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Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 19th November 2006
Version reviewed: 1.60 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 19th November 2006.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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I can't believe this hasn't been reviewed.

First, a history lesson;

In the very late '80s, rumors started flying around about an ubersynth that Korg was working on that was based on the old Prophet VS. In 1990, the first Wavestation hit the streets, and showed that the hype was justified. Combining the VS's vector synthesis with wave sequencing and the most powerful effects in a synth to that date, the Wavestation was an instant success in the studio world, but also started the one finger song synth patches that haunt us to this day.

I used to own a Wavestation A/D so I wondered how it compares to the original...

Soundwise, you can't tell the difference. In the version included in the Digital Edition Legacy collection, you have all the sounds and waves from the Wavestation/SR, PLUS all the cards that Korg made for the WS.
In the latest version, there's some very welcome improvements over both the hardware and earlier software
versions, such as resonant filters (finally!) and the ability to change global polyphony. With the original
Wavestation, you were limited by the 32 voice channels; if you had a big bass sequence going on and hit a new note, your sequence would drop out, because the voices were always allocated dynamically. With the new version,
you can go up to 256 note polyphony (if your system will handle it). I find 64 notes is usually enough to keep me
out of trouble.

The software version imports original Wavestation sysex; I imported some of my old performances and they worked perfectly from the start.

Speaking of CPU usage, it's not bad at all. A reasonably complex patch will use about 10-15% CPU on my 3500+.

From a programming aspect, it's vastly improved from the hardware. While the original Wavestation had a huge (for the time) LCD display, it was still a pain to navigate. The software version is enough like the original so that a former Wavestation owner will feel at home programming it, but won't suffer the eyestrain that the original would induce after a couple hours.

The documentation is good; if only .pdf instead of hard copy. Kudos to Korg for also including the original
Wavestation (and M1) manual.

The copy protection's a Syncrosoft dongle. While I usually don't like dongles, Syncrosoft's aren't that horrible.
After the original install, I transferred my license to my other dongle that has my other Syncrosoft products on
it without any problems.

Loading RAM banks can still be frustrating; as with the original, EVERYTHING in the RAM bank (performances, patches and wave sequences) get overwritten, and it's easy to load up something only to discover that the wave sequence you used isn't there, because it was in a RAM bank you overwrote. I could see where they had to keep it this way though to allow loading original sysex.

To sum it all up; it sounds like the original, it'has some worthwhile improvements and it's a steal at the price.
Plus, with the Digital Edition, you get the M1 (with ALL the M1 and T1 cards) and a cool multi-effects unit. If
you're into ambient/film scores, it's a no brainer. And, if you're into late '80s/early 90's style synth music, it's a must as well.

Try the demo; I think you'll love it
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 1st July 2006
Version reviewed: 3.1 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 1st July 2006.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
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I did a review of TERA 2 for musicFAQ last year. Now that TERA 3's out, I thought I'd chime in here. The newest in the TERA series, TERA 3 brings some welcome improvements to an already fantastic synth.

There's sample oscillators which can either use multisamples or one sample (the resynthesis algorithm is good enough to allow using one sample across the keyboard). Furthermore, you can have two multisamples in the same oscillator and morph between them. And, while you can't use them as FM carriers, you CAN use them as modulators- think SY77/99 here. How cool is that?

There's a simple arpeggiator for each part now. While the sequencer could be used as an arpeggiator, setting it up could be a pain. For more complex arpeggios, the sequencer is still the way to go.

Speaking of the sequencer (or sequencers- there's 16 of them; one per part), they can send MIDI as a plugin now- both note and CC info. Use it with your favorite loopback device or EnergyXT to drive other synths.

There's a terrain filter- a morphable filter with two 16 pole filters in parallel. Great for forcing vocal formants on a sound, and kind of a poor man's vocoder.

There's a pair of stereo inserts right before the amplifier. Run your filters in stereo for example, or use the spectrum oscillator in stereo mode...

Yes- you heard right. The spectrum oscillator can now be used as a stereo oscillator, with separate spectrum controls. There's also new synthesis methods with it- along with the additive of past TERAs, you have Walsh, wavelet and operator synthesis.

The multienvelopes can be decoupled from each other (they were always in sync before), and you can save multienvelope presets.

There's an AM module, which is like the ring modulator except that you also have the input signal as well as the sum and difference signals.

You can right click on a knob and assign two modulators to it (you used to only be able to assign modulators through the mod matrix on profiTERA and through the dropdowns on the other synths. Speaking of the mod matrix, you can copy and paste settings between patches now, and there's two new mod sources- key alternate and key random.

The 8D settings are available on all the synths now, and not just profiTERA.

These and other such improvements make TERA even more of a monster than it was already. It was one of the best sounding, most flexible synths out there before, and now it's even better. If I were to have three synths on my desert island, TERA would be one of them (the other two being Reaktor and Absynth).

Try the demo and prepare to be amazed :)
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 25th November 2005
Version reviewed: 1.57 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 25th November 2005.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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Spektral Delay is a rarity. It's a delay that uses FFT to split the input signal into frequency bands (up to 160 adjustable bands, and up to 1024 bands internally for each channel). Each user adjustable band can have its own level, delay time, and delay feedback. You can link the left and right channels or edit them separately.
There's a global LFO for modulating almost any parameter, and there's various transform functions in a modulation section along the side of the GUI.

The nice thing about Spektral Delay is by using different delay times and/or feedback amounts, you get a lot of control over your imaging, and you're able to seat a part in the mix without resorting to track EQs. Because of the different adjustments per band, you're also able to simulate reverbs, comb filters and the like.
With up to 10 seconds of delay time available, you can also touch on a mild form of Frippertronics if you so wish. Of course, you can always set all bands the same and use it as a normal delay.

To adjust the bands, you use a pencil tool to draw in delay times and the like. Once again, the link button can be used for simultaneous editing of left and right channels if desired. Separate input and output sonographs show the results of the signal processing.

The preset handling is quirky to put it mildly- it's the one part of the whole that needs some serious attention. You have a file menu on the right that will show you the content of the bank you have loaded. However, the dropdown preset menu always has the default bank loaded, and usually only part of that.

The early versions of Spektral Delay were VERY buggy on Windows machines. The 1.5 update (released in 2002) improved it to the point where it was usable on a daily basis. The 1.57 update was mostly to fix bugs that the original Komplete version had. But, essentially it hasn't changed in three years.

Spektral Delay's only real competitor is Izotope's Spectron. While Spectron does some things that Spektral Delay won't such as spectral morphing, it comes at a much higher cost in CPU. Spektral Delay runs great with multiple instances on my humble PIII, while one instance of Spectron will bring it to its knees.

Spektral Delay isn't a plug for everybody. To some, it will appear utterly baffling. Others won't find it worth the price- NI raised the price by 50% about a year ago, and at about $300 list, it's not cheap. There also isn't a demo available at this time- there used to be a demo, but it was a very early version, and as such was prone to crashing.

I've been using it for over four years, and I really don't know what I'd do without it. I use it instead of normal delays in everything I do, and I quite often use it instead of reverb. If someone you know has it installed on their machine, ask if you can give it a test spin. There's nothing quite like it.
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 18th May 2004
Version reviewed: 2 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 18th May 2004.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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The disclaimer:I was a beta tester for Doppelmangler.

Doppelmangler's the latest entry in the fast growing field of resynthesis.Based in part on the same engine as White Noise Additive,it's dead easy to use;load one(or two)sample(s)and start experimenting.
The spectrum can be up to 256 partials per source.with the choice of different sized FFT windows and detection options.You can optimize Doppelmangler for time detection(great for mangling beats)or pitch detection(instruments and voices).You can import .bmps as spectra.PLUS you can reexport spectra as /bmps and edit them in your graphics editor.Nice touch:)

The filters are very flexible,with vocal formants as well as traditional high/low pass options.You have a multi-breakpoint way of setting cutoff and resonance,as well as a bias and morph control for morphing between the filters(there's two of them).

There's five envelopes;a time envelope that controls playpack position(the top of the envelope's window is the end of the sample;the bottom's the beginning.Set up stutters to your heart's content;-)),two multi envelopes(the time and multi envelopes can also be LFOs),a volume envelope and a mod envelope.Envelopes can control anything via the mod matrix.

The mangle effects work on whatever spectrum's loaded into the first source(with a couple exceptions).These process the sound at the partial level,and they do a lot of interesting things to the sound.There's also a normal effects section with distortion,chorus,phaser and a delay.

The selectable GUIs are icing on the cake(MarsLander's my choice).

I've been using Doppelmangler in my tracks for a while,and it brings some very unique textures to the table.Try the demo-I think you'll like it!
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 2nd February 2004
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 2nd February 2004.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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The introduction of the Xphraze manual is titled "Your musical life is about to change".Strong words-and they're true.
Most of the goodies have been covered here,so I'll only add my opinions and cover some things I haven't seen mentioned.
I happen to like the soundbank and multisamples myself-the factory combis give you a lot of insight into what's going on,and there's a lot going on with any patch.The Wizoo bonus bank has some nice things-an excellent guitar combi for one.I was able to fool my bass player of 10 years ago with a quick little ditty I did using that-he thought it was my trusty old acoustic:)If you're depressed,load up the CanCan combi and watch your host's VU meters dance along with the sound.
The envelopes are a real treat-up to 128 breakpoints apiece,with adjustable curves between each point.You also have instant normalization of the amp envelope,and you can set up a loop.Nice...
With four lfos,four envelopes and a comprehensive mod matrix for EACH patch in a combi,you have tons of modulation possibilities.The phraze generator is so much easier to use than trying to set up the old Wavestation wave sequences ever was.
The vector synthesis abilities blow the sound design possibilities through the roof.As a former Wavestation owner,I'm overjoyed!
A really handy feature-especially if you're using Xphraze live is the Xmode/Xmix function.Xmode is the simpler one-you choose an octave of your keyboard,and the G,A,B and C keys will change the phraze buffers of the patches you choose to have controlled by it(you have up to four phraze buffers for each phraze).The Xmix takes it a bit further-you set the Xmix receive channel for something higher than 4(1-4 are for Xphraze's patches),and the keys between c1 and c4 will mute/unmute patches and change buffers for each.Very handy in a live situation,or for switching pre-programmed phrazes when you're recording tracks.You can also send program changes from 1-16 on channel 1 to switch buffers if you so wish.
It's a true work of art.If you're a former Wavestation(or wannabee Wavestation owner),you owe it to yourself to try out the demo.
Highly recommended:)
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 22nd January 2004
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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White Noise is a fairly straight forward additive synth with the capability of producing some very cool and unusual timbres.The engine itself consists of two oscillators,each with 128 partials.There's also two formant filters,two envelopes,two LFOs,an xy pad,ring modulation,reverb,a delay unit...you get the picture.
The concept is sort of a tribute to the Kawai K5000.While I've never owned a K5000,I STILL own an original K5,and I haven't turned it on since first loading up WNA.
My favorite feature is the ability to load bitmaps into the oscillators and formant filters to use as spectra.You can also use .wav or .raw files as spectra.For vocoder sounds this instrument's hard to beat-just load a voice sample into the formant filter and use that as the spectra.Slick,slick,slick:)
CPU usage (as with all additive synths) can be on the high side,but the limit control controls how many partials are in the spectrum.You have even/odd editing of partials;something adapted from the K series,and very handy for nailing down a sound.Being able to adjust the initial phase is a godsend as well.
I was on the beta team for this,and from the first beta released,it has NEVER crashed.Fairly amazing in this day and age.David's quick to fix any bugs that show up as well.
For $99,it's hard to beat.Grab the demo and give it a spin-I think you'll like it
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 22nd December 2003
Version reviewed: 1.00? on Windows
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This one's a winner!A revision of Fat Machine,the Mothership is a VA with a couple tricks up its sleeve.Variable pulse and triangle waves give nice animation to the sound(there's also a sawtooth option,as well as a suboscillator).The two pole multimode filter makes for easy shaping of the harmonic spectrum.The envelopes are a real joy-there's three of them(pitch,filter and amp),and each can have their rates as well as their levels modulated by velocity-cool stuff!There's also a random velocity parameter that gives a random velocity modulation to the envelopes-great for humanizing sequences.
There's only one LFO,but you have separate depth controls for freerunning,MW controlled and AT controlled for each destination,so it's still flexible.There's also a chorus and a tempo syncable delay(with separate multimode filter).
A random patch generator allows you to make either single random patches or full 128 patch banks.Great for when the creativity's at a low.
The differences between Fat Machine and Mothership?Fat Machine has a four pole lowpass filter,a mono mode and distortion,while Mothership has the multimode filter,the chorus and the delay.
I've found Fat Machine to be better for leads and basses and Mothership better for pads,but they're both great.Try them both.
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 21st December 2003
Version reviewed: 2.04 on Windows
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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Absynth 2 is a vast leap forward from the original.
With such features as using your own samples(in either granular or "normal" fashion),controller driven envelopes,panning for each channel(finally!)and the ability to save oscillators,filters,effects or whole channels as presets to use in other patches makes the possibilities mindblowing.Oh,and did I mention that the "analog" waveforms(sine,square,etc.)can be antialiasing if you so desire?Nice,nice,nice!
A lot of people are bewildered about controlling Absynth parameters through MIDI.Absynth doesn't use MIDI learn-instead,you draw an envelope for the parameter you want to control and assign a controller to it.A very flexible arrangement once you get used to it.
Another great thing about the envelopes-any(or every,if you wish)can have an virtual LFO assigned to it.What this does is superimposes the "LFO"'s waveshape onto the envelope.You can adjust speed,depth and slope of the "LFO" for every breakpoint in that envelope.Wonderful stuff!
The 2.04 update fixed a mess of bugs,and it's relatively stable on my system.
As was said earlier,it's not as hard to program as it looks.As was also stated,it isn't for everyone.However,if you want sounds that you've only heard in your dreams(or nightmares,for that matter),Absynth's a great place to find them!
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 5th August 2003
Version reviewed: 4.02.002 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 5th August 2003.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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Reaktor is my most used synth.It's been reviewed a number of times already,so I'll point out the new features...there's a few cool new modules and macros that are really handy.The snapshot module makes remote morphing and randomization possible-great fun in a live situation:-).The oscillators have been revamped-they're antialiasing now.The mono and stereo comb filters are fun,and the unit delay makes possible some FFT tricks that you couldn't do before.The multipicture option allows you to go as far as embedding Flash movies in Reaktor like Rico Baade(aka program child)did in his ensemble City Racing.Reaktor works better as a plugin than ever before(multiple outs in DXi as well as VST).
Drawbacks-You'll need a hefty machine to really use it.Still,I get OK performance out of my 933 PIII-it just takes planning ahead while doing tracks.
Stability varies-I haven't had many problems(MUCH less than any 3 version until 3.05),but I've heard a lot of horror stories from Mac users.With Reaktor,it's VERY important to make sure you're running the latest drivers for your sound card and interface-M-Audio drivers seem to cause problems,but their newest drivers are supposed to help.
I've had mostly good luck with NI support over the years.
Yeah,Reaktor is expensive.Yeah,it's hard on your machine-it will crash occasionally.It's very challenging to get into at the beginning,but the rewards are worth it IMHO.And,until you're ready to start building your own,there's over 1300 creations in the online user library to download.
Still the best modular softsynth out there.
Reviewed By ew [read all by] on 12th February 2003
Version reviewed: 2.21 on Windows.
Last edited by ew on 12th February 2003.
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Crystal keeps on getting better and better.I'd be rehashing most of the reviews if I started raving about it,so here's some of the newer features;
Soundfonts can be used as oscillator waveforms.While the 2.1 version only allowed 100,the new version allows up to 1024 soundfonts to be used as waveforms.
Oscillator sync on a couple of the"analog"waves.
Reverb-with no real drain on the CPU,by using one of the delay lines.Yes,you can have multi-tap delay AND reverb natively!
Wave sequencing with the built in sampled waveforms.
Patch morphing.The patches have to be consecutive in the .fxb file,but that's no real restriction.
A patch browser-a really nice feature!Put all your Crystal patch banks in a folder(labeled CrystalPatchBanks),and you have immediate access to ALL your patches.Cool...
An expanded mod matrix with 12 slots instead of the 6 of the original.
Crystal reminds me of an Oberheim Xpander brought to the software realm.Yeah,it can get CPU hungry,but it's got the potential to make sounds you've only ever dreamed of.A sound designer's paradise!
Load Crystal into your host,call up the preset"Aligned Arp",put a panning delay after it and go into La-la land for a couple hours!Well done,Glenn!
There's a fairly active users group at Yahoo where Glenn's always posting tips and tricks;be sure to check it out!
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