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SplineEQ [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 12th November 2012
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by Feng on 12th November 2012.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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Brief description

Making eq curves with Spline EQ is really simple and fast. You have a large x-y plot with frequency on x axis and gain on y axis. On the background there is a quite unorthodox spectrum analyzer. it doesn't show Fourier transform of incoming sound nor shows spectrogram, but it uses a different approach. It shows you frequency bands as vertical bars (using the x axis reference). This bars become brighter as more energy is detected in their frequency range, they become darker and disappear when low energy or no energy is detected in their frequency range. You can watch simultaneously the unaltered spectrum (below the eq curve) and the spectrum altered by the eq (above the eq curve).

The overall graphic effect is very pleasing. To draw your curve you simply enter a number of frequency centers (yellow spots, created double clicking on the desired frequency position) and drag them to set the gain at that frequency. On the sides of the yellow spots a blue and a red one are there to define the slope of the curve.

You can also control frequency, gain, slope by three knobs on the right.

As all linear phase eq, Spline EQ introduces some latency, that's clearly reported on the GUI. A knob called precision lets you set how many filters will be active. At lower resolutions the eq cannot always match the curve you draw, so it lets you see the real eq curve in form of a dashed line. Clearly latency issues grow with higher precision values.

Spline EQ in action

The gain possibilities are amazing. I never saw anything like that. Each point can have a gain varying between - infinity to +60 dB. It is that you can completely mute some frequencies and highly enhance others. I tried Splne Eq on all kind of sonic material: overall mix (where liner phase eq tend to be used the most), but also drums, male voice, female voice, guitar, synths, strings and I have to say that it really does a good job.

Nonetheless I feel that SPLINEEQ strength lies in some more unorthodox use of its enormous power where it can really stand out

1. You can easily use it to extract or mute single instruments out of complete mixes,

due to the very very extended gain. Obviously it works best with instruments that have a quite narrow frequency spectrum. In a complete mix I was able to extract without many problems the kick drum, the bass, the cymbals and some midrange synths.

2. You can apply juicy frequency sweeps

There's a knob called "transpose" that, when moved, shifts all the curve to the left or to the right. Given the fact that almost any parameter can be automated I found myself drawing a "transpose" automation for a synth applying a very complex curve (that I would have never been able to create with the synth's internal filters).

3. You can easily cut away fixed frequency noise

I tried with some hum noise that I could easily cut without altering too much the other frequencies. the same applies for hiss.

4. You can create mind blowing, never heard effects

As I said almost any parameter in Spline EQ can be automated, so I tried to make some "extreme", experimental automation on vocal lines. The result was quite good. I could easily create wobbe effects, telephone like FX, and morph between them.

Obviously, due to latency, these tasks have to be programmed. Real time automation works fine only at lower resolutions.

CPU usage is very very low, expecially when thinking that this EQ is linear phase.

So the keyword in Spline EQ, in my opinion is POWER. While it can do a good job at subtle enhancements or at muddiness removal and at all standard uses, it really shines when used at full power, in more creative and unorthodox ways.

I think this is a very good plugin and, at 19 $, it's a REAL STEAL!

Ohm Studio [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 9th October 2012
Version reviewed: beta on Windows.
Last edited by Feng on 5th November 2012.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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Ohmstudio is a collaborative DAW. This means that, using Ohmstudio, you'll be able to share your projects with musicians allover the world and invite them to contribute to it all "inside the box", download and upload of tracks is a background process that happens while you continue to make music. If you need a guitar track you have not to look for some "strum" plugin, you simply invite a good guitarist and hopefully he'll play his part. After nearly three months of Ohmstudio I know drummers, bass players, guitarists, singers and I can invite them to participate to my tracks. Some great features that make online collaboration easy and effective in Ohmstudio are:

1. All the people collaborating to a project can simultaneously record, edit, apply FX, so you don't have to wait your turn. You may even take your part secret (not audible by others) until you are satisfied with it

2. the changes are automatically uploaded in the background. First a 45 kbit/s version is uploaded and shared with all other users (usually this happens in a few seconds, depending obviously on the duration of the audio file), then a 128 kbit/s, than a loseless one.

3. People participating to a same project don't have to share the same vsts. Let's make an example: I have the XXX vsti and I record a MIDI part for it. If you have XXX in your library you hear it right after I stopped recording. If you don't have XXX I have to freeze it in order for the audio to be uploaded on the servers and downloaded by your computer.

4. All tracks are "cloud" stored, on Amazon servers. So you may access and work at every project in your account from every computer (mac or pc) that has Ohmstudio installed, by entering your login and password and you don't have to be afraid when you have to reinstall OS, all is stored remotely.

5. A same project can be shared by mac and pc users !!!!!

Ohmstudio comes bundled with all Ohmforce FX plus GForce Minimonsta and Oddity, but that's not all. It has also a very musical parametric eq, a good compressor, a basic limiter, a flanger, a vocoder and a nice sounding filter. I want to underline that these plugins make a great value by themselves. (Ohmforce plugins + Minimonsta + Oddity retail for nearly 550 Euro!). Anyway they are in a proprietary VST format, so you won't be able to use them outside Ohmstudio, unless you buy them in standard VST format.

If you need more instruments and FX, Ohmstudio can host VST plugins and instruments. It has a full featured mixer and very very smart and intuitive routing possibilities (sidechain, vocoders are no longer a routing nightmare) based on a modular architecture in which you simply draw virtual cables.

Obviously you have not to expect to find in Ohmstudio all the features you can find in Cubase or Logic or other more mature DAWs, Ohmstudio is really young, so some features are missing and there is still some bug to be solved, that's why I didn't give it full marks. However the development is being really fast. In three months I've seen many many new features added at a rate I have never seen in other daws.

And even if Ohmstudio doesn't meet the power of other more mature DAW, you can build a track from the ground up to the finished version all inside Ohmstudio. What's more, here is

what sets Ohmstudio apart from other DAWS is, in my opinion:

1. THE FUN! Sitting in front of your computer screen all alone to make a track cannot be compared to sharing your track with two or more musicians around the world and chatting while recording, editing, sharing your ideas! Your music will benefit from it. Once I read in a magazine: "So you have composed the song, you have played the bass, the synths, the drums, the keyboards, you have sung ...... so you won't be surprised if you are the only one who will like it". In Ohmstudio ideas are always shared and can really flourish to something good.

2. SUPPORT : Inside Ohmstudio there's a "general chat" where you can almost everytime find some Ohmforce guy online that helps you to solve your problems... or, at least, takes note of your problem. Sometimes this is vital, expecially when a bug is really difficult to describe with words.

3. COHMUNITY After three months of using Ohmstudio I can say that Ohmstudio is like a pub where I go almost each evening to play music with collaborators from all over the world (but now I find it appropriate to call them friends)

4. COLLABORATIVE EVENTS These are pure fun! Each week OhmForce team calls the users for a collaboration event in which you will meet other Ohmstudio users to build a track compliant to some kind of restriction they have announced before (there can be restrictions on the key, on the tempo, on the overall mood......). These are a great way to know other musicians you can invite to your own creations.

4. MUSIC I have never composed so much music! Collaboration enhances creativity! The collaborative character makes you produce more. When I am writing a track, I feel thrilled thinking that I will share it with talented musicians that can give me feedback, ideas and record their contribution having fun with it! I've never composed so much music as I've done with Ohmstudio.

Obviously you have the choice to keep your projects private (only you may open and even see them), share them with trusted collaborators only, or make them public, so that everyone can join.

One suggestion for all: Try it till it's free!

Krishna Synth [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 2nd September 2009
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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The frame oscillator makes Krishna really shine for very complex and evolving patches. It basically takes a wav file, slices it into small pieces that you can use as a very massive wavetable (thousands of waves against the traditional 32/64). Than you may set an envelope or a lfo to vary among frames. If you want you can even draw waveform by hand and morph among them.
There are two other oscillators that have basic waveforms (saw, triangle, square) and the synth structure is like a subtractive one.
Another wonderful feature is the modulation assignment that is made by dragging the modulation source on the modulation target.
Krishna has various envelopes and lfos. A very interesting feature is about lfos. You can move a parameter "by hand", Krishna remembers your movements on a buffer and , if you want, you can create an lfo that reproduces them with just one mouse click.
What I've written is not meant to be a comprehensive description of Krishna, but it is what I feel really exciting in this synth.
Now let's have some analytic decription:
UI: Great, all in a window. Clear, logical.
SOUND: Great, expecially for evolving, complex sounds
FEATURES: Frame osc, lfo and envelope a gogo, infinite modulation possibilities, good effects section and also a valve simulation
DOCUMENTATION: comes with a pdf manual that's well written, could be more complete.
PRESETS: There are thousands of them but their quality is not stunning. However, remember that with this synth you'll want only create your own patches. The frame oscillator let's you import anything from a sample, a drumloop, a noise, a speech....
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Never had a problem, so I don't know.
VALUE FOR MONEY: Very good.
STABILITY: It never crashed on my system nor in Ableton Live, nor in Cubase, even when importing long samples.
What's more Krishna is definitely easy on the CPU
SampleTank [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 19th October 2008
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Windows
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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USER INTERFACE: Clear, logical, very easy to use, though graphically it could be improved. In any case all you have to use is there.

SOUND: The sound is good but definitely not professional in my opinion. It can be a useful scratch pad for your compositions, but I would be really surprised if it was used in a professional production. It can import wav and akai formats and many sample format converters include sampletank I and II, but Sampletank remains a rompler, so if you're looking for a sampler, you better search something else.

FEATURES: This is were Sampletank really shines. It is 16 part multitimbral, each part can be assigned 5 insert effects (and the effects are really good), then there are Send effects and master effects; it has three sampler engines, among wich STRETCH and PSTS are the most interesting.
PSTS means Pitch Shifting Time Stretching and this means that rhythmic loops
can be synchronized to the host tempo.
STRETCH gives you independent control over tempo, pitch and harmonics of a sample, giving realistic result and avoiding the chipmunk effect and giving really good sonic possibilities. So it is capable of transposing pitch without changing tempo of a sample, or do whatever you want.

DOCUMENTATION: it ships with a printed manual that explains really well all the features.

PRESETS: as in sound

CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Good and fast. I've sent them emails that were answered within one or two days. Sometimes after a few hours.

VALUE FOR MONEY: This is not its main strength, if you consider that it costs the same or more than other much better competitors.

STABILITY: Good.

So, in my opinion, Sampletank is a really powerful weapon charged with mediocre samples. If IK Multimedia will raise the quality of the samples it will be unbeatable.
Blue II [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 9th July 2007
Version reviewed: 1.6.3 on Windows.
Last edited by Feng on 9th July 2007.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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Blue is an extremely versatile beast. It is able to produce an enormous sonic palette, and it's comfortable with all kind of sounds. Its main strength, in my opinion, is the extreme flexibility, due to infinite modulation possibilities, very flexible routing, the number of oscillators (six) and the waveforms to choose from (hundreds).
USER INTERFACE: Clear, logical, one can spend a lot of time programming without having eye stress.

SOUND: As I said, Blue can cover any sonic world with professional result.

FEATURES: That's where this synth really stands out. It has six oscillators that can be configured in a lot of ways. They can modulate each other with FM or sync(with various configurations possible), their output can be mixed as a normal analogue synth and any in between configuration is possible.There's also the possibility of waveshaping on any oscillator. Then the real strength is the modulation matrix, where you can almost freely set the modulator and the modulated parameter. There are step sequencers, multi point envelope, many lfos. Two filters are included. You can choose freely the routing. For example you can set two oscillators on filter A and other four on filter b. These filters are really responsive and sound good. An extensive effects section, with really good FX completes the picture. A fully customizable arpeggiator is included.

DOCUMENTATION: Although the synth interface is really clear, its enormous possibilities makes you want to have a look at the documentation which is clear and well written.

PRESETS: THey are from Rob Papen. Wonderful!

CUSTOMER SUPPORT: Incredible, Rob and Jon are making a perfect work. Any request is answered really soon.I had all my questions answered tipically within a few hours from posting them .

VALUE FOR MONEY: For 200 $ you have a powerful, wonderful synth. So again I have to give it the maximum.

STABILITY: Never had problems.

One more thing I want to underline is that BLUE has been considered a CPU hog. Obviously it depends on the complexity of the patch, but I find it in line with most of the modern beasts. WIth my athlon FX 4800 most of the patches take around 10% CPU. So it's not light on CPU, but it's definitely not a CPU HOG! What's more, you can reduce CPU by reducing oversampling!
Predator 2 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 12th May 2007
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows.
Last edited by Feng on 21st May 2007.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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USER INTERFACE: Clear, no need to use the manual. Everything you need is at your fingertips. Only downside is that the black background can lead to eye fatigue after a long time of programming.
SOUND: This synth has an incredible sound. It's convincing in all the categories. From lush pads to aggressive leads, from deep basses to brass sound, it covers all the musical genres with an extremely high quality sound. You can get anything from this beast.
FEATURES: This beast focuses on sound and simplicity, so it has not the incredible features of some of its colleagues. In any case it's a complete subtractive synth. Three oscillators with many waveforms to choose from, each with its suboscillator. Sync, Ring Modulation and FM are implemented. Extremely flexible modulation is possible. Good quality FX are implemented. An extremely useful feature is the possibility of an intelligent morphing function that is able to linearly morph between two patches. Then it has a really good arpeggiator.
DOCUMENTATION: Really good, even if I didn't have to read it to use the synth.
PRESETS: They are made by Rob Papen, need I say more?
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: GREAT! Rob answers to support requests in his KVR forum, and goes there to answer very often.
VALUE FOR MONEY: for 149 euros you get a highest quality synth with an ever growing collection of Rob's presets. You can really take advantage of this synth in any modern style of music.
STABILITY: It never gave me problems, till now. The first version had some glitches problems, but they seem gone, with version 1.2.
CPU USAGE: while not as low as RPCX declare, is reasonably low, and is extremely low if you turn down oversampling and FX, but then also the sound quality goes down!In any case I am able to open many instances of Predator with my Athlon FX 4800.

OTHER COMMENTS:

It's a great synth! It's extremely easy to program, even for a novice. The morphing feature is not an innovation. Other synths had this feature implemented. But what's great about it is the smartness in the way it does morphing. You can take any two patches, and the morphed one is always interesting and good and (what's more important) usable.
String Studio VS-2 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Feng [read all by] on 12th May 2007
Version reviewed: 1.10 on Windows.
Last edited by Feng on 21st May 2007.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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GUI: it's clear and intuitive, and lets you begin to tweak presets without even reading the manual. Two pages: one devoted to the modeling parameters, the other devoted to FX, arpeggiator.
SOUND: Sound is quite good, but not for all the stringed instruments. It is great for plucked instruments, while other, as piano sound not convincing at all. The bowed instruments, while capturing some aspects of the real sounds are never convincing and often unstable, expecially when you move controllers. In any case, the sound produced by this synth is somehow dull. It is: it lacks higher harmonics, so it lacks realism!
FEATURES: These are good, there are: a pick up and amplifier simulator (for electrified instruments), there's a filter, an arpeggiator, and a good FX section.
DOCUMENTATION: the boxed version comes with a 50 pages printed manual. This manual is extremely clear. In my opinion it should have a section of tutorilas on how to program effective patches.
Presets: it comes with lots of presets, and an extremely good thing is that AAS site hosts a page in which customers can share their patches. In any case I think that many presets are way too similar to distinguish one from the other, and many of them are not convincing at all. In my opinion the best presets are obtained in pad and ambient category, it is in the categories where this synth has not to emulate real instruments.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: I never needed support, but I cannot submit the review without giving it a value. So I decided to give 10, but it can be read as a NOT AVAILABLE.
VALUE FOR MONEY: That's the weak point, in my opinion. Quality is almost good, but the price is extremely high for what you get.
STABILITY: Never had a problem with it

SOME MORE COMMENTS: The idea behind this synth is great. Making a musician able to create his own stringed instruments is a dream come true. I was convinced to buy String Studio dreaming of developing some strange, convincing, new string sound. When I tried the demo I didn't like many of the presets, but it happens with most of the synths. When a synths comes packed with hundreds of patches, you can't expect their quality standard is excellent. But what I found while programming it (and I spent a lot with it) and while trying the other customers patches, is that the dullness of the sound is something that cannot be avoided. The liquid character of plucked isntruments (no matter if it's a guitar, an oud, a bouzuki) is not recreated by this vst.
Nonetheless I hope AAS will continue to develop this synth, giving it more sound flexibility, because, I have to say it again, the idea is really GREAT!