Alchemy is one of the better soft synths out there, Working with waveforms, SFZ, samples. I've got mostly good things to say about this tool.
What I would like to see is some sort of visual on what's happening with the wave form or maybe signal flow, routing pop up screen, that I can call up at a mouse click. For most of the time, it's like visualizing everything in my mind and but the GUI looks rather static. Hey, not complaining but it always good to look forward to something, else it's like working with analogue hardware where the box always looks the same, maybe for a few LEDs blinking. Most common confusion would be the FX/mix knobs found here and there, and how running more that one filter will leave you a little confused at times unless you start switching off a filter or OSC sources.
The thing is that Alchemy is much more than an virtual analogue emulation, there's where all the goodies come flying out of the Alchemy tool box.
Sound is clear, if you have good samples. Whether you need to fatten things up later there's always the FX section with the Phat button and variations of distortions like Mech and Tube. An FX section with reverb, delay, and phase, chorus, flange type of modulation. EQ is useful for reducing honky, boxy, excessive hissing. Compressor runs auto with 2 knobs for light duties, a wise thing at this stage.
Alchemy is able create different types of sounds for the many genres. Going through the audio demos on Camelaudio's website would give an idea of the possibilities of your design efforts.
I mostly use Alchemy to load up my old samples from recordings, SFZ and bring them to life again with new effects and sample manipulation. The ability to load designed waveforms has been useful in changing the behaviour of LFOs and stacking new sounds with interesting harmonic content.
Friends playing synth keys never seem to understand why or what I'm doing with Alchemy and I admit sometimes I don't either, maybe a simpler synth would be suitable for most.
If I just wanted a Rompler or a VA synth, I would have had difficulty upgrading from the Alchemy Player to the full version. After spending quite a bit of time checking out the tutorials and listening to the 3rd party demos from around the internet. I'd just had to get it.
Notice how I didn't want to say anything about the types of synthesis available for use. It's just too much to describe, but I'm glad they're there to provide me with a bigger palette.
I tried out the demo's of Absynth, Omnisphere, and Alchemy - I bought Alchemy because I felt it has the most scope and was also the best value for money. (Razor isn't in the same league as these three giants).
As a Rompler there are hundreds of presets to tweak, and cheap Soundbanks packs specific to particular genre's. It's a powerful 4-part multi-synth in it's own right with multiple Filters, LFO's, EG's, and Seq's etc so (if you know how to program) making your own sounds from scratch is a dream (a lot easier than Absynth). It's Virtual Analogue engine is brilliant for making classic authentic vintage sounds, and it has a great effects section.
But the winning features for me were being able to morph in real-time between 8 sub-presets with an X-Y pad (I use a nanopad 2), and being able to load Wavs and SFZ's and then resynthesise them (you can't do that in Omnisphere) - i use Chicken System Translator to convert SF2's, Kontakt banks and Sampletank banks to SFZ's, drop them in Alchemy and then take them to weird and wonderful places :)
Alchemy has replaced almost all of my other synths - try the demo for yourself and get the free Alchemy player (it also loads Wavs and SFZ's)
Alchemy strikes me as a somewhat better version of Absynth. They're both geared towards huge performable soundcapes. Unlike Abysnth you can load in big wave files (ie field recordings). You can then modulate and morph it all together with a bunch of analog sounds and a heap of effects. It would be really great for "ambient noise" artists. You could play a whole set on pretty much one instance of Alchemy.
As far a synthesizing sounds though this is far from the best on the market. The additive, granular and spectral features all feel a little bit like decoration. They only seem good for crunching up the sound and making it more atonal and ambient. I'd probably look elsewhere for leads and basses etc.
I don't really like the grey old GUI that much but I've definitely seen worse out there.
I think Alchemy does something that no other synth does and that's a good thing.
I've had Alchemy for about half a year now. I must say, I really got my money's worth.
I found it very stable and reasonably CPU friendly. Often my tracks contains 4-5 instances of Alchemy. It covers almost every sound I need. Especially nowadays when I'm into more "hard to describe" organic sounds. If I'd be looking for the typical "massive unison sawtooth chord stabbing sounds" that are heard on the radio today I'd probably choose a different plugin. But of course It can do that to If needed.
The enormous possibilities and the GUI to handle all this is actually very good. Here the Youtube tutorials helped me a lot. The librarian and the way the patches can be organized is fully adequate. (Spend those extra seconds to name and tag your favorites and you will be rewarded ;).
I won't go through all the possibilities, cause there's so much and nothing is missing. A few highlights though:
You can save the" building blocks" of a sound for later use in other sounds. Oscillator settings. LFO's, envelopes, effects can be saved into their own little libraries. Such a simple thing as copy all settings from one oscillator to another is very useful. With this in mind - a majority of the presets, both the built in and the one you can purchase, are often very complex. There's a lot going on when you press a key. Impressive? Yes. But sometimes i'ts just to much according to my taste. With the ability to save certain parts of a sound It's easy to build your own version.
The "Remix sound" feature - control a bunch of parameters in one go.
It sounds great...and bad in a good way when needed. For example the resynthesis methods can sound almost natural but also like vintage digital gear. (PPG, Emulator etc). Perhaps the VA synthesis lacks some of the really low end but that's not really a problem since it does everything else so well.
The free Alchemy player gives me the possibility to duplicate everything on a laptop used for live use. (without having to force the bands keyboard player to buy the full version).
The support is good. Emails are replied and the product is updated now and then. Wich gives you as a customer a positive impression of the company.
Alchemy is one of my “go to” instruments. I use it for everything: pop/rock (the bulk of it), film scoring, electronic... everything. In fact I *only* use Alchemy and FM8, with a little bit of Reaktor to fill in the cracks, for "synth" sources.
I started with the demo and fell in love with its sound character. Alchemy's additive engine is great, and in combination with the spectral engine, makes the re-synthesis phenomenal, but there are a few things that need to be capitalized on to take it to a really usable level. I have a Kawai K5000S, which is what attracted me to Alchemy in the first place. Two things the K5k have, and which Alchemy could really use, are: (1) velocity-switching per source--there was a "hard" and "soft" spectrum per additive source with selectable velocity switching curves. That's really useful for creating very expressive keys. (2) The K5k also shipped with Emagic's SoundDiver, which had a really useful GUI for getting into the additive engine. Each spectrum had 4 associated boxes representing the partial level's ADSR envelope. You could easily see and edit what each partial's time evolution was in relation to all partials' evolution at a single glance. Granted the ADSR GUI described wouldn't exactly work in Alchemy because you can have a user defined number of envelope break points, but this is the *kind* of visualization tool that might be helpful in getting the most out of the additive engine. There are also some very interesting handling tools in NI’s new Razor ensemble for Reaktor. A new visualization/interface paradigm is really needed to take these engines to the next level. That being said, Alchemy is still very fun to use in its current incarnation, even if the editor is kind of clunky.
Other than the additive/spectral engines, I’ve been quite surprised by the other sound generating capacities of Alchemy. I absolutely love the VA engine! While the GUI took some getting used to compared to other VA’, the sound is fantastic, and there are some really neat modulation possibilities that are unavailable on other synths—try using the “VA/additive” mode and stack multiple saw waves in the additive editor, with different phases/detuning, then manipulate the symmetry using any number of unique performance-based modulation sources. Very interesting… As a matter of fact I only use Alchemy and Reaktor for VA duties now. Alchemy is a joy to program in VA mode, once you understand the GUI.
Another surprise is the sampler/granular mode. Granular is very powerful, useful, and innovative. A breeze to use. However, sampler mode (and by association granular) disappoints me somewhat. Alchemy is marketed as "the ultimate sample manipulation tool." Part of manipulation is playing the right sample under pre-defined conditions. To this end, it would be extremely helpful if Alchemy included an audio editing tool as well. Also, a graphical sample mapper, even a simple 2D sample map (velocity and key range) is good enough for me just to make it easy to load up your own sample map. I want a graphic representation of the zone, not a difficult to use drop down list. Then I'd have no reason to use anything else! Perhaps my disappointment with sampler/granular engine has more to do with the sample sets that I’ve used in Alchemy. I’d like to see higher quality detailed sample libraries as mangle-fodder. Things like round robin, extreme velocity layers, multisampling, and even keyswitching/scripting would put this over the top for me [edit: I suppoze the sfz format supports much of this, but I don't see a lot of evidence of its use in the Alchemy preset libraries I have]. To show this capability, Alchemy needs more bread and butter presets. I have GPO (which I like a lot), but have been eyeing the ProjectSAM stuff. I'd love to have something along those lines for Alchemy. If Alchemy was truly the "ultimate sample manipulation synthesizer," I might also be able to pare down my straight sample libraries with their multitude of third-party sample players. For me, if Alchemy just had a basic sample editor and decent mapping GUI, it would also become my *sampler* of choice. How hard is it to make a "Kontakt killer?"
The manual is useful and the growing selection of video tutorials (free! Hear that Cakewalk?) are excellent and have helped me grow in the right places! Customer support is some of the best in the business. I love the Camel Audio team—they have always been prompt, polite, and helpful with respect to my questions and requests. You can’t go wrong with Alchemy!Read more