What is a classic synth? The Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Moog Minimoog, Oberheim OBX, and Roland Jupiter-8 come to mind. Sound Burst alludes to those instruments on Classic Synths ($139), a sound library of 2,000 samples for the BitHeadz Unity DS-1 software sampler. Just how many of the sounds are sampled directly from the sources is quite another matter. As with all good libraries, Classic Synths' contents are listed alphabetically rather than by category. However, patch names such as “Analog Aura” and “Mister Glide” don't help users with a specific instrument in mind.
Real or Replica
I loaded the first item listed on the menu, “'70s Pipe,” which is a group of five programs constructed from nine samples that collectively occupy 1.34 MB of space. This is a reedy organ; the five programs use some of Unity's effects, filter, and envelope parameters to offer fairly radical variations of the initial sound. The looping is clean and accurate, and you can use real-time filtering by assigning the appropriate MIDI Control Change message to an available slider or knob on your controller. However, I couldn't figure out the sample's source. I ventured further through 87 mysterious patches: “Piano,” “Kalimba,” “Classic Rhodes,” “Cryptic Rhodes,” “Clavi,” “Prophetic Mind,” and more. The patches share the familiar timbral qualities of FM synthesis.
I compared some sounds with those of samples that I know were derived from a Fender Rhodes or a Prophet-5, and I examined the waveforms. A number of sounds on the Classic Synths CD are perfectly good and well presented in terms of loop points and number of multisamples. However, they are not authentic samples from classic synths. Sound Burst implies a greater degree of authenticity than that without stating it.
Classic Synths has good stuff, nonetheless. I liked the pop sounds of “Z E Piano,” with its impressive span of 13 multisamples. “Jete Strings” is equally impressive with its massive (too massive, even) 13-second samples. It was odd that the loops were much shorter than I would expect for samples of this length. “W S Grand Piano” devotes 12 MB of samples to a single program that's deep and powerful, if a little somber.
The alphanumeric listing makes it difficult to get a feel for what you get on Classic Synths without trawling the entire disc. If you're simply looking for a bunch of new material to load into Unity DS-1, that may not be too arduous a task, but for $139, it's quite reasonable to expect better documentation and organization.
The Real Deal
Classic Synths is probably not the sample library to buy if you're looking for banks of classic Prophet-5 and Minimoog patches. For starters, the disc is riddled with piano-style instruments, which are not considered synths by most people. Prophet-like samples such as these seem way too harsh and digital. Sound Burst has done a professional recording job, but I question the direction and presentation of the series.