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Sonic LAB Review: StudioLogic Sledge

Virtual Analog Polysynth with knobs on

Since first seeing the StudioLogic Sledge at Musik Messe in the Spring, I've been itching to get my hands on one. The large format, expansive yellow synthesizer is rather bucking the usual trend of less knobs, more menus. It has 8 voice polyphony, 999 memories and is mono-timbral - no splits or layers.

First, lets clear up a misconception - the Sledge is actually a collaboration between StudioLogic (an Italian keyboard manufacturer, who make a lot of keybeds for 3rd party vendors too) and Waldorf. They are the current torch holder for German wavetable synthesis combined with virtual analog. The Waldorf Blofeld is what many people assume the Sledge has inside it, but it is in fact something different. There are less routing and modulation options available, with pretty much everything being given a one-to-one physical control.

What this means is that there are 32 knobs, three chicken head switches, and 37 buttons. These control what appears to be a 3 oscillator, single filter, dual envelope (Amplitude and filter), 3 LFO, subtractive synth. Connections are rather unorthodox in that they are on the left hand side - with Stereo output plus headphones, USB, MIDI IO and two pedal inputs, all on 1/4 jacks.

Building Blocks
Lets start with the oscillators, osc one has multiple waves: Sawtooth, Square, Triangle, Sine, Pulswidth and Wavetable. This gives you 66 waves from the original PPG to muck about with. Osc 2+3 are simpler with Saw, Square, FM Triangle and FM Sine and Pulsewidth.
They sound okay, not the fattest oscillators, but acceptable for a VA. What is interesting is that they all have a 64' to 1' octave range. Wavetable and Pulswidth can be modulated for all oscillators (though not separately).

The filter is a single multimode - low pass, high pass and band pass switchable between 12 and 24dB slopes and will go into self oscillation - you can also add a certain amount of additional drive with the drive control, though it is a bit digital sounding. The filter itself is fine, nothing to get too excited about but perfectly okay.

Keys and Case
Sledge is plastic, there's no getting away from the fact, it's also bright yolk yellow. The build quality feels alright, but you are definitely aware that cost has been considered in it's design. The 61 key keyboard is a light synth action which feels a little on the cheap side, but it does have aftertouch. Knobs I'm guessing are surface mount and do have a certain amount of play to them.

Speaking of play, the thing that grabs you right away is the amount of space in the layout, it's almost like one of those novelty education versions of a classic synth which is 2 or three times it's normal size. There's plenty of room between all knobs and buttons, and it's a refreshing change and very conducive to tweaking.

There are two effects generators: a Chorus/Phaser/Flanger. The chorus adds a huge amount of width to the sound which is great, but when you switch it off, you can't help feeling it would have been nice to have some oscillator stereo spread to give it some width without the use of chorus. The second unit gives you delay (mono) and reverb with time and mix being your only parameters.

Despite this apparent simplicity, I found myself creating sounds with ease - you can just go on and on - there are memories (999 I beleive) but frankly with a synth like this you cannot honestly just flip presets - it should be a criminal offence!

There are omissions - no routing of velocity to filter or filter envelope depth means that responsive touch filter sounds are not available. It would also have been great to have a third assignable envelope for Pulsewidth, wavetable or oscillator pitch etc. I don't know if this is ever likely via a software update, but I do hope so.

A very basic implementation of class compliant MIDI is what you get, just one MIDI IO, no accessing the port or the controls via separate software ports. Nothing to get excited about, it just works.

Even with the synth limitations, your going to find it hard to run out of possibilities for a while, the FM waves of OSC 2+3 give you access to clangourous, metallic sounds. I couldn't quite get the filter to track tunefully when in full self oscillation mode, but it made for some great sounds.

Overall, I enjoyed the Sledge enormously and could quite easily get lost in synthesis time, even though it lacked some more interesting parameters and routings.

My only real beef is that it does seem a little on the pricey side, and you do feel that even at they've had to be pretty cost conscious to bring it in at even £779. But purely as something you can actually play and tweak and interact with in real time, there's not much out there that does the same thing - apart from maybe the Roland GAIA and I think the Sledge has it in terms of sound and certainly looks impressive.

Available in the UK
£779 (street) €799
US $1599 Street

Soniccouture Winter Sale

Special offers and a free Giant Bass Tongue Drum sample set for customers

This year Soniccouture are dividing their Winter sale into two stages :
10th - 16th December : 40% OFF ALL ORDERS
17th - 24th December : BUY ONE GET ONE FREE

Only one promotion will run at once ie : 40% won't be available when BOGOF is running.

Soniccouture have also released a new 'exclusive content ' product. This product is
available completely free with any purchase from the SC site.
Giant Bass Tongue Drum is an updated version of the traditional African log drum
concept ; a 12 note tongue drum built for Soniccouture by Steve Roberts.

Pricing and Availability:
See website

More information:

TR-808 And TR-909 Emulated

Wave Alchemy Transistor Revolution aims to be the most authentic software re-creation ever

Wave Alchemy has announced that they will soon be releasing Transistor Revolution - a new Kontakt Player instrument that has been over 2 years in the making. Wave Alchemy says that the instrument aims to be the most authentic software re-creation of the iconic TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines ever made. Here's what they have to say about it...

"Transistor Revolution uses a custom GUI combined with Kontakt 5's advanced sampling engine and over 22,000 meticulously recorded drum sounds to faithfully capture the tone, immediacy and groove of the original analogue drum machines. Transistor Revolution mirrors the design of the original TR-808 and TR-909 front panels, enabling you to seamlessly browse thousands of samples with the turn of a single knob.

To capture the sonic 'imperfections' inherent of analogue equipment the Wave Alchemy team have used complex sample layering and up to 7 random round robin variations per drum module. This ensures that the instrument never repeats the same consecutive sequence of samples ever!

For the first time you will be able to easily integrate the true sound of these classic analogue drum machines into your work flow without the hassle and financial strain associated with the original hardware."

Compatibility: Mac/Windows compatible VST, AU and RTAS
Library Size: 6GB unzipped

Pricing and Availability:
Expected Price: £69.95 ($111.00)
Release Date: Mid December

More information:

64 Sounds For Sylenth

Patchwerkz releases Sylenth Bank Vol. 1

Patchwerkz has released Sylenth Bank Vol. 1, which they describe as a set of 64 electro, complextro and big room patches delivered in sylenth .FXB format.

A spokesperson told Sonic State that the sounds include cutting edge leads, basses, synths, and fx modeled after Zedd, Deadmau5, Wolfgang Gartner, Lazy Rich, Porter Robinson, Alesso and Avicci.

This bank includes the demo midi file, ableton session file and patchname list.

Pricing and Availability:

More information:
Patchwerkz Sylenth Bank Vol. 1

Prime Loops Christmas Sale And Free Sounds Giveaway

Everything at half-price plus 1GB of free sounds

Here's what Prime Loops told Sonic State...

"As the year comes to an end, we here at Prime Loops HQ thought it only fitting that we get into the Christmas Spirit; Not only are we giving you a 50% discount across the entire store, but also 1GB of Free sounds.

With every purchase you make over this festive season you will receive our XMAS pack , which contains 1GB of Loops and Samples absolutely Free.

So what are you waiting for, head over to PrimeLoops.com and get some festive beats and tasty treats to make this holiday season that much more awesome"

Pricing and Availability:
See website

More information:
Prime Loops

Make Your IPhone More Roadworthy

Jakit iPhone accessory features a hard case and built-in retractable headphones

A new and innovative iPhone accessory has just been launched to the UK consumer market, which, once fitted, need never be removed. Its makers say that Jakit - which combines a hard case and high quality, tangle-free, retractable, noise cancelling earphones - has a unique feature which means it can be worn permanently. The product, which has taken two years to develop, test and manufacture, will initially only be available for Apple iPhone 4 and 4S. However, the company behind Jakit is in the process of creatingSamsung Galaxy SIII and iPhone 5 versions.

One of the key features of Jakit is the patented Jack fitting, which allows the smartphone to be normal, hands-free, and with the earphones engaged, all with the flick of a switch. And, additionally, it will still allow Bluetooth functionality.

A spokesperson for Piggiback, the British creators of Jakit, told Sonic State, "The beauty of Jakit is that it is one accessory you will never have to remove. A great deal of thought has gone into the design of the product, not only to ensure that it looks fantastic, but that it also offers great features at a great price. Ask yourself how many times have you fished into your bag or pockets for your earphones only to find them in a tangled mess? Ask yourself another question, how many times have you left your earphones behind? With Jakit they are always attached, they never tangle and they automatically retract back into the case. With the added features that allow the smartphone to be used whichever you like, we are confident that our Jakit® will become a must-have accessory for your smartphone."

Pricing and Availability:
Jakit is exclusively available online at at a price of $59.99, including free shipping. (This equates to the current exchange rate equivalent to £44.99 which, because of UK tax and duty laws, includes VAT and import duty)

More information:

24db/12db with self oscillation

Sinevibes releases all-new Turbo plug-in and launches holiday sale

Sinevibes has announced its holiday sale. Until 10th January 2013, its entire collection of Audio Unit plugins for OS X can be purchased for $99 (regular price $119). The package includes a total of 12 products, all of which, says Sinevibes, offer innovative synthesis and processing technologies wrapped in stylish, colour-coded interfaces with support for new Mac models with Retina screen resolution. Sinevibes tells us that many of these plugins will also receive free major updates in the near future – for example, Sequential multi-effect sequencer will receive several new effect tracks and a completely new user interface; graphics will also be reworked in Drift, Reactive, and Strobe plugins.

Sinevibes has also announced the all-new Turbo 2.0, an Audio Unit plugin which they say offers a unique sound manipulation technology: waveshape modelling. Sinevibes tells us that it allows you to easily transform any basic waveform or synth sound into an entirely new, resynthesised textures with incredible density and character. The full list of enhancements and new features in Turbo 2.0 includes:

  • Completely new user interface and internal processing engine.
  • Two new waveshape models.
  • Input -24 dB/octave resonant low-pass filter.
  • Output -12 dB/octave high-pass filter.
  • Effect dry/wet balance control.
  • Tempo-synchronised LFO generator with four waveforms.
  • Added required Audio Unit format changes for OS X 10.7 and 10.8.
  • Removed support for Power PC processors and OS X 10.5.
  • New preset patches.

Pricing and Availability:
Turbo 2.0 is a free update to all existing users, and costs $19 for new customers.

More information:

Juno 106 Filter Module From ModeMachines

24db/12db with self oscillation

I bet you never knew you needed a dedicated Juno 106 Filter? Well even if you didn't, Mode Machines have made it possible. Mode Machines are the folks who made the amazing promo video for the SID - a C64 8bit chip based groovebox, have just posted a video demonstrating the new Mode Machines F106 Juno filter pedal.

With Cutoff (12/24dB), resonance (12dB self osc mode) and VCA level, you can run your stuff into the Juno Filter (the 6 voice Roland synth from 1986). There are additional CV control inputs for Cutoff, Res and VCA so you can patch it into yout other analog gear. Pricing and availability information is not available, and the website appears to be down for redesign right now, but check out.

Modemachines.com for more information.