Considering an Access Virus...

  • Hello all,

    The summary is, I'm wondering how well a Virus might fit into my workflow and would like to hear some opinions before I consider putting down money as the Virus costs a fair bit of coin!

    I am a hobbyist musician, I do not make music for money and thus am limited in how much I can spend. I am however very tempted by the fact that the Virus behaves like a soft synth - you can load it as an AU in Logic, lay down MIDI tracks with the mouse (since I am not a great keyboard player), mix the sounds through some good software effect plugins (Space Designer is excellent) and then not have to worry about recording and so forth. I currently have an Alesis Micron and it's difficult to edit its patches and it's difficult to record from, in each song I make I have to remember the patches that I use and I don't think you get that problem with the Access Virus TI.

    Though I have a few MIDI controllers I've never gotten used to using them. I draw in automation using the mouse.

    Are there any other synthesizers on the market that combine this integration of hardware + software editing out of the box? I am wondering what advantages the Virus has over these alternatives with respect to integration. Synths that come to mind are the Novation Ultranova and the Roland GAIA. I feel somewhat that I have wasted the capabilities of the Alesis Micron and do not want to make the same mistake with a new synth, whatever it may be. I also don't want to buy a Virus and then discover that I cannot unleash its power, either!

    Thank you all for your opinions.

  • First of all, I guess what you are looking for for your current setup, is something like this , I know it's not AU, but it's worth looking further or asking the makers for a Mac version.
    I am a big fan of the Ion/Micron sound, and the Ultranova has an effects section that the Virus can really envy (never had a chance to test the GAIA), but the Virus really wins them both over in terms of polyphony, which is really important for my workflow (and I really like how it sounds as well). The "mix the sounds through some good software effect plugins (Space Designer is excellent) and then not have to worry about recording" part of your workflow description is what you should really take into consideration: The Virus has only 3 outs, and while you can control the routing of the parts, you can only put one effect chain at the end of each of the 3 USB outs, so if you intend to use only one part per out, you should consider going for the Snow model which has less parts so you save money on the parts you wouldn't be using. Another thing about recording, is that it is recommended to bounce down single isolated Virus MIDI tracks to audio, as the Virus has a tendency to drift in timing when playing several parts at once. Again, 3 parts playing together is usually less of a problem.
    Another thing is that you really have to know where and how you connect the Virus in terms of USB architecture, so you don't run into bandwidth problems.
    Hope this helps.

  • Having used (and briefly owned) all three, I can safely say that the Virus Snow is the best sounding and best integrated of the Virus, GAIA and Ultranova.

    You can get 4 separate parts out of the Snow (3 over USB and 1 analog out) and it should integrate into your Logic workflow with ease. It's a lot like a very useable and great-sounding soft-synth, without eating up your mac's resources. :)

    The Ultranova only allows you one instance of the AU editor at a time as it is not a multi-timbral synth. I didn't warm to the Ultranova's sound. The good quality effects cover up a synth engine that doesn't quite deliver. Horrible to edit too.

    The GAIA is fun to play with but, again, the sound of it isn't up to the standard of a half-decent soft-synth. It's a much simpler / more limited synth engine and doesn't do things like oscillator sync properly (disables the filter wtf?). I never got it to integrate particularly well with Logic or Live either.

    The Blofeld is the only other modern synth that can give the Virus some competition in terms of editability and sound quality. It's a bit more buggy than the Virus when working as a multi-timbral synth though and doesn't have the multiple outputs or audio over USB.

  • - Avoid the Roland Gaia. IMHO you'll be limited in no time.
    - If you don't mind about having a multitimbral synth and money is a concern, Novation Ultranova is a great option with a powerful synth engine.
    - If you need basic multitimbral synth (4 parts) with good polyphony, the Virus TI Snow is a great choice, but you'll also need a keyboard controller to get some keys to play.
    - If you need the full power of Virus and you don't mind using an external keyboard controller, the Virus TI2 Desktop is for you.
    - If you want everything :) go for the Virus TI2 Polar or Keyboard.