Synthcore 2 is one of the most powerful analog emulation synthesizers ever made, based on features from the OSCAR and Waldorf Q (both of which, as you may know, were discontinued because they were too expensive to build in hardware). The monophonic version is now available for free download in Windows 32/64, Mac OS X, and open-source Cycling'74 Max 7 code.

Synthcore 2.3 Panel
Synthcore 2.3 Panel

Main Features and Architecture

  • 3 oscillators, with feedback, FM, four kinds of sync, phase control, ring modulation, and dual output mixing; 61 morphing waveforms, including: pulse, saw, and triangle oscillators with newest EPTR anti-aliasing technology; Karplus physical modeling; multiple filtered noise options; 48 cross-sampled waveset oscillators; and sub oscillator.
  • 2 comb filters, both with pitch tracking.
  • 2 5-d serial/parallel, 2/4-pole, 3x-oversampled SVF filters, with continuous control of: filter type; number of filter poles; drive + saturation: cutoff; resonance; serial/parallel output; and output pan.
  • 3 envelopes. Predelay and 7-stage breakpoint included. Multi, single, loop, and clock triggers.
  • 3 LFOs, all with morphing waveforms, gate sync, and freq. control.
  • Modulation matrix with 15 nodes, each scalable from any of 60 sources to 135 destinations. Sample and hold, gated, and MIDI sources available. Many compound sources and destinations for rapid patching. Fixed- and variable-source modulations may shape and scale each other within the matrix.
  • Multi-mode glide and glissando, with unique glissando pattern generator.
  • Stereo effects chain with 2 tempo delays, 8-band chorus, realistic reverb, and advanced limiting.
  • Toggle-mode monophonic keyboard. Notes may optionally be stored in programs.
  • Flexible multi-channel architecture functions like a modular synth without needing rewiring. Monitor outputs at all mix points. LFOs, envelopes, and other modulation sources may modulate effects parameters.
Synthcore 2.3 Architecture
Synthcore 2.3 Architecture
  • MIDI I/O for all controls across two MIDI channels. Wheel, extended-range bend, and pedal controllers. Pgm#s and notes sent/received. 'All notes off' and standard MIDI cc#s implemented on main MIDI channel.
  • Fully instrumented panel with >200 controls and dynamic state display of oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFOs, and effects (in full versions). Lite version without dynamic state display for those with lower-powered computers.
  • Hover tips and help tabs. >3,000 words of context-sensitive interactive documentation.
  • 64-bit floating point audio processing at sample rate throughout, including envelopes and LFOs. All mix functions, pans, and switches are declicked and debounced.
  • Large, open, portable compiled function library available separately (see Synthcore Library). Patches documented copiously, code documented expediently.

Performance

Unused functions in a preset are bypassed in code, to reduce CPU load, and all can be turned on and off without introducing clicks on the output. Typical load of the full version at 48kHz, on a Win64 4-GHz i7 and 2.5-GHz Mac Mini, is ~5.5% and ~25%, respectively. Those seeking more quality will find performance at 96kHz to be very decent.

Synthcore Lite

Some MacOS users report performance issues with the full version, and as it is also intended as a demonstration of the Synthcore source-code library, So I am also providing Synthcore Lite for MacOS. This version has the same audio quality, with 64-bit audio procesing throughout, and complete declicking of all audio gain paths (a professional feature which is ~15% of the total audio processing load). However even so, on my old Mac Mini, by removing the dynamic graphics entirely, the app's CPU usage drops to <10% after initial load (it does take a few seconds after the sound starts for the load to complete). No Windows users have reported any performance issues, so runtimes for the Lite version are packaged for MacOS only.

Synthcore 2 Lite's CPU Usage on $500 Mac Mini is <10%
Synthcore 2 Lite's CPU Usage on $500 Mac Mini is <10%

Getting Started

Installation and setup is usually intuitive, but if you have any issues here are some notes.

Installation

Choose your download:
  • Cycling 74 Max/MSP Source Package: unzip to any location. Open the .maxpat file. You must keep the .wav files in the same folder, they are data files for the synth. The Max version requires Max 7.3.1+. It contains its own audio and MIDI settings tab which overrides the Max preferences. .
  • Win32 and Win64 Packages: unzip to any location. The zipfile contains a self-extracting archive. Run that and then launch the executable.
  • MacOS Packages: unzip to any location. The zipfile contains a freeware self-extracting archive, which is required to get the compressed filesize within download limits imposed by my ISP on distant accounts.
    • Note: Your Mac may refuse to open it the first time because the self-extracting archive utility is free and did not pay Apple anything. So:
      • On Yosemite, double click again and it will let you choose to open it, or hold down the CMD key while double clicking
      • On Sierra and El Capitan, the Gatekeeper app by default does not allow installation of apps from any other source other than App Store or verified vendors. To change the default:
        1. Open the terminal.
        2. Execute the command-line code to show the "Allow from Anywhere" check box in the security tab in settings:
          sudo spctl --masteridsable
        3. After pressing return, you will be required to authenticate the action with a password.
        4. Go back to the downloaded file, ctrl+click to open, and you the install will start.
    • The actual app will now decompress. Now you can run it, and as it is not built with freeware, it is built with the commercial application Cycling74 Max, so this app will now run without further complaint.

Setup

When the main window opens, wait for load to complete. Load is complete when the scope waves start moving. On a newer machine with SSD drive, load takes ~1 second. On older machines load can take a few seconds longer.

On first launch, switch to the settings tab, set your preferences and press SAVE. The signal buffer sizes can significantly change CPU usage, differently on different machines, usually with no apparent impact on responsiveness (as the audio path is entirely compiled into one object, the audio-driver buffers only affect a one-buffer latency on the output).

Synthcore 2 Settings Tab
Synthcore 2 Settings Tab

The first demo snap has envelope 1 in LOOP mode, in which the note pitch is sampled and held at the beginning of the envelope loop. To make the loop more obvious, reduce SUSTAIN to zero and reduce the envelope durations. You will find it reproduces the terrifying sound of the Beast's spell in the first episode of the Syfy series 'The Magicians.' To retrigger the envelope on new notes, change the envelope to MULTI mode.

You can also import and export presets from the settings tab. 20 demo presets are currently included, more are planned.

Please see the context-sensitive hover tips and help tabs for more information.

Panel Size and Zoom

By default, the panel is sized to fit on 1600-pixel-wide displays. As of version 2.3c, you can resize the panel by turning on the zoom button (this is currently in the native Max/MSP version only). Comprehensive documentation is now inside the software. Hover over any control for more tips, and see the additional help tabs for more information.

If you own Cycling74 Max, and wish to edit the source file or see the patch internals, turn zoom on to enable the scrollbars in edit view.

Download

My experience has been that users spread negative words if they have problems without giving me a chance to fix them. Login and Registration is hence required for non-source downloads. I only use your email address to notify you of updates and new software. Typically this is not more than 3~4 times a year, although if there are bugs in a new release, I may follow up a few times to make sure it is all fixed for the people who are complaining elsewhere.

Win32 Version

Download: Synthcore Full as Win32 App
Title
Synthcore Full as Win32 App (Details)
File Type
zip
File Version
2.03
File Size
14,760.78 Kb
Brief Description:
The archive contains a self-extracting archive. Unzip to any location, run the self-extracting archive, launch the executable, and configure for yo...

Win64 Version

Download: Synthcore Full as Win64 App
Title
Synthcore Full as Win64 App (Details)
File Type
zip
File Version
1.0
File Size
16,389.76 Kb
Brief Description:
The archive contains a self-extracting archive. Unzip to any location, run the self-extracting archive, launch the executable, and configure for yo...

MacOS ~ SynthCore Full

Download: Synthcore Full for MacOS
Title
Synthcore Full for MacOS (Details)
File Type
zip
File Version
1.0
File Size
33,628.97 Kb
Brief Description:
Unzip to any location, launch the executable, and configure for your audio and MIDI on the settings tab.

MacOS ~ SynthCore Lite

Download: Synthcore Light for MacOS
Title
Synthcore Light for MacOS (Details)
File Type
zip
File Version
2.3
File Size
32,950.09 Kb
Brief Description:
Synthcore light is the same audio quality as the full version, but removes dynamic graphics, obtaining problems with the full version.

Max/MSP Source

Download: Synthcore 2 as Max source
Title
Synthcore 2 as Max source (Details)
File Type
zip
File Version
2.3c
File Size
5,909.98 Kb
Brief Description:
A zipfile containing Synthcore 2.3 for Max 7.3.1+. Version 2.3 adds a third oscillator, 8 new oscillator types, 3 additional matrix nodes, 30 more ...