The XILS 4 is a powerful virtual synth plugin that offers a classic analog sound with flexibility that can only be achieved through digital technology.
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A Synthesizer 50 Years In The Making
1969 was a groundbreaking year with regards to modular synthesizers. Leading the way was a brand new company called Electronic Music Studios (EMS). Led by Peter Zinovieff, Tristram Cary and David Cockerell, their aim was to create a versatile monophonic synthesizer at an affordable price to help entrepreneurial artists and engineers take their musical compositions in exciting new directions. Their first release, the VCS3, retailing for far less than its competitors at just £330, proved to be their first success. The VCS3, short for (Voltage Controlled Studio, version #3) was a portable analog synthesizer with a flexible semi-modular voice architecture. Nicknamed “The Putney”, after the London suburb where EMS co-founder Peter Zinovieff was living at the time, the VCS3 has left its mark on many of the greatest musical compositions of the modern era.
From the innovative sonic textures of Pink Floyd’s “On The Run” to the unmistakably pioneering filtered-organ intro to The Who anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, the VCS3 has been a principal character in the history of popular music for the past half-century. All in all, the VCS3 as well as other classic synths from EMS have graced the recording catalogs of some of the most inventive artists of all time, from Brian Eno, Hawkwind, ELO, Kraftwork and Led Zeppelin, to more modern acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin, U2 and LCD Soundsystem.
But even more legendary than the VCS3, is the VCS4…a prototype that was never put into production. It effectively comprised two VCS3 synths, a five-octave keyboard, a mixer and a signal processing unit, all assembled in a single wooden cabinet, for convenience and portability. And now, finally, with the blessing of EMS co-founder Peter Zinovieff, XILS has launched the XILS 4, the powerful and versatile digital recreation of one of the rarest pieces of equipment in music and recording history. Not only that, but they have also included a ton of brand new features making it even more dynamic and practical than its mythical analog predecessor.
Introducing The XILS 4
The XILS 4 emulates a prototype that was never released, the EMS VCS4, and was based on two intricate and interacting VCS 3 cores, highly used synths in the 70’s by artists like Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and The Who. Those cores were then coupled with the famous 256 analog polysequencer.
The XILS 4 retains the unique sonic character of the original, and also some of the quirks while adding a host of new features. It’s an endless source of inspiration for those who want to go deep into the heart of Analog Modular Synthesis.
How Does The XILS 4 Work?
The features on the XILS are almost too numerous to mention, but that’s what makes it so effective as a synth tool. In the XILS 4, you can connect everything with everything. You get more than 1140 possible different connexions per patch. This synthesizer includes a new preset factory library, with more than 350 presets that were especially designed for it, and also includes the XILS 3 factory library. It also includes tutorial patches, helping you to climb the first steps of your modular life. The XILS 4 is like two classic EMS VCS3 analog synth engines in one powerful unit. You get the 256-step polysequencer, a vast array of external modules, effects, and much more to help bring your most inspired creations to life
Why The XILS 4 Is Such A Big Deal...
With the XILS 4 research Synthesizer, things that were impossible yesterday become possible, with endless creative programming options.
- 12 Aliasing-free Oscillators, grouped in 6 pairs, with WaveShaping, Hard synchronization, + 2 additional Noise oscillators
- 2 Analog Multimode Filters, Non-Linear, and zero delay Behaviors, with 3 Modes (12/18/24 dB)
- 4 Trapezoidal, looping, Envelope Generators. ( Switchable to standard ADSR )
- 5 Polyphonic LFOs ( including 4 Oscillator acting as LFO at audio rate )
- Polyphonic Ring Modulator and VCA engine
- Cascade Mode: Synthesizer 1 can feed Synth 2 engine inputs
- 4 independent outputs feeding the Stereo Bus, each with one analog Lp/Hp filter
- 2 Programmable Joystick Vector Controllers ( up to 32+32 modulation targets )
- Polyphonic Sequencer with 3 independent lines, Slew rates, 3 recording modes.
- Sequencer can behave as modulation source.
- Pitch Tracker, Envelope Follower, Transient, Gate, Sample & Hold Modules
- Chorus, Delay, Phaser, Spring Reverb
- 6 Play modes (including Unison 2/4/6 ), Polyphonic and mono Portamento/Glissando/Legato, 2 different Keyboard Scaling, Polyphonic Aftertouch and VCA handling.
- Nearly 700 presets made by worldwide famous Sound Designers
- Preset Database Engine ( Find the right patch in a flash, create your own tags )
- Comprehensive manual with a getting started and tutorial sections
- More than 100 parameters mappable to midi controllers
- More than 1100 possible connexions per patch