Review: Karanyi Sounds Synths-1 DX

Dani Karanyi is an award-winning composer and producer with over 20 years of music production experience. Together with a group of sound designers and composers from the US and Europe, he has been developing sample libraries under the name Karanyi Sounds. When I came across their product Synths-1 DX in 2018, I was immediately enamored with the atmospheric, nostalgic sounds of the demos – so of course, I had to check it out.

What is Synths-1 DX?

Karanyi Sounds described Synths-1 DX as an “80s inspired synth collection”. To be more precise: “SYNTHS DX is a collection of inspiring sounds for creating subtle cinematic atmospheres, deep, wide sci-fi pads for film, video game, ambient and synthwave music production. With its 60+ instrument presets you get a palette of colors for your next track.”

This description is essential, because Synths-1 DX is not a generic synth preset collection, it focuses specifically on pads and atmospheres. While a few of the included presets can also be played as leads or basses, this is really not what this library was made for. Instead, most instruments are deeply atmospheric, slow moving, thick pads that would feel at home in any 80s inspired indie film or video game.             

Although the name seems to suggest that a Yamaha DX7 was the source of the included samples, it was in fact only one of the 9 synths that was sampled. Here are the other eight synths that were use: Dave Smith OB6, Moog Minitaur, Moog Sub37, Novation X Station, Nord Lead 2, Oberheim Matrix 6, Oberheim Matrix 1000 and the Roland Super JV. So really, quite a mix!

However, since Synths-1 DX is not an emulation, it’d be silly to get overtly concerned with the sample sources, as long as they sound good. I will talk about the sound in a second, but want to focus first on what you’re getting with the library.

The content

The library comes with 17 instruments. Each instrument comes in a few slightly different versions (with different effects and filter settings). When you put all those versions together, you get 60 individual presets.

After opening Synths-1 DX, you are greeted by a beautiful and simple interface. Instead of giving you a bloated and CPU-heavy interface with a million features (which has become quite common in the Kontakt library world), Karanyi Sounds has decided to go a more minimalistic route. There are three shape options available for attack and release envelope, there’s an FX section and a “Scoring EQ”.

Both the FX and EQ section are simple but in a way brilliant. Let’s start with the FX. Instead of giving you a list of effect options, you get two FX switches, with effects that were specifically chosen for this patch. While this might not be every sound designer’s dream, it makes one thing much easier: getting started with writing music that sounds good. With only two switches, there is nothing to overthink.

According to the Karanyi website, the EQ was designed with a specific function in mind: “to ‘push back and add space’ for dialogues in film or video game production” – hence the name Scoring EQ. Again, instead of giving you detailed control, there are simply two settings that you can switch on and off.

There is another, rather big control element: the Pole modulation knob. I first assumed this was a built-in filter, but reading up on it, I learned that the Pole control blends between two layers of recorded samples. Automating the knob is a good way to get more movement into your piece, but if you want an actual filter, you will have to add one yourself.

The Sound

The sound is reminiscent of many 80s TV shows and films – but soft and tasteful. Without a doubt, Synths-1 DX also includes some rather cheesy pads, but always good cheesy, never “old keyboard from a basement cheesy“ (I think some retro library manufacturers struggle with the distinction). Like I mentioned before, this is a pad-focused library and not your 80s allrounder synth bundle. If you need rather straightforward pads that cut through in your latest synthwave dance track, I’m not sure if Synths-1 DX is the right choice – I’d rather go for Diva or an actual emulation. Instead, I see this library at the sweet spot between cheesy vibes and beautiful atmospheres. Its soft, slow moving pads make it a great tool for nostalgic and emotional underscores and ambient soundtracks.

Audio Examples

Here are a few audio examples using some simple chords:

Preset “YokohamaPlus 02 Lo-fi Power”:

Preset “TVNoir 02 Distant Crystals”:

Preset “HalfLife 01 Main”:

Preset “Tines01 04 Slow Memories”:

Preset “CapenterPoly 01 Main” without modulation:

Preset “CapenterPoly 01 Main” with Pole modulation:

Preset “Children Of Atom 01 Main” without FX:

Preset “Children Of Atom 01 Main” with one FX slot turned on:

The Rating

Should you get Synth-1 DX?

Synth-1 DX is a beautiful sample library, not just visually. The sounds are well-programmed, atmospheric and very useable. No matter if you’re working on an 80s inspired sci-fi film or are looking for some nostalgic pads for your next chillwave album, this is a great tool.

Pricing

If there’s one downside to this library, it’s that it’s quite small. But on the upside, at $30 the cost is on the affordable side as well. I’d prefer a price around $20 for a library this size, and luckily it is often for sale at this amount (I got it for around $20 as well). So, if you don’t have an immediate need for it, I’d wait!

Pros:

  • Beautiful GUI
  • Nostalgic 80s vibes
  • Smart effects section
  • Beautiful sounds

Cons:

  • Only 17 basic instruments
  • No filter or advanced effects available

Rating

Sound quality: 10/10
Presets: 7/10
GUI: 7/10
Versatility: 5/10

Overall Rating 8/10

Value for money 7/10 (at $30)

Requirements

  • format: Kontakt 5.8+ – full version required
  • size: 2.7 GB

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