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Reaktor Player [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 4th August 2003
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ tons of sound generators + FX for a tolerable price
+ several powerful great sounding pieces included
+ a great pool for inspiration and creativity

Con:
- paranoid copy protection: Original protected CD checked during 1st startup + challenge/response!
- this is what I expected Dynamo should have been... Now it's here: 3 years too late for an increased price

After NI made me an unhappy and disappointed customer of theirs with Dynamo (see my review there), I decided after a long phase of doubt and indecision to spend 99 EUR and upgrade this outdated piece to Reaktor Session.

I finally have what Dynamo should have been, a "runtime environment" for Reaktor, the universal modular multi-platform multi-format sound generating/modifying construction kit.

The lib installed from CD (probably the same shipped with Reaktor 4) includes 9 synthesizers, 4 sequenced synths, 4 samplers/transformers, 2 live tools and 9 effects. I do some of them like more, some less, but now I'm not restricted to a limited small selection. You now have access to a huge collection of Reaktor ensembles from others and the NI page. Besides the "Premium Lib", shipped with Dynamo and Reaktor 2, and those new with Reaktor 3, you can find as a registered user currently over 1300 user contribs for download there.

The GUI looks much better and is easier to use than in Dynamo, and there are several usefull enhancements, like the browser, smart windowsizing or the ability to wire several instruments together. You are no longer restricted to 4 VST plugs and can even build multi-timbral VSTi's.

There are some minor unhandy things, like the patch handling for VST is flexible but tricky and the manual could explain several things a bit better. I noticed some neglectable bugs in 1.02, like flickering hints or wrong update of VST DLL name, but they're not severe and I didn't had a crash so far.

It's big fun exploring the library, trying the ensembles out, learn how they work, playing around with the presets, enjoy the sounds (some are great) and create your own patches. And when you're looking for new toys you can go online and download new ones...

A great inspiration for creativity. This is why I like Reaktor Session, and this is why I'll probably use it more often than I used Dynamo.

Unfortunately I have to end with an unpleasant issue: During first startup the original protected CD is checked, and within 30 days you have to register and enter a response code from NI, otherwise it will no longer work. When you change core components (like CPU or OS), you have to do the C/R proceedings again...
Even I didn't had problems so far, as a honest paying customer I'm feeling traced and treated badly as a criminal. In my opinion these proceedings causes more trouble and do not increase sales, since pirates will crack it anyway and don't have to bother with these kinds of restrictions, whereas I will continue to avoid NI's products as long as they continue to use copy protection...
LM-4 MarkII [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 19th January 2002
Version reviewed: 1.0 XXL on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 21st January 2002.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ good drumkits included
+ easier handling than LM-4

Con:
- overpriced compared to competitors
- just basic sample treatment
- old LM-4 .fxb/fxp can't be loaded
- expensive upgrade for LM-4 users

After the predecessor LM-4 missed the connection to current leading drum VSTi (complicated kit creation etc), Steinberg has improved some things with this new product. Now you can assign samples to each pad more easily with drag&drop or file dialog (no longer text file torments), edit your velocity layers with your mouse ("only" up to 20 layers for each pad - the old LM-4 allowed 128, but was it really needed?) and treat the samples with a volume envelope, reverse playback or lofi bitcrusher. You can miss filters, pitch envelopes or waveform display.

If you don't consider the price it's a solid usable drum sample player with superb drumkits included covering nearly all needs (XXL version).

But compared to DR-008, RM-III, Battery or Attack, which cost around the same, LM-4 MkII has lost in the categories features and usability. Other drum VSTi with comparable capabilities are much cheaper (i.e. CM SR-202: less outputs+groups, no velolayer but filters+pitchEG for 5UKP).

For an old LM-4 user the upgrade is maybe a bit expensive ($50/$100-XXL) - it should have been free since LM-4 was nearly unusable. But the XXL kits are worth it, sold seperately as the 3CD "Kit Connection" for $150 I wanted to buy them anyway. By the way, they're in the old LM-4 format and so can be imported into DR-008 or RM-2/III :-)
If you already have songs with the old LM-4 and don't want to spend time again adjusting pad settings, you should keep it installed since MarkII can't load old banks/instruments, only import .txt scripts.

To sum it up: If you're looking for a good collection of drumkits or don't already have a good drum sample player, you may take a look at LM-4 MarkII if you aren't short of money. If you're already happy with your drum VSTi and your kits you don't need this.
Model-E [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 3rd November 2001
Version reviewed: 1.000 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 3rd November 2001.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ solid multipurpose sounds
+ some great presets included
+ multitimbral, 16 input channels, 4 outputs
+ controllable by MIDI

Con:
- confusing non-intuitive user interface
- uneasy modulation handling
- no demo-version
- outdated and overpriced

This was the 1st commercial VSTi synth (or?) back in '99, an unofficial 'clone/successor' of MiniMoog Model D (never had one, so I can't say how close it really is).

It was surely great at that time, but nowadays compared to its competitors it's outdated and overpriced. What I dislike most is the uneasy handling and confusing interface that is badly explained in the manual. I can't understand for example why you MUST send external MIDI CC's for modulation activation and there is no GUI element to control it.

However, you can create good multipurpose fat virtual-analogue sounds, up to 16 multitimbral inputs at once on 4 outputs, making it very usefull for arranging accompanying parts when you're running out of the 8 Cubase VSTi slots.
Triangle I [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 26th October 2001
Version reviewed: 1.1 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 27th April 2002.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ good multipurpose sounds
+ a lot of features
+ MIDI controllable
+ probably the most powerfull free VSTi
+ unbeatable value-for-money rate

Con:
- confusing non-intuitive user interface
- ugly design (a matter of taste, others may like it)

I first downloaded this freeware VSTi several month ago and deleted it right afterwards, since I really disliked the user interface and thought this VSTi is total crap.

Now, after recognizing what power RGC has (Square+Pentagon), I gave it a 2nd chance... I still dislike the GUI. It looks ugly to me, and I have problems handling it, e.g. turning round knobs not knowing what the current real value of this knob is. Some kind of value indicator displayed beneath or in a bubble would be really helpfull.

However, this synth has a lot of features producing good multipurpose sounds and is probably the most powerfull free VSTi out there. A mighty underestimated tool hidden beneath a bad interface.

[Note: The successor Triange II is a great improvement with easier handable better looking GUI and even much more features - and it's still free!]

SR-202 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 26th October 2001
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 27th October 2001.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ nice cheap drum machine for beginners
+ 30+ drumkits included
+ envelopes and filters
+ MIDI controllable
+ good value-for-money rate
+ DR-008 'upgrade' offer

Con:
- just another drum sample player
- CM distribution outside UK

Well, there are already many competitors on the "sample based drum VSTi" market. Of course this VSTi can't reach the features of the (much more expensive) category leaders DR-008, Battery, Attack or RM-III, but for it's cheap price it's a nice stable drum machine that is good for beginners who don't need all the features of the 'big' ones.

As CM-101, this VSTi is exclusively available on a CM cover disc (#40). If you don't already have a better drum machine, spending 5 UKP, the price of one CM issue, is probably worth it. The only problem is that for people outside UK it's not always easy to get CM for a fair price.

For those who reaches the limits of SR-202, there is also a special 'upgrade' offer in CM #40 to DR-008 for a reduced price ($99 vs $149).
VSampler [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 3rd September 2001
Version reviewed: 2.7 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 25th October 2001.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ many import formats supported
+ full featured demo version available
+ good value-for-money rate
+ good support
+ beginner's tutorial available
+ improvement in progress

Con:
- confusing user interface

I never used a hardware sampler so far, so I was unencumbered of what a sampler should do and how it should be operated. The hardest thing with Virtual Sampler was for me to understand how it works and how all the functions are controlled through the much confusing user interface. The new tutorial is very helpfull with this.

Besides this, it's great how many formats are supported for import (only Halion and Giga is missing so far), you can test a ll functions (except saving) in the free demo version, and for $75 you really get value-for-money, at least if you compare it to competitors like Halion or Unity.
CM-101 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 3rd September 2001
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ good multipurpose sounds
+ easy to survey user interface
+ scalable polyphony
+ controllable by MIDI
+ good value-for-money rate

Con:
- CM distribution outside UK

Developed for UK Computer Music magazine by Muon Software (the creators Atom/Pro, Tau/Pro and Electron), this synth has everything needed to create good solid 'standard' sounds like bass, leads, pads etc.

CM-101 is exclusively available on the CM cover disc (#36,37 + maybe later ones). For 5 UKP, the price of one CM issue, you really get much for your money, since the magazine itself is (in my opinion) also very good. The only problem is that for people outside UK it's not always easy to get CM for a fair price.
Electron [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 3rd September 2001
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 27th April 2002.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ great multipurpose sounds
+ innovative X-Y controller
+ flexible filter combination
+ MIDI controllable
+ support

Con:
- no sync to host for LFO
- fixed waveforms for each OSC

Being a fan of other Muon synths (Atom/Pro, Tau/Pro) I also bought this when it came out in July 2000. At the time of release this was one of the strongest VSTi available. With 3 OSCs, 2 LFOs, 2 ENVs, flexible filter combination and the innovative X-Y controller for a fair price it was a milestone in VSTi development and is still playing in current top league. The original presets haven't been much impressive, but with the newer ones (see kevvvvv's review) you can hear the strong capabilities and power of this beauty.

However, you can miss some things that are 'standard' in newer highclass synths, like you can't change OSC waveform or can't sync the LFOs to host tempo.

But I'm still loving it for creating atmospheric sweeping pads, powerfull basses and leads. As far as I know Muon is currently working on a new version, I'm curious to get...
Tau [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 2nd September 2001
Version reviewed: 1.01 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 2nd September 2001.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ good solid acid bass sounds
+ easy to survey user interface
+ unbeatable value-for-money rate
+ great support

Con:
- some features are missing... But hey! It's free!

One of the best freeware VSTis around... Great 303-like acid bass sounds. I'm missing some things like MIDI control, but you really can't complain, since it's free and if you need more features (like I do :-) you can 'upgrade' to it's big commercial brother Tau Pro.
Tau Pro [read all reviews]
Reviewed By tesla [read all by] on 2nd September 2001
Version reviewed: 1.01 on Windows.
Last edited by tesla on 27th April 2002.
Was it helpful to you? Yes No
Pro:
+ great sounds, fat basses and more
+ easy handling user interface
+ MIDI controllable
+ good value-for-money rate
+ support

Con:
- No ADSR envelope
- No pitchbend

Insipired by the legendary TB-303 (but being much much more than 'just' a clone), you can use this VSTi to produce several kinds of those 'typical' 303-like techno/acid/trance bass sounds with filter and distortion treatments. Beyond that, with additional features like 11 waveforms per OSC and onboard FX, it's capable to create rich fat leads as well as other sounds.

You could miss ADSR envelope and pitchbend for bass slides. The original 303 didn't have those features, but I think they should be 'standard' in current highclass VSTi's.

Anyway, this is just a minor restriction. I use this VSTi a lot, it's my prefered bassline synth, and the easy handable interface makes it just fun to play around and modify the sound.