UVI Darklight IIx
Inspired by the Fairlight CMI IIx workstation, but not intended to be a clone of it, Darklight IIx loads in the UVI Workstation ROMpler engine (free) or MOTU MachFive sampler (not free), both of which run standalone or as VST/AU/RTAS plug-ins.
An actual Fairlight has been extensively multisampled to create the 2GB of content, the results of which are used to power the three Darklight IIx instruments (called Pages in a nod to the Fairlight's UI).
"UVI has done an incredible job of capturing the digital soul of the original."
Page P is a straight keyboard-played sample playback engine, Page B is an eight-channel drum machine, and Page U is a three-channel step-sequencer that can be pitched up and down the keyboard. A huge list of sounds is available to all three, comprising all the classics that you (or your dad) will remember from the 80s, as well as a few new ones.
UVI has done an incredible job of capturing the digital soul of the original - the Darklight IIx may not look like a Fairlight, but it certainly sounds like one in terms of raw waveforms.
The three GUIs (which don't replicate the Fairlight, but are clearly influenced by it) are straightforward and intuitive. They boast LP/HP/BP filters, amp and filter envelopes and a handful of effects (although these are simply tapping into the much broader range of standard UVI Workstation effects, which are also accessible). Usefully, the UVI Workstation is multitimbral, enabling four instances of Darklight to be loaded on separate MIDI channels.
So, nostalgia aside, is the Darklight IIx actually worth buying? Well, yes and no. A lot of the Fairlight's sound have proven to be timeless, and browsing through Darklight IIx proves to be more fruitful than you probably expect, particularly for drums and percussion. And there's still just something magical about that scratchy, über-digital sonic character.
Extensively sampled from an actual Fairlight. Captures the soul of the original. Great drum sounds.
£145 is quite a price tag for something so niche, so whether or not you should invest will depend on how relevant these extremely retro sounds are to your music.