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Phoscyon 2 Review

D16 Group Phoscyon 2
5.0

D16 have release this TB303 VST emulation, and it's epic

In our Phoscyon 2 Review we check out the latest TB303 vst plugin from D16 which emulates to an amazing standard the classic acid sound.

If you are looking for an authentic sounding acid bassline emulation then this VST plugin is the one for you. Short of buying a Behringer clone of the TB303, this is the next best thing to getting the sound into your DAW. We took it for a spin and had a play with the features of the new D16 product in our Phoscyon 2 review.

Phos what?

It took me a while to pronounce the name but while writing this review I’ve been able to make sense of it. Still not entirely sure what it means but it falls in line with the other crazy naming which I love and makes D16 products extra special.

What D16 do say is that this is the emulation of the legendary 303 silver box and has been taken to entirely new heights. They’ve revamped the signal path was completely along with re-designing things to achieve an unprecedented level of emulation accuracy, resulting in this new incarnation of the plug-in.

Phoscyon 2 Review First Impressions

As with all my reviews that happen on Part Time Producer, they get road tested within Bitwig Studio. I generally think that if it works in Bitwig, it will work in any DAW.

Getting the plugin installed and registered was a doddle (British for easy) and was just a case of installing the demo from the website and activating it with the key provided at time of order. VST now scanned and it appears.

phoscyon 2 review main image
Phoscyon 2 in Bitwig Studio

Play Mode

The play mode feature was an important learning when trying to get the program functioning. I couldn’t initially work out how to get any sound out of Phoscyon 2 until I ready the manual. In here I learned in this Phoscyon 2 review that there are three different play modes:

  • External Play Mode (EXT position) – The plug-in uses notes coming directly from the host app to generate sound, behaving like
    a regular monophonic synth. In this mode, the Internal Sequencer section is disabled and hidden.
  • Sequencer Play Mode (SEQ position) – The plug-in replays patterns that are internally stored and will start to play as soon as you hit
    Play in your DAW. Patterns can be selected using the Pattern Selector section (Live mode) or MIDI Notes (Host Note mode).
  • Arpeggiator Play Mode (ARP position) – The plug-in generates sequences based on the user’s input (MIDI Notes) to play
    pre-programmed arpeggiation patterns, which are stored similarly to patterns for Sequencer Play Mode

By default it plays in Sequencer mode and it was this which was causing me the issue. However I can see the benefit of using this mode when the device is routed to record sound into your DAW rather than working with Midi. I can now crack on with the Phoscyon 2 review and play more.

phoscyon 2 review play mode
Play mode needs setting to Ext (circled in red) to read midi notes from your DAW

Effects Galore

I was immensely impressed with the effects available in not just the presets of the program but also what was able to be tweaked. In the effects window there is 5 tabs to cheese from: EQ, Delay, Reverb, Chorus and Limiter. All key for any mix and can be switched on and off with a click of the light.

The FX can also be dialled in as required. Again, something which can be assigned to midi and automated.

I really liked the reverb when doing this Phoscyon 2 review as it offered up numerous settings and presets within the effect. Some so drastic that it sent my speakers such sound that I felt I was in an epic space. A huge hall with echo and reverberation all around me. Not bad for a box room in a detached house in Wigan really!

Phoscyon 2 Review tb 303 clone

Midi Learning

The ability to learn and route midi throughout this product makes it a cut above the rest and really useable. Phoscyon features active MIDI Output. This allows the control of external instruments (virtual or hardware) by Phoscyon’s internal sequencer.

It works either in Live mode or Host Note mode. When Phoscyon is in External mode, it passes MIDI Notes through itself unchanged. Velocity values of MIDI Notes sent by Phoscyon are calculated according to whether a note is accented or non-accented.

Additionally, a generated sequence may include MIDI CC#01 codes if Vibrato was used. Also under some circumstances MIDI CC#64 (Sustain) can be utilized – when there’s slide used and accent for the consecutive note with same pitch. A great find and made doing the Phoscyon 2 review fun to do!

The Host Link Active mode

Furthermore to the midi learning function is the host link ability. The Host Link Active option is accessible from the Cog icon in the Pattern Selector section and controls the way the plug-in sequencer’s cursor position is aligned with the cursor position of the project in your DAW.

  • Option disabled (default) – The cursor position of Phoscyon’s sequencer is synchronized only once, when the sequencer starts to play, then the internal clock takes it over.
  • Option enabled – The cursor position of Phoscyon’s sequencer is continuously aligned as long as the pattern plays.

The main difference between having the option disabled or enabled can be seen when you use loops in your project. When the option is disabled and the host rapidly changes cursor position, Phoscyon ignores it and continues playing as if the position change didn’t occur.

But when you enable the option and the host changes cursor position, Phoscyon re-adjusts its own cursor position in response to the
change.

Phoscyon 2 Review midi learning function

Under the hood tweaks

Phoscyon 2 lets you tweak the settings under the hood by a clever little animation flap under the name in the top right of the product.

It makes you feel like you are getting the real hardware experience when you can mess with little things such as virtual potentiometers to make slight changes. The geek side of me loves this feature and it’s a lovely touch.

Phoscyon 2 Review tweaking

In Conclusion

This is one of the best TB303 emulation plugins on the market. You can try ABL Bassline as an alternative, but out of the two this is going to be the one I use to create the acid sound going forward. 5/5 – Top marks.

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