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Pier

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Screenshot 2021-11-11 123304.png

I was going to wait until BF for the 30% discount (so aprox $240) but found a good deal on Knobcloud for $150. Since I don't have much interest in the $100 voucher I went with it.

I just installed it some 30 mins ago and have been listening to the factory presets. And yeah, the factory presets are pretty underwhelming. I'm sure there are some hidden gems in there, but everything I've heard (which is not much) seems pretty outdated and unconvincing. It feels as if I was listening to stuff from 20 years ago.

The UI seems pretty clear once you understand the tree structure. Got the hang of it in pretty quickly. I wish the UI performance was better though. At 4K it's definitely not running at 60fps. It's incredible that Vital, a free synth developed by a single person, has better UI performance than almost all commercial products out there.

Super excited to spend some time with it this weekend!
 

Bee_Abney

Senior Member
View attachment 61962

I was going to wait until BF for the 30% discount (so aprox $240) but found a good deal on Knobcloud for $150. Since I don't have much interest in the $100 voucher I went with it.

I just installed it some 30 mins ago and have been listening to the factory presets. And yeah, the factory presets are pretty underwhelming. I'm sure there are some hidden gems in there, but everything I've heard (which is not much) seems pretty outdated and unconvincing. It feels as if I was listening to stuff from 20 years ago.

The UI seems pretty clear once you understand the tree structure. Got the hang of it in pretty quickly. I wish the UI performance was better though. At 4K it's definitely not running at 60fps. It's incredible that Vital, a free synth developed by a single person, has better UI performance than almost all commercial products out there.

Super excited to spend some time with it this weekend!
You'd like them better, perhaps, if they sounded as if they were from forty years ago...

I haven't been playing with synths for such a long time, so they are all good for me to learn from; and easily altered to taste for those who prefer to start with the heavy lifting already done. I think the 2.5 ones are pretty good. Just enter '2.5' in the search window to focus on those. Either way, all that really matters is that you can make what you like with the synth.
 
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Pier

Pier

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So, Pier, how are you getting on with Falcon? First thoughts in comparison to Zebra?

TL;DR: I'm having a love hate relationship with it. The sonic character and sound design capabilities are mind blowing but I just hate using it.

Here's my long review/rant if anyone is interested...

I won't comment on the included presets. In general I find them very meh but, to be fair, I've only skimmed very few presets superficially.

The good
The sound reminds me a lot of Vital. Very clean and precise even when adding distortion, saturation, etc. This isn't a criticism. Each synth has its own sound, but if one is looking for analog mojo it's not there or, at least, very hard to find.

My favorite part of Falcon are definitely the effects. Not only in the quality but also the huge variety. For example, having a convolution processor right inside Falcon opens up so many sonic possibilities. I think PhasePlant is the only other synth that comes close to this.

The DSP performance has been excellent on my desktop PC with a Ryzen 3700X. Also it opens up super fast which is very impressive.

The bad
The sound design potential is really mind blowing for a single instrument, or rather an environment. But this is the thing, as an environment for experimentation, the usability of Falcon is really bad.

If you have a clear and precise idea of what you want to accomplish, it's not horrible. But, once you want to start tweaking all this system of layers/effects/etc you've created, everything takes just too many steps. Even after you've understood the weird UX patterns UVI has in place, it's so clunky and inefficient. I feel like UVI wants to waste my time on purpose.

I could point to dozens of examples but here's just one: you're doing your thing on some layer and now you want to reorder the effects of some other layer. The obvious solution would be to just reorder the effects in the tree view, but that doesn't work. So, you double click on the effect in the tree view, navigate to a different section, maybe scroll, click drag to reorder the effects... and then you have to go back to where you were which, again, takes a number of clicks and scrolling. Something trivial that could be solved with a single click and drag becomes a tedious ordeal that takes a dozen clicks.

Then there are UI widgets which are just bad. The MSEGs for example are the worst I've ever used, in any audio product. Or just incomprehensible stuff like why doesn't the analog oscillator have a semitones setting?

Other than usability issues, I've found many UI bugs when using it on a 4K monitor. Plenty of stuff not rendering at the proper scale. Here's just one:

Screenshot 2021-11-11 122034.png


Also, the performance of the UI when running it at hiDPI in 4K is very poor. Some knobs take almost 1 second to update after moving them quickly... yeah that bad. This doesn't affect the sound in any way though.

Falcon's sweet spot

First, Falcon is also the only platform in the market that gives you access to the IRCAM algos. So if you want to experiment with that, just go with Falcon.

I think Falcon really shines as a platform for distributing hybrid content (samples + synth). The only other worthwhile competitor is Omnisphere, but Spectrasonics hasn't opened up multisamples to its users (yet).

As a pure synth my opinion is that there are better options out there. Zebra, Dune, PhasePlant, Rapid, or Omnisphere are extremely capable and will cover most (not all) of what Falcon does. If Falcon is worth it for the extra say 10-20% is very subjective. For me, personally, it's not worth it. I'd rather have a more limited product that I actually enjoy using.

As a sampler/rompler Falcon is definitely more powerful than Kontakt. But Kontakt is so much more popular. Honestly, I don't have a strong opinion on this, but I feel if someone had to decide on which platform to invest (as a user or sound designer) Kontakt would be a better option.

As a sound design experimentation playground I would recommend Bitwig rather than Falcon. Not only it does provide all the capabilities Falcon has (with the exception of the IRCAM stuff) but it's lightyears ahead in terms of usability and modern user experience. Even just using Bitwig's vanilla devices. Of course, since Bitwig is a full blown DAW, you can use any third party plugin. Eg: layer a Spitfire cello with Zebra, process that with FabFilter Saturn, and save that as a preset. The issue with Bitwig is really distribution. It would probably make more sense to just render everything to samples and distribute in Kontakt, EXS24, Hise, Sforzando, etc.

Conclusion
I would love to love Falcon, but you've probably guessed by now Falcon is not for me.

The most astonishing thing, to me at least, is how blind UVI seems to be to their own product.

Falcon is not an abandoned product from 20 years ago. UVI keeps investing dev effort by adding more features. But Falcon already has more features than Zebra, Kontakt, and Omnisphere combined. I'm 100% certain the fundamental usability issues are the reason it's not more popular. Not the lack of features.

Of course one could argue that I have extremely low tolerance for bad usability, which is absolutely true, but the problems I've described here are objective.
 

Bee_Abney

Senior Member
I'm sorry it hasn't worked out for you. Which things cause such frustration vary so much between people.

As a novice with such tools, I find it extremely easy to use, intuitive too, even though I too have noticed some of the issues you've mentioned. Of course, I haven't learned other ways of doing things that I prefer. And I'm still a beginner with Falcon, so I may yet reach a stage where I need it to do something that it can't, or can't do easily, just due to bad design. The modulation envelopes may be an issue, although I do prefer to control such things by one hand whilst playing with the other as it is such an expressive part of the performance or composition. Assigning control to CCs is very easy in Falcon. (But lots of software can do that.) That's probably just naievity on my part, trying to play complex effects as if they the varied ways of manipulating notes on a guitar. The best effects rack on a guitar is practice, and the best modulation is practice repaid. But I'm gibbering senselessly, sorry.

I was pleased to hear more about Bitwig, although I didn't see a huge amount of advantage in the points you've mentioned over what I can do in my own DAW, Studio One. I'm sure I need to learn more about just how good BitWig is.

It's a shame that IRCAM tempted you into buying Falcon after all you already knew about it. I imagine that you wanted to create patches with IRCAM, not just use it for processing samples for use elsewhere. My recent experiments have confirmed that even IRCAM stretch works fine if you know how to use it. (Four to six differently pitched samples works wonders for the CPU performance. And you can even use it to create the extra samples.)

So, is it too early to start a thread so you can get talked into buying MSoundFactory?

It's half price, you know; and it can do anything (except IRCAM) and it is (everyone says so) so intuitive to use. And you can choose from a list of different appearances (that are all the same with slightly different colours).
 

Alchemedia

Decomposer
@Pier I knew you were going to dislike Falcon and tried to warn you! ;)

I been using Bitwig for years as my secondary DAW after ST1 and I wouldn't say it's better for typical sound design than Falcon. Falcon is much more focused. Bitwig's grid, like modular, is an infinite rabbit hole and excels at modulation FX. I get far more accomplished more quickly in Falcon and Falcon's sound quality is infinitely better. 4x oversampling in Bitwig is only available in the grid and even then, Falcon sounds much better. Bitwig's sampler can't compete with Falcon. Falcon's effects are far better also. I wouldn't even consider Bitwig for typical composing, arranging or mixing. I use Studio One. Even Reaper is far better than Bitwig in that respect.
 
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Pier

Pier

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I'm sorry it hasn't worked out for you.
No worries!

I did my research and had to try it for myself. It's a shame there's no demo though which would have made this very evident. Also I only paid $150 lol.

I do prefer to control such things by one hand whilst playing with the other as it is such an expressive part of the performance or composition
Same for me. And this reminded of another weird decision by UVI. You can't reset knobs/settings by double clicking and are forced to use the keyboard. Either by pressing ALT + click or double clicking and typing the value you want.

I found this annoying. When working on synth patches, I have one hand on the midi keyboard and another on the mouse and this forces me to stop playing with the midi keyboard.

I was pleased to hear more about Bitwig, although I didn't see a huge amount of advantage in the points you've mentioned over what I can do in my own DAW, Studio One. I'm sure I need to learn more about just how good BitWig is.
So in S1 you can create complex routes with effects using the track designer (I think it's called). You can also create a multi instrument.

This is of course fantastic, but one of the Bitwig's features are the modulators which are available for any device.



Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if S1 introduced modulators soon.

Bitwig also has The Grid which is a modular environment for creating synths and effects. Here's Cameron from Venus Theory creating a reverb from scratch:

 

Bee_Abney

Senior Member
Oh, Alt+Click is a total pain, that’s for sure. I don’t know what the reasoning is behind that.

I’ll definitely be looking into Bitwig more. If sound quality isn’t an issue - and I mean that as a matter of taste rather than objective factors - then it could be something I should look to expand into.

And, yes, Studio One users have been requesting improved modulation options for a while. I doubt it’s going to catch up with Bitwig anytime soon, but anything would be nice. Which reminds me that I need to look into Cableguys’ Midishaper some more.

I suddenly want to build my own reverb.
 
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Pier

Pier

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I been using Bitwig for years as my secondary DAW after ST1 and I wouldn't say it's better for typical sound design than Falcon. Falcon is much more focused.
Honestly, IMO Falcon is anything but focused. Kinda of a mess... but this is very subjective of course.

I get far more accomplished more quickly in Falcon
Compared to the Grid? Yeah of course. But Bitwig is much more than that, as you know.

Objectively I think Bitwig is way faster. Eg: you're working on a chain of devices and all devices are just a flick of the scroll wheel away, maybe an extra click. In Falcon moving between layers and panels is extremely tedious in comparison.

4x oversampling in Bitwig is only available in the grid
AFAIK oversampling in Falcon is only available in certain modules.

Other than the Grid, Bitwig has oversampling by default in some of its modules. I know for sure EQ+ but there are probably others.

And if you need more control over that, you can use third party devices like FabFilter Saturn, Vital, etc.

Bitwig's sampler can't compete with Falcon.
Other than the IRCAM stuff you mean? Could you provide an example?

Falcon's effects are far better also.
Far better to your subjective ears you mean? :)

I prefer Bitwig's effects, but I wouldn't say they are better or worse in terms of sound.

In terms of control, many of Bitwig's effects provide more options than the ones in Falcon though.

I wouldn't even consider Bitwig for typical composing, arranging or mixing. I use Studio One. Even Reaper is far better than Bitwig in that respect.
That I agree with and it's something I've complained many times here on VIC. I think it's fine for mixing, but composing and arranging... yeah they really need to improve this.

This is completely unrelated to our discussion about Falcon though.
 

Alchemedia

Decomposer
Honestly, IMO Falcon is anything but focused. Kinda of a mess... but this is very subjective of course.
Don't even look at HALion in that case! ;) It's all subjective as you say, but I like working with both and don't find Falcon tedious at all, although I must admit I did initially.
AFAIK oversampling in Falcon is only available in certain modules.
Falcon's oscillators sound much better than Bitwig's regardless IMO. No contest really and talk about lackluster presets.
In terms of control, many of Bitwig's effects provide more options than the ones in Falcon though.
I agree control-wise, far more than most people would ever think to use or need. I wish they would resolve some of the glaringly obvious usability glitches. Don't get me wrong, I like Bitwig and wish it could replace Falcon, but I don't see that happening. Bitwig is a playground, Falcon is a workhorse. Often I'll begin a project in Bitwig only to realize after getting lost in the weeds, that I would have been much more productive with Studio One + Falcon, especially if I'm working on a deadline.
 

AllanH

Senior Member
TL;DR: I'm having a love hate relationship with it. The sonic character and sound design capabilities are mind blowing but I just hate using it.

Here's my long review/rant if anyone is interested...
That was an interesting review - thank you for taking the time to write it out. I've had falcon for several years now and initially I found it somewhat overwhelming. For me there was a decent learning curve but I think the instrument has returned the favor at this point.

Sonically, the core oscillators are rather sterile (not surprising, I would say, as they are not attempting to emulations of e.g. a VCO). The wave-table oscs. are excellent and many good ones are included. The pluck osc is also excellent as is the granular synth osc. It just took substantial time figuring it out. I've gotten so used to the sound generated by some of the u-he synths, that I primarily use falcon with the various sound banks.

I do think the UI could need some help. But given the complexity of information it's presenting, I'm not sure I have any meaningful suggestions.

Finally, Falcon is an extraordinary playback engine, especially in view of all the FX.
 
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Pier

Pier

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I do think the UI could need some help. But given the complexity of information it's presenting, I'm not sure I have any meaning suggestions.
Although I think the information could be visually better presented, my main gripe is about usability, not so much with visual design.
 
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Pier

Pier

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I don't see why UVI don't allow it really, they should put a warning or something, but allow it.
I guess the thinking is that envelopes mostly make sense per note/voice.

Maybe you can use an MSEG instead of a regular envelope?

In most synths you can use envelopes with the effects (which are stereo and not per voice) and the envelopes simply re-trigger on every new note. I've used this for ducking delays and reverbs.
 

R. Naroth

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Anyone hitting CPU limits with Falcon? Even with pure synthesis and no samples, I tend to reach the limits.. Maybe because I am still on my old Mac Pro 5,1. :(
 
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Pier

Pier

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Anyone hitting CPU limits with Falcon? Even with pure synthesis and no samples, I tend to reach the limits.. Maybe because I am still on my old Mac Pro 5,1. :(
Your issue is definitely your Mac Pro.

What CPU do you have?

The quad core Xeon W3530 has a score of 497 single core on Geekbench which is very low. Falcon only uses a single core, unfortunately.
 
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Pier

Pier

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not for pure synthesis, no cpu issues at all even when playing live with tons of unison etc. I can happily have 300+ voices with no audio breakup - AMD Ryzen 3600, so one of their cheaper processors, but single core performance is really good. Once disarmed in reaper (so no live playing) CPU for pure synthesis is sub 1%, it's amazing in that way. Different story entirely for IRCAM scrub or stretch :)
I'm using it on a 3700X and the DSP performance is really good.
 
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