Cluster Sound has announced the release of Rhapsody, a free Ableton Live Pack featuring the sounds of the Rhapsody 490 polyphonic analog string synthesizer by Elka.
The Rhapsody 490 comes with just three sounds (Violoncello, Strings and a combination of these two sounds) characterized by a fixed distinctive chorus effect. But the unit used for this library has been equipped with a switch that allows to activate/deactivate the chorus, definitely a very useful hack!
Rhapsody is a multi-sample Live Pack based on 6 recordings created by sampling the three sounds with and without the chorus effect. Rhapsody delivers 21 Live Presets (with useful macro controls) each of which consists of 49 perfectly-looped samples (each note of the 4-octave keyboard).
220 MB content, 24 Bits/44.1 Khz.
6 Multi-sample Recordings (294 samples).
One sample per note (4 octaves).
Perfect loop-points (no crossfading).
21 Live Presets.
15 Sampler/Simpler devices.
The Rhapsody pack is a free download for registered Cluster Sound users (requires Ableton Live 9/Suite 9).
Synth Magic has announced the release of Elka Solist 505, a virtual analogue synthesizer instrument for Kontakt 5.
The library is based on the rare little Italian beauty, the Solist 505.
The Elka Solist 505 was a monophonic lead synthesizer, preset based with variations for added performance. It provided a nice alternative to the Moog Satellite ARP Pro Soloist. It had 11 presets, all which could be changed with freq/res, attack/release, vibrato and portamento. Notably, it contained the famous Moog ladder filter. Although basic in function – no CV, no MIDI – it could produce some lovely tones, and the keyboard action was very nice indeed – something you’d expect from a renowned Italian organ manufacturer!
In making the Solist 505, I sampled every single note of every preset from a real Elka Solist 505. Samples recorded at 24 bit for quality and depth. Each preset from the original machine has been sampled twice; the first set recorded clean, to give a perfect recreation of the Solist, and the other second set I recorded through vintage 1960′s valve pre-amps similar to the pre-amps used by Joe Meek. Both sample sets can be selected directly from the custom GUI, designed by saintjohnbaxter.. There is also the ability to play both sets of samples at the same time.
In keeping with the real Solist there is also a synth section, allowing you to shape each sound using filters, LFOs, envelopes, vibrato etc.
There’s also a small memory footprint, as all samples are streamed directly from your hard drive and not your computer’s RAM memory.
We have included over 120 great presets to get you started with the Solist 505.
The Kontakt library is available to purchase for the introductory price of £8 GBP. Requires the full version of Native Instruments Kontak 5.
Take 6 iconic vintage synthesizers, carefully restore them, create a massive array of presets and deeply multi-sample them, professionally process and master the sounds, infuse them into the industry proven UVI Engine–giving you endless sound shaping options, then wrap the results in immaculately prepared GUIs and you’ve got UVI Vintage Legends; 6 brand-new soft synths with the brilliant depth and character of classic hardware.
Instantly call up inspiration from the Yamaha CS-70M, CS-40M and CS-20M, the crazy Italian Elka Synthex, the Rhodes Chroma, the king of FM—the Yamaha DX1, the rare DK Synergy, and rediscover the classic K250.
The Iconic Synth Collection is available for the introductory price of $299 USD (regular $349 USD). Individual synth libraries are $99 USD each.
UVI has announced String Machines, a hybrid instrument forged with the analog imprint of the 11 most musical string synthesizers ever built.
Back in the 70′s, leading keyboard designers around the world attempted to reproduce orchestral string sounds through analog synthesis. The results were far from their original intent but were in no way failures. Used on countless cult records and engrained in our collective memory to this day – these ‘String Machines’ bore an analog soul on their own.
At UVI we are obsessed with this, having spent countless hours working on ways to capture this analog soul and present it as an accessible, expressive, fully editable digital tool. So was born String Machines – a hybrid instrument forged with the analog imprint of the 11 most musical string synthesizers ever built.
UVI has painstaking recorded thousands of samples with the very best analog and digital gear available, putting in all experience ever learned to bring you this comprehensive instrument at an unbelievable price.
String Machines features
Authentic sounds with character reproduce the analog grunge and warmth of yesteryear.
Instant access to tons of presets and preset layers; find sounds you love and get inspired quickly.
Dual layers. Select the machine and the associated sounds.
No loading time when switching machines and sounds.
Shape your sounds using authentic analog-modeled filters, envelopes, and LFOs.
Experiment with the step modulator and take your sound out of this world!
Samples recorded in 24/96 khz with Prism convertors, mastered to perfection and converted to 16/44.1 kHz.
Loopmasters has released Radiophonic Synth Workshop, a sample library featuring a new & unique sounding collection of analogue experimentation.
The team of scientists report that era defining instruments of analogue synthesis such as the Korg Mono/Poly and Roland System 100 and beautiful esoteric instruments like the Elka Synthex, Oberheim 4Voice and Octave Cat were combined with valve equalisation and dynamic control, vintage reverbs and tape delay, to create over 1Gb of data ready to be incorporated into any style of dance or electronic music.
Our team are pleased to report that soft synths or plug in of any type were not used in this project to ensure maximum analogue sparkle and depth within results.
The Radiophonic Synth Workshop sample collection from Loopmasters weighs in at 1.2GB and includes 890 Synth Samples recorded at pristine 24Bit resolution. Also included are 10 ready to play patches for Reason NNXT, Halion, EXS, SFZ and Kontakt soft samplers.
From Pulsing synths, Alien FX, Transmission Fuzz, Pulses and Deep Space Echoes, 50’s inspired Radio Chat, Sci Fi Bleeps, Lasers and more – this is one hell of a sound collection meant for all types of music producers worldwide.
The Radiophonic Synth Workshop sample library is available for £29.95 GBP.
After taking on the RSF Polykobol II (PolyKB II) and EMS VCS3 modular (XILS-3), XILS-lab continues its quest to produce authentic recreations of vintage analog synthesizers with Synthix, a virtual instrument inspired by the Elka Synthex, a popular Italian polysynth from the early 80′s.
Ring Modulation, Cross Pulse Width Modulation and Hard Synchronization between the oscillator and a special powerful glide circuit allow the recreation of all the well known Arp lasers and chorused strings that made this synthesizer the icon of it’s age.
The Synthex is often praised for its lush analog sounds. It offers 2 oscillators per note, multiple voice layers and splits. It has 4 voice cards with 2 voices each, so you basically have 8 complete mono synth circuits in one synthesizer.
If you are a fan of Jean Michel Jarre’s music you will probably know the Synthex, or at least its sound.
I am personally not so familiar with the Synthex, but I know XILS-labs’ Synthix has the same kind of architecture, adding some interesting additional features.
Synthix’s interface is inspired by Synthex’s appearance and layout
Two aliasing-free oscillators providing saw, triangle, pulse or square wave forms.
One multi-mode self-oscillating filter, providing 12 and 24 low pass, 6 and 12 band pass and a 12 high pass filter.
Hard synchronization between the two oscillators.
Ring-Modulation, Pulse-Width Cross Modulation between the two oscillators.
Four envelope generators (ADSR) with an advanced delay feature, 2 are freely assignable.
Two Multi Waveform MIDI syncable polyphonic LFO.
One sine monophonic LFO.
One Advanced exclusive Chaotic LFO.
One Advanced exclusive rhythm LFO.
One 128 steps polyphonic sequencer.
Two arpeggiators (monophonic or polyphonic).
Chorus, Phaser, Delay and EQ effects.
Mono/Unison/Poly playing mode with up to 16 voices of polyphony.
Six freely assignable Modulation slots.
Advanced Multi Layering (up to 8 layers) feature.
Advanced Guitar voice assignation mode.
All parameters are MIDI controllable.
Synthix features various polyphonic and monophonic modes, unison, and voice selection & assignment options. At a maximum of 16 voices, the synth features no less than 8 independent layers of 2 voices with a separate set of oscillators, multi-mode filter, envelopes & LFOs for each layer. The parameters within a layer can be modified individually or collectively for a selection of layers. In case this all sounds like gibberish to you, just think complex sounds.
Configuring upper keyboard notes
Synthix has 2 keyboards (upper and lower) with individual arpeggiator and MIDI settings for each keyboard. You can split a keyboard into MIDI ranges, or use the complete keyboard on different MIDI channels.
Besides upper and lower keyboard ranges, there’s also a special Guitar mode which allows you to use your guitar to play up to two voices on Synthix’s 6 MIDI channels, using a guitar to MIDI converter. Obviously you can also use any other MIDI device to trigger the MIDI channels.
Lotuzia – one of the presets designers for Synthix, has created a video demonstrating many of the things I just mentioned.
Taking the emulation beyond an emulation
XILS-lab worked hard to create a virtual Synthex, Synthix is in many ways also intentionally different to bring added value.
Paul Wiffen, the man who designed most of Synthex’s presets and introduced the synthesizer to people like Jean Michelle Jarre, Stevie Wonder, and Keith Emerson, said this about the Synthix:
Although it may take a few moments to locate the familiar parameters of the Synthex on the screen once you begin to manipulate them the sonic results are uncannily close to the original. On several occasions I found myself prefering the extra flexibility in the Synthix especially when it came to sonic control via velocity and aftertouch, control wich were never available on the original machine. the additional polyphony and multiple layering of timbres are particulary welcomed.
Let’s take a closer look at the interface.
The top half of Synthix houses the modules of a layer. From left to right you have the LFOs, modulation matrix, 2 oscillators (with sync and drift for a more analog feel), noise generator, a section with glide & portamento and layer specific output, pan and tune parameters, a multi-mode filter, and 4 envelopes. Pretty straight forward.
More interesting are the Chaox and Rhythm LFO modules, two of XILS-lab’s additions to the original Synthex design. Chaox is basically like a regular LFO, but more chaotic. Instead of using a waveform you get 4 algorithms that create a more or less random modulation effect. I love this kind of modulation; great for creating tune drifting Boards of Canada type sounds. The Rhythm LFO is useful for creating rhythmic patterns by modulating at a specific step in the LFO cycle. Multiple intervals are available for creating more complex rhythms.
Synthix also features the lovely joystick found on Elka’s hardware synth.
Six sliders on the right side of the joystick set the modulation amount to the oscillators and filter cutoff parameters. The LFO 3 sliders set the amount of modulation of the LFO’s tuning. A switch lets you modulate only upper or lower keyboard ranges, or both.
Again, this may all sound a bit complex but if you just wiggle the joystick around a bit you’ll get a feel for it right away. Think expressive sounds.
Three effect units are included
While the Synthex only had a chorus unit, with Synthix you have three more effects at your disposal.
Delay – a simple delay with individual controls for delay time and feedback for left and right channels + sync to host.
Chorus – a dual brigade delay effect with three chorus modes. The manual includes parameters values to emulate the original Synthex chorus modes.
Phaser – basic phaser effect unit including sweep and internal audio feedback controls.
Equalizer – two high/low shelf filters with freq, res and gain.
Synthix has a seemingly basic arpeggiator with up/down/random modes. A number of additional parameters are available in a popup panel. Here you can set a chord sequence for the polyphonic mode, assign the order of voices, set the arp mode, and the number of octaves to be used.
Moving down to the lower area of Synthix’s interface we find a relatively inconspicuous sequencer and a large virtual keyboard (KBD). Two additional tabs reveal a sequencer display (SEQ) and an information panel (INFO), which can contain some useful details on a preset. I say can because some of the sound designers make good use of this panel while others pretty much ignore it.
The sequencer panel
I rarely use a sequencer other than the one that comes with my music production application. It is more advanced than any sequencer type thing found in a plug-in and it makes more sense in terms of workflow. Still, Synthix’s sequencer is pretty interesting.
Being polyphonic, it allows for recording on 4 individual tracks. This is done in step-sequence fashion, with a maximum of 128 steps per sequence. Once recorded you can edit sequences in the display module. You can sync to host tempo and the rate knob sets the speed. It is easy to create evolving sequences, even more since steps are velocity sensitive and you can modulate both tune and note velocity to create variations.
Synthix comes with a superb selection of 250+ presets by some great sound designers, including Paul Wiffen, who actually programmed most of the preset sounds for the Synthex.
The preset management system in the top toolbar allows patch selection and sorting in various ways, e.g. on author, type, bank, etc. Nice and tidy.
A/B comparison, general options, and a help function are also available from the same toolbar.
You can listen to some demo tracks on the XILS-lab website. I recommend checking the separate instruments clips as well, those are really well done. Some Synthex vs Synthix A/B comparison clips are also available on the same page.
XILS-lab offers a full featured demo version (time limited) for eLicenser and iLok, as well as a dongle-less demo version with some limitations. Go check it out.
So what do I think?
Product: Synthix by XILS-lab Format: Audio Plug-in for Windows/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS), eLicenser/iLok dongle required Price: 169 EUR incl. VAT Like: Amazingly fat, deep, and complex sounds. High quality, usable presets Don’t like: Non-intuitive parts of interface, can be CPU intensive Verdict: 9/10
Initially some things in Synthix were a bit confusing to me. After reading the manual and getting more familiar with the various panels and controls I still couldn’t get along with the workflow/interface much.
I was having a hard time seeing what exactly was going on, especially when it comes to layers and voices. Eventually I felt more comfortable with Synthix, especially after browsing and breaking down some of the more complex presets. Still, I think there is room for improvement to make the interface more intuitive. If you get discouraged at this stage – for instance when checking the demo version, you might not even want to continue and miss out on something really good.
Synthix is one of the best sounding virtual analog synthesizers I have ever heard. It’s right up there with FXpansion’s Synth Squad and u-he’s ACE. It produces a real fat sound. Huge deep bass, piercing lead sounds, Rhodes-like keys, soft evolving pads, plucks, wild sound fx… Synthix does it all, and what’s more you can create amazingly complex sounds using layers. As long as your CPU can handle it…
I also really like the CEM 3320-based filter on Synthix. You can get it to do some proper nasty stuff, especially when pushing to the extremes in combination with the overdrive.
In short, Synthix is a wonderful virtual analog synth with some nifty extras. It is capable of producing both the classic sounds of its role model from the 80′s, as well as sounds for your modern day productions. Plus, did I mention it sounds fat? It sure does!