The market is saturated with new soft-synth sounds that pay homage to their analogue forebears. Some are uninspired facsimiles that recreate but fail to iterate on well-remembered hardware synthesizers. Others, such as those locked away inside UVI’s Vintage Vault 3, manage to tip their cap to the synths of yesteryear while giving their features a contemporary overhaul.
Punching through the VU
UVI libraries have always been impressive, with their slew of instrumental toys and acoustic keyboard instruments, array of whooshes and rises, and broad collection of String Machines and Yamaha-style FM synthesisers. Given how polished and adaptable its sounds tend to be, the Parisians’ libraries represent real value for money.
In this update to the UVI synth series, Vintage Vault 3 features all the relevant synth-based packs, past and present, including the String Machines 2 and FM Suite, and JP Legacy, which welcomes the Roland Jupiter range into the UVI family.
The synth packages are all sample based. There’s a sizable amount of audio content here, all designed to offer realistic jumping-off points for each instrument element. In most cases, an instrument consists of a family of synths. The String Machines 2 package, for example, offers an enormous 62 string-machine types, while the OB Legacy package provides six Oberheim instruments. The instruments are all considered classics in their own way but are not restricted to a single kind of synthesis – you’ll find analogue hybrids based on Yamaha, Roland, Korg and Moog designs, alongside sampling gems such as the Fairlight and Emulator series. There’s also a hefty set of drum sounds from a staggering 111 drum machines.
Once its 218GB of library data is downloaded, you can choose to work within UVI’s free Workstation package or its more elaborate UVI’s Falcon soft-synth. The Workstation plug-in provides an elegant enough working environment, with an uncluttered and uncomplicated GUI that allows for easy access to Vintage Vault 3’s many assets. But to really fly high, you’ll want the Falcon synth. It’s a hugely powerful piece of software but, of course, comes at an increased cost.
Samples with Saturn
In something of a coup, UVI has placed a recognisable sonic stamp on each of its libraries. Though each harks back to the synth on which it’s based, even the most vintage-sounding designs remain punchy, clean and contemporary.
The Fairlight timbre, for example, sounds smooth but has a lovely reduced-bit-rate grittiness that recalls the early days of sampling, while the Emulator-style Drumulator instrument packs enormous weight into the kick and snare with glistening upper percussion and hi-hats.
The String Machines 2 pack remains a gift, offering oodles of retro-cool, while the PX P-10 provides a faithful recreation of a Prophet-5. As is the case with all the instruments based on vintage synths, the filters have been lovingly reproduced. But think of these less as an identical copy of the synths of yore, and more an approximation of what they might sound like today.
The JP Legacy, for example, features solid interpretations of Roland’s Jupiter-4, Jupiter-6 and Jupiter-8 synths, all named Saturn – the planet next door to Jupiter – as well as UVI’s take on the Roland MKS-80, named the Mercury-80. I’m a Jupiter-8 owner myself, and where my hardware might sound lighter in weight, the new UVI collection sounds punchy. Helpful new additions to the synths include the ability to pan oscillators and to extend modulation capabilities, while there are elements of onboard sequencing or arpeggiation.
Despite the sidestepping of trademarked names, the GUIs reflect those of the synths on which they’re based, from the navy blue of the PPG Wave and granite-black of the Yamaha FM synths to the smouldering orange of the Jupiter-8.
The 3rd coming
Despite the colossal amount of content on offer here, things are so well compartmentalised that it’s terrifically easy to pull up and discard instruments. The installation process is selective, so you needn’t load in all the instrument packages in one go.
Vintage Vault 3 isn’t cheap but, given that, for the same price, you’d only get five or so instruments of this calibre if purchased separately, it’s quite the bargain. But this package delivers on quality too, with the production-ready packages bringing even the most dated sampled or FM sound up to date. And, if for any reason something isn’t working for you, simply noodle with the presets to reshape it. You’ll never be stuck for options. This is a 40-year history of the synthesiser presented in a slick and accessible parcel.
Do I really need this?
If you’re making electronic music in any form, it’s difficult not to justify buying Vintage Vault 3. The library has an absurd amount of content, which will likely nudge your production sessions in inspiring new directions. There’s so much on offer, however, that you may feel you can’t truly dig into any single instrument, so we’d advise limiting usage to a few at a time within any given project. That way, you’ll discover the idiosyncrasies of each without feeling overwhelmed by choice or disappointment by any perceived lack of depth. There’s much to explore here and the results are rewarding.
- Comprehensive package of classic synths, samplers and drum machines
- Includes 65 UVI Instruments and 111 drum machines
- Crafted from the original hardware
- Brand-new JP Legacy package
- Instruments load via the free UVI Workstation or UVI Falcon soft-synth
- Requires 218GB of disk space
- Requires iLok account for authorisation
- Available in AU, AAX, VST and stand-alone formats
The closest competitor to UVI’s Vintage Vault 3, this Arturia offering brings together many of the classics in software form, individually offered in their own plug-in reincarnation. You’ll find everything from early sampling tech to classic analogue sounds, alongside modern elements such as onboard sequencing.
This off-the-beaten-track 18-instrument collection features stalwarts such as the Solina String Synthesizer, as well as oddities like the EMS Synthi AKS and the Hammond Solovox, all beautifully captured.