Welcome to another edition of This Thing Rules… I should call this one These Things Rule because I’m doubling up this time and reviewing 2 excellent pieces of software from Applied Accoustics Systems (the makers of the also excellent Chromaphone which I reviewed last year): Lounge Lizard EP-4 and Ultra Analog VA-2. As always, make sure you listen to the music sample up above. To be honest I had a little trouble coming up with a way to combine just these two into a piece of music, so I decided that this time around I’d just use them as the main instruments and allow a little extra sources to complete the song. In this case it’s the drums that didn’t come from either of these pieces of software. Everything else, however, is done with either Lounge Lizard or Ultra Analog. Also, since these are very different sound sources, I figured something kind of hip-hop would be the right way to combine them, since when it comes to hip-hop, there are kind of no rules as long as you can bob your head to it and it sounds good. I think I did a pretty good job…
As for the software itself, lets tackle them one at a time. Lounge Lizard EP-4 is kind of exactly what it sounds like… a virtual electric piano with lots of cool authentic Rhodes & Wurlitzer keys, as well as uniquely different sounding presets that provide a twist on these classic sounds. As far as sound quality goes, this thing could easily be used in a live atmosphere. The sounds are rich, and it uses a surprisingly small amount of memory, allowing for greater flexibility when you start layering the keys. And in the studio, the presets are categorized in a way that makes finding sounds very easy. Another plus is that everything loads super snappy making sound selection a quick, smooth process. Most of the track up above is made of Lounge Lizard sounds.
The other piece of software is Ultra Analog VA-2, which is a beautifully powerful software synthesizer. It offers all the features and options you would hope for in a classic synthesizer, with tons of presets and effects to play with to get the sound you’re looking for. The sounds range from keys, pads and synth leads to rhythmic percussion loops and and beautiful ambient tones. It also shares Lounge Lizard’s super fast and efficient interface. Another great advantage of these two are their options for expansion. There are many official expansion packs available for them at dirt cheap prices, and a community of members that share new presets. I actually picked up a couple of the expansions during the Xmas sales and there is some great stuff to choose from. Loading the expansions and presets is dead simple, and with this smooth interface, everything is super quick.
These are both great packages and I can definitely recommend either one to anyone looking to expand their virtual instrument arsenal. I would say though, that while Ultra Analog is a really cool synth, most likely you already have some great software synthesizers, so if you’re just going to check out one, I’d definitely make it Lounge Lizard. The quality of the more traditional sounds are excellent and the ability to dial in new versions of the classics really give it an edge. Ultra Analog and Lounge Lizard are both available for $199 each at the time of this blog post, so if you’re making music, go check them out!