GForce Software VSM IV first look review Virtual String Machine plugin gets a modern, vintage makeover

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GForce Software VSM IV first look review: virtual string machine plugin gets more vintage charm, a new modern look, and other sonic goodies. 

The late 1970s and early 1980s were the era of string machine synthesizers. It brought forward a variety of legendary hardware string machines, including Roland VP-330, Solina, Elka Rhapsody, Logan String Melody, and more. Today, they are rare and are traded for a lot of money.

But string machines have made a comeback in hardware. The Waldorf Streichfett, STCV, or the recent analog clones of the Solina and the VC330 from Behringer. In software, there are numerous virtual versions of these classics. My favorite here for years has been the GForce Software VSM III. 

GForce Software VSM IV first look review

So far, the VSM and the impOSCar 2 have remained untouched by the recent GForce wave of updates. But today, that has changed. I have great news from the United Kingdom.

GForce Software has unveiled the fourth generation of the VSM, the VSM IV. A big update awaits you with lots of new features to explore. The developers kindly gave me access to it before release so I could give you a detailed look.

GForce Software VSM IV 

One thing in advance. The fat and authentic sound of VSM III has remained 1 to 1 in version 4. The plugin still sounds so beautifully vintage and detailed. However, a lot has happened both outside and under the hood. 

The modern UI update cannot be overlooked. It’s fully scalable and looks crystal clear, even on high-resolution displays. With the UI change, the browser has also been completely revised. It features the same menu you know from the Minimonsta, Oddity, Oberheim, and others, including categories, types, timbres, and more.

Nice, it is fully compatible with your VSM III patches. Export them and rediscover your sounds with the new features. On top of that, you can take advantage of new functions like und, redo, copy, and paste. Indeed, they are little goodies that improve the workflow.

GForce Software VSM IV first look review

The sound source browsers were also part of this modernization process. Thanks to instrument categories, tags, and banks, you can now easily swap out sounds on the fly. This was already possible with the VSM III, but it looks nicer, more organized, and clearer.

Expanded GForce Software VSM IV Core

At its core concept, the plugin remains the same. Two “hybrid” layers, each capable of loading a sample-based multi-instrument (46 string machines) with a 49-note range, filtering options, tweakable modulation, and effects for refining the sounds.

Key features

  • 46 multi-sampled classic and rare string machines 
  • 49-note range, each note individually sampled & looped
  • over 11.5Gb of data
  • hybrid sound layering for unique string Synthesizer sounds

In version 4, the plugin opens the door wider for more advanced sound design tasks, making a colorful plethora of new features in the VSM IV possible. All new is an aging section with the classic wow, flutter, and instability parameters. 

With them, the already strong vintage sounds travel back once again in time and capture the beautiful, unstable nature of vintage instruments, from slightly to strongly out of tune, wobbly tunes, etc. This feature fits like a glove in the new VSM feature set.

GForce Software VSM IV first look

Then, the filter section got an addition: a new state variable filter with lowpass, highpass, and bandpass. This is a very soft, authentic filter, probably taken over from the Oberheim synths.

But that’s not the feature I would highlight most in this update. I saw no real limitation with the one from the VSM III. But, of course, the new SVF gives you an additional color to work with.

On the modulation side, the single LFO has expanded with more functionality. First, it has more waveforms to choose from. Then, you have more destinations (pitch, filter, pan, and level) and neat new functions, including waveform smoothing and fade-in.

It’s a shame that it stayed with just one LFO. The XLFO generator from other GForce Software synths has not found a home here. The two fixed ADSR envelopes for the amp and filter also remained in the new version.

New Effects

The effects section of VSM III did not make it into the VSM IV version. GForce Software has turned this on its head and implemented a new bouquet of colorful effects. It now ships with a three-band EQ. Perfect for adjusting the highs and lows of your hybrid string machine patches. 

Besides this, there is a new juicy-sounding four-mode chorus, an up-to 8-voice ensemble effect for the ultimate vintage feel, and the best-known matrix reverb.

The latter is best known and adds ambient/atmospheric textures to your sounds. I think the new effects are a big gain in the VSM IV and make the whole instrument sound more beautiful and smooth.

The combo of ensemble and reverb alone lets you instantly immerse yourself in retro worlds with every keystroke or choir. Your next synth wave or ambient retro track is already waiting. Individual FX locks are also a good addition. Particularly useful if you want to change patches but hide specific effects.


Further, VSM IV benefits from expanded polyphonic aftertouch support, poly pitch bend, and more velocity controls. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a polyAT keyboard when testing. But that will change very soon. 

The new VSM also expanded in terms of sound content. The plugin now incorporates over 1900 factory sounds, 200 newly designed for the VSM IV. A big round of applause to the sound designers, who have once again done a phenomenal job.

Playing the first sounds already puts a smile on the face. The factory library has gorgeous and detailed sounds. Like in the VSM III, the library (11.5GB) again contains a wealth of sounds from 46 classic and rare multi-sampled string machines.

Including captured sounds from the ARP (Omni II, Quartet), Crumar Multiman, Korg PE2000, Logan String Melody, Moog Opus III, Memorymoog, and more. So, this remained unchanged. 

First Look Review

As a big fan of the Virtual String Machine III, I am happy that GForce has made this version IV makeover. The new UI is night and day compared to the old one. It’s modern and more pleasing to look at. In terms of new features, it’s an excellent update.  The new effects harmonize very satisfactorily with the engine.

The wow and flutter (aging), in particular, perfectly match the engine, pushing the sounds even more into the vintage unstable domains. I haven’t had the chance to test the expanded poly aftertouch option. Since I bought a Hydrasynth shortly last weekend, I’ll take another look at it later.

Another welcome feature is that you can import your VSM III sounds into the IV version, so all the patches you have crafted over the last years can still be used. The new patch browser is also a neat further development—it is easier and quicker to use than its predecessor.

In particular, the one for the sound sources is a big plus, allowing you to quickly discover your desired string machine sound. The 200+ new patches in the main browser are top-notch. Only a few companies, such as GForce Software, manage to deliver high-quality factory content. Instant retro vibes with a smile on the face—what more do you want?

However, the limitation of one LFO and one destination per sound is a bit weak. With two sounds, you have two LFOs. The popular XLFO of other GForce plugins would have been great to see here. 

Overall, this is an excellent continuation of the Virtual String Machine. So now only the impOSCar remains on the list for a major update. I’m looking forward to this upgrade. 


GForce Software VSM IV is available now for an introduction price of £69,99+ VAT instead of £99.99+VAT. Upgrades from VSM1/2/3 are £39 +VAT. It runs as a VST3, AU, and AAX plugin on macOS and Windows.

More information here: GForce Software 

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