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Reviewed By scam_artist [read all by] on August 30th, 2006
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows
User interface 8/10
It may not be the most sophisticated looking synth ever, but it's clearly laid out and very easy to use in practice.

Sound 10/10
If you're looking for a synth for dance or electronic music, this is THE ONE. It's fat, it's huge, it's powerful, and it sounds contemporary. It's not just a trance synth either, it's equally at home for electro, breaks, drum'n'bass, and even outside of electronic genres if you're prepared to tweak.

The sound quality is great (you can even adjust the quality to save CPU, and turn 'high' quality on when bouncing).

Another plus is the Harmonic Content Morphing and the Modifiers. The Modifiers allow you to alter the waveform harmonics, for example by stacking one wave on top of itself but an octave higher for a richer sound. There are many modifiers, and it pays to experiment with them because it can pull your sound in new directions you may not have thought of. And Harmonic Content Morphing - this is my favourite part of the synth - most of the waveforms are actually like wavetables, and you can adjust the speed and way that Firebird plays back these wavetables (we call them Morphtables in the manual). The Morphtables can be played back slow or fast, and it really gives character and movement to your oscillators. It's like have an LFO altering the sound of each oscillator over time, and it can make it sound *really* big and juicy! One of my favourite tricks is to use a slow loopspeed (eg BPM/8) on lead or pad sounds to turn them into fat juice. This combined with the "Fat" knob (kind of like a unison) can create some monster sounds

Feaatures 8/10

The sheer range of sounds available from this simple synth is staggering. It looks very simple, and is very simple to use, but there's just the right amount of features to make it a very powerful synth indeed. Just look at the number of waves available - plenty of different waves for almost every occasion. It may not have a multipage modulation matrix, but it can certainly achieve alot of different sounds. I wouldn't mind another dedicated LFO though, that's why I didn't give Features a 10

Documentation 8/10
I wrote the manual so I can't comment on this one (I wish I could put N/A). I've put down 8/10 though because I know it's not extremely detailed, but I wanted it to be straight to the point as a reference guide.

Presets 9/10
The presets are very dance/electronic orientated, but they're very good (and there are three factory banks which come with it). I'm not normally a preset junkie but I've found alot of the presets useable with little, if any, tweaking.

Customer Support 8/10
Markus seems to have good customer support, attending to all enquiries/bug reports eventually. It's pretty good support for a one man show, as he doesn't have a dedicated support person (he does it himself)

Value for Money 10/10
I didn't pay for this synth - I was given a not for resale licence from Tone2 because I wrote the user manual.

Quite clearly 10/10 for value for money though - I would gladly pay twice the asking price for Firebird. It's really really affordable, and you get alot of power for your money.

Stability 8/10
It did crash a few times when I first got it, when I was trying to insert it into a complex project I had going, but it hasn't happened for a long while. I think it might be something to do with my host/computer, because now that I've started projects from scratch there have been no crashes. I'm not sure if Firebird can be blamed, even though Windows said it was Firebird that was crashing... very strange. I haven't heard any else have this problem though
Reviewed By scam_artist [read all by] on July 24th, 2005
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Windows.
Last edited by scam_artist on 24th July 2005.
I've been so inspired by Lucifer recently that I had to review it, and I'm really surprised I'm the first. It seems Lucifer has slipped under the radar and is known well by only a few, though a lucky few they are

Most people who check out Lucifer must be put off by the fact that they are not sure what it does, I think... so let me explain

Lucifer is a REAL TIME audio mangling effect, which has low CPU overhead and is best controlled with a midi keyboard to get maximum control. Lucifer reads the audio on the channel it is inserted on into a "buffer", and then you can work magic with the audio in the buffer. Let's say Lucifer has captured 1 beat of audio in the buffer, then it can:
- repeat that one beat of audio for however long you like
- change the LENGTH of the repeating audio in the buffer, so 1 beat can become 1/2 beat, and 1/4 beat (right up to 1/1024 for extreme buffer glitchy effects!)
- reverse the audio in the buffer, or make is sound like scratching
- gate/stutter the incoming audio
- create fake time stretching effects
- create feedback on the buffer so it sounds like it's building in intensity
- turn on the Hyper knob to make Lucifer really bug out!
- give the audio some bounce and groove

What's more, you can draw graphs which affect pan/vol/scratch/distort/cut/res over a user-set certain period of time, eg 2 bars. And there's an INCARN mode which allows you to rearrange your audio (also with graphs)

And, Lucifer also has a pitch shifting mode controlled by the midi keyboard for further sonic madness

In short, Lucifer is the ultimate real time midi-controlled audio mangler (where mangling is anything from stutter effects, reversing, bouncing, feedback, filter effects, pan effects, groove effects, etc). It's definitely like nothing else out there!

User interface: 7/10
At first glance (and 2nd and 3rd), Lucifer does look confusing, so that's why I gave it 7/10. The deeper you get, the more it begins to make sense, but I feel a score of 7/10 for UI is appropriate as many people may be turned off by their first impressions of Lucifer. Stick with it, because it's not hard to use once you understand

Sound: 10/10
As I said before, Lucifer is the ultimate real time midi controller audio mangler. It sounds awesome, and can take all the hard work of creating a whole range of effects which not so long ago would have had to be done in your host program by hand... ouch!

It also has Smooth, Attack and Release controls so you can tweak the rough edges off your output if you need to, but generally the output of Lucifer is quite smooth, and I rarely hear any clicks - which is amazing considering the processing which is occuring! Any rare clicks can be removed with smooth, attack, release etc. I generally leave Smooth set to maximum (it's set to that by default anyway) so I rarely hear anything coming out of Lucifer that sounds like an offensive click

Features: 10/10
It's definitely not a one-trick pony, and it has more features than you would expect. There's alot of power under the hood, as they say...

With it, you can create beat-repeating build ups, reverse your audio on the fly, imitate old time stretching effects in real time, and generally mangle your audio in real time in pretty much whatever way you want! A DJ or live performer's wet dream.. but I see plenty of potential in the studio as well

Documentation: 9/10
Well written and comprehensive (60 pages). I definitely recommend you read the manual while playing with Lucifer or you could get frustrated and write Lucifer off as a waste of time. Read the manual and you'll be able to get maximum return out of this cool and powerful effect

Presets: N/A
There aren't presets as such, but click on A B C D buttons

Customer Support: 10/10
There have already been updates since it was released late last year, and the support here on KVR in the Devine Machine forum is superb. Steve (aka bitcrusher) is a nice guy! He's never condescending if you ask simple newbie questions ;)

Value for money: 10/10
I bought it cheap off someone here on KVR, but the normal price is only $66.66 anyway, a bargain of evil genius! Yes, Lucifer is great value for money, especially considering there is nothing out there that I know of that does what Lucifer does (and, with such low CPU overhead, and such great results with minimal effort)

Stability: 9/10
CPU use is very low, and Lucifer hasn't crashed on me yet.

Lucifer is a low cost, CPU efficient, powerful real time midi controller audio mangler, which every DJ or live electronic perfomer should own. But, use it in the studio as well and you've opened up a whole world of inspiration. A modern day classic ;) A must have for electronic music, but don't let that stop you trying it with other music genres.
Reviewed By scam_artist [read all by] on August 11th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.32 on Windows
This product was released in 2002 which explains the lack of reviews

UI: 10/10
The classic skin is clean and friendly, and is the one I prefer. There is also a "funky" skin available which looks very H.R.Geiger and nasty indeed (but for general every day work I recommend using the classic skin).

Sound: 10/10
The sound quality of the distortion algorithms sounds excellent to my ears, nothing to complain about there. No matter how much you push it to the limits it seems to stay "intelligble" if that makes sense. It also has an "oversampling"/high quality mode which can clean up the sound a little if that's what you want. It does distortion brilliantly and effortlessly, and it just sounds wicked! With a little tweaking you can also cover a range of treatments from subtle and warm to extreme and nasty. Great for drums, synth basses and leads, whatever you want to beef up (or destroy!)

Features: 9/10
For what is really just a distortion/overdrive unit, it can really be tweaked to get all manner of distorted and warms sounds, from subtle to psychotic. The feedback parameter allows sounds to be given very tasty feedback like certain amps, and the fact that it is multi band distortion (up to four bands) means you can tailor the distortion to sound however you want. It's got heaps of distorion types as well which all colour the sound in different ways. There's also the interesting feature of being able to set a time length which controls how long it takes to morph between presets. Haven't used this in the context of a mix yet, but it allows for some interesting results. Did I mention it's easy to use? Because it really is

Documentation: 10/10
To be honest, I haven't looked at the manual at all. Haven't needed to. Just so easy to use. So for that reason docs get a 10

Presets: 7/10
The presets that ship with it are decent enough, covering a range of styles and treatments, but it's not until you start tweaking predatohm on your own material that is starts to shine.

Customer support: 9/10
Haven't needed it for this plug, but I know from experience the support is good and some of the OhmForce designers/developers lurk round these parts (KVR) so help is always at hand

Value for money: 10/10
79 euros is a very decent price for a very high quality distortion plugin. There are alternatives which may have more features, but they cost more, and I won't name them here because of the review policy. For 79 euros, this is outstanding value, especially for those producing music that needs nasty or warm elements to it

Stability: 9/10
No probs here. Quite fair on the CPU as well

A top shelf distortion plugin which has a great amount of tweakability, to get your distortion treatments sounding perfect. I'll be reaching for this one alot, that's for sure
Reviewed By scam_artist [read all by] on July 10th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows
UI: 9/10
It looks really old skool analog, and is clean and easy to use. The most used parameters are on the front panel, making adjustments quick and easy. I gave UI a 9/10 because sometimes the "analog number counters" aren't as clear as they could be.

Sound: 10/10
Without a doubt this is where VintageWarmer shines. It sounds fantastic! I use it as a track insert all the time on drums, synths, vocals, whatever... it really does give that professional sheen to your sounds! Soft synths sounding a little weak and "virtual"? Run it through this mutha, and laugh with glee. It's also great for guitars etc with the multi band compressor presets (so you can compress bass and midrange separately). Also fantastic as a mastering tool to make tracks loud, big and professional

Features: 10/10
It's a compressor/limiter with vintage warming character (as it says on the tin). The amounnt of control available om the front panel (and hidden back panel) allows VW to be set up just how you like

Documentation: 8/10
The manual is fairly clear and well laid out, though it wasn't until I actually sat down and used VW for myself that I found things crystal clear

Presets: 10/10
The presets cover a great range, covering everything from Kicks and Snares, to bass, mastering, multi band compression, "mix fixes", etc etc. Open up a preset, tweak it for your needs, easy

Customer support: 9/10
They offer email support, a helpful FAQ, and they have their own support forum. But to be honest, I've never had to ask for support. So I gave it a 9, because I wouldn't know exactly how good the email support is, but they do have plenty of support features at hand

Value for money: 10/10
For what is does (make your recordings/tracks sound utterly professional) the price is incredible. Everyone should own VintageWarmer. The effect it can have on your productions is priceless. The amount of times I've had weak/amateur sounding drums and synths, and I've put it through VW and it sounds very pro, is countless

Stability: 10/10
Never crashed on me yet, isn't a CPU hog as far as I've noticed (in fact, it seems to be very efficient for what it does)

Basically, anyone producing any type of music will benefit from VW :)
Reviewed By scam_artist [read all by] on June 14th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.25 on Windows.
Last edited by scam_artist on 14th June 2004.
User Interface: 9/10
As energyXT is completely skinnable (and there are a number of skins already available at http://www.xt-hq.com/resources/index.php?view=skin , I gave it this score. You can make it look however you want. The layout is quite sensible and user friendly, and is always being improved

NOTE: The screen shot above doesn't represent the current version of eXT - that's a much older version! Go to www.xt-hq.com to see what it currently looks like with default skin

Sound: 10/10
Although not entirely applicable to a Host, I gave it a 10 because of the capabilities it can give your VST instruments because of built in Arp, Chord, Midi Patcher etc. Add to this automation tracks (as of beta version 1.26), and you have real amazing control over your sound

Features: 10/10 (would be 20/10 if possible)
energyXT can be almost everything to anyone
- sound designers can use it to quickly create new sounds with the Patch Generator. Can can breed/combine/randomize existing patches to create new ones
- live artists can use energyXT to set up midi key triggered arps and chords, to set up keyboard key splits and other stuff, envelopes and midi parts. Some very powerful features in there! eXT will soon become even more live orientated, check out the eXT forum
- you can set up energyXT to do crazy stuff like.. when you press one midi keyboard key, it can play lots of ARPs on lots of different instruments (if that's what you want it to). Get rid of your band members, you can do it all yourself ;)
- and of course you can sequence in it. The sequencer is a recent addition but is always improving. At the 1.25 release you can have audio and midi tracks, but again automation tracks are in the next release (already in the beta)

Documentation: 6/10 for developer's docs, 9/10 including NicFit's documentation
The developer's own documentation is rather light on at the moment, but if you include the docs at http:/www.xt-geek.com by NicFit there is alot more well written help :)

Presets: N/A

Customer support: 10/10
Amazing :) Jorgen is always adding features that the users want, and is always answering questions in the energyXT forum and by email. Fantastic support. If he's not around there's always someone else to give some help

Value for money: 10/10
39 EUROs. For what it can do, this is absolutely incredible value for money. And considering the amount of features always being added, it's awe inspiring. Soon eXT will well and truly rival the big guns as features are added. Why pay a grand for software when you can pay 39 euros?!

Stability: 10/10
The released versions are very stable, having been beta tested by energyXT users.

Conclusion: Get it now!!!
Reviewed By scam_artist [read all by] on March 10th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows.
Last edited by scam_artist on 17th May 2004.
User interface: 9/10, coz it looks like the original Oscar which it's supposed to do. After using it for 3 weeks, I've found it supringly easy to use, as the controls are grouped well in my mind, and the "sections" are labelled.

Sound: 10/10. This is without a doubt the best sounding VST instrument I've ever heard. The filters are sweet and can be overdriven, I'm amazed at the sound quality. Beautiful! The kinds of sounds impoSCar can make are just my cup of tea (hey, if the original Oscar is good enough for Underworld and Basement Jaxx ;). And I find it easy to fit in the mix.

Features: 9/10. Not a one-trick-pony, but not a bread and butter synth for all types of sound. For what kinds of sounds it does, it has a suprisingly large palette if you are prepared to tweak a little.

Documentation: 10/10. Printed manual is very nice looking and laid out. The manual was very helpful for me to find out features I hadn't worked out by just playing with the demo.

Presets: 10/10. The initial demo bank, although small, gives a very good idea of what Imposcar is cable of. The presets that come with the boxed version are very good too!

Customer support: 10/10. I emailed Gmedia asking about something and they responded quickly. And I've seen the programmer answering questions round here too, though he said he prefers if people log through support on the Gmedia site so they can get back to ya ASAP

Value for Money: 10/10. For what you get, Imposcar is amazingly cheap. And an original Oscar would go for alot lot more. It just sounds so good. I would have paid more for this instrument if I had to, but thank god Gmedia made it affordable :)

Stability: 9/10. No crashes yet on my P4 1.8 Ghz. When switching patches sometimes you get artefacts from other patches staying with the sound for a bit. I suspect Gmedia will fix this in next update.

Finally, before you take into account the review above by Totor read page 2 of this thread...