Today I purchased the newly released Neo-Soul Suitcase Rhodes VST Plugin for Kontakt 4.2.3. Honestly I’m a much bigger fan of hardware than software, but two things made me get this. First, I’m a big fan of Jamal Hartwell over at Gospelmusicians.com who produces outstanding tutorial DVDs, samples, and now VST plugins. Second, I’m a big fan of the Fender Rhodes Neo-Soul sound which Jamal has captured very well with this new Neo-Soul Suitcase VST Plugin. It simply sounds fantastic despite having to go the software route to get that sound.
My setup at home for the Neo-Soul Suitcase VST is nothing fancy but it gets me the sound and feel with no detectable latency. I use a Dell XPS laptop with 4GB memory, ASIO4ALL installed, and a reasonably good audio card built it. I run a line out to my Yamaha Mixer and a USB cable connects to my Roland PCR-800 which is a superb midi controller. I use it primarily for my Roland MKS-50 with it’s excellent control maps. My Dell XPS uses Windows 7 OS 32bit and the Kotant 4 standalone version is 4.2.3 which is the minimum required for the Neo-Soul Suitcase Fender Rhodes VST Plugin. It all works surprisingly well and I’m able to be just about as expressive as I need to be with the keyboard controller and Rhodes sound. Latency was my biggest worry and it turns out with the Neo-Soul Suitcase everything works excellent.
I browsed through and tested all the sounds and they all played very well. My favorite so far is the Jamal Funk sound which comes closest to the sound that I prefer when I play. No doubt everyone else will choose different sounds that they like and Jamal has done a great job with providing some noticeable variety in all the patches. It’s extremely important to note and to understand that the Neo-Soul Suitcase Fender Rhodes VST has a main focus on getting close to the Neo-Soul RnB sound. Of course these patches are applicable to all sorts of styles out there so it shouldn’t be looked upon only as a Neo-Soul Rhodes sound, but it’s important to know that the Neo-Soul sound is the primary focus. Scarbee, Lounge Lizard, Mr. Ray, etc. all present very good Rhodes emulations for various styles. Scarbee for example is a big favorite among many, but I never really got into it. It just didn’t bark enough for me. I did like Mr. Ray, but I had latency issues which oddly enough are gone with the Neo-Soul Suitcase VST.
As you all know there are a lot of players out there in the Fender Rhodes VST market, but I’m quite happy with the sound of the Neo-Soul Suitcase VST thus far. In fact, I think it’s ( to me ), one of the best sounding Rhodes sounds I’ve played. For everyday practice, I enjoy playing various Rhodes samples loaded into my Roland Fantom XR, Motif ES, or most recently using the stock EP sounds of the Korg M50. As I reported earlier, those EP Rhodes sounds in the Korg M50 are excellent for practice. However, when it comes to recording or playing close to the real thing, I feel the Neo-Soul Suitcase VST is going to be fantastic. I don’t think I’m ready to put this setup on a stage yet as my luck is not the best, but for recording and studio work, I think the sounds are funk solid.
I recently purchased the Fundamentals of Neo-Soul DVD from Gospelmusicians and as a result I was able to get the Neo-Soul Suitcase Fender Rhodes VST for the $49.99 introductory price. I think Jamal has a DVD/VST combo for sale and that is what I would recommend getting. The Neo-Soul DVD is a best seller and I highly recommend it for all levels of keyboard players. I think if you are a big fan of Kontakt, Neo-Soul, Rhodes, and products such as Scarbee or Mr. Ray, you’ll like Neo-Soul Suitcase VST very much.
Note that I’m not an affiliate of Gospelmusicians.com so I can be a little more up front about my thoughts and I must say, Neo-Soul Suitcase VST is a great product. It’s only been a day since I’ve played it, but I simply cannot find any problems with it yet other than we’re dealing with software instead of hardware. I suppose if there is one product that’s going to get my feet wet with VSTs, then it’s probably going to be Neo-Soul Suitcase VST. Jamal is feeling good about sales right now, so I’d grab it while you can. Tell me what you think in the comments below. Thanks!
UPDATE: I changed my setup a bit. I now run my Windows Laptop into the audio input of my Roland Fantom X7 which allows me to record the Rhodes sound into the audio tracks or layer it with another sound. Running through the audio system of the Fantom X7, the Neo-Soul Suitcase sounds really phat and very good. Another thing I do with the Neo-Soul Suitcase settings is to lower the output volume down to about -15.5 along with flipping the switch from clean to original. I tend to play hard on the keys and this virtually eliminates any and all slight static or distortion one might get with a similar setup. Sound cards are all different and mine works fantastic with the volume lowered. I also prefer the original to the clean version for two reasons. One is that I like the dirtier sound of the Rhodes with all it’s imperfections. In addition, I find the sound to my ears to sound less processed but more clear. It might just be me thinking that though. Overall, the Neo-Soul Suitcase is incredible sounding. I love it now that I can play and record it through my Roland X7 which is my main board at the moment. Having almost zero latency really makes it fantastic as well. Without a doubt, the Neo-Soul Suitcase is the best sounding VST EP I’ve heard and played in quite a while.