UVI UVS-3200 by Diogo C
Formats: Library for UVI Falcon and UVI Workstation
Price: $79 USD MSRP ($49 for a limited time)
The scope: After successfully reviving a super rare vintage synth with the PX Apollo (reviewed here), this time UVI brings back the Korg PS-3200, an equally rare and exotic Japanese synth from the 1970s that’s kind of a beast: 48-voice polyphonic, each voice powered by two VCOs, each VCO with its own LFO and VCF, all in a semi-modular architecture that enables many possibilities. As with the PX Apollo, the concept here is to take a vintage synth in pristine condition, extensively sample it with the best gear and best techniques, then equip it with some current-day functionality for the best of yesterday and today, analog and digital. The UVS-3200 starts with a main page houses the two oscillators - OSC1 brings 24 sounds and OSC2 adds up 69 sounds, including basic waveforms from the original piece. Each OSC gets its own ADSR envelope, amplitude, panorama, velocity on/off and velocity to attack options. On top of each OSC there is a multimode filter, with LP/HP/BP options, cutoff, resonance, envelope (also ADSR), velocity and depth controls. The filter is in the MS-20 ballpark, with some pleasing resonance that can be pushed quite a lot. An edit page offers portamento, transpose, stereo modes with spread/detune/color and modwheel assignments (tremolo, vibrato, filter) for each OSC. Following that there’s the modulation section, with one LFO (per OSC) that can be assignable to the volume, filter or pitch and a configurable step sequencer (also one per OSC) with up to 16 steps and variable speed and depth to modulate the volume and the filter. The LFO is syncable, with four shapes (sine/square/triangle/sample & hold), variable speed and retrigger/legato options. Both LFOs and sequencers can be set to positive and negative value, which is cool. The UVS-3200 is also equipped with an effects section featuring distortion, chorus, phaser, delay and reverb, all very basic but good capable enough and good sounding. Wrapping up there’s a dedicated arpeggiator for each OSC for quite a substantial set of features that makes the UVS-3200 a very compelling virtual synth.
Sound quality: Rich, full of character, with some good grit to it - that’s how I’d describe the UVS-3200. It sounds quirky, vibey and lush like very few virtual synths out there. I really enjoyed it for thick pads and leads, it sounds very powerful with chords and very expressive overall. I could also get some good bass sounds with it, but things got a bit challenging when I went for a tight bass or sharp keyboards - due to its nature this is not a super-hyper precise synth, it’s flexible enough and can deliver modern sounds but it’s best used on its strengths i.e. vintage synth sounds with some added layers.
Ease of use: The UVS-3200 is not hard to program, making a patch from scratch it’s actually fun and rewarding. It ships with a good number (220 total) of presets in case a starting point is needed. Interface-wise this is a very clean and well organized synth, with all functions easily accessible through five tabs (please check the attachments) on the upper side of the panel and since this is not a super complex synth the available controls are manageable and easy to memorize. In terms of resource consumption it goes okay-ish, the CPU-load is moderate and I was able to run multiple instances on my Ivy-Bridge i7 processor, so it’s not exactly a lightweight but not a hog either. Some improvements are always welcome and UVI has a pretty good track record when it comes to updates, so there’s some good hopes for future optimization. The documentation is also very good, as always is the case with UVI, with a 12-page PDF that’s concise and well-written, with clear explanations of all the features and some background on the PS-3200.
Features: I really like the core concept that UVI has developed for this series of instruments - I already enjoyed the PX Apollo a lot and I think I’m digging the UVS-3200 even more, even though they don’t necessarily compete with each other. One thing that I miss on this and other UVI synths other than Falcon is a chord tool, which would help to make the most out of its polyphonic beauty. I’m using an external controller to trigger chords and it’s a joy, but it would be great to have such feature onboard. Other than that there’s nothing to complain here, as they have managed (yet again) to make the most out of an old synth and successfully update it to today’s needs.
Bang for buck: Excellent value, this is a fun synth to play with and it’s quite easy to program. At $79 (USD/MSRP) it’s definitely on the affordable side of the fence, making it easily recommendable even without a demo. If you already own Falcon I’d say it’s a no-brainer because it significantly increases the value of any UVI library with its immense capabilities and really takes this synth to a whole new level. Nevertheless, the UVS-3200 is definitely good enough to stand on its own and using it with the free Workstation is also very rewarding. Definitely another solid and very interesting release from UVI that makes me feel a bit anxious about what’s coming next!
Recommended for: Synthesizer aficionados and electronic music producers looking for an exotic synth that is fun to play with.
Lovely character, it’s warm, cozy and comforting
Easy to program, with sufficient depth to keep you busy for a while