Lush 101 _ Stripped Down Sound Design [Review]
Ste / ad.lib takes an epic 5 month look at D16’s Lush 101.
Based in Switzerland and responsible for a slew of deranged warehouse Techno tracks on Affin, Gynoid, BCR, Translucent, Cromosom, Ste will always be audiophile first and foremost.
Lush completely captured his imagination as is revealed in this review and his words…
It has taken me quite a while to finish this..
I started 2 weeks before Lush was released, so I guess it’s not going to be a “scratch the surface” type review. What you are reading is basically my experience of working with Lush (and not working with Lush), over the space of 5 months, while producing 3 EP’s.
After getting my hands on the first Version of this softsynth I was really impressed. Full stop.
You could accuse me of being slow at summing things up (seeing I’ve had it ages), but it’s actually that simple. It’s the sound which makes Lush one of the best softsynths ever. This statement is even stronger after a lot of work with Lush. Many synths sounds ok while you browse the presets and hit some notes, but presets contain tons of digital effects already and presets don’t really represent the synths core sound.
Lush has a certain something in the oscillator and filter already. Even without effects, it’s great sounding and very musical. I found myself creating very stripped down synthlines and chords. In fact, normally, I am addicted to reverbs and distortion but I suddenly realised that a synth like Lush works best when tasted raw, without any extra side dishes.
So I started to work on the details of simple sounds, making them sound as good as possible. If you are only working with softsynths you’ll discover a new level of simplicity with Lush. It’s similar to the pure beauty of an oscillator and filter from back in the day. I literally spent hours moving the cut-off up and down, listening to the changes in sound.
Meanwhile, people in forums and blogs started complaining about the mild filter resonance and lack of bite. They were complaining about the tame sound and the narrow band of possibilities. I can’t totally agree with that. It’s a brilliant sounding, very musical filter and personally, I prefer an instrument that’s not capable of reproducing every single desired sound on earth. Lush can create very unique sounds and is probably the very best at what it actually does. Let’s get back to the details later, but for those too lazy to read the complete review, I’ll just say that Lush is a very organic and analog sounding synth which is especially impressive when you move some parameters during the playback of a simple hook. There’s no such thing as resolution or boring digital precision. If you close your eyes you’ll believe that you are listening to an analog synth.
There are other topics and points I want to address, so I’ll try and do them in a chronological order. The second important thing to know about Lush is what most people complain about; the immense hunger for CPU power.
I use an i7 2.5Ghz Macbook Pro with 8GB Ram and am used to adding endless amounts of effects to plenty of channels in Ableton without ever thinking about CPU limits. With a new project and Lush, I skipped through 6 or 7 presets in random order and heard my audio signal stuttering while watching my CPU monitor rise to 115% for the very first time since I’ve had this computer. In the past, I’ve done complex synth routings with multiple instances of U-He ACE with the audio routed to 6 channels, all using d16’s plugins and Ableton’s internal plugins. Last time was 2 days ago in a very excessive way without any problems. Now I use 1 instance of Lush in an empty project and I encounter serious problems playing 2 notes at the same time. Impressed!
It’s annoying when it happens the first time but I realised pretty soon that it’s still able to perform great as a studio tool. The precisely modelled analog synthesis of Lush and the possibility to use multilayer presets means that to sound powerful, it’ll need a lot of power. It’s like one of those super trucks which can run a quarter mile in 6 seconds, pulling 20 tons; they burn 200L of gas for a good reason.