I enjoyed the fact that each preset can have up to 8 Kore-style macro knobs.

SUPPORT
I didn't need any. But as I was approached on KVR for this review, I can only assume that KV331's developers are active members here, and they DO have their own support forum.

VALUE FOR MONEY
You're getting an enormous amount of raw power for a price which can only be described as VERY reasonable. If you want to go very deep into sound design and spend long hours generating all manner of crazy tones, you really couldn't go wrong with SynthMaster. Obviously, you can get relatively simple sounds out of it, but its near-infinite depth invites deep tweaking, and it was clearly designed with that in mind. It might not be the best choice for those who prefer to work quickly.

STABILITY
I wish I could say SynthMaster is rock-solid stable, but it still appears to be rather buggy, and it crashed for me several times. That being said, I was hosting it inside the notoriously crash-prone Ableton Live 8 (the latest beta, no less), so it's quite likely that the crashes were Live's fault and not SynthMaster's. I have no doubt that KV331 will work to resolve these issues, though. Definitely try the demo version before you buy.
Reviewed By djphenaproxima [read all by] on 23rd October 2011
Version reviewed: 1.6.1b on Mac
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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This is, in a sentence, the best synthesizer I have ever used.

USER INTERFACE:
If you know the basics of subtractive synthesis, and you probably do, Predator's interface is immediately crystal-clear. Pretty much everything on a single page, although certain features, like the arpeggiator, are tucked away behind buttons. The interface is consistent with the signal flow, so you don't need to RTFM in order to get going. The interface itself is clean and attractive, although I admit I'm not a big fan of the font they use for the readouts. But that's a minor complaint.

SOUND:
I find Predator to be clean, unbiased, and punchy. To my ear, it's more "flat" than, say, Arturia's V-Collection synths, which pack an enormous amount of fatness and warmth without having to do any tweaking at all. You might have to do a little bit of mixing work to get extremely fat sounds out of Predator, but I think that is an advantage because, as I said, it's unbiased and can fit easily into any mix. For me, that characteristic more than anything else is probably what makes Predator my go-to synth, because I know it will work in any situation.

FEATURES:
Man...it does pretty much everything that you could ever want a subtractive synth to do. There are 3 oscillators, with 128 waveforms each, which means you can immediately get a universe of different textures without touching the filters or modulation. Each oscillator has FM, ring mod, sub osc, and PWM. The sheer number of possibilities offered by the oscillators alone is staggering!

The filters themselves are multi-mode, and the main one has a dedicated envelope and LFO. The second filter ONLY has a cutoff knob, but the main one is so versatile that you may very well never need to touch the second one. The main filter has a very cool pre-filter distortion knob. One thing about the filter that bugs me is the "vowel" (formant) mode - this doesn't really sound like any other formant filter I've used, and I don't really "get" it or find it too useful. But's probably just me.

You get two freely-assignable LFOs and envelopes, PLUS an expansive modulation matrix. The arpeggiator is very easy to understand and can also be used as a modulation source. It has a handy swing control, too :) There is a dedicated LFO for the pitch, so adding vibrato is effortless. I love the chord learning feature - very simple and highly useful!

The on-board FX are unbelievable; there is a ton of them and they all sound fantastic. The FX are so freaking good that Predator can be used solely FX plugin, completely bypassing the synth bits. You get 3 FX slots in Predator, which is usually more than enough. The whole FX chain has two dedicated modulation routings, though I rarely have need for them. One unfortunate thing is that there are no presets for the FX themselves, but that's probably not a big deal since Predator is, after all, a synthesizer.

DOCUMENTATION:
The manual is perfectly fine; it's clear and readable, although you can tell that English is not Rob's first language. Every control in Predator is explained in the manual, and that's basically it. There are no tutorials in it or any kind of theoretical knowledge; it's strictly a reference.

PRESETS:
Predator has a ton of preset banks, probably comprising more than 1,000 presets, covering every conceivable style. The presets and interface are actually what convinced me to buy Predator in the first place, after only 20 minutes of using it.

SUPPORT:
Rob and Jon are frequent posters here on KVR and seem to be very good about answering their users' questions and taking their suggestions, although I have not had any problems with Predator myself. On the occasions when I've had to get support, it's been due to some kind of activation snafu (although this has improved since Rob got stopped using the eLicenser dongles), and they have been both responsive and more than reasonable. These guys take care of their customers.

VALUE FOR MONEY:
I'd have happily paid twice the amount that Predator costs. In fact, if you're cheap like me, it's likely that you can find a copy of Predator for about $150 (it costs $180 if you buy it from Rob's site).

STABILITY:
Predator has never crashed on me. Ever. I have had it on four computers since I got it years ago, two PC and two Mac, and it has not crashed one single time. Need I say more?
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