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Rating and Reviews: Access Virus TI2 Polar

Tear up the scene with the Access Virus TI2 Polar. This next-gen virtual-analog synth adds more effects and 25% more processing power in a lighter housing.

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"Fantastic Synth, worth every cent." submitted June 30, 2014

By Andre L in Berkeley, CA
Overall
Sound
Features
Ease of Use
Quality
Value
Manufacturer Support
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: I've been playing synths, guitar and bass for roughly 22 years, produced an award winning album, some commercial sound design
Music Style: Mostly alternative and electronica, occasionally Hip-hop.
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Overall: I've had the TI2 Polar for six months now, and I use it every day. I bought it as an upgrade from a Virus B. It's definitely similar to the older Virus line with some pretty awesome features. I'm coming at this from a Linux user perspective so I can't really speak to the Total Control Integration point of view, that is unfortunately a Windows or Mac only piece of software. I run it exclusively as a midi only box, although I occasionally use the USB in/out as an audio capture device. The sound on the synth is definitely the selling point for me, especially with the updates like wave tables and arp to mod matrix support. This is a pretty amazing synth engine in it's own right and adding a keyboard just makes you want to play on it all the time. The construction is very sturdy, the knobs feel like they will last quite a while, the weight of it makes the smaller size easily giggable. I've also instilled a lot of lust in my friends playing synths like the Moog Voyager, so I would say it fares well even though it's virtual analog. For me the key pros were: * Fantastic sounds and effects for every midi channel * Easily sculpt sounds from the hardware interface * Integrated keyboard * More DSP = more sounds * Great training videos, however they should post more of them. * Support on the forums is actually pretty nice, a little digging pulls up a lot of great information. Main Cons: * The total control is supposed to be very stable now, however may still require tinkering. Since there is no VST only version of the software, and I am on Linux, it is really only possible to use it like the original Virus B. * The manuals are not clear, you need to read several versions only to discover you need to read the original TI manual - there is no TI2 specific manual other than the quick start. They expect you to read the manual from the Total Control help. * Even with the extra DSP I managed to bog the synth down using it as a drum module. Each note is very short with no long decays, and yet I maxed out with 7 patches fairly easily. Most were simple drum sounds. That being said there are lots of tricks for getting a lot more out of the DSP, I was using premade sounds that weren't really optimized for multi-timbral playing. * Some parameters are now buried with the Shift button, which can make tweaking those parameters a little harder to tweak while also playing. * Vocoder is nicely complex, which made it hard to get a useful sound out. Documentation is slim, but I finally worked out they have a bunch of presets for a reason. * Knobs work when using it as a generic midi controller, but buttons don't. * Web site was often glitchy and hard to download updates from. It's still USB 1, and running any other devices on the same port may cause glitching. Overall though, if you make a point of thinking of this as an amazing sounding piece of hardware and you take the time to learn the hardware interface, it will pay off. If you are trying to use the Total Control software, your millage may vary considerably. I wouldn't view the Total Control as the main selling point.
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