Review: IK Multimedia Syntronik

IK's latest synth suite is a collection of special instruments based on some bona fide classics. G.W Childs fires it up and gets his synths stacked, packed and racked...  

It’s fun to experience what someone else has been calling fun. To be allowed to peek into someone’s studio or playground. To hear what all their hard work and engineering have produced. It’s especially fun when you can tell that the hard work was fun. That’s really the vibe you get when you spend some time with Syntronik. In this review, I’d love to tell you all about it.

Nostalgia, Oh Yeah…

Before you even press a key, you can see the love. A lot of time went into Syntronik. It’s not just in the sound, it’s in the GUI, the presentation and the environment as a whole. And I will tell you, having been a person who has reviewed many we sampled every nuance plug-ins, regardless of the giant picture that shows a straight up orgy of gear porn on the product page for Syntronik, you can hear the work. You can really hear those nuances. Synths like the Andromeda, the Moog Voyager, MiniMoog and many more classic synths are seemingly digitized in to a plug-in, but rounded into new synths.

Some bridge whole lines of classic synths. For example Noir is a beautiful tribute to the Multimoog, Micromoog and Prodigy, all combined in to what you and IK Multimedia really love and remember about those synths. A total of 17 synths make up the full package, which were built on the sounds and nuances of 38 classic synths. So essentially the 38 are consolidated behind 17 faceplates, knobs, and buttons that are all so identical to the original, and so damn beautiful on a Retina display, I swear I’m playing a real Juno-60. At the same time, it’s not an exact Juno-60 in presentation. It’s not attempting to be. It sounds just like one, and what I remember one to sound like.  

Apple Would Be Proud…

I say the statement above with absolute respect. IK took some really sweet cues from Logic X and Garageband in the presentation and created something new. Syntronik is almost a synth platform. It can run standalone, or as a VST or AU and it’s also seemingly infinite in the amount of synths that can be added, though there are only currently 17. I really wanted to loathe Syntronik for this, as I don’t care much for the in-app purchase paradigm. But after a few days of using it regularly in sessions I’m already relying on it and would definitely purchase more synths. They sound great and can all be highly customized.

Syntronik is also a little bit of a mini-studio in itself. There’s an effect page that looks like a four space Euro Rack case and 38 ‘modules’ that really, really make a huge difference on the sound and feel of the synths within. Because you can mix and match in infinite variety, even presets can take on whole new lives, for those who aren’t into synth programming but like effects a lot! 

Franken Synth…

Though eachof the synths are highly sampled recreations of many powerful classic synths as I mentioned, they aren’t exact. For example, each of the synthesizers within Syntronik has access to four different filter types. The M-Type for example is a Moog modeled filter, where an R-Type is a Roland filter. There’s also an O and a C type, referenced from the Oberheim and Curtis CEM3320 Chip. So even though there are faceplates making you feel like you are stuck with the technology hinted at by the cover, in actuality the ability to switch out filters is embedded with the faceplate of each synth. Very clever. 

When you consider that you can have up to four virtual synths layered in one patch and that the effects make such an impact on expanding the initial synth patches, you start to think about stacking synths in the exact same way that guitarist stack amps. Or the way many producers layer several different recordings of a guitar riff, with many different settings on each take. Basically, it brings a rock n’ roll approach to synths.

Arps and Keys?

In addition to effects and synths, Syntronik, as one would hope, has a very extensive arpeggiator as well as an almost Combinator-like approach to layering A, B, C and D, synth layers across your keys in cool and cunning ways. This is where Syntronik could easily become the Mainstage of Synths, as you can map four synths across one keyboard for each song in your set with the appropriate effects. Once finished just go to another saved preset for a different song.

You’ll have arp parts loaded, mapped onto the right portion of your keyboard. And leave another section barren without any Arpeggiation at all with an entirely different patch taking place within the keyboard region played. Each layer gets its own four effects modules and each layer can also gets its own arpeggiator. The arpeggiator works like a classic arpeggiator, but can also act as a sequencer, where you can program custom patterns, which pitch with the keys pressed. Because you can stack arps, things can get very crazy in one patch or one set!

Size Sensitive…

Because each instrument is around a gigabyte in size, the downloads are pretty quick. If you buy the full Syntronik with all the instruments up front you’ll be happy to note you can ease in to downloading the whole thing at once. IK Multimedia gives you the ability to download each synth one at a time which I thought was pretty cool. You can load as you go, so to speak. The installation was so simple it made my head hurt. Just download Authorization Manager, input the serial and it pretty much takes care of the rest. This is a very polished package.

Conclusion

People really should be excited about Syntronik. It gives you an amazing sound upfront that can be fully modified to suit your own style. Built upon some of the coolest synths ever, the sound and the mood is there. The free version of Syntronik is highly extensive, and gives you a lot of freedom in experimentation and mixing and matching. Plus, it gives you access to full patches from each of the synths. Even if you can’t buy right now, make sure you at least check out the demo. It’s definitely worth your time. 

Price: $329 Boxed / $229 Download

Pros: High quality sampled instruments from some of the best synths ever, converted into unique, individual instruments with personality of their own. Amazing effects platform with awesome arpeggiator. Stackable four times!

Cons: Not exact recreations of the classic synths used for creating Syntronik. Offers in-app purchases. 

Webhttp://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/syntronik/

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More

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