Synth Site: Miscellaneous: Darkstar: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.1 out of 5
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Tim Baier a part-time user from Baltimore MD USA writes:
For the money, this is a great sounding synth but it takes a little getting used to the less than stellar interface to get it to behave as such.

First off, the factory patches are range from being really good to total crap, most of them falling in the semi-crap category. While I'm not one to judge a synth by its presets, its often a good way of quickly judging what the designers were thinking when they made it and perusing the capabilities of the machine. Unfortunately, I think some of these patches were made up by RedSound's deaf accountant.

On to the sound. Its got all the major stuff you'll find in much more expensive units. Plenty of routing versatility and good MIDI support, so you can do pretty much anything you dream up on it. Some people lament the fact that there are no onboard effects, but then again, a Minimoog doesn't have any and nobody complains about that! Anyway, I've never heard any onboard effects that were so thrilling that I couldn't get something better in a stomp box or rack unit. The filter sounds really cool and the joystick is a neat addition that has seen more use than I thought it would on my unit - it has the ability to take a sound you're working on and totally transform it (in a very good way). THe one downside I can think of is the versatility of the oscillators. They seem to hover around one realm of sounds. But that said, they do sound kind of individual to me, which is a good thing. In fact, I'd say that this is a synth that is cut out from many in the pack because it's strong suit isn't strict emulation of the "classics". I'm not saying its going to be a classic itself, but its got its own thing.

The "thinned up" interface gets plus points for its multiple use pots (depending on various "shift" button states) but minuses for the other functions packed away in the button bank at the bottom and the flip flopping LEDs. Actually, the more I use it and become accustomed to where everything is in those menus, its not as bad as it first seemed, but its not a synth I would venture into without the manual! But since so many features and switches are hidden a level or two deep, this isn't the greatest unit to just "twiddle around" on. (You know those times when your creativity is lacking so you just start turning knobs and looking for something new/cool.) For this reason, I think a lot of people might be initially turned off by the Darkstar and turned on by something like the Korg MS2000. As they say, the Korg "gives good demo", but really, the Darkstar has more features where it counts than the Korg. 8 polyphony/ 5 part multi-timbral as opposed to 4/4 (I think). To continue with that comparison, the Korg is an excellent unit for doing a 1 man, 1 synth ambient/house sort of thing very quickly and easily. But, while that might sound cool to you, you'll wind up sounding like everyone else. The Korg is a very smooth sounding synth (most of theirs in the past have been) and great for "spacey" stuff, while the Darkstar has a little bit more "balls". More growl. A little closer to older monophonics like the SCI Pro-One or Moog Rogue. In fact all of my favorite patches that I've made thusfar are either monophonic or duophonic. I hear that RedSound is planning another upgrade chip that will turn the Darkstar into some sort of "mega monosynth". As it is, I think its pretty decent so I'm dying to hear what this could possibly be!

In closing, I bought mine used with the Vocoda chip for $300 which is a ridiculous bargain for what you get. Its not the flashiest or easiest synth to use, but it can sound excellent with a little patience and knowledge. If you're a first timer, you might want to look elsewhere to learn synth basics. Apparently its about $399 new. There's nothing even close in that price range.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jun-21-2001 at 16:10
Johan Royen Larsson a hobbyist user from Sweden writes:
I'd been thinking about buying a Darkstar for quite some time before I finally went out and bought one (partially because it's cheap, I got mine for about $300). Now, of course it's not close to any of the big VA's, it's only got two waveforms, no FX, interface is annoying, only two OUTs etc, but it's still a lot of synth for the money. It does just about anything you like, I've made 303-ish bass sounds, digital sounding basses, fat trance leads, weird brass sounds, lush pads etc. And saying the Darkstar sounds weak is about as close to the truth as it is to say that an Andromeda A6 is cheap. I can generate bass-rumbles in a pair of crappy earphones with this. Anyway, I think you should try it out before you buy it, and get some outboard FX while you're at it...

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Sunday-Apr-15-2001 at 19:12
Andreas Nordenstam a part-time user from Norway writes:
This synth is a little dark beast. Unlike most other not-so-analogues it realy does the trick. Have you ever played with some real analogues? They mostly sound thin, booring og nothing like fat - until they are properly twisted and fucked with FX.

This synth fills the bill nicely, and as someone noted it got large amounts of charm and a sound of its own. While the TB have a tendency to make canine sounds this box is more feline. Lots of weird and involving sounds comes spurting out the loudspeakers, and especially worth to notice is the pitchmod'y and noisy sounds - think it's hard to beat them on other synths.

Hate the so called "analogues" with wavetables and cumbersome menus, but realy likes this little beauty! Pitty though that they didn't include the BPM-engine RedSound have been renowned for.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Dec-05-2000 at 06:04
Nick Hladek a hobbyist user from USA writes:
Listen: just program this thing and start to play with it and you'll realize that it has an incredible amount of presence. I'm still fooling with it, but I'm already extremely impressed. It holds its own next to my JP-8000, and it really is a welcome addition to my family of real analogs (Juno-6, SCi SixTrack) and my digital beast, the SidStation. Plus it SOOOO cheap! I bought mine from NovaMusik, and you get the Darkstar and the Vocoda expansion chip for $379!!! That's amazing! I would say it's clearly one of the better pieces I have in my repertoire, if not for pure versatility alone.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Nov-11-2000 at 14:23
Esotera a part-time user from USA writes:
This bit of kit has found it's place in my studio quite nicely. Is got killer bottom end and the filters sweep smoothly with no digital aliasing. The modulation routing possibilities are surprisingly comprehensive as well as the MIDI implementation. The controls are tight (feel good squishy knobz) and the overall ergonomics are well thought out. The OSC's sound fat and PWM tweaks are decent. Out of the box it it sounds a bit dry do to the factory pre's but tweak it a bit and hear it come alive. The overall sound of this unit tends to be on the aggressive side compared to say, the Nova. It's certainly not a mainstay syth but put it next to my E4XT Ultra and MPC and let the DrumZ and the Bass roll! Big Ups to Redsound!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Oct-06-2000 at 13:42
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