There is a very pretty new VST/AU granular synth plug-in called The Mangle. Over the past few years there have been a bunch of nice iOS granular apps so I am glad to see something new on the desktop. Watch the video above and you can see how useful this plug-in can be. I’ve been playing with the beta for the past few days and keep reaching for it. On the second video above I just quickly recorded myself saying one, two, three and set up a few parameters.
“I’ve been fascinated by granular synthesis for years but I never found a satisfactory plugin to explore it – I wanted full automation in my DAW, preset recall, and tools to ‘play’ the stream of grains expressively. So I built it myself.” – Tom Maisey
My main vocal chain is an API 512c Micpre, Shure SM58, Wavearts Track5 into Izotope Nectar. By using a great Micpre and mic I have a great sounding base but Nectar gives me a lot of styles to work from. Nectar 2 will be available soon and it adds to an already good plug-in a Harmonizer, Pitch Editor, Plate Reverb and creative effects like a Repeater and others. I have no deal with Izotope and highly recommend this one.
“With the new Nectar 2, flawless vocal production is just a click away. Bring your vocal tracks to life with a new modeled plate Reverb, a new Harmonizer, an overhauled Pitch Editor, an out-of-this-world new FX module, and a fully-redesigned user interface. From quick corrections to limitless creativity, Nectar 2 treats your voice to sweet results.” – Izotope
One of the best software filter plug-ins Sugar Bytes WOW has been upgraded to WOW2. They have added more filter types, distortion, an improved LFO section, step sequencer and randomize function. I really like what they have added here as you can tell these Berliners also make music. $99 USD.
“21 incredible filter types with the famous vowel mode. With distortions that cover your tracks with gas and put them on fire. Modulations that cause more trouble than your modular dark room.” – sugar-bytes.de
I have fond memories of watching Star Trek as a child. My father loved the show and we watched it together when he was home from work early enough. I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness on Saturday night. The movie is not one of the all time greats and it often parodies the original television show. That said it’s beautiful and extremely fun to watch. The entire film shines with pink and blue hues. The sound effects are also very good. In one scene two ships chase each other in Warp drive and the sound blew me away. It’s rare a movie does that. Take a look at the video above to see how sound designer Ben Burt created some of the effects in the movie. I was happy to hear he went the extra mile using things like styrofoam through a vacum cleaner. Everyone already knows Ben’s work as he created Dark Vader’s heavy breathing and the lightsaber hum.
“Much to the delight of Trekkies and science fiction fans everywhere, “Star Trek Into Darkness” zooms into theaters this weekend. Moviegoers will see big names such as Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana in the credits, but may miss another key role: that of sound designer. CNET’s Kara Tsuboi brings us this behind-the-scenes listen of how the sound effects were created in a studio far from Hollywood.” – cnet
Check out this hand made distortion feedback microphone with an arcade push to talk function. It’s called a Dr Moonstien. I can see this being used at many a live show around 3AM. It’s available on eBay (link).
“This is a hand built noise machine built by me. it is a push to talk mic with very cool arcade style big red button. you can mix your very overdrive mic preamp with 3 extremely nasty octave modulators. this is the ultimate noise crust mic kind of a death metal version of a vocoder can be used as a feedback machine. this is good noise machine for the person that is more into destructive tambor than clarity. great way to juice up those vocals or control feedback to do your evil bidding. runs on 9v battery has 1/4 inch audio out has regular volume knob and 3 volume knobs for the different octaves of crust. on off power toggle blue led.” – drmoonstien
Ned Rush contacted me this morning leting me know about his new Max 4 Live device The Knobulator. I’ve mentioned another one of his devices Supacut previously (link). I like simple fast inspiring effects and putting a bunch of wild parameters on one knob makes a lot of sense. The key to make loops continually interesting/not repetitive is a thousand little edits and effects here and there. This guy can help make that process some fun. $20 USD.
“MaxForLive device for mashing up audio in realtime. Turn the knob and the effect comes on, stop turning it and it turns off. There are other options. Great for live performance as well as audio productions.” – Ned Rush
So there is an all new version of Izotope’s Trash (Trash 2) that was just released. It’s certainly good and has hundreds of paramaters you can mess with. Sometimes however you just want a really good distortion unit with a few killer presets. Think about guitar pedals and imagine if they had a hundred options. That wouldn’t make sense. kiloHearts from Linköping, Sweden have plug-in called Faturator. It’s really nice, lightweight and with a great sound. This reads like a sales pitch and they did give me a NFR license however I really am using the plug-in a lot. Besides the “right” sounding fuzz and distortion there is a great stereo widener which I actually used a few times on its own (turning off the fuzz altogether). $19 USD Mac or PC.
“Faturator can do everything from adding subtle and warm gritty character to your sounds to slam them into a wall of heavy saturation and digital fuzz. Contrary to many distortion effects, Faturator will preserve the dynamics of your sound and work its wonders on it regardless of input gain. For the heck of it, it can also color the input to emphasize a specific tone of the sound, or throw some stereo width into the mix. Everything to give you a fast and easy way of making any input come alive.” – kilohearts.com
Just listen to what the Skychord Cloudbuster does to a Juno-6 at around the 1:35 mark in the video above. It detunes the synth in a modulating say Clockwork Orange soundtrack type of way. Add a little of it’s Pre-amp gain and you have a scary vintage sounding distortion unit. So many little boxes of want lately. This one is $375 USD.
“The cloudbuster is a sequentially modulated lo-fi echo machine featuring harmonically dark burned out lightning strike repeats, howling gore ripping feedback, nightmare time based gurgling, and heavenly comatose modulations. At the heart of the cloudbuster is a four stage sequencer that modulates the delay time via a sequencer. This sequencer has a length of 2 or 4 steps.” – skychord.com
My usual vocal chain is Shure SM7b, Api 512c, Wavearts Track5 (which I only use the Gate section) and Izotope Nectar. Recently I took my API Lunchbox and SM7b to a friends house to record. He didn’t have any plug-ins on his computer and I realized he needed compression on his vocals. When I bought my Lunchbox and 512c I also bought an API 527 compressor. It’s always been in the Lunchbox but I rarely use it. In fact, I’m ashamed to say I just use software compressors, mostly presets and never really figured out how to set my 527. That’s what this post is all about. This is a question to Wire to the Ear readers. What would be a good setting on my 527 compressor for vocals. What’s a good starter setting and what should I adjust?
I’ve already asked a friend (Cesar B. de Guzman aka @cyndiseui) on Instagram. I set my 527 as he thought would be a good start. He makes a lot of music but what do you think?
“527 is a VCA comp that has a very fast attack response. U could do this ratio 1 til 3. Attack 3 o clock. Release 8-9 o’clock. Set to new if you want something sparkling style or old as punch vintage type… The only thing you could adjust yrself is threshold. Technically you could leave from 2 to 3 db down from the threshold as a starter.” – cyndiseui
Today I thought I would give you a quick look at some of my workflow. Here’s how I often start creating an EBM (Electronic Body Music) style track. I’ve started a Eurorack modular system and you can see my first two pieces in action here. I have recorded a 5V Pulse into Ableton from the Korg SyncKontrol iOS app. I loaded the click into Simpler and use MIDI to create a pattern. In this example it’s a straight 16th note. I use Ableton Live to route the 5V click out of my Motu 828 MKIII into a Doepfer Dark Time analog sequencer. The Dark Time is not in sync with my Ableton MIDI set up. The Dark Time controls an Analog Solutions Telemark (SEM clone). 8 steps of CV variation and CV filter variation loop the bassline. I also have the Dark Time send a clock out to a Korg Monotribe. On the Monotribe I have muted the drums and just have it playing some lazer zap type sounds typically where you would find a snare drum. Using MIDI I have a Vermona DRM1 MKIII playing a kick and snare. The Monotribe’s clock out goes into an Intellijel uStep which sends a 16th note clock to a Make Noise Echophone. I have a MFB-522 drum machine in sync with Ableton via MIDI playing a clap. This clap is sent into the Echophon where it’s delay shimmers in 16 synced steps because of the uStep control. I can play with the Echophon’s pitch knob for a wicked nice analog clap delay effect. Is it worth all this effort? In my opinion yes. You can’t really get a sound like this without going analog. This part would make a good verse. Because I can pitch the bassline on a MIDI keyboard the next step is to make a Chorus, maybe change the Dark Time sequence length or patter slightly, add some pads from an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and add vocals. I hope you enjoyed the peek into a world where control is everything.
“CV/Gate (an abbreviation of Control Voltage/Gate) is an analog method of controlling synthesizers, drum machines and other similar equipment with external sequencers. The Control Voltage typically controls pitch and the Gate signal controls note on/off. This method was widely used in the epoch of analog modular synthesizers, beginning in the 1960s and up to the early 1980s. It was mostly superseded by the MIDI protocol, which is more feature-rich, easier to configure reliably, and more easily supports polyphony.” – wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_voltage