There are two synths everyone should have in their recording studio: The Minimoog and the Prophet 5. Fortunately, there are affordable software emulations, such as Repro-5, which I reviewed not long ago.
The Legend from Synapse Audio ranks alongside Repro-5, in my personal opinion, as one of the very best virtual analog instruments on the VST market.
While Repro-5 is a convincing recreation of the Prophet-5, The Legend is an equally convincing recreation of the Minimoog Model D, which was originally released by R.A. Moog in 1970, and has been re-released only twice since 2002, not including the hardware clones igniting controversy throughout the vintage analog community.
The front panel is painfully familiar, albeit beautifully designed. We have three VCOs, one we can use as a modulation source for oscillator pitch and/or filter frequency, two filter modes, each with 12/24 dB per-octave attenuation, feedback and drive circuits available in the mixer, as well as a pink/white noise generator, amp, and filter envelopes, and a small handful of additional controls for tuning, glide, voicing, unison detuning and a spread control that will pan the four voices apart in both poly and unison modes.
On the back panel, we have the second page of controls we can use to fine-tune the analog character, as well as a tempo-synchronized delay and a versatile reverb effect down below. The “Global” controls are all pretty common, such as the mono modes for “retrigger” and legato, pitch-bend range, and the note priority modes for low and last note priority. But the “round robin” mode (which is set to low-note priority in mono mode) only works in the polyphonic mode when the spread parameter is turned up.
Also, there’s another option to switch between two model revisions; I’m guessing they’re modeled after the original Model D and the 2002 Voyager reissue. There is a meaningful difference between the two, but you might require an oscilloscope to observe that difference on the waveform level.
In the “Modulation” section, you can fine-tune the level of oscillator pitch and filter frequency modulation via the modulation switches on the front panel and adjust the response of the modulation wheel with the “Shape” knob, blending smoothly between linear and exponential growth curves.
In the “Oscillators” section, you can feign the behavior of out of tune circuitry using keyboard tracking and “drift” parameters. In the “Filter” section, you can fine-tune the range of filter cutoff and resonance, and you can also control asymmetric effects in the analog modeled filter circuit, which is a little more obvious when driven into saturation via the saturation knob in the “Amplifier” section; the symmetry knob allows you to adjust the balance of odd/even-order harmonics appearing at the filter output.
The “Performance” section has a small matrix with three slots, each with modulation source and target fields for MIDI performance controllers (aftertouch, expression, velocity, footswitch, and timbre) and four destination parameters (amplifier volume, modulation amount, filter cutoff and filter envelope amount).
I won’t bore you with the superfluous details of the synchronized delay and reverb effects since all of the basic controls are more or less standard fare. I do think it would be nice to have un-synchronized delay times, even though I’m certain the good people at Synapse audio will include that feature in a forthcoming update. Also, I’m very impressed with the reverb, which is capable of a wide variety of acoustic spaces, with decay times ranging from six-hundred milliseconds to a minute… or infinity!
There’s also an effect version named “The Legend FX” (included with the installer) allowing you to use the analog modeled filters, saturation, feedback, global drive, and the reverb and delay with third-party instruments on a send bus or as a channel insert. You can also trigger the filter and amp envelopes with external MIDI notes, or even play the oscillators and the noise generator if you care to switch them on.
There are almost seven hundred factory patches in a few basic categories (BASS, CHORDS, LEADS, POLY, SFX and VINTAGE) including “Classic Patches” from Klaus P. Rausch – and over 200 patches from my personal hero Kevin Schroeder, who I feel is among the very best sound designers around. Also, Kevin has released an additional high-quality soundset for The Legend (through Synapse Audio) called “Modern Analog”, with 80 lovely patches I’m sure you’ll want to include to the factory library.
As a lowly “bedroom producer”, I’m afraid I can’t afford expensive hardware instruments, so I don’t really have the hands-on familiarity with the Minimoog I’m sure a lot of more experienced synthesists obviously do, but there are a few convincing comparison videos on YouTube (including this one) that demonstrate just how closely The Legend emulates the Model D… which is uncanny!
While it doesn’t have as broad of a modulation range as Repro-5, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a Minimoog emulation. The Model D was originally released in 1970 and the Prophet-5 was released in 1978. The Prophet has eight years of research and development on the Minimoog. Having said that, when it comes to “phatness”, I think The Legend really delivers in that area, especially since you have three oscillators at your disposal here as opposed to Repro’s simpler two-oscillator model.
Of course, I could never choose one over the other. I think you should have them both! It just makes sense to me that you’d want a Prophet-5 and a Minimoog in your studio. They are two very different beasts for different occasions, and I think they both recreate the magic of their analog counterparts.
More info: The Legend (89 EUR)
Synapse Audio The Legend Review
The Legend really delivers in the "phatness" area, especially since you have three oscillators at your disposal. It is certainly one of the most authentic Model D emulations around.