UNIVERSAL AUDIO BOSS CE-1 &ROLAND DIMENSION D
Universal Audio brings licensed replicas of the Roland Dimension D and Boss CE-1 chorus processors to the UAD-1 platform (also available separately). As a former CE-1 owner, at the first crack I felt like I had ascended to heaven (or at least got my CE-1 back)! From beautifully soft and subtle settings to cranked-up, flange-like effects and rich, organic, analog-synth vibratos, the presets hit every retro nail squarely on the head. What it did to warm up '80s analog and '90s digital outboard synths, as well as today's overly pure software synths, was nothing short of gorgeous. Guitars, bass, electric keys (this thing was born for Rhodes and Wurly pianos) and even drum loops and vocals benefited from the unmistakably organic vibe. What others merely cover up, the Boss CE-1 plug-in rejuvenates.
The Roland Dimension D is initially less exciting for its fewer tricks but no less devastating at doing its one thing — producing unbelievable stereo chorus — and, arguably, it does it better than any other device on Earth. In true bucket-brigade fashion, the four-button interface and presets provide mono and stereo variations of several possible “dimensions” and bring the sonic character of early Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads to your door. Incidentally, when you upgrade for free to v. 4, it also adds PC X2 and dual-processor support along with tempo sync.
BOSS CE-1 & ROLAND DIMENSION D > $199
At a glance: Faithful replicas of vintage chorus stomp and studio effects brought to the UAD-1 platform. Requires the UAD-1 PCI card and the latest version of the Powered Plug-Ins software.
ROB PAPEN BLUE 1.1.1
CROSS-FUSION VIRTUAL SYNTHESIZER
Following the huge success of Albino, acclaimed Dutch sound designer Rob Papen scores once again with an equally colorful virtual synth called Blue. This time, Papen has joined up with music software developer Jon Ayres to create a cross-fusion of FM, phase distortion, wave shaping and subtractive synthesis in one. Six oscillators rich, any combination of analog, additive and spectral wave shapes can be molded in several ways using 32 different modulation routings. Pulse width (with symmetry), frequency and ring modulation, plus oscillator sync can be applied before an oscillator's output is sent to the analog-style stereo filter and multi-effects, or output as a dry signal. Editing is made easy with dedicated displays for algorithms, phase distortion/wave-shaping settings, nine AHDSFR envelopes, four multi-envelopes, 10 MIDI-synchable LFOs, a 20-slot modulation matrix, three modulation step-sequencers and a 32-step mono sequencer with control over tune, volume, slide, filter A and B, free modulation and more.
Up to 16-voice polyphonic, Blue provides an enormous amount of parameter control (easily mapped to external controllers) and generates a wide palette of sounds from fat, conventional analog to aggressive, virtual analog hybrids. The dual stereo filters are deep, lush and creamy, offering serial or parallel routing of 6 dB LP/HP, 12/24 dB LP/HP/BP/notch, ring, comb and vox (formant). Blue can create truly original sounds based on several combined synthesis methods and provides the modern control of putting them into complex animated motion with elaborate step-sequencing. This version cuts CPU usage 10 to 20 percent, and has dozens of sound banks programmed by Papen.
ROB PAPEN (DIST. BY EAST WEST/SOUNDS ONLINE)
BLUE 1.1.1 > $199.95
At a glance: Virtual cross-fusion synth featuring FM, phase distortion, wave shaping and subtractive synthesis. Capable of unique soundscapes featuring exquisitely rich filters. VSTi 2 and AU.
SONY CHICAGO FIRE
Billed as a dance-music anthology, Chicago Fire is the compiled work of Vince Lawrence and his own Slang Musicgroup. For this five-volume, construction-kit library exploring old-school, deep house, drum 'n' bass, electro and progressive, Lawrence and company start at the very beginning of the Chicago house/Trax label (which he co-founded) timeline — where pioneers such as Warehouse resident DJ Frankie Knuckles mixed old disco classics and new Eurobeat pop and synthesized beats — and progresses through the sounds of today and (possibly) tomorrow. Each volume contains folders of drum and/or percussion loops; bass, guitar, synth and keyboard licks and phrases; synth FX; vocal phrases; dozens of one-shot drum and percussion sounds for you to make up your own kits; and several dozen house themes comprising drum and instrument loops that work together for quick track construction.
Overall, the sound is legitimately underground and rarely very commercial. The drum 'n' bass disc in particular is delightfully inventive, as is the electro disc, with its loungey and sophisticated IDM vibe. The loops are in Acidized WAV format and optimized with Acid Pro 5 Groove Mapping technology. Standing well on its own, but even more exciting when mixed, each of the five CDs delivers authentic re-creations of regional- and era-based styles that only people who lived, breathed and built the original sound could possibly know well enough to pull off with such an authoritative feel. Chicago Fire is massive, refreshing, inspiring, top-quality and a fantastic lesson of the club music production timeline.
CHICAGO FIRE > $249.95
At a glance: Boxed-set construction-kit collection covering five distinct flavors of dance-music loops and phrases in Acidized WAV format.