Physical Modeling In Kurzweil’s V.A.S.T.

This video, via cube48, demonstrates a physical modelling ‘proof of concept’ V.A.S.T. Program.

Here’s what they have to say about the patch:

“Layer generates bandpassed and shaped noise, modulated by MonoPressure, ModWheel and FUN. Pitch is achieved in FX section by series of ‘374 PitcherB’ algorithms tuned with Pitch modulated by GKeyNum and PtchOffs by PWheel.

At the end of FX chain, body resonance is faked with slightly tweaked ‘384 Woodenize’ algorithm. It’s crude string synthesis with a lot of noise artifacts, limited articulation (there’s still plenty of room for improvement) but it’s funny how V.A.S.T. can be bent.”

Variable Architecture Synthesis Technology (V.A.S.T.) is Kurzweil‘s name for their semi-modular synth engine. It lets you create custom patches using a huge variety of building blocks, ranging from oscillators to filters to mathematical functions.

While best known for their realistic (for their day) sample-based patches, Kurzweil’s V.A.S.T. synths can also be used to create virtual analog sounds, FM patches and more.

15 thoughts on “Physical Modeling In Kurzweil’s V.A.S.T.

  1. it would be funny if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy a Kurzweil synth, but since it is 2019 proper physical modelling should be possible. They’ve been relying too much on a 20year technology.

    1. I got my K2500RS for only $500. And since, as you so rightly point out, Kurzweil is still relying too much on 20 year old technology, you literally aren’t missing anything by buying the older unit.

    2. The K2XXX synths were so far ahead of everything else when they were released that other companies are still catching up.

      The new Kurzweil’s offer modern hardware power, but the classic Kurzweil’s are very affordable, built like tanks and can do stuff that other synths dream of.

      They do have a learning curve, so they aren’t for people with short attention spans. Get in there deep, though, and it’s tough to find things you can’t do.

      1. There are perhaps three main weakness of the VAST system generally.

        1. modulation scan rates are kind of slow by today’s standards, so LFO’s and ENV’s not so snappy.
        2. aliasing on some oscillators
        3. K2500/K2600 limited to 128 MB sample RAM, (even the more recent PC3K has same limit, but it’s flash memory)

        For users who rely on samples, the newer models with more generous sample memory put that issue to rest.

        The newer models lose a few cool features from the K2xxx series (some that I would dearly miss). But generally, they’ve added much much more than they’ve taken away. There is a logic to their decisions– but I just don’t agree with it, entirely.

  2. Ha – same, love my K2000R! Haven’t gotten so much use out of it lately, but is one of a couple of things I won’t part with!

  3. V.A.S.T. is the sh*t. To me it’s second nature in terms of navigating. In fact, it is intuitive in nature.

    Pianos, ep, organs, orchestral…and all those virtuosos representing Kurz. with a wow factor of about a minute or two…blah blah Effin blah. That’s been the problem all these years in advertising the power of V.A.S.T.: you get a bunch of competent players juicing about the pianos, eps, organ showing YouTube viewers their chops with the typical guitar center riffs, jazzy chords, and other high-faluttin’ Juilliard fare. All these years of Kurzweil PR focusing on that aspect (respectable undoubtably) has been a major disservice to the massive synthesis capabilities of the beast.
    Or you get the experts from around the globe or every stripe showing how the pianos of Kurzweil stack up against competitors A, B, C, D so on and so forth.
    Then you get those you try and explore and open up the mysteries of ground up sound creation in V.A.S.T. but those attempts are amateurish in quality at best…TOTAL shame.
    Side note: that dude Jeffery (I think that’s his name) with his series of sound building in V.A.S.T. is something you can really sink your teeth into…delicious without a doubt. Too bad not more of that!

    One can program the hell out of that thing with modulation possibilities beyond the reach of anything on the market. That’s right: the workstations from yesteryear up until the most current generation from all manufacturers can’t touch it.
    Yeah, up until recently, the lack of a big screen and massive amounts of sample storage has been a joke. But I’ve had/have the FA-06 & MODX6 respectively and even with gorgeous screens (the latter having a touch interface) I can still run circles around them in the V.A.S.T OS.

  4. My kurzweils (K2500RS, K2661) are both going strong. These synths have kept their value/usefulness more than most other equipment I’ve ever owned.

  5. It’s also worth mentioning that the Pitcher, which is in the KDFX, is a very useful and clever effect. In essence, it is a multi-band resonator– which creates a series of narrow peaks. The frequencies of the peaks are spaced out as the harmonic series, so you feed it a modulation source that tracks pitch. It allows you to give a harmonically resonant pitch to non-pitched sources. In this case, it is a clever way to give the output of the noise impulse a proper pitched tone.

  6. This is a very cool POC. Same boat here with vast VAST love.

    Would love to see VAST modernized a bit, even if only in soft synth form. I get that there’s no market for this but a fella can dream.

    Faster scan rates and additional LFOs would be great but mostly thinking about a newer UI—even when you know it, it’s kind of slow going using the 4(6) screen buttons and arrow keys. It’s a lot of arrow keying. Think it’s mainly because everything is so very ‘page’ based.

    Shortcuts to jump to LFOs, ENVs, etc screens. When you’re on a SRC parameter, tapping one of those would assign it as the source and jump to the corresponding edit screen.

    Some special ‘smart editing mode’ where the sliders and knobs on the left (or ext MIDI) can be intelligently mapped to whatever is currently on the screen in order.

    Maybe ‘modal’ editing so that you can dip into, say, a CTRL SRC, edit it and have a simple ‘BACK’ button to get back to where you’d assigned it quickly. Maybe just hit EDIT again?

    … that sort “UI” of stuff. It was a brilliant user interface for 1990, no doubt but we’ve learned a lot since then. Just dreaming aloud on the internetz. I love me some VAST.

  7. I’d use my K2500R more often but I can’t find rack ears for the darn thing so it’s basically buried under a pile of stuff since I can’t get it front and center in my setup. I’d be happy to know if there is some sort of universal rack ear I can use for it but can’t even find that info anywhere.

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