Soundless: a ponderous power synth from TopSounds
TopSounds have released their first ever VST synthesizer. Normally their thing is drum kits, loop packs, preset banks and MIDI kits so this exciting news. Soundless is a 2 oscillator synth with limitless possibilities and a very grey interface, let’s check it out.
Apparently, “this is going to be huge!” says the guy in the video. It’s a weird marketing video that has me a little perplexed and triggers all my cynical snobbiness. You’re releasing your first ever VST synth and you seem to have a guy who’s just fallen out of bed burbling on about how cool it all is without really showing us why. He goes on about how it’s a dll file and so probably isn’t compatible with Mac unless you know how to wrap one of those in something that’s Mac compatible. And then they guy mispronounces some of the key elements, I don’t know, maybe you call oscillators “osc-kill-aters” in America? I want to give it a fair shake but geez, make a tune with your synth and have that as your demo rather than this ponderous demonstration of distorted noises. I’m sorry, I’m not meaning to be rude, but I can’t help it.
Right, this is a synth in the style of “Drake, 40, Nav, Eestbound, Wondagurl, The Weeknd, PartyNextDoor, and much more!” It has 2 oscillators with 4 waveforms, octave and tuning and an ADSR envelope. There’s a filter with 5 modes and its own envelope. In the effects section, you have reverb, flanger (or “flang-er” as the man says), delay and then a separate compression section. At the top of the GUI is nicely controllable 4 node EQ and it’s all rounded off with an arpeggiator.
It’s actually all decent sounding stuff. If you start with a couple of detuned sawtooth waves, add in some filter and turn on all the effects you get some really pleasing sounds coming out. The filter is fierce, but then everything in this synth is fierce. Push up the “res” knob and it really gets screaming. There’s a volume knob at the top that weirdly goes from zero to 1, although anything above 0.1 pushes it into distortion, which is pretty nice in the right context. But it’s so loud. They might be better off calling the volume knob “Drive” and then have a different volume knob that controls level rather than distortion.
The layout, although very clear, is a little confused. The Reverb and Flange are above the oscillators and Delay beneath. The EQ, which is cool, is sort of stuck at the top on the side. There’s no sense of signal chain. But all these individual elements are cool, they sound great, it all works well. I just feel it would benefit from a slight rejiggle of the interface to make it more coherent. And the one thing that’s really missing is any form of modulation. I guess you can automate everything in your DAW but an LFO is a standard synthesizer requirement, or at least I think so.
TopSounds talk a lot about the 32 awesome presets that come with it and they certainly give you a flavour of what it can do. They promise a lot more to come and I would look forward to those. They also suggest that you could make a bank of presets, submit them to TopSounds and they could sell them for you – nice one.
So is it “The Best VST Synth Ever?” Probably not but it has something going on and some great sounding elements to play with. I think they’d get their message across better if they stopped talking and got someone to make some music with it.
Soundless is $34.95 and available from the TopSounds website. There’s a free demo version with a static buzz every 10 seconds. Worth checking out I think.
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