Full Bucket Music has released Kern, a streamlined freeware virtual analogue synthesizer VSTi plugin which was designed to be fully controllable by a wide range of standard MIDI controller keyboards.
OK, so a MIDI controlled virtual instrument, what’s so new about that? Well, the thing with Kern (as opposed to pretty much all virtual instruments out there) is that it was built specifically in such a way to be fully controllable by most standard MIDI controller keyboard models (for example, it is 100% compatible with my cheap Oxygen 49 keyboard). It comes with a reduced feature set which should make it possible to control every single parameter of the synthesis engine with a MIDI controller. The plugin also includes two alternative user panels, with varying amounts of on-screen sliders and knobs.
As for the available synthesis features, things are not quite as basic as they might seem on first look. For example, the developer has included two different zero-delay feedback low-pass filter types, a standard clean sounding one and a really cool dirty filter which distorts quite easily and sounds really good on all sorts of bass and lead patches. Other than that, Kern packs a couple of oscillators with hard sync and FM, volume and filter envelopes (although the filter envelope is just a simple AD affair), an LFO module, a built-in chorus effect and an additional set of modulation amount controls. Of course, MIDI learn is also available.
Perhaps most importantly, Kern sounds really good. And I mean REALLY good. It is a simple synthesizer and all, but I’d always rather pick a streamlined instrument which sounds really good, than a feature-packed monster synthesizer with bad sounding filters and thin oscillators. The filters on this one sound amazing (check out the demo video below for instant proof!). Full Bucket Has made some really good synthesizers in the past (Ragnarök being the most recent one) and Kern is no exception by any means. I currently use Tyrell N6 and Charlatan (recently updated to v.20) as the main instruments in my live setup, but I’ll definitely be giving Kern a try.
Check out the Kern demo video:
Kern is available for free download via Full Bucket Music (870 KB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit & 64-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows).