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Review of Albino 3

Sometimes a soft synth comes along that is so cool you want to use it nearly all the time.  Sort of like potato chips.  Once you have one, you want more.  So it is with instances of Albino 3.  Once you have one laid down in a track, you want another.  And then another.  The good thing is that, unlike chips, you can have as many as you want.  While the synth is not a lightweight, its not a CPU killer either.  Unless you stack up oscillators, which, by the way, Albino lets you do with little restriction.

Albino is an ideal synth for dancey, trancey music. Hip Hop too.   But it's not limiting genre-wise.  Any context where an analog style synth would be used is fair ground for Albino--leads, pads, basses, EPs, atmospheres and more--Albino 3 works it's charm on you.  This is due to its voicing of oscillators, strong filters, great arpeggiation and chord effects. To top it off you get a huge library of sounds.  Lets go over each of these in more detail.

 

Albino 3 screen shot

 

Note how presets are selected in Albino.  This is just part of one of the 3 Arpeggio directories. 

Filters.  I think the sound of the filters, which have wonderful analog characteristics, provides Albino3 with much of its Virus-like character.  There's 4 major types of filters called Silk, Cream, Scream and Comb.  Each has different modes, making it easy to find the type of filtration you want, or just click around at random till you fn something that grabs you.  The quality of filter cutoff and resonance is top notch.  Those of you who love analog will not be disappointed with Albino's emulations.  In total you get 20 filter modes.  Using the scream filter I was able to get convincing, deep filter effects reminiscent of old mono synths. The lighter silk and cream filters get those classic short blips for trance and house.   

Oscillators:  There are four sources you can use in any Albino patch.  These include Analog, Digital, Noise and Audio Input as your oscillators.  (I was unable to find a way to use the audio input in Logic.)  You can use 4 oscillators in every layer, and there can be up to 4 layers in every patch.  There is also a "spread" function which multiplies the oscillators in use.  You can stack up to 80 oscillators on a single preset. If that is not fat enough for you, we'll send you a bag of chips.  lol.  The combination of analog waves and digital operators allows Albino's sounds greater diversity than just a typical analog synth.  Browsing through the preset library shows how far this synth can go.  You get digital as well as analog basses, clean bell like tones, and hybrid tones reminiscent of Roland d50 sounds. Even EPs and Oberheim-ish Brass.  The noise oscillator can make some tasty snares and hi hats well within the traditions of trance.  The Atmospheres are just the way we like them, warm, glowing, oozing, sterile, glassy.  Paired with the chord function and adding an arp to one layer can give up some dreamy sounds.  

Arpeggiator and Chord Functions:  What sold me on Albino was the excellent arpeggiator and chord function, which can be used together.  While Albino comes with a huge selection of preset arpeggios, you can also make your own, with up to 32 steps. The Arpeggiator locks up to your sequencer's tempo.  No problem at all in Logic.  The preset arpeggios are so good you might not want to make your own. These arps are designed to work with the oscillators and the filter and many give a classic trance sound that you will "remember" when you hear it.  I found myself saying, "Wow, he's got That sound".  The chord function is easy to use.  Just click "learn" play a chord, the click "play".  Done!  Just try doing that on your Fantom or in Logic.  Its a multi step, multi click process on both. 

Preset Library:  There is one other thing that sold me on Albino, and that is the huge library of presets it comes with, programmed by the designer himself, Rob Papen.  I've been following Rob's work for several years.  He's the author of many sample CD Roms for Emu and the sound designer behind Emu's Orbit 3 synth, the Beat Garden, and Techno Industrial Roms. Rob also developed sounds for the Access Virus.  To my ears, Albino3 sounds quite Virus like.  If you can't afford a Virus TI but want that sound, Albino is probably the best way to get it.    

Rob provides 2100 of his sonic creations in the form of presets.  They are well-organized into categories making them easy to find and navigate to.  This is the stuff.  

I usually end my soft synth reviews with my take on who will like and who will not like the synths.  This time I can't think of too many musicians that aren't going to appreciate Albino.  Ok, maybe the Country Chart Watchers and the Professorial String Orchestrators Guild might not be overly thrilled, but that's probably due more to the smell of all those unwashed DnBers jumping around than the sound.  Pop, hip hop, the variations of techno, dance club, house and trance music will all find a lot in Albino to like.     

Albino comes in the usual PC and Mac formats:  VSTi, AU and RTAS are supported.  Mac users with the Intel processors in their machines will be happy to note Albino3 is Universal Binary.

I tip my Tweakhat to Rob Papen.  Its a classic!

July 2007


 

 

Links

Albino 3 Product page  (you can download a demo there)

Order Albino 3

Threads

Discuss Albino 3 at Studio-central

 

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