Uno Synth Pro review | Engadget

The authentic Uno Synth was IK Multimedia’s shock entry into the world of budget-minded {hardware} devices. It wasn’t only a shock that the company, finest identified for its iPhone-friendly MIDI controllers and plug-ins, determined to make a synthesizer, however that it additionally went full analog — an space the place it didn’t have a lot pedigree. The outcomes have been combined, however the basic consensus was that the Uno’s core sound was spectacular. Now IK is making an attempt to maneuver up a weight class with the Uno Synth Pro — a three-voice paraphonic synth with its crosshairs squarely aimed on the likes of the Korg Minilogue.

Of course, as with most musical devices, there isn’t a apples-to-apples comparability. So whether or not you’re higher off spending your synth greenback on an Uno Pro or on one thing else will rely in your priorities.

Pros

  • Rich oscillators
  • Two glorious filters
  • Solid choice of digital results
  • Endless sound design choices

Cons

  • Touch controls on desktop model are irritating
  • Firmware continues to be a bit buggy
  • Interface requires an excessive amount of menu diving

The Uno Synth Pro is available in two totally different flavors: the usual Pro with a 37-key Fatar keybed and {a partially} steel chassis; and a smaller Desktop mannequin with a set of contact keys and an all-plastic physique. The Pro model prices $650, whereas the Desktop is simply $400. I examined the Desktop mannequin, so I can’t let you know a lot in regards to the really feel of the dearer one, however if you happen to already personal an honest MIDI controller and don’t plan on gigging with the Uno Synth, save your self the money; they’re in any other case precisely the identical instrument.

Under the hood are three oscillators with steady wave shaping from triangle to noticed to sq. (with pulse width modulation). There are choices for laborious sync, ring modulation and FM, plus two envelopes, two LFOs, two filters, analog overdrive and a choice of 12 digital results. In quick, there are many choices for sound design, particularly when you think about the 16-slot modulation matrix.

Physically, the Uno Synth Pro Desktop is a little bit of a combined bag. The total building is plastic, and definitely feels it, but it surely’s strong sufficient. The knobs supply a great quantity of resistance and the buttons are first rate. The identical is true of the display: It’s small however offers you all the data you want. The grey, black and crimson shade scheme could make rapidly recognizing the controls you’re on the lookout for a bit tough, particularly the secondary and shift features. (On a darkish stage they’d be not possible to seek out.)

The 4 knobs on the high are used to vary virtually all of the parameters by navigating a grid beneath it. I’ll admit that the interface isn’t my favourite. But in an effort to maintain prices down whereas preserving as a lot flexibility as doable IK Multimedia went with a light-up grid as an alternative of a knob per-function design. It’s a call I may quibble with, however one which I can settle for. Also, it’s value noting that if you wish to get actual particular with a parameter it’s higher to make use of the infinite encoder to the correct of the display after choosing your goal with the 4 pots to the left.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget Terrecn

The largest downside, nonetheless, is with the contact keys and strips. Now, to be clear, this criticism doesn’t apply to the full-sized model with a correct keybed, solely the desktop mannequin. But, to be blunt: The capacitive keys and contact strips usually are not good. They can really feel unresponsive. Occasionally, the Uno Synth would straight up fail to detect my touches. And placing the synth in three-voice paraphonic mode appeared to make issues worse. The identical is true of the pitch and mod strips; typically they’d fail to register my contact or react slowly to it. The mod strip particularly is simple to journey up if you happen to transfer your finger too quick and it tends to leap between values fairly than easily glide between them. If you propose to really play your Uno Synth Pro (fairly than use an exterior sequencer or controller) I extremely advocate you spring for the full-sized model with the keybed and pitch and mod wheels.

The Uno Synth Pro does have a fairly strong arpeggiator and sequencer, although, so there’s an opportunity you will get by with out having to ever contact the “keys” on the desktop model. There can be a scale mode within the settings that disables the black keys and maps the white ones to the size of your selection. Which, on the very least, makes it much less doubtless that you simply’ll sound out of key in case your finger lands three millimeters to the correct of the place you meant.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

And look, I get that contact keys are laborious to do proper. They have been unhealthy on the unique Uno Synth. They’re unhealthy on Modal’s Skulpt and Craft synths. The Volca’s are barely higher, however nonetheless fairly cramped. Honestly, the one synth I can consider the place the contact keys aren’t a legal responsibility is the MicroFreak. (And there are in all probability individuals who would disagree with me even on that.)

Many of the frustrations I’ve with the interface and bodily controls are instantly forgotten as soon as the Uno Synth Pro begins making noise, although. In quick, it sounds wonderful. Especially with all three of its oscillators stacked in mono mode. While the Pro is a three-voice paraphonic instrument, I feel it’s at its finest when handled as an especially beefy mono synth. The oscillators have lots of physique and grit to them. The triangle is glassy however dusty and the noticed wave simply plain rips. Add a bit extra filth from the analog drive circuit and also you’ve obtained a really gnarly sounding machine for leads and basses.

The oscillators can be laborious synced, there’s pulse width modulation (although no devoted knob for it), ring modulation and FM for extra metallic sounds. The FM perform, although, is barely hidden within the menus, which is a disgrace. It’s a useful sound design instrument that’s simply not as accessible accurately due to some questionable interface selections.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

The twin analog filters are additionally beautiful. The multimode two-pole filter from the unique Uno Synth is right here and it’s simply as juicy as ever. It generally is a bit aggressive, however that’s a part of its attraction and it actually hits the spot if you happen to’re into acid basslines. Then there’s a switchable SSI-based lowpass filter with two and four-pole modes. It’s slightly subtler than the multimode possibility, however with the resonance cranked it’ll self-oscillate and scream.

The two filters on their very own are strong sufficient. But particular issues occur once you mix the 2. They actually will let you begin pulling out distinctive timbres. You can run them in sequence to create successfully notch or bandpass filters, or in parallel utilizing every to drag out barely totally different tones after which combining them into one thing new. There’s even an audio-in jack on the again, so you possibly can route any instrument you need by means of the Uno Pro’s filters and results. It’s only a disgrace that it’s an ⅛-inch jack as an alternative of a ¼-inch.

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