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SynthMaster One

Reviewed By rlared [all]
January 6th, 2019
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows

This one-pager is great for pulling up and quickly getting a sound you want. The sound quality is really good. It has a lot of interesting wavetables and waveshapes included, and the filters are great. Maybe it's just how the presets are designed, but I think it sounds better than it's bigger brother Synthmaster 2. One stand-out feature is that each of the two oscillators has a sub-oscillator which can also serve as a modulator for the oscillator. So this makes FM/AM easy and possible.

The interface is pretty clear and pleasant looking. The overall design makes sense and it clear and logical.

Modulation is easier to work with than Synthmaster 2. There are some visual cues which are helpful, and the modulation matrix is pretty easy to deal with.

If you own Synthmaster 2 (which I do) you get Synthmaster One super cheap and it's definitely worth it. I reach for Synthmaster One a lot of times when I just want to pull up an arpeggiated sound or a bass sound quickly and with no fuss.

I think it shares the same effects with Synthmaster 2 which in my opinion are a weak spot. Also I find the envelopes difficult to work with. They don't necessarily do what I expect them to do. Could be user error or could be a bug. Also I find that when I start changing things, I end up frequently clipping on the output (goes into the red) and I have to move the volume down to the lowest level. Again, could be user-error but I don't have that problem as much on other synths.

It's very light on the CPU and RAM so you can probably run as many instances as you want without issue if you have a modern computer.

I like that the developer is actively involved with the community and genuinely seems to want to make his customers happy. KV331 has been releasing updates and fixing bugs so I believe the synth will grow over time and some of the possible issues will be ironed out. I can see this growing into a 5-star synth in the future with a few updates.

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SynthMaster 2

Reviewed By rlared [all]
January 6th, 2019
Version reviewed: 2.9.8 on Windows

This synth can do pretty much every type of synthesis at this point. You also get tons of presets, which is nice. And there's lots of filter options and they sound good.

The sound quality sounds a little less "high-fi" compared to some of the newer synths like Avenger, Falcon, etc.

The built-in effects don't sound very good in my opinion..

The developer is pretty engaged and active on KVR which is always a bonus.

The main drawback is the interface. For me, it is very clunky to use. There are a ton of tabs and different screens to jump between. Modulation is painful to work with. Also, in general I find the envelopes in Synthmaster (and Synthmaster One) to be difficult to use.

However, for the money, you can't get much more "bang for your buck" than Synthmaster 2... it's a true bargain. Especially if you want to browse through presets. Other newer synths may have better interfaces or features, but there's a big jump in price for the synth and presets usually.

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VPS Avenger

Reviewed By rlared [all]
January 6th, 2019
Version reviewed: 1.4.2 on Windows

I am in love with this synth. I demo'd it for a while and finally purchased it yesterday. It is hands-down the best synth I've owned. This is the first synth where I've actually smiled and said "God I f*cking love this synth" on multiple occasions while using it.

The sound is incredible and the feature set is amazing. The routing capabilities are super flexible. The effects sound awesome. The arpeggiator is world-class.

The interface is amazingly good, which makes it a pleasure to work with the synth. I love how the routing works. I love that "mute" and "solo" buttons appear over each layer when you mouse over them. I love that right clicking each module in the routing draws a red box over the section it applies to. I love how the modules have the colors of the applicable layer above them to make it easy to see what's going on. I love that the envelopes pop up when you're adjusting a parameter, and that they clearly show a dot that moves over the envelope in time. I love how it shows the chord you're playing up at the top. There are so many thoughtful additions and "quality of life" features that the developers put into the synth to make it easy to use and intuitive.

The developer is on KVR all the time and actively engaged with the community. There's tons of videos showing the features.

I was a little concerned that it might be too resource-hungry for my PC but I loaded up 10 instances of it with different arpeggiated presets, each playing 4-note chords, and all of those being sent to one separate convolution reverb plugin, and my system was able to run it without problems (I have an Intel I7, 4 core 3.2 GHz, 8 gigs ram) although the RAM was almost maxed out at that point. I consider that a "stress test" since I doubt I'll have 10 instances ever loaded in a song with that many notes playing at once. So if you have lesser specs you might want to test the demo out before buying to make sure it will run well.

Other than that, I finally found the perfect synth for me after years of trying different ones and I highly recommend it.

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