I bought the FX bundle for $29. Happy with that, but really don't think I would want to spend the $129 listed price at all. Really I bought them only for the Enhancer & happy with it too. It pretty obviously has a mid Eq scoop as the main part of the FX but it also has other stuff going on under the hood. Summing amp seems to be what they're advertising and that makes sense. The enhancer is a weird effect (as most enhancers seem to be). It's not a simple saturation type thing though there is that onboard. The bass boost and high boost are more than likely just Eqs though the blurb mentions some phase processing. It has that magic box sheen that just does something to your mix to make it better. I had some fairly dense techno kinda mixes that it worked wonders on - it sounded more flattened but weirdly my analysers all said the LUFs value ended up lower than my original mixes that were heavily squashed - one of them was mixed to -9 LUFS and admittedly it did sound a bit quieter - it was peaking the same but told me LUFs was now -12. Now that has to be a good thing. Less flatline but sounded better, yet more squashed. Weird. Not sure I'll use it on all mixes but dense mixes it's a winner. My advice is keep the processing fairly low - it's quite an extreme enhancer.
As for the other FX. Meh. The delay won't give me any feedback for some reason. The phaser really doesn't do much phasing. The chorus is usable. TBH I'll probably delete the other FX but keep the lovely enhancer.
I'm another fan of anything useable in dub. Always on the lookout for big uber-delays.
Personally, I'm not that keen on the GUI of this one - some of the knobs are a bit on the small side and very fiddly to set any fine parameters.
Soundwise it's OK as a general delay - not an awful lot of character but useable because of the ability to instil some wow and flutter, and also useful is the ability to tweak the delay timing off the exact tempo. But it becomes really useful when you turn up the feedback to get the repeating filtered dub delays. To be honest, you should probably ignore my earlier whining about general delays, as obviously this one is aimed specifically at being a big resonant dub delay, and at that it does a rather good job. A reservation I have is that there is a certain point at which the feedback suddenly comes to life, but below which it is difficult to control - it doesn't seem to do an awful lot, but you pass the magic feedback number and hey presto it is immediately an infinite delay - all or nothing. When it's at "all", it's great and characterful, and the filter comes to life, and the delays go on and on and take over your mix wonderfully...sigh....but at "nothing" it is just a boring difficult to fine-tune delay.
So this is my proviso - use Bionic delay solely as a huge dub delay with lots of feedback and filtering and you'll be perfectly happy with it. It definitely has a different character than things like RetroDelay etc. It lends itself to dirty, mulched up dub delays very pleasingly. The type of delay that you bring upfront in the mix and drop out everything else for in-yer-face dub effect.
Another proviso is to have a limiter, or at least compressor after it. It will grow too big quite easily and will clip if you let it. Automation is also a good idea to bring down the feedback afterwards.
It's definitely not my first go-to delay for dub, but I wouldn't like to get rid of it. I wouldn't use it at all for bread and butter delay, but personally I don't see that bread and butter delay is the point of Bionic Delay anyway. Just every now and then, you want to go silly with a delay, and this is the perfect freebie delay to go silly with. It doesn't do much of anything that many other newer delays can't do, and it's not the best-looking on the block either, but it has its own little niche place for grunged up infinite dub, and you'd be daft not to at least give it a try if you do anything in the realms of dub or ambient. Bigger knobs and some colour other than orange would help it, but they're only minor gripes really.
It has a "grooveL" and "grooveR" function which are useful little tools to get the delays off the exact beat and tempo. Not enough delays have this type of feature - exact tempo matching with delays can sound pretty dull, and even muddy up your mix badly, so this is a welcome feature. Another little gripe with the tempo sync is the lack of options - you've only got the basics such as 1/2, 1/4 etc - I'd like a few more options of dotted and triplet delays. But as I said before - if you use Bionic Delay for what it's good at (huge dub delays), then you're probably going to use either 1/2 or 1/4 note delays anyway.
Not alot more I can say about it really. For me, it's a one-trick pony. Ain't anything wrong with that...it's a good trick.
If any of you haven't downloaded the fishfillets plugins, then do so immediately. They do everyday studio chores with style and character. They are some of the best freebies ever released and are likely to remain classics.
Floorfish isn't just an everyday gate. It can be used for expansion and true gating, but it's also frequency conscious, so it'll do things like de-essing. And it does them extremely well. To be honest, I had it in my plugin folder for a couple of years without ever using it. One day I wanted to gate a really noisy old drum loop, and my normal choice of gate (the one in SX) just didn't cut it. I like the SX one - it's frequency triggered (not frequency conscious). But it often sounds a bit too severe, no matter how you set it...too clinical.
VFM - It's free. It's the quality of many a h/w unit that used to sell in bucketloads too.
Features - As I mentioned, it's not just a plain gate. You could use it on vocals to de-ess; you could use it to gate noise; you could use it to bring down nasty hats that hiss; you could use it to curtail overlong boomy subs to create more space in a loop. Because it's so smooth, you could use it to retain just a little bit of reverb but cut down the tails. You can use it for true expansion.
For anyone that uses drumloops, Floorfish is a must-have. I've used it on vocal samples as well - it won't completely get rid of noise, but it'll reduce the obvious hiss without totally destroying the feel of the vocal - difficult to achieve even close to that with straight Eq. It barely uses any CPU, so you can slip it into any project easily.
Floorfish is characterised by its smoothness. You can gate out most of the noise, but its envelope is very smooth so you can still retain a little of the drums' ambience etc. And because of the frequency conscious gubbins, you can fine tune it so that to a great degree you can pull down nasty grating hats etc. It won't completely gate them out (no gate can do that), but it will bring them down to a level that sits more easily without lopping of huge amounts of kick subs etc. It's a very versatile gate.
Of course, if you pull the attack right down to zero, it can perform like almost any gate. It'll simply gate out noise in the quiet passages very well. But its the ultra smooth envelope combined with the frequency conscious bit that makes it stand out. It has all the usual controls - envelope attack and release, sensitivity (threshold) and ratio (which is the bit that is basically amount of gating). A useful extra feature is the stereo button, so you can work with either mono or stereo - a surprising amount of FX plugins don't allow that!
The listen button is also useful. Solo the channel you've got it on and press the listen button to hear which frequencies the gate is working on. No readouts as such, but as ever, your ear is the best judge. And thanks to Sascha for realising this and not making the GUI too busy or flashy with needless readouts and meters.
GUI - easy on the eye in monochrome. All the knobs are self-explanatory.
Sound - As I said, it's the smoothness that really appeals. You can do a substanbtial amount of gating without losing too much character of the original material, right up to straight extreme gating.
Presets - not many, but how many presets do you need on such a simple plugin?
Support - none unfortunately. Now Sascha has got himself a proper coding job, he said he won't be supporting these plugins any more...which is a loss to us all, but fear not. This is a very reliable plugin that won't upset your system. It's a few years old but it's rock solid.
I have noticed one drawback though. I can't get any more than 3 instances of it to play in any one project. I don't know why, but it just won't, so if you need multiple gates, you may need to render some down to audio post-processing. It's not that it bumps up the CPU or anything. It might be my system...I use SX2 on an AMD CPU. But it's not a real drawback...as I said, simply render to audio. It's too useful a gate for that minor glitch to put anyone off using it.
Normally I use the SX2 gate for everyday gating, and it's fine for that. I also have an old Behringer 4-channel gate that is great for when using h/w sources, but that too is a pretty bog-standard gate that just gates. I have an old Digitech flagship unit that has gates and noise suppressors in it that does a few more esoteric things, but it still doesn't work quite like Floorfish. Floorfish compares more to something like a Dbx gate. It really brings quality to something as mundane as a gate, which you often don't notice, but on those occasions when you have a noisy or nasty loop that can't be discarded because it has some vital character in it - Floorfish is most likely the tool that will make it fit into a mix without noise and without buggering up the feel of it.
And it's made by the same man who coded Blockfish and Endorphin, so you know it has breeding.
For anyone who likes character compressors, then GUP-1 is up there with the best. It can be clean when used sparingly and in smooth mode, but I bought it mainly for the character it imparts when you push it hard. It can pump away nicely when you unclick the smooth option and behaves favourably like a decent VCA h/w compressor. The upside is that it doesn't lose alot of shine in the top end like many h/w comps do though.
To my ears it sounds as though it's simply a cut-down version of GCO-1. That's partly why I bought it, although mainly because it has the sound and also has a sidechain. That seemed to be the reason Kjaerhus coded GUP-1; apparently there were requests for the sonic style of GCO-1, but simpler and with a sidechain. I've no doubt at some stage that GCO-1 will have a sidechain at some point . Kjaerhus have stated that GCO-1 is their flagship compressor, so it won't lag behing for long I would think.
So what distinguishes GUP from GCO? 1) It's got a few less options of compressor type - so it's quicker to set up. 2) The sidechain.
1) Its modes are smooth/pumping and opto. You can still have it in smooth mode while in opto mode. Personally I'm not that much of a fan of opto compressors; they lose too much shine, and I often don't like the slowish response they tend to have. So I don't use it in that mode, but it does sound like a fair emulation. Smooth mode gives pretty clean results even when pressed quite hard, but it's when you unclick smooth that it really shines. It can pump and breathe on any mix...ideal if you're into bigbeat or similar - it can give a huge powerful sound while retaining alot of the sharpness of the original material. Put any drumloop through it and fiddle with the release and threshold at high ratios and you'll be amazed how sweet even a noisy old loop can become. Too many s/w comps just make the material sound flat when pushed hard - GUP-1 still retains some life in it.
2) The sidechain can be incredibly useful, yet there are still not that many ones available in s/w. In addition, GUP-1 has 2 filters on the sidechain; one a highpass, one a lowpass. Set them both at extremes and everything passes through the sidechain - easy to do straight ducking for example. But move them up around and you can set a bandpass, so that it then becomes a frequency-conscious compressor. This is more subtle but can be more useful - say you want a kick to duck the bassline; a kick can have a long sub on it, so the compressor might be too noticeable. But you can finetune the sidechain so that it only triggers the comp when the clicky transient of the kick sounds, but relaxes on the sub tail - can't do that with a wideband sidechain and an 808 boomy kick! It also makes it possible to do things like compress to achieve exciter effect. Keep the lowpass open, but bring the highpass up - then trigger it by a copy of the audio you're compressing! If you've never used a bandpass h/w VCA comp, you don't know what you're missing. GUP-1 is the closest I've heard yet to that type of compression. It's also useful for bass compression - do the opposite and you can bring down the higher end while also compressing the dynamics of the low end - any bassline can become a big sub without the use of Eq.
So although GUP-1 initially looks alot simpler than GCO-1, in many ways it is an awful lot more flexible.
GUI - I love the straight-forward layout of the Golden compressors. You really don't need any manual to figure out what's what if you know anything about compressors. The meters are more detailed than some - you can differentiate between very small dB differences at a glance. My only gripe is the difficulty setting small changes. You can use shift to make small parameter changes, but it's a bit glitchy, and doesn't seem to like anything less than 0.2 dB per change - no option to type in numbers either. That could definitely be improved IMO.
Other features - there's an input attenuator, so you can bring down the input if the source is too high for whatever reason. There's a wet/dry mix - useful for upward compression of things like drums. There's also an A/B comparison button. This seems to be a more common feature and I like it. You can have a setting you know works, fiddle around with it, but not lose it if you go wrong somewhere down the line. There's also an autogain button. Could be useful, although bear in mind the attack is minimum at 0.1mS, so you can still clip with autogain on - it simply determines an average peak of 0dBFS. Personally I think it's not its most useful feature, but some people like that sort of thing.
Documentation - the manual tells you the basics and is easily understood.
Presets - presets on a comp are a bit of a mystery to me. I never use them, but I suppose they're useful to some - and the presets are a good range of everyday compressor settings - you just adjust the threshold to get it to work.
VFM - excellent tool for the cheap price. Close to the real h/w deal.
It's very difficult to review an Eq as it is so much down to personal taste rather than objectivity. But I'll try. Paris Eq is what I would call more of a specialFX Eq than a mastering Eq or a particularly sweetsounding Eq. It most certainly can be used for your average tracking duties though, but it really isn't clean enough or characterful enough to me for mastering duties. It lies somewhere in the middle of clean and character. It's OK for Eq cutting, but I'm wary of doing much boosting with it - the bass seems a bit too wooly or fluffy, the mids are OK but the highs can be a bit too harsh when boosted. But it's no worse than many other free Eqs out there. And the fact it has its own special features actually make it quite a contender for most useful free Eq.
Features - it's the soft-limiting and resonance that are its best weapon (offhand, only TCNative has the same facility) - it can be used like a filter (which to all intents and purposes is what filters are). You can set boost to a maximum, fine tune the frequency and bandwidth, and make sounds very lively, even howl. And then if you sweep the frequency, you've got a nice tool for mangling sounds available. That can be useful for hats if you're very very careful - some hats etc can benefit from being a bit overdriven. I wouldn't normally use Paris for boosting Eq on highs - it can be too harsh, but when you use it as a specialFX, even in the highs it can sing. As for cutting - I've no real complaints...an Eq has to be pretty bad to ruin a sound when cutting. It can compete with most Eqs here. I wouldn't boost more than the usual 3dB for precision tracking (unless specialFX) and again it's no worse than any other Eq there.) It's free and it performs the usual Eq duties no better and no worse than most other free ones. But it has the specialFX qualities which gives it an advantage over the rest.
GUI - easy to use, pleasing on the eye. Each channel individually switchable on/off to save CPU. It would be a bonus to be able to type in values, but it's no big issue - the controls are fine enough to cope with mouse work. Invert phase - could be useful I suppose, although I never use it. A global bypass switch - big thumbs up for that - makes it easy to A/B compare to your original sound. It misses a graph to display your frequencies, although that's not a must-have on any Eq - it actually makes you use your ears rather than your eyes, so there's a good argument for omitting graphs - but it would be good to have the option.
Stability - no problems there. Minimal Cpu hit. I've never tested the latency (when used as an insert, it's compensated for in my host, so it's not any kind of issue)
VFM - it's certainly better than the standard Eqs that come with Cubase, so you should d/l if that's your host. I don't know about the other hosts, but I would imagine the same applies. Go spend money if you need a quality Eq for mastering, otherwise give Paris a run - it can be very good.
RetroDelay certainly deserves one. It's free and it has tons of character. It's also one of the more flexible delays available even for money. The names gives you an obvious hint - old-style delay with a filter to let you dampen the delays aka tape delays. But there is far more than that. You can make modFX such as phasing, chorusing, flanging; filters not only lowpass but all the other types you could reasonably want. Saturation to grunge it up, distortion to destroy it, reverb to dub it up. For many at KvR, you'll probably find that Ohmboyz by OhmForce is high up on their list of delays (and with good reason) - well it has another competitor now, and it's free! It isn't actually a direct competitor, becuase RetroDelay has its own distinct character - it's not quite as madly flexible as Ohmboyz, but nevertheless there ain't much you can't do with it. CHARACTER - that's the key word. You can give real flavour to your delays - it's not a sparkly clean echomachine.
Sounds & Feautures - to business then. Can be made to really dirty up delays - saturation is mild and the distortion is dirty, but useable. Added bonus of a limiter to control the peaks - which WILL happen if you set it extremely with lots of resonance on the filter etc. This makes it invaluable as a big dub delay - you can have simply huge echoes lasting minutes with loads of feedback and filtering without overloading your host. Bloody marvellous! The filters are sweet sounding - LPF, BPF, HPF, low-shelf & high-shelf. They have a particularly sweet spot in the lowermids and mids - which is exactly where any big delay is going to have its biggest impact - big delays work perfectly for that reason on vocals, stabs, guitars etc. And drums for dub .......seriously - if you make dub, you'll be in absolute heaven with RetroDelay - it is the best delay for dub I have yet come across in the VST world. The reverb is just grungy and grainy enough, there's a panic button to fade out delays when you're done feedingback to buggery (and the panic has a time setting too - so your fadeout can be smooth over several seconds - Bliss!) The filters are sweet, the limiter is extremely handy, you can temposync it, crossfeed it for ping-pong, set it by ear, switch to v.small delay times for modFX such as flanging, reverse delays too! You can apply an LFO or env to the filter as well as resonant feedback, you can LFO delaytime to make pitched FX. And you can switch on or off all or any of those features - seriously - this is one very heavy duty delay. e-phonic deserves a blowjob for giving us this delay for free (but I'm not offering).
GUI - sweet. Easy on the eye, well laid out, nothing there that shouldn't be, and nothing that should be there that isn't.
Stability & CPU - can use CPU strongly IF you use all of the features, but that's not unreasonable. Rock-solid.
This gives ANY commercial delay (inc h/w) a bloody good run for its money (can you tell I love it?). I love it.
Anything by e-phonic you can generally rely on as being eminently useable, usually with lots of sonic character, and there's no disappointment with Invader.
It's aimed at being a spcialFX synth, which is exactly what it does best, so don't expect to be able to play Chopsticks on it, or even play a recognisable note depending on the settings! Invader is a VSTi that I load up often when I'm doing dub. It's just perfect for those heavily delayed synth bleeps and warbles that you use for effect rather than as part of any melody. In fact, every now and then I get a sound from it that's quite reminiscent of my MS20 - generally it's not aimed at being a clone of anything in particular, but when you patch up weird sounds, it can take on some definite analogue character. It can range from mild but interesting to complete modulation madness, and it does it better than most general synths.
Sound - as stated, it has it's own character, and occasionally takes on the character of quite esoteric h/w synths. The perfect sound for dub, ambient, experimental, or soundtracks. It can be obviously digital and thin, but more importantly can be full and warm-sounding.
Features - plenty of scope for modulation mayhem - you can modulate pitch, filter, FM, amplitude, and the mod sources and destinations are quite flexible. One of the nice things about Invader is that you don't have to be an expert programmer to get weird sounds from it. OK, it helps to know what you're doing if you have a specific sound effect in mind, but any beginner can have immense fun and good results by just twiddling knobs at random. Many synths work the exact opposite way - play with too many parameters and you ruin a sound if you're not careful. But Invader invites you to make silly sounds, and then delivers. Not a huge amount of oscillators but it really doesn't need that many.
GUI - if you're not familiar with synthesis, then you could be scratching your head to fathom it out, but it does actually make sense and is logically laid out. My only beef is the GUI is a bit too small for my screen settings - too many GUIs are designed for low res, but if you're working with a big host it's often better to have very high res, so you can get more of your mixer channels etc on-screen - but this makes some GUIs very small and difficult to read from any distance. I would like it bigger.
Presets - not many, but I'm not convinced that Invader needs any more. Because it's designed to make weird specialFX by modulation, you'll probably have to make your own, otherwise they're too distinctive and easily recognised to be of original use. It really is a breeze to get your own sounds - simply move any or all knobs until the sound is as weird as you want it to be.
Stability - no crashes, and a surprisingly small CPU hit considering it's Synthedit. I'm often not flattering about Synthedit VSTi's, but it shows it can be good if programmed well with thought (which e-phonic has done)
I really want to like Satyr, but unfortunately I can't. Of many of the Synthedit creations available, Satyr has perhaps the most warmth and a tendency towards analogue-ish style sound (I'm very wary of saying VSTi's sound like true analogues because to be honest there are only a very few so far that have convinced me - it certainly can be done, but it is claimed far too often, when if you have a stand full of analogues - you can obviously hear the difference with most VSTi's). S0.......Satyr seems to have a sweet point at the lower end of the keyboard - good for rounded basses and lower mids. Octaves 1+2 can sound very warm with Satyr. I'd almost compare it to the type of sound you can get with things like Junos - fat, warm, spongey basses - not spikey enough to do aggressive acid-ey sounds or hard-edged basses at all though. Very nice for bottom end pads too. I've never had much character out of it at the top end though - personal taste obviously, but it's far far from a workhorse synth.
Features - well, there are lots of them - lots of modulation options and a good set of envelopes etc, but some of the parameters just don't seem to make much of a change to the overall sound - it's a knob-festooned GUI, but really, half of the features could have been left off for all the use they are. It just seems overly fussy and complicated to me. And I like programming my own sounds - I don't use presets, so I know my way around synths - but somehow (and I'm not sure exactly why) Satyr just doesn't get me making decent sounds much. It's not inspirational, even though looking at it first glance, you'd think it was capable of all manner of weirdness - but it's a real fight to get unique sounds from it in reality.
GUI - initially you think "wow - lots of knobs, lots of features, therefore great to play with" but again I don't even like the GUI - it's too dark for one thing. You're endlessly peering at your screen close up to try and decipher what the legending says. And some of the parameters seem to be in the wrong place to make intuitive editing possible. It's not nasty - it just isn't user-friendly.
VFM - free, so you can't knock that part.
Stability - I've certainly seen better. High CPU hit and sometimes crashes for no apparent reason.
Sound - as mentioned before, it can have its uses. Bassy and roundedly warm. But not that flexible - I've never had a convincing mixable lead from it. Pads are good at the lower end but not the top.
As said - I want to like it. Obviously a lot of effort went into this synth. Perhaps it just needs a little modification regards CPU etc. Initially it looks like a beast but just doesn't deliver. I'd say go for it if you want mono lines - it doesn't crash for that, and there is quite a good range for those mono basslines or lower mid lines - sometimes it can almost be a bit squelchy, but then doesn't go far enough to present real character - that's probably what makes me not like it in the end, sorry.
I have much the same view of Vanguard as mentioned in the other reviews. It really is pretty good value, it's capable of a fair bit of variation in sound with a good set of edit parameters. It fills it's own niche in much the same way JunoX2 did. It's not a VSTi Virus and it never was meant to be and it's not advertised as such whatever rubbish you may have read about it. It's aimed pretty well squarely at the dance/trance crew and as such it does its job extremely well. If you want those hard edged or very full-sounding stabs, hoover type sounds etc then this is the synth for you. I can't think of any other synth I own that does hoovers galore straight out of the box. I don't always make that type of music, but when I do I go straight to Vanguard. It's a direct successor to JunoX2 but it adds a whole heap of things that you couldn't do with JunoX2. For example it's more capable of getting heavier bass, you can modulate the sound a whole lot more, it has very useful FX such as the trance gate. The gating is not done by many other VSTis and it works seamlessly. If you make that specific style of dance, then the trancegate is an invaluable tool. It has a very impressive set of filters (more than on the JunoX2) which can produce some very hard and nasty sounds. But you also can make softer more subtle sounds with it - easy for pads and most types of leads. Not everyone's cup of tea, but if you're a dance-head, you definitely should try out Vanguard - it was made for you.
CPU - a small hit and won't overload even a modest PC while playing chords.
VFM - lots of good presets that show off what you can do with the synth. All useable musically, so if you're not into patching then you're off and running straight away. You can spend far more for dance synths that won't sound much better than Vanguard.
Support - I've had no issues with it recently. Very good support. At first release I couldn't get mine to load (it was a Win98 issue it seems) but that was fixed pretty quickly by ReFX as usual. ReFX have high points for responding to problems. Now it is rock solid in my system. I'm not aware of any other issues that haven't been fixed equally quickly. You will get far more support from ReFX than most of the big developers out there.
GUI - not at all difficult. Everything is laid out logically and it's pleasing to the eye to work with.
Features - already mentioned a few but here are more. 3LFOs with various destinations. Lots of options with detuning and PWMing to really thicken up sounds. 3 Osc. Gating FX for rhythmical pads etc. Big set of osc choices and filter choices. The filters are the real strong point - all the usual LPF, BPF, HPF etc, but quite a few distortion filters combined with the usual to give you a very hard edge to the sound. Formant filter, comb etc.
Vanguard does a wide range of sounds specifically aimed at dance - ReFX gained a following precisely because they target their plugins to a specific audience.
Overview - it's free, it's a bass guitar synth, it doesn't claim to do anything else and it actually does its job reasonably well. It couldn't be any easier to program to tweak the sound, and although there are better ways of getting a bass guitar sound more accurately, it a useful tool to have. Got mine free with Cubase.
Sound - you can't use it for every occasion you need a synth bass guitar, but it definitely sounds OK for general purposes. I find myself using it more and more simply for the fact that it can be quite tedious to patch VSTi's to make a realistic bass guitar, and I'm not into samplers that much. I sometimes lay down my basslines with VB1 and then load up a different VSTi to get the fine-tuned sound I need, but other times if your not too fussy about the sound, VB1 will suffice more than adequately. As mentioned, it defaults to picked sounds, and I've never managed to completely get rid of the initial picking click - not always a bad thing, but when doing e.g. dub style music when you don't want that click, then it isn't the best tool. Especially if you're going to compress your bass guitar sound - it can be quite annoying as it really shows up the click. But if you do want a picked sound, then it's fine. It will also do a few more synthesized type sounds very reminiscent of an FM synth, so it's not just a one-trick pony - no amzing synth sounds, but enough to vary it up a bit.
CPU - uses barely any CPU, which is why I often use it to lay down ideas with before rendering to audio.
GUI - couldn't be any easier. A complete novice will be able to tweak the sounds with no difficulty whatsoever.
Stability - I've never had any problems with it at all. No glitches when tweaking parameters whilst playing.
Presets - It comes with a handful, and doesn't really need any more because it's so easy to use.
VFM - it's free. No point in not at least giving it a try.
Features - you can adjust the bridge position, the string height, the pickup position, tone etc - all you need really. I would prefer an option to completely switch off the picking click. I would probably use it much more often if it had this. I assume it's a physical modelling synth, but I don't know for sure - but whatever...it sounds close enough to a real bass guitar for general purpose use or for laying down ideas. Not useable in every situation, but I've heard far worse, and to be honest there are plenty of VSTis with the full set of editable parameters that struggle to achieve anything like a bass guitar sound, so you shouldn't write VB1 off. Bass is one of those areas that is surprisingly difficult to get right, and VB1 lets you get the basics right - I'd happily use it for anything middle-of-the-road or pop where it's not that important to get unique and original bass patches going. It doesn't pretend to be a Moog Modular and if you don't expect it to be, then it won't disappoint you too much.