The surprise hit of the Developer Challenge 2016. I've never been big on saturation or exciter plugs, but this one can be used to good effect. In fact, I've used it to good effect to turn some woodwind instruments into a pad-like sound. A very nifty effect that I will turn to again in the future when I want to introduce some colour.
The interface looks good and is intuitive. The knobs don't seem to have unusable extremes with a small sweet spot, but give -- depending on your purpose -- usable results throughout.
Ah, the joys of group buys and other special offers. One is apt to get carried away on the enthousiasm of the crowd, and not properly investigate the wares on offer. Such it has gone with me a couple of times, including with Morphine. In this case I actually downloaded the demo, saw that the presets sounded pretty gorgeous, tweaked a couple of knobs, and plunked down my money.
Additive synths are very hard to program. Just pencilling in a bunch of partials leads to harsh, metallic, or glassy sounds. Also, specifying the values of all partials in an evolving sound is a lot of work. Hence resynthesis: you start with an existing sample, the synth analyses it, and you can take if from there. Nice theory.
Morphine is built around 4 oscillator-type thingies, which can be morphed into each other in a time-dependent way. Cool. There are some effects, and an overall ADSR; the usual modulation matrix.
Now here's my problem. I can load a sample into each of the generators. Some samples work better than others, but let's say I succeed in reproducing the sample through resynthesis.
At this point the synth falls down. Resynthesis has given me dozens if not hundreds of "breakpoints": snapshots of the state of the partials, that are strung together to reproduce the sampling in all its time-evolving complexity. But there is no reasonable way to edit them! The makers figure that an ADSR is not needed because that's covered by the volume of the individual breakpoints. True, but I can not draw a volume curve through the "spectrum", the timeline of breakpoints. (Very strange terminology, btw, to call this a spectrum.)
Likewise, suppose I want to adjust the sound of this resynthesized sample. I can edit each breakpoint, but that lasts only a fraction of a second. There is no global edit of all breakpoints at once ("increase the 5th partial in all breakpoints"), nor is there a filter of any kind you can put over the generator. After all, filters are unnecessary because that's covered by the partials.
In all, my impression is that this is a potentially powerful synth, just very hard to program for optimal results.
Ok, so what am I left with? A bunch of really cool sounding presets. Anyone wanting to buy this from me?
Interface: confusing at first, but understandable after you read the manual a bit.
Sound: great, if you know how to program this thing.
Documentation: there is a manual and tutorial videos on the website.
Audio Damage is a small software developer that is quickly gaining visibility in the plug-in world. Some of their plug-ins are ranging from idiosyncratic to weird, others are emulations of existing hardware. For the intersection, check out their Ratshack reverb. The image of the company is partly formed by two things: the excellent look of their GUIs and the 3D mock-ups, and the fact that they don't have demo versions of the software. As they argue in the forums, demos are a support headache, and don't appreciably add to sales.
One plug that doesn't seem to have an immediate hardware counterpart is Discord. In version two, this is a combination of two pitchshift/delay lines, with all elements modulatable by LFO, and with crossfeeding between the two lines.
With these elements, all sorts of effects can be attained. Small static shifts can thicken a sound, shifts of several semitones add artificial harmonies, but I've been having most fun with putting a delay on the shifts. For instance a whole beat delay (unfortunately the delays can not be tempo synced) combined with a whole tone shift gives an interesting second voice to modal music. Also the cross feeding between the two shifters can give interesting effects: imagine two different shifts feeding into each other, resulting in an ever rising sound.
In sum, I am not sure where this effect would fit in with acoustic and more traditional music, but it is wonderful to muck up electronic sounds. Instant weirdification.
Like all Audio Damage effects, the price is very reasonable, there are presets to get you going, the effect is pretty easy to understand but there is a manual, and email support has been quick and effective.
(full disclosure: I tested the Mac AU port of this plug)
This is a plug with character. I've been able to use it both as a faux guitar (lots of effects over it), and as a synth in its own right. In both cases it has a very individual sound that can really make a track. Check out my tracks "Prophecies" and "Odd, is he?".
Interface: Good, definitely readable (my eyes are getting older), but could be slightly better. Maybe it's just that there are too many options that can not be logically arranged, but I keep hunting over that panel.
Sound: Great. Lots of presets to give you an idea of what the thing can do.
There is a short but adequate manual, support over email is good. The plug has been stable for me. Definitely value for money.
My only quibble is with the implementation of the legato mode. I really had to do some midi editing to get a melody (in my piece Prophecies) with a swelling attack that did not catch the tail of a fading previous note. But maybe there is no good solution for that in a mono-synth.
Edited review. The first couple of versions of this product got a thumbs down from me. My complaints mostly related to problems on the Mac, with Logic, and due to the Kontakt player.
Now (December 2004), after 3 updates and a year, the software is actually getting good enough, although it still didn't take me a day to find a major bug. (Report to Garritan/NI with a request to let me know if they can reproduce it, or if it might be a problem with my installation. No reply.)
Pro: even with my limited skills this thing sounds good. And I don't even try hard. The demos that I've heard from people that do try hard are pretty unbelievable.
Cons: I used to list a number of bugs here. After several GPO and Logic updates (don't know who to blame) they mostly (but not totally) seem to have gone away.
What remains is mostly interface complaints about the NI player. Mediocre design, and clumsy in several places. Mostly unnecessary annoyances. Example: I moved the GPO sound files to a new drive. There doesn't seem to be a way to tell GPO where the new samples are. I had to reconstruct the instrument settings in the tracks that I had been working on.
Documentation: there is a little booklet, but it talks more about orchestras than about software. Quite insufficient.
Support: there are forums that are helpful, in fact more so than the email support.
This is definitely a plug for sonic experimentation. This is no Lexicon-alike delay: turn the parameters up far enough, and this will take your sound completely apart. I've used this one to great effect in a tune of mine. Not sure when I'll use it again, though... As the other reviewer remarked, it's a one-trick pony, but it does its one trick very well.
It's a pity that the AU version has no GUI, but that's about the only thing I can find wrong with this plug. There's quite a large number of parameters to muck with, and there is a good number of presets to get ideas from.
First of all, for the $10 that the magazine (Keys, or Music Tech) costs it's hard to complain about anything.
This is a limited synth: I believe the developer described it as something like "the left pinkie of Tera". It has only one sound generation mode, which is wave shaping. This makes it a bit of a one trick pony, but it's a cool trick (and it's a cheap trick :-) so that's fine.
The sounds are interesting. I've been able to make some bass sounds that were quite usable.
The problem is that wave shaping is rather un-intuitive. You have 3 sine wave oscillators, and some "spectrum" knobs, and other stuff you don't see on your daily VA. There is no good documentation, so I felt like groping around in the dark: I couldn't give much direction to my experimentation. I have no idea what wave shaping does, and how twisting one know or another will influence the sound. I can make different sounds, but it's hard to realize a sound you're looking for. Everything's more or less an accident.
But hey, you get a rather unique instrument (unless you already own Tera) that makes some cool noises for almost nothing. Who can really complain?
It's a pity that the 4Front Rhodes is not (yet, I hope) available for OS X, because this tinny box of pling-pling sounds is nothing like a real electric piano. This is the kind of electric sound that made the DX-7 (and later) so popular it came out, and which I got sick and tired of really quickly when everyone and his brother used it.
Maybe as another reviewer remarked this will work in some sub-Lionel Ritchie gawdaful Slow Jam ballad. If you're into that, hey, here's your sound. Personally, it's not for me.
Like the 4Front piano, this has some noise in the sample (?) but it won't be noticeable in the mix.
There is no GUI, no manual, no presets other than the basic sound.
I don't think this instrument should be judged against expensive gigabyte sampled instrument. It's fairly small, free, and is a one-sound no-gui instrument.
So what's the sound worth? Tastes differ. This piano has a softer, rounder sound than the MDA piano, which I find somewhat thin, and the Sonic Reality pianos which I find very metallic. I haven't been exposed to anything more expensive.
The sound of this module is not perfect. There is clear noise when the notes decay, but in a mix that's in audible. With a little hi-shelf boost and low-shelf cut I find this an excellent instrument. I like this mellow sound. But I don't make dance music.
GUI: there is none. Docs likewise. Presets the same.
The author is active on kvr, so that means there is something resembling support.
Hey, it's free? Watcha got to lose? One more sound in your toolbox if you haven't found the perfect piano yet.
Plugsound must have been very pleased with themselves when they finished sampling the instruments for this plug, because the first menu is titled "Best Of PS02". As in "here are the sounds we are particularly proud of". It does indeed start with a wonderful acoustic guitar. On the other hand, the double bass rattles its strings a bit much. No matter, because there are a bunch of other basses.
My first thought on going through this collection is how inspiring the sounds are. The spanish guitar, the dobro slides, the west indies bass, they all make me want to write a song with them. And even from a keyboard controller they sound pretty easily like a guitar.
There is a good collection of instruments here. Acoustic and electric guitars and basses, harps, and a bunch of ethnic instruments. In each category more than one instrument: a Strat and a Les Paul (extensively, a bit less ES); a Guild and a Martin; a concert harp and a celtc harp. The fact that there are 256 banks is a slightly too optimistic view of things: for instance the three Dobro banks are straight, slide, and velocity switching btween the two. Count it however you want.
The Plugsound interface has a filter and an ADSR envelope, but with acoustic samples as good sounding as these, who cares.
In all, I'm very pleased with this plugin. If you can get it on sale ($60 at Big Fish Audio) it is an absolute steal, but even for a few pennies more it's a good deal.