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SampleTank 3 [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 24th October 2014
Version reviewed: 8.1 on Windows
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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Sampletank was always one of those tools that I only used for the libraries that were ST only, but didn't own it - until now. ST3 has been touted here and elsewhere as a huge step forward, and I think it is.

The first thing that struck me about it is the size of the library - 33GB, which covers a very wide range of instruments and sounds. The GUI has been improved slightly, and for the most part is user-friendly, relatively intuitive.

As with any sampler, the sound libraries are the most important thing, and IKM has done a pretty good job at providing some high quality samples. The EDM and band side of things is covered quite well, and there's a relatively complete set of orchestral instruments too. Some of the orchestral instruments sound good in part of the range and more obviously sampled in others. For example, the solo strings don't always sound perfect, but I am impressed with the sounds of the ensemble strings; and some of the brass instruments don't sound quite right at the high end of their range, but are good in the lower register.

What is very impressive is the integrated MIDI player - you can select an instrument, then a MIDI pattern on the next tab, and play a particular MIDI pattern by pressing the key it is assigned to - very useful for things like drums and bass lines.

One thing I would like to have seen is slightly better naming conventions for some of the instruments and their parent folders, but overall the organization of instruments is good, and it make it easy to find a sound that you need.

A point to note is that this is now a 64-bit tool (Yay!), but there is no longer a 32-bit version. Not a big deal for most people I think, and personally I have no problems as I've gone completely 64-bit.

In summary, I think this is a damn good upgrade from ST2, and with different versions at different price points available, worth considering.

Reason [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 5th December 2013
Version reviewed: 8.1 on Windows
0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Reason seems to be one of those love it or hate it tools for most people and sits in a space that's not quite plugin and not quite DAW. Personally I love it, and have used it since version 4, and have seen quite a few changes in that time.

To me, one of the best decisions that Propellerheads made was to consolidate Reason and Record into one tool, as it made no sense to keep them separate. It certainly extends the range of Reason to give it audio capabilities, and it has a very good mixer.

While third party plugin use has never been a feature of Reason, the Props came to a compromise and brought RE functionality to the table. RE may have failed if third parties had not developed for the platform, but when you look at the respected developers creating RE's, you have to realize that Reason is taken seriously as a platform for them to develop for.

At the core of Reason is a variety of tools that can be routed to a mixer as in any other DAW, but with the advantage that you can easily flip your racks around to patch any device to pretty much any other device. If you have no experience of this on other hardware or software there's a learning curve for sure, but once you master this, you really see the strengths of Reason.

I won't go into the details of each instrument on the racks as it would take up too much space, but Reason certainly has a wide range of instruments, covering various types of percussion, synthesizers, samplers and effects. The Props web site is a good place to start if you want to read further into what is included.

A common complaint that I have heard on KVR is that Reason relies on ReWire to communicate with other software. ReWire is not for everyone, but as it is implemented in most major DAWs and is pretty simple to set up, I'm happy with it and have never really had any issues using Reason and Ableton Live side by side. A recent addition is MIDI out, so that really opens up more opportunities with external instrument triggering, and any other uses for MIDI out.

On the downside, Reason does have a very cluttered GUI if you don't have a large monitor, and gets very fiddly on laptops. I think it is a little difficult to learn coming from other DAWs or hardware, but as with any tool, you can learn it over time.

Solid as a rock as far as stability is concerned and very efficient in terms of processor use. Some of the tools might have a bigger processor hit (Kong comes to mind), but for the most part they are very efficient.

I think it is priced very fairly, and upgrades come in at a reasonable price too.

VSTForx [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 16th September 2013
Version reviewed: 8 on Windows
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I probably don't write reviews of software I use anywhere near often enough, but having owned this for a while I felt that I needed to give a first review for it.

In short, this is an extension of the chainer or routing type software that is already out there, but with much more than any of the existing software can offer. It's only been around for a short while, but the developer has been hard at this and added new features and fixed bugs at a pretty amazing rate. There are a few more new features already in the pipeline, and I'm sure they will be implemented soon.

If you've ever been frustrated with the limitations in routing possibilities for your DAW, then this software might be just the thing you're looking for. Not only can you perform complex routing tasks easily, you also gain a lot of control over the parameters of other plugs that are routed from within VSTforx.

It's just gone into 64-bit, and the developer is going to start working on a bridge, so that you can also use 32-bit plugs within the 64-bit version. To me this is a huge thing - it opens up so many possibilities that would otherwise be extremely complex or even impossible.

There is something of a small learning curve with this, but once you get used to it, things should be pretty straightforward.

Development is going at a pace and that is something of a two-edged sword - in exchange for rapid development, you get a few bugs in releases, but the dev is very fast at jumping on them and getting them fixed.

As for price? It's ridiculous how cheap this is, and it should be in the price range of everyone. If you're interested, I'd suggest you try the demo and then consider supporting this dev, who really has created a pretty unique product.

Komplete [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 5th January 2009
Version reviewed: 5 on Windows
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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There are few software packages that are as much value as Komplete - look at the price of the 11 instruments that make up this package and add up the prices, you get them for less than half price buying them this way.

Probably the biggest downside to this is how long it takes to install them all and their libraries, but when you see and hear the results it's all worthwhile.

The interfaces have obviously had a lot of effort put into them to make them either look like the instrument they are emulating, or have had a great interface designed for non-emulated instruments. My only criticism here is that sometimes not enough thought was put into how much screen real estate will be taken up by these apps.

I can't really think of anything to say in terms of criticizing the sounds - they all sound great, whether you're looking for digital, analog, high quality or lo-fi.

Documentation isn't lacking either - not only do you get a collection of printed manuals, there is plenty of other information in PDF files that are installed with each instrument.

There are presets galore, with a lot of thought having gone into them. Descriptions of the presets are great too - you get some idea of what they will sound like - something that doesn't always happen with other instruments.

Customer support from NI tends to be a little slow. I haven't really had any need for it with Komplete, but my experience is that you have to be patient with them.

Value for money? Hell yeah! These things work out at less than $100 each and you're getting incredibly high quality for that price!

I've had no problems with stability with any of these. If anything, the versions included in Komplete 5 run leaner than demos of previous versions. NI seems to have done a lot to get these things working as well as they can.

Overall I would recommend this package to anyone. I know it's pricey, but if you have the money you really should invest in this.
Jamstix [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 14th November 2008
Version reviewed: 2.0 on Windows.
Last edited by robojam on 14th November 2008.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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I had been manually putting my drums together before I bought this, and after hearing a few pieces put together by people stating they used Jamstix, I had to go out and buy it!

It creates variations and fills in real time rather than rely of stringing MIDI files together, and it will jam along with either MIDI or audio from another track in your DAW which is a great feature. You can also put together your own patterns, either from a MIDI file or by dragging and dropping in a cell matrix.

First impressions were that the UI is not that user-friendly. This seems to be a common criticism of it and one that most people hope will be addressed in future versions. It's not that it's difficult to use, it's just that it's, well...ugly...

The sounds that come out of this are fine - very well sampled drum kits with a very realistic sound. If I had to criticize the sound it would only be that there is not enough variation between kits - maybe a broader range of kits would have been more useful. However, if you don't want to use the Jamstix kits, you can always get it to trigger another sampler that does have the sounds that you want.

Nothing wrong with the documentation that comes with this, but it is maybe a little difficult to understand because it uses screenshots of the UI. If the UI itself was more clear and well laid out, then I'm sure the documentation would seem a lot better.

For presets you get the various kits, the various drummers, and various styles. I think these could be expanded greatly, particularly the variation in kits and more than one example of each style. Having said that, there are plenty of tweakable parameters, so if you don't like it you can change it.

Customer support from Rayzoon is excellent - they have got it exactly right - if the customer has an issue they address it. There are far too many companies out there who are more interested in selling their product than dealing with customers.

Value for money? Absolutely! This is a steal at less than $100!

As for stability, I've had no problems with this at all. It's rock solid and isn't too resource hungry, even when you load some of the larger kits.

I'd recommend this software to anyone looking for a flexible, virtual drummer.
MDrummer [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 30th March 2008
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
13 of 19 people found this review helpful.
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Thought I'd review this in light of the developer trying to push it in the KVR forums using sock puppets, just to see what it's like.

The interface isn't too bad, but it's not the most intuitive, so it takes a few attempts at working out what is going on. Essentially you're selecting drum kits and styles, but it could all be much easier. Not too many features here - just creates drum patterns, and can add breaks, but the breaks are not that good - they sound too stiff and machine generated, not human at all.

The documentation is OK, but no easier to follow than the interface. At least it's in depth.

No presets as such, but you do have drum kits and styles. They're not well named - you get things like Techno1, Techno2, etc. Really not descriptive of what you get and it's all trial and error in the end.

Had no need to contact customer support, but if the underhand marketing techniques are anything to go by, I can't imagine that they have anything but selling the product foremost in their minds.

Value for money? I would not shell out the amounts listed for the pro version. This is maybe a $100 drum sampler/looper at most. Very overpriced for what it does.

It seemed stable in Ableton Live, and I had no issues for the half hour or so that I used it. However, there is a HUGE processor hit from this. With about 4 VSTs already loaded I had about 15% processor usage. Loading this took it to 97%!!!
mini DrumZ [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 11th January 2008
Version reviewed: 1.0 on Windows
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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The concept of this plugin - to reproduce the drum sounds of various well known drum machines - is something that I wished someone would do for a long time. For the most part I think this has been done relatively well, but there are some elements of this plug that perhaps fall short of the mark.

Not much is required of the interface - the user simply dials in the drum machine that they want, and the drums are set up. That's it. There are options to apply filters, but these filters are very basic in nature. Other than that there is a volume knob.

The sounds are accurate, but problematic. There is no consistency of volume between them, and even differences in volume between various sounds for the same machine. This is pretty irritating, as you can't vary the volume of individual drums, so the volume levels need to be much nearer than they are. The problem with each machine being different in volume is not good either - the difference is very pronounced in some cases.

One other problem is the mapping of drums to keys on a keyboard not being consistent either. For example, from one machine to another the snare drum may move so you can't program MIDI then change machines as the drum in the kit might change.

Overall I like the idea but feel that there are some problems in execution - this software really needs to have the drums resampled to better volumes for the next version. As is, it's not that usable.
British Valve Custom (BVC) [read all reviews]
Reviewed By robogone [read all by] on 8th November 2007
Version reviewed: BVC Free on Windows.
Last edited by robojam on 8th November 2007.
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This one is growing on me as I like what it does to the sound of my Tele. It's not too configurable, but it does a great job to sound like a tube amp. The appearance is good - not reminiscent of any other amps, but that is good, it has it's own look.

There aren't too many features, but you don't need them. The sounds is great and I for one don't feel the need to play with it too much, it sounds great out of the box. It's definitely got tube amp written all over it, and it just makes me want to rock out rather than do anything else. Having said that, it also has other uses, and I've used the out of phase sounds on my single coils with the gain turned down to get a really great sounding funk groove going.

There is a manual on the website, but I haven't had any contact with the company. It's stable and all you need to know is where your guitar lead plugs in.

As a free version of the full product this definitely gets a 10. I'm considering buying the full version which is a steal at $79.