The XILS 3 version 2.0 is a powerful digital emulation of the VCS3, the experimental early 70’s analog synth from EMS.
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A Legend Is Reborn
In 1969, EMS created one of the most legendary and groundbreaking synthesizers ever made. Its compact design was just one of many features that separated the VCS3 from competing products by Moog, ARP and Buchla, whose synth units were often housed in large cabinets, thus inhibiting their portability. And at a price of just £330 at the time of release, it quickly become renowned as an affordable, yet extremely powerful generator of electronic effects, a well as a processor of external sounds that helped characterize one of the most experimental decades in rock music history.
Since its creation, the VCS3’s sonic footprint has graced some of the most classic recordings of the modern age. From artists such as The Allan Parsons Project, Jean-Michel Jarre and Todd Rundgren to Brian Eno, King Crimson and Led Zeppelin, just to name a select few. The sonic textures found on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”, an album that has spent over 850 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart, are a testament to the VCS3’s timelessness. But perhaps the most famous example of the VCS3 in popular music is the opening of The Who anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. To achieve this unique sound, Pete Townshend cleverly ran the signal of a Lowrey organ through the VCS3’s filter and low-frequency oscillators to create one of the most recognizable intros EVER recorded.
Although vintage synthesizers dropped out of fashion for a certain time in popular music, the VCS3 underwent something of a renaissance in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when bands began seeking a more retro synthesizer sound to help their creations stand out from the pack. This, along with the fact that a fully restored and serviced vintage VCS3 would be cost-prohibitive for most artists and engineers and had a years-long waiting list, made XILS Labs’s decision to create a digital version an incredibly easy one to make.
Introducing The XILS 3
In the 1969, the VCS3 was introduced as the first commercially portable synthesizer available in the world, and was used by some of the most experimental artists of their time. And now version 2.0 of the XILS 3 plugin packs all the punch of the standard VCS3 emulation, and adds a second emulation, that of the 256 Analog Sequencer, inspired by EMS’ trailblazing Synthi Sequencer 256. And the best part? With the XILS 3 V2.0, you can basically connect everything with everything, giving you more than 800 possible different connections per patch, with up to 583 simultaneous connections.
How Does The XILS 3 Work?
On the surface, The XILS 3 a soft synth designed to look, feel and sound like the classic VCS3. Until now, there has never been a soft synth that has quite managed to capture the essence of EMS’s synthesizers. But the XILS 3 does that, and more. Version 2.0 adds a SECOND Matrix with 2 additional envelopes, one LFO, a detailed Sample and Hold module, a visual zoom to all matrices, improved polyphonic sequencer workflow, 150 new presets, an improved factory preset bank, and a Voltage processor. There are also more input modules including Gate, Transient, Envelope Follower and Pitch Tracker. All that amounts to hundreds of additional connections. And once you add in the analog chorus with its three modes, and the analog delay, and you really start to see how vital this digital tool can be.
Why The XILS 3 Is Such A Big Deal...
- 6 Oscillators grouped in 3 pairs, with WaveShaping (on sine wave, saw, triangle and square)
- 1 Noise Oscillator (With Noise color)
- 1 Analog Filter, Non Linear and zero delay Behaviors, with 3 Modes (12/18/24 dB LowPass)
- 3 Trapezoidal Envelope Generators, Looping EG in the time of analog (Switchable to ADSR)
- 2 Polyphonic LFOs (including 1 Oscillator acting as LFO at audiorate)
- Polyphonic Ring Modulator
- 2 independent outputs feeding the Stereo Bus, each with one analog Lp/Hp filter
- Programmable Joystick Vector Controller (up to 32+32 modulation targets)