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Diogo C 23rd September 2017 05:50 AM

UVI Vintage Vault 2
Product: Vintage Vault 2
Developer: UVI
Formats: Instruments for UVI Workstation and Falcon
System Requirements: macOS/OS X 10.7+ or Windows 7+
Size: 116.26 GB total (individual products can be downloaded separately)
DRM: iLok with up to three concurrent activations (USB dongle not required)

Introduction: UVI updates the Vintage Vault to version number two and expands it further to offer over 50 synths, a wide set of drum machines with Beatbox Anthology 2 and a combined total of over 7,000 presets. The Vault combines iconic and instantly recognizable names with many nearly-forgotten and hard to find synths that for one reason or another stayed obscure. It’s a very comprehensive collection of synths (check the last section of this review for the complete list) and in case you’re not familiar with UVI’s work these are clones or 1:1 straight emulations - they are UVI’s very special take on classic instruments, combining meticulous sampling methods with modern programming to achieve something that sounds authentic yet well-equipped enough for today’s demand. I won’t dare breaking everything down to the individual product level, so I strongly suggest heading over to the Vintage Vault 2 website and taking some time to listen to the audio bits and watch the videos they have there, then come back to this review for further insights. I’ll give my honest thoughts about the bundle as a whole and hopefully that will help folks to make the best possible decision. Without further ado, here we go.

Sound quality: Taken as a whole this is a very good sounding bundle containing many excellent products which highlights UVI’s vast sampling and programming expertise. Needless to say that with such a huge array of instruments some may sound more appealing than others depending on one’s taste, so my personal favourites are the OB Legacy synths, which despite its clunky GUIs are awesome sounding, the quirky PX Apollo, the Cameo, the limited but fun Drumulation and the uniqueness of Mello and Chroma. Beatbox Anthology 2 is also quite good sounding and works great as a drum machine powerhouse, it’s an excellent companion to all the synths and helps a lot on the beat-making department. There’s plenty to enjoy here and most importantly, the Vault not only brings some great sounding synths but it also succeeds on delivering inspiring and highly expressive instruments that will fit perfectly on many productions across different genres. In this regard, there’s basically something for everyone in the Vault, it can easily cover most electronic music styles and most strains of hip-hop or rock and the tons of available presets will serve most people well. It’s important to note that despite being sample-based instruments they offer a good degree of flexibility, which may vary depending on the instrument in hand, but most of them offers plenty of options to shape or tweak the sound with envelopes, modulators and effects, so most instruments can actually go far beyond their presets.

Ease of use: UVI’s instruments have a reputation of being very accessible, user-friendly and mostly easy to use, and that’s all proven many times with the Vault. They all share the same overall concept, and there’s a “framework” in place where instruments fit with some small adjustments here and there to better suit some particular aspects of each instruments - notable exceptions would be the Melo and the drum machines Beatbox Anthology 2 and Emulation One. This unified infrastructure allows for a much smoother learning curve, since once you figure out how one of them works you’ll probably get a hold on the others quite quickly, and it shouldn’t take many efforts or much time for nice sounds to come out. All instruments are also documented with satisfactory detail, with concise and well-written user manuals for all of them to explain all controls and also giving some bits of history on each original hardware instrument. In case you’re a preset guy then you should not worry, as they’re plentiful here to cover a vast array of classic synthesizers and will bring many familiar sounds. However, there might be some caveats once in awhile depending on how many instruments are loaded, as some of them may be a bit of hungry on the voice count, thus impacting the CPU in a meaningful way, and that can be a bit problematic if you wish to run lower latency figures, making session planning and the eventual bouncing to WAV somewhat mandatory. The UVI Engine is quite efficient, so a buffer size of 512 samples should suffice for most production needs, but if you need to go drastic low (i.e. 64 samples) then you’ll have to think wisely or clips and pops shall inevitably occur. One problem that affects the ease of use of some included products is that they’re offered as individual files for each preset instead of a single instrument containing many presets, which is a big bummer when for example you have a nice modulation going but would like to have a different oscillator sound, which takes a bit away from instruments that are otherwise very good. Nevertheless, this issue has been mostly amended and the newer releases tends to be more about “regular” instruments with a preset browser and so forth, although some individual preset-based instruments are still coming up occasionally on newer releases. Those two issues are important to note, yet both are mostly manageable in one way or another, so they’re not the biggest problem here. Interface design is the bigger problem, an issue that affects these instruments to varying extents. I’m honestly not a fan of skeuomorphic GUIs resembling analog gear, but it gets even worse when the GUI is small and the screen resolutions are only getting bigger and bigger. Dragging virtual sliders and turning knobs with the mouse is definitely not good when click areas become too small. Sometimes the small analog-like interface works, for example on a simple instrument such as the Drumulation, but for more complex synths like the Xp12 it makes life a bit difficult because reading tiny text isn’t really fun and takes away from the joys of tweaking. Fortunately we can mitigate this in many ways, with hardware controllers (there’s an easy MIDI learn system in place for all instruments) or if you’re using Falcon you can easily set macros, but nevertheless the issue stands. Please UVI, give us bigger GUIs, and if possible make them re-scalable (125-150-200% would be fine) so we can fit on all our screens.

Features: Most instruments are well featured, save for a few that are very simple and the older products are also showing a bit of age when compared to UVI’s most recent development. The Vault encompasses basically the entire company history, so we can clearly see that they have improved substantially in all areas. One other aspect to take into consideration is that sampling comes its share of inherent limitations, so if you’re a control freak these might not exactly be your cup and you’re better off hoarding algorithmic plug-ins around the web. On the other hand, a very positive aspect of the Vault is that the “infrastructure” for these instruments is very well featured, with Falcon and Workstation doing a fine job of hosting everything in stable and efficient fashion. Needless to say that Falcon is exponentially bigger than the free Workstation, but the latter is a very capable host as well, and UVI takes good care of it with constant updates and improvements. Speaking of Falcon, it’s great that these instruments can be loaded on it and I can only praise that because it opens up so many possibilities, but at this point I’m starting to miss more synergy with Falcon, to go beyond simply using the instruments on Falcon even though that’s already quite a lot. To better explain myself, I would definitely welcome some “modularity” here, for example having filters or oscillator banks from each synth readily available as an effect module for quickly patching it into an existing Falcon part. That’s what I’m calling “synergy”, and to expand on the idea these modules could be offered on “à la carte” menu, where you could be some individual modules or discounted packs. This would definitely take the UVI Libraries-Falcon relationship further and would make them even greater than it already is. With that out of the way, the Vault’s content is rich with features on the individual level, with instruments offering a good amount of controls, and as a whole it’s one of the most well-rounded synth bundles out there. On a last note, I wish UVI had included Synth Anthology 2 and it’s a bit surprising that it’s not here when its beat-making counterpart is. It would be a nice way to wrap up all the vintage synths, but nevertheless there are enough synths here to keep one busy for a very long time.

Bang for buck: Determining bang for buck will vary depending on where you’re coming from and also on which virtual instruments you already have, but it’s safe to say that the loot inside this updated Vault is pretty amazing in many ways. It’s an endgame caliber set of instruments when it comes to sample-based classic synths sounds, and pretty much unrivaled until the recent arrival of IK Multimedia’s Syntronik, which also does sample vintage analog synth but with a very different proposition and approach. I’d like to see would be more purchasing options for the Vault, either in the shape of thematic versions or smaller packages such as “starter” or “veteran” packs with a curated selection of products that could be later upgraded to bigger versions or to the full-blown package. The idea of better synergy with Falcon could also come to play, with micro transactions for giving the user more choices to spend their hard-earned bucks on all bits of synths, effects, modulators, etc. Nevertheless, Vintage Vault 2 is a big package with an overwhelming content, and the asking price is very reasonable for what it delivers. Last but never least it’s also worth of note that UVI has been generous with the upgrades discounts for owners of the first Vault and owners of individual products included in Vault 2 have been offered progressive discounts based on what they own, so there’s a good incentive to get all the loot for all.

Recommended for: Producers looking for a comprehensive package that covers all the bases when it comes to vintage synth sounds, synthesizers enthusiasts in general and anyone looking to expand their virtual synth collection.

*Many great sounding instruments
*Very wide range of sounds
*Tons of presets to cover most classic synth sounds
*Mostly easy to use and straightforward to operate
*Somewhat affordable

*Small interface size hurts the ease of use to varying extents

Addendum: due to obvious reasons the product names are not directly copied from the original pieces that they’re based on, which wouldn’t be cool anyway since we’re not dealing with clones or emulations, but here goes a non-official list of the hardware instruments that inspired the instruments presented on Vintage Vault 2 and were sampled to make these products:
  • BeatBox Anthology 2 (read our review): 111 drum machines from all eras, including the “X0X” classics from Roland, ancient AceTones and also some current machines.
  • Cameo: Casio CZ1000, CZ2000 and CZ3000
  • Darklight IIx: Fairlight CMI
  • Digital Synsations 1: Ensoniq VFX, Korg M1, Roland D-50, Yamaha SY77
  • Digital Synsations 2 (read our review): Ensoniq Fizmo, Kawai K5000, Roland JD-800
  • Emulation II: E-mu Emulator II
  • Emulation One: E-mu Emulator
  • Mello: Mellotron
  • OB Legacy: Oberheim OB series including Matrix-6 and Matrix-12
  • PX Apollo (read our review): Moog Polymoog
  • String Machines: ARP Solina and ten rare string synths
  • The Beast: Digital Synclavier
  • UVS-3200 (read our review): Korg PS-3200
  • UVX-10P: Roland JX-10
  • UVX-3P: Roland JX-3P
  • UVX80 (read our review): Akai AX-80
  • Ultra Mini: Moog Minimoog and Moog Voyager
  • Vector Pro: Sequential Circuits Prophet VS and Yamaha SY22
  • Vintage Legends: Digital Keyboards Synergy, Elka Synthex, Kurzweil K250, Rhodes Chroma, Yamaha CS-70M, CS-40M, CS-20M and DX1
  • WaveRunner: German wavetable synths including the PPG Wave 2 and Waldorf MicroWave XT