LinPlug makes a variety of VST instruments for Windows and the Mac. Len Sasso reviews three virtual modular synthesizers—Albino, Delta II, and CronoX 2.

LinPlug's CronoX 2 is a sample-basedmodular synth. Available sound sources include a looping sampler (topleft), a time-stretching sampler, a wavetable sampler, and ananalog-modeled oscillator.

LinPlug is a German developer that offers a variety of VSTinstruments for Windows, Mac OS 9, and Mac OS X. The plug-ins useserial-number copy protection and are available as downloads or on CD.Conveniently, the CD ($4.99) contains all LinPlug products, so afteryou receive it, you can buy the serial numbers for the products youwant. Beware: these synths are addictive — you'll probably wantmore than one.

Image placeholder title

Slot Machines

Image placeholder title

LinPlug's two top-of-the-line synthesizers, Albino ($149) and DeltaIII ($99), share the same modular architecture. They have four slotsfor oscillators, two for filters, eight for envelope generators, fourfor LFOs, and two for effects. Audio routing is accomplished withbuttons adjacent to each slot. For example, the output of the firstoscillator can be routed to either or both filters, or to the secondoscillator for amplitude or frequency modulation. Similarly, the firstfilter can be routed to either or both effects, or to the secondfilter. A modulation matrix that allows eight source-amount-destinationassignments controls routing for the envelope generators and LFOs. Inaddition, seven of the envelope generators are automatically routed— one for each oscillator level, two for the filter cutoffs, andone for output level.

The difference between Albino and Delta III is in the modulesprovided to fill the slots. Each offers digital and analog-modeledoscillators as well as a noise source, but the synths have differentfeatures and waveforms, hence different sounds. Delta III has threemultimode filter modules: Delta 2 (held over from the previous versionof the Delta synth), Delta III, and CronoX (from the CronoX 2 samplingsynth). Albino has updated versions of the Delta III and CronoXfilters, dubbed Silk and Cream, an apparent allusion to their smoothsound.

Delta III has five effects modules: chorus, delay, filter, phaser,and reverb. Albino adds a stereo delay. The envelope generators are thesame for both synths — one with five time-and-level stages and anADSFR that adds a fade stage to the standard ADSR format. The Albinofive-stage envelope has a looping feature not found on the Delta III.The multiwaveform LFOs can sync to tempo; on Albino, they have a monomode.

Albino results from a collaboration with Dutch sound designer RobPapen, author of many of the factory presets for the Access Virus andE-mu Orbit 3. In addition to contributing custom oscillator waveformsand the filter updates, he created Albino's 550 factory presets. Bothsynths sound great, and they do sound different. You get a lot ofprogramming options, but they can also take a bite out of your CPU.Three instances of Delta III brought my PowerBook G4/800 MHz to itsknees.

Out of the Ordinary

CronoX 2 ($59) is LinPlug's most unusual offering. Like Albino andDelta III, it is modular in design, but three of its four oscillatormodules are sample based. When you load a single sample into CronoX 2,the oscillators process it in different ways. The TimeSamp oscillatoroffers independent pitch shifting and time stretching, and thetime-stretch amount can be modulated. The Schrader oscillator treatsthe sample like a wavetable. The Loop Sampler is a conventional sampleplayer with start and loop points that can be modulated, which meansthat the results are not at all conventional. CronoX 2 has slots fortwo oscillators, which are mixed and fed into a multimode filter with adedicated ADSFR envelope generator. An additional ADSFR and two LFOsare routed by means of an eight-by-eight modulation matrix.

CronoX 2 offers an overdrive unit and a multi-effects processorfeaturing chorus, filter, phaser, reverb, and stereo delay. The beautyof CronoX 2 is definitely in what it can do to your samples. The MP3file CronovoX is an example applied to a speech clip.

LinPlug also offers a number of standard-fare instruments. Alpha($29) is a two-oscillator subtractive synthesizer with a multimodefilter, two ADSFR envelope generators, and a syncable LFO. A free,feature-limited version of Alpha is also available. DaOrgan ($39) is anemulation of a drawbar organ with a built-in Leslie. Element P ($39) isan analog percussion synth, and RM III Pro Drum ($59) is an 18-pad,24-note drum sampler that includes a collection of drum kits.

LinPlug's instruments are attractively priced and get the job done.Although the premium synths are not cheap, if you're not alreadycovered in those categories and you're looking for versatility andquality, they definitely deserve a look.

Overall EM Rating (1 through 5): 4.5

LinPlug Virtual Instruments, GmbH; email; Web