UVI aims its state-of-the art sampling technology at capturing the sound and feel of dozens of the most sought after analog synthesizers spanning dozens of manufacturers to provide one of the biggest collections of classic sounds around.
By Chris Loeffler
So many synthesizers, so little time (and money, in most cases). Vintage synthesizers are a part of every genre’s musical vocabulary at this point, and so many of the limitations and quirks of early issue synthesizers (analog and otherwise) led to new and different ways to approach instrumentation and song writing. With none of those classic designs still in production due to lack of original parts and high price points, all but the most affluent of collectors are at risk of losing access to these wonderful tones. As sampling gets more realistic and computer performance increases, there are more and more digital approximations of these classic instruments available, and UVI is leading the pack in studio-quality sampling and flawless reproductions of these classics in the form of virtual instruments.
Using hundreds of thousands of dollars in the highest quality recording gear, UVI has meticulously sampled dozens of classic vintage synthesizers from over ten of the biggest names in synthesizer history to build UVI Synths Anthology. At over 9.2 GB of file space, the collection includes 3,854 presets and 23,483 samples of Analog synths, FM (frequency modulation) synths, Wavetable synths, Vector synths, Additive synths, PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) synths, and more, covering literally every type of known synthesis through the most well regarded examples of each type. UVI Synths Anthology comes in AU, RTAS, AAX, VST, and stand-alone file formats and requires an iLok key and UVI Workstation or MOTU MachFive 3 through MAC OSX 10.7 or Windows 7/8 or higher with 32 or 64 bit support.
What You Need to Know
Analog (Subtractive) synthesizers included in the Synths anthology include the ARP 2000 and Odyssey, Moog Minimoog and Memorymoog, Oberheim Xpander and 4 Voices, Roland SH, Jupiter 4 and 8, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 and T8, Yamaa CS60, 70M, and 80, and Korg PS3200. These all work on the basic principle of a waveform (such as square or saw) being generated by an oscillator and shaped via various filters. These are the classic synthesizer tones most people think of when when imagining the “synth sound”. When played against recorded examples from albums, each of the above virtual instruments was able to nail the sound with enough tweaks. Overused terms like “thick”, “warm”, and “grimy” are easy to evoke when hearing these instruments, and there’s an astonishing aural depth to the instruments that make them stand out in a mix.
Frequency Modulation synthesizers make their magic happen by using one oscillator to oscillate the signal of a source oscillator, yielding complex, multi-frequency output through simple and efficient computation. Models included in this bundle include the Synthclavier II, Yamaha DX1 and DX100. These are decidedly more high-fidelity and complex tonally than the subtractive models, and allow for interesting sideband tweaking.
Wavetable synthesizers draw on early sampling, leveraging a segment of digital audio for each setting that is sped up or slowed down to shift the pitch to address every note on the keyboard. Envelopes, filters, basic looping provide attack and release characteristics to keep the notes from sounding flat. The PPG Wave series, PRK FD, EVU, HDU and Commander, Waldorf Pulse, Wave, and Microwave XT are examples of this type of synthesis and featured in the Synths Anthology. These are more modern sounding synths, with a bit less quirky charm but much more control available in crafting unique sounds.
Vector synthesizers leverage multiple waveforms (usually controlled by a joystick) that can be blended via an XY plane for infinite mixing possibilities of up to four waves simultaneously. A famous example of this synthesizer type included in Synths Anthology is Sequential Circuits’ Prophet VS. With 128 different waveforms available, the virtual instrument allows them to be mixed and matched to create entirely new sounds that are then run through a series of analog filters.
Additive synthesizers such as the Technos Acxel, Kawai K5000, and PPG Waveterm build on analog synthesizing by summing multiple waveforms to create a richer, more complex single waveform. True to theory, these virtual instruments demonstrate considerably more harmonics and lend themselves particularly well to increased gain.
PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) synthesizers, such as the Roland JD800 and JD990 and Korg M series, build on wavetable synthesizing by creating multiple layers of a digital sample to create more authentic and fuller sounding tones, something only possible as memory became cheaper and more available for instruments. Of all the synthesizer types featured in the Synths Anthology, these are the most modern sounding, entirely eschewing the limitations of analog oscillation in favor of multi-layered samples.
Analog Modelling synthesizers such as the Waldorf Q, Micro Q and Access Virus take the opposite approach of PCM synths and use their digital samples to try to recreate the flaws and quirks of vintage analog synths. Although the place of these instruments in this collection at first seems odd (it’s essentially a much higher quality sample of an intrinsically inferior original sample), the tones themselves are now iconic and stand almost as their own unique contribution to keys.
Requires an iLok account/key and only plays through UVI and MOTU workstations.
The breadth of authentic, rich instruments available in UVI Synths Anthology guarantees years of discovery for those looking for a deep-dive synthesizer experience, and their dead-on presets for each virtual synth are so musical and warm many casual players will never need to venture beyond what’s already built. Every one of these virtual synths could take up an entire review; the fact is that if you’re familiar with the instruments they are sampled from you know exactly what you’re getting. Everything associated with these classic synthesizers is present, from accurately sampled preamp and compressor responses to the rich harmonic grind of deep filters. In short, these instruments don’t sound “close” to the original, they are exactly like the original, only made better through expanded capabilities only offered in the digital world.