The Access Virus is a really versatile tool to have in the studio, one of the great things about Access is their policy of constantly updating and improving things for the end user. In line with that policy, they have just released the latest Virus OS 5 as a public beta, which brings powerful new features to the Virus TI range, including two additional envelopes and seven cutting-edge global filters. Read on for my first look review of the new OS using the Virus Control plug-in'¦
Ok, so after downloading and running the installer I opened up Logic and opened the Virus Control AU on a software instrument channel to see what was different. On initial impression, it appears that not much has changed, until we get to the Filter page where there are new tabs at the side of the filter envelope.
These tabs are for switching between the filter envelope and the two new envelopes, Envelope 3 and Envelope 4. The only other visual difference can be found on the FX 1 page where the Frequency Shifter section has now been labelled Filter Bank, it's here where we can find the seven new X-Fade Filters and VariSlope Filters alongside the previous Ring Modulator, Frequency Shifter, Comb Filter, Vowel Filter effects.
Virus users have been asking for more envelopes for a long time, now they're here there's not a lot to say about them, other than they can be used as modulation sources in the mod matrix and behave in exactly the same way as the filter and amplifier envelopes (which unfortunately means, at this point in time you can't loop them). To edit these envelopes you simply click on the respective tabs in the Filter page to select a particular envelope, then amend the settings using the 5 knobs under the display.
The new filters are the interesting new features here, the XFade filters allow you to continuously fade the filter behaviour from low-pass to band-pass to high-pass, which sounds quite cool (to my ears at least). You can choose between 1, 2, 4 or 6 poles - the number of poles determines how severe the filter is, with 1 pole being the most gentle. Sweeping the 1 pole XFade set to band-pass with a high resonance is quite cool, as a band-pass needs at least 2 poles to operate what we end up with is a resonant peak sweeping up and down the frequency range.
The VariSlope filters are available as either low-pass, high-pass or band-pass. Usually, a filter has a fixed number of poles, normally either 2 or 4. Each of these poles will attenuate the target frequencies at a slope of 6dB per octave, so the more poles a filter has, the more severe the effect it has on the sound. With the VariSlope filters in OS5, we are free to select anywhere between 2 and 6 poles. This means 'impossible' filters, such as those with 3.5 poles, are now easily achievable. In addition to this, the slope of the poles is also freely adjustable, allowing you to choose a much gentler effect than -6dB per octave, if you prefer.
With these new additions, Access have taken the Virus to a new level, more envelopes are always handy to have in your sound design quiver and the unique flexibility of the filters gives you freedom over the intensity of the filter effect, allowing you to tailor it precisely to suit the particular sound you are working with.
It would be nice if we could loop the envelopes or use the envelopes to modulate parameters in the filter bank - at present we have to use one of the lfo's in envelope mode. But we must keep in mind this is a public beta and these things could be changed before full release, let's hope so.
By default the Virus LFOs are bipolar, so to use an LFO in Envelope Mode
within the mod matrix, you should select "LFO x Bipolar" as the source.
Selecting "LFO x Unipolar" will create an unexpected offset.
All in all, this is one viral evolution which all TI users should enjoy being infected with, I know I will.
The OS 5 public beta is available to all registered Virus TI users, head over to the Virus website to download.