AAS Ultra Analog VA-2 Review


There’s one thing that immediately jumps out at me with Ultra Analog VA-2 – the GUI seems to be inspired by the Korg Volca series, with a cute, diminutive set of knobs and labeling. The sound immediately strikes me as very pleasing and artifact-free, and the presets are excellent.

Micro Edits

Yes, the base sound and audio engine sounds great, but I have some problems with the GUI. There’s no doubt that it has that analog “atmosphere” covered – it really does remind me of my Volcas! But for me, it’s about as small as it could possibly be before becoming unusable. I have fairly good eyesight, but they really are pushing it here. If your eyesight is a fraction worse than mine, or you just don’t like small fonts and controls, you may be out of luck.

My other issue with the GUI is the tabbing system. While the original Ultra Analog seems to be a single-page affair with smart and eye-engaging colour coded blocks for each part of the synth, the sequel has dropped us into a maze of grey tabs. The placement of the knobs is excellent – and I like how we have bigger pots with a rubbery looking rim for the more important parameters – but why so much grey?

See also: KV331 Audio SynthMaster Review!

Individual components are turned on and off with a light that you can click on. The size of this element: two pixels by seven or so. The colour: light green on light grey. At first I didn’t even see them! Luckily you don’t have to click right within that two pixel width to operate them, but it still boggles my mind that they are almost camouflaged.

My final gripe with the GUI is the partial redundancy of the tabbing system. On the left are the basic oscillator, filter, LFO and envelope controls (with tabs to switch between two sets of them as Ultra Analog VA-2 has a dual-lane synth architecture). On the right there are a further thirteen tabs for detailed editing of each block of the synth which brings up the complete set of controls for that block, whilst keeping the basic controls for the entire synth on the left.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s certainly not unintuitive. It just means there’s often a fair bit of repeated information on the page; plus for detailed editing you’re going to be tabbing around a bit – for example, when tweaking two aspects of the synth together to get them just right.

Ok, I’ve griped a lot about the GUI, but to me it really seems to be a shame and somewhat interrupts my workflow. I can understand effects and performance controls being on a different tab, but the synth architecture in Ultra Analog VA-2 isn’t exactly complex and would really benefit from being taken in all in one glance.

Under The Hood

Now that I’ve got that off of my chest, let’s talk about the sounds. It’s a basic, fixed modulation, dual lane synth design. Oscillators feature sawtooth, square/PWM, sine and noise modes. There are a few things lacking – envelope modulation of the pulse width, a triangle wave, ring modulation – but they sound good, have hard-sync, and a ramp generator which can make pitch and sync sweeps which is a welcome addition.

It’s also sad that there’s no inbuilt pitch slop in the oscillators. You can dial in a random pitch instability, but this is assigned at note-on, and doesn’t change until you play another one. So if you want that subtle, wandering beating between oscillators that analog is famous for, you’ll have to use an LFO on random mode. It seems like they missed a trick here, as the oscillators sound great with a bit of this added – it’s just a shame that you have to use up an LFO and each LFO can only modulate its dedicated oscillator. There is a master pitch LFO in the performance tab, but this is for vibrato duties, offering only a sine wave.

While analysing the output I also noticed rather a lot of DC offset in some of the patches. I’ve pinpointed this as coming from the pulse waves, which seem to have a “wandering” DC element. If you don’t know what DC is, it is the very low (near zero) frequency content created when a waveform doesn’t oscillate around zero, and playing several notes can cause it to pile up, creating useless energy which ideally needs to be filtered out with a high pass filter before further processing. That said, many people have used this synth and not mentioned this, so you may not consider it a problem.

The final gripe I have under the hood was very slight glitches in the audio. Sometimes, modulating the filter above its maximum frequency – for example, by having a high cutoff and positive envelope modulation – would cause a slight high frequency pop. Sometimes when automating the cutoff frequency gently, I’d get the odd note with a filter profile that didn’t match the others. These oddities could be considered flavouring as they’re not show-stoppers and sometimes add a slightly “alive” or organic quality to the sound.

Positive Modulation

The positives here are good alias-free oscillators, very characterful filters (I liked particularly the high-pass and formant filters), excellent and comprehensive effects, plus the lack of a modulation matrix is made up for by a smart MIDI learn feature which allows you to bracket in modulations between a minimum and maximum range – something that I was very grateful for.

The filters also break out of the dual-lane mould by allowing series and parallel routings, and it’s nice to see some modulation options for the resonance control, allowing you to change the characteristics of the filter quite drastically, for example, with keytracking. The envelopes are very punchy and have some extra parameters such as different loop modes and an additional sustain time. The manual is also excellent, very in-depth, and would be ideal for those new to synthesis as well as those just looking to learn what this one can do.


Ultra Analog VA-2 is a synth with a lot of potential. The base sound of the oscillators and filters is very good and it has its own sound, somewhat Juno-esque. With no modulation matrix and a fixed two-lane architecture, modulation is limited; but the presets are testament to the fact that it’s capable of a vast variety of rich textures.

For the price, I figure this is something that you should check out yourself. I personally feel like they’ve missed quite a few tricks, and with so much competition out there, this isn’t a synth I’d tell people to rush out and buy. On the other hand, some of the things I’ve griped about may be a non-issue to you. Do check out the demo or at least listen to some sound examples, because it has a certain sound which may be just what you were looking for, and it has a good sound quality to CPU usage ratio.

More info: Ultra Analog VA-2 ($199)

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AAS Ultra Analog VA-2 Review


Ultra Analog VA-2 is a synth with a lot of potential. The base sound of the oscillators and filters is very good and it has its own sound, somewhat Juno-esque. With no modulation matrix and a fixed two-lane architecture, modulation is limited; but the presets are testament to the fact that it's capable of a vast variety of rich textures.

  • Features
  • Workflow
  • Performance
  • Design
  • Sound
  • Pricing
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About Author

Sendy has been making music in her bedroom since she was 14 using computers, synthesizers, samplers, and whatever else was at hand. She does not subscribe to any one genre but enjoys energetic, constantly changing rhythms, disorienting synthesizer manipulations, and heroic chiptune melodics.


  1. Nice and honest review.
    I don’t think it was Volca inspires though, since they came out around the same time. Furthermore, what’s worth a mention is the fact that this synth is largely the same as the Ableton Analog synth. People who already have that, should probably not spend money on this synth.

  2. Johnny White


    Very good review, instructive to me, I appreciate it. I like the sounds of this synth, but the price–compare to Zebra2, Diva, Lush, Dune2, etc–is much too high.

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