IK Multimedia Sonik Synth 2
IK Multimedia's Sonik Synth 2 is one sexy beast of a plug-in! It is of the workstation-style, ROM-based ilk like the JV-series from Roland, Proteus from E-mu and Korg Trinity synths. Out of the box Sonik Synth 2 is ready to get you going with over eight GigaBytes of sampled sounds, multi-effects, and easy access to simple and effective synthesizer-style controls courtesy of its simple and intuitive interface. Sonik Synth 2 operates under Macintosh and Windows platforms as VST, RTAS, DXi and Audio Units plug-ins (unfortunately no stand-alone version as of yet).
Sonik Synth 2 is the type of synth that lets you combine individual sampled sounds including vintage synths galore, brass, pianos, drums, guitars, strings, and other sounds to create realistic and/or super-natural results called Combi Patches. Each Patch can layer up to sixteen different sounds! You are limited to the library of sounds it ships with and can not load your own samples however. Nevertheless it ships with over 5,000 sounds and hundreds of Preset Patches which are plenty enough to get you started right away, and it is dead-simple to create your own Combi Patches. The SS2 Instruments are all labeled and categorized (Synths, Keyboards, Guitars & Bass, Drums, Brass, Winds, Orchestral, Vocals, SFX and more). Just click on a Part and click on an Instrument to assign it to that Part. Each Part has its own solo/mute, volume, pan and output assignments (Sonik Synth supports up to 16 separate outputs per instance). Polyphony is adjustable from 1 to 256 voices and can be set individually for each Part - this is great because you can combine a monophonic drum loop with polyphonic pads so you can play chords without messing up the loop. You can also assign any MIDI channel to any part for a truly multitimbral sound module - create one mega performance Combi Patch or a band-in-a-box-type patch with different instruments on independent MIDI channels and outputs.
Up to five separate effects can be assigned to each Part - that's like having 80 multi-effects onboard! There are 32 types of effects to choose from including EQ, compression, reverbs, wah-wahs, delays, distortions, filters, modulations, amplifiers, lo-fi effects and more. An amazing range of character, warmth, animation and design can be programmed into each Part creating totally unique and never boring Combi Patches. A simple click on the name of the effect selected brings up the controls to tweak the effect to your liking. This effects section couldn't be easier to use despite its vast potential for sonic design!
The same can be said of SS2's synthesizer edit section. It offers eight pages including LFO 1 & 2, Envelope 1 & 2, Filter, Synth, Velocity and Macro. Just click on a page such as Filter and the knobs and switches for the Filter appear. Like the effects section, only the selected Part in your Combi Patch will be effected by any tweaks you make here for total sound shaping and modulation control. And even though the parameters are simple and easy to control they offer a lot of depth. The LFOs feature multiple waveform shapes, speed, depth, delay, level and more (but they don't sync to tempo as of yet!!). The envelopes offer AHDSR controls and more. The filter offers selectable low, band or hi-pass filtering with 6, 12 or 24 dB/oct slopes and frequency cutoff and resonance controls. The Synth section offers pitch controls like tuning and pitch bend amount per Part as well as resampling, pitch/time shifting and stretching.
So how is Sonik Synth 2 different from IK Multimedia's other major plug-in SampleTank? Well they are based on the same engine and other than one being red and the other blue they are both ROM-based sample players. The main difference is in their libraries - SampleTank focuses on natural and acoustic sounds as its building blocks whereas Sonik Synth 2 offers up a monstrous load of sampled synthesizers. You'll find classic vintage synths from Arp, Moog, Mellotron, Serge and Jupiters; as well as FM, granular, wavetable & additive sounds and some traditional and acoustic sounds which combine to create some definitely more synth-like and textural sounds that can only be designed with a plug-in called Sonik Synth! A stand-alone version would be nice since plug-in operation can lead to either trouble-free or serious computer crashing depending on your host program and computer system.
Despite it's vast library of sounds and editability, SS2's user interface is very simple and intuitive. The built-in search function and the ability to create, edit and rename Parts and Categories is welcome for helping you find and sort things out. Saving your own edited or newly created Combi Patches is virtually unlimited. And every parameter can be controlled via MIDI for mouse-less editing. Of course the obligatory flip the screen to show the back of the synth with it's virtual spinning fan is on-board as well.
This is a Plug-In that has to be demoed - with so many sounds to choose from and so many (virtually unlimited) possibilities of combinations there will be Patches you may love and some that could suck. But no other plug-in can offer this much sound design control or as many awesome out-of-the-box Patches to get anyone interested in dance, techno, hip-hop, pop, folk, ambient, trance, film scoring, sound effects & design, etc. etc. etc....and in such a simple to use package.
Demos & Media
Images from IK Multimedia Site