And so it came. One little package i’ve been eagerly waiting to receive from Waldorf Music. There was no particular timeline by how soon i need to provide them a demo, i was just told it should be around 3-4 minutes long. Immediately i knew this wasn’t enough, because this synth offers so much and did i mention i’m a freak for retro string machines so you bet i was going to try all the knob positions in recreating some of the old retro sounds. There’s no particular serial number on the unit, it just says BETA273 which i think is just cool enough.
First things first, right after unpacking i’ve installed the latest OS and immediately started testing the unit. Found couple of bugs and sent them to Stefan along with all the details (some mild distortion appeared at certain settings – this will be fixed with next release, so don’t worry). Despite those i was immediately pulled away by the smooth and hypnotic sound of this unit. That moment you touch the animate knob, it’s over. No more playing by you, just push the hold pedal with your foot and enjoy the ride. In fact this was inspiration for the Streichfett Freestyle three demo takes i’ve later put in the video. Let the machine sing it’s way. All i did was press Rec and it came out perfectly.
On various music forums I’ve noticed some complaints that it doesn’t sound vintage. Well, no one ever claimed it will so i don’t really see a problem in here? I’m still a happy owner of Logan II String Ensemble, Arp Omni II and Korg Trident MkI. I’ve never went for expectation Streichfett will replace those. I used totally different approach to the equation and that is – Streichfett will complement those. So as of now on i’m a proud owner of fourth string machine in my arsenal.
Soundwise, Streichfett stands proudly on its own. While its synth section is a bit limited, there is however a nice PWM emulation in it, that combined with panned Tremolo adds a nice extra to the sound. Example can be heard by the end of the first Streichfett Freestyle recording in the demo when the balance knob was pushed more toward right side and synth section is introduced to the mix, giving that extra shimmering to the sound, though smooth at the same time.
Since i always liked Solina in combination with phase shifters, one of the first things to do on Streichfett was to try its Solina recreation, then run it thru PH-3 phase shifter from Boss. The result is actually what is last track in the demo, though it was first recorded. If you ask me, given in a busy mix, would someone notice a difference between real Solina and Streichfett, its really hard to answer given over 50% of people listen to music on their <insert smartphone name> ear buds. Kinda sad, isn’t it?
One thing that surprised me on the Streichfett was the quality of reverb. TBH I was never a fan of Blofeld’s reverb. This one however sounds much better. Another cool feature is the fixed phaser position (the other half of the knob turn). This opens a whole new area for sonic exploration, particularly if you’re into voice / vocal ensemble emulation. There’s a lot to try in here. No it doesn’t model VP-330, bit it can yield some surprisingly interesting choir / ensemble types of sounds. Which brings me to the start – this machine is not here to replace, but complement. And i intend to keep mine.
Back to demo. Actually right after receiving the unit i went to the sea for vacation, so there was no much movement in demo progress for three weeks. As soon as i came back, started working day/night on it, to produce some output ASAP. Video editing didn’t worried me too much. Idea was to grab some old renderings i did some 10 years ago, mix it with some filming i did, a few classic synth tweaking shots and of course some retro 70’s materials taken from webarchive for the vintage mood of the video. I also added a short excerpt from New York School Of Synthesis instructional video by Dean Friedman. As of the audio/video quality in my demo, unfortunately Youtube compression kills a lot of it, including the sound, which is why i have to say this, the demo played from Youtube and actual unit sound quite differently. So best is to try one in the store, because in general – don’t rely on the “sound” of any unit by watching Youtube videos!
One of the Gearslutz forum members with a nick Astralform said how it would be cool if Waldorf actually named their synth Pussy Galore (original post here). So i’ve decided to make his wish come true in a way, at least in imaginary form of a music video. And so the car scene was born. The one with secret package that was placed near back tire with special letters saying – codename – Pussy Galore. Well, there you go! I hope you enjoyed it as much as i did making it.
Problems as usual
Just as i was about to record first demo, my E-MU 1212m soundcard died. This is the second 1212m soundcard that i had problems with. So i was forced to use a second backup system which is a Roland VS2400CD multitrack HD recorder. I should point out that my first to go converters, which is Ensoniq Paris rig at that point was not in function since i had some wall painting works in the studio (read: bedroom) and simply had no enough room space to set it up. I will not complain about the VS2400CD sound, since it is 24bit/44k and offers linear PCM encoding, essentially what you put in comes out. Never tested if something gets lost though, i might run a DC-20k sweep, but i doubt anything will be lost. There’s a lot of Voodoo talk when it comes to converters and I’m simply not one of the believers in the “magic” of some of the converters, unless it includes surrounding electronics with certain design in mind, such as was the case with Ensoniq Paris where their goal was to deliberately give it a slightly warmer sound, so maybe not 100% accurate per se, but boy does it sound sweet.
Of course this wouldn’t be a proper Don Solaris demo without some Easter eggs. This time it was really simple, well at least the part i will reveal. That burst at the beginning of the video consists of various people i randomly picked off my Facebook friend’s list. So it’s not alphabetical or in any special order, just plain random. Your eye will see it in the video but brain might not be able to detect it (not meaning this in any offensive way). It’s simply moving too fast. If you’re curious you can click on the image below to see the full content of that burst, if not, just move along to the demo instead.
It took me a week of work for video making but i think it was worth the fun. Unfortunately Youtube chews some of the video data like crazy. No matter how high bit rate you provide, it just doesn’t care, it will chew up anything that moves fast. Other than that, i’ve already mentioned kinda poor audio quality. However if you click the 720p option, there is definitely some sonic improvement. I should also note video was optimized for full screen viewing.