XILS-lab has announced availability of Syn'X 2, which they describe as a multi- format (AAX, AU, RTAS, VST), 32- and 64-bit polytimbral virtual analogue synthesizer plug-in for Mac (OS X 10.5 and later) and PC (Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7/8) that not only continues to pay perfect homage to the legendary Elka Synthex Eighties-vintage Italian instrument from an original-sounding sonic standpoint, but balances that musicality against a multilayer card-based architecture that is inspired by similarly sophisticated hardware analogue synthesizers, such as Oberheim's mighty Matrix 12, to create one of the most powerful and complex virtual analogue synthesizers of the modern era.
Here's the story in XILS-lab's own words...
At the time of its 1982 launch the eight-voice polyphonic Elka Synthex sounded like no other synthesizer around -- analogue or otherwise, and brought with it high hopes of being instrumental in ending the dominance of oversized (and overpriced) Japanese and American analogue programmable polysynths, thanks to the eight monophonic synthesizer circuits central to its innovative 16-DCO (Digitally Controlled Oscillator) driven design by independent Italian synth-master Mario Maggi. Many -- meaning 1,000! -- ICs (Integrated Circuits) were used in that design, however, meaning that it was not necessarily the most reliable around and did not come cheap. Consequently, not that many -- not much more than the number of ICs in each instrument, in fact -- were sold before being discontinued in 1985 (with one last production unit being made especially for legendary American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder) as a 'new wave' of considerably cheaper and more reliable digital synthesizers boasting better MIDI (Musical Instrument Interface) implementation brought about its untimely demise. Not that this mattered much to French electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre, who has three to his not insignificant name to this day, with well-known Laser Harp performances still emanating exclusively from an amazing-sounding Synthex patch produced by one-time UK demonstrator/programmer Paul Wiffen (and audible in isolation in 'Second Rendez-Vous' on Jarre's super-selling Rendez-Vouz album of 1986).
Today the Elka Synthex is one of the most sought-after synthesizers around. As a result of its superlative sound design and avant-garde architecture, it's a true musical instrument that's truly stood the test of time. Today it sounds as fresh as it did back in 1982. Just ask Jean-Michel Jarre, who is on record as saying, "The Synthex allowed me to also develop something I had in mind with electronic music -- epic, symphonic type of sounds that you probably had with the modular Moog before, such as those that Walter/Wendy Carlos used for Switched On Bach or A Clockwork Orange -- a deep, mad, classical approach to a polyphonic synthesizer." Truly, madly, deeply, indeed.
Indeed, given that finding an Elka Synthex in fine working order has become such a pricey (and patient) proposition, is it any wonder that in 2011 XILS-lab decided to effectively emulate it in software, even going so far as to enlist the eager ears of Paul Wiffen himself. "The sonic results are uncannily close to the original," he promptly pronounced. Surprisingly, Syn'X has already been available to purchase and download from the XILS-lab web store for longer than the production lifespan of the original hardware synthesizer from which it drew so much musical inspiration. It's time, therefore, for a serious update, and with it some fanciful features that look beyond merely modelling the Elka Synthex...
So what, exactly, is it, then, that makes Syn'X 2 so different and so much better than its predecessor? Well, wouldn't it be wonderful if you could create a synthesizer with the sophisticated multilayer architecture of Oberheim's mighty Matrix 12 analogue polysynth, say, with an abundance of modulation matrixes per layer -- effectively enabling flexible routing to rival the monstrous modular systems that preceded it in decades gone by, but then musically married that to the expansive Elka Synthex sound? Well, with Syn'X 2 that's no longer a dream synth, but rather reality! Roll up your sleeves and delve deeper into sound design than was previously dreamed possible, thanks to the talented teamwork of XILS-lab.
Lest we forget, Syn'X 2 offers a unique combination of clear and punchy DCOs with cutting-edge analogue-modelled multimode filters to faithfully reproduce the superlative sound that so clearly defined the Eighties era, but, because it's polytimbral, users can access up to eight individual synthesizers simultaneously with 16 oscillators, eight 0DF (Zero-Delay Feedback) analogue-modelled filters, 32 D-ADSR (Delay, Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) envelopes, and modulation matrixes addressing any of 132 possible destinations when creating their own patches -- truly a sound designer's dream come true!
This being a XILS-lab product, predictably, perhaps, there are many more features to make a serious song and dance about. All-important additions to Syn'X 2 include: oscillators with (up to 40) cumulative waveforms (per patch); new 0DF PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)/hard sync oscillator algorithms; unique CHAO (2D space movement) and (five rhythmic effects) RTHM LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) with (up to 50) cumulative waveforms (per patch); two arpeggiators; two keyboard zones -- Upper and Lower, suitable for split and layered instruments; guitar multitimbral mode -- whereby all layers can be assigned to independent MIDI channels, so playing different sounds with each guitar string, for instance, is possible; polyphonic SEQUENCER (that also acts as a modulation source); vintage-sounding CHORUS, DELAY, PHASER, and EQ effects (with proprietary True Stereo Technology); and 300 phenomenal presets programmed by professional sound designers, to name but few.
Fortunately for some, a helpful Easy mode provides programmers with an intuitive and powerful yet streamlined environment, similar to XILS-lab's recently released miniSyn'X polyphonic, duo-timbral virtual analogue synthesizer plug-in, but with additional envelopes and LFOs, etc, easily accessible. Alternatively, the Advanced mode makes all aspects of Syn'X 2 available, allowing users to create complex, thick, and never-heard-before patches with a radically reworked workflow, which, it turn, makes it one of the most powerful and complex virtual analogue synthesizers of the modern era!
Several audio demos showcasing Syn'X 2 can be heard here.
Pricing and Availability:
Syn'X 2 is available to purchase as a USB eLicenser or iLok (1 and 2) protected plug-in for an introductory discounted price of €127.00 EUR until July 21, 2015 (rising to €169.00 EUR thereafter) on the XILS-lab web store.
Syn'X 2 can also be purchased as a bundle together with the miniWork'X sound library -- featuring 268 miniSyn'X sounds for Syn'X 2 programmed by Lotuzia -- for an introductory discounted price of €148.00 EUR until July 21, 2015 (rising to €198.00 EUR thereafter).
Note that owners of the original Syn'X can upgrade to Syn'X 2 for free while owners of miniSyn'X can upgrade to 'full-blown' Syn'X 2 status for an introductory discounted price of €93.00 EUR until July 21, 2015 (rising to €124.00 EUR thereafter).
Syn'X 2 can be directly downloaded as a multi-format (AAX, AU, RTAS, VST), 32- and 64-bit polytimbral virtual analogue synthesizer plug-in for Mac (OS X 10.5 and later) and Windows (XP, Vista, and 7/8) from here.
We take a look at this interesting MIDI sequencer
We also got a look at their prototype Eurorack formant filter