Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crystal - Creativity is the limit!

Today I want, once again, to feature a VST Sythesizer, which crossed my path just recently. I am talking about Green Oak's Crystal. First: This Synthsizer is nothing for beginners, at least if you don't want to use the quite extensive presetbank only. For all to knobfiddlers, soundmanglers and mad axe murderers of audio synthesis, that masterpiece of a Synth is just right. To list all features of Crystal would really be too much. Some of you allready told me, that I am writing too long features. But here are the most important facts. For the sake of my own lazyness, I simply quote from the Green Oak Website and hope they do not sue my ass over it ;)

Crystal features both subtractive synthesis and frequency modulation (FM) synthesis. It offers abundant modulation control with over 90 parameters which may be modulated, multi-stage envelopes with graphical editors, extensive tempo sync of envelopes/lfo rates/delay times, built-in effects for chorus/flanging/comb filtering/echoes, and a band splitter for effects processing by frequency band. Not only that, Crystal has wave sequencing and granular synthesis. (Source:

Ok, so far for what Green Oak themself say about the Crystal VST Synthesizer. I really want to point at some features I find really interesting and important at that Synth. The builtin comb filter comes in handy for each and every sound massacre. The so called mixer section does not only at the start look complicated and promises much fun. Here it is, where outerdimensional sounds get their final dose of madness.

And now to the... errrm... THING I love most about the Crystal VST: The Breed-Function! Did you ever breed sounds? So theres Mama Sound and Papa Sound and when they make love, then there is Baby Sound... OR MONSTERSOUND! Hmm, how can a MONSTERSOUND happen, if Mama Sound doesn't smoke, drink and eat funny pills during pregnancy? Well, unfortunately, there's that nuclear plant right next to Mama and Papa sounds house... What? Has Sonny finally gone mad? What is he talking about? Yes, dear friends, all I just wrote makes indeed sense. With Crystal, you can breed sounds. And indeed you select a mothersound and fathersound (both existing presets) and from those a new sound is generated. The new sound is not just a mix of the parents, but is deformed more or less by the influence of a mutation parameter. And here we are at the nuclear plant topic, which kicks in, if you increase the value of the "mutation" control. Because not just the mixing of the parentsounds, but also the mutation value influence all of the countless parameters of the VST, there are also unviable and totally crippled results of breeding sounds. Well it's not allways a good idea to build nuclear plants next to a obstetrical clinic ;) But is is indeed possible to create nice (or not so nice) sounds using that Synthesizer and it's Breed Function. You just have to click a few more times, compared to Oatmeal with it's outstanding randomize functionality, to get usefull results. But it is by far easier than with the randomize functionalities of most VST Synthesizers. And unless you do increase the mutation value too musch, the monstrosities will be not too many.

Quality: On my setup/machine/DAW Crystal did freeze the DAW a few times. This means it crashed fataly. It doesn't happen very often, but still it is a good idea to often save your work. The CPU load was a tiny bit high here. No wonder if you imgine what goes on in that Synth. The memory usage is quite moderate. If your PC is not too ancient, Crystal should run well on your machine. I think a Pentium II or better should do the job. The graphical user interface of Crystal is quite complicated and especially newcomers will have a hard time to understand it. Many users will give up when they see the chaotic/cryptic mixer section, and that's a pitty.

Conclusion: The level of creativity (and patience) is really the only limit, if you use the Crystal VST Synthesizer and it's vast possibilities of sound manipulation. With it's Breed Function, this Synthesizer brings a completely new way to create new astounding sounds with just a few mouseclicks and it promises many hours of fun. This Synthesizers should not be missing in the arsenals,especially of soundfiddlers. Because of the many presets and the many free downloadable presetbanks, Crystal is also suitable for presetusers.


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