Last week, my friends at Tone2 released their latest virtual analog synth Saurus. I'm a huge fan of Galdiator and was a beta-tester for ElextraX – both of which are all over my last two albums - so I was very excited to see what their take on a streamlinked modelled analog synth would be.
I’ve been playing and programming it almost with almost every free moment since it released. Here are some things I really love about Saurus:
- Great sounding circuit-level oscillator and filter models, especially the filter feedback and drive
- Waveform morphing with PW changes
- Easy on your CPU compared to other synths that model at the circuit level and instances share resources so you can insert many instances into a set without audio dropout
- Straight forward and tweakable interface (Tone2 made great choices on what to include)
- Killer modulation matrix with some cool new sources like the “x” modifier, voice output
- A new take on ElectraX’s arp and gate where both are combined into one interface
- LFO’s that run at audio rate (just use the mod matrix to patch LFO to Osc Pitch and you have FM)
- Basic but solid essential built-in FX (Chorus, Reverb, Delay)
- A fresh take on noise on both oscillators with morphable FM/AM noise source
- Pink and white noise as a modulation source in the matrix
- The factory patches sound great and since they heavily use the mod matrix – they also provide great insight into how to take advantage of the new modulation features. I’m learning a lot just by reviewing the mappings.
Some things I would like to see in an update:
- Add FX params as modulation targets
- Add the “\” arp step type for note glide as implemented in ElectraX
- Add a comb filter type
Who’s It For
I think Saurus is a great synth for up-and-coming producers and synthesists because it straight forward and follows a classic workflow. It’s also only $119 US which is a great value.
Seasoned players are going to love the sonic range, tweakability, and low CPU usage. As a controllerist, I find it super expressive when mapping it to my Novaiton RemoteSL MK II Keyboard in an Ableton Instrument Rack.
A buy is a no brainer and this just might become your goto subtractive virtual analog.
This is video of a single patch improvisation I recorded in one pass with no edits using a single instance of Saurus. I only use the built-in effects. I start with a factory patch in the "Lead" bank called "1970s Soloist H". I only touch the computer once during the performance in the middle to turn up the gain in the mod matrix so that LFO modulates pitch. Prior to recording I mapped all sorts of parameters to my Novation Remote SL MK II Keyboard:
- XY map to Filter and Rez
- Bank 1 of the top 8 knobs are mapped to filter parameters and OSC Balance
- Bank 2 of top 8 knobs are mapped to effects parameters
- Bottom row 8 knobs are MIDI mapped to Oscillator noise type AM/FM, LFO Speed, Glide rate
- The first 4 sliders map to the volume ADSR
- The next 4 sliders map to filter ADSR
I used my projector to paint my wall with Saurus to the knob movement you see on the wall is in real-time and corresponds to my controller movement.
The demo MP3s don't do Saurus justice. I recommend you download the demo and try it yourself. Make sure you try velocity, aftertouch, mod and pitch wheels on every patch.
Grab the demo here http://www.tone2.com/html/saurus_synthesizer__vst_au.html.
Full disclosure –while I did get an NFR copy of the software, I don’t benefit financially if you buy Saurus. I’m just a big fan of both Saurus and Tone2.
Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician & Multimedia Artist | Sr. Systems Analyst | Founder of the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup