UVI Falcon by Diogo C
- Product: Falcon
- Developer: UVI
- Format: VST, AU, AAX for Mac and Windows
- DRM: iLok software and/or USB with up to 3 concurrent activations
- Price: MSRP $349
- Website: UVI - Falcon
Falcon is UVI’s definitive step into the workstation/workhorse category. Despite having its own “Workstation” plugin, Falcon is their bet on the “one instrument that does everything” race, but let’s go back to the Workstation to better understand what Falcon tries to accomplish. Workstation is a free multi-timbral instrument that can host samples, instrument libraries, provide effects with some decent mixing capabilities and good control over MIDI and automation. Workstation is open to third-party developers and also fueled by UVI’s own libraries as well. Workstation couldn’t do much on its own i.e. no synthesis, no modulators and so on, it was basically a shell for further completion through libraries. Falcon is UVI’s true instrument workstation. It does all of that. Sampling, synthesis, modulation, effects, mixing, performance and so on, it’s a one-stop solution for your virtual instrument needs. As you can imagine, Falcon’s scope is huge and this bird can cover a really large chunk of territory, so I’ll summarize what I consider to be its key aspects and then head on to our score breakdown.
- The sounds made by this big bird will come mostly from its myriad of oscillators. There are 16 different choices here covering basically everything, from simple analog-like waveforms to complex wavetables, FM, drum-optimized synths, granular and sampled based options...you name it. There’s literally a ton of built-in choices here that can be combined in basically any imaginable way and if that wasn’t enough you can load UVI Workstation libraries, to further expand its range of operation.
- Sound effects are provided by a huge number of excellent sound processors, from bread and butter equalization and compression to rich sounding delays, elegant reverbs, waveshapers, distortions, enhancers and so on, all brought together through its open framework. There’s also a decent mixer inside Falcon, with faders aux sends and inserts for each of the parts, and each part can also be routed to any of 16 sound outputs. I often complain about developers not exploiting this wonder of digital audio with deep and flexible audio signal routing options but Falcon leaves little room for complaints to be made with its truly awesome paths for your sonic experiments.
- Falcon offers a ton of modulation options and basically any parameter can be controlled by its rich set of modulators. It also makes parameter modulation something really easy and engaging, with easy visualization of the modulator that is done either through right clicking a parameter or simple left click if bottom-menu is set to display modulation options. The way it arranges it makes this synth one of the most accessible and effective when it comes to making things move on their own, be it through traditional LFOs and step-sequencers but also with some fresh ideas for envelope followers. The system as a whole has to be praised a lot as it really gives the users parameters “on the fly” - sorry but I couldn’t resist using that analogy...especially since it holds so much truth to it!
- Everything is displayed on a very elegant interface and one that actually enables a good pace with the use of layers to sort out each of the sections. It’s very easy to sort out, organize, show and hide things. The way Falcon approaches modulation and automation should be highly praised, and parameter assignment and editing is readily done with a right-click menu that displays all the necessary menus for such operations. There’s also the very helpful “Tree” view, that allows the user to quickly glance and access everything that makes a given patch. Icing on the cake is the interface size selection, with options for regular, big and full screen sizes, allowing Falcon to be optimal for basically any screen under any resolution.
Sound quality: Falcon sounds very good all around - by very good I mean it ranks very high in today’s competitive virtual synthesizer scene. Great oscillators, awesome filters, very nice effects such as the Sparkverb (which I reviewed here) and Dual Delay, a mixing-grade eight band parametric EQ, interesting clippers, dynamic processors and distortions ranging from soft and subtle to totally brutal, excellent envelope shapers, and the list of great sounding options within Falcon can go on and on. The good news here is how good the oscillators and filters are - I already knew about UVI’s excellence when it comes to sampling, but it came to me as a pleasant surprise that they are also very good on synthesizers.
Ease of use: This is a surprisingly welcoming plugin and one that can’t really be call hard, something I wasn’t fully expecting given how large the scope is. On the other hand, I had some good knowledge about UVI’s philosophy from using and reviewing their products over the past couple of years, so I also thought that they might have figured some way to put order in the almost inevitable chaos that the open framework generates. Falcon can be a complex if you want it to be, but even then it manages to provide a very slick of dealing with overly-complicated patches and make them easy enough to digest. I really liked how easy it makes to visualize (and hide) the desired parameters and all their modulations and subsequent blocks. One other aspect to praise is the “Tree” view, that makes layering out a synthesizer from scratch something very accessible and also provides a great way to keep a complex patch well-organized. Assigning parameters to MIDI is very easy, again using the right click with the option of MIDI learn, and right click also enables the user to assign parameters for DAW automation, with instant renaming according to the chosen parameter so it’s easy to see what’s moving on your DAW edit window. I can’t comment on the scripting aspects but from what I could see UVI is offering a very thorough guide to Lua scripting for Falcon, but we can all agree good documentation can never be a bad thing regardless of the field of expertise. Speaking of which, Falcon’s end-user documentation is also very well done and there’s also some good video tutorials from UVI to ease things even further. It’s also worth adding that UVI’s support is very professional and responsive and Falcon has already received its first patch, so rest assured that this product will be supported further down the road.
Features: Falcon offers an abundance of options to create and shape sounds in almost any imaginable way. The number of oscillators, filters, effects and modulators are simply staggering and enough to keep one busy...for life! Add to that the features available on each of the libraries offered by UVI or third parties and that feature list gets pretty much endless. As for Falcon’s bundled content, the factory library packs a lot of despite its “humble” 500mb size, which is modest for today’s standards but more than enough to showcase its strength. The overall assessment I’d like to make here is that Falcon offers so many great parts for one to build a modern synthesizer patch, but the sum is even greater than the (great) parts it offers.
Bang for buck: The price tag might be a scary sight at first, but it gets very attractive once one considers how much Falcon can deliver and further expanded. UVI has definitely done a brilliant instrument with a very clever concept that is comprehensive enough to warrant a ton of value over the years.
*Tons of awesome sounding modules and possibilities.
*Friendly and intuitive to use.
*Expandable with the UVI Workstation catalog and future in-house and third-party libraries.
*Such quality and enormous diversity inevitably comes at a price.
*Factory library a bit too short on patches.
*Send audio from one part to the other to open up sound-triggered modulation possibilities.
*Dedicated outputs for the auxiliary buses.
*More patches on the Factory Library would be nice.
Recommended for: Any electronic musician/producer has to seriously consider Falcon.
Listen to Falcon in action:
Click below for full-size 1080p screenshot.