The M-Audio Venom 49-key synthesizer combines the character of classic analog synths with modern digital processing to deliver an aggressive, infectious new sound. Thanks to a completely new M-Audio synth engine, Venom merges analog flavor with digital power, providing a unique sonic signature that stands apart from the glossy sheen of other virtual analog synths.
M Audio Venom Review – Introduction
The best thing about this synth is the user interface. It is one of the easiest synths to edit and has enough preset sounds to please the “come and go” crowd. Venom comes fueled with 512 Single patches and 256 Multi-sound (layered) patches created by a world-class sound design team—so you can start playing everything from bombastic basses, blistering leads, and 8-bit drums to grainy pads, menacing textures, and glitchy effects right out of the box. You’ll also find a classic arpeggiator for added animation. Tweak the sounds using the intuitive top-panel performance controls—or dig in deep using the supplied software editor. Venom’s Multi mode feature lets you trigger drum, bass, and melody parts simultaneously—perfect for performing live. Each part has a phrase sequencer for playing back drum patterns and pulsating synth lines, all BPM-synced via tap tempo. You can even switch melody and rhythm patterns on the fly—ideal for songwriting. With 256 separate patterns available across 256 Multi patches, you’ll find plenty of rhythmic inspiration for a wide range of electronic music styles. You can use the Venom with your DAW or any other MIDI controller, as its engine supports the aftertouch. The limitation is that the Venom keybed doesn’t transmit aftertouch. This issue can be solved by playing the Venom from another source, like a simple MIDI keyboard. You can also plug mics and instruments directly into the Venom and use it as a plain, low-latency USB audio interface. You can also plug in an external source using the RCA jack.
M Audio Venom Review – The Effects
At the top left‑hand corner is the Mode drop‑down menu, where you can create a new Multi, edit a part in a Multi or a single program, and so on. I found Multi editing to be a breeze, whether performing simple tasks like setting each part’s key or velocity zones, or merely assigning independent MIDI channels for external sequencing. Similarly, the listing of all oscillator and LFO waveforms gave me an instant appreciation of what I had to play with. The Venom’s arpeggiator appears simple, but is nevertheless highly effective. It can sync to MIDI and has the usual up/down motions plus phrase and drum modes, the latter resisting transposition to keep drum patterns consistent regardless of what happens on the keyboard. There’s no easy access to the various modes, though; they are embedded into 256 stored patterns. To select a different pattern for any patch, you have to hit the Pattern button and choose from two banks of alternatives.
M Audio Venom Review – Vyzex software
The included Vyzex Venom software editor offers a clear visual representation of all Venom settings and parameters, freeing you to explore the synth’s limitless sonic territory. Arrange sounds into banks, rename patches, save backups on your computer, and share sounds with other users. Use the innovative patch collider feature to mash up multiple patches and create new hybrid sounds. Venom offers more sound design flexibility than any other synth in its class. Vyzex is the only way to go deeper than a bit of filter or envelope fiddling, so I’m glad to report that it supplies practically everything you need, plus a glut of functionality just for kicks and giggles. The layout is universally clear and welcoming, the graphics unfussy. Once you become used to clicking the small boxes (OSC, LFO, MOD, AUX) to select and expand the various sections, you’re flying. There some amazing surprises in the editor that make you tweak in it for hours. Merging 2+ patches to create entirely new patches never heard before. Patch management has been well thought out.
M Audio Venom Review – Features
- Keyboard with 49 full-size keys.
- 12-voice polyphony.
- 3 oscillators with 41 waveforms and 53 drum sounds sampled from vintage analog synths, FM digital synths, and drum machines.
- 512 single-sound patches and 256 layered patches.
- Pulse-width modulation, sync, FM, and ring modulation.
- 3 LFOs with selectable sample-and-hold.
- Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser.
- Compression, EQ, Distortion, Bit Reduction, Decimation.
- Arpeggiator with up, down, and alternating patterns.
- 4 rotary encoders and 1 button for performance control and editing.
- Dual-function octave up/down and transpose controls.
- Assignable pitch bend and modulation wheels.
- Large custom LCD screen.
- Built-in USB 2.0 audio/MIDI interface.
- Included Vyzex Venom software editor.
M Audio Venom Review – Final Verdict
The Venom synthesizer combines an analogic styled synthesis with powerful internal effects, many modulation features and an incorporated audio interface. Considering its price, you can sell your Microkorg and be much more happy with this thing.