reFX Vanguard 2, revival of a synth plugin classic with new features

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reFX has revived its synth plugin legend Vanguard as Vanguard 2, including new features, a user interface overhaul, and more. 

Xfer Serum, Arturia Pigments 3, NI Massive XT, Vital.. all known modern wavetable synthesizers that have been downloaded thousands of times. However, there are times when other plugins topped the top ten lists. One of them was the beloved Vanguard, a collaboration between reFX and German developer Markus Krause aka Tone2.

Its straightforward workflow but also its ready-to-use sound quality were appreciated by many EDM producers. The plugin also had special features like a trance gate that makes it very suitable for dance/trance music. Then in 2016 the discontinuation, including the non-64-bit port of the original. The comeback was almost as uncertain as a Half-Life 3. But you should never say never

reFX Vanguard 2

Today comes the good news from reFX: Vanguard celebrates its comeback with a ver long-awaited version 2.

reFX Vanguard 2

The favorite of all trance producers is back. According to reFX, “this is not just remastered; this is remade, enhanced, and improved. Immediately noticeable is that Vanguard 2 has lost its very distinctive silver/green face. It comes with a significantly less alien-like interface in black/grey and green.

It’s clearer and more intuitive but some of the neon green goodness of the original has been retained. But it no longer stands out among 100 plugin interfaces. Oh yeah, its’ also vector-based and so you can resize it to what is convenient for you.

Some work was also done on the engine. Not a mega massive upgrade, but rather minor features and tweaks. Vanguard 2 remains a 3-oscillator Synthesizer that uses again classic waves and wavetables. Like the original, you can import your own WT, which is a pity for 2022, but you get 10 new wavetables to play around with (async pwm, fm simple 1, 2, and 3, mirror…)

Also, the controls are the same: volume, semi-tone, detune, and pulse width per oscillator… Dirty sonic stuff like FM, cross-modulation, etc. is still not possible in the Vanguard of 2022. Then, you benefit from two new filter types that can be tweaked using the cutoff, resonance… controls.

reFX Vanguard 2
reFX Vanguard vs Vanguard 2

The effects section got a major makeover. You can benefit from a new delay algorithm, a completely remade reverb based on the RutaVerb found in Nexus 4, and a new distortion FX. Modulation side, the LFOs are now syncable which is a good addition. Otherwise, everything stays also the same here.

It also includes again the beloved trance-gate effect and the multi-mode arpeggiator.

New Patch Browsers With Sounds

Another major improvement is hidden in the sound library. Vanguard 2 comes with a new sound browser/librarian that offers three columns for easy navigation with color-coded tags, bookmarks, and favorites. In this, you can scroll through 136 completely new factory presets. Plus, you get all commercial Vanguard 1 expansions for free. Very good, Vanguard 2 is compatible with all your existing V1 projects and libraries.

Technically, Vanguard 2 is not a revolution but a larger update. In times of Serum, Pigments 3, or the free synth Vital, the engine looks very old-fashioned even in 2022.

For fans of Vanguard 1, this is certainly very good news. But I expected a bigger update, especially with a plugin that hasn’t been on the market for 6 years. More oscillator options, deeper modulation with the same simplicity of the original… Nonetheless, it’s a good thing that this popular plugin has risen from the dead.

reFX Vanguard 2 is available now for 79€ instead of 99€ during Black Friday. Existing users of Vanguard 1 can upgrade for 49€. It runs as a VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin on macOS (Intel + Apple Silicon) and Windows.

More information here: reFX

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1 Comment

  1. > Technically, Vanguard 2 is not a revolution but a larger update. In times of Serum, Pigments 3, or the free synth Vital, the engine looks very old-fashioned even in 2022.

    Thanks for saying so! Honesty is so important in our scene. Let’s not forget the alternatives. With posts which reproduce marketing copy, it’s easy to get the impression that each plugin is in its own universe.

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