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Review: SSS-Polysynth and VC-SSS-3 by Square Saw Sound

Square Saw Sound has created a stunning pair of Kontakt libraries for their launch. Based on the incredibly rare EMS VCS3 and the EMS Polysynthi, these libraries will produce sounds you are very unlikely to find anywhere else. In the case of the Polysynthi, only 30 of the units were ever produced which makes this an incredible find by Square Saw Sound to preserve this amazing instrument in time. This is Square Saw Sound's first release, and it has me incredibly exciting for where they'll be going in future releases! Buy each of these libraries now from Square Saw Sound for only £79 until November 30th, 2018.

Before we dive into the details and the review, just take a listen to a demo video I did of the SSS-Polysynth. The sounds are simply stunning, and this was only my first stab playing with the library.

The Tech Specs

First lets take a look at the specs of the SSS-Polysynth:

  • 213 multi-sampled patches

  • 186 looped sequences

  • 184 SFX

  • 150 Kontakt instrument presets

  • Tritone sampling for a realistic yet compact library (~9GB)

  • Over 6,000 samples!

  • Perfectly precise loop points

  • Powerful and beautiful GUI

The feature list for the VC-SSS-3 is very similar to the SSS-Polysynth, but lets take a look anyways:

  • 207 multi-sampled patches

  • 248 looped sequences

  • 412 SFX

  • 150 Kontakt instrument presets

  • Tritone sampling for a realistic yet compact library (~5GB)

  • ~5,000 Samples!

  • Perfectly precise loop points

  • Powerful and beautiful GUI

Let me define some of the details of that just in case you aren't familiar with how sample libraries work. When you sample an instrument you can sample every note, you can sample multiple loudness values for every note, you can sample every other note, or diatonically, or even just one note for the entire keyboard - you can make long samples, short samples with loops, or rhythmic samples. How you sample an instrument largely depends on the type of instrument and in this case I think Square Saw Sound did an excellent job deciding how to sample it.

They've done whats called tritone sampling (where you sample every 3rd note), this makes it so a sample is never stretched more than +-1 note which retains the realism of the instrument, but you shrink your library down by a factor of 3. In addition to this the sample length stays under the 10 second mark, with zero-crossing loop points on every sample. This means that square saw sound manually set the loops for every sample to ensure perfect loops would occur when you sustain the note.

I apologize if i'm boring you to death, but those of us who make our own instruments love hearing this kind of information. For the rest of you, just know that Square Saw Sound thought about this library for a long time before creating it and pulled it off in exactly the right way without sacrificing quality one bit.

SSS-Polysynth and VC-SSS-3 GUI's

Square Saw Sound has done an excellent job maintaining the original feel of the originals while crafting a very easy to use GUI. Both instruments share an identical interface in terms of the user interaction, with tons of controls at your fingertips. The libraries have an integrated preset selection tool to switch sounds, in addition to the 150 saved preset .nki files. Instead of utilizing the built-in Kontakt tabbed interface Square Saw Sound has scripted a custom tabbed interface with furthers the immersion and ease of use of the libraries.

Take a look at the SSS-Polsynth and compare it to the original EMS-Polysynthi below it:

Square Saw Sound SSS-Polysynth
EMS-Polysynthi

The VC-SSS-3 retains the same layout as the SSS-Polysynth, but maintains characteristics of the original EMS-VCS3. Compare those two below:

Square Saw Sound VC-SSS-3
EMS VCS3 Synth

Both of the libraries feature a common GUI layout and feature-set. If you're familiar with subtractive synthesizers you'll feel right at home with common parameters like:

  • Multi-mode filter

  • Volume and Filter ADSR's

  • Pitch Envelope

  • Volume and Filter LFO's

  • Portamento (glide)

On the main screen they've also featured tape saturation, a limited, stereo width, and a DBD envelope. Again, this is just the main screen of the GUI - Square Saw Sound has also included a snazzy tabbed interface with an effects screen and an arpeggiator screen.

The effects tab features chorus, phaser, flanger, bitcrusher, compression, tube distortion, delay, rotary, convolution reverb, cabinet simulation, and preamp drive. Pretty much every Kontakt effect you would think you put on a synthesizer dressed up in an easy-to-use and pleasing-to-the-eye GUI.

The arpeggiator is pretty standard for Kontakt. It features the common Kontakt table controller, with an octave selection, rate control, table grid step selection control, and note duration control. There are also several presets you can load for it. Again just to remind you, the interface shown is the SSS-Polysynth but it is functionally identical in the VC-SSS-3.

Square Saw Sound... Sounds

Lets take an exploration into the sounds of these libraries before I dive into my review of them. Here's the two exploring the sounds demo videos:

The Review

I'm going to mix it up in this review and instead of breaking it down into metrics with an individual score for each, i'm going to go for a pro/con breakdown and share my overall impressions of the libraries as a combined package.

Pros

  • Gigantic library of raw sounds and presets (~11,000 samples)

  • Easy and Elegant GUI

  • Great use of sampling to minimize library size without quality loss

  • Incredibly rare instruments, never seen in Kontakt before

  • Inclusion of looped and SFX sounds

  • Great price

  • One of the best Kontakt synthesizer's i've played with

Cons

  • Utilizes saved .nki's instead of snapshots, giving a slower loading time

  • Many loop sources are similar, or don't add much value

Overall Square Saw Sound has done an incredible job with these libraries. The raw sounds were captured in an incredibly detailed way, maintaining both the flexibility of pure sounds and the realism of sounds created on the synths. The instruments they chose truly sculpt their own place in the market, and I can't find any other sample libraries of them. Both libraries have a great selection of presets in plethora, and feature incredibly easy to use GUI's that give the vibe of the original hardware. Everything about this library screams high quality, and high attention to detail - in other words you can tell Square Saw Sound spent a ton of time creating this.

The only downsides I can think of these libraries are that the .nki method of saving presets causes an increased loading time, and that many of the loop sounds don't add much value in the whole package. In my opinion the loop sound sources were a bonus already, so this one I can forgive entirely. The .nki method of saving presets is common, but personally I prefer the snapshot method since the loading times are drastically decreased - however there are reasons for using the .nki method, one being that moving snapshots to the correct folder is something the customer's must do on their own (unless the library is licensed for Kontakt Player).

I'm incredibly impressed with these libraries, and I wouldn't be surprised if either of them end up being my go-to Kontakt synth library for analog synth sounds. If this is an indication of how Square Saw Sound will continue with releases in the future, I believe they will become one of the leading Kontakt developers over time.

Ranking:

5/5 Stars

Buy it!


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