Review: WAVE by Sample Fuel
Over 200 wavetables to choose from
Expanded Noise Oscillator
Sophisticated modulation system that gives you the ability to manipulate the motion of the patches
The 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.
Ambiguously named wavetables
Unable to load customized wavetables
Sample Fuel has come up with another brilliant synth built with its CRE8 engine for Halion and Halion SE. This time building a fairly sophisticated wave table synthesizer which proves to be a rather genre spanning product that can be used for anything from game developing to film score to electronic music. If there is a consistent theme throughout the line of libraries for the CRE8 engine, it would have to be “motion”. Many patches across Sample Fuel’s entire product line seems to have use of both the Volume and Pan LFO to define the flavor of the library.
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Review: WAVE by Sample Fuel
WAVE sells for $34.99 from Sample Fuel
In prepping for this review, I decided to make it much easier for myself (as opposed to the previous review I did for Poly) and use Halion SE in a stand-alone mode using my M-Audio Keystation Pro 88…in fact, Halion SE found all of my different controllers when launched. While WAVE may lack the modulation capabilities of Serum or the mega-wavetable experimentation capabilities of Icarus, don’t get me wrong, this is one powerful and versatile instrument that is a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned synthesizers. In addition, within the Halion shell, one has the ability to load multiple presets concurrently, unlike Serum or Icarus. Each preset has its own unique CRE8 engine, in which, to warp, spindle and mutilate the sounds with.
As stated in my Poly review, 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, as mentioned, with the HALion engine and WAVE is a dual wavetable synthesizer design that also incorporates a SUB and NOISE oscillator. Everything pretty much looks and acts the same as POLY with the huge exception of its synth tab. Sample Fuel also has other soft synths that work within that engine including PAD Motion and their newest addition to the CRE8 family, Revolution.
I’ll try not to be overly repetitive with the last Sample Fuel review however, as a refresher, CRE8, within the Halion SE shell has 2 primary areas which will be the focus of the review: the Browser and the Edit tabs. The “meat” of the browser is where you select the sound library you wish to employ and the preset you wish to load into the engine. The libraries have different categories of “types” of sounds, whether it be brass, strings, mallets, bells, etc. Once a category is selected the list of presets appear in the below section. All WAVE presets have 1 or 2 layers. Those having a dual layer will have a “2L” listed alongside the name of the preset. Double clicking on a particular preset will load it into the engine and will appear in the column on the left. Hey, it’s a browser…the way I look at it, the easier to use the quicker one gets to making music. If one likes, multiple presets can be loaded into the engine. To get all the samples to play, one only has to change all of the presets to MIDI Channel 1. Halion even gives you the ability to assign key-ranges to each preset much like other more sophisticated engines do such as Phobos, Falcon or Omnisphere (in stacked mode). Just one thing to note about the preset browser…if you switch libraries to load a separate preset, remember to deselect any highlighted category else the preset names for the subsequent library may not appear on your screen
So, what exactly do you get with WAVE? Primarily you are going to get patches that are listed as either “analog” or “motion”. It’s important to pay heed to the sub-category of sound to get an idea of what “kind” of instrument sound you are loading though, many of the preset names are obvious enough to know without cross referencing. Like the other Sample Fuel libraries, I tend to treat each patch as a building block, a piece that will make up the overall sound you want to achieve. With the way the Halion engine is designed, you can pretty much compose an entire piece of music from a single instance of the software. The ability to mix and match from different libraries is quite easy…you can easily take, for instance, a pad sound, a drum sequence, a bass sequence and a synth instrument and put together something quite quickly. All one has to really do is to learn the CRE8 engine and its functions. The simple fact that the modulations and effects are not global for all of the presets (or multi layers) loaded is an added benefit to the sound designer as this means one does not have to load multiple instances of Halion in your DAW…there is a complete separation of controls.
To help get you started, the developer even has included several MACRO controls which helps one quickly add delay and reverb effects, layer volume and level of motion. Regardless of what edit tab you are working in, the Macro controls are always visible and ready to use. So, what exactly is the “Motion” macro controlling from within the synth/ To be honest, I have not tested all of the presets in this library however, what I have found for the most part is that the ‘Motion” macro tends to be assigned to both the Volume LFO and the PAN LFO on the Main Page of the Edit Tab. Both of these LFOs can be enabled/disabled via an on/off switch on the page or buy turning the “Motion” macro all the way down. The rate of the LFO is automatically synched to your DAW and the rate of the LFO can he easily set with the Rate Knob.
There are numerous other ways to affect motion on the sounds: the Motion Page on the Edit Tab allows one to add an identical A & B LFO (one can assign different wave patterns and assign unique parameters for each) a User Envelope, Pitch, 2 distinct Step Sequencers and an Amp Envelope. If that were not enough, on the Synth Page, one can assign a specific LFO to each wavetable oscillator and affect 11 different parameters with the LFO. If I had one issue with the modulations is that there are no available presets in the drop down to add different patterns.
One of the most powerful motion features of the CRE8 engine is the arpeggiator. This is not just an ARP that was tossed together with limited functionality. There are features within that you might not find on more sophisticated synths. CRE8 gives you the ability to design 8 distinct arpeggiations per preset and assign them to both a “one-click” button where you can change the patterns on the fly. This is a great feature, especially for the live performer. Unlike the step sequencer, the arpeggiator gives you a series of preset patterns to choose from if you don’t want to design your own pattern. Octave ranges, per pattern, run from -3 to +3 which is quite a wide spectrum above and below the keys played. The design behind the 32 step arpeggiator is based on Yamaha’s Motif Technology.
What gives this particular synth its character is the dual wavetable oscillators contained on the Synth Page. There is lot going on here than just the wavetables. Each oscillator contains over 200 distinct wavetables from which to choose and combine sounds with. All of these can be found in the drop down menus. Overall, you may have to experiment a bit as many of the tables are ambiguously labeled so you might not be totally sure what type of sound you may be loading. In addition, you are pretty much limited to the wavetables in this library as I can see no option to import one’s own wavetables. Even so, there is a large assortment here to get you started. I did check the on-line documentation and it does claim that if you own Steinberg’s FLUX or ANIMA that you can use the wavetables contained within those packages.
One of nicest features on the synth page is the ability to enable a noise oscillator and instill an abundant amount of different noise patters. Frankly, some I’ve never used before like “Orange Noise”. if you are curious what it is…” Orange noise relates to musical scales. The bands of zero energy coincide with the notes in the scale. In effect this means that the in-tune notes of a scale are removed, leaving only the out-of-tune frequencies. This creates a clashing, displeasing noise”. Sounds right up my avant-garde alley!!
Alright, I do digress…Lastly, in addition to the Noise OSC, you also get a SUB OSC, and a fixed LFO per wavetable OSC which can be assigned to 11 distinct parameters and an optional formant to give the wavetable a vocal-type quality.
Overall, I’m actually quite impressed with what you can accomplish and create with this very affordable library. Like I said earlier, while it doesn’t give you all the bells and whistles of the more expensive wavetable synths on the market, the developing behind this product is professional, the sound quality superb and the ability to inspire and create without bounds.
WAVE v1.5 from Sample Fuel downloads as 580 MB and contains 509 patches. One of the following 3 products is required to install WAVE: HALion 6, HALion Sonic or HALion SE.
WAVE sells for $34.99 from Sample Fuel
Contributor Raymond D Ricker reviews WAVE by Sample Fuel
“Sample Fuel has come up with another brilliant synth built with its CRE8 engine for Halion and Halion SE. This time building a fairly sophisticated wave table synthesizer which proves to be a rather genre spanning product that can be used for anything from game developing to film score to electronic music. If there is a consistent theme throughout the line of libraries for the CRE8 engine, it would have to be “motion”. Many patches across Sample Fuel’s entire product line seems to have use of both the Volume and Pan LFO to define the flavor of the library.”