While I am using a lot of hardware these days software is still very important in my workflow. I often want a simple software synth to get things going. Audio Damage’s new Basic will definitely be useful. It may seem like a strange reason but I bet I end up using Basic often for the simple fact that out of all my plug-in folders in my Ableton sidebar I already go to the AD folder more than any other.
“One day not long ago, we were speaking with the music department head of a local college; he lamented the fact that there really wasn’t a commercial-quality low-cost three oscillator subtractive mono-synth available for the educational market. This puzzled us, because there’s no shortage of synth plug-ins out there, and this seems like a fairly glaring oversight. So we did some market research, and discovered he was right. All the available options are either slavish recreations of classic synths, with all the foibles and strange UI decisions intact, or modern behemoths with every feature under the sun. We decided to tackle the challenge of an inexpensive, simple 3-osc mono-synth that followed the classic subtractive style, and Basic is the result. While it is designed with ease-of-use, low cost, and simplicity in mind, the panel sits in front of a powerful modern synthesizer engine with an aggressive tone and self-resonating filters that scream when pushed. We’re sure every electronic musician will find a place in the mix for Basic.” – Audio Damage
For more info: audiodamage.com/instruments/product.php?pid=AD033
A few months ago I purchased the full version of Native Instruments Reaktor solely to use Twisted Tools amazing S-Layer plug-in. They have just released a new plug-in called Ultraloop and it’s also extremely tasty. Imagine a polyphonic loop sequencer matched with Effectrix and you start to get the idea. To jump right in and see why I am excited about this one start watching the video above at 1:50. I think the real key to Ultraloop is to use your own song material in the plug-in. For breakdowns or remixes this will be quite fun. Ultraloop requires the full version of Reaktor and is $69 USD.
“ULTRALOOP is a first-of-its-kind loop remixing sampler with a fast and intuitive visual workflow for Native Instruments *Reaktor. ULTRALOOP combines advanced loop layering, comping, effect processing and automation techniques to generate new grooves, riffs and song ideas. You can use ULTRALOOP with the included factory sample library or to remix your own samples, injecting new life into any existing loop library.” – twistedtools.com
For more info: twistedtools.com/shop/reaktor/ultraloop
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
For more info: sound-guru.com/software/mangle
Sonic Charge has released Cyclone. It’s a Yamaha TX16W sampler emulator. It’s a complete emulation so when you use it it acts just like the original hardware quirks and all. I love samplers and if the vintage ones didn’t have fiddly/breaking down floppy drives I would have a collection of them. Cyclone is free!
“Cyclone is a true low-level hardware emulator. It simulates all the important circuits of the Yamaha TX16W, including the main 68000 CPU, the properietary Yamaha DSP circuits, the 12-bit sample memory and the 400kHz non-linear DACs. Cyclone not only looks like a real TX16W, it sounds like a real TX16W and it runs the exact same software as a real TX16W. That last sentence is worth elaborating on. We have not merely created a new virtual instrument with a vintage sound, neither is Cyclone an updated version of Typhoon. Cyclone features a full 68000 emulator that runs the exact same version of Typhoon that was released 14 years ago. This implies that using Cyclone will require a bit more effort than your average modern virtual instrument. But this can also be a very rewarding experience. Regard Cyclone as a time travel portal to an era from the past. The era of the monster dinosaur samplers.” – soniccharge.com
For more info: soniccharge.com
Wolfgang Palm’s products are great. Wavetable synthesis is wonderful. Sometimes you need a fresh demo to remind you of that. Just listen to the Youtube clip above of the PPG WaveGenerator for Mac/PC. You can’t make that on a Minimoog. 99 Euros.
“Wolfgang Palm (1950) was a founder and owner of Palm Products GmbH (PPG), and the inventor and creator of various pioneering technical designs for analog and digital synthesizers. He is widely acknowledged as the father of digital synthesis, and as a trendsetter in the use of computer technology in the making of electronic music. Palm’s interest in synthesis technology began as a keyboardist in various local bands in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany. His namesake corporation began operating as early as 1975, manufacturing modular synthesizers in small amounts for electronica act Tangerine Dream and other musicians. Palm is arguably most famous for the invention of wavetable synthesis, a concept which he developed in the late 1970s when he created his Minimoog-like synthesizer – the 1020 – featuring DCO’s instead of the VCO’s his 1002 and all other analog synthesizers of that time were using – and the 360 Wavecomputer that would later become the renowned PPG Wave series. Palm’s design was the impetus for the creation of the highly successful PPG Wave synthesizer, which was used by numerous bands throughout the 1980s and beyond. The sounds in the PPG Wave inspired other manufacturers of digital synthesizers, such as Sequential Circuits and Ensoniq. Today, nearly every digital synthesizer is in some way based on the concept of wavetable synthesizers.” – Wikipedia
For more info: wolfgangpalm.com
It’s not everyday a plug-in comes along and gets me excited but Whoosh from Melted Sounds fits the bill. This new plug-in takes a sounds and flings them across your ears. If you watch the video above you can see it’s feature rich. I really want to add my own sounds to this but that’s not quite available yet. Adding your own samples will be added in a future update. You will need the full version of Reaktor to use Whoosh. $79 USD.
“Whoosh is a true sound design instrument and enables you to create breath taking whoosh and pass-by effects. It is possible to precisely design sounds varying from whistling wind whooshes to air ripping engine pass-bys or completely over the top granular sci-fi effects. The included doppler effects engine was designed from ground up to physical model the acoustic phenomena of an object that approaches, passes, and recedes from an observer. The individual playback engines, the source mixer and doppler engine can be manipulated in synchronized connection to each other. This makes it possible to playback the desired sound effect at different durations while remaining everything in perfect sync.” – meltedsounds.com
For more info: meltedsounds.com
via Richard Devine
There are tons of plug-ins and sample libraries but I always post updates when they come from UVI. Every time I use their Emulation II I come up with great sounding songs. Their new release is called Urban Suite. It’s actually 5 completely different plug-ins and a huge sample library. Beatshaper and Prime8 are drum machines. Beatshaper is a wide range of samples and Prime8 is a Roland TR-808 emulator. As with more really good modern sample libraries these are attached to interfaces that allow the samples to be manipulated and sequenced. Like using external hardware it’s fun to jump out of your DAWs traditional interface for sequencing now and then. Urban X is a layered sample playback and synth with effects. Even though I’m known to like synthpop I grew up and learned a lot about music through classic rap. So I am please to tell you Scratch Machine brings scratching and a scratch library into the DAW zone. This one plug-in alone would be worth it for many people. Finally there’s a multitrack looper called Beat Control for building full tracks. $199 available now.
“Urban Suite delivers 5 new instruments and a massive sample library tailored for contemporary music producers, perfect for hip hop, R&B, trap, glitch, beat, experimental and more… There’s no way to accurately reproduce the experience of scratching without a turntable but we’ve come pretty close with Scratch Machine. Grab a keyboard or pad controller, load up one of the classic sounds like ‘Fresh’ or even a Speak’n’Spell and let loose! All sounds were recorded directly from decks masterfully controlled by our resident turntablist and scratch artist DJ Quartz—over 10,000 samples in all.” – uvi.net
For more info: uvi.net/en/music-genres/urban-suite
Just because hardware monosynths and Eurorack modules are the rage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still keep an eye on the plug-in space. There is still no faster way to knock out a remix or quick scratch track than on your laptop. One of the first plug-in synthesizers I fell in love with was the Linplug Albino. Linplug is about to release an all new synth called Spectral. You can see it’s a real Linplug with Peter’s modmatrix right in the center. Coming soon.
“Our new top of the line synthesizer, the LinPlug Spectral. 14 years of synthesizer building experience. If you are familiar with subtractive synthesis, you will feel right at home with the Spectral, because you can choose an oscillator waveform, choose a filter shape and go on from there. But Spectral delivers far more options than you would expect from the well sorted user interface. Both Oscillator Waveform and Filter Shape can be edited in depth. The unique audio engine is capable of delivering many sounds never heard before.” – linplug.com
For more info: linplug.com/spectral
I use Melodyne often on my own vocals. Sometimes I use it to correct pitch and other times for creative strange things. On my song I Stand with You (link) I sent my vocal to my friend Gabri Negro in Italy and he created a few harmonies of my own voice using Melodyne on specific words. He’s a classically trained musician and knew exactly where on the scale to place my “other” self. In the video above you can see Melodyne’s Random Deviation function which speeds up creating variations of original material.
“Simply copy the vocal track, insert slight deviations in pitch and timing, and place the tracks in the stereo image. And with the clever functions of Melodyne, you don’t have to move every note by hand.” – celemony
For more info: celemony.com
Recently I mentioned the Orwell Digital OR-1M analog style software sequencer (link). To create certain types of EBM or Giorgio Moroder stuff it really helps to have an analog sequencer. Being software I was surprised how well the OR-1M gets me “that sound”. I was on the Muffwiggler reading about the upcoming Intellijel Metropolis hardware sequencer. It’s based on the M-185 sequencer by “RYK” so I went searching for some demos. This lead me to a software version by Defective Records (also called the M-185). Having Daniel Miller’s photo on the page kept me reading and the M-185 is in partnership with RYK. To my delight Defective Records also has a software Klee and CycliC software sequencer. I can’t wait to try these out and the prices are good.
“Includes virtually all major functions from the hardware M185, and adds many new ones specific to the software version.” – defectiverecords.com
For more info: defectiverecords.com