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Product Reviews by KVR Members

All reviews by Peel

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Sun Ra

Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows

One of the more interesting synths out there, SE or not. You might love it, or you might not see the point. It's a tough synth to get your head around, but I'll try here.
This synth practically creates a song just by being turned on! You might even feel guilty using it.
UI: Very attractive. most of the functions have esoteric, sunra-ish names, which you might think is cool or might find annoying -- but these are unusual functions that don't have standard names anyway.
Sound: Quite nice.
Features: Well, I give it high marks here because it definitely offers features you won't find in other synths. Being able to load your own waveforms is very important.
Documentation: The docs give a basic overview of what the synth is doing and a couple of pointers on using it. But this synth is basically geared towards experimentation, and I'm not sure that detailed docs would really explain the synth -- you have to try it out yourself.
Presets: Not a whole lot, but they give a good representative sampling of the synth's sound
Support: Never used it myself, but the developer is often in the kvr forums.
VFM: 10 of course.
Stability: I've had crashes when loading new waveforms, but not since a couple of versions ago.
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Modular V3

Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows

I don't think that there should be any question that this is the best Moog emulation available.
UI: Looks great. Very large, which doesn't bother me too much, but the most annoying thing is the way the controls work. You can't see what value a control is set to without clicking on the control. You can't click on a control without changing its value (ie the knob jumps to where you clicked). What were they thinking?
Sound: Excellent.
Features: Quite extensive, sensibly offers some useful non-Moog features like polyphony. The only thing missing is an option to turn off the analogue-style oscillator instability -- it's good that they have it, and it's a subtle effect, but sometimes for basslines I want digital-style perfection
Documentation: A great manual with full documentation of the synth, info about analogue/subtractive synthesis and historical info about Moogs.
Presets: Pretty ho-hum, and the way they're organized isn't too useful.
VFM: The price seems about right; obviously if you're not a Moog fan there might be better places to spend your money, but if you want a Moog emulation it's money well spent.
Stability: No problems.
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Onkot Electronic Percussion Synth

Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

An interesting synth that can be used as a basic beat box, with the additional capability to make some non-drum synth sounds.
The clap, closed hihat, open hihat, ride and crash are sampled and you have some basic control over how they sound (the included samples are good, and the docs also tell you how to use your own samples if you want). There are also 4 simple but synths that can make some pretty respectable kicks & snares, as well as other non-drum sounds. These synths each have a sine oscillator, a noise generator, two LFOs (one is tempo-synced) and a random S&H oscillator, a couple of envelope controls, and some other basic stuff.
While there are other free drum synths that will probably serve as better choices as a go-to vsti, completists or those looking for new sounds might be interested in onkot for the synths, which offer a couple of features not usually found in simple drum synths (the S&H, pan LFOs, pitch attack).
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Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

A very nice instrument -- what could be better than a free mellotron? While it doesn't go so far as M-tron in striving for the perfect emulation, it does offer an identifiable "mellotron" sound.
UI -- nice & small with no unnecessary bells & whistles, nice mellotron-style dials
sound -- pretty much described above
features -- only three sounds (but look at a real mellotron). Control over tone and attack & decay (I don't *think* the mellotron had these) and a "quality" control for that classic crappy tape sound :)
docs -- none
presets -- bare bones
support -- never needed
vfm -- 10 of course
stability -- no problems here
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AmpliTube 4

Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.1.1 on Windows

Out of Warp, Revalver and Amplitube, this is far and away my favourite.
Compared to Warp, it is far more flexible, with more features and a wider variety of sounds. And Warp's sound is not, to my ears, particularly impressive.
Compared to Revalver, it is perhaps slightly less flexible since it has a linear rather than a modular design. To me, Revalver can also match Amplitube on simple clean sounds. But other than that, Ampitube sounds much better to me: it doesn't have that exagerated, gimicky sort of sound that I often hear in Revalver and some hardware modelling units (like the first POD units).
UI: Looks nice, easy to understand, kind of big & 3 pages long, but there's a lot to fit in there.
Sound: Very good. The effects are modeled after typical guitar stompboxes and such. The spring reverb is very nice.
Features: Plenty. Maybe the mic simulator could be a little more flexible. Some people might find the pre-amp pedals or the post-amp effects superfluous.
Docs: Very nice; they explain the routings and talk a bit about the hardware that is being emulated.
Presets: Quite a few and a good range.
Customer support: Never used it, but I'm penalizing them for their challenge-response system (didn't cause me any problems but I don't like it).
VFM: Obviously if you're comparing it to hardware, it's dirt cheap. But I think it's more reasonable to compare it to similar software. Difficult to do since nothing else quite does what it does. Its price is about what I'd expect for a plug of this quality and with these features, but these days there are so many cheap/free plugs that offer *some* of the funtionality of Amplitube (simulanalog guitar suite, green machine are of special note), a lot of people probably will probably feel that the price could be a little lower.
Stability: Some people have reported crashes or problems when using more than one instance, but I've had none. Edit: I've now encountered some stability issues. First, the plug seems to suffer from the P4 denormal problem, which by this point is simply inexcusable. Second, the plug sometimes just "gives up" and begins outputting nothing but intermittent pops, requiring me to unload & reload it.
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Guitar Suite

Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1 on Windows

If you're looking for good basic effects to use with guitar, this is where you should start. Of course, they are also great "character" effects to use with other instruments.
It's hard not to be skeptical of the rather silly promo blurb, and I wouldn't necessarily swear that they're perfect emulations of the specific products listed, but they really do do a good job of capturing the sounds of the 8 pedals & 2 amps.

Anyway, free.
Interface: There is none, but you really don't need one.
Sound: Very good.
Features: Same as the hardware. It's too bad they're mono only, but of course, so is the hardware.
Docs: essentially nothing more than you see listed in the "more information" above
Presets: none, but again, not really needed and it's not like the hardware has them.
Customer support: no idea.
VFM: 10, of course
Stability: no probs with me.
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Elottronix XL

Reviewed By Peel [all]
July 27th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows

Inspired by the tape-based delay system used by Fripp & Brian Eno used to create massive soundscapes on albums like "no pussyfooting." But that's not really important; what's important is that this is a fantastic effect which really fills a niche. It is a dual delay unit with a maximum total delay time of 80 (yes, eighty) seconds. You can use it as a "traditional" delay, or as a sort of sampler/playback unit, recording a loop and then playing over the loop. As a delay it has more features than many commercial effects: optional filters for the delay lines, tube-style saturation, autopanning, tape hiss, and a peculiar pitch modulation effect. And of course the maximum delay time goes well beyond the capabilities of any other vst delay that I'm aware of.
Anyway, it seems pointless to go into much more detail about a plugin that's free to use (just download it & try it out!), so I'll just add that the developer is very helpful and responsive to user queries. Also I should explain my rating for stability, because it might be slightly unfair -- I gave it a slight penalty because it can use up *huge* amounts of memory/disk space to store the delay line -- this isn't a fault of the effect, as it's an unavoidable consequence of using long delay lines -- but it's something you should be aware of. As long as you don't run out of disk space, it is as stable as any other plug I've tried.
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Reviewed By Peel [all]
May 11th, 2003
Version reviewed: 0.142 on Windows

I really love ersDrums. At least 90% of my synthesized percussion is made by either ersDrums or Drumatic, and I own Waldorf Attack and a couple of other commercial percussion synths. I can never decide which of these two I like more, but they're very different and really there's no reason to have only one of them!
The basic capabilities and layout are shown in the synth description above. Although each drum sounds different, most of the controls are the same from drum to drum, making it a very straightforward synth. It is nevertheless possible to get hat-like sounds out of the "snare," or kick-like sounds out of the "blip!"
Keying mode is very useful and I wish more drum machines had it.
The sounds are just great! You can get brittle, synthetic sounds if you want, but you can also get classic analogue-type sounds. The kicks can go really deep, the hats are nice and crisp without being fizzy, and the clap sounds pure vintage.
Now as I'm writing this, I see on the ersdrum homepage that the synth has been updated to version 1.0! Going to check it out...
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Reviewed By Peel [all]
May 11th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows

A very cool synth and I'm glad someone took the time to make it.
Well, it's a theremin. You can either play it with your midi keyboard, or drag your mouse around the control pad. Controls are useful and really add to the authenticity of the sound: for pitch and amplitude you can choose how quickly the instrument can follow your controls (ie portameno time), the amount of overshoot (which with large values can be used to create vibrato), and for amplitude you can choose a decay time (if you want one).
Is anything missing? Not really, but it would be nice to have some choice over the tone of the instrument -- while traditional theremins all produced more-or-less sineish output, there was still a fair bit of variation in their tones (some theremins, like the paia ones, can even produce square waves). Sometimes I use the BJ Wavechanger plugin effect to transform the output into a different waveform.
It would also be nice to have a choice for a larger control surface to allow for some degree of precision when playing the thing. But then again, real theremins are much harder to play than they look.
Can't complain much about something that's free, though, especially when it's so much fun to make noise with!
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Reviewed By Peel [all]
May 10th, 2003
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows

The thought of a specialized synth for hammered percussion sounded great to me.
After downloading, I was initially a bit disappointed in the sound. Most of the noises that can be made sound like simple FM synth patches. You also can't get as much "clang" (percussive sound) as I would like, and the maximum decay time you can get is shorter than I think it should be, too.
After working with it for a while, I began to find sounds that I liked. You can make passable approximations of short, sharp sounds that naturally have a hollow sort of character (eg: marimba, xylophone). But to be happy I had to make myself stop thinking of "hammered percussion" and treat it as the electronic thing that it is. It's a nice counterpart to more typical drum synths and sounds good mixed in with electro-type drum sounds.
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