I am a proud owner of a Vermona PerFourMer MKII since 4 weeks. PERfourMER MKII consists of four full-fledged monophonic synthesizers (= synth channels) that can be combined in any way to create unusual or classic sounds. This blogpost gives you a review of my first 4 weeks with this fascinating instrument, plus some jams with it at the end of the article.
Before I go into detail, a brief disclaimer: I have no connection with the manufacturer of this machine. I purchased the device myself and I was not compensated for this blogpost in any way.
So here's a brief description straight from the manufacturer website to get you started:
"The analogue oscillator with five waveforms plus noise generator forms the sound foundation, which is then passed on to the musical 24 dB low-pass filter with adjustable resonance, followed by the discrete VCA for shaping the volume contour. Modulation sources are a flexible, synchronisable LFO and the envelope generator with controls for attack, decay, sustain and release. With these controls alone, you can effortlessly create a variety of sounds of the highest quality. And to make this sonic journey as easy as possible, the PERfourMER MKII offers individual controls for each function."
For more info, visit www.vermona.com
Why did I choose the Vermona PerFourMer MKII?
There were several reasons for purchasing this instrument. Some time ago, I had bought a used Access Virus Ti2 Desktop for a low price. I liked its sound, a bit old fashioned, but classic. The problem I had with this synthesizer (in the context of live performing, respectively) was the complex operation. The menus of the Virus were deep, many functions were hidden in these menus, keys were assigned multiple functions. And many features can only be accessed via a connection to a computer, with the disadvantage that the manufacturer simply no longer adapts the software required for this to current Mac operating systems.
In short - the Access Virus was not at all conducive to my goal of performing my tracks live and caused more frustration than pleasure to me. After a few months, I sold it and started looking for a new synth. The requirement was simply that it should be easy to play, flexible and fit in with the rest of my setup and I wanted to have fun with it.
At Superbooth 22 I saw Federico Chiesa aka @Ooramusic performing. Federico had a PerFourMer MKII in his setup. I was instantly flashed by the sound of this instrument and what I really liked were the many knobs that offered direct access to almost all functions. Exactly what I was looking for!
So, finally, 4 weeks ago I bought the PerFourMer MKII and I here are my first experiences with it.
What I like about the Vermona PerFourMer MKII
Ingenious analogue sound
This is of course the most relevant aspect! The sound that the Vermona produces is simply stunning. Whether it's drone sounds, plugs, layered or solo, leads or bass - the Vermona does it and it just sounds great. I like the sawtooth and triangle waveforms best, as the filter allows low frequencies to pass and only these waveforms produce the high frequencies needed for this. The 4 strips can be cross-modulated which allows more fancy sounds.
Each channel on its own is a simple but great sounding synthesizer. In general, this concept of simplicity throughout is one of the features that I find so brilliant. Of course, other synthesizers usually offer a gigantic variety of possibilities here, which one looks for in vain. LFO? Yes, but pretty limited. Midi? Yes, rudimentary. Modulation matrix? Onboard effects? The list could go on.
If I had wanted another analogue synth, the Analog Four by Elektron, for example, would have been a great alternative. But, and that's why I appreciate the PerFourMer so much: I didn't use most of the listed features for my performances (see my words about the Access Virus). Because they are almost always hidden in menus.
That's why I don't miss them at all on this device; on the contrary, the reduction is very inspiring. And if I do need it, I still have the Peak :) Incidentally, this concept also includes the fact that there is exactly one rotary knob per function. That's all. No knob has double assignments (apart from the edit wheel), no button combinations to learn (which I hated so much on the Octatrack), everything is clear and concise.
Separate outputs / effect inserts
The sound of the Vermona is great, very warm, assertive and full of facets. Just analogue. But in my opinion, the synthesizer only comes to life with added effects. The PerFourMer MKII can either connect effect pedals to the sum or - and this is where it gets really exciting - each synth strip can have its own insert effect, connected with a Y-cable and sent straight back to the sum.
I have already tried this setting several times; it works great, but it still makes the setup a bit complex for me, which is why I use a delay and a reverb at the main output for now.
What I love is that this instrument works WITHOUT presets. It's so great that you can just start screwing away and create your own sound. Everything is so accessible that I have never missed presets. You discover the instrument in a completely different way than you would using default presets.
What I don't like so far about the Vermona PerFourMer MKII
At the same time, I would still sometimes like to have a memory option :D Because the concept of simplicity described above also applies here: if you are used to presets, you first have to get used to the fact that they don't exist on the Vermona. At the moment I still find myself totally inhibited to completely change the sounds when I have just found a great setting.
Luckily, there's a template on the internet where you can draw the settings (check it out here), so that you can restore a sound later. That's not practical for a live performance, but rather a little help for the familiarisation phase (which I'm still in). But I think with time you get the hang of it and know on the fly how to get a particular sound.
Few transport cases available
Although the name of the device and its robust build imply that I should perform with the synthesizer and thus take it with me on location, there are surprisingly few transport cases available.
I haven't found a deck saver at all, probably because the product is too niche for that. But since I have several performances abroad in the coming weeks, I urgently needed a case and finally chose a studio suitcase, the Roadinger Universal Case FOAM GR-1 Alu. I can adapt the foam insert to the instrument, and luckily it fits into the hand luggage compartment on the plane.
I'll be honest, sometimes I would like to animate some parameters of the Vermona with the LFOs of my Squarp Pyramid or access them with a controller. But it doesn't work, because there is simply no MIDI CC implementation. You have to animate the filter with your hands :D
I can't wait to keep working on it and I'll be sure to pass on a few tips here and there :D The Vermona PerFourMer MKII is the best synth I've owned so far and is just plain fun to use.
What is your favourite synth and why? Let me and the other readers know in the comments below!