In this review, we’re taking a look at a powerful yet lightweight synthesizer that’ll give you a whole lot of different sounds and tones and keep you entertained for hours.
This plugin was developed according to the creator’s needs. It’s a VA, which emulates analog synthesizers’ circuitry and has similar functionality and response, and uses PM (physical modeling), allowing you to get incredible sounds with the right tweaks. It offers the possibility of changing the interface looks and provides complexity and detail of the sound tuning. Having all of the controls on one page helps achieve the sound faster.
It’s an overall good GUI. It’s colorful, cartoony, easy to read, and color-customizable. The only drawbacks are that every knob and control is placed on the same starting page. There are no tabs, and also the info section is incomplete at the time of the review. The interface could be great for some readers and not so much for the other ones, but objectively, it’s well thought out and arranged. The lack of details could be added to an update, but it’s always best to have it completely out-of-the-box when you’re buying a plugin.
With two different oscillators, an extra LFO, configurable waveforms, a mixer to put those sounds together, plus a couple of other effects and available adjustments, this Synth feels quite feature-packed for its intended purpose.
You’ll get a lot of sounds with this plugin. It’s not meant to emulate real-world instruments but to create new and artificial sounds, and it does a pretty good job at it. There are a ton of tweaks you can make to adjust the tone and response of your sound.
Value for the Price
For the price, Sinmad is worth it. If you choose to buy this plugin, you’ll get your money’s worth in value. And if you know how to dial the “advanced” sound, you’ll have a blast.
First Impressions and GUI
At first glance, it might seem that the options are scarce, but if you start diving into every single one of them, you’ll discover the power available at the tip of your fingers to customize the sound.
Take a look at the top of the interface. You’ll find the following options, from right to left: zoom buttons, easy and full modes switch, interface color changing button, link to the user guide (at the moment it’s still in progress), a randomizer, and the presets section.
Let’s start with the simple sections and then move on to the more complicated ones. First, the Presets section doesn’t have many unique features, so as long as you know how to select, customize, and save presets, you’ll be well covered.
An interesting function is the ability to compare the preset you’re currently tuning with the indicated one in the tab. Below the compare button, you’ll find the words “Current” and “Original”, which suggests if you’re currently viewing your custom one of the original one.
The left dropdown menu lets you choose a sound category. You have at your disposal sounds like pure tones, robotic sounds, wind instruments, keys, strings, etc.
Next up is the Randomizer, which allows you to get a random sound as the word suggests. The interesting thing about it is that depending on the portion of the image where you click is the amount of randomness in the sound change you will get. It seems to follow a somewhat exponential distribution for the randomness. Clicking to the full right will get you vastly different sounds every time while doing so on the left will bring you closer variations in the settings of the knobs.
Continuing with the Easy and Full modes switch, it drastically changes the options at hand in at least half of the sections of Sinmad. In a bit, we’ll start by analyzing the easy and then the full mode, since the Full mode expands on the functionalities of the easier one.
Following up with the general sections of the plugin, we’ll first look at the common sections between the easy and full modes.
Output and info section
It shows an output meter, an oscilloscope, an FM modulator, and the info screen. The oscilloscope shows the output waveform and lets you zoom in and out with the slider bar at the bottom. The FM modulator enables you to tweak a couple of modulation parameters, such as the amount of modulation, the ratio of the envelope, and its source. These parameters are disabled when the FM wave module is not enabled in the Oscillators Mixer in full mode.
The info screen is a very useful tool. It’ll display everything you need to know when you hover over a knob or slider. So in case you forget how to use a specific control, you can always check that out.
At the bottom of each oscillator, you’ll find the basic shape of the waveform’s envelope and, above, the Time configuration. Above the time controller is the Velocity, which is basically the sensitivity of the MIDI input. It allows you to stretch or compress the envelope time of the waveform. In other words, it makes it longer to the right or shorter to the left.
The main controls for the oscillators are the ADSR sliders. They control the overall shape of the envelope, and different sliders control different portions of the envelope. A is for the horizontal position of the initial peak, D is for the decay after that peak. S is the vertical position of the next peak, and R is the decay of that point.
General Settings Section
First of all, we’ll notice a glide slider, which refers to the Portamento between the notes. More glide means more “slide” between two tones, and it’s quite noticeable when it’s maxed out. Next are the poly and mono buttons, which refer to the number of “voices” produced by the synth. I recommend you use mono when you need to keep the CPU usage low.
Octave simply changes the octave range. Tuning is the frequency at which A1 is tuned. Altering it will result in a change of tuning of the entire notes spectrum by displacing the fundamental tone frequency for A1. Finally, the pitch envelope for this section is a slider to a certain pitch. It is measured in semitones, and for example, if you set it to -1 semitones when you play C4, the note will slide down to B3.
Output Knobs and Microtuner
The output knobs are quite easy to understand. The interesting part is the microtuner, which is accessible by clicking on [MT]. Once you’ve clicked that button, the whole microtuner opens up. It will allow you to fine-tune a specific note for all note ranges up or down, and the slider is measured in cents, being 100 cents equal to 1 semitone. The “>>” symbol allows you to rotate the micro tuning settings to the right.
The PT button is a Pure Tone scale for a root note that fixes micro tuning for a determined base note and will adjust the consequent notes to have precise variations in tonal distances relative to it.
Saturation and Limiter
It can be enabled or disabled and consists of two sliders. The upper one is the limiter’s threshold and adjusts the level at which the limiter starts acting. The bottom one controls the gain and does not work when the Threshold sliders are zero. It’s important to remember that this Saturation Limiter has a grainy character, so it’ll stand out too much when used in a clean sound.
No saturation or limiter:
Saturation and Limiter:
To the right of this section, you’ll find a reverb, which is pretty easy to use. We’ll leave that for you to experiment with.
LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator)
This oscillator introduces a low-frequency component to the full sound that can be tweakable in various ways. The type allows you to choose the “shape” of the generated signal, a triangle wave, a sine wave, a square wave. It could be noise and other shapes. You’ll find a good variety, dive in, and start tweaking to get familiar with the sounds.
Speed refers to the fundamental frequency of the LFO. For very low frequencies, keep in mind that unless you own a set of monitors or speakers that can reproduce sounds below 25Hz, you won’t be able to hear the fundamental tone. Still, if the LFO generates a signal that contains several (ideally infinite) harmonics, such as square or triangular waves, you’ll hear the harmonic content, which will surely add up to the sound you hear.
Delay is simply the attack time. Depth is the modulation range for the Target of the LFO. Some of the targets allow negative Depth, meaning phase inversion. This is ultimately saying that the Depth value is just an amplitude multiplier. Finally, for the Target, you can configure it to be Harmonics, Noise, Pitch, Amplitude, etc. Different targets will be affected by the previous settings, ultimately producing a variety of LF sounds.
Corresponds to the settings that handle the MIDI input, such as PB, stands for Pitch Bend. It allows you to set the maximum value for the pitch bend. MW configures the function of the MIDI CC1 (Control Change 1) for the single target that corresponds to the LFO. You can choose from a slide-down menu. AT is the aftertouch to be applied to the same single target of the LFO. As in the MW, you have a list of options to choose from.
This section basically lets you configure the characteristics of the tremolo applied. Speed and random are self-explanatory. The amp depth is the amplitude of the vibrato generated by the tremolo. Bigger speed values will make the depth change more noticeable.
Default Synth Voicing (Speed at 5 and Depth at 25%):
Custom Synth Voicing (Speed at 10 and Depth at 50%):
Pitch depth is the tone deviation that the tremolo provides. Filter depth is the amplitude for the filter applied to the tremolo, which sounds like a low pass filter. There’s no explanation of this section in the user guide, and the information window doesn’t provide much detail about it. The conclusions of the functions are obtained from experience and analysis of the Sinmad.
This section allows you to scale the value of the target, making the scaling relative to the selected note in the corresponding box. To the right of the note box, you can adjust the slope that maps the level per key relative to the target note. If you click on the graph, you can change the curve type to make it more rounded or flatter. Harm adjusts the harmonics level, and the amp button activates the keytracking for the source volume.
Easy and Full modes comparison and explanation
In this part of the review, we’ll be introducing the plugin sections that change between the Easy and Full modes and explain the functionalities of the controls for the Easy mode first and then the Full mode. Some controls are shared between those sections, and they will be skipped.
Very simple interface, with a Main Gain that only affects the oscillators one and two, the noise knob affects only the noise, and the sub corresponds to the sub frequency oscillator level. Burst gain refers to the Harmonically Integrated Attack Transient (HIAT) level. This function adds a lot of harmonic content to the tone, and it’s very distinguishable even in a full mix.
Starting with the top left, the “x4” button extends the harmonic range of the main oscillator. The low and middle frequencies will get richer and fuller sound for an extended range. The wave rotary switch changes the wave type, with the wave type 1 being the FM module that is configurable in the output monitoring area.
Duo enables a dual oscillator with configurable pitch deviation, click over “off”, and drag to adjust. Ranges from “off” to 168 cents, and after that value, you can choose third, fourth, all the way to an octave, referring to the tonal separation between the second dual tone and the main one.
Take a listen to the next example. The lead melody was created using Sinmad.
Custom Smooth Lead Preset, no Duo Oscillator:
Custom Smooth Lead Preset, Duo in Fifth:
Harmonics changes the multiplier for the harmonic content of the slave oscillator. Higher values mean a wider harmonic spectrum and content. The buttons below the harmonics knob allow you to change the origin oscillator that will be affected by these harmonic settings. You can choose to turn it off or the origin to be the oscillator one or two. The button to the far left configures if the envelope of the harmonic content affects the upper or lower section of the oscillator signal.
Main and noise were already explained, and the slider labeled BS gain (burst gain). <AM> turns on or off the Amplitude Modulation by a factor of “sub”. This modulates the sub-oscillator signal with the main oscillator signal. “-12” transports one octave down the sub-oscillator signal. And the square wave icon button transforms the previously mentioned signal into a square wave.
The HIAT module controls the behavior of the HIAT. With BS gain turned off, the module is off. When slid up, the different options become available. The “R” buttons on the right enable a couple of resonance filters, with R4 being the brightest and with the longest decay and with the option to turn it off. The drop-down menu lets you choose different files for the sampling of this HIAT module, providing very different outcomes.
Leaving aside the wet slider, which has the important function of turning on this module, the freq knob is a cutoff filter measured in Hz. This type of filter corresponds to the one that was set in the Full mode of this section. If you have set up a LP6, then in the easy mode you’ll also have an LP6 filter. It’s configurable in the full mode. Reso controls the resonance gain for the filter and env handles the modulation depth.
HP enables a high pass filter that limits and attenuates the low frequencies to avoid LF thumps for fast attacks in this mode. “~bits” reduces the bit depth. Filter is the same as the wet slider in the easy mode. The drop-down menu allows you to choose which type of filter you will be using. Keyfollow seems to enable the keytrack function for this filter. There’s no mention of it in the manual or the info screen. Freq, reso, and env were already explained, and gain is the gain for the filter’s resonance.
Poly Delay Matrix
In this section you will find three types of delay with their unique characteristics. In the center, you can configure three types of delay modes. You can choose two “on” settings for each of them, being the full lit square the full delay enabled.
Resonators are the traditional delay processed through a feedback and feedforward loop to achieve the sound. Memory 250 and 500 are simply methods that store the sound in memory and reproduce it after a certain amount of time. The number indicates the maximum delay time, fixed for the easy mode. In simpler terms, the third option provides a longer delay, and the first option, a shorter one.
Glide/smooth adjust the transition time when the resonators follow the pitch of the notes played. The phase button inverts the signal phase sent to the delay feedback. The amount is the feedback level sent back to the delay for processing.
This will cause opposite increases and drops in volume in some portions of the output sound, and it might also change the delay’s modulation characteristics. It’s caused by phase nulling due to the inversion of the signal’s phase sent to the feedback loop. This phase inversion turns the feedback loop into a negative feedback loop with different responses and characteristics than positive feedback, hence the sound difference.
A and R sliders adjust the attack and release time of the feedback envelope. When using it, the release time is quite CPU intensive, so bear that in mind.
The Full mode allows you to adjust the same parameters with interesting extras. For example, the st/ms knob allows you to configure the resonators’ tuning (st: semitones) when you’re using the Resonators mode and the duration of the delay (ms) when in Memory 250 or 500 modes.
According to the info section, range affects the depth and is measured in milliseconds. Still, in my experience, it seems to handle the modulations’ amplitude and is directly linked to the speed knob. This last knob changes the frequency of the delay after it has kicked in (that value is set on the st/ms knob).
Stereo width sends the Delay two to the left channel and Delay three to the right channel.
We should also keep in mind an important aspect of this section, the matrix is polyphonic in the resonators mode, meaning that it can add three additional voices for each note played. Also, delay lines are cross-fed, which means modifications in the tuning of one of them will also affect the other. These last two features are very interesting and add to the versatility of the Sinmad.
Custom Smooth Lead with Mono Delay:
Custom Smooth Lead with Stereo Delay:
Master pitch configures the detuning of the delay. You can adjust from a semitone flat to a semitone sharp. Mx config std, bal, and wet simply change the processing matrix for the delay. The only new knobs remaining in this section are Damp, which applies a LP filter to the resonance and induces a damped decay of the feedback level, and goes from off to + and – one semitone, and octave shift, which simply shifts one or two octaves up the sound of the delay.
This section showcases a subtractive EQ spectrum, meaning that you can’t add gain, only attenuate. The function of the shape of the EQ is that of having a quick glance at the approximate cuts that are being applied to the sound. The slider above the graph acts as a low and high pass filter. When slid to the left, a low pass filter will be applied, and a high pass filter will be applied if slid to the right.
Add Gain adds a certain amount of amplification to the signal before sending it to the Sat Lim section, and Add Bright increases the level of the high frequencies before inputting the signal to the EQ.
The added features to the Full mode of the EQ are specific controls for frequency cuts and bandwidth. You can adjust the low and high pass filters‘ cut frequency, and for the band-reject filter, you can configure the central frequency, the attenuation level, and the bandwidth. The bigger the bandwidth, the more frequencies will be rejected by this filter.
The final section in this plugin is the Echobis, a double delay that acts as a very slow triggering delay. The bottom knob is a mixer, but the top knob is a feedback level adjustment control, where at minimum, the feedback level is zero, and at maximum, the feedback is the full signal. I got a sound to last over a minute with the Feed control up and the Mix fully processed with Echobis!
In the Full mode, you’ll find a lot of parameters to achieve better sounds. Firstly, the “1><2” knob pans the reflections either to the left or right. The Time adjusts the reflection time of either channel, and this allows you to make an out-of-sync ping pong delay. You also have the option to sync the timing to the tempo set in your DAW with the sync button.
Pitch changes the overall note of each reflection, being accumulative, so if you have a positive pitch configuration, every reflection will be higher pitched than the previous one. Cross mixes the reflection signals from both left and right channels. And finally, “L><R” pans the reflections accordingly, which can get sent to the other channel according to the cross knob. HP and LP are simply High pass and Low pass filters, configurable their respective frequencies.
As we saw and heard, there are many sound customizations to be made with the full mode. The Easy mode is a little bit more limited, which is good for beginners to understand the functions of every knob and be able to reach a sound that resembles their target closely enough. But once you’ve mastered that and want to go deeper, you’ll find a set of options that will provide you with never-ending possibilities to explore, as the limits will be set by your creativity only.
Overall, the sound and quality are phenomenal. One drawback I can find with this plugin that might not even be a drawback for many readers is that it doesn’t emulate real-sounding instruments. I mention it as a drawback because it takes that option out of the equation, but it can easily be a feature that many people don’t even need and are not looking for.
For the Sinmad plugin, the full price is €81.50 (around US$90), and you can download a demo version from their website that’ll give you full functionality of the plugin, but with a 25 minutes limit that can be renewed by just reloading the plugin. It’s available for both Windows and MAC users.
To acquire Sinmad, head over to: https://nusofting.com/plugins/sinmad-synth/.
If you need sound demonstrations, you’ll find them on their website close to the bottom of the page. They also have demo and explanation videos for you to take a look at.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
A good sound can be achieved with the right combination of tools, creativity, dedication, and time. This plugin has proven that to be the case. At the first moment, you might not get the sound you want, but be sure that you’ll eventually find the right tone that fits your track if you put the time to it.
Sinmad also supports MTS-ESP system which is a microtuning system that allows automation of tuning changes across all MIDI devices and plugins, which is an extremely useful tool when you want consistency in your sound.
Sinmad has many varieties, customizations, and specific tweaks to achieve a wide variety of sounds. Once you understand how it works and how every dial changes the tone, you will not be stopped when you hunt for a unique sound to add to your tracks.
At Integraudio, we recommend you give Sinmad a try. Maybe the fact that the info screen doesn’t show every description for each knob is a downside. Still, if you take the time to learn the sound difference that those controls insert into your tone, you’ll figure it out, and because of the possibilities it gives you, this plugin is definitely worth the price you pay for.
Check out this demo video featured on NUSofting’s website:
Readings You May Like:
Headphones & Studio Monitors:
MIDI & Synths:
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Amps & Preamp Plugins:
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility Plugins:
Processing & Sound Design Plugins:
Recording, Mixing, Mastering & Restoration
Ignacio Ponce is a session musician, audio and electronics engineer, with a passion for rock, metal, electronics design, and video games. He specializes in instrumental thrash/groove metal songwriting.