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kHs One Review at Sound Bytes Magazine

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ONE is a polyphonic subtractive synthesizer plugin programmed by the Swedish-based kiloHearts. Should it be the one for you? See what our reviewer thinks here.

ONE is a polyphonic subtractive synthesizer plugin programmed by the Swedish-based kiloHearts. They are also the makers of the Disperser and Faturator plugins. ONE is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows and OSX.

KHs ONE is a virtual analog (VA) synthesizer plugin, many of which have already been released by other companies over the years. At first glance, its layout is simple, and it would be difficult to get lost in any of its menus. No extra layers here; everything is on the one screen. Unlike many of the other VA plugins out there, this one isn’t a clone of some other hardware synth.

You might be asking: What makes it different from the rest of the VA crowd? We’ll take a look at it in this review, and go over its pros and cons along the way. 

Oscillators and Filters

ONE has three oscillators.  The first two are of the multimode variety, and each of them has waveform choices of Double Saw, Pulse, or Noise. To the right of the oscillator menu is the Shape control, which lets you adjust the waveform you have loaded.

Normally, the Shape control is at the center position and the phase offset will be set to zero degrees. As soon as you load in the Double Saw, and the Shape is at the default center position, it is the same as a single Sawtooth waveform.

Here’s what happens: It is actually two saw waveforms, and when you change the Shape control, you are changing the offset of those two waveforms. If the knob is set all the way to the left or right (-1.0 or 1.0) it will then become a Double Saw.

Envelopes and LFOs

There are three envelopes available, and they are assigned to Amplitude, Filter, and Modulation. The Amplitude envelope controls the amplitude of all the oscillators together, while the Filter envelope modulates both of the filters. The Modulation envelope isn’t set to any one type of modulation; you can assign a variety of targets to it. I will get to those options later in the review.

There are two LFOs (low frequency oscillators) in the synth, and the first is a Voice LFO. It has controls for Key tracking, Rate, Depth, and Phase. It will restart each time a new note is pressed. You can’t sync this LFO to the host tempo.Each of these three envelopes has ADSR controls. They use slider controls to change the amount of Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release.

The second LFO is Global, which basically means it is free-running. In other words; it will keep operating the same way no matter what notes you play.  It will not restart for each note like the regular LFO.  This LFO also has a Sync control, which lets it stay in time with your host tempo.

Effects and Modulation

The kHs ONE synth includes 3 effects; a Chorus, Delay, and the Shaper.

The Chorus has a nice sound, and has controls for Delay, Rate, Depth, Width, and a Mix control.

The Delay has settings for Delay time, Feedback, Width, and a Send control. If you select “ms mode”, then it will use milliseconds as the delay time. Using the “16th mode”, it will track the host tempo, and that will be measured in 16ths of one bar.

In the manual it states there are two modes available in the Shaper effect. In reality, there are four different settings you can choose from. Originally there were two, but then kHs added two more after the manual was written.

The Shaper’s modes include an overdrive for a gritty/distorted sound, and a foldback mode that can give it a bit of an FM sound. A third mode you can use is the bitcrusher setting, and another variant of the overdrive setting is also available. Compared to the other overdrive setting, its tone is boosted slightly for the bass and treble part of the signal. The Shaper also includes Drive and Mix controls.

You can select from the following modulation sources when designing your presets: Velocity, Modulation envelope, Modulation wheel, Voice LFO, and Global LFO.  For each of these, there are three slots available where you can add targets for modulation.

There are a good amount of modulation targets to choose from. For example, there is Voice pitch, Gain, and Glide time.  For the oscillators themselves, you can select Osc Gain, Shape, Sync and Pitch.

One other nice touch they’ve added is the ability to modulate the effects using the Global LFO. All parameters in the Chorus effect are available as targets. For the Delay effect, you can select from the Feedback and Send amounts. You can also set up the Shaper’s Drive and Mix amounts as targets.

A few more items I wanted to mention: The Master section is where you control the final volume of the synth, and they’ve included Bass and Treble controls for changing the EQ. A Limiter is also included here, so the output can’t go above 0dB if it’s switched on.

Preset Browser

To load presets, you can use the up/down arrows to skim through the included presets one at a time.  The other way to get at the presets is by clicking on the preset name. This will open a window where you can see all of them at once. Alternatively, if you right-click on the preset name, a menu will appear to load and save banks, initialize a preset, and some other options.

The number and quality of presets kHs have included is pretty good. There are 100 presets with ONE, but it could use a larger amount. It would be nice if they could bump up that preset count a bit, or offer more banks. There are some additional presets on their website that were designed by KVR members, and some of those are really quite good. The only problem is that they just whet my appetite for more.

Conclusion

There are a few features that I’d like added to ONE. First of all, it could use a few more waveform types. While I’m at it, I’d also like ring modulation thrown into the works. My last two requests would be to add one more LFO with sync, and a nice Reverb to fill out the effects section.

Ok, that’s it, no more…I wouldn’t want it to change too much, as I like its basic setup.

The kHs ONE synth is easy to use, and sounds great. It is my opinion that not being a clone of some hardware synth really gives it an advantage. It doesn’t have to prove it sounds like a Minimoog or a Roland Jupiter-8, for instance. It just works well, and sounds fine on its own.

Sometimes less is more; you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out how it works. They have designed ONE very well, with my noted exceptions of course. Whether you’re new to synths and preset design, or an experienced synth aficionado, you should definitely check this one out.

Read full review at Sound Bytes Magazine

Try before you buy

Download kHs One trial version for free!

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