Tassman 4 (Mac/Win, standalone and plug-in) from Applied Acoustic Systems (AAS) has long been one of my favorites and is my go-to synth for all types of physical-modeled sounds. When I saw the incredible July special price reduction from $349 to $99, it was too late to write it up for “Download of the Month.” I mentioned that to AAS, and the company offered a coupon extending the special price to EM readers until the end of September. To use the coupon, go to applied-acoustics.com/tassman/buy, fill out the order form, and enter EMFALL2010 in the Coupon Code box.
Tassman is a modular synth, which means that it is as many different synths as you can imagine and then build from its 100 or so basic modules. But if the time-consuming black art of building your own synths doesn''t hold great appeal, consider that Tassman comes with a huge collection of instruments already designed, built, and loaded with presets. Those are spread among acoustic, analog, FM, hybrid, organ, and processing categories and include step-sequenced and keyboard instruments, as well as effects processors (see Web Clip 1).
Tassman uses physical modeling in all of its modules. For example, rather than recording samples of a dulcimer or DX-7, it does the math to model the way those acoustic or synthesized sounds are created. One happy consequence is that new and totally unexpected sounds are only a few knob tweaks away; you don''t even need to get under the hood (or, in Tassman speak, delve into the Builder). Beyond that, Tassman is fun to play with. The control panels have a retro feel that draws you in, and you can assign MIDI CCs with a mouse click. In a nice touch, you can load and save presets at all levels: individual modules, module collections called Sub-Patches, and the whole instrument. This lets you quickly copy one part of a preset and apply it to a different preset using the same module or Sub-Patch. Check out Dennis Miller''s detailed review of Tassman 4 online in the March 2005 issue.