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Reviewed By Kayster82 [read all by] on December 26th, 2014
Version reviewed: 1.11 on Windows.
Last edited by Kayster82 on 16th April 2016.

What a unique effect!
For years I have played with all kind of toys (hardware and software) related to guitar and never find such a playable effect, I can easily put it on everything and abuse the virtual pedal on some drum loops or synths.
I can set the trigger to suit any kind of input so I can decide whether applying a light touch of bending is useful or not or make it trigger on every hit.

Doing some precise slide and bends with a Whammy pedal is almost impossible, especially if you like to trigger bends quickly on almost every note you play.
This virtual pedal solves this.

While the slide or bend happens, especially if the bend is quick, sometimes it reminds me of a wahwah effect but at the same time it sounds totally different.
The fact that it can also be triggered by external signals like MIDI is a genius idea.
I can find those tasty vintage pitch-shifter feedback effects or, thanks to the direct mix feature, create some syrupy chorus and watery flanging (the modulation by itself is unusual in a good way as the flanging only goes up or down)
The effect got a large palette of sounds, it can be very subtle or scream by itself when set to self-oscillate.
The analog feel and drive of this VST is incredible, I can see me using it just to spice up some parts.
For me it is a must-have for any guitarist or bassist who like to expand their sound palette but it is also surprisingly useful on drums, vocals, synths and even full stems.
I have tested the MIDI out feature (the envelope is sent as a MIDI Control Change message) and I found it very useful to control other VST parameters in sync with the Elastic Bender.
EDIT: I recently have a chance to play with an early Publison pitch shifter and I was socked at how much I could get similar pitch shifting color out of the Aly James Elastic Bender, I think it should also be very similar to old Eventide stuff like H910! I still love and use this effect.

Reviewed By Kayster82 [read all by] on December 3rd, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

This synthesizer sounds huge while being a cinch to operate!
It is based on (means inspired by rather than full featured emulation) the 80s legend OB-X Synth.
A lot of information has already been provided on the website of Aly James Lab, so I will not dwell on the subject.
My point is the emulation of the analog sound, and it was impressive how he manages to reproduce the particular character of the vintage machines.
Whether at the VCA or oscillators stage, the sound is present and can seriously growl.
It is simply a dirty little synth that fits perfectly in my toolbox.
The ability to go out on a separate channel for each voice is brilliant.

I hope this will be ported to OS X in the future.

Reviewed By Kayster82 [read all by] on March 30th, 2014
Version reviewed: 1.23 on Windows.
Last edited by Kayster82 on 30th March 2014.

This FM synth is the most hidden, underrated VST gem I have found...

It is probably one of the best FM synth on the market for that retro FM sound and I am not surprised it has been used by major Japanese FM gurus like Koshiro.

The sounds you can obtain are remarkable, so as the level of details (there is a manual on the website, 50 pages!). Even the crunchy overdrive of the sound chip is emulated which gives the release part of a sound this unique change in tone.
Really different and complementary to blockbuster FM synths.

The Genesis FM sound chip (YM2612) that is fully emulated here is different than the one VOPM is based on (YM2151) and this is a common mistake I have made over the years as someone using VOPM for Genesis emulated FM sound source.
Of course it is the same technology under the hood but the YM2612 has many different features, most of them are really useful.

There is a special running mode for sound effects or drums, looping envelopes that can be inverted and even some strange speech mode (aka CSM) which seems to triggers the envelopes in a high speed loop in order to produce basic formants.
The sound chip can also handle PCM samples which FMDrive does as well (import .wav files).
The sample you play through FMDrive sounds crunchier and dirtier, mostly useful for drums.

It is so accurate that you can transfer the FMDrive output to some other languages for real Yamaha sound chips (see Youtube, there is a lots of videos.)
One thing that is so cool is the ability to import some sound presets that you can dump from a PC console emulator program, a tracker like VGMM and also VOPM (the .opm format can converted into the .tfi format easily.)
You can also extract the juice of a .VGM file which is a game music standard format for Game Music.
This will give you a solid basis of already made sounds to start with.
I must say that while there is a large amount of presets available from games, the most outstanding sounds I have made with FMDrive comes from personal experimentation or live changing the parameters, probably because that sound chip was not really known in the past excepted by some great FM composers.

FMDrive responds to after touch, pitch bend, modulation wheels and allows the right click (CC or Sysx) control assignment.
It has so much parameters that it comes in handy to assign some to a hardware MIDI controller, it is rewarding because it opens up a lot in terms of sound creation/experimentation with real knobs and sliders.

The user Interface is pretty big, looks nice and provides many tabs to access the main functions, you feel like having a Genesis console in front of you, alive and kicking.

It's not the easiest synth to program from scratch if you know nothing about FM synthesis but overall it is really easy to learn in a day (the manual is really clear.)

I had an entire day messing with it without being bored at all.

The dev (Aly James) is also a composer and has made some great demo tracks on his soundcloud which are not linked on the product page, so here it is:
https://soundcloud.com/alyjameslab/sets/fmdrive-vsti.

Really, the cost could have been higher, the synth is running flawlessly in my DAWS (Cubase/Reaper/FL Studio).
This is my go to FM synth for chiptune now because it sounds raw with some extra harmonics that gives it an analog kind of feel, especially when you lower the operators volume a bit which make the distortion effect more pronounced.

note: It can also run in a "High Quality" mode without the subtle distortion.

Must Have.

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