Baby Audio has released BA-1 ($49), an analog-modeled synth plugin based on the Yamaha CS01 hardware synthesizer.
BA-1 is Baby Audio’s first synth, so it’s a particularly special release for the developer behind plugins like Crystalline and TAIP.
As an 80s synth fanatic and avid user of Baby Audio plugins, I was particularly excited by this news.
When we hear the words cult 80s synthesizer, one synth comes to mind before all others: the Yamaha CS01.
OK, maybe it’s not the first synth that comes to mind, but if we spoke about 80s synths long enough, we’d get there.
The thing I love about the CS01 is that it’s so unassuming; it looks more like a toy than a serious bit of gear. But this often-forgotten and underestimated little synth produces some truly epic sounds.
BA-1 stays pretty faithful to the original concept but offers more flexibility with enhanced recreations of original features.
When I say enhanced recreations of original features, the enhancements aren’t the kind to take you off in an entirely new direction but rather keep you on the same track with deeper sound design capabilities.
For example, in the oscillator section, we get two oscillators with a handy X-Fade slider rather than a single oscillator like the CS01. We also get a third FM-based oscillator that allows you to experiment further while maintaining a remarkably 80s sound.
Another example of Baby Audio catering to modern sound designers is the ability to sync the Envelope’s Attack and the LFO to the host DAW’s BPM.
Once we get past the original, albeit enhanced, sections, we get a beautifully 80s effects section.
The built-in effects include Tone, Drive, Delay, Reverb, and Chorus. The effects, for the most part, are inspired by cheap rack effects of the era, which adds some of that it’s so bad it’s good authenticity. The Chorus effect is an adapted version of a classic Juno-style chorus.
Other features include a Sidechain with Internal and External routing modes and an advanced patch randomizer, Re-Gen.
Baby Audio also added a few quirky but useful features, like the option to switch between line and speaker output, perfectly capturing the essence of a cheap, low-quality CS01 speaker in all its glory.
My favorite of the quirky features is the ability to adjust the Battery level of the synth.
Like many smaller synths, the CS01 was (optionally) battery-powered, and when the batteries drained, the sound quality followed. A low battery introduced incredible inconsistencies of all kinds, and when you drop the BA-1 battery level, you can hear the sound start to really struggle, and I love it.
The resizable interface looks great; it’s retro like the original and has four color scheme options.
BA-1 has over 500 presets across seven categories: Brass/Strings, Bass, Pads, Leads, Plucks/Arps, Keys/Organs, Synth/Drones, and SFX/Perc.
Two of my early favorites are Poisoned Synth Strings and Sell Your Rolx Buy A Jupiter.
I’m still in the new toy phase with BA-1, and I really like it; well done, and congratulations to Baby Audio on the first synth!
BA-1 is available in AU, VST, VST3, and AAX formats for macOS (10.7 up) and Windows (7 up).
More info: Baby Audio BA-1 ($49)