Sonik Synth 2 is a software synthesizer with a massive 8.5 GB presets library. It has lots of fat synth-basses sampled from the Moog Taurus and ARP2500, with lead sounds from the ARP Pro Soloist and Moog Modular, several sampled acoustic pianos and lots of organs. All the electric pianos are there along with Clavinets, string synthesizers and other classic keyboards from the 1970s. You also get plenty of bass, drums, percussion, brass, winds and strings, sound effects, and vocal elements.
The user interface is a delight to use. The main part of the window is divided into two. The left-hand section has eight slots for presets. Click on the 9-16 button and a second set of eight slots is displayed instead. Just click and hold the arrow above this and select from a list of preset combinations to load several slots with complementary presets. You can solo, mute or set volume, pan, polyphony and other parameters for each slot – so this section also serves as a basic mixer. The right-hand section lists all the presets and you can load any of these into any slot by selecting the slot on the left and choosing the preset on the right.
Below are the editing parameters. The SynthEdit section has eight knobs with four buttons to the left and four to the right. Click any of these and the controls change function to control LFO or envelope, filter or velocity response, Macro control settings or the Synth-Sampler controls. Using the latter, you can switch between three different sample playback ‘engines’. Resampling is the conventional method that most samplers use. Pitch Shift/Time-Stretch lets you control the pitch and the tempo of the samples independently. The third option, the STRETCH engine, lets you change the timbre of the instruments, speed up or slow down sampled playback without changing pitch or timbre, and play realistic portamentos on acoustic instruments.
The Effects section works similarly. The controls change function according to which effect you have inserted and highlighted using the associated buttons and popup effect selectors. Each instrument can have up to five effects. The first effect slot always contains an EQ and compressor while the others can each contain one of the 32 available – including IK Multimedia’s award-winning AmpliTube effects. At the bottom of the window is a seven-octave keyboard for auditioning sounds. This is very convenient – but why no latch facility?
Sonik Synth 2 is the software equivalent of something like the Roland JV1080 hardware synthesizer. It is 16-part multi-timbral; it has presets to suit any kind of music; it works with just about any host software you are likely to encounter; and it’s very affordable.