FXpansion DCAM Synth Squad-True Analog Sounding Software?


Synth Squad Box Shot July 9 2009

FXpansion is changing everything with their new synth squad

Okay, so…if you don’t know about FXpansion, it’s safe to say you’re probably new to the software music game.

They have been putting their mark on music production software for some time with their drum groove station GURU as well as their professional and standard setting drum instrument BFD.

So we know they have the drum game on lock right? But what about the synth game?

I will tell you, I am a HUGE fan of their free synth plugin Orca…the sound was very nice, and I continue to use this little free plugin.

But a few months ago…we got wind of some straaaaaaaaaaaaange happenings going on over at the FX cave.

Rumors of a new “analog” based synth  plugin started to swirl about…

I hear many of you saying “oh great…ANOTHER…analog synth emulation, how many moogs and arp emulations do we need?!”

I thought the same thing….until I actually went over to synthsquad.com

Luckily they sent it over for me to review!

The technology and inovation behind the new synth squad…

So, FXpansion promised a new and innovative technology behind this new synth creation.

Not samples, not mere emulations of classic analog gear…no sir…were talking about modeling the discreet circuitry that made up the various classic analog synthesizers.

To my personal knowledge…this has never been done before. But…I think Angus can explain it better than me…watch this short video from FXpansion founder Angus Hewlett.

Enough of the technobabble…what does it sound like?

synthsquadlogos_mini_pressI don’t want to do like most other reviews and simply rehash the same tech specs and techno talk that you can find on the website, I know you come to me for straight to the point info and opinion…so there it is.

If there was one word I’d use to describe my initial reaction when hearing synthsquad for the first time….it’s RAW!

Man, I am not even lying to you.  This synth sounds totally different from ANY other softsynth I’ve ever heard personally.

Something about the character of it…it’s not “polished” sounding…but very real, in  your face…and imperfect!

Imperfect in a good way…it reminds me of the feeling I got when I first played with my novation supernova….just a totally different sound than ANYTHING I am used to…especially in software.

Is this the analog sound folks always speak on? I don’t know…I’ve never played an actual analog machine…but I will tell you it doesn’t have a “digital” sound like many software and even hardware machines these days.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with digital sounding products…I just love when a product has something unique…and synthsquad delivers.

Everything from hard, fat…in YO face while smacking your ear drum leads and bass…to sexy, feels like ecstasy pads and strings…and anything you can imagine.

This squad delivers the goods.

How easy is it to use? How deep does it go?

fusor_animator_0_5_0_24Again, FXpansion is a top notch company, and I am constantly impressed by their attention to small detail. For example…they give you a manual with the squad that is pretty much a university level entry course in synthesis!

Now….if you don’t know about synths, synthesis types, how they work, produce sound, etc…fear not…you will learn by reading this manual.

It’s definitely made by a bunch of synth freaks for the rest of us synth freaks…but they make it VERY easy to get huge and amazing sounds with their intuitive interface.

It can be as simple or as deep as you want it…I mean…if you really want to get into all the juicy details go check it out at synthsquad.com

What is included…I mean…what the heck is it?!

Well, FXpansion took the term squad literally…synth squad is not just one synth, it’s a family of 3 synths that all share a common layout, with different types of synth engines represented.

strobe_0_5_0_24You’ve got Strobe…the synth that recreates the circuitry of some of the finest analog monosynths,

However…it still gives you polyphony, unison, etc.

Hard leads and bases, as well as some sick arps.

amber_0_5_0_24Next you’ve got Amber, this synth is modeled after the various classic string synth machines, and uses “divide-down” synthesis.

What does that mean? Well, you’ll have to read the manual for a more thorough explanation…as it was new to me too!

What I will say is that…using this type of synthesis, you are able to play 96 notes with one voice.  This baby is definitely uniqe sounding, and very user friendly.

cypher_0_5_0_24Then you’ve got Cypher…now this one is a monster.

It’s FM synthesis on steroids with a little bit of attitude!

Not only is it based on FM synth circuits, but they also give you the ability to tweak even more to get sounds and timbres not possible with JUST FM synths…it also does some wave modulation stuff, among other things.

fusor_global_0_5_0_24Finally you’ve got Fusor…think of fusor like the mayo on your favorite sandwich…it just brings it all together!

Fusor allows you to load any combination from any of the 3 synths into the 3 available slots.

So you want one instance of Strobe and 2 of Cypher? go for it! Fusor has built in fx, including Overloud’s Breverb ( all you engineering freaks will know that one).

Not only does it allow you to add fx, but Fusor also includes an arpeggiator and step sequencer! This is where you can make your huge layered sounds, keysplit performance setups…or anything else your crazy mind can think up.

Make sure you go back and watch the video to see the various parts of Fusor.

Bottom line is this….Get it!

I’m definitely not a guy that thinks you need every vst that comes out…but there are some I definitely feel you can’t be without.  The fact that for $249, the same price as some single instruments,  you get 3 synths and a monster “synth rack” in one package is crazy.

I’m glad they decided to put them in one package instead of separate synths…we definitely love them for that one!

The sounds you can get out of this powerful synth toolbox is nothing short of AMAZING.

You can grab Fxpansion DCAM: Synth Squad Virtual Instrument at musiciansfriend for just $249.


  1. how ya doing man. i hope you are dowing well… because of your experience i want to ask you a question .the synths or machines are very expensive thats why i want another solution i want to see all in one .i mean piano drum kits brass pad string ect… in one hot soft ware .is it possible. the 2nd question is where do you live. i mean in wich state .im waiting for the green card man. i will come to your state i will meet you .and i want you to teach me real hip hop production .see you

    • Sup man…well, there are a few softwares that have all the sounds. Stuff like sonar, cubase, ableton live, reason, logic…they all have some included instruments that will cover most of all those sounds.

      Have you had a chance to checkout the beat thang virtual yet? It has some pretty dope sounds and isn’t as deep as those others, it’s strictly made for beat making. But the other ones will take you a long way and you can add other instruments if you want.

      Also, I like that Maschine from Native Instruments, it’s got a lot of different sounds in it.

  2. They’re definitely great synths, i like the “analog knob” feature to make it sound retro. You can get some really unique sounds out of it. Deadmau5 and Chris Lake both use it so it must be good!


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