Review: Xils-lab PolyKB II Morphing Analog Synthesizer

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Hey what’s good fam!

Back with another review, this time it’s a synth from Xils-Lab called PolyKB II.

Let’s get into it!

So what is PolyKB II?

polyKB_II_700pThis is a synth plugin based on a vintage analog synth from RFS called the PolyKobol.

One of the main features of the synth is it’s “morphing oscillators” the switch between each waveform is continuous so you can get waveshapes that fall somwehre in between the more traditional ones.

That can also be modulated for some really cool movement and texture effects.

There’s also a polyphonic sequencer and arp, plus built in effects and plenty of modulation options.

With all that, the interface is very easy to navigate which makes it quick to come up with new ideas or tweak existing ones.

Quick Specs

How does it sound?

Reel to Reel Tape RecorderThis is the main thing right? Of course…but first, let me tell you why I even checked this synth out.

Well, I had tried out one of their other synths a few years ago, it didn’t quite appeal to my personal tastes. For me, I need a good sound matched with an interface I like to look at.

As someone who’s really into analog gear, be it vintage synths or the new analog synths of today, I really don’t use a lot of different plugin synths. So when I do, I like to find that it has a really nice character and sound quality.

I’ve tried quite a bit of plugins that aim to capture the analog character, and the more I use actual analog gear the more picky I become.

I was cleaning up my ilok licenses when I found an extended trial license for this one that I hadn’t used yet. (from the many years ago when I tried that other plugin.)

So…after looking at the interface, and reading up on the synth…I figured let me try it…..let’s see if it has an “analog” sound.

When I first played it, I was simply impressed. There was a grit, a warmth, and a truly thick organic feel to the sounds coming out of this plugin. At that point, I kicked myself for not looking at it sooner, and assuming because I didn’t like one, I wouldn’t like this one or any others.

My mistake for sure! There are deep basses, thick leads, and  some absolutely gorgeous pads. Not to mention the keys, brass, soundscapes, and fx. Everything has a very gritty, imperfect character…the very qualities I like about analog.

You can feel the movement in the oscillators, and there’s just an extra layer of crust on the sound itself that is pleasing to the ears.

Throw in the clean interface and all the quick modulation options, the sequencer/arp, and fx, and you’ve got a winner. The sound is dope, plain and simple, while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly fits the style and sound I love from a synth.

So what’s the bottom line?

I was skeptical for sure, I figured it would be another “hey that sounds cool, almost analog, but something is still missing”, and while it will not totally replace my analog hardware, or stop my from continuing to add more, it definitely has a place in my permanent setup as I feel it gives me the character and texture I desire from a synth in general.

5subsI give PolyKB II 5 out of 5 subs, it sounds thick and gritty with an easy to tweak interface that makes it super easy to enjoy.

Sure, synths with a more digital sound have their place, I have nothing against VA and Wavetable synths at all, I use them as well, I just prefer that “analog” sound more.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain, but when you know it, you know it, it’s the subtle ways the sound changes and fluctuates, and the extra “something” that you can hear…and feel, in the sound.

Anyway, this plugin sounds great, I don’t know how close it sounds to the original, but if the original is anything like this, I see why they are so hard to come by. Besides the fact that many weren’t made, I doubt anyone who has their hands on one will be getting rid of it.

This is the type of plugin that you wish had it’s very own controller, yes it’s that enjoyable to play.

Go on over and check it out, download the demo if you want https://www.xils-lab.com/pages/PolyKB.html

They also have a player version that has the same engine, same factory library, just not every single control. There’s 8 macros that you can customize for controlling for example, you can toggle fx, and you have full arp control among other things.

Either way, let me know what you think below.

If you’ve been using this for a while, let me know, and feel free to make fun of me for being late to the party.

Review: Xils-lab PolyKB II Morphing Analog Synthesizer
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10 Comments

    • Yup lol, I’m spoiled man, want hands on control, don’t feel like mapping lol. Also why I use hardware so often, and why I dig Maschine, Push, etc.

      I’ve seen folks build custom hardware controllers for a few synths like imposcar and such. But anyway, joint sounds dope, one of them few that will get constant use from me.

      Reply
  1. I’ve used this for years and it’s still the most warm 3 dimensional and fattest analog synth in my vst collection. I love the Manx and Memorymoon synths to but the efx make this one my favorite. Thanks for the Demo my brotha!

    Reply
  2. Sure looks interesting! Everybody seems to use Sylenth a lot – is this as good I wonder?
    or just different? I’m going to be spending on some new gear soon – (probably Omnisphere), still there’s so much tempting stuff available

    Reply
  3. ”Sure, synths with a more digital sound have their place, I have nothing against VA and Wavetable synths at all, I use them as well, I just prefer that “analog” sound more.

    Sometimes it’s hard to explain, but when you know it, you know it, it’s the subtle ways the sound changes and fluctuates, and the extra “something” that you can hear…and feel, in the sound.”
    Absolutely nailed it. Thanks dood. Most amazing software synth ever imo.

    Reply
  4. Your desire for a dedicated controller has been answered! You are a Maschine user, right? Xils-Labs added NKS support for both this (the PolyKBII) and for their dual EMS (Putney) VCS-3 synth, the XILS-4. So, now you can have physical knobs – already mapped to this thing! 🙂

    Thanks for your great reviews, as always. This seriously influenced my purchase, along with the one at SonicState.

    Terry

    Reply

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