REVIEW: Digital Synsations Volume 1 by UVI

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For some of us, the nineties was not the most iconic decade for music but if you disregard the Spice Girls and The Backstreet Boys, the production landscape was shaped by a new type of synthesizer that was hard to program but oh so amazingly powerful. Some of the breakthrough features that these synths came with were: more polyphony than ever before, new ways of modulation, onboard effects, multiple sound sources and of course a sexy LCD screen.

With Digital Synsations Vol. 1, UVI gives you a solid emulation of four synths that changed the game, packaged in 10 GB of pure nineties flavor.

Emulation done right

After purchasing this collection you have to wait for a couple of hours depending on your connection to be able to start using the synths. The reason for that is that the guys at UVI actually sampled those synths, mastered the samples and used those sample as the sound source. That’s the best way to do it in my opinion but you’re probably going to have to load this from an external hard drive if like me, you work on laptop. There is almost 19,000 samples used to run these beasts and that alone is pretty badass. Once you’ve loaded the package into the UVI Workstation, you’re granted with about 120 presets per synth that are fully customizable thanks to a well-thought and intuitive visual interface.

So Long to Menu Diving

The 90s were all about innovation and new ways of producing sound but the analog aficionados had to become full time synth programmers with what seemed like a rocket engineering set of skills in orders to go beyond the preset patches. UVI finally made it fun and intuitive to edit these four synths.

Yamaha’s SY77 was a DX7 on steroid that combined FM synthesis with 16 bit sampling. In addition to that, the sampled source is filtered, then routed to the FM engine and filtered a second time. This results in rich sound palettes from gritty basses to eerie bells all the way to vocalized patches that makes you’re producing with a choir of robots. Who doesn’t like robot choirs ?

UVI’s DS1 is a finely emulated Korg M1 with a rich library of sounds that still stand in today’s production environment. From surprisingly realistic flute patches to modulated leads that pierce through the mix thanks to the built-in drive and bit crusher features, this one synth really sparked my creativity.

For those who had the chance to try the Ensoniq VFX, they know how good it is to load a 3,5” floppy and start playing with wavetable-based sounds and produced some complex pads that would take you on a self-guided tour though time and space. UVI’s DSX offers all the sweet sounds that this classic workstation has to offer and much much more.

Finally, UVI recreated the classic Roland D50 and its wide range of sound capabilities. I had so much fun with the string patches and spent a good half-hour fiddling with some of the keys patches and created some really usable sounds that fit really well in my scoring projects.

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