I was in the middle of a project and needed a specific effect to process voice samples with. Having had a good experience with Rough Rider pro, I went to Audio Damage and checked out the Discord 3 audio demos. Yep, this will do the job!
The UI is a touch different but simple enough to easily get around in. The documentation is plenty clear and a nice help. A very decent pile of presets ranging from subtle to psychotic (I prefer the psychotic). I found *exactly* the processing I needed inside 5 minutes!
It does a LOT more than the audio demos show. I've used this on 3 tracks since I bought it for some loop mangling and enhancement, so it's already paid for itself. Value for money? Definitely! I've had less flexible plugins that cost 2-3 times as much.
100% stable in Reaper, not a hiccup in hours of use.
I compose soundtrack/cinematic and ambient/dark ambient, so the ability to do more than one thing is a major selling point. Oh, and CPU usage is quite acceptable on my Toshiba dual-core Turion-2 laptop.
I haven't tried using my nanoKONTROL or MPK49 to tweak the parameters in realtime, so I can't comment there.
Worth a look if you're looking for a different kind of effect.
I decided to go out on a limb and pick up Vapor sound unheard, since it was on mega-sale. I didn't have high expectations.
Vapor is primarily for electronic music, don't look for any of your bread-and-butter acoustic instruments here. What you DO get is a massive pile of individual instruments and multis, so many that I've spent an entire day auditioning them and didn't make it anywhere near the end of the list.
It's a Kompakt-based instrument and runs rock stable on my system when used in Reaper or energyXT. CPU usage is surprisingly light for the complexity of some of the patches, a happy surprise. The UI is good, everything you really need is right there. Changing patches is a pain in the tail, though, having to mouse through multiple lists is tedious at best (maybe there's a better way but there's nothing in the documentation about it). Came with a nice, little book providing the basics of how to use the Kompakt software, nothing overly detailed but quite sufficient for the task.
The sound? Excellent! Good leads and arps but the pads on Vapor are to die for. Many would easily sit well in a movie soundtrack or an ambient/environmental piece. There are a few that are "variations on a theme", but not as much overlap as you'd expect from something that has a bazillion presets.
Customer service.. well, I had a shipping problem and EastWest jumped right in and set it right, so I have no complaints. Updates for the library and synth were easy to find as well. I'll be purchasing from them again as soon as my credit card cools off.
If you do any kind of electronic music, I recommend you go out and buy this! It's a *steal*.
This seems to be a very under-marketed and under-appreciated synth! Sure, it's not some superfancy monstrosity that drags even the latest CPUs to their knees, but it's good-sounding, efficient, and easy to use.
It's a ROMpler, along the lines of the Roland JV1080 type of module.. wide variety of sounds, most quite good. Everything sits well in a mix, this isn't a "hero" synth, it's what you need behind to fill your song out! I find myself so far laying a bed with Ravity, then dropping something else over the top for a lead.. like I did when I had real hardware (lol).
Support is decent, haven't had to use it yet but the developer has a forum here on KVR that's pretty well attended.
Pretty decent value for money.. it's not a disk hog like some ROMplers where they think throwing 4GB of samples at you means there's no need to actually do sound design (lol), if you know what I mean. I decided to buy this over a used JV1080 module because I preferred the sound of Ravity!
Synth-type sounds are excellent, acoustic instruments are good for backing tracks but I'd not mix them too far up front. Haven't tried making my own patches but from what I've seen it's pretty easy, doesn't look like it requires a degree in synth programming to make it happen.
I vacillated a lot before I bought Ravity, but I'm very happy I did! There are a fair # of owners out there, I wonder why I'm the first reviewer...
I occasionally verge into the space-music/new-age genre, and it's hard to find a software synth that covers this territory - sure, I could use a beefier synth and work it over with a bazillion effects, but my CPU hates me already.. enter Algomusics M42 Nebula.
All the technical details have been discussed, so I'll focus on what's important to me.. the sounds, and the range of presets (since I'm not a sound designer). This review is for the latest 1.11 release.
The sound vary from long, slowly evolving pads to lead sounds and rhythmic sounds.. the pads are to die for, the lead sounds are decent and the rhythmic sounds are a major treat. I've found that layering M42 with a rhythmic patch over another synth playing long sustained notes can give you all the trippy space sound you'd ever need in life.
The presets are mostly excellent, I have no complaints at all - just about everything is eminently useable. The only bad thing I can say about it, is that for my music I'd not use it solo as a lead synth as it (to my ears) isn't "beefy" enough.
I've had no problems with M42 in either of my hosts, Orion Platinum 5.8 and Tracktion 1.6. CPU useage is pretty good, even on my now-ancient P4 2.53GHz box.
Value for money? This thing is cheap, buy it already! I've spent more on beer during a serious night out and had less fun! :-p
Summary: it's not an end-all/be-all synth, but for spacey sounds, rhythmmic pulsations, and being an EXCELLENT synth for stacking it can't be beat!
Kubik is a modestly complex wavetable-type synth. I'm not going to go deeply into the technical details because (a) it's already been covered and (b) I'm not a tech-head, I just want to play!
The UI is nice, easy on the eyes, and everything is easy to get to. Bank loading/saving and preset selection are fairly common-sense, although how a preset is saved with the song but not the bank last loaded threw me off for a bit - a post in the ConcreteFX forum and I had my answer quickly. You can't beat getting a fast answer from the person that developed the synth himself!
On to the most important thing for me, the sound. Kubik can make the most amazing noises! I've stacked two/three instances and had some killer pads, which is mostly what I use Kubik for. There are a ton of presets, both that ship with Kubik and many others freely downloadable, so (being the preset user I am) I have a pretty large pallette to work with. It can be a bit harsh at times, it's definitely digital, but I like that (lol). The factory banks are nice but don't show the full power of the synth, I recommend Tim Conrardys banks as well as the Blaster and DJSL banks.
An excellent value for money, I'm actually surprised there isn't more buzz about this synth! It's not an end-all/be-all instrument but it does what it does quite well! :-)
Cameleon 5000 is a very interesting synth - using additive synthesis, and able to import wave files and bitmaps for resynthesis, you can create sounds that would take hours (or be impossible) with other synths.
I compose and play mostly new-age, ambient (light AND dark heh heh), and soundscape. Cameleon excels at producing unusual and complex evolving textures, and after importing various waves from my Hollywood Edge CDs (sound effects, mostly) I'm amazed at Cameleons ability to turn things like metal hits and crowd noises into alien landscapes.
The interface is fairly simple, buttons for each of the four possible voices and various windows and panels that allow you to adjust how (and if) a morph is made between the various voices. Without touching the manual I was able to import waves, make and save voices, and create patches - which is excellent as I'm manual-phobic (lol).
Sound quality is good to excellent - I have no complaints here.
Cameleon comes with a pile of presets (I think 500, I'm still working my way through them all) and there are already user-created banks available if the factory-supplied ones don't float your boat. Most of the presets are musically useful, although depending on your genre (if you have one!) your mileage may vary. The true power of Cameleon is in importing waves and creating your own morphs, I can't go on enough about how much this is a "killer feature". I will note that many of the presets that sound a little thin solo sit extremely well in a mix.
CPU useage on my P4 2.53GHz system is modest on most patches, very acceptable for something of this power. It's rock-stable in my current host of choice (Orion Platinum) as well.
Support is excellent, Ben at Camel seems to live on the KVR-VST Camel Audio forum some days (lol).
Bottom line: an excellent product at an extremely attractive price for all it can do - I purchased Cameleon over a fully-expanded JV1080 because Cameleon could do more!
Rhino is an amazing piece of work. First, let it be known that I do darkambient/dark-trance kind of music with soft-synths, voice, and my guitar so Rhino is the PERFECT soft-synth for me.
The UI takes a bit of getting used to, but once you spend some quality time with it puttering around with Rhino becomes easier - the learning curve on programming it is significant, because it's one powerful tool.
Presets a-plenty on the Big Tick Website, all the banks I've played with so far are very musical and useful. If you run out of presets, you're probably hopeless (lol).
CPU usage varies radically between patches, some taking very little of my 2.53GHz. Pentium 4, some taking close to 40% or more for complex, evolving sounds. At first I was concerned, but the high-CPU sounds don't require a fistful of notes to work well so it's not as big a deal as it could have been.
It's very stable, more so than I am (lol) in my two hosts, Orion Platinum and Tracktion.
The last thing I'll say is about how it sounds TO ME, a very subjective thing: I used to own an UltraProteus that I had to get rid of, along with a TG33, a TG55, and a U-220. No soft-synth I've bought ever had the breathy, airy evolving sound of some of the patches on my now-departed hardware.. UNTIL RHINO CAME ALONG. I can finally honestly say I don't miss my rackmount gear any longer.
SpaceSynthesizer, out of the box, has some excellent presets for (as you might guess) 'space' music - as well as good patches useful for mixing into the background of ambient tracks, and a few 'fx'-type goodies. But that's not *all* it's good at, with a little bit of work it makes an excellent pad machine and can produce excellent soundscapes! Programming isn't that complex, fiddle the knobs and you're off. Theres an Intelligent Patch Generator (IPG) and 64 extra patches that you get when you register, both of these are pretty useful.
The downside: some patches can get a little CPU-hungry, although V1.5b seems to be better about it. The GUI is not pretty, but it's functional. The built-in bank loader/saver is a *PAIN* as it doesn't use a standard Windows file-chooser dialog, you have to type the name in FIRST, then hit 'load' and hope you got the name right. I have also not been able to get really harsh sounds out of it, but it's a SPACE synthesizer so I should know better (lol).
An unusual VSTi and one of the top bits of kit in my arsenal, it seems to be relatively unknown for some reason.