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Atmosphere [read all reviews]
Reviewed By c_huelsbeck [read all by] on 26th January 2003
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Virtual "Rompler" done right!

This is in my opinion the first virtual instrument plugin that in many ways easily outperforms it's hardware counterparts. First of all, it sounds just incredible. Originally intended to be the ultimate pad sound machine, it is now almost an allround "Dream Synth". The price may be a little steep for some hobby-ist, but considering the quality, size and effort that the developers put into the core library, I think it is justified.

The UVI engine performs quite well, the overall sound is transparent and fat. CPU usage is moderate and it has some of the best filters I've heard so far in the virtual intrument world. And don't make the mistake to see this plugin as a pure preset machine. Since you can layer 2 of the 1000 sounds and change quite a number of sound parameters for each layer, the sound creation possibilities are almost endless. The controls offered to manipulate the sounds behave also quite musically, means if you turn a knob, you get a "result" and not some abstract behaviour that I've seen in other plugins.

Envelopes are fast and flexible enough to shape the sounds into various directions, though I would like to see more than the 4 standard stages sometimes. Nice also that the voice allocation follows the standards set by hardware synths and gives held notes a higher priority. This is something that a lot of other soft synths and samplers don't do correctly.

+ Huge library
+ Quality sound
+ Layering concept
+ Musical behavior
+ Correct voice handling

- LFOs not syncable to host (planned for an update)
- Fast pitch bends sound stepped
- Challenge response copy-protection (though they allow unlimited installs)
- Price may be an issue
- Long installation procedure

(The installation procedure takes ages, since Atmosphere decodes and copies data from 6 CDs onto the harddrive and the progress bar moves very slowly. The first time I thought the computer crashed, so I started from scratch...)
Chainer [read all reviews]
Reviewed By c_huelsbeck [read all by] on 6th October 2002
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows
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Ok, this is actually not a VST instrument or VST effect, but a VST/VSTi host, that can be used within a VST compatible application. Confused? Well, this is where the fun starts.

Ever wanted to run a sound source through a flanger through a delay through a distortion through a reverb and a compressor? Or stack a couple of VST instruments for a fat layer sound? And save your favourite combinations for easy retrieval?

Each FX or instrument slot (and there are a lot, 10 chains with 10 slots each) does have it's own volume level, panning and a through level from the previous slot which means that you can exactly define it's internal mix of the audio signal.

It's also amazing for intrument plugins that are not multitimbral like the FM-7 for example... just open several within the Chainer, set each to their own midi channel and voila, works like a charm! In the same way it can also be used to give you more than the regular 8 instrument slots in VST 5.1, which I for example love because I don't like to switch to Cubase SX yet.

But actually this thing can do even more. It's also a standalone software, means a full functioning VST host with midi input and ASIO support that can be used to run instruments and effects just like a rack full of audio machines on a second computer for example.

It incorporates even more extras: You have a function that can randomize parameters of any plugin. And you can assign any midi modulation source to almost any parameter using a midi learning function, so you can finally automate plugins using midi CCs (like the free TAU for example) who don't support them in the first place.

Stability seems to be excellent (I had no problems so far in Cubase 5.1, couldn't try other hosts though)

The documentation could be a bit more extensive, but most of the functions are easy to understand.

This is an amazing piece of software that deserves more attention and it's very much worth the price!
FM8 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By c_huelsbeck [read all by] on 28th January 2002
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows.
Last edited by on 10th April 2002.
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This one is a winner... and a keeper... and it's simply amazing.

It covers all FM sounds that we loved to love and hate over the last 2 decades (it even loads the original Yamaha DX sysex data), but it can actually do much more.

The engine offers way more features than the old DX synths, like free FM matrix, additional waveforms for FM oscilators, filters, amazing envelopes with almost unlimited points plus host-syncable loop options and chorus/delay FX. That makes this beast sound so much better than any 80s FM synth.

The only negative point would be that the plugin is not multitimbral, so it's one sound per plug (you can use program changes or multiple instances though). It's got also some minor bugs, that are not fixed yet (guess NI was too busy with other stuff lately ;). The GUI is also great, the only missing thing would be that there are not enough keyboard shortcuts.

All in all, a great (if not even the greatest) virtual synth that sets a new standard...
Waldorf Edition: PPG Wave 2.V [read all reviews]
Reviewed By c_huelsbeck [read all by] on 16th December 2001
Version reviewed: 1.x on Windows
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Words can not describe my feelings when this plugin was introduced. I ALWAYS wanted to have this synth, since the early 80s when I played with it at a trade show in Germany. But I was only 15 and it was priced at 8000 Dollars, unreachable. 18 Years later and I was able to pick the plugin up at my local dealer for 150 Dollars. And guess what, it sounds absolutely great, just like the original. I can get amazing phat analog and digital type sounds out of this beast. Together with the Cubase VST environment where you can easy add reverb, delays and other fx, the sound is even better. And depending on your CPU you can have much more voices than the 8 from the original machine. It's even multi timbral, so you can have up to 8 different sounds at the same time from one plugin. Not enough? Just open a second one and use another 8 sounds with some different effects - try that with the hardware version... ;)
Waldorf Edition: Attack [read all reviews]
Reviewed By c_huelsbeck [read all by] on 18th September 2001
Version reviewed: 1.01 on Windows
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Got it a while ago and besides some problems after the initial install (some sounds had a weird buzzing noise in them) it works now (try to un- and reinstall it - I heard it's a problem with the CD-protection).

The sound quality is awesome. Sure, there are some cheap b-movie fx here and there, but lot's of the kits are really useful as a supplemental to the static world of sample percussion. Best of all, this thing can also play great bass and lead sounds, which makes it in fact one of the most useful VSTis ever. I also found the CPU-usage quite low for the quality of the sounds.

quadraSID [read all reviews]
Reviewed By c_huelsbeck [read all by] on 17th September 2001
Version reviewed: 1.4 on Windows.
Last edited by c_huelsbeck on 17th September 2001.
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Since my C64 days I always liked the idea of using SID sounds in my studio. But the solutions (Hardsid or SIDstation) where in my opinion too expensive for the cause.

When I heard about the QuadraSID plugin I was thrilled and I have to say that the final product has exceeded my expectiations.

This beast may not look very pretty from the GUI, but the sound is quite amazing. In a VST environment where you can easy add FX like reverb, delay and other weird things the QuadraSID sound starts to shine like a bright star in your arrangement.

The programming and control possibilities in QuadraSID are also vast, though some people may shy away from it's complexity and just use the presets and tweak them a little. But this thing is fun and the sound is unique.