went into this very skeptical and not needing a new synth of any kind. spent way too much in all those end-of-year bargains.
demoed it. bought it after about 15 minutes.
there is something really special and subtle going on under the hood on this thing.
i think it sounds more complex and expensive than my other favorite soft synths: DIVA, Lush-101, Poly KB II, Xils 3, DCAM/Synth Squad -- oscillator for oscillator.
i'm not quite sure how they are able to get this richness with only two oscillators.
i mean, a little tweaking on some of the presets and i found myself listening to a single note held arp waaaay longer than i have with other synths. very fat.
the sound of it is very inspiring. and really very analog. i think they nailed it. instead of focusing on gimmicks, they focused on sound quality and let it speak for itself. (similar to the well-aging Sylenth1, in this regard). [sidenote: as high quality as the Sylenth1 oscillators are, and punchy and clear as the note attacks can get -- similar in many ways to Element, here -- it does show its age in regard to the complexity and depth of newer circuit modeled synths, so i didn't include it in my list.]
filter section sounds great. very satisfying. is it as "juicy" as cytomic's "the drop"? not quite, but, is probably better suited for its integrated role in the synth. there is something special about that RES knob -- it's doing some kind of inter-modulation, or something, when it gets cranked up. it's hard to get it to sound bad, but it still has balls. in some of the patches it seems to intelligently soften or do something that is very musical. can't quite put my finger on it yet.
the amp section is great sounding.
the eq is very analog in its behavior, beefy and well thought out for its simplicity. i was planning on adding an SSL G Channel (or Softube EQ, etc) for my testing, and never needed it. but would in actual production, of course. :-)
the delay is useable, but i'd probably put my PSP 608 on it when actually producing.
the reverb is pretty crappy. very metallic and "short looped" sounding.
so any patch that had reverb, i would turn it off and put my Lexicon PCM96 on it. problem solved.
the detail, punch and filtered 3d softness/complexity in the attacks of notes is really mind-blowing. the clarity, too. but also gritty. i don't know quite how to describe it. but it's the first time i've really felt this in a soft synth.
all i know is that i always seem to have to stack my divas, etc. to get what i'd consider a "finished element" (no pun intended). i had this impression with just a single instance. i probably will end up stacking these things, of course, but... you wouldn't have to. again, with only two oscillators? there is some mojo going on here that i'd like a technical explanation on from Waves (if you guys are listening....).
i think it definitely meets the high expectations of a Waves first, and of the name/concept of "element."
i can't wait to make music with this thing.
(very curious to learn more technical details of this "Virtual Voltage" modelling and how it likely compares and contrasts to what they know of other circuit modeled technologies.)