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Review: UVI Vintage Vault

March 31, 2015

Many electronic musicians rely on virtual instruments only because we lack the financial resources to acquire and maintain roomfuls of vintage hardware. Instead, we settle for software running on our computers. Soft synths emulate classic keyboards by modeling their sound and behavior, whereas samplers play sounds recorded from the original instruments.

Paris-based soundware maker UVI has long been a dependable purveyor of high-quality sampler content, ranging from the plunk, rattle, and squeak of a children’s toy museum to the jazzy stylings of a 1930s Gypsy swing band. UVI’s largest library is a synth collection that gives you a lot more bang for the buck than all the others. Vintage Vault comprises samples of more than 40 hardware synths and 80 drum machines—the complete contents of 15 current UVI products for less than the price of the two of them purchased separately.

Like all UVI soundware, Vintage Vault is formatted for its sophisticated sample player, UVIWorkstation. The Mac- and Windows-compatible software is free to download and runs either standalone or as an AAX, AU, or VST plug-in. UVIWorkstation is multitimbral, meaning you can load multiple sample libraries at the same time and play them on separate MIDI channels.

UVI sampled each source instrument’s oscillators with the filters wide open, allowing UVIWorkstation’s filters, envelopes, and modulators to do all the heavy lifting during playback. The result is that Vintage Vault functions and sounds much like a real synth. You can convincingly tweak most parameters in real time, either manually or with modulators, and save any parameter changes you make. UVIWorkstation also handles step sequencing, arpeggiation, and effects processing for all instruments.

SYNTH APPEAL

Each library’s GUI matches the look and feel of the sampled synth it contains while providing controls for all UVIWorkstation parameters, even if some of those parameters were missing from the original instrument (see Figure 1). As with most synth sample libraries, the product names have been changed to more or less resemble the names of their source instruments, some more closely than others. For example, the Minimoog library is called Ultra Mini, Sequential Circuits Prophet VS is Vector Pro, and NED Synclavier is The Beast.

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