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MPowerSynth [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 13th October 2015
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by pheeleep on 13th October 2015.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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In 2011, I got my first taste of a Melda oscillator and what a tease that was! Melda released the free effect MOscillator, a "test tone" plugin. I instantly fell in love with the sound of the oscillator and emailed MeldaProduction begging for a synth that used this oscillator. The developer replied that this was already on his long To Do list. I loved the sound of MOscillator so much that I ended up using it as a synth a few times (Playing the test tones via MIDI and adding flavor via external effects).

Fast forward to 2014 and MPowerSynth is released: An extremely powerful subtractive synth with an interesting topology and select FM and Additive capabilities that enable it to excel in the creation of a broad range of sounds. Version 9.10 used for this review:The synth offers a Global section with Global parameters, 3 "daisy chained" oscillators, a noise generator, 2 filters with many different types of high quality filters available and the most featured effect section of any synth that I know of in terms of quality, quantity, and modularity of the effects.

MPowerSynth offers options a plenty, many of these options accessible via separate windows and menus that offer a multitude of additional parameters. There are tabs, tabs within tabs, tabs within tabs within tabs, but there is a method to the madness and these additional modes and parameters offer a much higher level of tweak-ability than the great majority of soft synths. In my opinion, it is well worth the reasonable time it takes to dig deep into the manual (95 pages) while experimenting with the various options to remember where they all are and what they do. Once you go there, you won't look back.

Pros:

Superb sounding anti-aliasing Oscillators with extreme level of customization. Highly tweak-able. Users can also import/convert single cycle waveforms and can even create new waveforms by blending existing ones with imported ones. In addition, users can essentially draw their own waveforms.

Oscillator topology allows for Unison on OSC1 and enables OSC2 and OSC3 to be set to one of eight unique modes that determine how these interact with/are affected by the previous oscillator in the chain (eg: To achieve Frequency modulation, ring modulation, sync..)

29 oscillator waveform "transform types" which allow PWM and AM, for instance.

Customizable shapes for Modulators.

Harmonics mode for the Oscillators.

You can resize the GUI and customize it by changing the style/colors used.

Customized Glide shape/behavior.

Polyphonic arpeggiator with many available options as well as a smart randomizer.

6 harmony generators.

Morph up to 4 separate patches (A, B, C, D)

Save and load presets for an OSC, Filter, FX chain, Modular shape, Velocity shape, etc..., within the plugin. So you can re-use any presets created in any of these sub-sections in any patch.

Effects parameters are modulatable.

Step sequencer available as a modulator, in addition to LFO and Envelope.

Many different high quality filter types. An assortment of flavors between Clean and Distorted, including classic low/high/band-pass and shelves, formant, comb, diffuser, polymorph filters.... A sound designers dream.

Large quantity of high quality effects presented in a modular topology.

Many of the separate sections within the synth have a Random button (only randomizes parameters in that specific section) in addition to the global preset randomize function.

A separate Transform shape for each one of the parameters in modulators.

Multiple Undo/Redo of actions taken by user.

Up to 16x oversampling.

1500+ included presets (some better than others, but lots of great ones)

Scroll over to any of the toolbars within the plugin and hit F1 (PC) for info about that section and a description of each option.

The developer implements feature requests when he agrees with a suggestion and does it in a very short amount of time. Also, rather than forcing the user into 1 way of doing things, the developer leaves it up to the user to decide by providing new options that each user can set as he/she sees fit. Often these options are available via a right/click or additional window as to not overbear the main UI with additional parameters and options.

Cons:

You have to double click to load a preset in the browser. I would prefer single click. Come to think about it I will make a feature request about this.

No simple "modulation Matrix" to quickly modulate a user defined destination by a certain amount using a user defined source. This would be great as a simplified option for modulation when one does not wish to dig deep setting up/using the very in depth modulator functionality that is already provided.

Note: CPU can get high depending on the quality settings and options used. Be mindful of what you use, the settings that you choose and how much you chose to modulate as well as what you chose to modulate. You may need to compromise in regards to Sound vs. CPU. Overall though, CPU is on par with other soft synths and lower CPU patches generate awesome sounds regardless.

PS: I never give a 10 as a rating. 9 is the highest I am willing to go for any review. There is always something that can be improved. MPowerSynth is a very solid 9.

SynthMaster [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 25th May 2012
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows.
Last edited by pheeleep on 26th May 2012.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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A few weeks ago I was offered an nfr license of Synthmaster 2.5. Before I even installed it, I found out that Rob Lee makes and sells presets for it. From that moment on, I had a feeling this synth and I would get along just fine. Truth is, I admire Rob Lee, and he only makes presets for great synths. Incidentally, the nfr copy that I received of Synthmaster did not come with the free Rob Lee presets that customers of KV331Audio get when they purchase Synthmaster 2. For the purpose of this review, in regards to presets, I only have the stock presets to refer to. I haven't heard any of the Rob Lee ones (but I am sure they are stellar).

Many times, complaints about synths usually go along the lines of "There's not enough...". In Synthmaster, there's a lot of everything. Example: Most synths give you 8 to 24 slots in their modulation Matrix (if they have one to start with). Synthmaster has 86 slots. Also, it features many different types of modulation (some not found in many synths), and you get several of each type. This synth is semi-modular, which allows a bit more routing freedom than the average synth. It takes a little while to get accustomed to the interface and to all the different tabs. A basic understanding of synthesis is required to operate this synth and I wouldn't recommend it as a first synth. It ain't no V-Station in terms of ease of use. But for intermediate to advanced synthesists (or preset whores), this synth is a great choice. Of course, more features often translates to a more complex user interface and more intricate workflow.

The sound is great! The CPU usage is reasonable and on par with my other better sounding synths. It's somewhat of a Swiss army knife, and packs a lot of bang for the buck. I am not fond of the GUI. It doesn't really show off the quality of this synth. Ugly GUI's never stop me from using an instrument or effect, though. Sound comes first. The synthesis and modulation aspects of this synth is what stands out for me. I find the effects "ok" but this is the one area that could definitely be improved. If you own great effects, you'll be fine, but if you don't, be aware that you will get decent but not mind blowing effects in this synth. The filters sound good, but again, they are not up there with the very best. The arpeggiator on the other hand is great and has several advanced modes. You can even run 2 in parallel. The preset browser is great. My favorite type: 1 click to load a preset. A lot of the presets sound really good. Others are kind of average, but there are more good ones than bad ones. More work could have been put into matching all the volumes of the presets. Some sound quiet, others much louder, but nothing the turn of a button can't fix. Creating presets is fun. Exploring all the different possibilities is fun. The quality of the sound is very good. Happy to add this one to the arsenal. I have been playing with this synth for several weeks now and I feel like I have only scratched the surface. The manual is rather limited.

edit: There are now 3 free Rob Lee preset banks for all Synthmaster 2.5 users. I listened to them and they really show off the great sound this synth has. Many gems in there.
DUNE [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 21st December 2010
Version reviewed: 1.2 on Windows.
Last edited by pheeleep on 21st December 2010.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful.
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DUNE is deceiving! At first glance, it looks like your average subtractive synth, but in reality there is a lot more going on under the hood. DUNE distinguishes itself from the vast majority of it's counterparts in several important ways. First of all, and most importantly, the sound it produces is outstanding. Even the simple raw sound of an oscillator has bite (Sawtooth, Square). The sound is crisp and clean from the get go. DUNE produces clear tones with lot's of energy. The Mod Matrix, where you assign sources to destinations, is very elaborate. It can hold up to 24 rows of data. You can use an LFO to modulate another LFO's parameters or even it's own. You can use the arpeggiator's notes or velocity data to modulate parameters. You can also use the Mod Matrix rows to modulate the level of other rows. There are many available sources and destinations. You can even modulate extra parameters that don't appear in the GUI . A quick run through the manual was all it took to familiarize myself with the multitude of choices. Something very unique about DUNE is that it enables us to modulate up to 8 distinct unison voices using the ModMatrix. Unison voices can also be combined and modulated in unique ways. This is a brilliant new concept. One that opens doors to many new sonic possibilities. However, while this "Differential Unison Engine (DUNE)" is a very nice, unique tool, the merits of this synth should not be based on this revolutionary feature alone. DUNE shines in many respects, and even without the unison voice mangling, it would still stand up to the very best in terms of sound quality.

Indeed, is my opinion that DUNE rivals with the best software synths currently available. My first impression was that it sounds very similar to another very popular and very good 2 Oscillator "Dance music" synth. The more I play with DUNE, the more I am astounded at how good it sounds. It's sharp and punchy but also silky and smooth depending on how you handle it. It makes screaming leads and blissful pads. Punchy basses, percussive/plucked sounds that are vibrant with energy. Not to mention the organs...

DUNE features 2 main Oscillators and one sub oscillator. Each of the two main Osc's have their own FAT knob. Put simply, DUNE stacks copies of the Oscillator (7 copies) and the more you turn the FAT knob, the more the tuning diverges between the stacked Oscillators. In essence, this instantly makes the sound fuller and richer. If that's not enough, as mentioned previously, DUNE also offers up to 8 Unison voices. You can solo one or more of these for precise tweaking. You have control over the amount of detuning and spatial positioning of the Unison. To use DUNE to it's full potential, you will end up using up many voices. But not to worry, it appears that this has been carefully thought out. DUNE features 72 note polyphony. More than double the maximum polyphony available in many synths.

Some very good synths give you a great sound but at a high cost. You trade great sound for high CPU usage. The wonderful thing about DUNE is that it sounds great and is CPU efficient. This translates to 5% to 20 % CPU per patch on my i7 920, depending on the complexity of the patch and on the number of voices being used at any given time. I'd say 15% is the average CPU hit. Not bad at all considering the wonderful sound coming out of it.. Bank C039: IDM Sine MK. What a great sound. It only uses one Oscillator, but each of the 8 Unison voices are pitched differently using the ModMatrix. So although only one Osc is being used, we're in fact hearing many voices. It's a wonderful patch. Simple and effective, and it only uses 5%CPU. I'm going to have to use this one in a lounge project!

Back to the oscillators, it is possible to sync the two main ones. In addition, an automatable and modulatable OSC MIX knob blends the volumes of the 2 OSC's so one can easily morph between the two or create changes in the sound over time. Other basic but effective sound manipulation tools include Pulse Width Modulation, Ring Modulation, A white noise generator, and 2 FM knobs that are used in conjunction with 3 different FM Modes.
DUNE's filter is very good. There's a choice of 18 different filter configurations. You can get a smooth to harsh sound depending on what you're after. Turn that resonance knob way high for some serious ringing. Keep it low for some beautifully smooth filter sweeps. There's an envelope knob to control how much the Filter envelope affects the cutoff frequency, a key track knob, and an Offset knob that behaves in different ways depending on the type of filter selected. I am a sucker for quality filters. I own many excellent dedicated filter effects. DUNE's filter is of a great caliber. Another major plus for me.

The GUI is rather simple. All of the main synth parameters are displayed on one page. It's very easy to get the job done without having to click on a bunch of different tabs. There are 4 tabs but not for the main synth parameters. I personally love the grey skin. I use Fl Studio as a host and DUNE matches it's color scheme perfectly. The majority of the parameters displayed can be automated and are available as destination sources in the Mod Matrix.

The presets are mostly dance music oriented with some exceptions. I make Lounge/Trip Hop/Electronica and some of the included presets work very nicely for my style. Other presets require some tweaking and others I will need to make from scratch. It is possible to love this synth even if you don't make Trance/House, etc.. I'm living proof of it. I do hope we'll see some more variety in the presets over time, but it seems a few folks are already working hard on some new banks. If you're into making Dance music though, you have no excuse not to check out this synth.

DUNE also features quality effects. The distortion, phaser, flanger, chorus, and reverb are my favorites.

Customer support is very efficient. The developer, Richard, will go out of his way to make sure his customers and potential customers are happy. My inquiries have always been addressed in a timely manner. The Synapse forum seems like a cool place to hang out and the developer has a presence there. You can talk to him directly.

Conclusion: Very high quality sound. CPU efficient. One of the top 10 best softsynths ever made (yup, I'm going to go there), but that's just my opinion. DUNE can be simple to program, but you can also go very deep with the Mod Matrix and spend lot's of time coming up with new interesting ways to create new sounds. It is going to take me some time to understand all of the possibilities. Playing with DUNE is fun, and very rewarding. Such a good sound. I do hope it evolves over time. I wouldn't mind having one more mod envelope, for example. I have a few feature suggestions that I have now posted in the Synapse forum. I highly recommend trying out the demo of DUNE. Great job Synapse. Your best product to date. Superior quality. And I thought Junglist was great...
Sawer [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 2nd December 2010
Version reviewed: 1.1.4 on Windows
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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Image-Line had a yard sale recently so I demoed all of their synths. Sawer blew me away from the get go and I just had to have it. It is a very basic/simple synth with a very powerful sound. To me it sounds as good as some of the better known "newer generation" synths.

It has 1 Oscillator (SAW) and 1 Sub Oscillator (Saw or Square). It has a great Unison section with 1,2,4 or 8 Unison voices. You can control the amount of detuning as well as the panning of the Unison. The filter is wonderful. One of the best I have heard in a soft synth. With the Filter envelope and the LFO, one can really have fun tweaking the filter cutoff to achieve some true yummy goodness. I can easily spend a half hour just playing with the filter, just for fun, with no specific goal in mind.

The features of Sawer are limited.. but the sound.....

There's only one LFO. You get 4 LFO shapes, a choice of 7 destinations for the LFO. There are 4 filter types available (LP24, LP12, BP, HP). There are only 4 destinations for the filter envelope.

Sawer can be a CPU hog. On average the patches I use/make range between 15% and 25% CPU and I am using an i7 920. I tend to only have one Sawer play at a time, and it's usually being used as a lead synth. It is more CPU hungry than other synths that I use but the sound makes it worth it.

The effects are very nice. I usually tend to turn off effects in synthesizers and use dedicated effects, but Sawer's Chorus, Phaser, Delay and Reverb all sound very nice and I use them a lot in my patches. Sawer also has a decent arpeggiator with Up, Down, Up/Down, Random and 7 sync speeds, for 1, 2, 3, or 4 octaves.

I really don't like the Preset browser at all but have had to learn to live with it, and I believe Image-Line is working on coming up with a better solution to browse presets.

SAWER is fun, easy to use and I highly recommend it. It's actually kind of nice that it's limited in it's features. It helps me move on with the music. Sometimes I can spend too much time playing around with a lot of parameters because they're there. With Sawer I don't have that much freedom but I really love the sounds that I get out of it. I'm always surpised at the wide range of sounds I have been able to get out of it. Love it.
The Glue [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 16th September 2010
Version reviewed: 1.0.18 on Windows
11 of 12 people found this review helpful.
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It took me a moment to come back to my senses when I realized that no one had reviewed The Glue on KVR yet. I've only owned it for a few days and I don't know where to start. Let's keep things simple: This is the best compressor I have in my arsenal and I use quite a few very good payware and freeware compressors. The Glue is the "creme de la creme” for me. I primarily make electronic music such as Electronica, Trip Hop, Hip Hop and Lounge, and The Glue is fattening and pumping sounds in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I have a software channel compressor that comes close (it flies like a rocket), but The Glue gets the crown. The Glue does it all. I’ve tried it on individual channels (including Vocals, Acoustic guitar, Kick, Snare), I’ve tried it on a Drum sub mix. I’ve tried it on the Master, where it definitely works wonders gluing all the sounds together. The Glue is easy to use. And by that I mean you can easily hear the changes being made to the audio without having to fine tune each parameter (Many other compressors require you to do quite a bit of labor intensive tweaking before hearing noticeable results). Not so with the Glue. You are limited in your options, but in this case it’s a great thing. Each setting has it’s own character and you’re not tweaking a knob for a half an hour to find that character. It’s a great compressor for beginners, but with a professional sound. The results with The Glue are immediate. Tweak the different controls for a short amount of time and you are bound to find a sound that you like. I love the “range” knob, which can back off the compression. I really love the built in Sidechain, which allows you to compress less of the low end frequencies. It’s working wonders. I tried the external sidechain, ducking a synth line using a bass, then a kick, and got some nice results. It does seem that we are a bit limited in how far (how many db’s) we can get the sound to duck compared to other compressors, but I could be wrong. I only occasionally sidechain in this way. The PeakClip in button is awesome. You can really squash stuff without distorting. It doesn’t always produce nice results though (and you don’t always want or need to engage it anyway). I play it by ear. I’ve never used the SSL buss compressor The Glue emulates, but I have used high end hardware compressors and The Glue definitely has that hardware vibe. When I was trying the demo, I was just going Wow.. Wow.. Try it for yourself. You won’t regret it. The price is more than fair. It comes with a lot of presets but you don’t need these. I guess they can be a good starting point for someone trying to work their way around how a compressor works, but if you’re used to using them, then you really don’t need them. You’ll be dialing up great settings on your own in no time. The only problem is deciding which ones to go with because you will often end up trying different settings and liking everything that you hear. That’s a good sign.
MTremoloMB [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 6th May 2010
Version reviewed: 7 64-bit on Windows
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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Once in a while a new company comes out with innovative products and sets new standards. In my opinion, MediaProduction has done just that with their line of multiband creative effects, including the MMultibandTremolo.

Great Sound and fun to use: The quality of this MeldaProduction plugin (as with all of their plugins) is undeniable.
I see them as musical plugins that can sound sterile if you want them to be.

Great Features: First and foremost, one of the most important features in my eyes is that the Tremolo syncs to host. Sounds logical that this option would be available, right? You may or may not be surprised to find out that not all tremolo plugins sync to host. Also, some do, but don't allow you to turn the option off if you want to. With MMultibandTremolo, you have 15 different syncable lengths you can choose from (which controls the length of the wobble and it’s relation to time). I tend to use ½, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 a lot but faster and slower options are also available. In addition you can switch the type of synced tremolo from Straight to dotted and triplets. Don't want to sync to tempo? No problem, just disable the sync option and adjust the parameters manually.

The true power of the multiband version is that you can add up to 6 individual frequency bands, each with their own adjustable syncable tremolo. You can change the shape of the Tremolo for each band (16 standard shapes to choose from plus you can modify these shapes by drawing your own envelopes). You can manually adjust, automate or modulate the gain , pan and bandwidth limits of each band. This makes for some really creative and interesting sound design.

One of the strongest strengths of this plugin is it’s ability to modulate it’s parameters internally, using the 4 modulators (each modulator can control a multitude of different parameters, each parameter being modulated according to user defined values). You can control the amounts of modulation, their range, speed and direction. In addition to the modulators there are 4 adjustable Multiparameter menus, each with their own slider, which allow you to globally change the values of several individually linked parameters (which you configure the way you want).
Finally, you can use the Megapowerful ABCD morphing feature. Extremely powerful (too powerful? Lol) morphing feature.

This plugin is CPU friendly if you want it to be :)

I use an intel i7 920@ 2.67GHz. Windows 7 64-bit. ( I am using the 32 bit MeldaProduction plugins in my host FL Studio, which is 32-bit). Loading 1 instance with 1 band uses about 3% CPU. Each additional band inserted adds 1% CPU. I often find myself working with 3 bands, which uses 5% CPU. Modulating, adding parameters to modulate, etc. does not seem to increase the CPU usage.

The GUI: I like the clean look. The GUI is easy to navigate. Somewhat customizable. You can change the basic layout (limited options) and colors (also limited). You can RESIZE the GUI! I’m using a 28 inch monitor and a 24 inch monitor with my DAW. I love being able to make the GUI bigger. Many of the GUI’s I use from other companies feel too small. They didn’t used to, but now that computer monitors have gotten bigger and bigger, they feel small. Giving the option to the user to customize the size of the GUI is a big plus for me.

One downside with the GUI is that you can’t have multiple windows open at one time, but as I understand it, this is a limitation of the host not being able to handle this.

Customer Support: After trying the free plugins and demos of the creative bundle, I fell in love with the plugins. I bought the creative bundle. My only wish at the time was being able to adjust, modulate, and automate the panning of each band for all plugins. So I posted this feature request in the official forum and hoped that maybe one day it would be considered, perhaps even implemented, way down the line. The same day, the developer (Vojtech) replied saying ”Sounds original”.. We worked out how to implement the feature in the existing GUI, and 4 hours later I found out that the panning feature had been implemented and that a new release of all plugins was imminent. A few days later, I downloaded the new versions and saw my feature request become a reality before my eyes. The experience was surreal. A little while later, I suggested to add a Master Output Gain for all plugins. This also has been implemented in all plugins.... :)

Summary:
I love this plugin. You have got to try it! I guarantee it will change the way you think about what a Tremolo effect can do. Everything that came before it is now obsolete. Try the demos of other MeldaProduction multiband plugins while you’re at it (definitely grab the free ones at least). I love MCompressor. You won’t regret it. Outstanding line of plugins..... Clap Clap Clap.. PS: The manual is in the GUI. Click the "?" buttons. Small bugs. Seems they are fixed promptly after each release.
Retro Delay [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 28th January 2005
Version reviewed: 1.0.3 on Windows
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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In my opinion, this is the best free VST effect that came out in 2004. It truely is a jewel.

This delay delivers, big time, and it is the only delay that I use now. I got rid of the 15 other free delay plugins I had installed because this one surpasses them in so many ways.. It has a beautiful sound, great features, and a cool GUI.

I still want to get the commercial Ohmforce Ohmboyz delay, because it has a character of it's own, and has that unique Ohmforce flavor, but even when I do get it, I know that I will still use Retrodelay for a more traditional delay sound.. this is the best folks..

e-Phonic could charge a decent amount of money for it, and it still blows my mind to know that it is free.

Do yourself a favor: Download it. You will never look back. It's hard to put it in words. Just try it! You should immediately notice how special it is..

okay, KVR requires 1000 characters minimum for a review but I have said what I had to say, so I will say it again:

Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it
Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it
Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it
Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it Try it …
Spook Keys [read all reviews]
Reviewed By pheeleep [read all by] on 23rd January 2005
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows.
Last edited by pheeleep on 23rd January 2005.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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This is one great emulation of a Theremin. The best I have heard, and it is free!

This plugin is a whole lot of fun. If you like "space" sounds ( Think 1960's flying saucer sounds and sci fi sound effects ), you will really like spook keys...

When I use Spook keys I get into Sci Fi mode.

I am playing with it as I write this review and I just made it sound like a ghost.... hehehe... woooooooooo...wooooooooo.... so it could work for horror movie sound effects too!

I am using Spook keys in a Drum and Bass song I am working on at the moment and it fits in perfectly. You can definitely use it in your music as an instrument, not just as a source of sci fi sound effects..

I like the GUI. It is the Perfect size. I am not too crazy about the brown part ( a purplish blue would ne nicer ) but the rest looks pretty slick.

The only things that I think can be improved are:

1) I would love an option that keeps the little ball in position when you release the mouse button. Currently, if you release the mouse button, the little ball resets itself to it's initial position. Basically, I'd like to be able to choose how I want the ball to behave when releasing the mouse button.

2) The knobs don't respond very well at times. Sometimes they turn in the wrong direction.. the knobs seem a bit too sensitive..

Conclusion: I love this plugin and I hope you do too.

Notes:

I put 5 for Documentation because it doesn't come with any, but since you don't really need any..