Review: Diva Phenom Bundle by The Unfinished
Hits the 80s genre right on the nail
Expert programming and sound design
A good range of patch type, choice and variety
The pads are the highlight in a very strong soundset
More keys would have been great as the ones contained are excellent if small in number
Inspired by the rich analogue tones of 80’s soundtracks, The Unfinished has released the Diva Phenom collection for U-He’s flagship synth, Diva. If like me, you love the sounds of John Carpenter, Vangelis and Cliff Martinez then Diva Phenom will be your cup of tea! Each of the four parts to Diva Phenom contains 150 patches each, all dripping with 80’s nostalgia goodness. With the recent resurgence of all things 80’s, Diva Phenom is certainly worth your time.
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Review: Diva Phenom Bundle by The Unfinished
All being told, Diva is one of my favourite U-He synths. In fact, it is one of my favourite synths overall. While I like to spend my time tinkering with a bit of sound design here and a bit of synth programming there, I have the utmost respect for sound designers like The Unfinished. Time and time again, The Unfinished aka Matt Bowdler never fails to create perfectly themed soundsets. From the noire of Amara to the epic energy and adrenaline of Colossus, The Unfinished has a knack for programming soundsets full of life, character and above all else – enjoyment. Across 600 patches, Diva Phenom captures the spirit of 80’s soundtracks in all of their glory through swirly pads, aggressive and ominous basses to retro arpeggios and searing leads. If you’re looking for retro goodness, you’ve come to the right place.
Each Diva Phenom set in the Bundle sells for £19.99 plus VAT for each of the four parts from The Unfinished
Each of the four installments are divided into the usual arpeggios, rhythmic and non rhythmic basses, keys, leads, pads, soundscapes and synths. Having played through the soundsets, pads are easily the most featured category with also a heavy emphasis on basses and lead instruments. Essentially, this is all you need to create perfect retro analogue scores. Throw some percussion and sound design in for good measure and you are all set.
Diva Phenom Part One is where is all started. It is clear that The Unfinished was looking to create a sophisticated retro soundset with all of the nuances of the soundtracks of that era. So while many patches sound bold and clean, others have typical degrading and wobbles as though they were being played back through a VHS tape. Having played through the first few presets, as a child of the 80’s I was transported back in time to the days of renting B movies from the video store and getting the popcorn out. As I progressed through more presets, I found myself to be increasingly inspired and eager to create my own retro soundtracks.
Across all of the soundsets, the arpeggios can create either foundations for your pieces or add some great analogue movement. The names of the patches are very 80’s inspired and some of my favourites are the pitch bend madness of “Two Films” from Diva Phenom One, the ethereal movement of Temperate from part three and the twisted dreamlike lucidity of “Incredibly Strange” from part four. In all honesty, any of these would fit your cue whether it be a driving force, strange movement or downright craziness. There is something for everyone across the four parts and enough to work with for many a score.
Moving onto the basses, both the sequences and playable basses are full of character. For sinister brooding pulses, the bass sequences across all four volumes really shine. This is where the versatility of these soundsets start to show. While the sound is gloriously analogue and perfect for retro inspired soundtracks, I would happily use these for tension and crime compositions also. Furthermore, these can work their way into more contemporary EDM and electronic music productions too. The same can be said for the playable basses and they range from sub basses to full on analogue onslaughts. I used them in a cue recently and they provided a solid analogue low end with very little need for eq. I could post my favourites yet there are so many presets, part of the joy of any soundset is exploring your own. I highly encourage this.
The keys on the other hand gave me instant goosebumps. While the basses and arps provide solid foundations and movements, the melodic sounds of the keys are perfect. “Kid in the Mirror” from part four instantly took to the horror mystery genre while “post Natural” from part 2 was warm, mellow and with a hint of distortion. Perfect for dark melodic lines that can open up with the use of the modwheel. While the keys total around thirty presets, the quality of all is second to none.
This takes us to the leads which is where the melodic content of Diva Phenom really shines. These range from face melting leads to delicate plucks and everything in between. With “Locked Rooms” from part three I was back in B-Movie horror land. What strikes me about all of the presets is nothing is over produced. Out fo the box, everything sounds clean with the perfect level of wobble or dirt when needed. The sound design is exceptionally clean and the leads provide an abundance of melodic possibility. With around 25 in each part, there is a lead for every occasion.
The pads are simply put, breath-taking. They range from quite mood setters to brash, chaotic scene stealers. “Bergmann” from part one could easily feature in the opening credits of any retro themed show at the moment. Sinister, eerie yet fill of character. You will find roughly fifty pads in each part of Diva Phenom and you can certainly get lost for hours sampling each one. I found myself layering these to create really great soundscapes too. Which brings me on to the soundscapes. Like the pads, they are expertly programmed to create instant atmospheres and general ambience.
Finally, the synth presets are wonderful. Dripping with warm analogue sound and a diverse range of timbres, classic sounds are fused with great programming to create that quintessential 80’s sound. Again, these synths could easily crossover into other styles of music but they really are a film composers dream. Rich, full of life and able to cut through the mix with ease. Each part of Diva Phenom contains around 20 synths each so there is a lot of choice. Aside from these main categories, smaller amount presets pop up such as general sequences. Little gems hidden around every corner.
In conclusion, if you are a media composer for movies, tv or video games, these soundsets are a must have. The reason being is that not only do they fit the 80’s retro genre perfectly, they also have wider application. The sound design is wonderful, the programming clean and completed to perfection. The Unfinished has once again proven to be a force to be reckoned with delivering another soundset of brilliance. My only gripe really is for more keys. I didn’t find that there were too few, it’s just they are so wonderful, I wanted more. As someone who grew up in the 80’s, not only will I find this soundset incredibly useful, I had an absolute blast being taken back to my childhood years.
The Diva Phenom sound set is split across four parts with 150 presets in each
600 total presets
Geared towards 80’s and retro-inspired analogue synth soundtracks
For U-He Diva
Diva Phenom sets in the Bundle sell for £19.99 plus VAT for each of the four parts from The Unfinished
Contributor Pete Checkley reviews Diva Phenom Bundle by The Unfinished
“Inspired by the rich analogue tones of 80s soundtracks, The Unfinished has released the Diva Phenom collection for U-He’s flagship synth, Diva. If like me, you love the sounds of John Carpenter, Vangelis, Cliff Martinez, Diva Phenom will be your cup of tea! Each of the four parts to Diva Phenom contains 150 patches each, all dripping with 80s nostalgia goodness. With the recent resurgence of all things 80s, Diva Phenom is certainly worth your time.”