In this latest six of the best roundup we dish up some incredible and varied software emulations of classic hardware, including synths of just about every type…
Best Analogue Classic – GForce Oddity 2
It’s not the first time GForce’s Oddity has appeared in our Six Of The Best nor, we suspect, will it be the last. Indeed the Oddity – a virtual recreation of the original hardware ARP Odyssey synth – has been around for so long and made so many famous friends that it has become a classic piece of software in its own right. Electronic music legend John Foxx said of it: “The Oddity is beautifully realised.
All the power, character, precision, intricacy, grunge and sonic extremes of the original.” Oddity 2 is a brilliant update. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “Oddity 2 is a triumph.
It comes packed with many features over the original – we love the extra mod options and using it as an effect. But the best is Polyphonic mode, a feature that takes Oddity to new heights.” He concluded: “If ARP had carried on as a company, this is the synth it would have made now.”
Full Review – GForce Oddity 2
Contact Via website
Best Digital Classic – Korg iM1
The iM1 is an iOS emulation of the Korg M1, a classic digital synth from the 80s that many people of a certain age will remember with fondness.
It was an 80s synth through and through and this is the perfect recreation, as Andy Jones said: “You get what you damn well should: an M1 – pianos aplenty; loads of digital; loads of big (shoulder) pads; loads of fake acoustics; loads of ‘LA’; loads of old brass; loads of big, in your face unsubtle late-80s sh*t; loads of money!
So, if you want ethereal walls of atmosphere that launched a thousand Enyas you’ve come to the right place. But this is the M1, so you’ve also come to the right place for a big dollop of Black Forest Gateaux too. Like the cars around at the time of the original, Korg has added go-faster stripes a new engine, new stereo, new reflective paint and a blonde sitting in the passenger seat with more peroxide than the whole of 1989. A stunner!”
Full Review – Korg iM1
Contact Korg UK, 01908 304600
Best Not So Obvious a Remake – Roland AIRA Promars Plugout
Roland’s Promars runs as a software plugout for Roland’s System-1, so works well with that hardware. However, it’s the sound of this synth that impressed us, not with the quantity of the presets on offer, but their more unusual nature.
Reviewer Andy Jones said: “It’s not like normal analogue – the bass sounds have added wobble, giving the synth a real character – and the System-1 keyboard makes this a joy to use. A fantastic sounding plug-in that can be glorious both in sound and to control.”
Contact 01792 702701
Best Non Analogue – Plug-in Boutique Virtual CZ
Software synthesizers that emulate classic analogue hardware from the 70s and 80s are ten-a-penny (or nothing if you see last month’s freeware special). But VirtualCZ brings back a more obscure range of synths to the computer desktop in the form of the Casio CZ. The originals had both analogue and digital character.
Reviewer Andy Jones said: “You’ll quickly understand how it produced such varied results and realise why so many people love the originals. If you are sick of a sea of analogue emulations then this is accessible, flexible and a hugely inspirational synth – a must-buy to increase your sonic palette. And at just £59.95 it is quite simply the steal of the year. Get it now!”
Full Review – Plug-in Boutique Virtual CZ
Contact Plug-in Boutique: 01273 692313
Best Distortion – UA Culture Vulture
Universal Audio has recently updated the modelling power of many of its plug-ins including especially the distortion characteristics. This has turned out to be a timely move for this release, a virtual recreation of Thermionic Culture’s Culture Vulture hardware distortion box. Reviewer Mark Cousins noted: “Culture Vulture, and the versatility it offers, is a welcome new recruit to the fold.
Certainly it’s hard to think of another plug-in that offers this level of authenticity and versatility in respect of valve-driven distortion.”
He concluded: “Detailed modelling with a CPU load to match, Culture Vulture is a perfect way of rounding-off those digital edges, or simply creating a wall of noise!”
Full Review – UA Culture Vulture
Contact Source Distribution 020 8962 5080
Best Mellotron – EZkeys Mellotoon
Mellotoon is based on the Mellotron, a keyboard that attempted to emulate several classic sounds but ended up being a favourite instrument in its own right for artists such as The Beatles and David Bowie. This software recreation comes with 24 presets covering flute, brass, strings and a whole lot more.
Reviewer Keith Gemmel said: “It provides sounds that are faithful to the original, with the addition of some modern pads and multi-instrument sounds. Top-notch 60s Mellotron recreation – the strings in particular. Add a MIDI library along with songwriting and educational tools and it’s a superb value package.”
Full Review – EZkeys Mellotoon
Contact Time+Space – 01837 55200