Antares Kantos 1.0 full review

Kantos is a software synthesizer that uses the subtractive-synthesis method with which many people are familiar. So it has oscillators, filters, LFOs and the like. However, this is a synth with a difference. With most synthesizers you have to hook up a MIDI keyboard to play them. This is fine if you play keyboards – but not a lot of good if you are a singer or a guitarist. Andy Hildebrand – the person who designed Auto-Tune, and inadvertently unleashed zillions of Cher-style vocal clones onto an unsuspecting world – has now come up with something to let non-keyboard-playing musicians join in the synthesizer plug-in fun. Kantos works by extracting the pitch, dynamics, harmonic content and formant characteristics from audio input, such as a vocal or a guitar melody. This information is then used to control the Kantos synthesizer – transforming the input into synthesizer melody lines. Kantos has two wavetable oscillators, a noise generator, two envelope generators, a modulation matrix, two LFOs, and a delay effect. The unique Articulator takes the harmonic content and formant information from the input, and applies this to the output of the oscillators and noise generator – producing effects similar to a vocoder. Kantos works best with monophonic source material – one note playing at a time – and can follow pitch-bends. You can also apply the pitch constrain feature to limit the output to the notes of a particular key or scale, to produce melodies from polyphonic or unpitched input – such as chords or drum loops. Shades of Auto-Tune here. Kantos is available as an RTAS, MAS or VST plug-in that is inserted into the channel that is playing the audio you want to use to control kantos. The user-interface is quirky, but easy enough to use. Pick your preset, adjust the triggering and tweak the controls to taste. I used a short melodic improvisation on a jazz guitar as my test. This was expressively played with plenty of slides between notes, several pull-offs, and lots of dynamics in the playing. I chose the Mellow Tone preset, and Kantos made a fair job of tracking the pitches and slides. But the faster notes either disappeared or mistriggered the synthesizer. Then I tried a less well-defined preset, the WhisperTron – which sounds like something Woody Allen might have invented. This worked better, as this sound didn’t need to track the input so precisely. You need clean and well-defined input material to get good results.
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