Due to the current situation (rain, winter time) I have some time for my favorite hobby – synth programming. I’m currently comparing several machines side by side, including an Access Virus and my beloved Korg Z1.
Though all of my gadgets are based on software and provide similar architectures, they still differ at what each machine is best. Admittedly I dislike programming the Virus due to its limited architecture. However what it does provides excellent audio qualities.
The Z1 is much more flexible, providing 4 equally featured LFOs, 4 equally featured envelopes, a third oscillator called “suboscillator” which beats many other oscillators as found in other engines, two filters, a feedback loop in the mixer section, an overdrive in the global effect section, and so on.
But still the Virus can provide sounds that can’t be recreated on the Z1 – and the other way around. What makes both engines famous is the possibility to modulate several oscillator features, which is a key ingredient for creating vivid sounds with sustain level (e.g. lead and pad sounds) that do not sound “dull”. The flexibility of the oscillators distinguishes those machines from devices of the 400 € league, like the Waldorf microQ, Waldorf Blofeld, or the Alesis Micron.
Interestingly, it also sets them apart from some high end competitors I’m currently stressing. The competitor excels in other disciplines, but cannot replace either of the other two synths. However, it fills the chasm those synths still leave in my audio arsenal.
Conclusion? Synths differ. On each machine there are a fistful of sounds where it excels. And the Z1 IMO still is underrated after all those years.