Welcome to the second installment of Stay Plugged In. This week we review a trio of synth plugins that allow you to further express tonality. Per our Stay Plugged In mandate, these are all completely free.
First up we have the virtual analog synth Tunefish made by demoscene group Brain Control. Tunefish, now up to version four, is available for Windows and Linux in 32 and 64-bit VST form or as Mac VST or Audio Units plugins.
- Noise generator allows you to create any frequency of noise with any bandwidth
- Wavetable generator uses additive synthesis
- Low pass, high pass, band pass, and notch filters
- 2 LFOs
- 2 ADSRs
- Flanger, reverb, delay, EQ, chorus, formant, and distortion effects
- Modulation matrix with eight permutations
- 10-slot user-selected effects stack
Utilizing the noise generator allows you to achieve almost any sound; metallic plinks to plucked or muted effects and noises with more sustain are easily achieved. We especially like the easy-to-modify effects section with 10-position effects stack. Effects are easily chained in the user’s order of choice.
OBXD is an eight-voice virtual analog synthesizer plugin based on the Oberheim OB-X, OB-XA and OB-8 synths. OBXD is available in Windows 32 and 64-bit formats as a VST and on the Mac as both VST and Audio Units versions. It does not come with any onboard effects, so you will need to use your own. Documentation is rather scarce so check the web and user groups for the classic Oberheim manuals.
- 2 oscillators
- Blendable multimode filter
- Filter and amplifier ADSR
- Individual pan controls for all eight voices
OBXD is a great-sounding synth that improves slightly upon the classic Oberheims. Even though it is free it still can give “pay for” emulations a run for their money. This is a great example of a soft synth that, with a bit of hands-on experience, can generate a wide variety of usable sounds.
Firebird was available previously for $79. With the release of Firebird 2, Tone2 has decided to “set the bird free.” Even though it was a great value as a “pay for” plugin, it becomes much more so devoid of cost. Firebird utilizes Harmonic Content Morphing (HCM) synthesis. Simply put, this synthesis modeling allows the combination of different wave types like saw, pulse, and triangle with included samples to create more complex sounds. Once combined, the transposition of waves using dual oscillators creates a wide and diversified palate of sounds. Wrap this all up in an intuitive easy to use interface and you have the new Firebird 2. Firebird 2 is available in 32 and 64-bit windows VST versions.
- 437 presets included with over a thousand sounds available
- 2 oscillators sections with 84 oscillator types that can create over 18,000 morphable waveforms
- 23 Modifiers can be added to the oscillators
- 38 different selectable filter types
- 21 arpeggiator types
- 13 effects
Firebird 2 is a great little synth that is very easy to manipulate. Spend a few minutes experimenting with this synth and you will be rewarded with some very interesting and pleasing sounds.