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In-depth Feature:  Cakewalk Sonar 3
Rob G writes: .

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VSampler 3.0


Another coup for Cakewalk is the inclusion of the Speedsoft / Maz-Sound Tools VSampler 3.0. VSampler is a DXi soft synth that adds a powerful multitimbral, multi-output software sampler and synthesizer to the Sonar users toolbox. VSampler provides the kind of tools expected on high-end hardware samplers, with the further convenience of the improved usability possible on a computer.

VSampler uses an internal 32-bit floating point audio engine for high-quality, clipping free operation. VSampler instruments supports layering by both key and velocity, cross-fading between zones. Each constituent sample may have its own voice structure and parameters and the overall.

The voice architecture of VSampler 3.0 is pretty impressive. Volume and filter envelopes use an 8-point envelope, and there are a further 4 freely-assignable envelopes, together with 4 LFO's, a step sequencer and arpeggiator - each of which may be synced to the project tempo. Low pass, high pass, band and notch analog-modeled filters are available, in a range of cutoff slopes from 6 to 24 dB.

A set of built-in effects are provided, together with support for VST effects (again, many VST effects in practice refused to work). A 12-slot modulation matrix is provided, offering extremely flexible modulation options, allowing specifying a wide variety of sources and targets for modulation and the amount of modulation. Some truly creative routings are possible - such as controlling effects parameters, such as the wet/dry mix of a delay, from VSampler's LFO's.

As well as its native sample format, it is capable of importing sample banks from a range of formats including soundfont (.sf2), downloadable sound format (.dls), LM4, HALion, Gigasampler and AKAI S-1000 and S-3000 sample CDs.

As a final note, every knob of the DXi features an "analogizer" that allows specifying the amount of drift on that parameter for ever-changing analog-style patches.

All this, together with some really nice user-interface features. Throughout the interface, controls that are not currently enabled for the instrument are dimmed - helping to avoid wasting time tweaking parameters that are not engaged. Overall, the user-interface is highly customisable - supporting display modes including a compact "trigger" mode for sample playback, a mode in which various options are shown in tabbed pages within a window and a "rack" mode, in which all modules are displayed in a single scrollable rack.

Overall, VSampler 3.0 is a highly impressive product worthy of consideration in its own right. As part of a software bundle it represents outstanding value.

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