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Access Music Virus Classic
Overall Rating
Submitted: April 17th, 2007
by raffor
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Sound Quality
The sounds are great and unique (to the Virus series that in itself already has a signature sound). They can be punchy, airy, fat, and distorted. At first glance, you would think that the Virus is best for airy pads (great with efx) and distorted leads (with the saturation stage between the filter). But once you program the virus, it shows that it is capable of a much wider range of sounds. So, the reputation the Virus gathered over the years to be a trance synth can be changed if you are willing to dig deeper. The Virus is offering great effects and IMHO they are a little overused especially in the presets. The Efx seem to give the sound a certain feel or color that makes them all sound similar. There are many thricks to get similar results without consulting the effect section though. Even the Virus sounds great, there are some thing worth mentioning here. First of all, in the higher pitch range the Virus experiences loss of presence and aliasing. That happens without any distortion/saturation in place. Thus, it is very tricky to make sounds for the higher pitch range. Also, the sound has a tendency to get muddy easily. E.g. there is no defined PWM that you can hear, rather the sound is getting mush what ends up in warmth. Whereas this could be very desirable, the single PWM oscillator gets lost somewhere down the line when mixing other soundsources. Sometimes it helps to put the oscillators in phase to each other to avoid the free floating phase (mush). On the other side, the filters are very nice sounding even they are not open fully (compared to the NL2) in LP mode and restrict frequency (maybe another contributor to the darker sound of the Virus).
Reliability/Durability
I only had the unit for 3 weeks now and cannot really comment on this section.
Price/Value
General Comments
I own(ed) quite alot of keyboards over the last 20 years and I kind of like the Virus. I actually bought the Virus Classic because I was interested in the TI but had my reservation about spending that much money without even have a good chance of testing it. A used Virus Classic came up and I am working with this unit for the 3 weeks constantly to build up a good library for my songs. The Virus is a virtual analog and compared to real analogs it does experience less presence at the higher pitch. So, it will be difficult to make these sharp Arp sounds. The low end is just great and together with the warmth of the PWM and the good sounding filter the Virus is doing great analog emulations (e.g. I made a bass sound that could have come from a SH-2). The dual filter and the efx can make the Virus sound almost as good as my D50 for pads. Now, compared to other virtual analog synths the Virus holds up pretty well. I think it can cover the Novation K-Station sounds just fine with a little bid more bite from the Envelopes and the same annoying aliasing in the higher range. I even like it better than the SH32 that has a great effect section as well. When I compare it to the NL2 I have to admit that these are two different animals. Whereas the NL2 is doing higher qualtiy sounds with lots of presence the Virus sounds always mushier when setting up similar sounds. Also there is much less aliasing with the NL2 in higher range and with using FM. In addition, it is much easier to program a Nord than the Virus. So if you need lots of features right there in front of you, the Virus is not for you and needs much more patience. What I get with the classic is a synth that is bug free and works fine for the analog emulations and just the (for me) new "Virus" sounds. From the user interface I still prefer the Waldorf synths (XT) that also is using the menue structure and direct parameter knobs but somehow gives you more freedom in sound design. However, whereas the Waldorfs can sound sharp and hard the Virus, even using their Wavetable oscillators with static waveforms cannot reach that kind of presents. Therefore the Virus can sound round and warm what is difficult to make with a Waldorf synth. I assume that is the same with the TI and wavetable scanning. I guess I won't get the PPG sounds then. Also, I wanted a synthesizer that can replace alot of stuff in my studio because I need to downsize due to family requirements. I am happy that I bought first the Virus Classic because it it is pretty much 80% a TI and btw, a great value. Now, from what I know today is that I wait a little longer buying a TI and keep the Classic around for while. After all, there is no thing that can replace it all. The Virus sounds great and warm and even with the efx off it sounds good (what you cannot say of the D50!). It has a limiting factor with "direct in the face" sounds (that are not heavily distorted). But over all, it is probably the best bread and butter synth I have in the studio. However, to come back to the TI purchase, I guess I am waiting a little longer. First of all, the Virus Classic has already so much to offer that I will be busy for a long time to fill up to 1024 sound programs. Also, whereas the TI is in developement the Classic OS is stable and bug free for almost 3 years already. And I can use it in 16 part multimode whereas the TI has problems with cutting off voices by using 3 -4 parts as of now. Somehow I think this is just the better deal.
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