U-HE DIVA – which stands for (Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analogue Synthesizer) has been out for a while now and its latest incarnation is version 1.3. This update brings you the new digital osc which faithfully recreates a famous synth that was introduced at the end of the 90s. Famous for the classic ‘so called’ Super Saws. Also theres a new UHBIE filter this is an emulation of the OB-X/SEM filter and an arpeggiator.
DIVA is a deep beast that can take you back to the sound of analog synths. Emulating the giants that we all know and love. A beautiful and well layed out GUI is the first thing you see when you start up the instrument.
At the left side of the GUI is the Oscillator section. 5 different osc modules are selectable here: Triple VCO (morphing oscillators with FM, sync and filter feedback), Dual VCO (multi-wave oscillators with sync, PWM and cross mod), DCO (multi-wave oscillators with sync, PWM and cross mod), Dual VCO ECO (CPU-friendly, pulse width, ring modulation), DIGITAL (JP style osc).
DIGITAL is the new option you can choose in the osc section. This emulates first and foremost the synth with the famous supersaw sound. A rich and familiar sound reaches your ears when you select wave1 and turn up the detune knob. The classic Supersaw is 7 saw waves slightly detuned from eachother. A sound very muched loved in older trance productions and taken to max in Hardcore and Hardstyle for instance.
I must say I’m very impressed with the emulation, I have used the original on a lot of my productions in the past and in my honest opinion, … it’s spot on. Lots of other waveforms are also selectable in the digital section making it a very versatile new add on.
In the middle of the synth is the filter section. Divided into Ladder (selectable 12db or classic 24db Moog style),Cascade (cleaner 12db filter,great for pads), Multimode (lp4,lp2,hp, bp), Bite (Brutal filter with character), and the brand spanking new addition UHBIE.
UHBIE is modelled after the OB-X/SEM Filters. Rich creamy sound is possible with this new gem. Just turn the resonance up and start filtering the cutoff and you get squelchy goodness, but watch your speakers. The morph knob lets you blend between hi and lowpass and everything in between which makes this filter really special. There’s a band pass and band reject knob to color the character of the filter some more. UHBIE is a very welcome addition to this update of DIVA.
At the far right is the envelope section. Divided into two envelopes , selectable into ADS (simplified adsr), ANALOG (Modeled after a famous analog synth), DIGITAL (Modeled after a famous digital synth). Hints on what synths are modeled are in the manual.
Bottom row is reserved for the modulation, tuning, amp & pan and finally the effect section. A special nod to the tuning section, because this is the place where the analog magic can be accentuated. Notoriously known for small pitch & tuning variations, old analog synths really needed to warm up for a while to get to a stable pitch between the oscillators. This is part of the charm and so often called warm characteristics of analog equipment. In the tuning section you can make small deviations between the voices in the oscillators or detune the stacks a little, all helping to get you to the ultimate analog feel. Amp & pan are self explanatory and can be modulated by diverse sources.
The effect section is a two part affair with the basic effects: Chorus, Phaser, Plate(reverb),Delay and Rotary. Effects are of good quality but nothing to modern. All in keeping with the feel of old synths.
Arpeggiator: A very basic arpeggiator is added to the new 1.3 update, don’t expect a modern arp with all the bells and whistles but instead a really cut down oldschool arpeggiator.
What makes DIVA special?
Diva is one of the few synths that really captures the analog sound. The fact that you are be able to mix and match different oscillators with different filters and envelopes and thus create a hybrid of old classic synths makes it a monster in my book. Basically you can create sounds that wouldn’t be possible in the old days. For instance making a sound using the Triple VCO, throwing that through a UHBIE filter and using DIGITAL envelopes. Almost like a modular system with the best parts from every famous manufacturer and creating your own dinosaur synth. DIVA is a great synth but to understand it fully there’s a slight learning curve and I advise to read the manual to get the full potential out of this beauty. The manual is very well written and gets into details that I won’t sum up because it’s beyond the scope of this review.
For more info visit the u-he website.
For this review, Rob has designed a few personal presets for this ‘beast‘, as he calls it. For anyone interested download the U-he Diva Rob Fabrie Bonus Sounds (presets) (right click save as action).