Gforce Software VSM plugin has been on the market for 13 years and with the V3 the developers confirm that it is still one of the best virtual string machine instruments in 2020.
VSM is a very special rompler. It only features sounds from vintage string machines, more precisely from 21 iconic instruments. The selection can be expanded to a total of 47 sampled instruments with the VSM expansion pack. Both installed, you have so many string machine sounds that you even dream of it. VSM is a classic rompler, own samples cannot be loaded here and is not a Kontakt replacement.
These legendary string machines (Elka Rhapsody, Solina…) were sampled here in great detail by recording and looping 49 notes individually. In order to guarantee the high-quality of the material, the sounds can only be played in a 49 note ranges, a super low or high note is not possible. No stretching etc. only the sampled note are playable. The right decision in my opinion.
Flexibility & Versatility Thanks To the Dual Engine
A rompler that can only playback string machines sounds at first glance like a very limited virtual instrument. On the one hand yes, the main focus of VSM is on high-quality string machine sounds, but some bass or pads are also included. You have to be aware of this when you purchase this plugin. If you know that, the dual engine is very versatile and flexible to use. With this, you can easily combine sounds from two different string machines.
This process is dead-simple and you don’t need to read a manual for this. For example, a sound from the ARP Quartet and another from the Logan String Melody can be chosen via the built-in sample set browsers. The result is a new string machine sound that doesn’t exist in hardware. However, if you do not want to play the sounds together, there is an option to split the sounds on the keyboard.
Choose From These Iconic String Machines
ARP Omni, ARP Quartet, Crumar Multiman, Elka Rhapsody, Eminent 310, Freeman String Symphonizer, Junost 21, Korg PE-2000, Logan String Melody, Oberheim OB-8, Oberheim Xpander, Moog Opus 3, Polymoog, Roland RS202, Solina, Yamaha SK-15, Yamaha SS-30, Roland Juno 106 Stereo, Roland RS505 Stereo, Solina Stereo, Yamaha CS-60 Stereo & Yamaha CS-80 Stereo.
If you are looking for more sounds from vintage string machines that are not included here, you should take a look at the almost 5 GB VSM Expansion pack that includes sounds from 26 classic instruments, 87 individual sample sets, and over 550 patches. Included are:
ARP Qudra, Clef Strings, Crumar Trilogy, Elektronika EM25, Elektronika EM25, Farfisa Soundmaker, Firstman FS-4V, Godwin String Concert, Hohner K4, Jen SM207 String Machine, Korg Lambda, Logan String Melody II, Polymoog Vox Humana, Sequential Prelude, Technics SX-K200, Teisco SX 400, Roland VP330, Yamaha CE-25, Yamaha GX-1, Mellotron ® MkII, OB-8 Voice Stereo, OB-12 Stereo, Orchestron, Roland JP-6 Stereo, Roland JP-8000 Stereo, Roland VP-330 Stereo, Yamaha CS-60 Stereo & Yamaha SY-2 Stereo.
Design Your Instrument
The sample sets can be processed separately (A/B) or together (link) with various parameters: tune, detune, pan, level, multimode filter (LP/HP/BP) as well as several effects (phaser, ensemble, stereo width). Filter and amp can also be modulated to get movements in the sound, also separately or together with a filter & amp envelope. Further, there is a syncable LFO on each layer that can modulate the filter and pitch. Nice is here that you have here dynamic control that offers per example aftertouch on the filter.
Since the plugin has been on the market for 13 years, many reviews are based on the older version 1 or 2. In the last update (V3) from 2019, the sample sets and the engine were expanded again. In addition to numerous extra sounds, VSM now offers true stereo playback for some sample sets which is a very nice extra and another LFO destination. The GUI has also been revised and now includes two interface sizes (small & medium). Better would be a vector-based GUI but it is good to have two sizes at least.
The sound quality of the sampled string machines is excellent. Yes, I’m not exaggerating. They were sampled and edited in such a way that they still sound super authentic in the plugin. If you compare the sound with synthesis or physical modeling-based plugins (Arturia Solina V …), the VSM sounds much more authentic in my opinion. No wonder: it is based on sample content from the original machines, others emulate it. The built-in effects also fit perfectly with the content. They do not falsify the basic tone of the sampled string machines and make the patches sound even better.
Video Review & Sound Demo
On the whole, Gforce Software Virtual String Machine is completely convincing. In my opinion, the VSM is still one of the best string machine plugins out there, even after 13 years on the market. If not the best! It sounds fantastic and is super flexible thanks to its dual engine. The update 3.0, which was released last year, introduced some new features that made the plugin even better: stereo playback, two interface sizes, and an additional LFO destination.
It is the one-trick pony for amazing vintage string machine sounds and anyone who loves such sounds will enjoy this plugin. I have been using the plugin for over 4 years and am still enthusiastic about its quality. As a disclaimer, GS did not provide an NFR version for this test.
- excellent sound quality
- big selection of vintage string machine sounds
- the two-layer engine adds flexibility (design a brand new string machine sound using samples from two different instruments)
- dead-simple interface
- factory library size vs. quality (800+ presets)
- serial only registration
- no individual sizes of the GUI possible (future vector-based interface update?)
- no VST3 support
Gforce Software Virtual String Machine is available now for $129 USD from the official website.
More information here: Gforce Software