Review: POLY by Sample Fuel
Lots of well programmed presets
Sophisticated modulation system that gives you the ability to add a lot of motion to the sound
Inclusion of Macros to easily manipulate the flavor of the presets
Up to 8 one touch buttons to change up the arpeggiator on the fly
The GUI is tablature which makes it easy to move from section to section
Inability to re-size the GUI making some of the tabs hard to read (this is a Halion SE issue)
FX section, especially the reverb and convolution sections, is extremely limited. You are better off using 3rd party plugins for most of the FX.
The CRE8 Engine housed inside of Halion is not just a “starter” synth…it is a full blown synth that includes modulation abilities that some of the more expensive synths on the market have at just a fraction of the cost.
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Review: POLY by Sample Fuel
It’s not too often that you see a virtual synthesizer come along with a high degree of sophistication that will operate within the confines of a free sampler. Well, Poly is just that!! You get 3 full oscillators of sound with an additional 2 OSCs for Noise and Sub. The CRE8 Engine housed inside of Halion is not just a “starter” synth…it is a full blown synth that includes modulation abilities that some of the more expensive synths on the market have at just a fraction of the cost.
POLY sells for $34.99 from Sample Fuel
Just the thought of using HALion inside of Ableton Live 10 coupled with running MAC High Sierra caused me to sweat a bit. In a way, this is the ultimate “double whammy” when trying to run Steinberg products as Ableton Live has no VST3 support and Steinberg seems to be rather slow in keeping up support for Apple’s OS updates. Fortunately, Ableton was able to scan the .AU component and load Halion SE with no issue. Personally, I’m not going to get into the still archaic methods one has to go through to register products as I don’t want to detract from the developer’s efforts.
The brains behind Sample Fuel is Danny Lux who has a very large and impressive dossier of musical credits including Grey’s Anatomy and Boston Legal (to name just a few). The CRE8 engine is designed to work with the HALion engine and POLY is a multiple Oscillator synthesizer designed to operate within CRE8. Sample Fuel also has other soft synths that work within that engine including PAD Motion, WAVE and Revolution. While the engine may be a given across all the products, the synth is not. In this 1st of 3 reviews for Sample Fuel, I’ll go into an overview of the CRE8 engine then spend some time going through POLY.
Typically, everything starts on the Browser page. The presets included with Poly are either a single or dual layer. Layers are tagged as 1-L and 2-L to inform you of the number of included layers. On the left of the HALion interface you have slots to load up to 16 of these presets simultaneously. The upper half of the browser lets you key in on the type of preset to load. If you do load multiple presets you have the ability to assign a key range for each preset on the MIDI tab (if you are familiar with UVI’s Falcon this should be a breeze as they are similar in look and feel). One final note on the Browser. When you download the sound package from the developer, it will be a single .vstsound file. You will need to manually place this file in a location of your choosing and tell the HALion Manager where the file is located else you will not be able to load any of the presets.
The rest of the discussion will take place on the Edit Tab. This houses the various modules of the CRE8 Engine as well as the Synth Page. In essence this is the “global settings” page for each layer. When you have a multi-layer preset, you will see a “L1” and “L2” (POLY presets only contain 1 or 2 layers). Each layer has its own distinct controls.
The Main page is broken down into three parts: The Oscillator settings including Envelopes, the fixed Volume and Pan LFO’s and Miscellaneous Global Settings. In addition to typical ADSR, you can assign filters, Modwheel assignment, Oscillator volume. While there is nothing experienced synth users haven’t seen, this is the place where you will shape the overall sound. On the bottom of the page, you will notice the developer has created Macros for being able to quickly modulate or manipulate your sound without having to go into the engine. On the lower right, you will notice 8 separate arpeggiator triggers which can be enacted with either the mouse or with the assigned key. One thing I really like about this page is the ability to enable Aftertouch and the ability to turn on/off the arpeggiator without having to go the ARP tab.
CRE8’s Motion page is where all the fun is. This page contains 2 assignable LFOs with the ability to load 8 different wave patterns. You assign each LFO to most parameters within the CRE8 engine. In addition to the 2 LFO’s, there are 4 additional modulators: an envelope modulator, a pitch modulator, an amp modulator and 2 step sequencers. The only thing I noticed about these is that there are no presets other than the default assigned. I’m not sure whether this is attributable to using the SE version or not. One thing to note however, is that you do have the ability to edit the motion within the modulators and to even add points along the motion graph. This pretty much allows you to create your own motion graph. Regardless, even with the limited presets, the ability to manipulate the sound seems to have no bounds.
The heart and soul of this package and what gives it its identity is the Synth page. POLY contains 3 oscillators with 16 distinct oscillator forms. In addition, you can add 6 different waveforms to each of the oscillators. To add to the complexity, throw in a Sub, a Ring Modulator and a Noise generator which is capable of adding Pink or White Noise. Remember all the forms of modulation I went through on the Motion page, well, each of the OSCs on the Synth page has its own assignable LFO. The sound you started with on the Browser page may be totally unrecognizable by this point. From a synth player’s perspective that’s a good thing because experimentation is the key to inspiration and creativity, we are always looking for something magical, whether planned or by total accident.
I’m not going to lie…I wasn’t expecting big things from this library however, by the time I got through checking this synth out, I came away highly impressed. Whether you are new or an old curmudgeon like me, do yourself a favor and check this out. The price is totally worth the design that went into this and since the shell, HALion SE, is free, you can’t go wrong.
POLY v1.5 from Sample Fuel downloads as 277 MB and contains 528 patches. One of the following 3 products is required to install POLY: HALion 6, HALion Sonic or HALion SE.
POLY sells for $34.99 from Sample Fuel
Contributor Raymond D Ricker reviews POLY by Sample Fuel
“The CRE8 Engine housed inside of Halion is not just a “starter” synth…it is a full blown synth that includes modulation abilities that some of the more expensive synths on the market have at just a fraction of the cost.”