Lethal VST Review (Sample Based Synthesizer)

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Lethal is the flagship rompler from newcomers Lethal Audio. Sleek, straightforward, and oriented towards the dance floor, it promises “a whole new world of sound” to the modern producer. Does it kill the competition?

Lethal ships with a core library of 3,000 instruments spread over 13 patch categories and 5GB of data. For the most part, these are synth patches. This abundance of presets brings a range of characteristics – Lethal can do pretty and atmospheric as well as aggressive and energetic sounds.

Sounds Abound

Despite the wide range of available sounds, the instrument tends to have a certain sheen that can be described as “modern” or “hi-fi” out of the box – though this can be altered with the on-board effects. The hi-fi character comes from a combination of a well-balanced frequency response with nice extension in the highs and lows, punchy transients, and an appropriately wide yet natural stereo image. The tailored frequency response also means that the sounds sit well in the mix. The presets do, however, suffer from a common problem for software synths… they’re too loud. The levels are high enough that polyphonic playing is almost guaranteed to clip until one turns down either the synth volume or their DAW fader. It would be handy for the Lethal Audio team to include some kind of global lock parameter for the master volume.

Browsing Lethal’s library is painless. The presets are categorized by type and load quickly. The specific preset names within a category are very nondescript, though, which can make it more difficult to find a specific patch. It’s easy enough to just browse until one finds what they’re looking for, but it’d be better to have more descriptive names than “Reese Bass 009.” Thankfully, the patch browser includes the option to mark sounds as favorites, which helps alleviate the preset naming issue.

The core library is expandable. Lethal Audio has not released any expansions as of yet (the product only came out a few weeks ago at the time of writing), but there is an incentive to pick it up anyway: early buyers get all expansions until June 30th, 2017 for no additional cost. This will probably extend the sonic palette considerably, and if there’s enough demand, could take Lethal in new directions within or beyond dance music.

Switch It Up

Lethal is a rompler, but it provides enough control to morph the sounds considerably. The available modulations are immediate and immediately satisfying. Lethal has separate envelopes for amplitude, pitch, and filter cutoff, each with adjustable envelope curves for natural attack swells or punchy decays. All have quite serviceable LFOs as well. The filter has selectable modes, from the standard low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass options to slightly more unusual ones like low and high shelf. It also has a drive parameter which, interestingly, can be either positive or negative, adding or subtracting additional harmonics from the filtered sound. All of these are conveniently grouped on the left side of the interface.

Along the right side of the interface are the options for more general sound shaping. There is a unison control, which oddly doesn’t include the ability to pan the unison voices. The vibrato control is useful for adding movement to some sounds, especially pads. The “drive” (separate from filter drive) and “shine” controls are great for final sound shaping, with “drive” being a saturator and “shine” being an exciter. One of the most fun inclusions, though, is polyphonic glide. Perfect for brassy synth patches, it’s a feature that is not included in synthesizers often enough.

Tabs along the bottom open up the trance gate, arpeggiator, and onboard effects. The trance gate and arpeggiator are pretty standard affairs, although the arpeggiator’s switchable octave-per-step layout encourages playful experimentation and can result in some interestingly jumpy voicings. The best part about these features is how they are handled in the context of the patch browser. Gate and arp settings are global, rather than per-preset, so if you have an interesting groove going but want to experiment with different timbres, you won’t have to painstakingly recreate those settings for each patch.

Lethal is not what one would call modulation-heavy. There is no mod matrix or vast library of LFO sources. The hardwired controls, however, do all of the essential sound-shaping functions one would normally need, and, for some perspective, give far more options than, say, a Minimoog. I suspect this is also why CPU usage can be kept to a minimum. Lethal fills its role admirably, as an immediately satisfying rompler with enough control to take its included patches into new territory.

Two Letters: FX

The included effects do a lot to make the included patches sound finished. They cover the standard bases, with chorus, phaser, flanger for modulation, distortion and bitcrushing to dirty things up, and reverb and delay to add space. The sound quality is generally good, with the chorus especially sounding smooth and deep. The delay is a fine straightforward delay, however it is always locked to tempo. The option to include non-tempo-synced delays would be a welcome and probably easy-to-implement update for a future version.

The only effect whose sound quality I didn’t care for was the reverb. It doesn’t handle short decays very well, but on longer decays the end of the reverb tail becomes metallic and ringy. In most actual use cases, one would probably send the output to an external reverb plugin anyway, but the fact that the built-in reverb is included in many patches by default makes its sound character important. It’s easy enough to turn off, though, as are all the effects, by the thoughtful inclusion of a master bypass button.

Summary

Lethal is a modern dance music rompler at heart, but with enough immediate editability and diversity of sound to be used in most genres calling for electronic sounds. The quickness with which one can call up an array of polished patches ranging from pretty to aggressive brings a fun factor to the production process. The free expansion plan could enhance possibilities even further. Overall, an incredibly promising first release from Lethal Audio.

More info: Lethal ($199)

Lethal VST Review

87%
87%
Awesome

Lethal is a modern dance music rompler at heart, but with enough immediate editability and diversity of sound to be used in most genres calling for electronic sounds. Overall, a promising first release from Lethal Audio.

  • Features
    8
  • Workflow
    10
  • Stability
    8
  • Design
    10
  • Sound
    9
  • Pricing
    7
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About The Author

Matthew Haronian is a songwriter, producer, and musician from Rhode Island. A multi-instrumentalist, he primarily plays keys, as he does in alt-pop band Eat Crepes. Matt spends his non-musical time convincing others that Rhode Island is a real US state.

16 Comments

  1. Roy Anderson on

    You know I signed up for thus blog because of the free vst and sample reviews. Increasingly reviews are for expensive plug ins and what not. The selectivity obviously means the reviews are paid for and should be indicated as such. Otherwise you’d be telling us, if it’s not the best out there what is? Just saying we should know what’s an advertisement. I don’t begrudge you making money. Just don’t be shady.

    • Hello, I’m the reviewer. These reviews are done freelance. I reviewed this plug out of my own interest in it. It was a new company and there was no info out on the net about the product, so I wanted to provide some. No money changed hands as far as I’m aware.

    • Marco Scherer on

      Roy, I’m 200% sure that BPB is not paid for reviews. As far I know no one gets paid for reviews at all (I’m working at a music magazine myself and we don’t get paid for that, so I assume it’s the same elsewhere).
      In this case the review is hot because the software was just released few days ago, so BPB may be the first platform with an extensive review. Furthermore I’m also 200% sure that more freeware reviews will come, because BPB loves freeware! :D

    • Tomislav Zlatic on

      As for the reviews, they are done on a voluntary basis by a team of talented writers who are contributors to BPB (you’ll find more info about each writer in the footer section below). There’s absolutely no money involved and the reviews fully reflect the author’s opinion about the product.

      BPB started like a website that is completely focused on freeware, but after a while I felt that adding some content about commercial software would be more than useful for fellow music producers. It also keeps things more interesting for me because I felt a bit tired after five years writing only about freeware VSTs (I always wanted to create something that’s more of an online magazine than a blog). The way things are at the moment, the contributors (Matt, Bryan, Sendy, D Smolken, Sami, Travis, and the others) and their excellent work definitely help making BPB an even more informative resource, and more than “just” a blog about freeware. My own work on the site is still 90% dedicated to freeware and I’m trying to feature every excellent bit of freeware in our news section. There’s also some other freeware related stuff in the works.

  2. Hey !
    Whats wrong here? I purchased this garbage and can def say it´s not even worth 5 bucks. Pure Garbage ! I want a refund from leathal audio for this nexus ripp off ! Also i figured that nearly 80% of the sounds are just stolen from nexus. I will inform RE-FX about whats going on. They must have paid you for the review!

    WARNING !! DO NOT BUY THIS CRAP!

    • Tomislav Zlatic on

      We were not paid for this (or any other) review and we are not affiliated with Lethal Audio in any way. This review reflects the author’s opinion about the plugin.

    • I’ve just finished playing with this thing for 2 straight days and can say that it indeed is AWESOME and well worth the money. The sounds are quality – bass, lead, synth are all top shelf. Others I would rate good to excellent. This is my new EDM workhorse. For some it may be a little pricey, but for me it’s a no-brainer and for EDM producers it’s a bargain.

      @SUPERSTARO, the sounds in this beast are hardly a rip-off of anything, least of all Nexus, which has been outdated for a long time (as a Nexus owner this is one of the reason’s I made the jump to buy Lethal). If you don’t like the product why don’t you just ask the company for a refund, rather than spout rubbish here? That is, unless you work for Nexus :P

  3. I don’t understand why someone would fork over $200 for a product they can’t demo before purchasing!

  4. I have bought Lethal but haven’t had the time to try it out yet. I found a review at You Tube promising, and Musicradar also made a review. This is why I decided to buy Lethal. Now, there are more and more reviews ! And the Lethal support team is very helpful !
    My opinion is that unless you have 100% evidence a review is “indoctrinared” because it was payed for, such accusations are extremely unfair and should I say rude ? I also believe a company will only survive in short term would their reviews be indeed influenced, I expect and believe Lethalaudio is more clever than that !
    B.M. Belgium

  5. Lethal is very modern and great sounding ROMpler synthesizer.
    I bought a lot of soft-synthesizer and plugins, which are currently on the market – some very expensive and not really usable.
    About Lethal I must say, that most of presets included are really useful for each production.
    And yes, some fat presets sound like from Nexus2, but not the same … And that’s just as well! At least all productions will not sound the same.
    Actually, everyone is on the hunt for something new. I would say that one never has enough new synthesizers, presets and sounds.
    What I would still like to see for the future from LethalAudio, are resizable GUI, stand-alone version and of course even more “hot” presets. Let’s see how many “Free Expansion Packs” coming until the June 2017 …
    The price is more than okey – finally can not be offered everything free which is good. The programmers and designers must live from something …
    How many of you have ever download free program, synths, plugins and donated nothing?!?
    And for all here: No, I’m not paid for advertising by Lethal! ;-)
    Let yourself be inspired!

  6. @ALL DEMO FANS & SCEPTICS:
    Now you can try it & enjoy it! … they make a no time limit Demo of Lethal Synth! with 100 Presets! & also first Expansions Pack: X01 HIP HOP is out.
    ;-)

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