I regularly try new audio software, plug-ins, sample libraries, etc. On this page I share some thoughts about these products.
A complete list of products reviewed on rekkerd.org is available here.
I regularly try new audio software, plug-ins, sample libraries, etc. On this page I share some thoughts about these products.
A complete list of products reviewed on rekkerd.org is available here.
D16 Group’s LuSH-101 is probably one of the most anticipated synthesizer plug-in of 2012. Since the initial announcement of the synth (then named Shioiter) over three years ago, it has been a long wait with few progress updates.
With such a long development stage – or rather the general public being in the know so early on – there will always be some hype and (unfounded) high expectations. And sure enough, when LuSH-101 finally arrived the reception was mixed. Some people instantly dismissed it for not emulating the SH-101 faithfully enough, having too many bells and whistles, being a CPU hog, or it just not living up to the “one synth you’ll ever need” tagline. Others have praised LuSH-101′s resemblance to the sounds of the classic Roland synthesizer, or appreciate the additional features included in the plug-in offers.
Though I must admit I have always wanted an MC-202, I am not all that interested in how precise D16 modeled the SH-101. I’ve heard some audio clips comparing the both and it can certainly sound very similar, but LuSH-101 has a lot more to offer than its hardware counterpart.
The multilayer architecture guarantees that both the sound design possibilities and number of unique situations in which LuSH-101 can be used are virtually limitless. Layered sounds can be created simply by assigning the layers to the same MIDI channel; the results can sound as massive as anything imaginable! Assigning the layers to different keyboard zones allows you to create even the most sophisticated splits. Of course, you can always assign the various layers to different MIDI channels for 8-part multitimbral usage. And, virtually any combination of splits, layers, and multitimbrality is possible with just a single instance of LuSH. With each layer working as an independent synthesizer with its own polyphony, parameters, enhanced arpeggiator, and a palette of only the finest insert effects, LuSH-101 can push your creativity to unprecedented levels!
Let’s take a quick look at the specs.
First off, let me say that LuSH-101 requires quite a lot of processing power. Even a single layer sound can take up a considerable amount of CPU – especially when using multiple voices – let alone multiple layer sounds. That said, with careful programming and lowering some settings you can still get decent results on older systems like my good old duo core Pentium.
The sound of LuSH-101 starts with the oscillators. These do not necessarily have an “analog” vibe to my ears, but they do have a pleasant high quality sound about them.
Mixing square (pwm), saw, sub and noise oscillators you have a limited palette, but this can actually help you get creative in a “less is more” kind of way.
The hardsync on the square and saw is achieved by using a hidden oscillator. It has its own sound, I quite like it. The saw can also be stacked to create a supersaw. Not my type of thing really, but I hear it’s pretty sweet.
To the right of the source mixer is the filter section, with a multi-mode (lowpass, bandpass, highpass) resonant filter and a passive highpass, which is said to have a characteristic RC analogue filter. The multi-mode filter has two modes:
- Normal: The overall peak volume of the filter output is constant across the Cutoff frequency and Resonance domain and the filter itself is softer in comparison to SH-101 variant.
- SH-101: More unstable and analogue like with faithful emulation of self-oscillations appearing in SH-101.
I have no idea how faithful this emulation is, but the SH-101 mode sounds quite different from the normal one so make sure you give it a try. Note that some filter stepping is audible, and I am not sure if this is intended but it doesn’t bother me to be honest. Two envelopes and two LFO’s are available to control various parameters, including things like pitch, pulse width, and cutoff & resonance of the multi-mode filter.
LuSH-101 offers various trigger modes for its envelopes and LFOs, and a special SH-101 mode can be selected from the options panel. The envelopes are also nice and fast, which is demonstrated by the lovely drum sounds this synth can produce.
Moving a bit further to the right of the interface we find the arpeggiator. This features various modes (up, down, up/down, random, etc), a host of tempo/rates, shuffle, chords, gate and tie sequencer, and more. I tend to do everything in my host, but I have to say an arp like this is easy and fun to use.
To spice things up a bit, LuSH-101 also includes some internal insert effects: Chorus, Flanger, String Ensemble, Phaser, Vowel Filter, Distortion, Decimator, and Tremolo. These are simple, solid effects. I especially like the vowel filter and decimator, and the chorus is great for creating lush sounds. You can currently only select one effect at a time, but note that you can set a different effect for each of the 8 layers.
The mixing panel lets you mix all your layers in channel strips. Each channel comes with a compressor, equalizer, and 3 send fx controls for the global reverb, delay and chorus effects. These effects also have dedicated channel strips with an EQ.
On the one hand I like this approach of designing a sound pretty much completely within a synth, on the other hand I feel it is a bit silly to be mixing and applying compression, eq, etc. in a plug-in when you could simply do this in your host software. I’m still a bit divided on the whole thing.
All parameters of LuSH-101′s individual layers (incl. arp, insert fx, mod matrix, etc) can be stored in a timbre preset. The arpeggiator also has its own presets, and so do the reverb and delay in the mixer panel. All settings within an instance of LuSH-101 are stored within a global preset.
The presets browser feels a bit outdated to me. Preset name, author and rating are stored, yet there is no search option or tagging system available. It is basically plain old hierarchical folder browsing. That said, the presets themselves include many wonderful sounds. Lots of quality presets categorized in bass, drum, fx, mono/lead, poly, and tempo based folders.
Alright, a few more bits and bobs before I round up.
LuSH-101 features a plain and simple (boring?) modulation matrix. Source, destination, and amount in a simple panel. Some useful parameters are missing from the destinations list, but more will be added in a future update. A wider range of modulation values would be useful as well.
Talking about updates, the interface has received a good portion of critique from users who either can’t fit the whole thing on their screens, find the huge keys a waste of space, or simply can’t read a thing with those tiny text labels.
Fortunately, the developers are listening and the option to hide the keyboard – which I also though was waste of space, but would you believe I miss it when it’s hidden… – was implemented already, and additional interface sizes are planned for an upcoming update. At a later stage we should even be able to pick our favorite colors for the GUI, just like the early Shioitor teaser shots suggested.
Lastly, when first trying to automate something within your host you will find LuSH-101 doesn’t send out anything by default. As there are too many parameters to assign within the VST/AU spec of 128, you are left to do your own maps. A bit annoying to have to set up, but it’s probably something you are only going to do once and you can use your custom map as a default for subsequent sessions. And again, it has already been announced that improvements for parameter handling, automation and the modulation matrix are planned. LuSH-101 is only going to get better with time.
Check the demo tracks below to listen to the sounds of LuSH-101.
Quality comes at a price, and I don’t mean the actual price tag. LuSH-101 requires a lot of processing power. There is no denying that this can be a deal breaker for those with “underpowered” machines.
Looking past this issue (and once again coming to terms with bouncing/freezing in your host), there is also no denying that LuSH-101 is a proper monster synthesizer that is capable of producing high quality sounds. Beyond the SH-101 comparison, LuSH-101 offers so much more than the recreation of a classic. The layering system is really nice, especially for designing dynamic pads.
I am also well impressed with D16 Group’s fast response to user requests/critique. If the first update and the list of upcoming improvements are anything to go by, it looks like LuSH-101 will only get better with time. I hope that there will also be some CPU optimization, or perhaps they could do a lite version with less options, but I will say it again: Quality comes at a price.
Hats off to the D16 team for what they have achieved.
With the version 1.0.1 update, the LuSH-101 demo now allows 30 minutes of testing (and no more annoying pop-up window) so go check it out.
DIVA Prima is a testiment to the flexibilty of u-he’s creation. Chunky Minimoog basses, Kraftwerkian synth percussion and drums, raspy mono-leads, lush Solina-like synth strings, massive, Jupiter-esque pads, delicate, glassy plucks, and even digital, FM-type sounds.
On top of that, we’ve included some sound-alike patches. Need the resonant synth sound from Yaz’s “Only You”? We’ve got it here. Need the famous Yamaha TX81Z “Latelybass” preset? We’ve got a pretty convincing version of that, too. Gary Numan-esque strings? Gotcha covered.
But we don’t stop there. Amidst all of the beautiful sounds are their ugly cousins, using crossmod, filter FM, and other unusual techniques to give you startlingly original and edgy sounds sure to stand out in a mix.
The soundset includes 128 patches (plus an Init to create your own). Unfortunately they aren’t categorized or tagged as such, which is a shame because I do like my patches neatly ordered when possible. With this amount of patches it’s alright though, also since many patches have good descriptions.
Many patches have useful modulation mappings, allowing for more expressive playing. Diva’s patch information panel is used to describe the patches and show which controls are mapped.
When you audition your new patches, be sure to check out what the mod wheel or aftertouch does. It might be something subtle like opening the filter or adding vibrato, or it might be something much more striking via crossmod or filter FM, but almost every patch has some sort of modulation assigned to it for more expressive sounds.
Have a listen to the demo tracks below to get a good idea of what’s included. These are all DIVA only (with just minimal mastering processing).
With DIVA Prima, Tom Shear delivers a solid set of sounds for u-he’s virtual analog synthesizer.
Tom’s industrial/EBM background shows, but I am always pleasantly surprised by the versatility of his sounds. As with previous Waveformless soundsets, this collection includes a well balanced amount of bread & butter patches, as well as more unusual sounds.
Diva truly is a superb synthesizer – I reckon one of the best virtual analog’s at this moment – and the sounds of DIVA Prima do shine on this beast. Also, the $9.99 price tag is not likely to be a deal-breaker. Check out this great value for money soundset at the Wavefromless website, and make sure to pick up the free demo pack with 10 patches.
Users of Zebra have no shortage in sounds for this virtual modular synthesizer. Thousands of patches are available in both free and commercial soundsets. U-he’s latest offering – The Dark Zebra, is a little more than just a collection of patches.
A bank of over 400 presets, a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr. Practically all Zebra sounds in the The Dark Knight as well as The Dark Knight Rises soundtracks are included, plus several more that didn’t quite fit into the scores.
The pack also includes Hans’ custom built update from a licensed Zebra2.x to the version you can see in this video, ZebraHZ. Many of the more recent patches make use of the extra features available in ZebraHZ.
So not only does this soundset for Zebra 2.5 include hundreds of sounds straight from the brilliant minds of Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr, it also comes with a custom Zebra version that was made specifically for Hans’ scoring of the Dark Knight movies.
Additional features of ZebraHZ include:
The new filters are available from the DIVA VCF tab in the bottom bar of the GUI.
You get 4 highpass filters and 4 lowpass/multimode filters. The HP filters include two models – Pre and Bite, and the 2 pairs of lowpass filters have Ladder, Cascade, Multimode and Bite models. Controls for cutoff, resonance and key follow are available, and three unlabelled knobs can be used to set modulation depths for assigned sources (two for cutoff, one for resonance) for each filter.
Since these filters can consume quite a bit of CPU, it’s good to have some quality parameters so you can work in draft mode and render with high audio quality. You can also get some random cutoff values on the filters with an additional “CutoffSlop” control.
ZebraHZ comes with an individual polyphonic compressor for each one of the 4 lanes. Polyphonic means that these will apply compression for each single note! You can imagine this takes some processing power so you can deactivate them to save some CPU.
The lane compressor modules are particularly useful for doing percussion/drum type sounds where transients matter.
With two additional modmappers in ZebraHZ (also included in the latest regular Zebra plugin) you now have a total of 4 flexible modulation map modules to add even more modulation to your sound.
The new Resonator module (Res1) is available from the effects grid on the Global/FX tab. This emulates the 3-band peaking filter found on Moog Music’s Polymoog analog synthesizer.
One of the very first polyphonic synthesizers ever included a 3-band peaking filter that could be used to dramatically shape the overall sound.
ZebraHZ takes this concept and extends it with an extra full range band (60Hz-7.5kHz). The Resonator has various filter color modes, and the filter mode includes lowpass, bandpass, a bandpass variation with inverted second pole, and highpass.
Interestingly enough, many of the patches in The Dark Zebra don’t use any of these new features. Regardless, the additions are great to have.
As for the sounds, The Dark Zebra has a total of 400 patches which are categorized as follows:
As you would expect with sounds that were used in the soundtracks for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, many of them have a dark and cinematic feel to them.
Howard programmed most of the sounds to be performed with mod wheel, pitchbend, pressure and breath control, making them very dynamic. The patches come with information on the sound, how to use it and which controls are assigned to which parameters so you get an idea of how they were intended to be played.
Check Jarkko Hietanen’s amazing demo below to hear some of the sounds of The Dark Zebra in action. Only Zebra was used for this track!
It is a real testimony to u-he’s Zebra, that a famed composer like Hans Zimmer chooses to use this particular synthesizer for his soundtrack scoring. Browsing the sounds of The Dark Zebra it is clear that see why this flexible, high quality instrument was used. But a good synth only gets you so far.
I reckon a decent sound designer can make a bad synth look pretty good. How much more can a brilliant sound designer do with a fantastic synth? Howard Scarr is a true master of synthesizer programming, and in this collaboration with Hans Zimmer his skill, knowledge and dedication bears much fruit.
The sonic range of The Dark Zebra offers small and beautifully intricate to gripping, fast-paced and chaotic. Highly cinematic, but not limited to film scoring, this soundset is both an archive of hundreds of beautifully designed sounds ready for use in your own productions, as well as a peek into top notch sound design with Zebra. It is well worth studying the patches to learn how particular sounds were achieved.
Though the soundset didn’t actually end up using the new features in a whole lot of its patches, it’s still great to have the Diva filters, resonator, and lane compressors in ZebraHZ for your own sound design.
The only downside is perhaps the price tag. Even though ZebraHZ comes as its own plugin, you do need a license of Zebra 2.x to use ZebraHZ and the soundset. I personally think that The Dark Zebra is well worth the price, but new users will have to pay a considerable sum to get the whole package. That said, Zebra *is* a most excellent synthesizer, so it’s not a bad thing to pick it up anyway.
I’ve been following Bart van Dijk and Mark McCann on SoundCloud for a while now. Collaborating under the alias “June Miller”, the two have been steadily gaining momentum in the drum and bass and dubstep scene ever since moving from their hardcore/punk roots to the electronic music scene.
In 2007, inspired by Black Sun Empire’s Blackout gigs in Utrecht and Breakage’s This Too Shall Pass album – an all-time favorite of myself – they decided to focus on producing drum and bass. And not without success.
With the Dark Complex Drum & Bass sample pack, the sounds of June Miller are now available to use in your own productions.
Dark and Complex Drum & Bass includes 803Mb of Crisp Cutting Beats, Deep Atmospheric Soundscapes, Dark Menacing Basses, Emotive Melodies, Huge Impacts and Dramatic SFX.
If you like Drum and Bass Hard and Dirty with dramatic emotional backdrops then June Miller is guaranteed to take your productions to the next level. Taking inspiration from Artists such as Breakage, Spirit, Photek, Ed Rush & Optical, Sabre, Burial and Shackleton the guys have produced one killer pack so check out the demo and sample June Miller TODAY!
Here’s a short breakdown of what’s included in the pack:
Starting off with the atmos loops, what I hear immediately gets me excited about this pack. Lots of reverb drained soundscape type atmospheric beauties. The material is highly musical, with quite a few loops including a variety of sounds and instruments, and well worked out movements/progressions (up to 1 minute long even). Listening to these individually, many of them sound not as dark as I had expected, but rather uplifting really.
In the bass section we find some great gnarly, filtered bass lines. More futuristic, aggressive, and quite nasty sounding actually. In a good way of course. The sounds and melodies are well programmed.
The drum loops include 10 construction kits with the full loops and individual elements, the majority being 16 or 32 bars long. Normally I’d say just give me the full loop and drum hits so I can construct my own variations and elements, but in this case these hard hitting loops actually sound so good I don’t mind the construction kit approach. It’s also a great way to learn how full sounding drums are done. I just wish there were more of them.
The last loops folder has a bunch of top loops, including some shakers, hihat loops and a drum kick roll. Nothing earthshaking, but useful nonetheless.
Everything is tagged with bpm (all are 172bpm) and key info where applicable, and REX versions are included as well.
In the single shot sample folders it’s more of the same high quality sounds. Interestingly enough, the atmos and drones do sound quite a bit darker and creepier than their looped counterpart. There’s a good variety of themes in these original sounds. The two soundscapes (1.11 and 1.51 minutes long) are just stunning.
The bass samples seem to be taken from the sequences that created the loops. So basically shorter versions of the loops, equally nasty, filtered, modulated bass hits.
To complement the drum loops, June Miller has also included the kicks and snares from said loops, alongside some additional one-shots. Hihats (incl. cymbals and rides) and percussion samples sound great.
Another highlight is the sound fx folder, full of well-designed samples. I don’t know all the technical terms for the types of effects included, but it’s all high quality material. Very useful to beef up your tunes with for sure.
A collection of 25 sound design samples round up this pack. These are somewhere between the atmos and the sound fx. Lovely cinematic sounds, including cavern type water drips, wailing synth, lots of glitchy hits and more, all drowned in reverb.
The included sampler patches map the samples of each category across the keys for ease of use, and the drum single-shots have 5 kits patches included as well.
Have a listen to the official demo track of Dark Complex Drum & Bass below to hear what all these loops and samples sound like.
With Dark Complex Drum & Bass, June Miller delivers a fantastic collection of loops and samples. It has the genuine feel of their style and sound, and it shows great technical skill and musicality throughout the whole library. The loops and samples have a consistent quality.
While there’s certainly a dark and complex feel to the pack as a whole, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive vibe of many samples when used individually.
The only bad thing about June Miller’s debut sample library is that it tastes like more, so I’m already looking forward to volume 2!
Soundiron’s Rust 3 is the latest in its series of found-sound percussion sample libraries for Native Instruments Kontakt.
With this grand 3rd volume, we set out to conquer powerful bass and rich musical tone, recording a massive variety of surfaces, objects, oddities, apparatuses and custom contraptions very up-close in wide stereo to capture even the most subtle of resonances and overtones.
We aimed for a collection that would offer uniquely alternative drum kit concepts, richly complex tuned percussion, dramatic effects and stingers and a huge wealth of sustaining lead, pad and ambient instruments. We reached for crystalline highs and mind-melting lows. We wanted a library that could stand on it’s own, capable of producing limitless musical potential all by itself.
Rust 3 features at a glance:
Have a listen to the Rust 3 audio demos below to get an idea of what this is all about.
The patches of Rust 3 are grouped in 4 folders: Ensembles, Sustains, Master, and Effects.
The Ensembles section includes 7 instruments, with original (untuned) and tuned variations, so 14 patches in total. The sounds were recorded from a variety of objects, including large 50 gallon chemical drums, garbage can lids, garden tools, a cattle corral, various pipes and rods, and custom percussion instruments. A number of articulations is available – e.g. hands, sticks, mallets, etc – and the sounds are basically laid out like percussion kits mapped across the keyboard.
The tuned patches take a single tuned articulation from the full range of sounds included in each ensemble, and tunes and maps it across the keyboard. Articulations can be switched in realtime with MIDI CC, which can also be automated.
The three included Sustains patches have a focus on drones and ambient soundscape type sounds. The sounds in these patches can be morphed and polyphonic legato is available from the custom Kontakt interface panel.
The Master section includes a number of patches with combined instruments.
The master patch includes all percussive patches, and a lite version with less round robin samples is also included. The MegaMixer and Tuned Layer Builder patches allow you to construct your own ensembles by using 10 to 12 layers respectively.
The Effects section features 12 patches in both Kontakt 4 and Kontakt 5 format. The Kontakt 5 patches use the improved Time Machine Pro engine for a more realistic time stretching. The patches include sounds effects made by scraping metal objects, using violin bows, and other techniques.
Rust 3 includes a number of custom panels for quick access to parameters to modify the sounds, including the ever lovely “Uberpeggiator” custom arpeggiator, convolution reverbs and more.
For a more detailed overview of what’s included with Rust 3, check out the official walkthrough video below.
Rust 3 is a beautiful library, chock full of useful sounds.
By itself, the general vibe of the library tends to be a bit dark/creepy/haunting, which is great for cinematic film and game projects. Individual instruments will also blend in just fine with pretty much any other music genre, though the reason why this library (as well as other Rust libraries) is in Soundiron’s experimental category is obvious. I am not saying you shouldn’t use Rust 3 in your dubstep tunes, but I reckon you’ll get better mileage when you’re into junk percussion and original designed instruments with a metal vibe.
In short, I am well impressed with Rust 3. The sound recordings, instrument design, and Kontakt scripting all contribute to a deliver another top notch library.
Tons of sample libraries are released week in week out, and I reckon it’s getting increasingly harder to get noticed. Still, every once in a while there’s a sample library that grabs my attention.
Since launching their website at the end of 2011, the guys at Samplephonics have been working hard to bring “fresh, unique sounds that inspire creativity and push the boundaries of music and sound”, and that’s certainly what they are doing with libraries like Analogue Witchcraft.
This is quite simply the most diverse and exciting sample pack we have released to date, packed full of leftfield and experimental loops and samples all with their own unique flavour and texture.
Leftfield and experimental, just my cup of tea!
The title Analogue Witchcraft might throw you off a bit so just to be sure you know what we have here. The library includes a fair amount of sounds coming from modular analog synthesizer sources, but this sample pack is not all about that.
For Analogue Witchcraft a combination of vintage and current equipment and software was used. Samplephonics mentions “experimental recording techniques”, I call the pack’s sound fresh. It includes recordings of acoustic guitars and foley percussion, and a Studer Tape Machine was used as well.
This library was made by Paul Rez aka Paul Ressel, an innovative sound designer, composer, and member of electronica band Lark from Cape Town, South Africa. As part of this band that is said to be “one of the key contributors to the rising experimental and idm crossover scene”, Paul is no stranger to blending organic and acoustic sources with digital and electronic sounds.
Have a listen to some demo tracks and example loops from the sample pack below.
The pack includes no less than 226 samples grouped in 7 folders.
The first folder – Acoustic Guitar Day Care – sets the tone right from the start. These are some lovely acoustic guitar samples with a distinct sound, 42 loops in total. The description reads “played in a variety of unorthodox ways and processed in Reaktor and Audiomulch for some subtle effects”. I really like Paul’s style on the guitar, lots of flageolet tones and fragile melodies, lovely!
Taking things to the more experimental side we find Flawed Foley Melodies, a collection of 23 more melodic and rhythmic themes with stringed instruments and cinematic percussion type sounds. Unique in sound and execution.
The Half Buried Drum Loops folder includes 26 heavily processed beats. Heavy compression, long reverbs, nasty distortion. All is allowed here. Again, lots of unique material here.
Up next is the Organic Mechanic folder, in which 37 loops blend organic and mechanical sound sources. This results in more melodic and rhythmic themes, which are more on the experimental side as well. It’s interesting to see the variety of styles, which go from dark cinematic to sonic youth type bass guitar.
The Retriggered to Tape section offers a selection of loops that were processed with tape. The 21 loops include lots of re-triggered piano and guitar sounds.
Just as you think you are getting a good sense of where this library is going we get another surprise. Synthi Hurtful Bass Loops is full of the type of sounds that will make some people question your sanity. You’ll have to reassure them your speakers aren’t broken, explain what idm is, that kind of thing. Samplephonics lists them as “gnarly twisted bass loops, recorded from a selection of analogue synth loops, bass guitars and upright basses”. Gnarly & twisted, check.
The last folder is titled Uncooperative Sequences and they kind of remain in the same area as the synthi bass loops. These sequences also sound quite raw and twisted. There’s a total of 48 melodic and percussive loops, which once again showcase a lovely sonic range and a wide variety of styles.
The sample pack also includes REX files for many of the loops (103 in total), and patches are available for easy auditioning in your favorite soft sampler.
In general the loops have quite a raw and honest vibe, played/composed with feeling and processed with care.
I would like to describe Analogue Witchcraft as musical, experimental, glitchy, raw & energetic, and most beautiful. These sounds conjure up a childlike enthusiasm in me. The library is like a playground with lots of fun toys scattered around for you to find, pick up, and make your own. My favorite sections are the guitar sounds and the drum loops.
The library is most suited to idm music producers and many sounds have a vibe that would work well for cinematic projects as well.
In short, Paul Rez created a truly remarkable collection of loops with a sound I haven’t really heard before. Recommended, check it out!
In many ways there is a world of difference between hardware and software. Feel, size & weight, smell(?!), price… But as far as sound quality goes, virtual analog synthesizer plug-ins are increasingly becoming more like their hardware counterparts. I am not sure how developers got the sound of vintage synths in early emulations and “inspired by” synth plug-ins, but today it is all about modeling the originals down to the smallest parts.
Hot on the heels of FXpansion and u-he comes Tone2 with its Saurus virtual analog circuit-modeled synthesizer.
We carefully measured and modeled the circuits of many classic performance synthesizers, even including single capacitors and resistors to provide an extremely accurate analog model, faithfully capturing the spirit and character of these old machines.
Saurus aims to deliver that analog flavor with its “True Analog Modeling Technology”, which according to Tone2 gives the oscillators the warm characteristic sound of analog hardware.
The synth features two oscillators with 8 selectable waveforms each, including all the classic ones you would expect, plus some additional ones similar to Roland’s Alpha Juno (PWM Sawtooth & Comb) and an organ stack inspired by Farsivar analog organs. The PW control allows you to extend range of sounds even more by morphing osc waveforms into more shapes. Both oscillators are paired with sub oscillators, also with 8 selectable waveforms each.
Controls are available for mixing oscillators and subs, tone, frequency and amplitude modulation noise, ring modulation, sync of both oscs, tune & detune, a phase adjust, and of course drift to get some of that vintage unstable sound.
The filter section sports 6 filter types, including three Chamberlin modeled filters (12dB LP, HP, and BP), a 24dB LP Butterworth filter, a notch and a formant filter. The 12dB LP is said to have the character similar to Korg’s MS-20. I don’t know too much about filter topologies or how Chamberlin and Sallen-Key relate, but the filter sure does some nice screaming. Not quite as aggressive as its reference but it sounds great nonetheless, especially when dialing in some extra drive.
Saurus comes with 2 LFO’s, which only have 4 waveforms – I guess due to limited space on the interface – but you can select more waveforms from within the modulation matrix. The modulation system is kind of… vintage. No smart features here, just three pages of 5 modulation slots to assign sources and targets.
Interestingly enough, there are some parameters in the mod matrix that you can’t access anywhere else, e.g. white and pink noise modulation sources. The mod matrix is also the only place where you can make use of the ADSR envelope of the AUX section.
To increase control over the modulation, Tone2 has also implemented some modifiers which basically sit in between the mod source and destination.
Switching the Mod Matrix screen to the first tab opens up the arpeggiator/gate, which also serves as a modulation source. The arpeggiator includes some interesting features like chord and release steps, step velocity and swing.
Unlike previous Tone2 synthesizers, the effect section is quite limited. The chorus, reverb, and delay units have just 3 knobs each, and a one-knob tube effect adds some analog tube warmth to your sound.
The general section has controls for note glide, voice mode, unison (2-4x) with spread, a “psycho-acoustic boost”, ADSR envelope and pan & volume.
Saurus comes with no less than 563 presets by 20+ sound designers. The presets can be selected from the patch browser in the top left, where they are categorized by sound type.
Tone2 recently held a contest in which people were asked to create some tracks with a vintage character. Check out the winning entry below to get an idea of what Saurus can sound like.
Tone2 has posted a comprehensive introduction video for Saurus, so check it out below if you’d like some more details about this plugin.
There has been a lot of talk about Saurus, especially on forums like KVR where everything gets compared to bits.
The obvious challenge for Tone2 was to take on u-he’s Diva, but to be honest, in terms of sound quality Diva is just miles ahead of the competition. And that’s alright, because both are actually quite different. Whereas Diva’s semi-modular design excels in sound quality, Saurus is more like a simple vintage synthesizer in a modern outfit. Easy to program, relatively easy on the CPU, and surprisingly versatile.
Tone2 – or its marketing copy – was perhaps focusing a little too much on trying to highlight Saurus’ “True Analog” features, while Saurus in fact is a great all-round synth. Sure it does some lovely Alpha Juno type detuned saw sounds, but I really enjoyed browsing its presets and finding way more variety than I would expect from the average virtual analog.
In short, Saurus is a capable synthesizer in the area of both analog and digital type sounds. It is easy and fun to work with, and it has a fair price tag. Check out the demo and see what you think.
For SFX Collection 02, the guys of Wave Alchemy collaborated with producer Matt Lange of IsoRhythm, to deliver a library of sound effects for electronic music, cinematic scores, and game audio productions.
SFX Collection 02 delves deeply into new sonic territory by combining creative digital effects processing, granular re-synthesis and intricate automation with analogue synths, legendary effects devices and unique field recordings.
The library features a total of 826 samples (over 2GB in size), categorized in no less than eleven distinct types of fx sounds:
The cinematic slams typically come with a bit of buildup in front of the slam, and a rather long reverberated tail behind it. Impressive, big sounding hits with a rather tense, disturbing undertone. Just what you would expect and hope to get.
The cymbal effects include both short (1 sec) and long (up to 35 sec) sounds. Includes your typical swoosh-type stuff as well as heavily processed samples. There is actually surprisingly much variety in sounds here.
Now, I have to admit I am not so well-versed in sound fx vocabulary, so I am not completely sure what exactly is the difference between downshifters and falls, and uplifters and risers. They all have this sense of something going up or coming down, with movement in pitch, lfo type effects, etc. Great for bridging different parts of your music/composition. Again, lots of unique, quality material here.
When it comes to the impact samples I can identify with some of the sounds and mentally place them in a familiar scene, while others are quite much out of this world. These are no simple run of the mill impact thuds.
For the noise tools section, Wave Alchemy used some vintage synths, analog effect units and experimental fx chains and re-synthesis to create noise-based effects, resulting in lots of sweep type sounds. These could also have gone in some of the other categories but I guess the sound sources and processing is what got them grouped in a bunch.
If I wasn’t already hugely impressed by the sound design on all these samples, the soundscape & ambient section shows a fantastic selection of inspiring, complex, yet usable sounds. Both cinematic and musical ndash; slightly creepy at times ndash; just amazing stuff really!
While reading, why don’t you have a listen to Wave Alchemy’s demos below for a quick impression.
The synth impacts & stabs section brings more impacts, but with a distinct synthesizer flavor this time. As such, these are generally more tonal than the previously mentioned cinematic impacts. They basically sound like a synth hit processed to bits.
This library just keeps blowing me away. The twisted transition fx are just stunning. These are heavily processed and truly creative transition sounds including morphing granular effects, transformed foley recordings, undulated Doppler FX, spectral trickery and all manner of other sonic destruction!. Yes, this is the icing on the cake. Crazy wild effects like you’ve never heard before.
The last folder in this library reads “xtra – analogue synth fx”. One might think these are just a few bonus sounds, but get this: no less than 247 extremely raw sounding audio effects which have been created using our extensive collection of high-end analogue studio equipment are included here!
These “dry” sounds include lots of similar sounds to the ones in other folders, but unprocessed. Very useful.
All of the samples in this library have descriptive titles, and 16 sampler patches are included for easy auditioning of the sounds.
I don’t need to write a lot here. Simply said, SFX Collection 02 is a stunning sound effects library. It is impressive in every way, from sound design to sound quality. It has a huge sound, a perfect blend of cinematic & electronic, incredibly versatile and not limited to any kind of genre at all really. These sound effects are good to go.
I reckon is the one that has set the bar to a new level for this type of sound fx sample libraries.
Check it out at Wave Alchemy, and make sure to download the free demo pack with 60 sounds.