Friday, June 28, 2019


Win a FREE Copy of Elka Panther by Martinic

Exclusive Reviewer's Revival Giveaway Offer!

Yay! Our dear friends from the Netherlands, Martinic, have blessed Reviewer's Revival subscribers with a chance to WIN a FREE copy of Elka Panther!

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Arturia KeyLab 61 MK II [Exciting] Review - Redux Deluxe?

 Arturia KeyLab 61 MK II Review - Redux Deluxe?

Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk II

Arturia has been around since 1999; albeit the fledgling company didn’t achieve any great success right away. It took a few years, but in 2003, things began to change dramatically for the French company when they released their first emulations of some best-loved classic synthesizers in VST plug-in format. Said emulations were coined “The V Collection” (V obviating the term, vintage). As time passed, and subsequent product revisions ensued, Arturia’s reputation grew, as did their V Collection; what, with its current iteration numbering 25 vintage synths, e-pianos, pianos and even a Mellotron (as of June, 2019). Moreover, Arturia has continued to refine and improve its TAE® (True Analog Emulation) technology.

Although Arturia’s software developments have generally been well-received, the company wasn’t content to focus solely on that side of the equation so in 2009, they made available their first hardware synthesizer, “The Origin”. Since that time, Arturia has continued to produce a respectable catalogue of hardware pieces including “Mini Brute”, “MicroBrute”, “BeatStep”, “MatrixBrute”, “AudioFuse”, and many others. Consistently, each of Arturia’s hardware offerings has proven itself to be solidly built and well-outfitted with ample functionality and plentiful accoutrements.

Our present investigation spotlights one of these: The KeyLab 61 MK II. This little darling rings the till at a moderate street price of $499 - $549 (USD) / $649 (CAD) in most retail shops. The unit I received is a black model (which I personally prefer), but of course, the KeyLab MK II series is also available in Arturia’s recognizable white carriage. Ensuring that even a first-time customer will be able to enjoy this delightful keyboard controller at its finest, Arturia has included full version licenses of Analog Lab 4 and Piano V 2. Analog Lab is a heaping compendium of Arturia’s entire V Collection, providing approximately 8000 presets culled from the entire caboodle. Piano V 2 is a collection of 12 modelled pianos comprising uprights, grands, and even a couple of unique theorems that marry traditional designs with imaginary metallic and glass cabinetry.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Deep [Exciting] Review of Eventide H9 Max | Reviewer's Revival

Deep Review of Eventide H9 Max | Reviewer's Revival

Eventide – an illustrious, respected name in most nearly every serious studio since the early 1970s. The wizardry-in-a-studio-box that got it all started for the fledgling New Jersey-based company was their revered H910 Harmonizer ® – this one is still an oft sought after effects processor. As the company continued its tireless pursuit of digital reverberation par excellence, Eventide blasted into the 1980s with one of the quintessential digital reverb units of all time: The Eventide “SP2016”. Next came an amazing multi FX contraption that could manipulate an audio signal’s pitch, delay, modulation and filter curves like theretofore unheard of – it was christened, “H3000”.

Suffice it to say, Eventide is a deservingly well-established, highly regarded force in the audio production industry. Since the company’s inception, they have proven themselves to be not only innovators, but also purveyors of exceptional, professional-grade processors. Thus it caused no small ripple in the mid 2000s when Eventide started emulating their highly hailed studio rack effects in plug-in form. Keeping no stone unturned, they also developed an outstanding line of high-powered effects pedals – known as the Factor series.

And . . . in 2009 Eventide gave many guitarists and keyboardists cause for celebration when they unleashed a rack full of their fan favoured effects in a single, rugged stomp box. In keeping with their own famous naming conventions, that little box of digital supremacy was knighted, “H9”. In essence, all of the exquisite algorithms found in Eventide’s “Factor” series of effects-pedals have been culminated into one exhaustive collection – otherwise known as the H9 Max. Although the outward appearance has remained unaltered, the H9 has undergone a few subtle, under-the-hood changes on the inside. So too has it price tiers.

The H9 is presently available in three tiers: H9 Core, H9 Harmonizer, and H9 Max. There aren’t any physical or electronic differences between the three — the distinctions are entirely software dependent. Core offers 25 presets from the original H910 / H949; Harmonizer increases the kitty to include Ultra Tap Delays, Advanced Modulatons, Shimmer & Hall reverbs, Vintage Delays and Tremelo/Pan. Finally, the H9 Max ships with all available algorithms pre-loaded and ready to rock! H9 Core and H9 Harmonizer can each be ‘Max’ed’ out with the full roster of algorithms; of course, the upgraded content comes at a cost. Obviously, it costs more to ‘Max’ out the basic Core unit since it requires 48 additional algorithms to be brought up to full-meal-deal status.
So just how much wallet-paper does it take to get an H9 Max onto your pedal board?

Eventide’s MSRP and most nearly every retailer’s listing comes in at $699 (USD) / $899 (CAD). If you’re thinking, “Sheesh! That’s a big chunk of change”, I would agree with you – on the surface. However, when you take into consideration that most nearly every one of Eventide’s enviable algorithms has been gleaned from their entire stomp box line, the price makes a lot more sense. This includes, but is not limited to, all modulation, harmonizing, pitch-shifting, delay, reverberation and tremolo algorithms. In addition, exciting H9-exclusive algorithms are here as well: UltraTap, Resonator, SpaceTime, PitchFuzz, EQ Compressor, Sculpt, CrushStation and HotSawz. Moreover, any algorithms released in the future will automatically be available for H9 Max users to download – at no additional expense. Purchasing algorithms a’ la carte costs $20 apiece (applicable to H9 Core and H9 Harmonizer units only).

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A61 [Exciting] Review | Reviewer's Revival

 Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol A61 Review | Reviewer's Revival

Native Instruments KOMPLETE KONTROL A61

Unless you've been imprisoned in Iqaluit, Nunavut, since the early 1990s, you’re no doubt very familiar with music technology mega brand, “Native Instruments” (NI). Chances are, the percentage of contemporary music producers, home-recordists, and DAW users who don’t own at least one NI product, is probably so low that it’s negligible to measure. Be that as it may, NI has pretty much always been the industry leader – perhaps even the industry creator – of all samples-based virtual instrumentation. Well, in regard to the personal computer and software DAW domains that is.

As magnanimous as NI’s sample and software archive is, they've not been strangers to the hardware side of the equation either. In particular, their Traktor rigs became tremendously popular with our musical wannabe cousins (DJs), and many a fine home recording was captured using Komplete Audio devices. Machine hybrid systems, which married percussive pad controllers to software samples, allowed electronic music artists to get as creative and hip-hoppy as their one drop hearts desired. The small studio and home producer crowd really sat up and took notice when NI released their industry-shaking line of dedicated keyboard controllers: Komplete Kontrol “S” series – in 49, 61 and 88 key configurations.

The original Komplete keyboards were decidedly high end, pro-grade midi controllers. Fatar keybeds, illuminated guide lights under each key, large LED display panels, deluxe encoder knobs and so forth, made them the perfect physical companions to most nearly every VI (virtual instrument) in NI’s vast arsenal. Furthermore, both Machine and Komplete hardware devices helped NI introduce a new software control standard to the masses: “Native Kontrol Standard”; otherwise known as NKS. These top-grade devices came with premium features and premium price tags.

Not to be easily outdone by less costly competition, nor miss an opportunity to maintain a strong presence in the budget to mid-tiered market segments, Native Instruments has brilliantly developed an affordable line of good quality, value-conscious alternatives to their premium range of hardware. Our present investigation spotlights one of these: The Komplete Kontrol A61. This little darling rings the till for a modest $259 (usd) at most retail shops. Is it a good buy?

Let’s find out . . .

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Q Up Arts California Keys [Exciting, in Depth] Review | Reviewer's Revival

Q Up Arts California Keys Review | Reviewer's Revival

Q Up Arts is not one of the most renowned companies within the sphere of digital sampling – well, not in comparison to prolific names like OrangeTreeSamples, Cinesamples, SonicCouture and their ilk.  However, Douglas Morton and his small Q Up team have been active in the field for the better part of two decades now.  Mr. Morton’s work might be familiar to you without your even realizing it.  For example, Rhythmic Robot’s celebrated “Emulator II OMI” sample library(s) is the result of a close collaboration between Rhythmic Robot and Q Up Arts.

It could be said that Q Up Arts has been known more for producing top notch loop libraries, than for compiling VI (Virtual Instrument) sample libraries.  As such, the release of “California Keys” came as somewhat of a surprise to me.  And it’s a large surprise – close to 40 Gigabytes’ worth, as a matter of fact.  The lion’s share of said 40 gigabytes is owned by the pride’s leader – a punctiliously-sampled 10 ft’ Fazioli grand piano.  Q Up Arts claims that it is one of the most expressive piano libraries available – specifically for soft emotive playing and ambient textures.  I tend to agree.
California Keys is not a single instrument.  In addition to the acoustic grand piano – which was sampled in configurations ranging from stereo all the way through to 7.1 surround – Q Up Arts has stuffed in a collection of beloved, vintage organs and e-pianos.  Albeit, Q Up’s take on some of the instruments is a little off-the-beaten-track, the “Cali Keys” bundle has quite a lot to offer.

The MSRP is a rather ambitious figure of $499 (USD), but the bundle is offered on sale occasionally, and Douglas Morton is conscious of making Q Up products available to students for amiable rates.  Quite frankly, this helps Doug and his company stand out from the crowd; well-deserving to be duly commended.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

e-Instruments Session Keys Electric Pianos [Exciting Deep] Review | Reviewer's Revival

e-Instruments Session Keys Electric Pianos Review | Reviewer's Revival

e-Instruments Session Keys Electric R

The suspects under Reviewer Revival’s microscopic scrutiny this time ‘round is a trio of vintage-y, cool e-piano emulations smartly formulated in familiar Kontakt sample form. Throughout this article we’ll be investigating two Rhodes variants (suitcase and stage) as well as a faithful representation of a proverbial ‘king-of-the-reeds’ -- the Wurlitzer 200A. What’s more, each one of these sample libraries comes with two distinctly processed variants – a “Studio” bank and a “Live” bank.

​Let’s face it; there is no shortage of e-piano emulations on the market – many of them actually being quite remarkable. So why is it worth pondering over yet another developer’s entries into the fray? Other than acknowledging that they sound superb, it’s due to their extended features and interesting sample-morphing differentia.

For those who might be acquainted with “Session Horns (Pro)” and “Session Strings (Pro)” - badged as Native Instruments products – e-Instruments’ self-branded “Session Keys” series of highly playable electric pianos will not come across as unheard-of-strangers. In fairness to software giant, “Native Instruments”, the aforementioned strings & horns libraries’ product pages do cite e-Instruments as the actual creators. As a matter of fact, it’s because of the company’s partnership with Native Instruments that e-Instruments gained ground as a relatively new developer at that time.

It’s fair to say that e-Instruments have certainly proven themselves to be top-tier sampling experts since 2010, weaving a pedigree of interest and notability. Enticingly so, their commendable “Session Keys” series of electric pianos are very fairly priced. Each one costs but $79 (USD) / €79 apiece. If at all possible, I do recommend that Canadian customers purchase using US funds. Even though the current exchange rate of USD to CAD (at the time of this publication) would result in an amount of $105 (CAD), for some reason e-Instruments’ online store charges a hefty $129 (CAD).


Saturday, February 9, 2019

ESI U22 XT [Exciting, Deep] Review | Reviewer's Revival

ESI U22 XT Review | Reviewer's Revival


Get outta here!

Do you really expect me to believe that an audio interface costing only $110 (USD) / $147 (CAD) is worth looking at, let alone actually being enticing enough to try out? That’s ridiculous, right? After all, I’m not a young padawan recordist who’s easily impressed with the cheapest box that my monthly allowance can afford. I've been a professional musician and audio producer for bla bla years . . . started with a 16 track Tascam .  . bla bla.

Ok, ok. I’m just teasing – God bless the younger folks who want to get into recording and music producing – we all had to start somewhere. As a matter of fact, yours truly was only 13 years of age when I “bounced” my first three mono tracks down to a single track; making room for three more ‘live’ tracks on my father’s Phillips 4-track reel-to-reel recorder (circa 1973). For those of you whom are of the millennial generation or even younger - the iGen youngsters - you are seriously more blessed than you might realize. Old guys like me didn’t have nifty contraptions such as: snappy i5 or i7 laptops, multi-track DAW software, and portable audio interfaces when we started out. If I would've had access to a decent laptop, a good-sounding, low latency audio-interface and a FREE bundled starter DAW, I’d have been totally stoked!

Well guess what? This article is devoted to just such a scenario.

ESI’s entry point USB 2.0 audio-interface is prime example of when NOT to judge a book by its orange-y/copper cover. This tidy-looking little box is equally at home in both MAC and Windows setups and like most devices in its class; it features 2-In/2-Out I/O. Expected appointments, such as 48v phantom power and Mic/Line/Instrument connectivity, are at the ready. This sound card delivers an acceptable bit depth and sampling rate, coming in at a maximum of 24bit/96 KHz.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

GG-Audio Blue3 v2 [Exciting, Deep] Review | Reviewer's Revival

GG-Audio Blue3 v2 Review | Reviewer's Revival

If you’ve been following along with Reviewer’s Revival since a while, you know that I’m a huge Hammond organ aficionado. That said, I’m always excited at the prospect of reviewing any newcomer to the specialized niche of tonewheel organ emulation. Early in 2017, such a newcomer was introduced to us by independent developer, Ray (just Ray); founder and owner of GG-Audio.

Early adoption of GG-Audio’s “Blue3” wasn’t as accelerated as hoped for. For one thing, the naming convention is not dissimilar to Rob Papen’s favored soft synth, “Blue 2”. Another plausible conjecture was the unexpected default color scheme used by “Blue3” – you guessed it: blue.

Overall, I assess Blue3 v2 to be solid prospect for anyone in need of a good quality tonewheel organ VI (Virtual Instrument). I know many of us have long held GSI’s “VB3” in high regard, considering it to be the de facto standard where modelled tonewheel emulations are concerned. However, Blue3 v2 is a worthy contender and is poised to offer itself as a fit challenger.

Priced moderately at $99 (USD), Blue3 won’t break anyone’s bank account, but neither can it be considered a cheap, ‘No brainer’ deal.  However, Blue3 v2 does not emulate a single organ – rather, it distinctly models five different tonewheel organs; as well as boasting exquisite, high resolution/retina-ready graphics (resizable, to boot). This VI produces good quality Hammond tones and a convincing rotating speaker (Leslie®) experience. Taking these laudable factors into view, Blue3 v2 rapidly appreciates in value.

Let’s flip those Run and Start switches shall we . . .

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