Dante:  For some time on PlanetZ there has been discussion regarding the performance of the Solaris soft synth on the XITE-1.  Some XITE-1 users raised concerns regarding using the flagship on the XITE-1 because it didn't yield polyphony equal to what could be obtained on a PCI card system.

John Bowen:  While I do understand the frustration of not being able to run my bigger plug-ins (Solaris, Quantum Wave) with more polyphony on the XITE systems, the situation is that these two plug-ins require more connections internally than the XITE system can provide so there is no way to optimize them further.  The only thing I could do would be to reduce the number of modulation options for each plug-in, so that they would not be anywhere as flexible as they are now (which is a big part of their appeal, it seems).  I would have to make new versions, severely reducing the number of connecting pathways internally for them to give greater polyphony but then you wouldn't have all that the synths are capable of.

Dante:  From this I concluded that if internal rework would reduce the synthesizers capabilities it would not really be worth it, since the Zarg range already covered sonic territory with less parts in other synths.  I asked myself whether reducing the complexity of the presets themselves could achieve higher usability.  I set about checking out just what made many presets so complex, and discovered that there was some redundancy in many of the presets.  Certain presets contained components that could be switched off completely without adversely affecting the sound.  I set about creating some test presets on my XITE-1D and then asked if they could also be tested on a full XITE-1 and replies soon followed:

RP_001:  I could go up to 8 or 9 voices and save and recall a project with the same amount of voices without error or asking for optimizing the project.  I also succeeded switching through your other presets with 6 voices and in some case 8 voices, which may take some time though so it may be 'saver' to reduce the amount of voices and then switching through other presets.  Tested on Solaris 4.1 which, I believe, has less parameters then the 5.0 version.  I will check out the 5.0 later this week.

DJMicron: XITE-1 here, I can load all your presets with 6 voices at 48Khz without any problems.  As usual, first Solaris load has been done with 0 voices then it loads the presets fine and the DSP allocation is 1 voice per DSP.   I tried up to 8 voices with success, with the caveat that at the upper limits the loading times become slow and sometimes it needs to be set back to 0 voices to solve issues.

Dante:  Thanks for the tests guys.  So on the full XITE-1 we can get 6 voices without issue and it's not until 7 or 8 that problems start to occur.  It seemed that although the caveat of preset surfing at low polyphony still applied, that the general idea of optimizing factory or original presets to achieve good polyphony on the XITE-1 was a reasonable one.  So I set about expanding and tuning my preset bank and ensuring it would run with reasonable polyphony.  Some presets where derived from those I had created for Solaris 'Core' from factory banks.  I scanned through all the factory sounds, taking the ones I liked and stripped them down by turning off less used features.  The result is a bank of mostly pads running at four voice polyphony with ASIO, mixer and FX loaded into the 48KHz XITE-1D Scope project as well.  In general, they run at maybe one less voice polyphony than on the Solaris Core.


Some hints for getting more mileage out of Solaris v5 on  the XITE-1 :

1) Use the small LED bar at top to switch things out (very handy)
2) Program more conventional (bread and butter) sounds.
3) Avoid including external wavs or files that don't exist causing errors.

4) The flanger with a fully right clockwise phase is a great device for widening stereo pads, and inexpensive DSP wise.

5) If you really need more poly there's always the option of reducing sample rate to 44KHz, which is still CD quality after all.

6) Add an Optimus Prime (demo below).

In summary many of the factory presets seem centered around exotic / soundtrack type sounds, with bread and butter type sounds somewhat lacking.  Also there seems many presets where some components can be switched off without any detriment to the sound.  In reality how many of us would actually use those exotic presets often?  Sure they are great to play with whilst doing that initial preset surf or to impress your friends, but day to day, unless you're providing a backdrop to a rising paper mach'e model of Stonehenge for the local band or ambient relaxation music for anesthetized dentist patients, Buddhists or bored housewives then you're more likely to be using more conventional sounds.  This is not to say there is not a place for complex sounds but for those of us who are producing movie soundtracks it may be best to keep the PCI cards for which the synth was designed.


Demonstration of Solaris V5 and Optimus Prime

Dante January 2015


Download the Solaris V5 XITE preset bank here.