The Software Review Thread
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Old 11-06-2015, 10:38 PM   #1
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The Software Review Thread

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't see a thread dedicated to REVIEWS of music production software in all it's guises , so I thought I'd start one. I know there are threads on here that cover specific programs, but most I've seen are ones where other members either shout out a heads-up or recommend something to the community, without really going into any great detail.

So, I've started this thread in the hope some of you will take the time to write something with a little more meat to it and post it up here, reviewing any plugin / VST / Software you like, that's used in the production of music. The only "Rule" is you must have PERSONAL experience of it..as in used it yourself and found it to be well worth what you paid for it..or even better, if it is free.

I'll start the ball rolling by posting my review of Blue Cat Audio's MB-7 Mixer later today, which I recently bought and have been playing around with for the last few days. I'm still working on the review, but I can tell you it's a great piece of software..something I know I'll be using on every track I produce from here on out..but more on that later..that is, if either the Mod team or Admin don't lock this thread off, due to such a thread already existing elsewhere on here.

All that aside, I'll be posting here again later today..but if anyone wants to jump in and post a review of their own, then please feel free to do so. After all, that's the whole point of this thread.

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Old 11-06-2015, 11:43 PM   #2
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Logic = German Warm.
Tools = American Crisp.
Live = Lukewarm soup with some weird bits in it.
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Old 11-06-2015, 11:44 PM   #3
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Re: The Software Review Thread

^ Those are the main ones at least. There's enough there to make a decision too.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:16 PM   #4
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Cheers for that, J..sure gave me a lot to ponder on there, dude. Nice one!

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Old 12-06-2015, 09:58 PM   #5
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Nice one man...I'll defo be back to write some reviews of U-He Presswerk and Satin...I think this are both sleeper VSTs ...either that or they are too expensive for most people...

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Old 12-06-2015, 11:23 PM   #6
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Thanks, A..looking forward to reading em when you post them up.

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Old 12-06-2015, 11:36 PM   #7
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Re: The Software Review Thread

OOO I like this.. ..plus all this will give me insight into plug I do not own..yet muahaha...

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Old 12-06-2015, 11:52 PM   #8
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Blue Cat Audio's MB-7 Multiband Mixer

The Blue Cat Audio MB-7 Mixer is basically a multiband mixer, that splits the incoming signal into 7 different "bands", which can then be tweaked and tickled just the way you like. Plus each band has its own Bypass, Mute and Solo button. You can set crossover points and slopes (6-96dB/octave) for each band..adjust Level, Pan and Spread of each..basically everything you need to sculpt each part of a sound and increase or decrease the stereo field.


But what really sets this apart from most of the others out there is that it also acts a a VST host..similar to Blue Cat's "PatchWork" plug..with the MB-7 letting you place two plugs pre and post fader on each band.

The interface is, as you might expect, up to the usual high standards coming from Blue Cat, with a very Pro feel to everything, which includes 3 window size options, drop-down/foldaway panels, automatic window rescaling that reflects the number of bands you have active or are working with, undo/redo function and a bundle of presets that are best used as a starting point when working on a band.

The MB-7 Mixer comes in a number of formats, including AU, AAX, RTAS, Direct X and VST obviously. This means all of you Apple fans out there can use it to host VSTs in ProTools, too.

It also has Blue Cat's cross-plugin MIDI-based linking feature, which lets you play with multiband sidechaining across plugins..but others have found it a bit tricky to set up and use, and actually doing it might also depend on the DAW you're using and how that works with MIDI in general.

Below is a GIF I made to give you and idea of it in action..

But, having said that, it's still well worth you time to give it if you can. From my own experience of it, I've found it works best when used in the mixing and mastering stages, rather than a tool to generate cool effects, but you can do that, too, if that's what you want. Keep in mind, though, it's not meant to be an effect by design.

In short, regardless of if you're new to producing music or if you're a seasoned Pro, you'll find this program a real joy to use and useful for doing everything from Mastering, to getting the sound of those drums just right..to outright sound sculpting if you're into sound design.

Price: €99 or $129 (excl. VAT)
Link: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Specs:

OS it runs on: Mac, PC
Formats: AAX Native, RTAS, VST, AU, DX
OS Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 upwards
PC Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8 upwards

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Old 13-06-2015, 12:15 AM   #9
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Re: The Software Review Thread

BC was one og the bundles I snagged late last year when I could..not turned back since..great review man..The pre and post send are a godsend in that plug.Patchwork saved all my old VST's from dying a death in PTools.I hate updateing plug to just get an AAX..keep um up loved it ..

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Old 13-06-2015, 12:16 AM   #10
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Nice thread and review AM.
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Old 13-06-2015, 06:54 PM   #11
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Sound Guru's "The Mangle"

Sound Guru's "The Mangle"

This one is for any of us who like to mess with sound..and I think there's a lot of us on here who fall into that category. This little gem of a program is a really powerful granular synth, that can be played just like any other synth, if that's what you want to do..but where it really shines is as a "go-to" tool to both explore and create your own sounds from any sample you throw at it.


It comes in VST, AAX & Audio Unit flavors, in both 32 & 64 bit, with no "standalone" and supports both loading and saving of AIFF, ALAC, FLAC and WAV formats.

It gives you a real-time display of the grain stream you're working on..multi-timbrel layers..work-flow friendly "drag -and-drop" modulation features, as well as a streamlined "resolution independent vector interface", which basically means you can drag the UI to any size you like and everything remains in place and nothing disappears off your screen, as sometimes happens with other programs.

As per the main site, it comes with the following..

Animated granular display
Quad sequencers
Drag & drop modulation
Multiband waveform display
Resizable vector interface
Multi-timbral

Again, this is taken from the main site..


"Start with a slice of audio. Now add another, and another. Each slice has a starting position in the audio file, an envelope, amplitude, pan and pitch. The Mangle can play back thousands of these fragments each second.

Applied to field recordings or acoustic instruments, the effect can be startlingly organic, yet otherworldly. Or pull in your synth sounds to be morphed, warped, exploded or decomposed into intricate patterns and cloud effects.

Full automation in your DAW, multi-timbral patches, true stereo grains, and simple drag-and-drop modulation."



(PLEASE NOTE: The video above is an old one and the reduced rate offer for beta testes is no more..but it's still a hell of a lot cheaper than most other granular synths out there..and just as good..if not better even!)


Basically, you can modulate the grain creation rate, grain origin position, amplitude, pitch..which can be "locked" to a musical scale. Modulation of the grain envelope is also possible, as is the pan for the stereo width.

One instance of the Mangle gives you 8 slots or 'layers', for 8 independent audio files..each of which have their own parameter and modulation setup. Every "layer" can be assigned to any range on a MIDI keyboard. You can "overlap" ranges, allowing you to create some really complex multi-layered effects. Or, alternatively, you can space those layers out across your keyboard, which will give you a complex granular instrument that span many octaves.

The Mangle is not only a really great tool for creating pads and rich atmospheres, but also effects..as well the automatic chopping up of samples.

At the time of writing this, it's first full release was announced a few days ago, marking it's birth out of the beta phase and onto the market..yes, it will cost you to get your hands on this baby...but not too much, when you factor in what it can do and what others are charging for products that do similar audio tasks.

In short, if you are into making your own sounds, the chances are you already have this in your musical toolbox..if not, then you should. Although the Mangle may appear either simple and / or complex at first glance to the first-time user, once you've played with it and seen for yourself what it can do, I think you'll agree with me when I say it's one of the best granular synths out there at the moment.

Personally, when it comes to anything granular, it's either this or Steinberg's PadShop Pro, depending on what you want to do or achieve in a track. I tend to use PadShop Pro to tweak things and play it as you would any other synth, but when it comes to the Mangle..it's really in a class of it's own.


Supported OS:

Pro Tools 11 required for AAX.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6+
Windows 7+

Price: £29.99

Link: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

Last edited by A.M; 13-06-2015 at 07:06 PM..

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Old 13-06-2015, 07:14 PM   #12
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Re: Sound Guru's "The Mangle"

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Sound Guru's "The Mangle"
Thank you. You just reminded me to install the 1.0.

Completely agree with your assessment. It's a glorious plugin.

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Old 14-06-2015, 12:09 AM   #13
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Camel Alchemy = You can buy it here, it's a great VST oh shit, nevermind.

Jokes aside, The Mangle is nice and gets better with every update he sends out.
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Old 14-06-2015, 12:43 PM   #14
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Steinberg's Padshop Pro

Steinberg's Padshop Pro

Having reviewed "The Mangle", I thought it only fair to post something on Padshop Pro..Steinberg's granular synth and sound design tool.

With Padshop Pro, two individual layers of sound get the granular treatment, as they are mixed / processed through a number of high-quality filters, modulation and delay effects. Each layer gets it's own oscillator, two LFOs that offer a choice of six wave shapes and two ADSR envelopes.


Features include:
  • Granular synthesis engine with 2 independent layers and individual oscillator, edit and FX sections.
  • Up to 8 grain streams per oscillator, that give rich and spacious sonic results.
  • More presets that you can shake a stick at..each with atmospheric pads and evolving textures in mind.
  • Sample import via drag-and-drop.
  • 10-stage Modulation Matrix with Note Expression support.
  • 12 different filter types for each layer.
  • Step Modulator for triggering of oscillators, filters, amp and pan.
  • 2 LFOs and ADSR for filters and amp envelopes.
  • Mono and Poly Mode with Legato and Glide.
  • FX section with modulation and delay effects.
  • 3-band parametric EQ per layer.
  • Algorithmic reverb.
  • VST 3, VST 2 and AU versions.

As anyone whose already used Padshop Pro knows, the sounds you can get from this program are impressive, to say the least! The interface can be a bit off-putting to some noobs, but if you make the effort to learn how to use this program, the time you invest with be well worth it, trust me!

I've tried many different granular-based programs in the past, but most seemed to render end results that had a high-pitched "ringing" quality to them, which was a real pain in the arse, as well as a real pain for the ears, too. You just don't get that with Padshop Pro..unless you design it into the end result from the start.


The ability to drag-and-drop sound files into the program for processing is a nice little feature, that makes using this tool seem even more easy and effortless, freeing you to focus on the job in hand..creating sounds.

There really isn't much more I can say about this..it's something you will either need and love if you do, or a program you are going to sidestep completely. You can play it just like any other synth, but that would be a total waste of this program's talents, as it's capable of so much more.

Specs:

Mac OS X Version 10.9 + | Intel dual core CPU | VST 3 or AU compatible host
Windows 7 / Windows 8 + | Intel or AMD dual core CPU | VST 3 or VST 2 compatible host
4 GB RAM
4 GB free HD space

Price: €79.99 (+ VAT in the EU)

Link: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

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Old 14-06-2015, 05:18 PM   #15
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Re: The Software Review Thread

Nice one A.M !..I had a review all typed out linked up and it all failed miserably..the interwebs hates me..so now I shall huff and harumph and pout.

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Old 14-06-2015, 06:28 PM   #16
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Re: The Software Review Thread

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Originally Posted by Str8Jaketed View Post
Nice one A.M !..I had a review all typed out linked up and it all failed miserably..the interwebs hates me..so now I shall huff and harumph and pout.
No worries, SJ..all in good time.

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Old 14-06-2015, 06:36 PM   #17
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GlaceVerb from Dasample

GlaceVerb from Dasample

This program has been around for a while, and while there are many other Reverb plugs out there, this one holds its own when it comes to its distinctive and unique sound. It may not be much to look at, compare to the average UI we are used to seeing these days, but what it lacks in visual appeal it makes up for on the ears.


GlaceVerb is an RVM ( Residual Vector Modulation ) reverb unit that has at it's core a RVM proprietary algorithm that calculates the deformations, vibrations and acoustic responses of surfaces and materials.

Picture a band gigging out inside a large room, the walls of which are made of thin panels..and these panels vibrate as the sound hits them, resulting in a deformation of the over-all sound in the room. GlaceVerb tries to simulate such deformations and apply them to your mix.

Getting to grips with GlaceVerb is really simple, as everything you need is right there in front of you, in the form of 10 sliders..using it isn't convoluted in any way (..pun intended).


Along with the 10 sliders, you also get 64 handy presets from the drop-down menu, that you can use as is or as starting points in your quest to find the sound you're looking for on your mix.

Below the slider panel you'll find 4 clearly marked knobs: Size..Bass..Dry..and Wet..each of which speak for themselves. All you do is basically pick a preset and then twiddle the knobs until you find a sound you like..or, alternatively, just play with the sliders and knobs..it really is child's play.

GlaceVerb comes only in 32 bit format, so you'll need to bridge it over onto a 64 bit system with the likes of JBrdge if you have a 64 bit based system.

Main Features:

  • Residual Vector Modulation (RVM) reverberation engine.
  • Reverberation time : up to 20s.
  • Improved reflections algorithms for more natural sounding.
  • Surface parameters (Texture, Absorption, Reflection).
  • Density control (from Flat to Extreme reverberation).
  • Size, Bass, Dry and Wet quick access controls.
  • All functions and controls are fully automatable.
  • 64 hi-quality presets.

Dasample's website has been down for some time now, showing an "Under Construction" notice, but GlaceVerb is still widely available elsewhere on line for free.



Specs:

OS: Windows XP +
Format: VST

Price: FREE

Link: Various - [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


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Old 14-06-2015, 08:28 PM   #18
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Re: GlaceVerb from Dasample

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.M View Post
GlaceVerb from Dasample

This program has been around for a while, and while there are many other Reverb plugs out there, this one holds its own when it comes to its distinctive and unique sound. It may not be much to look at, compare to the average UI we are used to seeing these days, but what it lacks in visual appeal it makes up for on the ears.


GlaceVerb is an RVM ( Residual Vector Modulation ) reverb unit that has at it's core a RVM proprietary algorithm that calculates the deformations, vibrations and acoustic responses of surfaces and materials.

Picture a band gigging out inside a large room, the walls of which are made of thin panels..and these panels vibrate as the sound hits them, resulting in a deformation of the over-all sound in the room. GlaceVerb tries to simulate such deformations and apply them to your mix.

Getting to grips with GlaceVerb is really simple, as everything you need is right there in front of you, in the form of 10 sliders..using it isn't convoluted in any way (..pun intended).

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Along with the 10 sliders, you also get 64 handy presets from the drop-down menu, that you can use as is or as starting points in your quest to find the sound you're looking for on your mix.

Below the slider panel you'll find 4 clearly marked knobs: Size..Bass..Dry..and Wet..each of which speak for themselves. All you do is basically pick a preset and then twiddle the knobs until you find a sound you like..or, alternatively, just play with the sliders and knobs..it really is child's play.

GlaceVerb comes only in 32 bit format, so you'll need to bridge it over onto a 64 bit system with the likes of JBrdge if you have a 64 bit based system.

Main Features:

  • Residual Vector Modulation (RVM) reverberation engine.
  • Reverberation time : up to 20s.
  • Improved reflections algorithms for more natural sounding.
  • Surface parameters (Texture, Absorption, Reflection).
  • Density control (from Flat to Extreme reverberation).
  • Size, Bass, Dry and Wet quick access controls.
  • All functions and controls are fully automatable.
  • 64 hi-quality presets.

Dasample's website has been down for some time now, showing an "Under Construction" notice, but GlaceVerb is still widely available elsewhere on line for free.



Specs:

OS: Windows XP +
Format: VST

Price: FREE

Link: Various - [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

Love this plug in..one of my faves for when the rest of my reverbs just do not have the fit for a track or client I am looking for..I use this or Dream Verb from UAD.

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Old 14-06-2015, 09:54 PM   #19
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REFLEX Pro V.2 from STW-Audio

REFLEX Pro V.2 from STW-Audio

OK..so there are some really GREAT delay programs out there, each of which tends to bring something unique and interesting to a producer's mix..and REFLEX Pro is no different in this regard.


The image above is of the latest version (V2), while the video below was made using an earlier version. If you pay attention to the video, you'll easily see the differences between the two UIs.

I fell in love with this plug the moment I saw it and knew it was a keeper when I listened to it in action. As you can see, it kinda looks like some old analog unit and it sounds REALLY good, too. This program can take your mix to another level with the wide range of sounds it's able to produce, everything from drones and space ambiance..to complete and utter sonic chaos and distortion!


This is the general description of the program from the stw-audio site..

"REFLEX PRO V2 is a powerful 4 channel multi effect delay unit. Predefined feedback routings and a clear structured signal flow make it easy to design unique organic and living feedback cascades. Audio parameters can be modulated from 6 modulation sources. REFLEX PRO V2 covers a wide variety of effects including spacey endless reverberation up to hard distorted or phasing modulations. Four distinctive LFOs can generate smooth transitions or trance-gate like effects.

REFLEX PRO V2 provides easy access to complete stereo signal paths which allows fast and creative sound design combined with ease of handling."


Like I said, there are many other delay programs out there..some free, some very costly..but when it comes to ReFlex Pro, one word springs to mind.."Creative". It's amazing what some of the presets will do to your music/sounds! Having said that, it has to be said the presets bundled with the program are not all completely "user-friendly" right out of the box..meaning some you might find yourself never using..depending one the kind of music you make.

But that's the thing I've come to find about delays in general..they are either a one-trick-pony or a one-cap-fits-all deal; and a lot of the time how good a program is really comes down to the kind of music you're making or the type of sound you want to achieve. ReFlex Pro strikes a fine balance on this front, offering something for everyone..be it plain delay or wacky FX..you just need to spend a little time going through the presets to find something that fits your needs..or simply start mangling your sound with the program's controls.





Features:

  • Two independent stereo delay paths with a predefined feedback matrix or individual feedback options. A special LFO known from the REFLEXfree ambience generator adds subtle modulation.
  • Two filter sections including 16 single and 8 double filter types with selectable "hook points".
  • Two wave-shaping sections featuring 7 shaping types from soft saturation to crushing Lo-fi sounds.
  • One additional feedback loop with 4 routing types for dense reverb and feedback effects.
  • 4 channel frequency shifter for unique flanging and frequency modulation sounds.
  • Band-splitter for easy frequency dependent processing.
  • 4 LFO modulation sources with 46 waveforms 3 different play and many trigger modes. LFO depth and rate can be modulated.
  • 2 Envelope followers driven by RMS detectors with 0/1 clipping settings.
  • A panorama rotation algorithm for special rotating sounds beyond the possibilities of a standard L/R panning.
  • Ambiance section adding extra reverb with different routing options featuring very special soundscapes.
  • Modulation of most parameters with six modulation sources.
  • Free assignable MIDI controllers.
  • Comes with more than 220 categorized inspiring presets.


Just like GlaceVerb, ReFlex Pro V.2 needs to be bridged over on a 64 bit system, so..again..you'll need JBridge or something like it in order to run on a Windows 64 bit system.


OS: Windows XP +

Price: €49

Link: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

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Daggit (05-08-2017)
Old 15-06-2015, 02:26 PM   #20
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Re: GlaceVerb from Dasample

Quote:
Originally Posted by Str8Jaketed View Post
Love this plug in..one of my faves for when the rest of my reverbs just do not have the fit for a track or client I am looking for..I use this or Dream Verb from UAD.
Yeah..same here. I tend to use it a bit, as it gives a great clean sound for epic/ambient-type stuff. I'm kinda stunned when I bump into people online who still haven't heard about it, as it's been around for so long..and free to boot!

But I think you hit it on the head when you said that bit about other reverbs not doing it in certain cases. Like I said in one of the reviews above, each delay or reverb unit tends to offer something of it's own..no matter how costly or cheap they may be..you'll always find a use for each at some stage.

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