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Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on July 20th, 2022
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows

Cube is not quite fully developed, but that's not a terrible thing. Considering the possibilities and the fact that this synth is more focused on its unique mission, rather than being multi-purpose like many typical popular synthesizers these days (Like UVI Falcon, Omnisphere, and VPS Avenger), it is unusual that it stands out so much for so successfully achieving this end. Cube by Virsyn was sort of unique itself but broke things into partials and is quite a bit different.

Lunacy's Cube seems more like vector morphing, modulation synthesis. You'll have to check it out to get an accurate description because I haven't had time to dig in really, but I think most people will find it extremely good for cinematic and atmospheric work requirements (good for certain types of EDM and other music as well, sparingly.).

Definitely up there past 4 stars since this baby can so easily put out special and personal sounds, sedate ones, or even spicy ones if you import your own waveforms, which you CAN do.

The developers have suggested that they will add granular synthesis capabilities and some other exciting features, and I believe them, because this synthesiser has a buzz about it already and that will financially support (and encourage) further development. That's another reason for the 5 stars, because I sense from the quality here that this company is following through (they recently added User Waveforms to its capabilities) and can be trusted more so than a number of odd and esoteric offerings by companies whose concepts sounded promising but who left the user base to rot (I'm not naming any names Auddict with Hexeract Synth still at version 1.1 after 4 years.... or Amaranth Cycle Synth, etc.).

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on July 3rd, 2022
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows

Narcotic is one of the best creative effects plugins out there, right up there with Tantra and Tantra 2. It does require some CPU but not an excessive amount. You can interact with the results in some expressive ways too, its not just a matter of canned presets - if I'm going for a particular sound that I have in my head I can totally get involved in shooting for that using the decent selection of controls in the interface. The choices all make sense, and the LFO and sequencing works flawlessly. I got it on sale for $99 and wasn't disappointed in the least.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on July 3rd, 2022
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows

This is a really great product. Its unfortunately that the developer had pressing issues and couldn't continue to work on it. Hopefully he will be back one day. What I like about this synth is that I can literally take any synth patch, and graph the 3D waveform elements and edit them in real time, while recording film ambient textures - this makes for a kind of interaction that isn't available in any other product that I know of. You can also generate a kind of IR file from any waveform, to apply within Cycle to any other waveform - Combine these 2 features and I don't think there will be anything else on this level for quite some time. But again, be forewarned that any issues or bugs will not likely be addressed - and I would send an email to Gavin prior to buying in case you expect refunds should your O/S not like the product. The standalone version is a great feature also.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on October 17th, 2020
Version reviewed: 2.9.2 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 17th October 2020.

I just picked this up a week or so ago, and i agree with the sentiment here that this at the top of the list of synths I've researched (dozens - but for music tech research more so [unfortunately] than spending time to master them creatively), and I couldn't be happier. It has a certain quality about it that transcends the divide between the more digital and more analog synths, with a pleasing warmth but at the same time potentially having a cutting edge precision.

Kudos to the people who came up with its signal flows and interfacing and filters and algos. (There should be a documentary about its development really. I'm not clear on whether They really knew what they were doing.

Really the only thing I can find about the history of its development comes from this article:

https://www.attackmagazine.com/features/long-read/u-hes-urs-heckmann-on-synths-celebrity-endorsements-hardware/

I personally own over 20 softsynths, and have been toying with some lesser-known ones because innovation always fascinates me.

But nothing in the Zebra package would be particularly obvious to me as a programmer. I'm sure there synths with bits of brilliance that could be mentioned as excelling in one element or area or another, but Zebra is particularly unique in that it never loses the high standard of musicality from the beginning of its signal flow to the end. I know recently musicians have begun to be impressed by more organic and analog processes, while being also spoiled by some very good well-crafted digital softsynths. Exploring the confluence of these two evolutions in taste and creativity seems to be at the heart of our current electronic music scene. At the time I made my purchase of Zebra I was considering purchasing Diva first. This was because I had watched some of the few Zebra tutorials out there, and the synth didn't really look "familiar" or directly compare with the common and basic synth flows I had worked with. I've experimented with ANA 2 (very good), Serum and Massive (and a few of the other Komplete synths) and the Image Line product line, Dune 3, Phase Plant (as a demo for 14 days - really loved it), Omnisphere (somewhat of a hybrid rompler synth but some well-worth-it features IMHO despite its price tag), Spire, Adam Szabo's Viper (a phenomena and over-looked synth really), Cycle (Amaranth - an orphaned synth unfortunately), Quik Quak's Glass Viper, Auddict's Hexeract (a disappointment since it seems to have been abandoned, along with Fxpansion's Geist 2, lol), AIR and KV331's synths, the Madrona Labs stuff (very good for "unexpected and artsy"), IK Multimedia's Syntronik (nice), etc. So much variety, and a lot of interesting specific features in here for most of these, that I can't go into for lack of time.

But frankly I wish I had tried and learned Zebra long ago.

Zebra actually seems worthy to focus on more so than any of these, because I literally can not make it sound bad or uninviting. I can make it sound dangerous, ugly, menacing, and so on, but it creates such a steady illusion that I'm playing with organic electric juice, that it, more than any other synth, reminds me of playing with high end electric guitar gear. Expressive. Musical. Often stunning.

So I was just going to write a short review to go along with what's already here. This is not a new product - but I had to add my two cents and I hope the developer knows how much I appreciate the fine thought process and heroic standards, and I most definitely look forward to Zebra 3. Good work U-he.

As an aside, Plugmon Neumann (as more than a skin really) looks incredible and I'm checking it out - to make understanding and working with Zebra easier. $35 at the moment. Interesting.

https://plugmon.jp/product/neumann/

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on October 16th, 2020
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 16th October 2020.

"A Sonic Kaleidoscope of Found Sound Cinematics"

Bioscape, from my testing, is a rich collection of unique loops (in terms of quality and variety) and an astonishingly creative piece of gear. With full access to add in one's own samples, and do various manipulations to blends of these, with the help of DAW automation, there are wide and enjoyable creative possibilities. I had to crack open the manual a bit to help me fully realize what was happening, and having some experience with a few mediocre products by other less famous companies caused me to be initially skeptical.

It is NKS-compatible and works great on the free Kontakt 6.2 Player or Kontakt 6.2.

Like with Lunaris (a Kontakt Pad library instrument from the same developer that I'd previously reviewed), it is a pro-level instrument with an artistic personal flair. Based on the website, these are only the first two Kontakt libraries Liftrum has released but this is not apparent in the quality. The control options are relatively up on the level of releases by the larger Kontakt developers, for the most part, and I love the fact that it allows user sample import.

Prior to working Lunaris I had worked with I had purchased a few libraries from Luftrum for Omnisphere and Iris 2, and I was aware that Luftrum is capable of equisite sound design. Luftrum products include sounds and presets from Luftrum himself, and sometimes from other well-known sound designers like Simon Stockhausen, Arksun, Triple Spiral Audio, and Sonic Underworld to name a few.

Happily, Bioscape includes Time Stop, which can creatively but effectively granularize things compositionally. In terms of the choice of sounds included, and for its features and especially the fact that it allows the import of one's own samples, it is an excellent product. While there are other "morph" tools that allow one to import samples, this one has more features. It allows one to modulate and morph and manipulate one's samples in ways that other similar products do not. (I have a large collection of personally created samples as well as contortions of other interesting things. It handles those I've created with Loop Points using FL Studio Edison (I suppose there are many other tools to create loop points with - including Sound Forge, which I own). It also has a very well-chosen set of included snapshots and samples, not bland material. My CPU did okay, although it is not the lightest plugin to run by any means.

Bioscape in essence is mostly Cinematic, but I would probably want to use it for sound design for some other genres including Trap and Ambient Electronica, etc It comes with 324 snapshots in categories including ASMR, Dronescapes, Effects, Pads, Playables, Pulses, and Textures. The presets consist of 4 layers (A-D) that work in pairs of A-B and C-D. The layers can be set to loop forward, reversed, or ping pong'd, or to play as one shots. Apparently each layer can be used for a user slot, but I wasn't entirely clear on this.

As an example, there is a snapshot in the Pulses category called Electro Static ES, which comprises the waves called "Before The Rain" and "Gran Sabana" in layers A & B. Layers C and D have the text "User Slot (Empty). This snapshot is very useable for analog modular styles, and can be synced to DAW tempo, but I found it more intriguing to use polyrhythmically, by manipulating the tempo in my DAW (FL Studio) and recording the result (in my case into Edison so I could further edit it). Clicking on the layers reveals a menu for loading a different wave file, and one may also drag in a user sample, which will show up in the User folder (it is preferable to put these wave files in a safe consistent place because the wave file itself will not be re-saved automatically when you save your snapshot creations.).

There are a great deal of electrosatic samples (in the category 'electric') which I find highly useful for what I like to create and manipulate, along with the individual wave categories of bowed, cityscapes, creatures, deserts, drones, forests, harps, ice, industrial, metal, misc, mountains, water, and wind. Obviously a great deal of care was made in field recording and choosing these samples.

Found on the Main screen, the wave file pairs (AB and CD) each have their own ASDR envelope filter to be used in combination with a choice of 24 different filter types per layer to choose from, including from "Lowpass (LP) filters to Highpass (HP) and Bandpass (BP) filters, plus formant and notch filters. The filters types range from 2-pole to 4-pole filters with State Variable (SV), Ladder and Adaptive Resonance (AR) filters, per filter category (LP, HP and BP)."

Also in the MAIN tab, in addition to the ADSR envelope, one finds the panning and the tuning of the layer, velocity control, and the keyfollow of the amplitude, and with the FILTER tab, one can set the filter envelope, the cutoff frequency, the resonance as well as the filter envelope amount for the cutoff and the keyfollow for the filter.

Additionally one can turn KEYTRK on or off, and control how the loop behaves.

Next there are two mutate types performing a function called "Mutate DNA" that be applied (one or both at the same time) to apply certain changes to the existing snapshots, towards creating variations (based on names of these variation types, such as droned, dark, dynamic, eternal, noisy, frozen, bowed, harmonic, modulated, organic, etc.) Some very beautiful or usefully-dramatic results can be made to occur.

Following that, in a window in the center of the screen, is a tool for "Motion Recording", in which the x/y positions essentially determines the mixture of the four layers. (This begins to compare to the Orb in Omnisphere, although a user doesn't have direct access to inspect the parameters and control of Omnisphere's Orb - and has to reverse engineer it in one's mind - although more fx and parameters are no doubt in play in Orb). With Motion Recording one can use motion that has been recorded using Kontakt Script Array preset files. One can also record one's own motion preset files, then activate the Play button, and It sort of acts like a tape machine, where recording and playback is triggered by your key press. The X-Y pad acts as a crossfade between layers. There is also a speed mode to multiply or divide the speed of your recorded motion, and you can ping-pong or run it in reverse, etc.

On either side of the Motion Recording window are Quick Mod and Quick FX areas, for assigning and directly controlling parameters and assigning modulators (basically a quick mod matrix and quick fx-mix matrix.).

In addition to the Main screen, the two other screens available by tab are the (Main) Modulation screen and (Main) Fx screen. The Modulation screen is a place to edit the data on Four Sequencers - and to set controls on a few LFOs, with the modulation targets for these sequencers and LFOs being set from the Quick Mod area. While I did not see a macro control system, one has a place to assign Mod Wheel and Aftertouch, and that wraps up the Modulation Page.

The FX page includes the very useful Time Stop features that will be familiar to Lunaris users. In summary it includes a highly realistic convolution reverb, and each dual layer part AB and CD has its own effect chain with Chorus, Phaser, Distortion, EQ, Timestop and Replika Delay effects. Bioscape actually compares favorably to some more expensive products, with the flexibility of using one's own samples, and it has probably more interesting and "curated" loops than you will find in other products.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on August 22nd, 2020
Version reviewed: 1.8.5 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 27th August 2020.

I tried the demo and really think this is a great new synth; even for a person like myself who (because of tired overworked eyes) isn't always able to find my way around a typical full-to-the-brim synthesizer GUI. Kilohearts' subscription model (giving back to the user a great percentage of invested money) the and bundle options are a little higher than I would like, but its okay, if it were easier to grasp (it would be nice if Kilohearts would put a one-page comparison on the website, like NI and Image Line have.) But this synth is extremely easy to get into, in a good way. And the results are inevitably original. The presets one creates tend to become attention grabbing ear candy pretty quickly - I came up with about 5 or so presets that definitely are useable. The fact that it was relatively easy to learn was great. It was a new world - Using waves and wavetables as modulation sources in an unlimited way, something that my old Bitwig license and my Serum demo haven't done to that extent.The closest thing I've experienced with this kind of bizarre creative potential was a feature in Cycle by Amaranth Audio, in which I was able to modulate an entire synth using another synth's created waveform. (Don't ask me how I did it now, it was a non-advertised feature at the bottom of the interface.) Music genres like dubstep haven't been my thing. I guess NI's Massive had an impact on its development. Serum was apparently another significant move towards helping artists of genres like that, and it has its fair share of features that match and even surpass what's in Phase Plant (filters, distortion, certain things in Serum's warping, number of stock wavetables, ability to lock preset fx chains and load new presets over them). And yet Phase Plant is more customizable in genera. It has staggering flexibility, that goes into areas of sound design that I think Serum isn't very well cut out for. VPS Avenger is another synth with a lot of promise, and Falcon is as well. But while the GUI's of those, and the import and workflow requirements for the visually impaired, were prohibitive, Phase Plant is not that difficult to get started with. I watched about 30-45 minutes of tutorials online and needed to follow up for about 30 minutes more to learn how to mess with the wavetable import and editing, which were less obvious than I would have thought, but still pretty straightforward. And the results were exceptionally "moving". One thing that makes me think twice about giving a 5 star review (but there's no other synth with this specific and very useful feature set to my knowledge, so 5 stars it is) is the confusing price structure.

My demo included the ability to modulate fx parameters, which at times was important to the result, and at times not. There is a subscription plan that allows (until otherwise stated) one to use $100 in coupons after 12 months (consecutive or not) of subscribing, which costs about $119.88. That's pretty fair.

Some of the snap ins are probably not that needed, so I'm estimating that in about 2 1/2 years one should own a working system, IF one could add the individual parts at the price they come to in their respective bundles.

Or, does one purchase the Pro Bundle and be done with it. This comes with pretty much everything except Carve EQ and Slice EQ (and probably this is not essential for my workflow since I could parse my sounds and do EQ'ing and modulating after the synth; but there's always the chance that modulating some EQ parameters within the plugin could get interesting...

From my understanding $349 covers the cost of the synth and all the synth-needed plugins EXCEPT the EQ's Faturator and Disperser (premium ones). I've done a list that I think sums it up (if you work for Kilohearts please let me know to correct any errors. If the Pro Bundle was $270 I would have purchased it tonight. On the other hand some are arguing that it would take more than 5 years at $120 per year to cover the whole package. Other synth purchasing decisions were easier to assess. I bought Falcon for about $300 and got a $100 coupon for their soundbanks. And unfortunately thus far I've not decided on doing Kilohearts subscription thing or the Fabrice and Steven thing (I may do one of these and I don't think I should do both, which bugs me), and I usually purchase things when I feel inspired and want to break off something tangible that adds to my creativity.

Lastly let me say that I did not find the filters in Phase Plant to be exceptional, and the distortion wasn't insanely good, and I recognize all that. I still feel that this is a 5 star synth workstation, certainly that will be getting better. I want to support it. I realize that the guys who create presets for synths like Spire and Sylenth are not going to be capable of doing unbelievable work in Phase Plant right off the bat, but you guys should link to at least several exceptional Phase Plant preset makers, one way or the other. I'm not a pro, but if I can learn it in an hour and 10 minutes, this is a missed opportunity. Look at it this way, the average musician-preset creator does what appeals to them and sometimes this overlaps with what is popular. To me it would seem that what would be good for Kilohearts would be to find some preset makers to capture Phase Plant's capabilities while still satisfying the market with usefulness and a good preset pack price point ($20).

Epitaph, er I mean Epilogue - My understanding of pricing options:

NOT IN SLATE ALL ACCESS PASS
Phase Plant $ 169
Kilohearts Equalizers $ 99
kHs ONE $ 19
Ensemble $ 29
Flanger $ 29.

NOT INCLUDED IN PROFESSIONAL OR ULTIMATE
disperser
faturator
carve eq
slice eq
snap heap
khs 1.

ULTIMATE TOOLBOX BUNDLE
Formant Filter
Frequency Shifter
Gate
Haas
Ladder Filter
Phase Distortion
Pitch Shifter
Resonator
Reverser
Ring Mod
Tape Stop
Trance Gate
Transient Shaper.

PRO BUNDLE
3-Band EQ
Bitcrush
Chorus
Comb Filter
Ensemble
Flanger
Formant Filter
Frequency Shifter
Gate
Haas
Ladder Filter
Phase Distortion
Pitch Shifter
Resonator
Reverser
Ring Mod
Tape Stop
Trance Gate
Transient Shaper.

STARTER BUNDLE
Compressor
Distortion
Dynamics
Phaser
Reverb.

FREE WITH PHASE PLANT
3-Band EQ
Chorus
Delay
Gain
Limiter
Stereo.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on December 3rd, 2019
Version reviewed: 1.4.1 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 3rd December 2019.

This is a marvelous product with enough control, but completely novel. Instead of presenting long term areas of concern, it follows the partials of your musical file in real time, adjusting 100*sec. I highly recommend it.

The controls are either 0-200 (first 2 below) or positive/negative amounts of the parameters as follows:

TAME. (This evidently sets the degree to which the program looks for problem resonances on a moment-to-moment basis.).

RECOVER. (Similarly, this evidently sets the degree to which the program looks for areas which would be masked by other louder.

BIAS (POS-NEG - SETS THE RELATIVE PERCENTAGE BETWEEN TAME AND RECOVER IF THE DECISION IS A GRAY AREA FOR THE PROGRAM).

BRIGHTEN.

BOOST.

There are also drag bars that let you limit what is included in the processing, or let you exclude a range.

I tried it on synths like Omnisphere and Falcon 2, bass, pianoteq and drums, and it has made it possible (not magically) to rapidly adjust the individual tracks so that future composing with them is more easy, and they will sit more transparently in the mix.

Once this is done, you can use it to process the final mix and further clean it up (if it is even necessary).

I experimented with pianoteq, and tried placing a reverb (EW spaces) then gulfoss after it, then Fabfilter Pro Q3. Fabfilter Pro Q3 was helpful to boost any little area of the sound that I was sorry for Gullfoss to have reduced - which was only necessary in very tiny areas of the spectrum (I did this as well on BFD3, getting more clarity but keeping a little character, just a 20-40 hz area that Gullfoss would have reduced in its limited computer wisdom).

Using it on pianoteq like that I was easily able to set it up so that even those rumbling bass piano tones were manageable, and I could literally play more harmonically rich material and still remain inspired. There wasn't the "deadening effect" that would normally happen if playing 10 notes including those low bass tones. In other words it kept it clear. My settings were not really extreme. The parameters offer wide enough control, that you can be subtle or you can overdo it if you want. You could use it as an fx by overdoing it as well.

As a guitarist, you could also run it in real time, it is not terribly CPU heavy, and if you set it to taste, your audience probably will hear what you play more clearly.

I bought it on sale but I'm interested in supporting the developers because they are really putting out some deep stuff here.

I don't think using this program ignorantly is really going to commonly produce trashing sounding stuff. Its practically idiot proof as long as one is a sincere student of mixing.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on March 28th, 2019
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

Just saw this company mentioned on the Omnisphere 2.6 thread. This is a synth worth checking out - for the price you can't beat it, mainly because it doesn't sound run of the mill and the presets are interesting, with a few that actually work well combined with other synths, to make beds of various sounds. Thanks guys - along with Eclipses which is another worthwhile free synth - great work.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on March 7th, 2019
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 10th March 2019.

I'm new to Rigid Audio's work and I sensed this was one of the rare and unusual cases when a lone developer (in this case seeming to be focused on Kontakt Script Processing [KSP] turns out to have a great ear for putting together aptly named sonic material representing an unusual variety of moods and genres. Similar to "Plugin Guru", Dennis Lenz out of Berlin has both the ability to place material conveniently together, and program the %^$*) out of the interface. His sound palettes make excellent sense in several styles.

There's over 9 gigs of zipped sound content (close to 12 on unzip). The site continues to have ridiculous pricing (the sale price the other day was less than $30), and here price has a bit to do with my rating. Even at 3 or 4 times that price I think Hypernode would merits a full 5-out-of-5 stars, both because of the sounds and because of the creative interfacing and feature capability... I did not find a manual or sufficient tutorial videos to be able to understand all the features or uses (even some buttons remain mysterious), and there's been a delay getting a response to some support questions; so I'm settling for 4-out-of-5. That said I haven't fully explored the features of the package (tested the demo and purchased last night). But there is enough here to both jam and record into a DAW in lockstep (or swing, although the swing positions are in 10% increments, would be nice to see a little more resolution in case, say, one is matching to another product like BFD3 for example - but after all this is all within Kontakt).

I'll continue to try & learn the interface and possibly add to this, but I thought it was worth jumping in with a quick review.

Note that the full version of kontakt is required to access full functionality. But a 5 multi demo is available for free download. If you are not impressed with the demos it may not be a fit for you; but ambient & chill lovers should find the included samples useful enough for the discounted price at the very least. (NOTE: The demo blurb indicates that a free version of kontakt is sufficient, but this may mislead a buyer into thinking it applies to the full version and full use of the product - it is not...).

Fantastic programming on this one. Jamming with it harkens, for me, to what is possible with MIDI quantize as incorporated into Vsts like Omnisphere and Stylus by Spectrasonics (and elsewhere of course.) I haven't seen another Kontakt instrument by a single developer with more modularity and control, period.

Reviewed By moonchunk [read all by] on June 2nd, 2018
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows.
Last edited by moonchunk on 2nd June 2018.

Its June 2, 2018 and Viper was just released in 64-bit. For someone like me that has dozens of VST synths, I occasionally spend money on something that ends up being little more than a waste of time and added clutter on my machine.

THIS IS NOT THE CASE here.

This synth has unusual sonic characteristics and an unusual response to tweaking that makes this baby stand out as a great addition - even for those who own Spire. The approach is just different enough, and the arp in particular is amazing.

Plus, many of the sounds are really extraordinary and so easily tweaked to get them working in new directions.

You really couldn't ask for a more powerful argument that hardware synths had that special sauce in them - and that's what makes VIPER occupy a unique position - it emulates THAT.

So I was waiting to review VIPER because as a 32-bit plugin it was still common to overwhelm my CPU with it when using a lot of voices and so on.

The 64-bit version comes through - and noticeably overcomes that issue.

Also, this version has a whole new bank of presets.

Thank you ADAM.

One senses this has been a labour of love. Not unlike what the guys at U-he or Reveal Sound would do if they dug back in from scratch with what they'd learned as machines and their processors have become more capable.

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