Hollow Sun String Synths KONTAKT | 102 Mb
Pre-dating polyphonic synths by some years, string synthesisers used electronic organ 'divide-down' technology to provide a totally polyphonic sawtooth waveform. This was then typically fed through a simple, two stage envelope shaper offering just attack and release and then onto an analogue 'bucket brigade' chorus unit to produce the 'ensemble' effect. They effectively replaced the noble Mellotron as a portable string section as they were FAR more reliable and, errmmm, more portable!
There were several manufacturers producing string synths that utilised the same basic technique in the mid to late '70s - Elka, Crumar and others and later on, Yamaha, Roland and Korg - but it was the ARP String Ensemble that was perhaps the best known. But that in itself was derived from the Eminent 310, an organ from a little known Dutch manufacturer that featured a great string synth sound (Jean-Michel Jarre used an Eminent 310 on his early albums often through an Electro-harmonix Small Stone phaser pedal for his signature sound on the early albums).
Eminent faced tough competition in a competitive market and were battling it out with the likes of Hammond, Farfisa, Vox not to mention Japanese manufacturers and they went through many troubled times. In an attempt to overcome these financial difficulties, they released a dedicated string machine under the 'Solina' brand name.
The Solina String Ensemble was to become a legend amongst certain keyboard players (mostly European) as one of the first string synths available. It retained many of the characteristics of the original 310 sound but in a compact, portable format. However, this small Dutch company didn't have the marketing clout to make the global impact this instrument so richly deserved. American synth giant ARP bought in or licenced the technology and it formed the basis of their own String Ensemble (and later Omni, Omni II and Quadra synths).
Instead of having various presets in various combinations, each instrument now features a complete control panel so that you can create your own unique combinations pretty much like using 'the real thing'. Each instruments' functionality is spread across three panels - MASTER, CONTROL PANEL and EFFECTS.
In MASTER, you can set 'global' functions such as velocity sensitivity and curve, note range, pitch bend range and master tuning and transpose.
In CONTROL PANEL, you can mix and layer the sounds, combining 16', 8' and 4' octaves (depending on the instruments) to create massive sounds. In some instruments, you can layer different sounds. There's also a simple tone control that allows to coax all the commonly heard string synth sounds and some new ones and there's also simple envelope control of attack and release. This control panel really does make these instruments behave just like the originals - if not better ... most old string synths only allowed you to switch the different octaves on or off whereas these allow you to mix them in variable amounts.
In EFFECTS, you can add a phase shifter effect with variable amount and speed and you can add (or remove) delay and reverb.
Any settings you make can, of course, be saved for future recall and it is possible for a knobby hardware controller to 'learn' these controls for an even more hands-on experience.