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FingerFiddle [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 4th February 2019
Version reviewed: 1.2.0 on iOS
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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FingerFiddle is one of the best music instrument applications I've ever purchased on any platform, especially considering its low cost in comparison to its high quality.

It's the only physically-modeled bowed instrument software that has a natural-feeling performance GUI, and that's largely due to being developed for iOS and touch screen interaction (the larger the screen, the better, and I recommend it on an iPad Pro 12.9"). Playing FingerFiddle is leaps and bounds beyond any other bowed instrument software on any platform that I've tried. It even simulates pressure by the rarely utilized touch-surface-area feature of iOS touch screen devices (the harder you press on the screen, the larger the contact area is, as your finger squishes out onto the glass).

The developer has always been responsive to my inquiries.

It's a shame so few people seem to know about or have interest in it.

Morpheus [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 5th November 2007
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows
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This is a very clever concept and one that i wondered about when i first learned how FM/PM synthesis works... and here it is, available as a free, well skinned (nice looking, like all of the VST stuff from Land of Cockaigne), easy to fiddle with and making horrifically bizarre and beautifully weird sounds. i think i tried an older version a few years back and it was not stable or it was someone else's product and not Land of Cockaigne's, but i've been playing around with the currently available download for some time now and i am being inspired by the sound destruction possibilities and lovely grittiness and have not experienced any bugs or crashes so far in Tracktion.

i would love to see Land of Cockaigne update ALL of their VST plugs because it's clear these were all made with the shareware version of synth edit (version 0.71) and i bet recompiling these lovely looking and cleverly designed VSTs would help with CPU use and sound quality if using the most recent and commercial release of Synth Edit. i tried to email the author of Land of Cockaigne, but my email was returned, so someone find this guy and poke him, nicely! (Mikko Hyyrylainen) i actually located his plugs via a nice thread on old-but-goodies here at KVR and the Land of Cockaigne website's links seem all to be broken (including contact). i had to, sadly, give no points for customer support because Mikko Hyyrylainen seems to be unavailable and his website is largely broken.

i do not know of anything else out there that is like Morpheus, at least not for free, so this is also a rather unique tool. It might seem to be a one-trick-pony at first, as the presets are all quite similar, but the real value is in using your own samples after you get done playing with the presets (of which there are only 16, as per the shareware limitation of Synth Edit). i highly recommend using it for mutilating drum loops (and don't forget to add some healthy reverb in your device chain to make this thing sound smoother, sweeter and more monstrous)! The value of Morpheus is really up to the user's perception and intent. If you like screwing up sounds until they have traditional dynamics but an overall timbre or character that is new and unique (and noisy) or totally off the wall, you will have fun with Morpheus. If you want clean and pretty sounds, this might not be the tool for you if you only use presets; but do try it out anyway since it's pretty open-ended with the ability to use your own samples for carrier and modulator function in the FM synthesis path. i like organic dirt and filth, so Morpheus makes me go "Oooooo!" That doesn't mean that you can't construct pretty sounds by loading in your choice of samples and adjusting the settings appropriately, but the presets are mostly filthy and noisy, so experiment a little before you toss it aside. The value here is the potential of the tool, not its presets.

Note: Morpheus can potentially freak out on you with certain settings and samples, so if it starts to go goofy, just reset your host's audio interface and make smaller changes to the settings when you toy around; this definitely will not be a candidate for the "Randomize" button, if your host has one. This is not uncommon in many soft synths; sometimes configurations can cause massive CPU use or even bad math. i've seen it in commercial stuff, too, but i note this here because i've seen it happen with Morpheus and the author Mikko Hyyrylainen has himself noted this in the read.me document included. The docs are short but get to the point, btw.
Richman [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 9th November 2006
Version reviewed: 2 on Windows
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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This is my favourite Krakli VST to date! (reviewing Richman-2)

Richman has all the best parts of FM without the bad part (a mind bending UI).

The presets offered here to demonstrate the capabilities of Richman do a great job; even better, they sound wonderful! The presets are very expressive, responsive to velocity and make brilliant use of some of my favourite FM synth attributes (such as the harsh harmonic distortion).

Not only does Richman give you those harsh distortion sounds, it also provides a lovely and soft harp sound, as well as other plucked string sounds. FM has long been known for its bells and pluck sounds, and Richman is no slouch in that department.

As mentioned above, the UI is rather comfortable and simple. Something not often found with FM synths. Maybe this means there is less "programmability" but for my taste, it is far more sensible, exposing the important features to the user instead of exposing everything. Sort of like Native Instrument's "easy edit" page on FM7 which gives you access to more "analog-like" controls to shape the sounds instead of dealing with the operators and algorhythms directly.

i highly recommend Richman for anyone who has ever liked FM sounds and anyone who would like to see FM done well. The fact that this is a free VST only drives home my point: try it out; you've nothing to lose except the opportunity to check out this great VSTi!!

KVR Reviews ought to allow us to do n/a for certain categories such as documentation and customer support. Neither applies in this review. The best way i can think of to give ratings on these two is to go middle-ground and give a 5. It doesn't make sense to me to give 10 points for a manual that does not exist, but i don't want to make the rating suffer for lack of a manual when none is really needed by giving it a 1. So...
Intro [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 8th November 2006
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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i don't have anything against SynthEdit, nor synths made with it... but this synth was still a pleasant surprise to me. INTRO is a fantastic example of what is possible with SynthEdit. The sounds are bright, clear and lively. The interface is lovely, if somewhat needing documentation due to the number of features and less than self explanatory setup.

i didn't even remember this was s SynthEdit VST until i came back to KVR to find out what classification of synth type is was listed as. Hybrid, is indeed what it sounds like. It doesn't sound like yet another analog emulation nor does it sound like a simple sample player. It's far more than either of those, and sounds it. i might compare this synth to something like the Korg Wavestation if forced to categorize it. In fact, some of the presets have that "iconic" sound to them where you would recognize them in use.

The presets provided are totally fantastic and showcase the sound potentials with this instrument quite well. As i mentioned the sounds are "iconic," you may find yourself totally impressed with a sound but wondering if you should use it as is in your music... but that's up to you. Pros have been using presets for ages. This synth has lots of features to customize presets, so you can alternatively do that instead of using the presets (but they're damn good) ;-)

because i am forced to rate documentation and customer support, neither of which is appropriate (no docs, no need to contact developers) i gave them a halfway rating so that it doesn't unduly subtract from the rating, nor unduly add to the rating (like i said, there are no docs, so i wont give points OR take them).
Frohmage [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 26th December 2005
Version reviewed: 1.4.2 on Windows
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Frohmage is definitely one of the "must have" free VST effects. i have used it countless times to brighten, colorize, dirty or whatever sounds that were too clean, too dull or whatever. Frohmage kicks ass. The funky GUI may take you a bit to figure out, but after i did, i decided that the funky UI is part of my love of Frohmage.

Frohmage has enabled me to maintain cheesy tracker module instrumentation ported to Sonar by giving them a sparkle (or a grunge) that they lack (module trackers never give the sample back to you as you put it in, i don't know why).

My only negative comment is that it is a mono-effect and therefore you will lose any stereo imaging passed through it. This doesn't matter most of the time (like when i Frohmaged the cheesy guitar licks in an old module), but if you want to maintain the stereo image... i guess you have to go buy QuadFrohmage (which i am seriously considering at this moment, myself).

Frohmage has been FUN and i plan to have more fun with it in future.
Reaktor [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 19th December 2005
Version reviewed: 5 on Windows
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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Reaktor 5 was my first real introduction to the abyss that is Native Instruments' Reaktor product. If you are interested in designing sound creation machines without working with actual hardware (wiring, PCboards, components) then this is the tool for you. If you can imagine it, you can probably build it with Reaktor. If you're not interested in building your own synths, this is also a fantastic platform for playing with pre-made synths. Reaktor comes with about 15 to 20 premade "pieces of kit" to play with. They're all unique and show consideration for visual and ease of use design as well as functionality. Then, on top of that, there is the user library of 2000+ Reaktor creations.

If you are curious about building synths from scratch and have been interested in, but not so pleased with the results of, SynthEdit, Reaktor may be the tool for you. Unlike SynthEdit, the prefabs (called ensembles) sound amazing and you could spend hours just playing those. Also, the sound quality found in Reaktor is leaps and bounds better than SynthEdit. My only gripe between the two where SynthEdit wins is that you can build stand alone VSTs with SynthEdit. Surely some great sounding synths have come from SynthEdit; i'm not bashing SE at all, but i do think that the sound quality of Reaktor is far and away beyond that which is easily accomplished in SE. i really would like if Reaktor allowed you to build standalone VSTs, but that's just my desire for minimalization with interface windows in my hosts.

Reaktor is a DEEP product. You don't have to go deep with it if you don't want to. Use it just as a player of other people's constructions if you like. But if you REALLY want to explore, Reaktor gives you lightyears of space to work with.

The documentation is pretty good, considering how complex this product can be. i haven't built anything from scratch myself, but i am eager to learn and Reaktor doesn't leave you scratching your head as to how and why it works. The manuals cover all the components in at least a useful and functional way.

The new features are nice. Having fully customizable UI design is great for making ensembles "feel" unique from each other. i've toyed with previous versions and it's nice to have different UI looks as part of the overall experience. One of the new features is called Core components and i wont even try to talk about them here. If you're a very serious synth designer, you'll love it.

If you only ever buy one soft synth, buy Reaktor. As a previous reviewer stated, Reaktor is like having the box of parts that Native Instruments uses to build their products. You can play forever or you can build forever. If you do choose to buy more than one soft synth, buy the rest of Native Instruments' stuff. All NI products are great. (no, i don't work for them)
quadraSID [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 19th December 2005
Version reviewed: 1.5.1 on Windows
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reFX quadraSID is a fun and unique synth. It takes a little more effort to program it from scratch than some, maybe due to the fact that you are programming an old chipset with unique attributes rather than programming a traditional subtractive analog, but if you're looking for a hybrid between "that old school sound" and sounds that most other "modern" synths can't make easily (or at all), this is a great choice. If you think you're in for only the cheepo "old school" Commodore 64 sound, then you're selling yourself (and quadraSID) short. It does more than just make classic cheese! (though the classic cheese is certainly there if you want it)

The UI is great (especially this new one). If i had to complain, it would be that the unison mode is a bit clumsy to audition the 1/2/3 unison presets. i also think that the behavior of the note triggering is inconsistent but this may be an inherent aspect of SIDs (i wouldn't know). Other than that, add some of your own reverb/chorus/delay effects and this is a cool little VST synth that's light on CPU use and a GREAT price/value ratio, especially with reFX's holiday discount.
Cameleon 5000 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By Jace-BeOS [read all by] on 18th December 2005
Version reviewed: 1.6000 on Windows
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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This is a very deep and capable synthesizer. i had to stop auditioning the presets because there are just too many of them! Cameleon is a synth to spend hours with whether auditioning presets or building sounds of your own. If you want to create unnatural sounds, it's very easy to do so. The presets include some very good emulations of natural sounds, but the real power here is in making evolving pads and atmospheric textures.

If i had to complain, it would be that the UI is flakey (buttons behave un-traditional or sometimes refuse to acknowledge clicks if you move around too fast, virtual keyboard sticks notes, and screen redraw is temperamental; annoying sometimes but still totally workable). Biggest problem is the standalone version; crash prone (apparently using some VST player wrapper and therein lies the problem - so says the crash report). So stick with a VST host (this is why i am voting high on the stability portion in the ratings list).

My only complaints about the presets: there are too many of the same kinds of sounds (come on, we can press Randomize buttons ourselves to seek variations on the same sound", there is a great lack of dynamic variation and too many presets lack many standard controller setups (like sustain pedal and aftertouch). You can change that and save the updated presets if you care to.

Overal, so far my playing experience (while in a VST Host) has been fun and i hope to learn more about additive synthesis by reading the manual and expirimenting. My experience with additive synthesis so far has been Cameleon, Cube (just ordered Cube 2) and the Roland MT-32 ("Linear Arithmatic Synthesis, which is a shadow of the D50 it is based on and barely comparable to the likes of Cube and Cameleon). The MT-32 is impossible to program; the one guy who has managed to make neat sounds out of it wont explain his techniques though he offers a modified SoundDiver mod, which i can't get to work. Soon i hope to play with the D50 (via V-Synth XT), which was the original LA Synth. Do i have too many of the same things here? No. Each one has its own personality, methodology and character. i am begining to get an idea of what additive synthesis is capable of and Cameleon is, so far, a very interesting education on the process. While i prefer "clean and technologically advanced rack-like" UIs for VSTs, Cameleon's is stylish and well laid out if a bit bumpy ;-)

Wishes? i really would like to see some more dynamics and better setups for controllers in the presets, but again, this is a sound designer's tool. Not a rompler. If you want as many tools as possible to make your own sounds, this fits nicely into the tool kit. Worth the cost? i don't know. i've been spending wildly lately (partially to get 100% legit on all the tools i use (100% there, now, yay!).