Developer: Wave Alchemy
Format: Native Instruments Kontakt 4 (more formats coming)
Demo: On the product page
After releasing a number of high quality loop and one-shot drum samples, developers Wave Alchemy are back with something a bit different this time. Pro-II is the company's first instrument built for Native Instruments Kontakt (minimum 4.2 required, and no, this won't work with the free Kontakt Player). This is exciting news in itself, but as the font on the packaging may have tipped you off, the source of these sounds is the revered Sequential Circuits Pro One. Got your attention now?
WHAT IS IT?
Pro-II is a virtual instrument built in Kontakt that makes extensive use of that program's scripting and GUI capabilities. Although it includes over 150 multi-sampled presets, Wave Alchemy also provided samples of the Pro One's raw oscillators allowing you to sculpt your own. This is done via five pages of controls that mimic the look of the old Sequential synths. These pages are divided by Preset (with a basic "easy" selection of parameters to tweak on the multi-sampled presets), Raw Oscillator (with controls for the 2 oscillators, 2 sub oscillators, white and pink noise generators, and more available in the 'synth' mode), a Sequencer (to sequence Cutoff, Resonance, and Note Values), an effects section with reverb, chorus, delay, bit crushing, flanging, phasing, and distortion, and a Control page allowing you to select whether the sound is mono or poly, unison settings, etc. So clearly, while the Pro One provides the inspiration for this instrument, the Wave Alchemy team decided to bring it into the 21st Century with features you won't find on the original.
Anyone who has played or owned a Pro One will instantly recognize its tone here... buzzy, warm, and tight as a duck's behind. The sampling is of the quality we've come to expect from Wave Alchemy - damn near perfect. Split points among the multi-samples are undetectable, and looping is smooth as can be. There's a good selection of "bread and butter" sounds including analog strings, funky basses, and leads, as well as more unusual FM and cross-mod type sounds that blur the line between digital and analog.
If you're a fan of the Pro One and don't have access to one, I don't know why you're still reading this. For the price, this is an outstanding value and the additional programmability will extend its shelf life as far as you care to take it. I've often said that where a lot of softsynths fall down is in the oscillators, not the filters, as many people say (it's probably a bit of column a, a little of column b). If that's the case, there's something to be said for using samples of the real deal versus trying to emulate it in software. Honestly, some of the most convincingly "analog" sounding patches I've made are for the sample-based Omnisphere. So while you won't have the same instability of tone you might from the real deal, this gets you quite close and without the headaches the real thing can provide. And while this relies on Kontakt's filters instead of modeled ones (in the Raw mode), for most purposes, it sounds fairly close. Of course the multi-sampled sounds have plenty of actual Pro One filter sound, so there's a bit of that available to you as well. Overall, I'm not quite ready to sell my Pro One yet, but I can tell already this is an instrument I'll get a lot out of. [10/10]