When the Native Instruments Spring Upgrade special for Komplete 8 came through, I jumped on the opportunity. Following the purchase, I swore that I would now be "good" with the many synths I had at my disposal and wouldn't need to justify spending money on any more VSTi's unless it was a Kontakt or Reaktor instrument. I stood my ground for a few months... ...until I heard u-he DIVA. A Different Kind of Beast..er, Dinosaur On the surface, DIVA (Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analog Synthesizer) seems just like any other synth. Upon further digging, one begins to realize there are some significant details that separate DIVA from the proverbial virtual synth pack. The first being the fully customizable mix & match upper rack. Every component (OSC section, filter, etc.) can be swapped out with different options. The OSC section for example, comes in four flavors: Triple-VCO ("inspired" by the MiniMoog), DCO (Alpha Juno), and two Dual VCO options offering some extras (and CPU forgiveness). The same goes for the filter & envelope sections that, again, come in different flavors "inspired" by classic synths. Essentially, you can create a "hybrid" synth the consists of your favorite modules from different synths creating an entirely new breed. Extra bonuses include a nice tab driven GUI that makes navigating the finer parts of DIVA (and extra bells and whistles) a breeze. There's even a scope to provide you with visual feedback of your generated sound. The Sound In all honesty, the above mentioned features would be worthless if the sound wasn't up to par...and it certainly is that. I'll go so far to say that DIVA's sound is, in my opinion, the closest means to achieving an analog sound via the digital realm. A simple scanning of the many presets (more on that later) will reveal the many sonic possibilities of DIVA, as well as just how amazing it sounds. What I believe is giving DIVA it's unique, (dare I say) analogue charm is that it processes every note in real time much the same way the analogue circuits of a hardware synth operate. By programming the synth in this manner, it's possible to encounter those analogue "oddities" many hardware synth lovers say that virtual synths lack. This rich, real-time processing does come at the cost of CPU. While the last update to DIVA has greatly minimized the CPU hit, you will still find certain rack combinations in conjunction with having the playback quality set to its highest setting ("Divine") can result in some playback issues due to CPU constraints. However, this can be offset easily by lowering the quality down a notch or by choosing "best" for the "Offline Bouncing" option and then freezing your track. Having said all that, the sheer sound quality of DIVA is worth the hit–without question. Browser & Presets The patch browser is straightforward and allows the user to enter comments about the selected patch or even "hide" a patch that will never be a part of their arsenal. Whatever your stance on presets/patches is, one can't help but take notice that 98% of all of DIVA's included presets are inspirational to say the least. Remember the first time you scanned through Massive's presets only to be disappointed one after the next? That's not the case with DIVA's patch library. So, if you're looking for some inspiration to get a sound started or simply need a quick patch to use temporarily in your arrangement, DIVA has you covered. The Verdict Synths are a dime a dozen, and only a handful really stand out as being worth your time and money. For $179 (with free future upgrades) and a passionate developer at the healm, DIVA is certainly a new force to be reckoned with. Sure the it can be a bit of a CPU hog at times–but once you've experienced the vast sonic range, capabilities and unique sound of DIVA, you won't really give a shit about the CPU hit. 5/5 stars, all day long.