Manyguitar is an excellent new guitar 'rompler' from the developers of Manystation. MG borrows alot of the really great guitar/bass samples in Manystation, plus adds nearly 400mb more to the mix. These samples are then run through an excellent-sounding new VSTi engine, complete with amp/cabinet sim + fx.
User Interface: MG's interface is thoughtfully laid out - its very easy to visualize the signal flow. From an art design standpoint its quite nice to look at as well. My only complaint is that overall its a bit small and 'cramped'. ie. The knobs controlling modwheel and aftertouch modulations are truly tiny at 1024x768. Those at higher resolutions hopefully have huge monitors...
MG is also skinnable, and comes with a second, simplified, skin. This skin looks even better than the default! But unfortunately - as its meant mainly as a 'preset playback' skin - its missing alot of essential control parameters. So most users will stick with the default skin.
Sound: MG's guitar samples are across the board excellent. No loops - full decays. Not only that but the bass samples are surprisingly some of the best available anywhere.
Add to these great samples the new amp/cab fx and you have something really special. I am not an guitar amp expert but these sound excellent to my ears. They react appropriately to dynamic playing, and can span the entire spectrum between 'vintage crunch' and 'overdriven howling'. A bit of amp/cab added to the basses delivers an incredible sound too.
The Filters/FX in MG are very well done too. They are mostly taken from EVE ONE, which is a good thing. The phaser/chorus sounds very rich; the delay has a pleasing, vintage echo tone; and the filters are some of the best I've heard.
Features: Everything you need for guitar sounds is present in MG. Well, almost everything. A spring reverb would have been a useful addition, as would have more amp/cab modes. And the delay unit, while excellent quality, isn't capable of ping-pong effects.
Perhaps in a future update? Anyway these are pretty minor omissions - and all can be solved with your own external fx if you really need them.
Documentation: MG is very easy to use. But there is a very well-written PDF documentation if you require it.
Presets: MG comes with a bank of 128 presets. MG is so easy to program that these aren't really required, but its still appreciated. Some designers have gone pretty wild and designed some spacey tones that you might find useful - if only as a starting point.
I would have liked to have seen the presets organized a bit better though - if nothing else, just something to seperate the 'normal' presets from the spacey new-age stuff.
Customer Support: Paul @ Manytone is a friendly, helpful presence. And his forum here on kvr makes it easy to get in touch if you need to.
Value for Money: Comparing these sounds to other guitar sounds available in more expensive products is no contest - MG wins hands down. Stuff like Sampletank, Hypersonic etc. don't even come close. At $90 VFM is off-the-charts, really. And the lower-priced upgrade from Manystation is a no-brainer.
Stability: I have had no issues thus far. I've used the EVE ONE platform MG is based on for a long time and it is one of the most stable VSTi I have ever used - so this bodes well for MG in the long-term.
In terms of CPU-usage MG is a massive winner. Even with amp/cab + all fx enabled you will barely feel any cpu hit with a reasonably powerful system. On my Athlon64 3000+ 10 simultaneously played notes (with amp/cab + all fx) takes only 5.5% cpu! So I'd estimate I could hit about 200 notes polyphony on my system, and probably much more than that without all features turned on. Thats alot of guitar... But if you still have a slower system, you can always use the flexbile polyphony controls to tone down MG's resource usage.
Overall: An excellent plugin by my fellow Canadian! Highly recommended to anyone looking to add some awesome-sounding guitars to their tracks. The price is just icing on the cake.
First I will skip to the conclusion: Stylus RMX is the definitive plugin for all types of percussion. There is nothing better. Ok, there I said it. Now I can get on with the review. Note that I'll assume you have some idea of what RMX is and what it does. If not, check Spectrasonics site first.
User Interface: Very polished. The GUI consists of tabbed pages for each of the 8 multi-timbral channels. Its very easy to understand and the look is quite nice.
Sound: At its heart, Stylus RMX is a playback module for sliced-loops, as well as a basic drum-hit module. In terms of sound quality when speeding up/slowing down loops, RMX has no equal. Its virtually perfect. Its to the point where you don't even think about what tempo the original loop is in, you just insert it into your project and smile.
The included effects are very diverse and quite good. Different compressors, limiters, filters (contains even the great filter from Imposcar!), reverbs, etc. All you need to effect your drummixes. The effects are so good that you'll wish they came in an FX version so you could use them on other synths/audio.
Features: RMX is very flexible. You can use Slice mode, where you can load up 8 loops and use midi to sequence every slice; or Groove Mode where you can load 63 x 8 loops and use midi to switch between them! In addition to that there is kit mode, a semi-GM compatible mode where you can access the very diverse drumhit collection RMX comes with.
Chaos mode is the next major feature. It algorithmically modifies loops in real-time. You choose how much variance you want. And then if you like what it produces, you can save it to midi! This is an unbelievably useful feature - and one that just isn't available anywhere else.
The only negative I see as far as features is the inability to use Kit Mode at the same time as Slice Mode. For myself, I often want to lay down a few basic loops and then trigger midi drums over top. Unfortunately this isn't possible in RMX - unless you use multiple instances of the plugin. I'll say more on why you probably don't want to use multiple instances in the stability section.
Where to begin... First, the number of sounds. You get the ENTIRE Stylus Classic library of loops and hits(~3gb), + ~4.5gb of new content. The new content is quite a bit more experimental than the original stuff - pushing the boundaries well past Stylus Classic's relatively rigid set of breakbeat, urban and dance grooves. In contrast, you'll now find tons of new eclectic electronic material, as well as sounds suitable for filmscoring.
Not only do you get the loops, you get over 500 multi-patches. These patches are multi-channel setups containing multiple grooves, with appropriate FX and Chaos etc. already selected! Needless to say, these are hugely useful, if only as a starting point.
Ready for more sounds? RMX comes with nearly 300 drumkits. These kits are complete with FX and mixing already done. Don't misunderstand that all RMX can do is loops - the kits are second to none. They aren't the heavily multisampled stuff of FXPansion BFD etc., but they are extremely useful nonetheless - especially for electronic genres.
Finally the best part: Starting with the 1.5 update, EVERYTHING is organized by genre/type. So if you want a military-esque multipatch, an urban drumkit, or a 'tight' snare, its all just wonderfully easy to find. This type of organization is essential when you have so much content to work with - it just makes workflow in RMX so simple.
Customer Support: I haven't used support yet, but I will give a 6 based on two things: I purchased a used license transfer and it took a very long time. I understand that its not a priority, but this was an unacceptably long wait (weeks). Not only that but there is a $50 license transfer fee that seems quite high. Even then the person receiving the transfer isn't entitled to update deals (such as the upgrade price from Stylus Classic to RMX). I don't like this transfer policy at all.
BUT Spectrasonics partially redeems themselves by offering great free updates. The 1.5 update was incredible - and cost $0! It was much more than just bugfixes. Thats great support.
Stability: For the most part RMX has been very stable. So I will use this section to instead talk about resource usage. RMX is a RAM hog: just to load 1 instance (with no sounds!), uses about 200mb. Loading two instances uses over 350mb! Thats alot, and thus I don't recommend RMX if you have under 1gb of RAM.
CPU usage is improved alot in recent versions, but its still rather high. In particular, the Imposcar filter uses over 5% of my cpu. Why? Imposcar altogether uses less than that. And Kit Mode, just to play back a few samples (with no fx or timestretching etc.) takes quite a bit of CPU. Compare this to an efficient drum module like Battery or Redrum and its not competitive.
Value for Money: Overall RMX is totally worth the money. Love it!
Rhino is a synth that can do just about anything. Wavesequencing, waveshaping, VA, additive, FM/AM/RM, and now in 2.0 simple rompler features.
Put simply, it sounds great. And contrary to earlier versions, the CPU usage is very reasonable compared to other similar synths.
The knock on Rhino has always been: its hard to program. And it is. The interface is functional, but it takes a long-time to create sounds with it - especially as a beginner. Alot of the difficulty has to do with Rhino's reliance on flexible multistage envelopes: you can do anything with these envelopes, but if you just want to program a simple patch, they are overkill. If you just want a simple lfo instead of an envelope you can use an unused oscillator for it - but it takes just as much cpu as if the osc was not an lfo! I'd like to see a more modular approach, maybe the ability to swap out certain envelopes for simple LFOs or ADSR envs, like Kontakt.
Fortunately there is a great manual to help you understand Rhino, and a huge amount of free and commercial presets around made by people that LOVE multistage envs.
Rhino is a steal at the price, even if you only use it as a type of synth rompler - using pre-made presets. But if you can learn to deal with all the features it presents, I honestly can't think of a synth that offers greater possibilities, at any price.
I've had Claw for awhile. At first I didn't see a monophonic 1-osc synth as very usable - but lately I've pulled it out on a few tracks and found that it sits in the mix well and doesn't sound cheap.
The GUI is very simple and looks good; this is a good synth to learn the basics of VA synthesis. Its very easy to dial up the tone you are looking for.
As I've said above, the sound is very good. There is a quite warm distortion that helps fatten the sound without sounding overly dirty. The delay is also a nice touch, especially for spacey leads. A stereo spreader is also a generous addition.
For me Claw's sound is more geared for leads than basses; 1-osc is sometimes just not enough for a nice bass. Of course, thats what the 4-osc Beast is for.
One thing claw is not is full-featured. It doesn't have an adsr env - so its not possible to create pads or anything without a fast attack. It also doesn't have the capability to change pitch-bend range. Since Claw is most useable for leads, its a shame there is no lfo for vibrato. And since the pitch-bend range is so high, you can't 'hack' vibrato in with automation very easily.
The docs are complete and explain everything you need to know, though you probably don't need them. Claw is also packaged with 32 presets which is more than enough for such a simple synth.
Claw has never crashed my system, or either of my hosts: Sonar 2 and Tracktion. Claw tends to use about 3-4% cpu per instance on my p4 2.1ghz, which is low - though considering its a 1-osc synth thats a higher % than I expected.
All in all, thanks ReFX for Claw! I recently bought Beast because Claw is such a nice "demo" freeware of Beasts' capabilities. I'd say more devs should release lite versions of their synths for free.
CM-505 is a relatively new drum synth produced by Linplug for bundled distrobution with the Computer Music magazine.
I really wanted to like this synth, because its pretty flexible and has alot of desirable options, but I basically never came to appreciate the sound. The sound can be characterized as: buzzy, lo-fi, quirky noisy bits, and sometimes industrial-ish.
I'm guessing this was the intent, since the effects included are distortion and bitcrusher - which lend to the types of sound described above. I'm into more smooth, and/or pseudo-acoustic sounds, but if this is your style you might love the sounds.
What else? Hmm, quickly: the interface is very good, nicely laid out; many, many presets are included to get you started; and its fairly low-cpu and perfectly stable so far. My only issue is sometimes I need to click on the pads a few times before it will emit sound, after first opening a project containing 505.
Still, if you are planning on buying an issue of CM just for 505, I would think twice if you aren't into the sounds I described above. It didn't really fit my needs or expectations.
This is a great synthedit product - competes with all the commercial, or semi-commercial drumsynths very well.
The kick module is always incredibly useable, and very easy to tweak to fit a mix. You don't need fancy tricks to make it sound powerful, either.
The snare module is sometimes a little weak, but I've got good results layering two snares for a bigger sound.
Hihats are generally good and easily tweakable.
The interface is great. No complaints. Its easy to set up the sound you are looking for if you know just a bit about synthesis.
Also its a synthedit creation, but I have no issues with cpu usage like many other SE synths.
Anything negative? Well it would be cool to have a few more modules - there are only two toms which is limiting if you like electro toms, and no cymbal module (maybe you could load a simple sample if synthesis can't accomplish it). Also sometimes I get errors loading it up in Sonar or Tracktion. But once it loads its rock-stable. Also there aren't really enough presets but its so easy to program that I can't complain.
Anyway, this is a must if you like synth drums! And its free so there is no excuse not to dl Drumatic2