My Review of the Novaline Pro Mars
IntroductionRecently, I acquired the Novaline Pro Mars Plug-Out Soundset and got to experiment with it. Note: currently this document is draft: I have not had a chance to use it in church yet.
So here's my review of this soundset. I highly recommend Novation and their patches!
Installation is very easy. Most those who have a Roland System-1, I imagine, already have their favorite DAW configured and have the System-1 VST/Librarian installed. For those who do, simply click Patch in the VST, click Load, navigate to where you downloaded the file, then click Send All to send them to your System-1 (which should be connected via USB by now).
How It Sounds
Novaline doesn't disappoint. Like his website states, they are mainly geared towards electronic dance music (EDM), but they work for other purposes. I quickly noticed that they fit the general type of music that Novaline produces, which is awesome. So it's definitely him, if that makes sense.
Right from the beginning, it has punchy, bright leads, phat basses, and EDM-like plucks. As usual with Novaline's patches, the volume output level is very high, but that's easy to modify if necessary. If you want bold EDM sounds, this is probably your best choice for patches for the Pro Mars Plug-Out (via the System-1). I was very impressed with the quality of the patches that you get for the money. This is a good investment!
That being said, I'm a church musician. Recently, Hillsong, Elevation and others have been using more EDM-like sounds and synthesizer-based sounds in their worship songs, so I tested the lead patches from Novaline out against some songs I might play in church.
First, I tested several patches, looking for a good synth lead like heard in the song Always Will by Hillsong (Glorious Ruins album). I'm guessing Hillsong uses synthesizers for that sound. It's a very clean lead sound. I found several patches on this Novaline sound set that would work for this, to include Saw Detune (B-5), Waving Lead (A-8), Classic Trance (B-6), Sweet Lead (C-3), Nova Ultra Lead (D-1), and Novaline Lead (D-3), which sounded the closest. None of these are an identical match, but all of them will work and will sound good. You might need to reduce the delay on some of them, but my experience is that, unlike other patches, these seem to retain their delay when you switch patches (i.e. not sound like someone slapped a record player).
Second, I noticed a few of the "pad" patches included in this sound set have a clicking sound. This is due to using the square wave selection in the LFO section. On nearly all of them, changing that wave form to sine wave eliminated it. I only say this because, in church, I wouldn't want that type of sound unless I could synchronize it with the MIDI click (think larger churches with click tracks, etc.). I think on all but two of them, the "click" went away, and you were left with a very beautiful pad. But note that the Pro Mars is technically monophonic: for church, I've never seen a pad that's less than two notes. So with the Pro Mars, I would just tune OSC2 to a 5th away and have a bare minimum pad. And for this purpose, Square Pad (H-2), Square LFO Pad (G-5), Analog Pad 2 (G-7) and Saw Pad (H-5) sound very good. I would personally modulate the low pass filter on them to get them to be more palatable for church, as they're a bit bright, but they will definitely work. I especially liked Analog Pad 2 (G-7) and Saw Pad (H-5). I would use those patches in church.
Finally, we're going to be singing Unstoppable God (Elevation) this Sunday, so I tested out some square-like leads. I found Super Square (C-2) and Dream Reso Saw (D-4) worked and would be suitable for this purpose. However, note that in this song, the synth pluck is a very arcade-sounding square wave synth, so the two patches I just listed aren't an accurate match. But they will work. I wouldn't be afraid to use them in a situation where I can only have one Plug-Out (in the System-1, for example).
Overall, once again, I'm impressed with
Novaline's sound sets, and I strongly recommend that anyone who
owns the System-1 and one of the Plug-Outs (SH-2, SH-101, Pro
Mars, System-100, etc.) should own one of Novaline's sound sets
for that Plug-Out. His patches are a very welcome addition
to your Roland products, and especially if you play EDM.