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Reviewed By PaintedBlue [read all by] on October 8th, 2003
Version reviewed: Free on Windows
4Front Piano Module is a useful VSTi plug-in for musicians who are in need of a lightweight, low-CPU upright-style, acoustic piano sound. I do not think this plug-in was intended to sound like a pristine concert piano; rather, it is meant to have the character of a heavily-used upright piano that might be found in a bar.

User Interface: N/A

Sound: Sounds like a used upright acoustic piano with a different character than other VSTi available on the market. The sound is very static across all velocities, so it isn't as expressive as other exensive, massively-multisampled VSTi that I have used. The release time is a bit unusual and cannot be changed. The low keys and high keys are all panned to the center, unlike some other piano VSTi.

Features: Obviously, this free version is only a representation of what the professional version would offer, but with no user controls and only one sound, it is difficult to predict what features such a version would have.

Documentation: N/A

Presets: N/A

Customer Support: The 4Front website seems to be very customer-focused, and George (the lead developer) posts here often. I believe that he has set up a listserv for his users as well.

Value For Money: It is free and might be useful to users looking for a simple VSTi that does not consume much CPU.

Stability: Excellent, but with no controls, I would expect it to be fairly solid.

Overall, 4Front Piano Module is a nice addition to the free VSTi community that some might really appreciate.
Reviewed By PaintedBlue [read all by] on October 8th, 2003
Version reviewed: Free on Windows
4Front E-Piano Module is a useful VSTi plug-in for musicians who are in need of a lightweight, low-CPU DX-style, modern electric piano sound.

User Interface: N/A

Sound: Sounds like an 90s electric piano that would be used either in the theme song for a television sit-com or an R&B love ballade. This is not a vintage-style electric piano; that is what the 4Front Rhode Module is for. Personally, I am not very fond of this sound, regardless of the generating source, and would never use it in a composition other than for comedic purposes. In this particular case, the sound is very static across all velocities, so it isn't as expressive as some hardware counterparts that I have used. As mentioned by someone else, the release time is a bit unusual and cannot be changed.

Features: Obviously, this free version is only a representation of what the professional version would offer, but with no user controls and only one sound, it is difficult to predict what features such a version would have.

Documentation: N/A

Presets: N/A

Customer Support: The 4Front website seems to be very customer-focused, and George (the lead developer) posts here often. I believe that he has set up a listserv for his users as well.

Value For Money: It is free and might be useful to users looking for a simple VSTi that does not consume much CPU. Personally, I would not use this plug-in because of my general dislike of the modern electric piano sound. Compared to other plug-ins, it does not offer too much (compare to something like UltimateSoundBank Plugsound Free, which has several instruments in a single plug-in).

Stability: Excellent, but with no controls, I would expect it to be fairly solid.

Overall, 4Front E-Piano Module is a nice addition to the free VSTi community that some might really appreciate.
Reviewed By PaintedBlue [read all by] on October 8th, 2003
Version reviewed: Free on Windows
4Front Bass Module is a useful VSTi plug-in for musicians who are in need of a lightweight, low-CPU rock bass guitar sound.

User Interface: N/A

Sound: Sounds like a rock bass guitar. It has minimal variations for velocity response, and the higher velocities have a little bit of high-end static or amp noise. The velocity response is set a bit too high for my playing style, so it is hard to trigger them from my MIDI Controller without using a MIDI dynamics processor. The sustain and release sound a bit unusual if you hold a note too long.

Features: Obviously, this free version is only a representation of what the professional version would offer, but with no user controls and only one sound, it is difficult to predict what features such a version would have.

Documentation: N/A

Presets: N/A

Customer Support: The 4Front website seems to be very customer-focused, and George (the lead developer) posts here often. I believe that he has set up a listserv for his users as well.

Value For Money: It is free and might be useful to users looking for a simple VSTi that does not consume much CPU. As an owner of Spectrasonics Trilogy, however, I would recommend investing in that product over this one based upon the free version of 4Front Bass Module, as Trilogy pretty much covers all of my virtual bass needs in a single plug-in.

Stability: Excellent, but with no controls, I would expect it to be fairly solid.

Overall, 4Front Bass Module is a nice addition to the free VSTi community that some might really appreciate.
Reviewed By PaintedBlue [read all by] on October 8th, 2003
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Windows
DirectiXer is an essential tool for Cakewalk SONAR users who wish to use VST effects and instruments in their compositions.

Although Cakewalk now includes their "VST Adapter" VST-DXi wrapper software with both SONAR 3 and Project5, on a per-plug-in basis, it does not always work as well as DirectiXer. With that said, it is great to own both wrappers to have the other to fall back on when issues arise.

User Interface: Very clean and intuitive; much easier to use than Cakewalk's wrapper.

Sound: N/A

Features: Offers very detailed control over how VST effects and instruments should be wrapped, and it includes a MIDI Loopback device driver for routing MIDI output by a VSTi back to the host (very useful for plug-ins like Steinberg's Groove Agent). Includes plug-in delay compensation for VSTi (even works with SIR convolution reverb), has settings for forcing a VST effect to behave as a VSTi (for pitch correction and vocoder plug-ins), allows for alternate VST window sizing methods, and has variable rendering settings per plug-in. One downside that I noticed is some VSTi that sync their tempo to the host do not work correctly, unlike with the Cakewalk counterpart.

Documentation: Very good. Includes description of the technical differences between VSTi and DXi.

Presets: N/A

Customer Support: Excellent. Tonewise even offers a listserv and beta tester program that openly accepts reports on badly-behaving VSTi to improve DirectiXer for later versions. Kirill, the lead developer, went out of his way to support PDC and Groove Agent.

Value For Money: Excellent; I prefer it to the Cakewalk VST Adapter for 95% of my VSTi.

Stability: Very solid. Some wrapped VST plug-ins will crash with it, which I would presume is the fault of the plug-in developer and not a problem with DirectiXer itself in most cases.

Overall, I would recommend this product to Cakewalk users who seek better flexibility, control and organization with respect to their VST plug-ins.