UVI Workstation – A Monster in the closet
This week, the incredible UVI Workstation, a virtual instrument interface for PC or Mac that can either run in your DAW of choice or in stand-alone mode (32 & 64bit), perfect for live performance or when you run want to muck around with ideas quickly in the studio.
UVI Workstation is free to download and use, plus they give you a sample pack from their expansion libraries to play with – and its a pretty good selection. Even if you had no intention of buying anything, this alone is well worth the download and makes a great free instrument set for your collection. Sadly you would be only scratching the tip of the iceberg if that’s as far as you went.
The free pack includes highlights from the PlugSound Pro pack, various synth and organs, loops, some weirdness from the Toy Museum collection and a single instrument from the fantastic IRCAM collection. Great value for no money.
Expansion libraries range from $120 NZD through to a whopping $420 depending on what library you buy. The Vintage Vault bundle is the best deal at a portly $610, however you get nearly $3000 worth of instruments, so relative to the cost of buying them individually its a great deal.
You will also need an ilock account (free), so you can choose between your computer and USB dongle to activate any libraries you buy (3 activations per license allowed).
The UVI Workstation is a synth in its own right. The architecture, which UVI calls ‘Scripted Instruments’, carry over to all of the other sample libraries – once you become familiar with a single instrument you can operate them all.
For instance, choosing a synth like the UVX-10P you’ll get amplitude, ADSR controls, a stereo enhancement section, pitch control, noise, mod wheel and four effect types (drive, reverb, delay and phase).
Loading any other synth gives you the same controls, though it may be arranged differently due to design aesthetics, the controls are more or less the same.
You quickly become attuned to the way everything flows, and it’s not long before you’re off creating your new sounds, which is where the magic begins.
Each preset has an effects section, plus you can load up an unlimited number of library presets as layers, each with effects, arpeggiators and mixing capabilities. You have AUX send and returns, patch effects and overall master effects.
I love how you can pick and choose styles of synths then mix them up. For instance, we can pull up a Mini Moog sound and mix in a Yamaha SY77 bell pad, plus maybe a Mellotron violin. Its a different way of thinking, but I love it. Simple, fast and creative.
Happily, you don’t need to be a synthesis geek to understand all the deep workings of a modular analogue behemoth.
The sampling is top notch too. UVI have spent years gathering incredible recordings from real vintage synths. These are actual Moog’s, Synclavier’s, TR909’s, Fairlight’s. If you want authentic tone, you won’t find better.
The Vintage Vault real-life comparisons
– WaveRunner 2.0/2.3 (PPG Wave 2)
– WaveRunner 3
60 (PPG 360 Wavecomputer)
– WaveRunner Orange (Waldorf Microwave XT)
– WaveRunner X (Subtractive synth)
– WaveRunner Terminal D (PPG Waveterm)
UVX-10P – Roland JX-10 with PG-800 programmer
UVX-3P – Roland JX-3P
– DS1 (Roland D-50)
– D77 (Yamaha SY77)
– DS90s (Korg M1)
– DSX (Ensoniq VFX)
CS-M – Yamaha CS20m
– Solina String Ensemble
– Roland RS-505
– Roland VP-330
– Korg PE2000
– Crumar Performer
– Eko Stradivarius[/column] Darklight IIx – Fairlight CMI IIx
Emulation One – E-MU Emulator
Emulation 2 -E-MU Emulator2
Drumulation – E-MU Drumulator
Ap-09 – Roland EP-09
Mello – Mellotron
The Beast – Synclavier II and later model with terminal interface
– Classic (Minimoog Model D)
– XL (Minimoog Voyager XL)
– Pro22 (Yamaha SY22)
– Pro VS (Sequential Prophet VS)
– Pro VX (Duel layered Sequential Prophet VS)
– CS-M (Yamaha CS-70)
– Energy (DK Synergy)
– FMX1 (Yamaha DX7)
– Kroma (Rhodes Chroma)
– Synthox (Elka Synthex)
– U1250 (Kurzweil K250)[/column]
UVI have an incredible array of expansion packs available on their site. The before mentioned Vintage Vault is probably your best starting point if you’re interested in analogue synths, or you’re in a Frankie Goes To Hollywood tribute band 😉
Stand out instruments for me are the UltraMini (Moog Classic D and Voyager XL), FMX1 (Yamaha DX7), the Darklight IIx (Fairlight CMI IIx) and the UVX-10P (Roland JX-10).
In the Music Nation studio, we have a Yamaha TG77 and MOTIF ES8 with the DX7 expansion card installed, both of which are featured in the Vintage Vault pack. Making an A/B comparison was difficult as, presumably to avoid copyright problems, none of the patches are named anything like the originals. But one or two sound banks did marry up with the original hardware, and yes – its right on the money.
Obviously buying the actual hardware would cost you a prohibitively large amount of cash, even if you could find them, and then of course who has time to study and understand all that hardware (our TG77’s manual is nearly 300 pages long, the MOTIF has 3 (!!) 1 inch thick manuals)
So there we have it – I love this software, it sounds great and is simple enough for me to use without melting my brain, it looks good and allows incredible flexibility.
It’s a shame the standalone version doesn’t offer a MIDI player or even a sequencer so you can write material outside the DAW. The price might put it outside the reach of all but the most ardent synth fans, but if you can budget in the investment cost, the rewards you reap will be tenfold.
Check out our video below, we run through a few presets and show you the basics of the interface.
Check out our overview and preset play through videos below