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Lights 31st January 2012 03:46 AM

KV331 Audio Synthmaster2
When you give your product a name like SynthMaster, you have to be pretty confident that you have a powerhouse on your hands. So when I gave SynthMaster a try, I was naturally skeptical that it could live up to its name. After all, could this really be the Master of all Synths? Can this synth really be that deep?

I have spent several late nights with this product and the answer is…. (a qualified) yes. SynthMaster is that deep. There aren’t many synths that cover as much ground as SynthMaster and do it as intuitively as SynthMaster.

The qualification is this—SynthMaster is for rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty—It’s insanely powerful, and it’s not hard to get the hang of it. It comes with a load of presets, but presets aren’t its strength. Making your own sounds is where SynthMaster really shines.

First let’s start with the basics.

KV331audio calls SynthMaster a “semi-modular” synth. In practice, while you can’t route anything to anything else, you’re unlikely to find a limitation. The synth architecture includes 2 layers each with 2 oscillators, modulators, and a completely configurable effects chain that includes inserts and sends.

Not only do the oscillators allow you to choose from common waveforms, but there’s a treasure trove of samples and single cycle waveforms you can use in place of an oscillator as well. And if that’s not enough for you, you can import any WAV or SFV file you want. You can also use wavetable/virtual analog, wavescanning, additive, vector, noise, and pulse synthesis as well. I’m pretty sure KV331audio didn’t leave anything out there. Each oscillator has its own parameter page that comes up when you select the type of synthesis you want to use, and some of them (like the additive and wavescanning pages) are quite deep in their own right. There’s a tremendous flexibility in even the basic oscillator setup, before you even get to modulation…

Each oscillator can be fed by or modulated by one or more modulators. You can modulate phase, amplitude, or frequency. You can also feed in audio. That’s right. Insert SynthMaster on an audio channel and target it with a MIDI channel and you can feed the audio stream of the channel into SynthMaster directly or through any other oscillator waveform. You can come up with some pretty crazy effects doing this… but you’ll have to figure out the finer points of this on your own as there aren’t any presets that leverage the audio inputs.

All of the synth basics are there, but SynthMaster gives you way more than most synths. A routing table along the right hand side allows you to keep track of them all: 4 global and 2 voice LFOs that can be easily routed to just about everything (and set to have additive or multiplicative effect), several envelope types (ADSR, multistage, 2D), keyscalers, and then there are the effects…

There are digital and analog modeled filters (and you can do cool things like adding distortion into the filter process), and a full-featured effects chain that include Distortion, LoFi, Compressor, Phaser, Ensemble, Chorus, Echo, Reverb, and Vocoder, which takes advantage of the audio input. Each layer gets its own effects and there are globals that you can use as send effects.

But wait, there’s more. There is a full featured step-sequencer style arpeggiator that will work in all of the standard modes, chord mode, and sequence mode. And you can import your own MIDI patterns into the arpeggiator as well.

Finally you get several MIDI-controllable “easy” knobs that let you set up parameters you want to easily tweak and 2 assignable X/Y pads.

And to top it all off, you get a rich patch browser that lets you browse by type of instrument, style of music, etc. to help you easily find the right patch or a good starting point for your own experimentation. And the patch browser is ingeniously online so that without leaving the plugin you can easily browse an online catalog of sounds hosted by KV331audio.

This is a monumental work and clearly a labor of love which I expect to continue to evolve and improve. Because it’s so vast, SynthMaster has a few areas that are not as mature as others… but that can only be expected given how vast this plugin is. Synth, effect, creative workstation: SynthMaster earns its name.

teknatronik 10th October 2015 12:36 PM

KV331 Audio Synthmaster2
The download process was extremely simple. Within an hour of paying via Paypal I had an installer and serial code in my email along with discount coupons. The install process was as simple as the download process. The installer gives the option of either 32 or 64 bit install. After playing with the synthesizer for just a few hours I quickly realized the power and quality of this vst. Not only can you create individual patches quickly, but if you choose to audition the presets you will discover they are all very usable.
Creating your own individual patches is extremely simple. Even with no sound design experience, the routing is laid out in a way that is easily understood. Each module is titled with easily understood terms. i.e. oscillation, delay, efects and so on. In my experience with this being my first vst synth that i have created almost all my own patches in, it’s more fun to create the sounds from nothing than it is to pick from the presets. Even though it’s more fun to create your own sounds, the presets are extremely well done and all sound like they took at least a week to create. The factory addition comes with enough presets to create multiple albums. The sound design possibilities are endless. This is one of the few synths that I will be using the onboard effects before using my third party plug-ins. -Teknatronik

dje456 15th February 2018 09:02 PM

I bought Synthmaster 2.8.something in April 2017 and am now, close to a year later, using 2.9.6, the latest build, either standalone or in Pro Tools 2018. In many ways Synthmaster is a fantastic soft synth --- deep, flexible, inexpensive, and capable of producing some fantastic sounds.

But I've just decided that I'm not going to use it on any new projects.


Because it's unreliable as hell and I can't count on it to work when I need it to and to produce consistent results when it does. Let me explain:

When I bought it, it kept crashing Pro Tools (12.6.x). An email to support was swiftly answered, but the suggestions in the email nonetheless did not fix the problem.

So I stopped using it for a while.

A few updates later I picked it up again. No more Pro Tools crashes --- hooray! But now the previously awesome sounding pads featured an occasional clicking noise that, curiously, moved back and forth at random across the stereo field. This happened both in the AAX and the standalone versions. Another email to support. This one wasn't answered.

So I stopped using it for a while.

About a week ago I grabbed the latest update. The problem with the pads is gone, thank goodness. But now there's a new problem: Sometimes when I load the PT session I've been working on for the last week, the Synthmaster preset I'm using for the bass sounds different. Sometimes subtly different. Sometimes completely ***ing on a different planet.

I can't work this way. My experience with Synthmaster has been that although it sounds fantastic, it's just not reliable enough to use for "serious" stuff. So I'm shelving Synthmaster --- perhaps for good, perhaps for 12+ months --- and rewriting my SM patches in Serum, which has been steady as a rock.