Well, I was at a loss for words when I heard the beta tester tunes, and I knew that the Cube would have a "sound of it's own" as it relied on different technology than alot of other VSTi's, so when the first copies were due to hit the US, I preordered and waited with baited breath!
I was not dissapointed in the least - this is really a wet dream for sound designers and tweakers,
First things first, in Mac OS9 (haven't moved to X for full-on production yet) installation was a snap. It's a CD/Serial number scheme which meant I didn't have to hook the DAW to the internet - always a plus in my book :).
Once installed, I began the exploration - the preset banks are incredible! They are broken down into Lead/Pad/Sequence/Keys/FX-Percussion and Basses, with the "CubeFactory" bank covering select presets from all of the categories. There is no shortage of usable presets in the library, and the best part is - altering the presets on your own!
Interface wise, the cube is a real beauty - it's just nice to look at. You can alter the color scheme too - and all of the paramaters (while seeming alien at first) are viewable within a few quick mouse clicks.
The manual is short, but effective, covering the basics to get you up and running with additive synthesis and "Morphing", Overall, I would've liked more in-depth reference to all of the features available, but I know that I will learn more about this through constant use and exploration.
Now for the sound: incredible! I find myself looking for new and interesting ways to create rhytmic/loop based or modulated sounds all the time, and have relied on Absynth to do this significantly. The Cube is now fighting a hard fight - the sound feels more "digital" yet warm, somewhat paradoxical, yet you'll understand once you listen to the sounds it makes. It's clean, it's sharp, yet it has a character of it's own.
Programming the Cube is an adventure - it's not you're fathers emulation! I honestly had no idea what the heck I was doing at first, but getting into the guts and changing parameters, altering envelopes and going through the various menus and trying combinations of different settings got me acquainted very quickly. I was up and saving new sounds in no time.
There are on-board effects as well, which can really help quickly pump up the character of the sound. There's a Chorus unit, Distrotion (Tape, Tube or "soft") as well as a Reverb and Delay section. All very musical and quite usable!
I want to make specific mention of the time-based envelope morph :) This section is very similar to Absynth, in that you can route modulation envelopes to different layers, as well as sync them to specific time signature increments. It's a very quick process, and in a matter of seconds, you have a morphing patch breathing with life and taking over your song!
It also has a built in Arpeggiator, with some great presets, as well as a dedicated EQ section (Low and high filters).
In summary -this is beyond value for money
I have lusted after atmosphere since the first mini write up I read in Computer Music last year - yet I put off buying it.
It is absolutley stunning- the presets alone really define a great canvas of material to work with - and it works well in the mix ( sometimes I can be heavy handed with pads - but they seem to "flow" right into place for me with Atmosphere)
Overall - the tweakability of the patches is exaclty my speed - mix and match two layers, tweak envelopes on each patch, mix and pan each channel, and you can creat some truly astonishing hybrid atmospheres and effects - this is the first VST I've ever started saving patches for within a day of installing-
CPU load is ok on my Mac - watching voice counts is really a great way to keep the overload syndrome from happening- and any other idiosyncracies I have are due to my own not reading through the manual yet.
overall, this is by far the best single sound source I have tried for truly great rich sounds and textures - this paired with Absynth is a killer!
Customer support - haven't had to use it yet, and there are no updates yet - so we'll see.....