Review – Falcon by UVI, Part 2

 

Falcon might very well be the most powerful synth/sampler ever made, with a large number of oscillator types, modulators, and effects. Our reviewer continues to go through many of its features.

 

by Rob Mitchell, March 2016

 

First of all, I just wanted to mention that if you haven’t checked out the first half of this review, you really should do that before reading this second half. It is located here: http://soundbytesmag.net/falconbyuvipart1/

It covers the system requirements and installation, and some basics of how to begin creating a program of your own.  I also went over some of the oscillator types and how they operate. In this half of the review, I will go over the filters, modulation, and effects. There is so much to cover in this huge synth/sampler that it is nearly impossible to cover every single feature in it.

 

Filters

After adding an oscillator of your choice, you might want to add some type of filter to the program you’re designing. These can be added at the Master, Program, Layer, and Keygroup levels, and can be found in the “FX” menu for each of those levels. At first I thought this was little confusing, as I wasn’t thinking of filters as “effects”. Many times I would find myself looking elsewhere for them, until I got used to where they were actually located.

For now, I won’t get into all the various ways the filters can be modulated, as there are really just an enormous array of possibilities here. There are fourteen different types of filters, giving you a hefty number that you can choose from. Some of the filter types include Analog, Biquad, Comb, Vowel, and the Xpander filter.

The Analog filter has three different modes from which you can select: low pass, high pass, and band pass. It also uses standard cutoff and resonance controls. According to the manual, this was modeled after a certain American synthesizer company’s filter. The Biquad filter is similar to the Analog type, but it also has a notch filter type within it. The Comb filter works in the standard way, using a delayed signal that is routed back into the original signal. It can then be added or subtracted from the original signal, and this can give you some interesting results. This filter type also has frequency cutoff and resonance controls.


The Vowel filter lets you morph between two different vowel settings. You can choose these vowel settings using the Filter A and Filter B menus. The included filter included has a low pass, band pass, and high pass settings. Other controls include “Q” to change the filter’s shape, “Num Formants” adjust the number of formants, and the formant frequencies can be changed using the “Formant” control.


The Xpander filter includes cutoff, resonance and key-tracking controls. The standout within this filter is the 37 variations you are able to select from. They say it is built upon a ladder filter type, but it doesn’t just stop with a classic 4-pole filter. It definitely has that classic type of low pass filter sound, but it also includes HP (high pass), BP (band pass), AP (all pass), PF (peak filter), and T (twin filter), and various combinations of these types as well. UVI has been generous with the Xpander filter, as there are also a good deal of pole amounts to choose from for many of those filter types. To change between them, you click on the filter display and then choose the one you’d like. To the right of that same display I mentioned is a bipolar drive control. This lets you dial in an amount of overdrive for the filter being used. The overdrive types they’ve added are Soft Saturation, Hard Clip, and Linear, letting you add some great crunch and grit to the sound.

 

Modulation and Scripting


In the filter section, I had mentioned there were many ways to modulate the parameters. I wasn’t kidding, as with a simple right-click upon just about any control within Falcon will show you just how much of which it is capable. To change a modulation setting you might have added previously, you can right-click on the same control you added it to, and then select “Edit Modulation”. There is a lot of freedom here for you to experiment and get some complex configurations happening. For instance, maybe I want the shelf frequency of an 8-band EQ and/or delay time of a delay effect to be controlled by the modulation wheel, LFO, or external MIDI CC. Then again, maybe you want to assign one of them to use a multistage envelope, or opt to use the host automation. It is up to you, and there are vast amounts of control possibilities here. Also, you can keep adding new LFOs and envelopes (or other effects) unlike some other synths which have a fixed amount for each. Of course, if you have a lot going on modulation-wise, this may affect the CPU usage.

The modulation generators can be added at any level of your program, and can affect nearly any part of Falcon. They can even be used to control another modulator. The modulators include many types of envelopes, and some of them are simpler than others, which is great for certain types of tasks. The basic “Attack Decay” envelope is an example of this, but there are others such as the “Analog ADSR” and the “DAHDSR” envelopes to cover more detailed modulations. Going a step further, there is the “Multi Envelope” which can use any number of points to define the envelope, and the “Step Envelope” can be used as a programmable pattern sequencer. A very capable LFO with 10 different waveform shapes is also available. One of those waveforms is actually a custom editable waveform, so you can design your own shape. The LFO also has other important features such as tempo sync, smoothing, and delay amount.

Falcon’s OSC (Open Sound Control) is a function which lets you control a parameter externally. You right-click a control, click OSC, and the parameter’s path will be displayed. You are then able to copy this and use it in another application. This lets another app or device control Falcon, as long as it also supports OSC.

The Event processors in Falcon can process the MIDI signal in many ways. Building upon this, UVI added in UVIScript, which is based on the Lua language. It is a scripting language that enables you to use your own commands for the event processors. Using that coding, you’re able to go beyond Falcon’s built-in capabilities and create different types of script processors. These can expand the already powerful features of Falcon, and let you tap your own creativity.

If you need some help in getting started with Lua, UVI included some scripts that you can study. Going through the scripts in this manner will give you ideas for your own, since you can see how they were put together. Some of these include a tonal harmonizer, MIDI player, a variety of arpeggiated patterns, micro tuning, timbre shifting, and there are several others.

There is full documentation on the UVIScript located here:

http://www.uvi.net/uviscript/

For more information on Lua, you can check this website:

http://www.lua.org/docs.html

 

Effects


Falcon includes a large number of quality effects.  Just as I mentioned with the filters, the various effects can be added at the Master, Program, Layer, and Keygroup levels. Some of the effects that I really like are the Dual Delay, Sparkverb, Redux, Spectrum Analyzer, and the 8 band EQ. For now, I will go over some of those effects I mentioned, and cover some of their details for you.

The Dual Delay has a useful display that helps you to visualize what is going on with the effect. In its “Delay” section, controls are included to adjust the delay length and feedback amount. The delay times can be set to a millisecond amount, or to a bars/beat setting if you switched on the tempo sync feature. The L/R controls for both delay and feedback let you set the levels between the channels. With the Depth and Rate controls, you’re able to use a detune amount for the delays, and set the rate of the modulation. Separate low and high filters affect only the wet signal, leaving the dry part of the signal alone. The Rotation section can adjust phase amounts for the separate signals: Input, Output, and Feedback.

Sparkverb is an algorithmic reverb with a colorful frequency-based display. The room size, shape, and pre-delay controls are along the left side, with room lengths varying between 4 to 50 meters. It also has a “Density” menu where you can choose from different levels for the reflection amount. Its “Decay” section has controls to change low and high frequencies (using Low and High Crossover) and the amount for each of those. Adding to this, you’re able to adjust the amount of modulation for the decay and its rate.

Redux is a very useful effect for the creation of lo-fi types of sounds. Some of the many controls in this effect are for resampling frequency, bit-depth amount, and dithered noise (a type of randomized noise). In its filter section, you can set the filter so it’s either before or after the resampling process, or it can be turned off completely. Low pass, band pass and high pass filter types are here, and standard cutoff/resonance controls.

There are many more effects within Falcon for you to explore. Some of these include a phaser, flanger, chorus, a maximizer, limiter, various distortions, compressors, limiters, and Ireverb (a convolution reverb). Legacy effects are also here, and they provide support for old programs you may have, such as any that might have been put together with the UVI Workstation. For example, if you have Darklight IIx and load that into Falcon, the effects it used will work just like before. However, they do recommend using only the newer effects for any new programs you may design going forward.

 

Conclusion

I really like the way they’ve made it possible to configure the display. You can set it up so only the parts of the program that you’d like to see are visible. The buttons for this feature in the upper-right, so you can (for instance) just have the oscillator section on the screen.  Or you maybe you still want all of the sections visible, but you might not need all the details for each of them to be displayed. They’ve made this possible too, so you’re able to minimize each of the separate sections of the program with which you’re working.

At $349 USD, Falcon might not be the cheapest hybrid/synth sampler you’ll run into, but it’s not the most expensive one either. When you think of what is included, it really is like having many plugins combined together. In that respect, it’s my opinion that they’ve priced it just right. UVI do have sales here and there, but I can’t guarantee if Falcon will be included in one of those. As for its performance, I can say it worked very well on my Windows 8.1 PC, with both the standalone version, and when I had it loaded into my DAW (Sonar X3 Producer).

Importing your own samples, loading an almost limitless number of oscillators (depends on CPU of course), having access to its extensive modulation and effects makes for a highly capable piece of virtual gear. I also love the fact it can load in other sound libraries offered by UVI, since they already have a huge catalog of titles available. The documentation is top notch, covering everything in detail. Even though Falcon is super-powerful and impressive, it’s still fun to use at the same time. Highly recommended.

You can get more information on Falcon from the UVI site located here:

http://www.uvi.net/en/software/falcon.html

 

 

 

 

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