Posts Tagged ‘review’

UVI Vintage Vault review

Posted: August 20, 2014 in Audio
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UVI now provides Vintage Vault, that includes most of their vintage synths samples libraries at reduced price ($499). I wasn’t convinced by Digital Synsations demo, however I thought the full version may provide interesting sounds, as well as other libraries, as the demo tracks were great.

After two days digging through the presets of most of them (Digital Synsations, The Beast, DarlightIIx, Emulation one and 2, Vector synths, DX part from Vintage Legends, vintage drumbeats, string machines), I didn’t found more than a dozen of convincing sounds, a few from Digital Synsations (except those created with M1,  the least intersting) and The Beast.

As sampling of factory presets isn’t allowed, UVI had to create custom sounds and a few that remind popular presets (providing clue in the naming) – among useful ones we can find patches derived from D-50 factory presets (as did Bitley in his Kontakt Project library), some created using SY77, and some from Synclavier.

Besides not being inspiring, the provided instruments sound harsh (not pleasant) and the number of multi-samples seems limited, leading to aliasing (expected for Farilight and Emu ones as they weren’t multisamples, however not from D-50 – combination of single samples and oscillators – and SY77 – combination of multi-samples and FM), and low definition. Samples from Bitley Kontakt Project (D50 and also Fairlight) sounded really greater.

The settings interface tries to fool use reminding the corresponding synths, however besides reusing same colors and some panels/screens details, the provided settings don’t match (can’t as these are sampled instruments – no access to partials/oscillators nor synthesis specific parameters). As expected, the global enveloppes (amplitude and filter), effects and some sound “color” settings don’t bring anything useful. We are stuck with low quality-sampled quickly created/uninspiring patches.

For a lower price, we may better get Bitley Kontakt Project (for D-50, other modern synths, Fairlight/vintage samplers, vintage synths – also it is an evolving project), Zero-G Nostalgia (notably for strings machines and Emu samples), NI Retro Maschines (high quality sampled vintage synths and string machines) and NI FM8 (provides access to FM parameters).

For the same price we can add NI Massive, GForce impOscar (the most powerful sounding software based synth), Synthmaster (not as powerful sounding however providing fine grained sounds, many parameters – including samples import – and great arpeggiated patches) and some plugins from Arturia.

Also NI Komplete is far more useful, despite not being the best package.

As with most samples libraries, UVI doesn’t not allow selling/transfering the license to another ilok user/account, you may then download Digital Synsations demo. UVI Vintage Vault isn’t really more useful than the bad sounding IK Sampletank whole library.

 

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Bioshock Infinite’s Burial at Sea provides about 4 hours of exploring famous Rapture world, before events from first game, using Unreal Engine 3 to achieve even greater immersion.

The story and details are more convincing than Bioshock’s Infinite ones (while fitting perfectly with events where it did close), and this DLC’s first episode ending opens way for even greater opportunities in gameplay and story/unveiling. Finally Rapture world is the best, and UE3 is better suited for underwater rendering.

Note : the DLC isn’t localized, then you have to turn on subtitles if required.

Prominy SR5 Rock Bass review

Posted: November 10, 2012 in Audio
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Prominy’s SR5 Rock Bass is a 8,8GB direct bass sound for Kontakt (16 GB as it uses the compression feature), that features automatic legato, quick runs and string selection (with slides). It uses a multi instrument to switch between strings, alternate when detecting repetitions playing, and add noises. It plays like with sustain always on (can however be switched off and back using sustain pedal), and assists in playing quick repetitions (added note when releasing a key).

Moreover it displays used sting and position (and slides) in real time, providing a feeling we are playing a real bass.

As the sound is direct input, it doesn’t sound as fat as some other bass libraries or synth expansions cards, however it reacts more realistically and can be shaped using Amp plugins like Amplitube. For example as it provides only one Kontakt multi preset (also a lite one), we have to use a slap simulation amp preset (available in Amplitube) to achieve such playing style.

The sustain is great, however it can lead to memory overruns in Logic, that doesn’t free used memory when closing a song (and doesn’t use the previous one). Also as it uses streaming (400 MB initial preload memory) and sustain  mode it should be installed on an SSD. It was priced 89 euros (including VAT and shipping) during Best Service’s Guitar special.

The midfiles for the demo video can be downloaded here. Also MIDI files including AmpegSVX presets for the video demos has been posted to the registered users section on Prominy’s website. To download these we have to register SR5 product before.  Then an email containing login/password will be received.

 

Total studio 3 bundle includes all effects plugins and instrument libraries/players from IK Multimedia (that is 47 GB).

After having used Roland COSM effects from XV5050 for 12 years (great at that time -not very usable sounds, few amps and cab models, however nice distorsion), then Logic’s AmpDesigner/Guitar AmpPro/pedalboard and free Podfarm (both digital sounding), and reaching nice custom presets with Rammfire (far more greater than base free Guitar Rig amps, that also sounded digital – except nice delays), I tried Amplitube 3 demo and trial gears from Custom Shop (2 days trial), and finally got Amplitube 3 full, Amplitube Metal and Amplitube Jimi Hendrix from Total Studio 3 bundle :

Amplitube 3 sounded analog/warm and real/various, and it also provides a great sounding digital reverb (Guitar Rig’s delays seemed better). Only routing and switching between editing screens (one for each element – pedals, amps, cabs, mix effects for both channels of the routing path) was less practical than with Guitar Rig (single screen with scrolling through gears), despite displaying clear channels paths.
It was still cheaper through the 200 euros (plus added 40 euros VAT for EU) special price for Total Studio Bundle than by having to buy elements from IK’s Custom Shop. However thanks to the 4 for 1 credits packs group buy we could select best amps, cabs and pedals from Amplitube Metal, then the remaining amps and cabs from other brands and/or collections (Fender, Marshall, Ampeg, Soldano, etc.). I then added a 45 credit pack (30 euros), that is 180 credits at that time.
I also tried Peavey’s Revalver plugin, whose I didn’t like the tone/color, while providing a somewhat more real sound (nice for lower range however thinner overall).

IK’s Classik Reverb (also included in the bundle) is stunning (and only 79 euros without the bundle) : the reverb succeeds in keeping the original signal’s strength at early stage (early reflections) – while enhancing the sound -, and reverb trails are very natural (editable modulation parameters). Moreover as it doesn’t use hybrid solution (convolution for early reflections – to provide space sense – and algorithm for reverb trails in order to produce natural space modulation), it requires less processor resources. There are 4 distinct units (hall, room, plate, reverse), that sound all great (and distinct) in their area. The cathedral hall preset is even better than Independance’s Origami convolution reverbs or still great Kontakt’s convolution ones.

TRackS Deluxe also provided great mastering effects (compressors, limiters).

IK Sample libraries however didn’reach quality (details and strength) found in Kontakt’s factory library or EastWest’s Colossus. There are many presets however they didn’t stand out. The SampleTank XL base factory however provides a stunning Full cathedral organ preset, that is complementary to Kontakt factory’s and Independance’s ones by adding Classik Studio Reverb. Electric organs also sounded great.

Expansion libraries add some usable electric bass and guitars (use IK’s amp technology, however they may sound better using Amplitube from a clean  preset). Drums sounds are reported to be great, however can’t compete with Toontrak’s Superior Drummer 2 or NI’s Studio Drummer. Overall it doesn’t reach YellowTools Independance’s sound quality (larger library however).

Miroslav Philarmonik also sounded thin compared with EastWest and VSL libraries. However, through its only 8 GB samples (then not one sample per note) woodwinds sounded interesting, also some portato brass and strings presets, strings and brass ensembles (using sligth vibrato for strings). The cathedral organ presets weren’t better than SampleTank ones.

SampleTron and SampleMoog sounds didn’t bring an interesting sound color, then requiring more editing/additional effects. However they may simply sound right relative to the originals.

Sonic Synth provides nice layered pads, however sample based presets don’t sound better than SampleTank libraries ones, being then redundant.

Since Total Studio 3 bundle special price ended, the effects bundle (not available) may be more interesting. IK is really better at effects modeling.

Inside Mac Games provides a review of Call Of Duty: Black Ops. The game looks nice (however solo campaign is somewhat short) and plays fine on systems with lower specs than stated minimum ones. It should then run on a Nvidia 320M chipset (that also runs Deus Ex : Human Revolution with medium settings at 1280×720).

OnLive : review

Posted: September 17, 2011 in Games
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Onlive, announced soon in France, allows to play on PC games that aren’t yet available on mac, or that require a more powerful processor and/or graphics card (the computer becomes a terminal – rendering is made on remote servers). The client software (native application – not web) presents an array of video screens for current playing users, and also allows testing of most of listed games (15 to 30mn session time).

On a 2,4 Ghz mac mini with Nvidia 320M and 14Mbits/s connection games are really smooth (in fact better than on native versions – notably in Assassin’s Creed 2) and images are rendered at max quality on the server. However the required compression (to send these 30-60 fps through the network) leads to lower quality and lower resolution (depends from game to game), with many artefacts and blur (less sharp image). Here are results testing some games :

– Siberia 2 : the image size is medium and the ratio isn’t right (horizontally compressed image – switching to 1280*960 instead of a 16/10 screen resolution helps a little). The pointer experiences initial accelerating (not constant speed).

– Deus Ex : the game is smooth however the image (mid sized) is of low quality (lots of blur – the original textures of that old game also weren’t the best).

– Dirt 3 : the game is perfectly smooth and controls does not experience any lag. The original rendering is great and compensates the later compression (image size is also better).

– HomeFront : the game is smooth and rendering quality is also great before compression.

The price seems too much high for now (the same as for native versions – and about 3-5$ for a few days) however the technology seems the future of computer games (notably on macs where graphics card are not on part with PC ones).

Upcoming VDSL2+ connections will allow twice the actual bandwidth for most users and then better image quality/less compression (a settings to choose between max quality and max framerate would be great), despite leading to higher latency. This should not be a problem as connecting to US servers (125ms ping time compared with 45ms time for local/french servers) doesn’t lead to lag yet .

For now Onlive is a better way of testing games than Youtube videos. The interactive features (access tp live gamers sessions, audio and/or video chat) also help discovering (and then buying) of new games.

Korg Kronos review

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Audio
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Audiofanzine provides a review of Korg Kronos with audio demos.