Recording - August 2016 - 51

First of all, each Oscillator has a huge variety of
waveforms available. The Basic wave doesn't just offer
the usual subtractive waveforms and noise, but also
single-cycle waveforms from a gigantic library and even
complete multisamples and drum kits (loadable as SFZ
files, with the option of user import as well). Other
options are Additive (eight Basic waves, mixed and
panned in a mini-mixer), Wavetable (a series of Basic
waves that can be scanned through in time), Vector (four
Basic waves mixable via an XY pad), and an external
audio input. Waves can be further shaped by a wide
choice of Algorithms that accentuate certain harmonics
while dimming others, and multiple voices can be
stacked to create thicker tones with less CPU load
(although Unison modes are available, too).
Either or both Oscillators can be phase modulated,
frequency modulated, or ring modulated as well.
Modulation can come from an external audio source or
from one of four Modulation waveforms per Oscillator
(or combinations of them). Then you get to select
whether each Oscillator feeds its own filter, whether
they're mixed first, and whether the Filters are in series
or parallel before being sent to the FX, which can be
reordered via drag and drop.
The Filters themselves have various algorithms-virtual
analog, digital, ladder, diode ladder, state-variable, and
Bite-each with one or more modes: highpass, lowpass,
bandpass, bandstop (notch), dual, comb, etc. Not all
modes are available in all algorithms, but each one has
a unique timbre and behaves like what you'd expect
from a wide variety of famous synths like the Minimoog,
Oberheim SEM, Korg MS20, Roland TB-303, etc. Each
Filter can have its own shapable distortion parameter
added before, inside, or after the filter itself.
Controlling this audio path has so many options it's
hard to know where to start. Every Preset has multiple
ADSR and loopable multistage envelopes, per-voice and
per-patch LFOs, key scaling curves, and fascinating
dual-parameter "2D" envelopes. Add in MIDI controls
and you have 95 different modulation sources, which
can be routed to over 650 different parameters.
Modulations can be scaled, mixed, split, and applied in
unipolar or bipolar fashion. They can be selected from a
popup menu or set up with drag and drop, and are listed in a scrollable/paged Matrix on the right side of the
screen. Oh, and each Layer has its own arpeggiator/
step sequencer that can be set up with the mouse, by
playing a keyboard, or by importing a MIDI file.
Each of the five FX per Layer and the five per global
Bus can be chosen from among 11 different algorithms,
ranging from dynamics control, 6-band EQ, and various
modulation effects, to LoFi, Distortion, Ensemble (8-voice
chorusing), Delay, Reverb, and even a Vocoder. The
effects all sound quite good and can be integrated
deeply into each preset, especially since most of their
parameters can be modulated as well.
If you're looking for a way to visually keep this stuff
straight, SynthMaster comes with several color schemes
("skins") to choose from. You can set a global default, or
assign one to each preset, making it easy to (for example) spot analog distorted sounds vs. chiming FM
sounds. There are even a few Player skins, so you can
focus on performance (and the Easy knobs and XY controls) without distraction.
You can also save certain settings as "partial
patches"-if you develop a fabulous LFO modulation or arpeggiator pattern, you can save it and
import it into other presets with ease. And there are
various ways to filter down what you're looking at,

so that you're not overwhelmed with choices and can quickly find the
modulation, waveform, or patch type that you need. There's a lot to
keep track of, but SynthMaster has many tools to make things easier for
the programmer.
But wait, there's more
The DSP engine in SynthMaster can be set to four quality levels. As a
rough example, two-fisted chords on a fairly complex patch, running inside
Ableton Live 9.6 on a 1.8 GHz dual-core i5 MacBook Air, averaged around
7% CPU load in Draft, 11% in Good, 16% in Better, and 22% in Best. Best
quality sounds really great, on par with other top-shelf virtual synthesizers,

and for many patches (depending on oscillator type, filter type, and modulations) there's surprisingly little degradation at lower quality settings. In fact,
you can choose to set a quality level for each preset if you want, both for
realtime playing and for offline rendering of mixes!
Somewhat less tangible, but no less valuable, than anything we've spoken of so far is the KV331 community. Many users have created their
own presets for SynthMaster, and they're available to browse and download for free from an online library... and there's actually a browser window built into the synth to do just that. Response to bug reports is blazing
fast, and SynthMaster is famous for introducing heavyweight new features in its free interim upgrades (which most makers reserve for bug fixes
alone). For example, things like effects reordering, drag and drop modulation, and new Filter algorithms were all given out free in the version
2.7 and 2.8 updates!

This all combines to make SynthMaster a great value... but when you see
how little it costs, it becomes a no-brainer. The full version with 1250 presets
costs only $99! For another $30, you get to add 150 presets of your choice
from the available expansion packs... or you can shell out $279 to add the
aforementioned "Everything Bundle" of 1750 presets. By the way, SynthMaster
Player gives you 1250 presets for $29... or 300 presets absolutely free.
I've spent weeks falling in love with SynthMaster. It's deep, it's inspiring, it's great-sounding, it's easy to just kick back and play, and it's a
bargain by any possible measure you can think of. And now you know
it exists. So... what are you waiting for?
RECORDING AUGUST 2016

51



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - August 2016

 Contents
Recording - August 2016 - Intro
Recording - August 2016 - Cover1
Recording - August 2016 - Cover2
Recording - August 2016 - 1
Recording - August 2016 - 2
Recording - August 2016 - 3
Recording - August 2016 - 4
Recording - August 2016 - 5
Recording - August 2016 -  Contents
Recording - August 2016 - 7
Recording - August 2016 - 8
Recording - August 2016 - 9
Recording - August 2016 - 10
Recording - August 2016 - 11
Recording - August 2016 - 12
Recording - August 2016 - 13
Recording - August 2016 - 14
Recording - August 2016 - 15
Recording - August 2016 - 16
Recording - August 2016 - 17
Recording - August 2016 - 18
Recording - August 2016 - 19
Recording - August 2016 - 20
Recording - August 2016 - 21
Recording - August 2016 - 22
Recording - August 2016 - 23
Recording - August 2016 - 24
Recording - August 2016 - 25
Recording - August 2016 - 26
Recording - August 2016 - 27
Recording - August 2016 - 28
Recording - August 2016 - 29
Recording - August 2016 - 30
Recording - August 2016 - 31
Recording - August 2016 - 32
Recording - August 2016 - 33
Recording - August 2016 - 34
Recording - August 2016 - 35
Recording - August 2016 - 36
Recording - August 2016 - 37
Recording - August 2016 - 38
Recording - August 2016 - 39
Recording - August 2016 - 40
Recording - August 2016 - 41
Recording - August 2016 - 42
Recording - August 2016 - 43
Recording - August 2016 - 44
Recording - August 2016 - 45
Recording - August 2016 - 46
Recording - August 2016 - 47
Recording - August 2016 - 48
Recording - August 2016 - 49
Recording - August 2016 - 50
Recording - August 2016 - 51
Recording - August 2016 - 52
Recording - August 2016 - 53
Recording - August 2016 - 54
Recording - August 2016 - 55
Recording - August 2016 - 56
Recording - August 2016 - 57
Recording - August 2016 - 58
Recording - August 2016 - 59
Recording - August 2016 - 60
Recording - August 2016 - 61
Recording - August 2016 - 62
Recording - August 2016 - 63
Recording - August 2016 - 64
Recording - August 2016 - 65
Recording - August 2016 - 66
Recording - August 2016 - 67
Recording - August 2016 - 68
Recording - August 2016 - 69
Recording - August 2016 - 70
Recording - August 2016 - 71
Recording - August 2016 - 72
Recording - August 2016 - Cover3
Recording - August 2016 - Cover4
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