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Absynth? Rhino? z3ta+? Atmosphere?

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I need a little soft-synth advice ...


I've got a DAW and a decent collection of hard- and software sound sources. I'm mainly interested in acoustic "bread-and-butter" sounds, and I feel like I've pretty much got those covered. What I'm interested in now is a nice synth that will produce sounds unlike any others in the rest of my set-up, and the one thing I feel lacking in are complex, moving sounds, especially pads. I've already got Malstrom in Reason, which I like. But I'm curious to know if anyone has had experience with any of the following instruments...


Everything I've read suggests that NI's Absynth 2.0 is what I should be looking at, with its tempo-synched breakpoint envelopes and granular sampling. And I like the fact that you can import your own samples, which would provide lots of raw material for tweaking. I've used the demo for version 1.0, but there's no demo for version 2.0.


But, then again, I really like the demo of Big Tick Audio's Rhino. I like the fact that it's roughly half the price of Absynth. And I hear rumors (at kvr-vst) that version 2 is coming out soon, and that it, too, will be able to load samples to use as waveforms. The presets I've heard are great, and it is a very deep instrument; on paper, at least, it seems to give Absynth a strong run for the money. But I haven't heard anybody directly compare Rhino to Absynth, to see exactly how they are similar or different.


I'm also curious about rgcaudio's z3ta+. This one probably drifts closer to more traditional VA-subtractive synth territory. The demo didn't thrill me--it was impressive, sure, but the sounds weren't really what I was looking for--but then again, I've heard some interesting updates are on the horizon, including the ability to load your own samples. And it's so powerful and so highly regarded that I don't want to dismiss it based on a few minutes of tweaking a handful of presets.


Finally, there's Spectrasonics' Atmosphere. The most expensive of the four, but again, I've heard nothing but raves, both for Atmosphere and for Eric Persing's work in general. No tempo-synched envelopes (yet?), no demo, and a closed architecture. But a huge sample library and thousands of sounds at the ready. Will it be tweakable enough? How does it compare to the others?


Really, the "problem" comes down to the fact that all four of these seem to be very highly regarded instruments, and every time I read a review of one, I'm persuaded. And the truth is that I'd probably be happy with any one of them. Even though they're not so expensive that I couldn't buy more than one, they seem to tread on similar sonic territory, and I'd rather buy--and really learn to use--only one. So I'd appreciate any real-world advice and comments you might have, especially if you've used more than one and can describe their relative strengths and weaknesses.





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Absynth and Rhino are very nice but the Virsyn Cube and Tera are the most ground breaking new synths Iv'e heard to date in terms of movement and morphing ect.,but the Cube is somewhat of a CPU hog while the Tera is ok in that dept and sounds very similar.Meanwhile download the free Crystal VSTi and make sure to load in Tim Conrardy's excellent patch's for it which can be obtained here www.patcharena.com/index.php I don't have Atmosphere but I haven't heard anything bad at all.
"A Robot Playing Trumpet Blows"
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The only two you mentioned that I own and use are Malstrom and Absynth. I like Malstrom very much also, but Absynth is much more powerful. It has 68 stage envelopes that can create some very sequencer-like or very animated patches and the sampler/ granular sampler feature for each of the oscillator waveforms. You can also draw the harmonic content of a waveform. Absynth is more of a real synthesizer than what you would get with Spectrasonics' Atmosphere, which is more sample playback similiar to hardware like a Triton or Motif. For weird atmospheric types of sounds, Absynth would be the best choice, IMO. I've also heard people compare Absynth to Crystal or Rhino, but from what I've heard, Absynth is superior.
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Absynth is a very sophisticated synth capable of making sounds quite unlike anything else out there. There are quite a few presets for it so even if you wimp out on the programming, you can still get something good out of it.


zt3a+ is definitely a synth, not as powerful as Absynth, but sounds great, doesn't cost much, and has several unique features that make it an overachiever. It has a bright, in your face sound that I find extremely attractive but might put off some of the "I like it warm" crowd.


With Atmosphere, what you're really buying is Eric Persing's ability to make gorgeous sounds and put 'em in a virtual instrument. It's nowhere near as tweakable as the other two but if you want incredible sounds out the box, it's quite the instrument.


Personally, I'm a big fan of Eric's stuff in general. He has an instinctive feel for what makes musically useful material. I throw that in as a general comment, not as a reason why you should get Atmosphere over the others...if you told Eric he could only use Absynth or the zt3a+ and nothing else, I bet he'd still make equally good sounds as he does with whatever it is he uses.


Haven't tried Rhino so can't comment.


You're right, they're all excellent products that do somewhat different things and live at different price points. I hope the above thumbnail descriptions helped a bit.

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Stapleton, you might also want to check out the following new resynthesis product:



Camel Audio Cameleon 5000


Sound On Sound gave it a very good review .

(Note: this April 2004 review is only available by hard copy or eSub until October 2004, when the review link should start working for everyone.)


You may also find the following threads useful:


Soft Synth Gems or Flops?


What\'s your favorite soft synth RIGHT NOW?


Borrowed topic - your 3 desert island SOFT synths


Good luck.





My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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Thanks to the replies here, I've been checking out the Virsyn Cube 1.5 demo (I haven't been able to get the Cameleon 5000 demo to work) and additive synthesis seems like yet another really promising approach. Reading a few reviews shows that these two are just as highly regarded (and groundbreaking, and powerful) as the other four, and now I've gone from four alternatives to six...not exactly the "narrowing down" I'd hoped for when I originally posted, but still very interesting.


Even though I haven't made a decision yet, I have to admit that this is pretty exciting. I can't remember a time when I've been in the market for a product and have seen so many overwhelmingly positive reviews for each the alternatives. (And it isn't as if these are mature technologies--one of the things I'm most curious about is how each of these will evolve. After all, Virsyn Cube seems to have made a big leap forward with version 1.5, and Rhino apparently has a 2.0 coming out very soon....)


So I'm still shopping, and if anyone has any real world comments with any of these, I'd still like to hear about it. In the meantime, looks like I've got some more demos to check out!


Thanks again for the responses.



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