PRODUCTS > DCAM: Synth Squad
DCAM: Synth Squad Overview
The missing link between analogue and digital synthesis


Introducing an evolutionary leap in software synthesis technology.

DCAM: Synth Squad finally delivers the satisfaction of playing real analogue instruments in software! Advanced modelling technology carefully reconstructs the soul of dusty vintage circuits within your computer, for the unmatched vibe of hardware at a fraction of the cost.

Downloadable demo now available! See links at top right of this page.
At the heart of DCAM: Synth Squad are 3 modelled synthesizers - Strobe, Amber and Cypher - bulging with the immense weight and power of old-school analogue. These are no mere emulations stunted by the limitations of the past. Instead, they combine the best features from legendary machines with new and exciting ideas to drag them kicking and screaming into the modern world.

Oscillators ooze immense sound pressure, amp stages can be overloaded for extra grit, and real-world chaos can be dialled into the circuit for delicious instability. These synths don't break with extreme settings, so you can abuse them just like the real thing. Meanwhile, the intuitive TransMod modulation system brings your sounds to life in new and expressive ways.

Fusor, a versatile sound-design environment that can layer and keysplit 3 instances of the DCAM synths, is also included. It provides a variety of ways to add new dimensions to your sounds with high-quality FX, extra modulation and an advanced step-sequencer/arpeggiator.

Purity of concept and execution. Meticulously engineered circuit models. Raw musical tone. The ultimate in sound quality and performance control.


DCAM: Synth Squad is available from all good music retailers as well as from our Online Shop for USD $249, EUR 189, GBP 165 inc VAT where applicable.
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Artist Presets
DCAM Synth Squad Artist Presets here
Reviews
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Strobe Details
Strobe - performance synth with a cutting modern edge

Designed to be as easy to program and satisfying to play as an analogue monosynth, Strobe also adds polyphony, osc-stacking, a versatile multimode filter and deep modulation to create a modern classic. Strobe specializes in no-nonsense analogue-style leads, sick basses and complex pads.

Strobe's design is motivated by the immediacy and simplicity of classic performance synths like the Roland SH101 and SH-09, Oberheim OB-1 and Yamaha CS-10. Such synths are not overly endowed with complex controls - as a result it's difficult to make a bad sound with them and they beg to be played! Similarly, Strobe features a relatively simple architecture, allowing you to program great sounds quickly so that you can get on with making music with them!

Osc section
While Strobe has a single oscillator, it's a very flexible and powerful oscillator. Saw, pulse and noise waveforms can be freely mixed alongside sine, triangle, saw and pulse sub-oscillators. You can set each sub-osc up to 3 octaves below the main waveforms, and adjust the pulse width of both the main and sub pulse waveforms. You can also sync the osc pitch to the lowest sub-osc. The osc-stacking feature lets you layer up to 5 copies of the osc and detune them to achieve thick multi-osc tones without using entire unison voices.

Filter and Amp sections
Strobe's filter is capable of delivering an extremely wide range of timbres, due to its plethora of filter curves and rich modelled drive circuit for extra-thick tone. As with the other instruments in DCAM: Synth Squad, the amp section can be overloaded, just like in a real analogue synth.

Arpeggiator and direct modulation
Strobe contains a built-in arpeggiator and a range of modulators with flexible gating options - you can gate envelopes with the LFO, for example. Direct modulation depth controls exist for varying the pitch, pulse width and filter cutoff from LFO, envelope and keytracking sources, allowing you to dial up classic subtractive sounds quickly and efficiently.

Transform your sounds with TransMod
Like the other DCAM synths, Strobe is equipped with the TransMod advanced modulation system, which allows you to modulate almost any parameter with an extensive range of modulation sources. This takes Strobe's potential way beyond that offered by the direct modulation controls on the front panel. Apart from offering a huge range of modulation sources, you can also modulate controls based on active voices and unison voices. Using 2 unison voices and deploying unison modulation instantly turns Strobe into a dual-osc synth, with a filter and amp for each osc!

Strobe is available as part of DCAM: Synth Squad from all good music retailers as well as from our Online Shop
Strobe Presets

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Strobe Highlights
Next-level analogue-style performance synth
Super-oscillator with osc-stacking
Sub-oscs up to 3 octaves below the main osc
Filter with rich drive and 22 filter modes
Built-in arpeggiator
Advanced TransMod modulation system
Easy to program, begs to be played!
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"Strobe is now my goto plug-in synth for getting the sounds I expect from my analog hardware. The filters, osc sync and distortion are amazing and give it its unique sound. " - Josh Gabriel

"My favorite is Strobe - If you bounce down your track twice it will sound different every time!" - Armin van Buuren

"Sonically these are some of the warmest softsynths I've heard, with a very chunky bottom end!! The transmod system is one of the most comprehensive and best-thought-through modulation matrixes I've seen on a VA synth. " - Brookes Brothers

"I love DCAM's Strobe! That thing is PERFECT for basses and leads!" - Shirobon

"DCAM sounds so good that you never have to add fx plugins on it, just dynamics. It's really incredible." - Sandy Vee (Rhianna, David Guetta)

"In a world of hundreds of Soft Synths ,we're still looking for the sound of the old analogue beasts. DCAM is by far the best and most analogue sounding soft synth ever! totally amazing!" - Pablo Clements (Unkle, Psychonauts)

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Amber Details
Amber - bathed in vintage psychedelia

One of the first attempts to realistically model the divide-down string ensemble synths from the 70s, Amber perfectly captures the lush, psychedelic sound of these much-loved but often-forgotten instruments. A formant filter, 3 separate chorus models, a variety of playing responses and flexible modulation build upon the legacy to deliver a new take on these vintage classics.

Amber's sound is derived from a bank of oscillators that are frequency-divided to produce a full keyboard range of 96 notes within a single synth voice - this means that you can play 96 notes simultaneously. These notes, referred to as 'paraphonic notes', are then mixed down into a single signal to be fed through conventional polyphonic processing blocks (a single instance within each synth voice).

Synth and Ensemble sections
Amber includes two sections which both feature very similar paraphonic sources, with the subsequent polyphonic processing blocks defining their final character. The Synth section is fed through a multimode resonant filter, giving it a synth-like tone, while the Ensemble section goes through a formant filter and chorus, to impart the character of a string ensemble. The two sections are mixed together at the final output of the voice, and there are several routing options for the Synth section which allow it to be fed through the Ensemble section's formant filter and/or chorus.

Playing responses
Both the Synth and Ensemble sections are capable of several playing responses. They can be set to 'paraphonic' mode (96 notes simultaneously with an envelope and VCA for each note - similar to the Logan String Melody and Korg Lambda), a couple of modes which can emulate synths with a single envelope/VCA for all paraphonic notes (such as the Eminent Solina and ARP Omni), and a fully monophonic mode, which dispenses with paraphonic response altogether. With the latter setting on both sections, you can force Amber to operate as a conventional monophonic/polyphonic synth.

Stack and modulate voices
Unlike vintage hardware string machines, Amber is capable of running with multiple voices and unison. This, combined with the DCAM TransMod system, offers a potential universe of new, unheard sounds!

Amber is available as part of DCAM: Synth Squad from all good music retailers as well as from our Online Shop
Amber Presets

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Amber Highlights
Stunningly realistic string ensemble synth model
Ensemble section with formant filter and chorus
Synth section with multimode resonant filter
3 separate circuit-modelled chorus algorithms
Varied playing responses to emulate various string classics
Stack and modulate voices with the TransMod system
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Cypher Details
Cypher - audio-rate modulation monster

Cypher takes analogue FM into the future, combining the most realistic audio-rate modulation to date with digital luxuries like polyphony and precise tuning. With dual shaper/filter stages to drive and sculpt the raw output of the oscs, alongside DCAM features like the TransMod modulation system, Cypher is a tweaker's utopia for producing timbres ranging from visceral mono and poly sounds to abstract textures and sound effects.

The ethos behind Cypher is to provide a truly accurate model of a synth capable of analogue-style FM, wave modulation, variable-depth sync and other interesting oscillator processes. The osc section is a source of vast sonic diversity even before the dual filter section is called into action. Cypher can also be used as a more conventional 3-osc subtractive synth, for situations when you require more complexity than Strobe can offer.

Advanced oscillators
Cypher's 3 oscillators feature continuously variable waveshapes, ring modulation, white/pink noise sources and beat-detuning (which keeps the rate of oscillator-beating the same across the whole keyboard).

The real depth of the oscillators lies in the various ways that they can inter-modulate each other at audio rates. Osc3 can perform FM on Osc2, while Osc2 can modulate the waveshape of Osc3 at audio-rate frequencies. The osc section features thru-zero FM behaviour and the ability to tune in precise harmonics, which allows musical digital-style FM sounds rendered with fat-sounding modelled analogue oscillators.

Innovative osc-sync and audio-rate sample-and-hold
The oscs also feature advanced sync capabilities - Oscs 2 and 3 sync to Osc1 to varying degrees, leading to a range of 'hard' and 'soft' osc-sync sounds. Another innovative feature is the audio-rate sample-and-hold, which quantizes the waveform of one osc with the frequency of another. The sound is reminiscent of lo-fi digital FM and sampling, but has a unique sound of its own.

Dual Filters and polyphonic waveshaping
The osc section is fed into two paths, each containing a filter and waveshaper, which can be routed in various ways. The waveshapers allow you to twist the osc shapes further with several flavours of gritty distortion. The filters are selectable from state-variable and transistor-ladder models, with rich drive and realistic filter FM.

Cypher is available as part of DCAM: Synth Squad from all good music retailers as well as from our Online Shop
Cypher Presets

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Cypher Highlights
3 advanced oscillators, dual waveshapers and filters
Continuously variable osc waveforms
Precision-modelled audio-rate modulation
Audio-rate FM, wave modulation, sample-and-hold
Variable-depth oscillator sync
Ring modulation, beat detune and more
Built-in arpeggiator, 2 LFOs, 3 envelopes
Advanced modulation with the TransMod system
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Fusor Details
Fusor - semi-modular sound design environment


Evoking the era of huge wrap-around analogue keyboard rigs, Fusor is a semi-modular layering environment for the DCAM synths with extra LFOs, envelope followers, step-sequencers and a suite of high quality FX. All this, combined with versatile inter-modulation between its internal devices, makes Fusor an inspirational environment for complex effected patches and deep, experimental sound design.

Layering, keysplitting and adding FX
Fusor lets you layer and set up keyboard splits for 3 instances of the DCAM synths. You can add high-quality FX as inserts on each synth, as aux sends or on the master output. The built-in FX suite includes a licensed version of Overloud Breverb for high-quality reverb, as well as DCAM circuit-modelled compression, filtering, chorus and overdrive, not to mention an array of other creative processors for sculpting sounds into new shapes.

Animate your sounds!
Animator is Fusor's powerful integrated step-sequencer and arpeggiator device. Offering everything from programmable arpeggio patterns to complex real-time performance sequencing, Animator brings your synth sounds to life! Dial up inspiring riffs and hooks in minutes, lay down funky, swung drum machine lines or simply lose yourself in infinite sonic experimentation. Fusor also includes a set of extra LFOs and envelope followers to inject further dynamic aspects to your performances.



Complex modulation
Fusor's internal modulation system, called FuseMod, opens up semi-modular control possibilities for the various devices in Fusor. Synths can modulate FX parameters, extra LFOs, or Animator engines - for example, you can modulate a phaser or clock Animator from a synth LFO. You can even use the envelopes and LFOs from one Fusor-hosted synth to modulate another polyphonically to create monster semi-modular hybrids.

Fusor is available as part of DCAM: Synth Squad from all good music retailers as well as from our Online Shop


Fusor Presets

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Fusor Highlights
Versatile DCAM sound design environment
Layer and keysplit 3 DCAM synths
Add high-quality FX and extra modulation
Animator: advanced step-sequencer/arpeggiator
Inter-modulate synths and other devices with FuseMod
FX Suite Includes
Overloud Breverb algorithms
Circuit-modelled drive, filtering and compression
Amber's chorus and formant filter
A selection of 4-band processors
Bitcrusher, granular freezer
Delay, phaser, flanger and much more
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DCAM Technology
DCAM: Synth Squad Technology

DCAM: Discrete Component Analogue Modelling
The philosophy behind DCAM is to model a circuit based on each individual component of the circuit and its structural context, rather than simply treating a circuit as a 'black box' and analyzing its overall output. The result is a genuinely realistic model of the circuit - its non-linearities, structure and behaviour are preserved intact.

What this means to you is a set of modelled synthesizers with unprecedented vibrancy and realism. You can abuse parameters just like on a hardware analogue synth, and the model responds realistically. Oscs sync convincingly, amp stages can be overloaded, performing FM on an osc yields rich veins of otherworldly texture, not an ugly digital mess. You don't have to avoid certain settings any more because they sound bad!

Do not expect perfect, symmetrical waveforms with DCAM: Synth Squad... imperfect waveforms are the very essence of a real analogue VCO! Drive stages exist at several points in the signal path for organic grit and increased tonal variation. Meanwhile, complex non-linear filters massage the raw slabs of sound pressure from the oscillators into an infinite variety of timbres. The results are musically satisfying sounds that inspire you to be creative!

The aim of DCAM: Synth Squad is to provide software synthezisers with real substance...
sound sources that sound right, so you aren't forced to bury them in endless plugin chains to make them interesting.

The 'Analogue' control
Each synth has an 'Analogue' control, which dials in a variable amount of real-world instability into the circuit. The effects of noise and mains hum are simulated, leading to an edgier sound at lower amounts, to wilder instability at higher settings.

Oversampling options
All the DCAM: Synth Squad plugins feature individual oversampling settings, both for realtime (normal use) and offline (non-realtime mixdowns and 'freeze') operation. The default setting for realtime use is 1x, allowing the highest polyphony on as many systems as possible. For higher-spec CPUs, try 2x oversampling for an even more realistic sound. Users with any CPU can use as high a value as required for offline oversampling, resulting in exceptional sound quality.

TransMod and FuseMod modulation systems
DCAM: Synth Squad introduces the TransMod system, offering a more intuitive way of programming complex modulation than a traditional 'mod matrix'. A spectacular range of modulation is possible - the mod source menus include active voice/unison-voice counts and versatile randomized values in addition to more conventional sources like LFOs and envelopes. You can even harness beating rates between oscillators as LFOs in Cypher, or load entire presets as parameter modulation amounts for patch-morphing effects.

Fusor extends the TransMod concept with the FuseMod system, making DCAM synth modulators available to Fusor's internal FX and LFOs, as well as to the Animator step-sequencer/arpeggiator. Use synth envelopes and LFOs to clock step-sequencers and modulate reverbs and granular freezers, and play self-oscillating filters with keyboard sources.

In addition, the TransMod source menus for Fusor-hosted synths are expanded with modulation sources from other synths and devices in Fusor... so you can create a super-performance synth with 3 inter-modulating Strobe instances, or complex hybrid textures and soundscapes with Strobe, Cypher and Amber. The creative possibilities for sound design are limited only by your imagination!

Expressive performance control
All of the supplied presets offer expressive timbral variation through the use of modulation by keyboard velocity and two performance controllers (which you can map to aftertouch, mod-wheel, breath and other MIDI CCs). Our team of sound designers have strived to create dynamic presets full of energy and movement. If you've grown accustomed to flat, boring VA synth sounds, prepare to be inspired by the possibilities that DCAM: Synth Squad presents.

The DCAM synths introduce a new type of glide alongside traditional pitch glide. Velocity glide smooths transitions to new notes' velocity modulation depths, creating rich expressive possibilities. Glide times can also be modulated - if you modulate them with voice/unison-voice counts, different glide times are possible for each voice. Independent settings for legato glides and envelope retriggering complete a set of features that allow incredibly flexible and varied playing responses.

DCAM: Synth Squad also includes a standardized MIDI learn system, and full support for host automation. There is even an integrated program change list, so you can assign presets to MIDI program changes for live performance!

MIDI-controlled audio effects
As well as being supplied as instrument plugins, Strobe, Cypher and Amber are also supplied as MIDI-controlled audio effect plugins, meaning that you can process external audio through them! You can use unison stacking and modulation functions with the audio and use normal oscillator shapes alongside to create complex textural hybrids. In Cypher, you can even use the external audio as an audio-rate modulation source for the oscillators. The amp sections must be gated by keyboard input, meaning you can play the effect plugins rhythmically and engage their envelopes and other modulators.



Tech Examples

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System Requirements
Minimum specs for standalone operation @ 256 samples / 44.1kHz:
Strobe/Amber/Cypher: 2.0GHz Intel Core (or AMD equivalent)
Fusor: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD equivalent)
1GB RAM free
Windows 7 or later (Windows)
Mac OSX 10.5.8 or later (Mac)
350MB of hard drive space
Low-latency audio interface
DVD-ROM drive
Internet connection
SUPPORT FORUMS
DCAM: Synth Squad
FAQ

DCAM: Synth Squad - General Information

DCAM: Synth Squad - System Requirements

DCAM: Synth Squad - Purchasing / Licensing

DCAM: Synth Squad - Technical Information

DCAM: Synth Squad - General Information

What is DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

DCAM: Synth Squad is a collection of 4 software instruments:

Strobe: a next-level performance synth - easy to program, begs to be played
Amber: a groundbreaking divide-down string ensemble synth emulation
Cypher: a complex 3-osc synth with dual filters/waveshapers and realistic audio-rate modulation
Fusor: a semi-modular layering/FX/step-sequencing environment for the above synths

Why 4 separate instruments instead of everything in a single plugin? [top]

The DCAM instruments are designed to be dedicated to specific tasks - to combine all their features into a single synth would mean a very big, complicated instrument, very likely to be difficult and frustrating to program! It would probably require multiple pages, which would make it more difficult to check out what's happening in any single preset.

Apart from this, dedicated instruments with their own character can inspire you in unique ways. The immediacy, character and 'fun factor' of many vintage analogue synths often comes from their limitations. This is not to say that the DCAM instruments are 'limited', however - there's enough information throughout these pages to show that this is not the case at all!

If you just want a simple but huge bassline instead of indulging in extensive, experimental multi-osc sound design, you'll achieve quicker results with Strobe than Cypher (and vice versa). And if you need a really complex sound design environment with effects, Fusor lets you load exactly what you need, and combine the elements in useful ways.

The overriding motivation behind the design of DCAM: Synth Squad is musicality - we wanted the instruments to be useful and inspiring in a musical context instead of trying to shoehorn as many features as possible into a single plugin. And while it's easy to start creating great sounds straight away with DCAM: Synth Squad, we're confident that it has enough depth to keep you musically inspired for many years.

Why does Strobe only have a single oscillator? [top]

Strobe is designed to be quick and easy to program. It has features such as intuitive osc-stacking, parallel waveforms and sub-oscillators to cover much of the territory of a multi-osc synth's timbral spectrum. Of course, these features do not cover all possibilities, and therefore you should use Cypher for more complex sounds as it is much more suited to multi-osc sound design. A Roland SH101 or Yamaha CS10 has no problem sounding huge with only 1 oscillator though, and neither does Strobe!

Alternatively, you can use 2 or 3 instances of Strobe within Fusor - the FuseMod system allows you to share modulators like LFOs and envelopes between the synth instances.

Lastly, if you want to get clever just within Strobe, you can use the TransMod system to repurpose Strobe as a 2-osc synth (with each osc having its own filter and amp):

1. Adjust the Voices and Unison settings to 2.
2. Choose Unison1+ as a TransMod slot source - with 2 unison voices, the 1st voice outputs a modulation value of 0, and the 2nd voice outputs 1.
3. Any modulation depths in this TransMod slot represent the 2nd voice and, in effect, the 2nd oscillator, filter and amp.

Can you explain more about Amber and the concept of 'paraphony' ? [top]

The term 'paraphonic' was first coined by Roland on its classic RS-505 Paraphonic string synthesizer, and has become a commonly used term for classic string ensemble synths. Synths of this type used frequency-divided oscillators to produce all notes on the keyboard simultaneously within a single synth voice, with a VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) and amp envelope within the osc section - sometimes even a VCA and envelope for every single keyboard note.

Such synths are not 'true polyphonic' synths. To be fully polyphonic, a synth must have an osc, filter and amp section for each voice. Paraphonic synths effectively produce multiple notes but put them through monophonic filters and amps. You'll find a detailed explanation of divide-down string synths in part 20 of the Sound on Sound 'Synth Secrets' series.

Amber is capable of producing a variety of different string synth behaviours (and can be switched to normal monophonic/polyphonic behaviour if you prefer), and can even stack paraphonic voices in order to create new and exciting sounds. Within the paraphonic note generation sections, it features 12 oscillators, 384 amps/envelopes and 192 tone filters. It therefore uses quite a lot more CPU per voice than Strobe or Cypher.

What is audio-rate modulation? [top]

'Audio-rate' means 'at the speeds of audible frequencies'. Modulating the frequency of an oscillator at very fast speeds such as that of another oscillator (rather than, say, an LFO) creates tonal changes rather than pitch changes such as vibrato. Audio-rate modulation can approximate the types of complex changes in harmonics over time that are evident in acoustic sounds. Cypher contains a number of ways of performing audio-rate modulation, such as FM, wave modulation and audio-rate sample-and-hold.

Oscillator sync is also a form of audio-rate modulation - both Strobe and Cypher are capable of this function, although Cypher's implementation is more versatile.

Please read chapter 4 of the DCAM: Synth Squad operation manual for more details on audio-rate modulation.

What analogue synthesizers are the DCAM synths modelled on? [top]

The instruments in DCAM: Synth Squad do not emulate any particular analogue synths - instead, they involve analysis of a large variety of synthesizers in order to create models of new instruments.

Some of the synths analysed during the development process are the Roland SH101, Oberheim Xpander, Alesis Andromeda, ARP Omni, Korg MS-20, various Moog synths and Analogue Systems modulars, amongst others.

Do the DCAM synths have built-in effects? [top]

The individual Strobe, Cypher and Amber plugins do not, but Fusor contains an extensive suite of high-quality FX that can be used as inserts on synth instances, aux sends or as inserts on the final output.

We wanted the synths and their presets to stand out on their own as vibrant and powerful sound sources, rather than drenched in shiny effects that may or may not fit into the context of your project.

We also wanted our preset designers to really delve into the deep synthesis potential of DCAM: Synth Squad, rather than being tempted to slap on a bunch of effects to make interesting sounds.

Lastly, we wanted our product to stand up to real analogue synths, which have no problem sounding great without built-in effects (the one exception is Amber, as a chorus is intrinsic to the sound of a string ensemble synthesizer).

We're confident that you won't be disappointed with the lack of effects in the synths, and that the quality of the 'raw' synth sounds will pleasantly surprise you. You'll also find that the Fusor FX suite is of exceptionally high quality - in a totally different league to the generally 'cheap and nasty' onboard reverb/chorus found on most synths!

What is the full list of Fusor FX? [top]

Gain, Noise Gate, EQ, EQ-Filter, Comp Chan (limiting amplifier type compressor), Comp Bus (console bus compressor), Delay, Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, RingMod, TinCanVerb, Filter Mod, FreqShift, BitCrusher, Drive, Freezer, Amber Chorus, Amber Formants, Breverb Hall, Breverb Ambience, Breverb Plate, Breverb Inverse, Quad Filter, Quad Drive, Quad Comb, Quad Delay.

All parameters of the FX can be modulated (for example the Gain/Pan device can be modulated with an LFO to function as a tremelo/auto-panner), and all FX devices feature a Wet/Dry mix control.

Can the DCAM synths be used as audio effects in my host? [top]

Strobe, Cypher and Amber are supplied as instruments *and* MIDI-controlled audio effects. External audio appears in place of each synth's white noise audio source. You must make sure you engage the synth's amp by playing a key - otherwise you won't hear anything.

The effect versions should not be considered as 'filter plugins' - they are exactly the same as the instrument versions, but instead utilizing the 'MIDI-controlled audio effect' plugin type to make it possible to use external audio as an osc source and process it, alone or alongside the built-in oscs, through the filter and amp sections. The amp must therefore be gated by MIDI note input for audio to be heard. This can be a continuous long note - if you are using purely the external audio input, you can make the synths behave like 'filter plugins' in this way. Alternatively, you can 'play' the synth - for example, triggering a sampler patch and routing its audio through the synth played with the same MIDI data. This way, you engage the envelopes and other gateable modulators, stack the input and process the copies differently with unison modulation, and so on.

The ways in which MIDI-controlled audio effects are set up vary considerably on different hosts. When time allows, we may create a PDF guide to setting up MIDI-controlled audio effect plugins in major hosts. Until then, please contact your host vendor for instructions if you do not know how to accomplish this function. The DCAM synth FX versions operate in the same way as any other MIDI-controlled audio effect plugin, and have been tested to work in the latest versions of the following hosts:

Pro Tools
Logic
Ableton Live
Cubase
Digital Performer
Reaper
Sonar

What's possible with the MIDI-controlled effect versions? [top]

The external audio appears in place of the white noise source in the osc section of each synth.

All operations further down the signal path from the oscs can be performed on the external audio - i.e. the filter and amp sections, along with the waveshapers in Cypher.

In Cypher, you can use the external audio within the specialized oscillator functions. This includes acting as a source for audio-rate functions (although you cannot perform audio-rate modulation on the external audio signal itself). Try it with the FM, WM and audio-rate sample-and-hold functions!

If you want only the external audio to be heard (for example, to use the synth as a filter/drive effect), turn down all the other osc source levels except for white noise. You must send the plugin MIDI notes to gate the amp - you can do this in a rhythmic way or use a constant note to use it as a conventional audio processor. The 'Hold' button in the Keying controls can be useful here - if enabled, notes are held indefinitely without needing to keep the key held down.

Alternatively, you can use the other osc sources alongside the input if you prefer to use it as more of a 'synth', allowing many creative applications. You could, for example, run a sample-based instrument such as a piano into a Synth Squad FX plugin with the standard osc waveforms active alongside the input, and use the same MIDI data for both tracks - effectively creating a hybrid instrument.

You can use the synth's unison/voice modulation functions with the external input. With 2 unison voices, the external input (or inputs in Cypher) will be doubled, and you can use a unison modulation source in TransMod system to create different settings for each of the voices - for example different filter types, drive amounts etc.

Is a printed manual supplied with DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

The boxed version contains a printed quick-start guide that provides a guide to installation, authorization and first steps to learning the software. The download version only comes with this guide as a PDF file.

The main operation manual is supplied as a PDF file with both the download and boxed versions.

You are free to print the PDFs for your own use. Please make sure you install the latest version of DCAM: Synth Squad first - the latest version contains a number of error corrections in the operation manual.

Where can I find more information on DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

DCAM: Synth Squad is extremely powerful and deep software - it is impossible to mention all of its features on the product website.

To learn more about the product and how it operates, please download the operation manual, which explains DCAM: Synth Squad in detail.

Is there a demo version of DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

Yes. The demo is available for download directly from the DCAM: Synth Squad overview page, which can be found here.

The limitations of the demo are as follows:

  • Can load only a reduced set of factory presets
  • Can SAVE but not LOAD user presets - you'll be able to load your saved patches if you purchase the full version
  • Cannot reload settings saved within DAW/host projects
  • Launches a web nag-screen when any DCAM: Synth Squad plugin is launched
  • Demo expires after 28 days

Are there any 3rd-party preset addons for DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

Electric Himalaya: Antiquity (Cypher and Fusor)
Myagi: Ferocity (Fusor)
SoundsDivine: New Retro (Strobe), Vintage Electronic (Strobe)
Xenos Soundworks: XS Signature - Dance (Strobe).
Plughugger: Pushball Electro (Cypher and Fusor), Vanity (Strobe)
CFA Sound: 32 free sounds for Fusor (also included in Artist Presets vol.2)
Jewel Audio: Area 52 (128 free presets for Amber, Strobe, Cypher and Fusor)

DCAM: Synth Squad - System Requirements

What plugin formats are provided with DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

On Mac: AU, VST and RTAS
On Windows: VST and RTAS

Will DCAM: Synth Squad work in my host? [top]

DCAM: Synth Squad is supported in the following hosts:

Live 7.0.16 and later
Logic 7.2.3 and later
Pro Tools 7.4cs5 and later
Cubase 4.52 and later
Sonar 7 and later
DP 5.13 and later
Reaper 3
EnergyXT v2.5.1
Plogue Bidule v0.9690
FL Studio

We will be adding to this list as soon as we find time to test DCAM: Synth Squad on further hosts.

What are the system requirements for DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

Here are the minimum specs for standalone operation @ 256 samples / 44.1kHz:

Strobe/Amber/Cypher: 2.0GHz Intel Core (or AMD equivalent)
Fusor: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD equivalent)

Windows 7 or later / Mac OSX 10.5.8 or later
1GB RAM free
350MB of hard drive space
Low-latency audio interface
DVD-ROM drive
Internet connection for authorization

Previous versions of DCAM Synth Squad could run on Windows XP SP3 and Vista SP1 in 32-bit environments - older versions can be downloaded after purchase. However, any support and new development can only be provided with v1.5x on Windows 7 or later.

Does DCAM: Synth Squad support Mac PowerPC machines (G4, G5)? [top]

Sorry but DCAM: Synth Squad does not support PowerPC machines at this time. This is because Altivec optimizations take a lot of time to implement, and since the PowerPC line is due to be unsupported with the imminent arrival of Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard), it is unfortunately not possible for us to justify PowerPC development for DCAM: Synth Squad.

Does DCAM: Synth Squad support Mac OSX 10.4 (Tiger)? [top]

As of version 1.0, DCAM: Synth Squad does not work on Tiger.

We are hoping to offer Tiger support at a future date, but cannot guarantee it. If you are not in a position to upgrade to Leopard (10.5), we do not recommend that you purchase DCAM: Synth Squad at this time.

The system requirements state a minumum of 10.5.8 for Mac. I'm on an earlier version of 10.5 - will DCAM: Synth Squad work on my system? [top]

While DCAM: Synth Squad should work absolutely fine on all versions of 10.5, we can only actively test and support the last version which is 10.5.8.

Does DCAM: Synth Squad support AMD machines on Windows? [top]

Yes - you'll need at least a 2.2GHz Athlon64 with SSE2 support.

What kind of performance should I expect from my system? [top]

Aside from CPU speed, you should also be aware that some plug-in formats are more efficient than others, sometimes varying noticeably in hosts that support more than one format.

In our tests, compatible AMD CPUs require an increase in clock speed of around 18% to match the performance of their Intel 'Core'-series counterparts.

We've done extensive profiling of a number of different Windows and Mac systems, and tried to come up with some figures that will give you a decent idea of what you can do with DCAM: Synth Squad on your system.

Synth voice counts
Our reference host is Ableton Live 8, using VST on Windows and AU on Mac. The buffer size is 256 samples and the sample rate is 44.1kHz. Using the same midi pattern, the following voice counts are possible in the individual synth plugins running on their own:

Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz/2Gb (Mac)
Amber: 6 (2x instances of 3 voices each) or
Cypher: 32 (2x instances of 16 voices each) or
Strobe: 64 (4x instances of 16 voices each)

Intel Core Duo 2.16 GHz/2Gb (Mac)
Amber: 8 (2x instances of 4 voices each) or
Cypher: 32 (2x instances of 16 voices each) or
Strobe: 64 (4x instances of 16 voices each)

Intel Core2 Duo 2.0GHz/1Gb (Mac)
Amber: 10 (2x instances of 5 voices each) or
Cypher: 32 (2x instances of 16 voices each) or
Strobe: 64 (4x instances of 16 voices each)

Intel Core2 Duo 1.86 GHz/2Gb (Windows)
Amber: 12 (2x instances of 6 voices each) or
Cypher: 32 (2x instances of 16 voices each) or
Strobe: 64 (4x instances of 16 voices each)

Intel Core2 Duo 2.4 GHz/2Gb [first gen] (Mac)
Amber: 14 (2x instances of 7 voices each) or
Cypher: 39 (2x instances of 16 voices each + 1x instance of 7 voices) or
Strobe: 68 (4x instances of 16 voices each + 1x instance of 4 voices)

NOTE: A single Amber voice is much more CPU-intensive than a Strobe or Cypher voice. This is due to its paraphonic architecture (it contains 12 oscillators, 384 envelopes and 192 filters even before the polyphonic components are considered).

Fusor voice counts
Fusor tends to use more CPU than the synths on their own, due to the added FX and multiple synths. Consequently, you'll need a faster CPU to run certain combinations of devices within it. The following figures should give you some idea of Fusor's performance (test conditions are the same as for the synth voice figures above):

Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz/2Gb (Windows)
Individually:
Amber:3 or
Cypher:12 or
Strobe:22
Simultaneous permutation example:
Amber:1, Cypher:2 and Strobe:5

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz/1Gb (Mac)
Individually:
Amber:5 or
Cypher:20 or
Strobe:40
Simultaneous permutation examples:
Amber:1, Cypher:4 and Strobe:16
Amber:2, Cypher:3 and Strobe:8
Amber:2, Cypher:6 and Strobe:1

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz/2Gb [first gen] (Mac)
Individually:
Amber:7 or
Cypher:20 or
Strobe:32
Simultaneous permutation examples:
Amber:2, Cypher:4 and Strobe:16
Amber:1, Cypher:8 and Strobe:16
Amber:2, Cypher:4 and Strobe:8

I'm concerned that DCAM: Synth Squad will use too much CPU on my system! [top]

Because it contains 4 separate instruments, there are many different permutations in which to use DCAM: Synth Squad. You can run small numbers of voices on a slower machine, and use modern DAW functions such as 'freeze' to easily build up layers of sounds. Our system specs are based on reasonably heavy usage of DCAM: Synth Squad, with lots of voices at once.

As you can see from the tables above, Strobe and Cypher are the most CPU-efficient of the 4 included instruments. In the real world, these kinds of analogue synths would typically be monophonic or up to 8-voice polyphonic. Similarly, Amber would never be able to play multiple voices in real life (it would be too huge and would be a servicing nightmare). Remember that Amber's paraphonic architecture means it can play all notes on the keyboard simultaneously within 1 voice, although it uses 12 oscillators, 384 envelopes/amps, 192 filters and various other elements to do so.

This puts the CPU usage into perspective. Good synthesis algorithms do require substantial amounts of CPU power, and if you consider that the sound quality is comparable to analogue synths, we're confident you'll agree that the CPU usage is an acceptable trade-off.

Fusor is the most CPU-hungry instrument due to the added FX and multiple synth channels, and if you have a slower machine, you may not be able to use all of its presets. Because it can be used in a variety of permutations, you'll still be able to use it on slower machines with less complex device configurations.

DCAM: Synth Squad is very well future-proofed - as you acquire faster CPUs, it will sound better and better due to the adjustable oversampling settings, and will deliver even more voices. The oversampling settings allow you to define very high oversampling settings for offline rendering, so you can 'freeze' your parts during production with exceptionally high sound quality.

DCAM: Synth Squad - Purchasing / Licensing

Is there a downloadable version of DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

If you buy from our online shop, you may choose either electronic delivery (download) or a boxed product dispatched via Royal Mail. The electronic version contains no printed quick-start guide and does not entitle you to any physical media or materials at any point. There is also no possibility of 'upgrading' to the boxed version from the download version at any point.

The boxed product is available from our online shop or from retail outlets - it includes a printed quick-start guide and the software/tutorial videos on a CD-ROM.

The price of the electronic version is the same as the boxed version. Therefore, the main advantages of the download version are:

1. you receive and can use the software instantly, rather than having to wait for a box to be delivered before you can do so

2. you gain personal satisfaction that you are not contributing to the environmental pollution and physical resource usage involved in producing and delivering the boxed product

What is the copy protection scheme used in DCAM: Synth Squad? [top]

DCAM: Synth Squad features a challenge-response authorization system, with three installs on your own machines allowed simultaneously.

You do NOT need to have an internet connection on the computers on which it is installed.

You must, however, authorize DCAM: Synth Squad before it can be used - there is no 'grace period' after installation.

We have tried very hard to make the authorization procedure as pain-free as possible. Please understand that it is necessary for safeguarding your investment in future development and user support for DCAM: Synth Squad.
DCAM: Synth Squad does not use iLok or any other unified protection scheme. We do not believe in such systems' security, and would rather not pass on their costs to our customers.

Do I need to re-authorize when installing the OS again or upgrading the OS/hardware? [top]

A new major operating system version is enough of a change that the authorization system will require re-authing DCAM: Synth Squad; point releases should be fine. Likewise, a significant hardware change will also require re-authorization. We will be monitoring the situation closely and adjusting the flexibility of the authorization system to get the best balance of copy protection and annoyance levels.

If reinstalling an existing OS without changing any hardware, you will be able to save the auth file and simply re-import it when authorizing DCAM: Synth Squad again.

Do you allow license transfers? [top]

Yes, however:

1. If you're the seller, you must contact us in advance of the sale. If you're the prospective second-hand buyer, you must check that the seller is cleared to sell. If in doubt, contact us.

2. There is a flat $50 fee per product for a license transfer, which can be purchased from our online shop.

3. Review copies, NFRs (Not For Resale copies, sometimes used for in-store demos), etc., cannot be sold or transferred under any circumstances.

4. We reserve the right to refuse a license transfer request.

Once a transfer is authorised and the fee has been paid, the new owner is entitled to exactly the same upgrade paths and technical support resources as if they had bought the product new.

DCAM: Synth Squad - Technical Information

I can't get the oversampling settings to change when I click 'Apply'! [top]

There is currently a known issue regarding oversampling settings not changing until you re-load the plugin.

Please relaunch the plugin or save and reload your project for the new oversampling settings to take effect.

How can I add author information to my presets? [top]

Normally, your own patches will show up in the 'User' presets collection, and are saved to this folder:

My Documents\FXpansion\(synth)\Presets (Windows)
Documents/FXpansion/(synth)/Presets (Mac)

To classify them as a specific author, you first need to create a new folder in the factory presets folder:

Program Files\FXpansion\(synth)\Presets (Windows)
/Library/Application Support/FXpansion/(synth)/Presets (Mac)

Then, move your presets from the User presets folder to the new folder you created in the factory presets folder. It's recommended that you move them to prevent them showing up in the User collection too.

I'm having problems using DCAM: Synth Squad on Windows 7. [top]

UAC may need to be disabled in order to install and authorize on Windows 7. You can find a guide to disabling UAC in Windows 7 here

I'm a Logic 8 user, and I cannot type any numeric values into the plugins! [top]

Logic 8 has known issues with distributing keyboard input to plugins that use in-line text entry, and this occurs with plugins from many different manufacturers:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2068543&start=0&tstart=0

The only solution to this issue is to remap any key commands for characters you need to type. For numeric entry this involves remapping 1-9, 0, decimal point and Return - i.e. key commands for screensets, 'Stop', 'Pause' and 'Play'. Try assigning your screensets to the F keys instead of normal numeric keys, and find suitable replacements for other required key commands.

If you want to type words, for example saving or searching for presets, you need to remap any keycommands that involve an alphabetic key without a modifier.

How do I use the FX versions of the synths? [top]

- External audio appears in place of each synth's white noise audio source.
- You must make sure you engage the synth's amp by playing a key - otherwise you won't hear anything.

The ways in which MIDI-controlled audio effects are set up vary considerably on different hosts. When time allows, we may create a PDF guide to setting up MIDI-controlled audio effect plugins in major hosts. Until then, please contact your host vendor for instructions if you do not know how to accomplish this function. The DCAM synth FX versions operate in the same way as any other MIDI-controlled audio effect plugin, and have been tested to work in the latest versions of the following hosts:

Pro Tools
Logic
Ableton Live
Cubase
Digital Performer
Reaper
FL Studio
Sonar

What's possible with the MIDI-controlled effect versions? [top]

The external audio appears in place of the white noise source in the osc section of each synth.

All operations further down the signal path from the oscs can be performed on the external audio - i.e. the filter and amp sections, along with the waveshapers in Cypher.

In Cypher, you can use the external audio within the specialized oscillator functions. This includes acting as a source for audio-rate functions (although you cannot perform audio-rate modulation on the external audio signal itself). Try it with the FM, WM and audio-rate sample-and-hold functions!

If you want only the external audio to be heard (for example, to use the synth as a filter/drive effect), turn down all the other osc source levels except for white noise. You must send the plugin MIDI notes to gate the amp - you can do this in a rhythmic way or use a constant note to use it as a conventional audio processor. The 'Hold' button in the Keying controls can be useful here - if enabled, notes are held indefinitely without needing to keep the key held down.

Alternatively, you can use the other osc sources alongside the input if you prefer to use it as more of a 'synth', allowing many creative applications. You could, for example, run a sample-based instrument such as a piano into a Synth Squad FX plugin with the standard osc waveforms active alongside the input, and use the same MIDI data for both tracks - effectively creating a hybrid instrument.

You can use the synth's unison/voice modulation functions with the external input. With 2 unison voices, the external input (or inputs in Cypher) will be doubled, and you can use a unison modulation source in TransMod system to create different settings for each of the voices - for example different filter types, drive amounts etc.

HOMEPRODUCTSSUPPORTSHOPCOMMUNITYCOMPANY
© 1998-2014 FXpansion™ Audio UK Ltd. All rights reserved.
System Specifications
Minimum specs for standalone operation @ 256 samples / 44.1kHz:
Strobe/Amber/Cypher: 2.0GHz Intel Core (or AMD equivalent)
Fusor: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (or AMD equivalent)
1GB RAM free
Windows XP SP3, Vista SP1 (32-bit)
Mac OSX 10.5.7
350MB of hard drive space
Low-latency audio interface
DVD-ROM drive
Internet connection
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© 1998-2014 FXpansion™ Audio UK Ltd. All rights reserved.
DCAM: Synth Squad will be available in August 2009 from all good music retailers as well as our Online Shop
HOMEPRODUCTSSUPPORTSHOPCOMMUNITYCOMPANY
© 1998-2014 FXpansion™ Audio UK Ltd. All rights reserved.