One has to wonder if there is any merit in a review for a free synth plug-in, after all, what should one expect if no payment is made? For a couple of reasons, we think a review of the IK Multimedia Syntronik Free virtual instrument is worthwhile. The first, there's a lot of free software these days, we list over 50 free synth plug-in here on Synth Expert, so it helps to know if it's worth downloading even a free plug-in. Secondly, Syntronik belies its price tag offering a sonic palette and feature set that warrants attention.
What Is Syntronik Free?
Syntronik Free is a fully functional FREE version of Syntronik, the paid for flagship vintage synth VI from IK Multimedia. The best way to think about Syntronik Free is a tasting menu of the full version, sporting 50 presets, 38 effects, parts, layers and arpeggiators that you can play and edit with sounds taken from the massive Syntronik library that can be used as a plug-in or standalone virtual instrument.
Even better, Syntronik Free offers an à la carte menu of all the other synth models that can be used and can be purchased separately as one wishes, all of them are €50 each, so if you just want a couple of the synth models then it is possible, instead of having to pay for a Chinese buffet. Enough of the food analogies, so let me use another. Often free software is an island with no real option for growing with it, but with its in-app purchase options, Syntronik Free is a bridge to greater things.
Syntronik Free In Use
Syntronik Free offers some presets to get going but it also gives you access to the GUI of each model so real tweakers can get under the hood and create their own sounds, and thankfully save them too. The instruments range from analog classics to some digital gems, including Oberheim OB-X and OB-Xa, Moog Prodigy, Micromoog and Multimoog and Roland Jupiter and Junos right through to PPG, Alesis Andromeda and Yamaha SY99 - 17 in total.
The second level of sound creation is offered with up to 4 layers that the user can set low and hi notes for each layer, low and hi velocity and then mix level and pan of each part. So yes, one can stack a Moog on top of an Oberheim and a Juno - all that's missing is the A-Frame and the MIDI cables for complete authenticity.
The third level of sound creation is the effects section. This offers 38 effects, and for a free synth, it's an impressive bunch of modelled classic effects that include EQ, dynamics, filters, modulation, echo and reverb - with 5 slots available there's plenty of scope to shape the sound.
Still with me? For final synth performance, a comprehensive set of Dynamic Arpeggiators is included, with powerful options to set type, length, notes and key range.
What Does Syntronik Sound Like?
IK Multimedia have employed some new technologies to create the sounds in Syntronik, these include (in their words) "circuit-level filter models of 4 of the best sounding machines of all time: Moog transistor ladder, (found in the Minimoog and Modular Moog), Roland's IR3109 chip (found in the Jupiter-8 and Juno-60), the famous Curtis CEM3320 chip (found in the Prophet-5 and Oberheim OB-Xa) and the Oberheim SEM state variable filter."
Secondly, Syntronik also includes “DRIFT” technology. In a nutshell, this adds a new level of realism by varying the phase, color and pitch of the sampled oscillators, as real analog oscillators do.
This technology has produced impressive results, not only giving the sound of these classic synths, but perhaps because of the Drift Technology the feel of them too.
I have not always been a fan of IK Multimedia virtual instruments, it wasn't that they were bad, but in my opinion, they simply didn't seem to have the edge that other companies instruments exhibited. That changed when I reviewed the MODO Bass VI some time ago which impressed me greatly.
Syntronik changes that again, even before you take into account the comprehensive feature set included in this FREE version, the sounds are rich and the 50 presets do a good job of demonstrating the depth and breadth of Syntronik.
That IK has given access to the controls of each synth so you can tweak to your heart's content makes this free version a bloody miracle and raises the bar for other manufacturers. If nothing else Syntronik Free is a lesson in generosity, one could quite happily work with this version before having to shell out any money.
I always think generosity is contagious and perhaps it is this abundance and lack of penny-pinching found in Syntronik Free that makes one want to give IK Multimedia some money by upgrading to either parts or the complete version of Syntronik.
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but when it comes to plug-ins Syntronik is a feast.
Download it now.