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
I keep mentioning UVI’s sample libraries on this blog. The German French company doesn’t pay me or give them to me free they are simply really good. You can sample an instrument different ways but these guys must like the same type of music as I do as I’m consistently reaching for their sounds. I haven’t yet tried their latest library called WaveRunner which covers wavetable synthesis ala PPG and Waldorf. At $299 you could buy a Eurorack module or two Volca’s but when you’re writing songs on a laptop away from the studio you want some good sample libraries.
“A multitude of synths, drum machines and rare prototypes of esteemed German heritage come together in this massive and unparalleled retrospective. WaveRunner presents you with a wondrous collection of authentic and fascinating sounds from over 30 years of wavetable synthesis. Everything from the raw and strident origins to the wild evolving tones of more modern, full-featured machines. Each system addressed was serviced, meticulously multi-sampled and artfully designed into 7 unique hybrid instruments driven by over 30,000 samples. Both a historical archive of sound and a collection of new and unique instruments with hundreds of presets and limitless sound design potential, WaveRunner is a suite not to be missed.” – uvi.net
Last weekend I hooked up my bike rack an went to my mothers house to ride through Tallman Park. In typical New York fashion the weather recently went from winter to almost summer instantly. Trees that were brown skeletons rapidly turned into bright beautiful green forests. Most people that don’t live in the area have no idea that surrounding Manhattan are some amazing beaches and parklands. It was just slightly raining and as you can hear in the soundcloud clips above Robins, Sparrows and other birds were really enjoying themselves. Rain usually brings a snake or two out onto the paths. I was not disappointed when I came across a giant 4 foot black rat snake. I also saw a few Turkey Vultures and there were Chipmunks all over the place.
“Tallman Mountain State Park comprises wooded country on the easterly slope of the Palisades uplands overlooking the Hudson and Piermont Marsh, which lies between the river and the slope. The marsh is part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.” – nysparks.com
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
For those of you who still have not grabbed some modular stuff but want in on the sounds Izotope has released a Sound Library called Modular for Iris. Iris is on my list of interesting plug-ins to get when I have the chance. This library has 600 samples and 300 patches for $34 USD.
“From the vintage classic, the ARP 2600, to modern Cartesian sequencing, the Modular sound library stems from a wide range of both musical and chaotic sources. Start experimenting and you’ll find that any Modular patch could inspire your next track, from pulsing tones to lush effects to glitchy rhythmic syncopations to fat bass sounds.” – izotope.com
One of the best sample makers Wave Alchemy has released Synth Drums. It’s always good to have a few thousand zaps, flips, white noise bursts and such ready to place in your tracks. 54 UK Pounds.
“Synth Drums contains over 5900 cutting edge and totally unique drum samples and percussive hits, each carefully crafted on a sound-by-sound basis. Synths used include: Roland Jupiter 8,Roland System-100 (101, 102, 104), Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 Rev 2 Sequential Circuits Pro One, Korg MS-20, ARP Odyssey MK1, Moog Minimoog Model D, Oberheim OB8, Roland Juno 106 and Roland SH-09. The library has been designed to be as flexible as possible – both processed and un-processed versions of each sound are provided along with a special selection of drum sounds which have been ‘bounced’ thorough special processes to add character, warmth and tone using Vinyl and Reel-to-Reel 1?4 inch tape with multiple saturation levels.” – wavealchemy.co.uk
Wave Alchemy are sound designers from Nottingham in the UK. In the past 5 years Dan Byers & Steve Heath have built up a reputation for producing some of the better sample packs especially when it comes to drum sounds. Recently they released a very ambitious project called Transistor Revolution which uses 22,000 samples to recreate a Roland TR-808 and TR-909. Some people will ask why do we need more 808/909? I think theses specific drum machine sounds are the pencil and pen for electronic music. They are important backbone sounds that can be used a million different ways. Real 808s and 909s are continually going up in value. Last time I checked an 808 is about $2500 on eBay. Transistor Revolution is currently less than $100 USD (introductory price) so if it sounds good it’s value is apparent. “TR” uses Native Instruments free Kontakt Player and is a 6GB download. That’s 6GB of essentially 20 different drum sounds! When you turn a knob in Transistor Revolution changing each of the sounds parameters the drum samples are actually changing from one to the next behind the scenes. In addition, “7 variations of each drum sound… cycle randomly each time a key on the keyboard is played”. Within the custom TR Kontakt player there are 7 effects: EQ, Compression, Tape Saturation, Transient Designer, High Pass Filter, Low Pass Filter and Bit Crusher. Each effect has it’s own page with multiple parameters that can be edited and saved. There is a full mini mixer within the plug-in so you can mix and place drum sounds on separate virtual outputs and add Send Effects. Send Effects inlcude the ones mentioned above and others including a Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Delay, Rotator, Stereo Modeller, multiple Distortion types and Convolution and standard Reverbs. The interface reminds me of Propellerhead’s Reason. Each drum sound has it’s own rack piece which can be closed and opened. Without reading the manual I was able to find my way around.
So how does it sound? Very good. Different model 808s sound different from each other. However, in my own opinion when listening to hardware or software clones there are things to look for. You want super clear white metalic high hats, rides and crashes. Snares and claps should have a very sharp transient attack. Kicks should go from tight to boomey. Transistor Revolution does an excellent job. I have one criticism and two things for the wish list. There are 4 “multis” which are basically a full 808 or 909 group of samples with some settings. For example there is an MP60, S1200, Lite and Analog version of the 808. I’m not sure if they use different sample sets or just the effect settings are different. Either way I want to see many more Multi presets. As I said above 808/909s lend themselves to treatment very well. Give us 50 flavors of each please! For the wish list I would like to see a TR style sequencer and MIDI file player. Why just give us the sounds? Part of what makes a the drum machines great is the patterns. Give us a few hundred MIDI patterns built-in and give us 16 lights going from left to right please.
Wave Alchemy are on the right path here. I suspect we will see more drum machines meticulously multi-sampled by the UK duo. In short of a real 808/909 or maybe the Tiptop Audio modular stuff this is the best sounding and certainly most affordable convient way to the TR sound.
“Our aim with Transistor Revolution was always to produce a product that could completely replace the hardware in our own productions.” – wavealchemy.co.uk
Is everyone in a good mood for X-mas? AfroDJMac surely is and he’s created an Ableton Live Pack created out of a Charlie Brown Christmas Globe. It’s a proper X-mas gift meaning its free.
“Saturday I was a Christmas party where I found a beautiful Charlie Brown Christmas snow globe. I snuck off to a quiet portion of the house and sampled it on my iPhone. From there, I created the 3 Ableton Live instrument racks I am now sharing with you. I think they all have a lot of character and organic movement to them, with the combination of the plucked notes mixed with the cranking mechanism inside the globe.” – afrodjmac.com
Moog has released a limited edition Voyager, it’s Moogerfoogers and the Slim Phatty in white. They also released white wood sides for the Slim. Why didn’t the regular Phatty didn’t get the white treatment? I have a Slim and really like it a lot. With it’s overdrive and Moog heritage it has a sound all it’s own. In addition to the snow color job Moog has sent an email with a download link for 100 new presets to all registered Phatty owners. The presets are designed by Phil and Paul Hartnoll AKA Orbital, Chad Hugo of N.E.R.D./The Neptunes, and DJ/Sound Designer Dom Kane. I do think the Phatty is one of those synths where presets are useful so this is welcome. Don’t forget there is also a Little Phatty Editor Librarian plug-in available too.
“Today Moog Music announced the limited edition release of an all white series of its classic analog instruments. Moog has polarized the color of their traditionally black steel and natural wood instruments to a solid white finish.” – Moog
Scientists have released what they say is the oldest playable recording of an American voice and the first recorded music performance. Talk about retro!
“The recording is just 78 seconds long, featuring a cornet solo and a man reciting nursery rhymes. Dated back to 1878, experts say it may be the oldest playable recording of an American voice. Ray Suarez talks to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Carl Haber who helped uncover the significance of this tiny piece of tin foil.” – PBS Newshour