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dionysiananarchy 6th April 2012 10:58 PM

spectralis 1
You are seen to reviews of the spectralis online so I figured I would do a review right now. I had a spectralis for five years before I sold it recently. I didn't really sell it for any other reason other than I just wanted to try something new, nothing to do with the machine itself, or at least very little to do.

The spectralis is a machine of stark contrast. It has so many features that are amazing and one-of-a-kind yet is lacking features that are basic.

Some things I like about it were number one the sound quality. It was amazing. If I can compare it to other synthesizers I have overall is probably the best sounding. The analog hybrid synthesizer is spectacular. It has four oscillators, it has noise, it has insane routing and modulation capabilities. You can route individual oscillators to the effects, to the filters, basically anywhere. The filter bank is amazing. A lot of the features of the analog hybrid synthesizer can be affected or triggered by the sequencer of which there are two separate and very different. The fact the you can make the outputs of the low pass filter bank and multimode filters great feature. Sound wise I would say it sounds nearly as good and fat as my studio electronics se-1. I mean purely the tone, the spectralis synthesizer as many times the flexibility of it. The oscillators basically have 127 different waveforms. There is an interesting feature called time linear modulation. It basically cycles through all the different waveforms.

The sequencers on this machine are amazing, that are basically the normal step sequencer/live input sequencer, no overdub, has an interesting chord mode. Then you have the analog type sequencer. This second sequencer can effect parameters as well. You can route it to the filter bank, the digital synthesizers, the filters, the noise, to name a few. One of the features that I love the most was the fact that you can set probability for each note, this made drum patterns and leads very interesting because there were always changing and basically never got boring repetitive. There are 15 different tracks of the normal sequencer, and each track can be a different length, so polyrhythms are very easy, mutes and solos are very simple to do. The volume knob is right above the track.

The digital synthesizers are basically sample players, you can load your own samples were just use the one provided which I must say are very high quality. The drums are also in this category. You can route any or all of the digital synthesizer through the analog filters and filter bank. The drums are very high quality, I would compare the bass drum samples to my jomox m-bass 01, I would say they are nearly as deep and punchy as those. The three digital synthesizers have very good sounds, everything from great pads to deep bases to amazing leads, they are all very usable. To my ears they sounded better, as in clearer, heavier, and an overall more pleasing tone than my access virus snow.

Now for some of the downside, the low frequency oscillators while being very versatile are not tempo synced, this is a huge oversight, there is no overdub in live recording mode, when you're recording live there is a weird and bad and very frustrating feature, if you set the sequencer to four bars that you want to sequence live, if you don't release all the keys by the time the fourth bar ends it will delete all previous notes and the last cell note will be the only one played. super annoying. Another bad feature if you are setting this up to control other synthesizer or drum machine modules, is that you cannot mute the midi out of the digital synthesizer tracks, or the analog type sequencer. So basically you have to turn down the volume on the module or having going to a mixing board, this is very bad for me because I liked do everything live. The arpeggiator is pretty rudimentary, and it has a bug, randomly after a few minutes it will go to 192th resolution. That is just plain awful. The only way to get samples into this machine is there a sample conversion program that is only for the PC. It's kind of time-consuming. In my opinion at least in the spectralis version 1 the amount of memory is kind of low. Somewhere around 500 MB. This gets filled up very fast especially if you're using sound font synthesizer samples, but I mainly used it for drums so it helped a lot. At this time you cannot add samples to the analog hybrid synthesizer. As far as effects go at this moment there are only two. Both are delays, but they are very useful and very editable.

All in all I would say this machine is amazing, it has some features that are unique and very useful, the sound quality is spectacular, the sequencers are intuitive and easy-to-use, but some of the limitations are frustrating and to some might be a dealbreaker. I don't think this machine is as complex or as hard to use as some might say, it has a ton features, most of the basics are very simple to do but some other features are not very well laid out at all.

This is my first review ever so sorry if it's not the best organized or doesn't explain certain things very well.