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IK Multimedia Syntronik 2 - User review - Gearspace.com
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IK Multimedia Syntronik 2
5 5 out of 5, based on 1 Review

More great classic keyboards from IK Multimedia with expanded capabilities.


2 weeks ago

IK Multimedia Syntronik 2 by Sound-Guy

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
IK Multimedia Syntronik 2

Syntronik 2 from IK Multimedia
Syntronik 2 is the latest version of IK Multimedia’s sound generating program based on classic analogue (and some digital/hybrid) synths of the 1960's through early 2000's, and it is huge if you get the full package. Even the free version is extremely useful and covers a lot of variety, but if you like what you hear with the freebie, you'll love the full monster!
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This new full version adds 11 models: the Octave Cat SRM, Yamaha GS1, Korg DW-8000, Waldorf Microwave, Oberheim Matrix-12, Oberheim OB-1, the OSCar, Sequential Prophet VS, Moog Source, Digital Keyboards Synergy II+, and the Korg Trident. The last update had brought the count to 22 models, so there are now 33. And actually, more than 33 synths were sampled for this collection – 54 in all to cover variations since no two analogue synths sound the same. I know very well about this having two “identical” Roland synths in my studio – each can make a range of sounds that the other cannot do and using the same settings only approximates the general sound character. As a result, I can’t give up either one!

Syntronik uses samples for the basic sound generation, although it also employs a hybrid sample and modelling synthesis engine to “bend and stretch” sounds in a myriad of ways. It comes both as a stand-alone application and as 64-bit AudioUnit, VST2, VST3 and AAX virtual instrument plug-ins.

It's Big
Let's get one downside out of the way first. This is big, over 200 GB of sound files for the full Max version. If you don’t have a fast broadband service, be prepared to spend some time downloading. In fact, even if you have a fast system, be prepared to spend some time. With my studio connection at over 700 Mbps (about 90 Mbyte/sec), it took a bit over an hour to download and (automatically) install Syntronik 2 MAX. Be wary of one issue with the IK Multimedia Product Manager – in Windows the default disk path is User/Documents/IK Multimedia/Syntronik 2, which is on your C: drive. Not a good place to download 200 GB. I used the gear icon in the Product Manager to direct the downloads to a path I created: F:\Documents\IK Multimedia\IK Product Manager (note I had no other folders or files under the F:\Documents directory). Also IK suggest Syntronik 2 should have its own disk path and not share its path with SampleTank 4, but it will still operate if added to the SampleTank folder.

You needn’t download all the instruments at once – as usual with IK Multimedia you have six months to access any of the files you have purchased – and if you don’t start off with the MAX version and want only a few instruments, you need try/buy only the ones you want. But as usual, the cost per instrument is much less if you purchase one of the bundles.

So, What’s New?
As you can see on the IK website ( https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/syntronik2/ ) Syntronik 2 is a synthesizer compilation with samples made from a very fine collection of well maintained hardware. However, it is not just a set of simple samples – as in previous versions there is still the synth panel (see above – with control of oscillators, filters, keyboard mode, and modulation), the Player (a flexible sequencer/arpeggiator) and an expanded FX rack.


The Player panel (sequencer/arpeggiator) can be used with any Syntronik instrument and provides a wide range of control.

The expanded FX rack can use up to five “lunchbox” modules at once, in any order you choose.


Having such a wide range of FX available makes standalone operation really handy. And it is also convenient when using Syntronik in a DAW since the FX are excellent and comprehensive – you can add, remove and drag and swap the sequence of modules within the rack. There are now 71 effects modules available with the same fine sound quality of the AmpliTube, T-RackS and MixBox versions they are derived from.

Version 2 adds a powerful new Edit Panel with a programmable modulation matrix, extra LFO and envelope controls, and a new Wave Set Browser that lets you choose the sound for each of up to 4 oscillators and 2 sub-oscillators per preset.


This edit panel does have a limitation – it functions only with version 2 presets. If you try to open it for a Syntronik 1 preset it will tell you it can’t do so. This is no a big deal since even without this new editor, the flexibility of Syntronik is extreme.

However, if you check out the preset browser, you will see that even the older instruments have had some new presets added, Syntronik 2 presets! The browser enables finding sounds by synth model and/or filters for sound category (such as Synth Bass, Synth Lead or Synth Pad), timbre of the sound, style of the sound (monophonic, analogue, rhythmic, etc.), the musical genre of the sound, etc. And you can filter by Syntronik 1 or Syntronik 2 presets – this is a quick way to see and hear the updated presets for any of the 22 older instruments. And these updated presets can use the new Edit panel, so all 33 instruments can take advantage of this expanded editor mode. Truly fantastic!

Filters, Anyone?
With any instrument you can open a panel with several sections, modelled on the style of the original synth, along with some nice digital additions (see top image). This panel actually has about the same set of controls for all synth models, just arranged to look somewhat like the original, and adds some extra features. You’ll find a filter control section with seven filter types (and Off) which is more than any particular synth had since these are modelled on filters from different manufacturers over the years. There is a Moog transistor ladder, Roland's IR3109 chip, the Curtis CEM3320 chip, and the Oberheim SEM state variable filter, as well as a formant type, a phaser, and an IK classic style.

So you can apply a Moog type filter to a Roland sound or vice versa, etc., for a lot of variety. And of course there is a filter envelope, as well as the amplitude envelope and LFO section. These features enable stretching the preset sounds in many wonderful ways. The filters are very analogue sounding and resonance can even be taken into wild squelching oscillations at the extremes. And all settings act very analogue in that you can change them on-the-fly while playing and results flow nicely, unless you really flip resonance or cutoff rapidly to extremes, in which case you can get some wild glitchy sounds just like on a classic analogue synth.

Speaking of on-the-fly, MIDI learn is very fast and simple, and worked very smoothly with my controller keyboard. You can right-click any Syntronik control, then select MIDI Learn in the pop-up window, and wiggle a knob or fader on your controller and it is done. And you can also open a MIDI Assignment window and change assignments, set upper and lower ranges, and set latching for button controls. There is one weakness in this assignment function that I hope IK can fix in the future – you cannot reverse the sense of the MIDI controllers. You can set upper and lower range, but up is always the positive movement of a controller – if you could reverse the action you could assign the same MIDI controller to more than one Syntronik parameter and cross-fade between the effects.

But there is more! Syntronik 2 brings additional real-time control to your DAW with the ability of automation control in addition to MIDI control. And not just a few automation lanes, but 400 of them! Enough to automate any parameter in any of the control panels, the editor, any FX unit, even some of the Player controls. Not that anyone should ever need 400 automation lanes! I was concerned that if you set your DAW to automatically add automation envelopes when you tweaked a control, that things could get out of hand (which has happened to me with complex plug-ins before) – how could you ever find a particular automation lane out of 400? IK did a fabulous job on this design – turn on your DAW auto-add automation mode, and you will find tweaking any control, in any panel,the FX rack, the Edit window, or the Player window does not immediately create a new automation lane. Just as with MIDI learn there is an Automation learn choice when you right-click on a Syntronik control in the DAW plug-in mode. Right-click a control you want to automate and choose “automate” from the pop-up window, and then move the Syntronik control and a lane will be created in your DAW. The 400 possible lanes are initially numbered from 0001 up, but as you add automation they get named with a good description of the control that the lane controls, and as you add controls to automate, they follow sequentially from lane 0001 to 0002 to 0003, etc. so you don’t have to search a massive list of automation destinations like some other programs I have. This is a great addition to Syntronik. Oh, as I write this, the automation control is not described at all in the latest user manual. So I’ve described it for you.

What Else?
I won't add in a lot more illustrations since they are shown in fine detail on the IK site. But as with all IK software products, the graphics (as well as the sounds) are excellent, and if you ever had any of the original hardware of these sampled synths you'll enjoy the nostalgia (I had two of them I sold years ago and still have a Korg DW8000). Controls are not exactly as on the originals, but are comprehensive and fun to twiddle. And as I noted earlier, there are more very useful features not on the main synth panel views: the Player panel, the FX rack, and the new Edit panel.

And there is also the Multi Panel which shows 4 separate keyboards that hold Parts named A, B, C and D. Each Part keyboard can control its own Instrument, have it’s own FX Rack, and even use its own Player!


This enables an incredible range of sonic possibilities since the parts can be layered (even with velocity control of what part plays when) or split, and using sequences or arpeggiations with different time signatures on a couple of parts can lead to great polyrhythmic inventions. Note that this is not a multitimbral instrument – all parts play with a single MIDI channel. And there is currently no way to smoothly cross-fade across notes between the parts. The splits are hard splits only. However, you can smoothly transition between parts according to key velocity. We can hope for note cross-fading in a future update.

How Does it Sound?
Excellent. I won’t try to describe all hundred trillion sounds Syntronik could create! It is true that there are many possible similar sounds, but there is also a vast range of tones, movement, and colour available, and adding FX and arpeggiations makes it very flexible indeed. You can get very ‘fat’ analog bass sounds as well as thin, tinkley bell sounds, roaring leads, amazing sweeps, great arpeggiations – the sky's the limit! Sound quality is superb with multisamples used rather than just frequency stretching, and round-robin samples add small changes to repeated notes. In addition, IK use a process they call “DRIFT” which simulates the small variations over time/temperature of real analog synths – drift is applied per-oscillator and can be turned off if you want more precise results. All of these features lead to a real analog feel (or digital as the case may be!) and let you warp sounds many wondrous ways in real-time.

Technical
Available for Mac® (64-bits) with Intel® Core™ 2 Duo (Intel Core i5 suggested), 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested), macOS 10.10 or later and 10 GB to 200 GB of hard drive space depending on the sound libraries you use. Supports Audio Units, VST 2, VST 3, or AAX formats. And for Windows® (64-bits) with Intel® Core™ 2 Duo or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 (Intel Core i5 suggested), 4 GB of RAM (8 GB suggested), Windows® 7 or later and 10 GB to 200 GB of hard drive space. Supports VST 2, VST 3, and AAX Plug-in formats. Note Windows requires an ASIO compatible sound card and any platform requires an OpenGL 2 compatible graphics adapter.

I found relatively low CPU usage for such complex sound generation – I measured CPU loads of about 1% for single instrument operation and a maximum under 4% with a four-part multi playing at once – similar to several other large synth/samplers I own. This was using a PC with 64 bit Win 7 on an Intel CORE i7-4770k cpu, 3.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. RAM requirements varied with instruments used, from a few hundred Mbytes to well over a GB. Latency was zero.

In Conclusion
Another excellent ode to classic keyboards from IK Multimedia with a very reasonable price considering the quality, quantity and capability. The free version can actually do a lot, and will likely make you want to audition more of the synth models, which you can do for free before deciding which to buy, so other than possibly depleting your check book, there is little risk involved! The full MAX version with all 33 synth families saves you a lot of money over buying all the modules separately, so if you want all of them, go for it. If you like the iconic synth sounds of the 60's thru early 2000’s Syntronik is a fine way to go. I got lost playing with it and found hours slipped by before I knew it.

Pros:
Excellent sound quality and extreme versatility.

While based on samples from real classic keyboards, Syntronik employs a hybrid sample and modelling synthesis engine to “bend and stretch” sounds in many ways.

Standalone version is very playable and has a lot of capability with the FX rack, Multi-panel, the new Edit mode, MIDI controllers and the arpeggiator/sequencer Player.

DAW version adds a new automation control mode with up to 400 automation lanes!

A range of versions are available from the free CS version with 100 presets, 2.4 GB of sound content with full app and plug-in functionality to the “MAX version” with all 33 synths, 71 FX, over 5,500 presets and over 200 GB of sound content.

While the MAX version may not seem ‘cheap’, there is good value for money – the full version ends up about $/€ 9 per synth module, unless you already have some credits with IK that get it for you even cheaper.

Cons:
IK Multimedia make it very easy to audit and purchase any of the synth modules you do not already have, so you can quickly max out your credit card! Not really, since the full MAX version costs less than many used synthesizers are going for these days.

Both standalone and DAW versions are 64 bit programs in case you are using a 32 bit operating system.

Some missing functions I’d love to see, like cross-fade effects, but still there is so much control with Syntronik 2 that I doubt you’d ever run out of new sonic effects.

Some complications with downloading and installing, such as defaulting the download location to your User folder – no big problem with a program requiring a few hundred megabytes, but a couple hundred gigabytes might stress your OS drive capacity. Be sure to watch where you are downloading, best to use a separate sample/audio drive for the sound files.

Product Info: https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/syntronik2/

Attached Thumbnails
IK Multimedia Syntronik 2-syn2-2.png   IK Multimedia Syntronik 2-syn2-4.png   IK Multimedia Syntronik 2-syn2-3.png   IK Multimedia Syntronik 2-syn2-5.png   IK Multimedia Syntronik 2-multi-2.png  

Last edited by Sound-Guy; 2 weeks ago at 08:15 PM..