Tonic ($69), from Sonic Charge, is a VST drum machine for Mac OS X and Windows. Designed by Magnus Lidström, the brains behind Reason's Malström synthesizer, Tonic uses pure synthesis (no samples or wavetables) to generate its drum sounds, and it sounds great. It features eight pads, each using the same synthesis engine, and a 16-step pattern sequencer with flexible pattern chaining. You can load a fully functional demo as well as audio examples from the Sonic Charge Web site www.soniccharge.com.
µTonic's synthesis engine consists of a multiple-waveform oscillator (sine, triangle, and sawtooth), a multi-mode (lowpass, bandpass, and highpass) filtered-noise source, and an output mixer with EQ and distortion. Each drum pad can be routed to one of two stereo outputs for four channels of independent outboard processing. The charm of µTonic's straightforward modules lies in the modulation options: in addition to decay envelope, sine-wave oscillator, and random for oscillator pitch, filter cutoff offers three envelope shapes. One of the envelopes automatically retriggers, making it ideal for handclaps and other repeated sounds (see Web Clip 1).
The pattern sequencer holds 12 patterns, each with 16 or fewer steps whose size ranges from 8th to 32nd notes. Each step has accent and fill options. A swing parameter delays even-numbered steps. Patterns can be organized into looping chains. Programs, which include all synth settings and patterns, can be saved to disk, as can individual synth patches. µTonic comes with 61 factory programs and 366 patches to get you started.