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Reviewed By ppgwave [read all by] on April 16th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Mac.
Last edited by ppgwave on 16th April 2004.
Having used a lot of the vintage units represented by this collection, I was very excited to see this released, and got it as soon as it was available. After a few weeks with it, I have to say that while it is very good, there are some mysterious omissions that weakens the collection.

First: The Kompakt engine is very good, and runs well in Logic on my Mac. It has a very small memory footprint (the samples are all pretty small - programs are between 1-6 meg each given the miniscule source samples).

Second: The samples are VERY well recorded, and background hiss has been removed. On some of the Mirage samples, it's actually distracting to have it sound so clean. The Fairlight RRR sound is glorious (you'll be doing "moments in love" all afternoon).

Now my problems: There are some instruments completely missing: The PPG Waveterm library would have been perfect for those of us who grew up with Frankie and Propaganda. Linndrum and Linndrum2s are missing, though the Linn 9000 is still there. There are no Emax1 or EmulatorII samples either (the EMUII they reference is an EMAX2, plus an Emulator3, both 16-bit, ugh!), so some trademark sounds like the Sledgehammer Shakuhachi aren't there... I could go on.

Issue 2: There are omissions WITHIN the represented libraries: While the RX5 drummachine set includes samples from 2 of the optional Wave cartridges, the R8 set is just the stock machine. The Fairlight factory library is 40 disks yet only 20 programs are represented, missing some of the big trademark sounds heard on Duran's Seven and the Ragged Tiger or Heaven 17 Luxury Gap albums. Nor did they include the "Art of Noise" drums, which almost every Fairlight owner had a copy of.

Issue 3: The final has to do with the Kompakt engine iteself: One of the charms of these old samplers is the aliasing grunge you get from overtransposing a sample. If you tune down any of THESE programs, it sounds too damn good. Some of the sounds on NIN's first album were factory EMAX sounds pitched 2-3 octaves too low with screechy results. You don't get that capability with this library. Not that the Linn1 was included, but the When Doves Cry detuned rimshot with isn't possible with this library.

So in conclusion, it is very nice to have some of these sounds in a low-impact, efficient library. But to live up to the billing of the "Retro VSTi" they should have been more complete in their selection of instruments, more complete in the libraries represented for each instrument, and more grungily authentic in the playback mechanism.

The Manual only covers Kompakt: There is a one page note about the library itself, which is nowhere near enough.

So I do recommend it, but I wish so much it could have been more. I was REALLY looking forward to this, and I think it is a real missed opportunity.

Reviewed By ppgwave [read all by] on June 20th, 2002
Version reviewed: 1.03 on unspecified OS
I finally submit my raving fan review: I've had it for over a month, and I use it ALL the time. This rates a 10/10 because I just can't stop using it.

Hundreds of very good loops - better than most other sample CDs I've bought. The quality is is absolutely unparalleled - Spectrasonics does not mess around with fidelity.

There's the loops, whole and sliced ("groove control", which is actually more tha sliced - each bit sounds good on its own), as well as 3000+ very usable drum hit sounds.

The user interface is very easy to use. It is intuitive to manipulate the individual loop slices. It encourages experimentation and "playing" with the loop slices in a way that even Reason's Dr Rex can't quite manage.

If I had a complaint, it would be that loading the midi files for the "groove control" requires that you leave the application, but at least the directory structures are easy to navigate, and the loops and midifiles are well named - you really can't get confused. Ideally, there would be a "load loop" function inside of stylus, but I'll survive.

But basically, this is a fantastic value for the money. It sounds great, it has SCADs of sounds, a very good user interface. In the final analysis, I can't STOP using it, so I give it highest marks.

For Support and Docs, high marks now, because Spectrum is active on these boards, and they just released a very good PDF manual. Never a crash.

Reviewed By ppgwave [read all by] on April 17th, 2002
Version reviewed: 1.3 on unspecified OS
Fantastic. A gritty, aggressive synth that is 10 times harder than my old MKS50 or Juno 106 ever were. For the price, there can be no comparison.

This synth cuts through any mix, and occupies a great sonic space. the low end is a bit lacking, but it makes up for it in mids and highs. And that way it doesn't muddy up the mix.

Michael and Feilei have been great about releasing fixes as needed, though I've never had a problem.

For the cost of two large Pizzas, there is NO better use of your money than this plugin. Stop thinking - GET IT.
Reviewed By ppgwave [read all by] on April 17th, 2002
Version reviewed: 1.2 on unspecified OS
I'm a total VSTi Junkie, and I have sold off all of my external synths, this after 20 years of doing electronic music. The Real PPG replaced with PPG 2.V... the Chroma replaced with Pro52, the TX816 replaced by FM7 and FMHeaven... The S5000 replaced by EXS24. The last thing to go was my JV1080 with 4 expansion cards. It was hard to say goodbye to a workhorse.

But since buying SonicSynth, I realize I'll never miss the old Roland. SonicSynth is MORE than an excellent replacement for a JV1010, 1080, etc, and I'd say to ANYONE considering hardware to give some thought to a CPU upgrade and SonicSynth.

The samples are excellent, and the patch programming really brings it all to life. I can't stop playing these sounds! SampleTank loads very quickly on my G4. Sure, i may replace some sounds in the final mix, but for composition, it can't be beat.

Add in Dave's excellent support and character, and it's an unbeatable product. Excellent!