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Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 29th July 2008
Version reviewed: 1.0.1 on Mac
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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Very good synth, absolutely worth adding to your stable. Toxic Biohazard is absolutely perfect out of the box for dance, ambient, house and trance tracks. It stretches nicely to suit other styles, and is very easy to program and experiment with.

Since I moved to Mac/Live, I've been missing a strong FM sound in my palette. Toxic was a breath of fresh air. I had played around with Toxic II and III, and when I finally mulled it over and was ready to buy, this plugin had taken its place.

I was put off at first, because the presets I'd fell in love with on Toxic III seemed mostly absent. I found a forum post saying that the older presets were compatible with Toxic Biohazard, so I gave in and got it (and yes, the presets from the older version worked perfectly).

Also, there are a ton of presets you get when you buy which aren't in the demo. I had a little trouble downloading the preset packs, but I got quick and excellent support from the forums and also from the developer. Good show there.

The sound is crisp and clean in the mid to high end, and is capable of some nice warmth on the low end. Some of the sounds are extremely rich and often stunning. For all its sonic power, it sits nicely in the mix.

Another area it stands out is the pattern sequencer. It's easy to setup, has 64 steps, and you can copy your pattern to other patches (handy). The import doesn't seem to work with random midi files, and I wish it did. But I can see there would be some big technical snags with that, so I'm not sweating it.

The AU version seems to suffer from some minor issues with Live 6, and the developer responded immediately that they're looking into it. I switched to the VST, and have had zero problems. Again, good support there.

Go get this synth, it's amazing.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 12th February 2007
Version reviewed: 2.01 on Mac.
Last edited by 11011011 on 11th February 2010.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Keep my original review of Twin 1 intact, but removing the "cons". This new version is rapidly taking over my projects. The ability to go even deeper into "wiring" things up like you want is just amazing, and the UI to make that happen is very unique and very easy to use. I cannot emphasize enough the overall quality of the sound engine, the amazing capabilities and the utterly simple interior of this synth. Even the presets have been overhauled, and some truly amazing new sounds have been added to the factory palette. Just amazing. I've upped every thing from 8-10 in my Twin 1 review to 10/10 in Twin 2.

Pros:

The LFO capabilities are the major new star for version 2. Not only can you keep adding and adding them (I'm sure there's a limit, I haven't hit it yet), and wire them up any way you want, but you have the ability to create your own LFO "waveforms", with glide setting. You can use them as a sequencer (there is even a key-map mode for each LFO). Goodbye "square/sine/trangle/random", hello "HOLY @#@#$!".

I really liked being able to hook up a patch pretty much any way I wanted. There's a semi-modular type feel to it, and the UI for routing is really nice. It has the intuitive feel of wiring things together, and the convenience of, well, not having wires cluttering up the knobs.

The sound, especially the filters, is very very good. Definitely download and play with the demo to hear for yourself, but I was very impressed with the sound quality. It depends on the patch, of course, but I can get amazingly clear bass sounds, sweet twinkling leads and everything in between with relative ease.

Bottom line:

Sound quality and infinite programming variety make this a valuable synth, and worth looking at even if you already have a few subtractive synth plugins (and who doesn't?) If you're serious about sound quality and like to fiddle with the knobs, I highly recommend the Twin 2.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 31st October 2005
Version reviewed: 1.34 on Mac.
Last edited by 11011011 on 31st October 2005.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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It's the closest to the Wasp I've found since "going Mac", and I like it a lot. daHornet is free, so stop reading and just go play with it!

Still here? It's noisy, spunky, funky and dirty, just the way you like it. It can also do some refined sounds, but to pull that off you'll have to toss some effects in there. Don't bother!

Don't neglect the right-click menu! There are a LOT of features buried in there, including a patch randomizer which lets you pick type of patch (bass, lead, etc.)

Someone below said it best: it's a niche synth, but a very well executed one.

User Interface: Funky but easy to figure out.

Sound: Dirty, loud and unapologetic.

Features: It's a three-trick pony. Nice basslines, screaming leads, and ambient sounds (noise).

Documentation: Haven't looked at it, haven't needed to.

Presets: All good stuff. Very diverse, but you'll want to fiddle with a lot of them.

Customer Support: Haven't needed it yet.

Value for Money: It's free, duh.

Stability: Solid.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 31st October 2005
Version reviewed: 2.0 on Mac
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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> link buttons which tell 'Tonic what to play after (or as a shortcut, what comes before) the current pattern. Pretty simple.

You can also cut & paste patterns all over the place, so simple.

You can drag to set arbitrary beats from 1 to 16. If you want 12 beats per, it's easy.

Also, there are nice sliders at the bottom for roll time (to go from 'da-da-da' to "bzzzzzzzzzt!'), swing, and tempo match.

It's pretty easy to dial up a new drum sound, but my guess is you won't need to (often). There is an army of included presets that suit most music where you'd find a beat box.

User Interface: I was at first put-off by the "Aqua" look, but it's actually very easy to use.

Sound: @#$%^&-ing brilliant. Exactly what you'd want in an electronic drum machine, and then some. One thing to note is that it also supports "tuned" patches, so you can go nuts with the sounds.

Features: The only thing I feel lacking in the step sequencer is the ability to set more velocity levels. However, since I can easily cut & paste any pattern or set of patterns back into my sequencer, it's super easy to do final tweaks there. The "random" button is also excellent for industrial or ambient tracks. Just press "play" and hit the button till you get something odd or nasty. Nice! It supports either a 4-out (2 stereo pairs) which you can easily choose A/B for each part, or a separate out for each patch you have dialed up.

Documentation: very good, though I haven't needed it.

Customer Support: haven't needed it yet, but I got a prompt response on a new feature request.

Value for Money: It's more than I wanted to spend for a beat box in general, by about $20. But I'm cheap, and it was worth it anyway.

Stability: Rock solid.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 31st October 2005
Version reviewed: 1.5.1 on Mac
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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It was love at first sight with the Vanguard. I've had it since it was released, and have used it quite a lot. It's easy to program and has revealed itself to be an extremely versitile instrument.

The factory patches it comes with are very good, but I have to say so dance-focused that you may get the false impression that's all Vanguard is (very) good at.

In fact, I was recently looking at fancy new synths because some of their sound samples blew me away. I figured I'd play with my trusty big V a little before shelling out another $200+ and I was impressed. If you pull yourself off the beaten path, you can make really modern sounds that rival some of Albino's more interesting patches.

If you want to get a better idea of the limits you can take this amazingly well-designed synth, check out the "SOUNDSHOP" link at the reFX site. The samples of the patches are really eye-opening, particularly "Xenox Signature 2" (although you shouldgive a listen to all the bank samples). By the way, these sound banks are high quality, pretty inexpensive and at times simply wonderful.

reFX have added a few tricks since version 1.0.x which should be noted:

- A "VCS" knob. One simple little dial that controls how rich the sound is. My patches went from "cool" to "holy crap" with a quarter turn. This was almost like getting a whole new synthesizer in itself.

- The tracegate now supports stereo patterns. You can dial up your own ping-pong gate effects, very nice.

- Also with the trancegate, you can save and load "gate patches" from a right-click menu, which is really convenient.

User Interface: lovely, but a bit big. I like the extra space between thing, but the knobs are small on my big screen.

Sound: Excellent. Two caveats: 1) make sure you have at least 1 more voice than you think you need; 2) don't use 0ms attack or release (in most cases), back it down to 1ms.

Features: There's almost everything you could want in a synth in here. The arpeggiator could use the ability to customize, but this is my only feature gripe.

Documentation: don't need it, but it's good anyway.

Presets: Shipped with very good presets, but "dance-heavy". However, a quick visit to the "SOUNDBANK" (which you can also access using the "ROM Pack" link in the setup) will deeply satisfy.

Customer Support: I had a few questions with 1.0.x and they were answered almost immediately.

Value for Money: Excellent.

Stability: Version 1.5+ seems rock solid.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 3rd June 2002
Version reviewed: 1.4 on Windows
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This thing runs a little hot, but makes an excellent lead for dance/trance/industrial tracks. I also use it as a rhythmn compliment to other lead synths in softer tunes. The presets are all very good -- there are too many standouts to mention!

You will need to wrangle this thing in with your eq, and probably throw in some compression for good measure. I can't fault it for running this way, that's how it was designed.

The sound quality is not top notch, but I don't think that detracts from its purpose in life.

It is *incredibly* easy to mess with presets and make your own sounds. The almost draw-bar style sliders invite you to play around. I almost never come up with a sound that I can't use.

This synth has improved since 1.0. Most notable is less CPU usage, and tons more presets. If you only did a 1.0 or 1.1 demo and moved on, grab 1.4 and give it another go.

Bottom line: This is a loud lead synth. You will find it hard to make it play nicely in the background or with any subtlety. It's a prima donna -- but then, what else would you expect from a lead? For the tiny price tag, you can't get a better dance/trance/industrial lead synth.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 21st May 2002
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Bloody awesome synth. I've been using it regularly since release. I find myself using this more often than its older, bigger brother (Pentagon I) -- the one I paid for! It's monophonic, but the sounds are so damn big that a chord could cause an earthquake.

Excellent presets, though the first dozen are variations on a theme. If you're just getting acquainted, I suggest you randomly pick presets, and listen to them *all*. My philosophy is "presets suck!" -- but this synth proved me wrong. The variety and quality is amazing.

Excellent sound! It performs well in any environment, but tends to run a little hot. It mixes very well, better than the Pentagon I in some respects.

Excellent GUI! Unlike the Pentagon I, this thing fits on my screen. The knobs make sense.

Excellent built-in effects! Chorus, delay -- a decimator? -- stereo spread, distortion -- yadda yadda. Nice addition!

You will *not* get 'natural' sounds out of this thing. It's all space-age, *real* moog-based technology sounds without the clutter of hardware on your table. I use this thing on most of my tracks now -- it's that good.

If rgcAudio keeps making quantum leaps like this they'll be the defacto standard by which all analog-sound synths are measured, hardware or software!

Bottom line: get it, use it, abuse it, love it.
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 21st May 2002
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows.
Last edited by 11011011 on 7th August 2002.
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This is a one-trick pony and doesn't represent itself otherwise. It takes some messing around, but you can get nice realistic bass sounds that fit well in your mix.

I noticed a complaint about the 'clicking' noise on each note -- that's the PICK! Electric bassists who use picks anymore are a minority, so it may seem odd that it defaults to this 60's style of play. There is a knob to adjust this pick noise. Also, you can slide the pickup to change the sound, and set the string damper at the bridge. In addition, you can change the overall tone from murky to quite bright. Like a real bass, you need to play with all these parameters to get anywhere.

Steingberg would have been better served if they dropped the 'natural' user interface and went with all knobs. It'd make the less obvious features, well, obvious.

I sometimes double this with a Triangle set to a low, synched SIN sound to add some subsonic punch without getting warble on the super low end.

Bottom line: This is a solid workhorse bass and should not be overlooked, especially since it's free!
Reviewed By 11011011 [read all by] on 15th May 2002
Version reviewed: 3.0 on Windows
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I've come full circle on this thing. I didn't like versions 1 & 2. Version 3 got me actually jazzed enough to pony up and buy it (along with Scorpion 2 and Plucked String 2). I was excited about it because I couldn't get any other synth in my collection to make some of the sounds it made.

That said, I hate to admit that I haven't used this synth on a single completed song to date (six months later). It seems to overpower anything I put it into in any role other than a bassline. Even then, I have to bring out the EQ and compressor every time. It's not too loud, it takes up too much freq room. It sounds awesome on it's own or over just a beat, but it does not play well with others.

The presets are mostly average. Some standouts include: Funky Bass, Nice Bass, Perc Lead, Warble Pad, and ACID 1&2. There are a lot of odd sounds in the presets and I had trouble using most of them.

The idea of having two waveforms to mess with (a'la WaveDream) is sweet, but in practice I have great difficulty programming this beast. If it were 100% intiutive, I wouldn't knock off points for the documentation -- but this thing needs a tutorial for making new sounds.

The MIDI automation is nice, but it uses fixed paramters, requiring you to program your hardware to use it, rather than a MIDI learn mode. This is odd considering Sonic Syndicate knows all about MIDI learning with their host, Orion.

The sound quality is excellent, Sonic Syndicate has yet to make anything but a top quality instrument.

Bottom line: this turned out to be a disappointing synth overall and I don't think it was one of my better purchases. I thought I'd get more out of it than I have.