GForce releases impOSCar2 for PC + ChamberTron Expansion Pack for M-Tron Pro

GForce Software has announced the release of PC versions of impOSCar2, the successor of the software synthesizer emulation of the OSCar synthesizer.

Since the original impOSCar release we’ve carefully compiled user feedback and over the course of eighteen months, in another true labour of love, we’ve incorporated the best of these within impOSCar2 creating a synth that positively oozes more character, more playability, more expression and more detailed sound sculpting opportunities than could have been imagined a few years ago.

GForce Software impOSCar 2

impOSCar2 features

  • Successor to the multi-award winning impOSCar.
  • Two Oscillators & 13 Waveforms.
  • New Mono Unison and Poly Unison Modes.
  • New Aux Mod Section with comprehensive routing.
  • Programmable Additive Wave Matrix Grid.
  • Nine Filter Types with Drive, Cutoff, Q and Separation.
  • New Chord Memory and single note retrigger.
  • 6 Portamento modes with new Unison glide voice spread.
  • New Unison Voice Pan.
  • New Note Pan Modes.
  • Programmable Velocity Responses and New Aftertouch.
  • Improved Arpeggiator.
  • New Instrument and Effects Versions.
  • Small, Regular or Large Interface Sizes.
  • New Ring Modulator.
  • New Chorus Modes.
  • 1000+ Patch library featuring sounds created by original OSCar users inc Billy Currie (Ultravox) Darren Price & Rick Smith (Underworld) & Paul Wiffen (the original OSCar sound designer and programmer for Stevie Wonder & Jean Michel Jarre).

The impOSCar2 is now available for Windows and Mac (VST/AU/RTAS/Standalone), priced at £139.99 GBP incl. VAT.

GForce Software ChamberTron

GForce has also released the ChamberTron, an expansion pack for the M-Tron Pro virtual instrument.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chamberlin® musical instruments, please take the time to read about them in the Original Instrument section and check out the video showing our Chamberlin instruments.

Because if you thought that tape playing instruments started and ended with the Mellotron®, you’ll probably be blown away to discover that the entire tape playing instrument genre was invented by a Wisconsin based inventor, Harry Chamberlin, back in the 1950s.

ChamberTron features

  • The sounds of the legendary ChamberTron.
  • Only available via download..
  • Over 40 new tape banks.
  • 35 Notes per tape bank.
  • Optional ChamberTron Interface design.
  • 100s of Patches, many from luminaries including Dean & Jarrod (I Monster), David Hentschel (Genesis & Elton John) & Jem Godfrey (Frost).

ChamberTron for M-Tron Pro is available to purchase for £69.99 GBP incl. VAT.

More information: GForce / impOSCar2 / ChamberTron


Review: XILS-lab Synthix virtual analog synthesizer plugin


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.

XILS-lab Synthix
Synthix’s interface is inspired by Synthex’s appearance and layout

Synthix features

  • 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.
  • Advanced Glide/Portamento.
  • 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.

Synthix keyboards
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.

XILS-lab Synthix joystick panel
Synthix’ joystick

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.

Synthix effects panel
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.

XILS-lab Synthix sequencer panel
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!

More information: XILS-lab / Synthix

Note: As part of a launch promotion you can still get 30% off the regular price of Synthix until August 31.


Klangmanipulation releases Oxygen

Klangmanipulation Oxygen

Klangmanipulation has released Oxygen, a freeware VST instrument for Windows PC.

This is a simple but nice FX-synth.

Its specially made to create the Zap-FX from Jean Michel Jarres “Oxygene (part2)” album.

Hint: The secret is written at the stars ;)

Oxygen is available as a freeware VST instrument for Windows PC.

Visit Klangmanipulation for more information.


D16 Group releases Fazortan

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D16 Group Fazortan

D16 Group has released version 1.0 of Fazortan, a controlable space phaser effect plug-in for Windows and Mac.

Have you ever wondered where does that unique magical breeze so audible in most of Jean Michael Jarre’s tunes come from. Suprisingly the backbone here isn’t the synth itself but the effect unit coupled with the synthesizer, saying more precisely – analog phaser of which our Fazortan seems to be a fine equivalent.

Fazortan features

  • true emulation of classic analog allpass phase shifter
  • 2 full controllable LFOs
  • unique sound different from the others digital phasers
  • presets organised into groups
  • midi learn function
  • 64bit internal processing
  • no harmonic distortions at output

Fazortan is available for Windows and Mac (VST/AU) and costs €29 EUR. A demo version can be downloaded from the D16 Group website.

More information: D16 Group / Fazortan


beamz Music Performance System

beamz Music Performance System

Always wanted to play laser harp like Jean Michel Jarre? You can build your own like Stephen Hobley did, but what if these DIY projects are a little too complicated for you?

The beamz Music Performance System is a laser-based music system similar to a laser harp.

Have you always wished you could play a musical instrument? Dreamed of being a music performer? Or aspired to create original music? Now you can make “music like magic” — with the beamz&trade Music Performance System. This extraordinary invention fuses the interaction of your hands with laser lights to create the sounds of hundreds of different musical instruments. The beamz lets music-lovers be musicians, arrangers and performers of rich, full, dynamic, wonderful-sounding music.

It looks like the software that comes with the beamz is limited to preset songs and sounds, with discordant chords and sour notes have been programmed out (eeks!), but perhaps you can hook the device up to 3rd party software as well.

The beamz Music Performance System features

  • Extraordinary invention fuses the interaction of your hands with laser beams to create the sounds of hundreds of different instruments.
  • Breaking the laser beams with your hands automatically generates pre-authored pulses, streams, riffs or loops of musical notes or sounds from a variety of instruments — all kinds of strings, keyboards, winds, percussion. Sophisticated high-fidelity sounds seem to pour off your fingertips like magic!
  • Choose a complementary rhythm track from 30 original songs in 19 music genres, including jazz, bluegrass, classical, hip-hop, reggae, heavy metal and more.
  • The beamz system has a “W” shape, with six laser beams spanning the two sections; connect via USB to your PC or laptop, then hook up some speakers and you’re ready to perform great-sounding music.
  • Includes software CDs and USB cable for connecting directly to USB port of your PC or laptop.

The beamz can be ordered for $599.95 USD from The Sharper Image (first shipments arrive April 15, 2008). Not very cheap, but remember that a DIY typical build of a laser harp like Stephen Hobley’s could also set you back up to $600.

Thanks for the tip, Frank!


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