While the prospect of a new LinPlug synth is always exciting, the fact that Sophistry uses the same core engine as CronoX 3 means that you know what to expect.
The improvements made to this synth/sampler hybrid's sound and interface are certainly commendable, but we felt the legacy presets sounded weak.
Pleasingly, Sophistry comes with a vast library of all-new presets (700 of them, in fact), which equates to 5GB of content.
Of course, such big numbers are meaningless if the sounds are crap, so let's give this purple-faced monster a poke and find out what kind of noise it makes.
Big, bold sounds
Sophistry's presets are split into 26 categories. While this might sound like a lot, it's worth noting that most of them are pad, ambient and synth sub-categories.
The four ambient categories (including the rather oddly named 'Human Dreams' set) are awash with whooshes, washes, sweeps and swirls.
There's plenty of Global Communication-style content for those atmospheric moments, and the sounds are big, bold and easily on a par with those you might expect to hear on a hardware workstation synth.
Thanks to the use of long samples, the patches have plenty of movement and detail, and they can add size and atmosphere to a piece at a stroke.
Pad all over
The pads are divided into ten categories and range from relatively unexciting synthy brass offerings to immense, breathy soundscapes.
The breadth and quality here is superb – this is possibly the best collection of ready-made virtual instrument pads we've played.
The sounds may be sample-based, but you can still do quite a bit of customisation and tailoring to make them suit your specific requirements, and the CronoX 3 engine is a powerful beast indeed, boasting great filters, effects and modulation options.
The other categories cover various synth styles (bass, brass, dance and digital emotion), strings, arpeggiators, sound effects and leads.
The quality is uniformly high, and if you fancy programming sounds from scratch using the supplied samples, there are two banks of basic waveforms to get started with.
We only encountered one problem when we were testing Sophistry: the GUI didn't refresh properly when we returned to it after working in our sequencer.
However, we assume that this issue will be resolved soon, and it doesn't detract from what is a superb synth offering very fine presets.
Reasonably priced. Great sounds all round. The pads in particular are stunning. A huge number of presets. Loads of effects and features built in. A bit more attractive than CronoX 3.
Same engine as CronoX 3. Interface refresh issues.
Its engine might not be new, but don't let that bother you. Sophistry offers great ambient and pad sounds by the truckload.
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.
Ambient synth/sampler hybrid.
Min Processor Speed (GHz)
Apple Mac OS X 10.2.6 or later Microsoft Windows 2000
RAM Required (GB)
Required Hard Disk Space (GB)
Virtual Instrument Type