CATCHING THE VIRUS
Like the other Virus models, the Virus TI Snow features three oscillators. Oscillator types are Classic, HyperSaw, Wavetable, Wavetable PWM, Grain, and Formant. The last two are based on the Wavetable oscillator. Granular synthesis lets you create unique pitch transformations, but these oscillators don''t create the shredded fogs of sound you might associate with granular synthesis. Access uses granular technology to create sounds that fit in very well with the Virus virtual analog sound.
The oscillators feed two filters with a saturation stage that provides a wide variety of distortion types. You can further shape the sound with all the usual effects as well as an envelope follower and a vocoder. The effects section contains a great-sounding Analog Boost control that will add some meaty low-end heft to your sounds.
You get three LFOs, two of which have several hardwired destinations, including pitch and pulse width. You assign the LFOs to modulate just about any parameter using the LFO assignment control or the modulation matrix. The modulation matrix is quite flexible, giving you six slots to assign a modulation source to as many as three destinations. You can program the Soft Knobs to create some really wild variations by using the matrix to assign a generic controller to several different destinations and then mapping the Soft Knob to that controller number. This is fun and I recommend it.
With the Virus Control plug-in, MIDI timing is sample accurate on playback. However, playing parts in Ableton Live can result in latency. Access is working with Ableton to find a better solution, but for now you can reduce this latency either by routing the Snow''s audio to the physical outputs when recording or by enabling the Live switch, which puts the Snow into a special low-latency mode. If you feel confined by the smaller patch memory of the Snow, you''ll be well served by the Virus Control Center application, which addresses the Snow''s ROM banks. To test it, I downloaded the Richard Devine patches from the Access Music Web site (access-music.de) and burned them into ROM 1+2 on the Virus. That took about a minute, but then, on my system, the Virus Control plug-in could no longer communicate with the Snow. Once I rebooted my computer, though, all was well.