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Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 28th July 2019
Version reviewed: 2 on Windows
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Tons of different kinds of sequencers, super easy to use. Clearly the designers spent some time trying to create music with them, as operation is really intuitive, at least for more conventional kinds of sequencers. I'm glad I got it.

Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Windows.
Last edited by dburgan on 8th February 2004.
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This is another VST-DX adapter, similar to the one that Cakewalk has bundled with SONAR. I'm an owner of SONAR 3, so I already have a VST-DX adapter, essentially free. Why, then, would I shell out my hard earned dough for a competing product?

Well, see my review of Cakewalk's adapter to get the answer. Put simply, Directixer makes it possible for me to manage my huge collection of VST and VSTi plugins, whereas Cakewalk's does not.

Directixer has some very cool features, and is a good looking, highly usable application. It seems totally stable and is able to encapsulate just about any VST I've ever thrown at it. It also has the singular ability to be able to capture the MIDI output of a VSTi plugin and route it back into SONAR. Try that with Cakewalk's adapter!

It does have a few limitations, which I hope will be addressed soon:

- No ability to randomize VST parameters (a feature I sorely miss)

- Relies on the VST plugin id to uniquely identify a plugin. Unfortunately, some VST developers don't properly set their VST plugin id, and so duplicate plugin ids are not all that uncommon. Other adapters allow you to load and use those plugins, but Directixer balks. In fairness, the bug lies with the VST developers who didn't set the plugin id, but it sure would be nice if Directixer would insulate me from it.

All in all, this is a great product at a great price. Cakewalk's adapter is still lagging behind this one. Worth a look.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1.4 on Windows
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Reaktor is one of those products that just keeps getting better and better. When it first came out, it was ground breaking. Certainly there are other modular synths that have outdone Reaktor in one regard or another (SynC Modular and SynthEdit come to mind), but none encapsulate so much in one place.

I bought Reaktor Session instead of the full Reaktor simply because the full Reaktor is hideously overpriced. I love to program modular synths (I'm a Sync Modular fanatic), but I couldn't justify almost five bills for a piece of music software. At $150-$200, Reaktor Session is a much more reasonably priced alternative.

Although I can't create new instruments, the good news is that there are enough publicly available instruments that I may never need to! Further, while new instruments are not possible, combining existing instruments in new ways most certainly is. So a limited form of ensemble authoring is possible.

All that said, the UI is not particularly appealing, and is quite unintuitive in several areas.

What makes Reaktor Session a must-have is the user library. It is mind-boggling. There are so many ensembles, with so much innovation, that it's really hard to even put it into words. If you are an electronic musician of any stripe - be it ambient, prog elec, symphonic elec, techno, club, etc. - Reaktor is a must-have, for the simple reason that the library is so massive and powerful.

For what it's worth, I found the copy protection to be well implemented and not particularly intrusive. It did prompt me to re-insert my CD once, which was annoying, but overall I pretty much forget that it is copy protected. NI even allows for a duplicate license so I can take Reaktor with me on my laptop for business trips - perfect!

I *would* however like to make a backup copy of my CD, in case one of the kids decides to use it as a frisbee. Unfortunately, I can't. I wonder how much NI would charge if I needed a replacement?

In any event, Reaktor sounds *good*. Reaktor's not the fattest or the most authentic sounding soft synth, but it is still very good sounding. Combined with the massive user library, this is the synth to beat.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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One word: WOW.

This synth is supposed to be 303-like, but I find it to have nothing to do with that infamous silver box. Instead, this is an aggressive, uber-powerful monosynth made for but one purpose:

Nasty Aggressive Bass

Well, okay, it also makes nasty aggressive leads too. In fact, it reminds a lot of the Waldorf Pulse in that regard. It has one of the thickest, fattest sounds in a soft synth that I've ever heard. Power.

Is it a one-trick pony? You bet. You can't even control the envelope of the thing. But at that one trick, this synth is better than any other.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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OK, everybody knows this is a 303-knockoff. Yes, it's a one trick pony. Yes, it has only limited programmability. Yes, the 303 sound has been abused ad nauseum.

This little gem, however, just plain sounds GOOD. I have to say there are very few synths out there that can make as tight a bass sound as this masterpiece by Muon. The fact that Muon gave the synth away just floors me. Put simply, it just sounds fantastic. Forget the squelchy acid sound the 303 is so (in)famous for; instead, use this beauty to make sub basses, punchy smooth basses, even the occasional harsh bass. I love it.

I own Tau Pro, and I still keep Tau in my arsenel. Why? It's just the most well-focused little soft synth I've ever seen. A classic.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1.12 on Windows.
Last edited by dburgan on 8th February 2004.
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I'm not going to repeat what I'm reading in some of the other reviews, since that would be redundant. Instead, I'll just offer my short-list of likes and dislikes:

Likes

- Nice UI
- Very intuitive design
- Lots of presets available
- Relatively flexible synth engine
- XY pad is cool and unique
- Dual multimode filters

Dislikes

- Sound is decent, but nothing to write home about
- Oscillator waveforms are hardcoded - WTF?
- Knobs are too small

I'd like to say I reach for Electron first every time I need a VA sound, but unfortunately I don't. There are just too many other VA synths with similar capabilities and superior sound. Electron's a nice enough product, and I love Muon as a company, but it's not the strongest product in Muon's line.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows
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Nasty. That's the only word I can think of to describe this SynthEdit creation. Wait, here's another: weird. And another: wicked.

This is one of those FM synths that somehow manages to sound like an industrial plant gone haywire. For hard-edged techno, industrial, IDM, etc., this would be a must-have synth. Fortunately, the price is right (it's free)!

If you're looking for lush, cool DX7-style crystal or bell sounds, lush EP, or punchy FM bass, keep looking. This synth's forte is aggressive, wild sounds that you won't find anywhere else.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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One of the things I like about SynthEdit is that so many people are now able to create synthesizers, a fact that inherently encourages novelty and innovation. Sure, many SynthEdit synths sound alike and are monotonously similar in UI, but there are also a good number of SynthEdit synths that sound *great* and/or offer synthesis capabilities you'll not find anywhere else.

RGB by Krakli is one of those synths.

I have a lot of SynthEdit synths installed, and so it was quite by accident that I decided to try RBG for a lead line in an ambient piece I was working on. I tried several of the presets, which were all nice but not quite what I was looking for - but then stumbled across one preset that was almost perfect. With a little tweaking, I had an amazingly lush and evocative synth sound, totally different from anything I could get on a more analog-style synth. With more tweaking, I found that RGB was really a flexible, distinctive synth.

Some of Krakli's other products are just as weird as RGB (some weirder) and definitely show a ton of innovation. In the case of RGB, I think Krakli hit the nail on the head - producing a synth that is not only innovative, but great-sounding and incredibly useful. Props to the developer.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows.
Last edited by dburgan on 8th February 2004.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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What to say about this classic soft synth? It's unusual. It has a very distinctive way of programming, with a simulated bass guitar and the ability to adjust such things as pick placement, bridge tightness, pickup location, and volume/brightness. One might think that this is a physical modeling synth, but honestly I don't know. The sound is nice, but doesn't sound particularly authentic to my ears.

What this synth is NOT is a fat bass engine. The sounds that come out of VB-1 are undeniably thin. If you want an earth-shattering sub bass or a bass with warm analog punch, keep looking. This synth is totally digital and totally thin.

But is it without merit? Not at all. I find VB-1 to be usable as a 'unusual' synth. You see, I'm a sucker for oddball synthesizers, and VB-1 is definitely an odd ball. I love the fact that I program it using a totally different metaphor than yet-another-virtual-analog. The synth engine, while not very authentic, is unusual enough that, with a little fx processing, one can make some pretty evocative sounds. Usable in a broad set of situations? Nope. But usable in the occasional niche situation? Yes, sometimes.

The fact that this was one of the earliest soft synths should cause one to cut VB-1 a little slack - but in my case, I couldn't care less about history. What I want is a synth that sounds good and works well *today*. Fortunately VB-1 is still a usable tool for niche situations, and is priced right.
Reviewed By dburgan [read all by] on 8th February 2004
Version reviewed: 4 on Windows.
Last edited by dburgan on 8th February 2004.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I've been a user of the FXpansion VST-DX adapter for several years. The product, since acquired and marketed by Cakewalk, is really one of those innovative tools that opened up an entire market. For that, I think Angus deserves major kudos.

Is the Cakewalk VST-adapter the best on the market, though? Sorry, but no.

There are many things to like about this product, not the least of which is that it comes free with SONAR. It also is effective at wrappering VST and VSTi plugins, and is remarkably stable. Other thoughtful touches include the ability to randomize the VST parameters, and strong fxb/fxp support.

What the product lacks, however, is effective management of plugins. I don't know about anyone else, but I have hundreds, if not thousands, of VST and VSTi plugins on my computer, and on my laptop. Managing access to these plugins is an absolutely essential feature for me. Unfortunately Cakewalk's VST adapter does not give me the opportunity to rename plugins, nor does it allow me to categorize them by type, manufacturer, or function. If I want to do that, I have to separately run Cakewalk's Plugin Manager - but even then I have to be careful! If I run Cakewalk's VST adapter again, I run the risk of overwriting all my carefully-specified names. Put bluntly, this is a show-stopper problem for me - and is the reason I use Directixer instead.

The Cakewalk VST adapter also lacks the ability to route MIDI *out* of a VST plugin, but honestly I've never felt the need to do that, so I dunno if that's a big deal or not.

Overall, I'm keeping an eye on Cakewalk's VST adapter. If Cakewalk would only adopt a Directixer-style management interface, I would be all over it. Until then, I'll stick with Directixer.
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