This is a review of a whole Analog Signature Suite, since I consider it too valuable as a package to adress the plug-ins one by one.
Nomads are already famous for their warm sounding vintage reincarnations, and this is no exception.
A vintage channel, EQ and Compressor/Limmiter make a great combo, and this sounds really, really well. Adds that important integrating element that eliminates the digital vibe of your mix. It can be subtle, or punch your lights out. Interfaces simulate old gear, look great, and are easy to operate. Of course, no visual feedback on EQ, but use Voxengo SPAN after it to see what you're doing. EQ has 4 bands, but 2 are x10 switchable, so you have more options.
Presets are actually the same for the channel and limiter, while eq has some other settings. Presets are basic, not excesive, but are a good start for your own tweaks.
What is missing? Well, channel has no de-esser, but this can be solved, and limiter is not brick-wall, so you might add some other limiter for mastering purposes.
Somehow, by feel and quality, this package is like a PSP Vintage Warmer spread over 3 plug-ins with added funcionality and warmth.
Bought it on DontCrack.com, which gave the great offer for the package, and solved my order problem in a flash. Great service.
This package is a great value compared to Waves SSL or Wave Arts, and has a potential to add that 'real sounding' quality to any digitally produced music. Two thumbs up!
I know there is enough discussion on the forums about the VST guitar amps, but I will emphasize this effort by Fretted Synth Audio.
I am not much of a guitar player, but I have a long experience in listening to guitar music. I tried most of the commercial and free guitar oriented VST-s.
Free Amp has a realistic interface: amp, speaker, stompboxes, with a neat littlle idea with a moveable mic in front of a speaker. Additional options are mostly obvious in function.
My guitar is G&L Tribute ASAT Special, inserted into EDIROL UA-25 USB soundcard. The result is a very clean, natural input sound. Free Amp SE jumps in to add a vast variety of sounds: from acoustic clean to Monster Magnet raw. Amp simulations are varied, and while I cannot say if they represent the real thing, they certainly have their own character, and that character can be tweaked and tampered for your preference, which is a great bonus, compared to GXstack for example.
Stompboxes sound great, especially Overdrive. They are a little harder to tweak (like Wah), simply because there is so much to tweak, not just a couple of buttons like in their hardware counterparts. But results are convincing, realistic. There is enough presets to show what can be done with it, most are quite usable.
This VST is CPU-hungry, and here is a quality switch that brings it down a notch. Maybe it is a SynthEdit thing, maybe the heavy modelling used. Still, it is not in a league of Arturia Moog or simmilar heavies... The guys at Fretted Synth are aware of CPU usage so they offer separate solutions for different amps and stomps.
No crashes yet.
This amp sim delivers the sounds I expected only from Guitar Rig. And for a price of a smile. Mine is so big it goes around my head. Twice.
Ok, so I read the review in some magazine. OK, so they warned me to have the credit card handy if I try the demo. This time they were right.
I am not into dance/trance music, my choice of synth is the one that can be used in indie rock, pop, jazzy even. So I was considering NI Pro-53, which is really great for the job.
But this one appeared with its 6 oscilators, wide range of waveforms, FM matrix, 2 LFOs, Filter, Amp, Distortion, 32 step sequencer, EQ and effects, and took the prime spot. Basically, this can do Moog, Pro-53 or Albino.
Layout is very ergonomic and easy to understand. You could say it has some touching points with LinPlug design. All buttons can be tweaked without buzz. Key response is quick, no latency problems.
There is a huge number of presets that show the whole range of the synth, although the emphasis is on dance music. Most presets are usefull, huge selection of bass, lead and pad variations.
Sound: powerful, convincing. Effects are really useful. Goes to the mix without the need for additional tweaking or boosting.
CPU usage is surprisingly low, even with pads. No crash jet.
I had some problems with MIDI assigning, since Toxic has pre-defined controls cc #1-30 that can be assigned to parameters, while my controler Edirol PCR-30 has different numbering. But, I can assign control through Tracktion anyway so this is no issue for me. I contacted Maxx about it, and he was very helpful and quick to reply. He promised to fix it in the next major update.
As I said, I tried the demo, saw the very attractive price and concluded that this is the only commercial synth I need. Price/performance here is unbeatable.
This is the bass synth I always end up working with. The sound is spot on, and though I don't have the seminal Roland 303 hardware, my ears tell me Tau sounds just like 303 in many commercial tracks from 80s till today. Full, rich and deep.
It comes with mdrive VSTi overdive effect that can add a fine roar to the bass. If you hook it up to some guitar effect, it can even be tweaked to sound like a real bass. I even use it for some sonar-like sounds and leads. Its all in the post-effects.
No presets, but tweaking is a pleasure. Not many knobs, each with a clear purpose.
Why not use free CM 303 instead? Well, it is based on the same engine, but it has no MIDI automation.
Stability is fine, but Tracktion can act strange with Tau, missing notes in certain situations. Tracktion issue, I think.
Didn't need customer service yet.
I must add to the comment in the Sensetional review: ABL is e more precise emulation of 303, both in looks and function, so having a built-in sequencer and more tweaks may well justify the higher price. People used to work with hardware 303 will not hesitate to choose ABL over Tau. But if you don't need sequencer, I highly recommend Tau Mk II.
This is a free VST groovebox using unlimited number of samples, from the maker of energyXT.
Firstly, to update the specs, in version 1.4 you can put up to 64 steps in one pattern, and you are not limmited by 4s (it can be 5 or 34 or something). I don't know how many patterns you can make, but more than 32 for sure.
Though it looks spartan, I am yet to find a sampler of this sort with more ergonomical layout than Machine II!! Everything you need is easily accesible and twaekable as it plays. There's 8-step Groove control (or swing), cutoff control is graphical, every step in a pattern has its own volume, pitch (coarse) and cutoff, simmilar to FLStudio editing.
But Machine II is not perfect. There is no MIDI automation through my Tracktion DAW, and tempo can't be altered. If only Jorgen stops his energyXT development for a week (genious concept btw), he would easily implement the enhancements, and make Machine II a real champion (I would pay money for it!).
SO, here it is: + really ergonomical once set up + ideas simply poor through + small and free! - no MIDI automation through DAW - not allowing tempo change through DAW - no hands-on acces to saved patterns and sample groups - mono and 16-bit samples only - stability under some DAWs (Live i.e.)
Ideas from Machine II are acctually used in energyXT design, but there is so much extra stuff that ergonomy is lost when I need just a groovebox.
Nevertheless, I tend to use it to get that groove even if I have to re-program the patterns directly in MIDI afterwards.