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
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
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
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
In the Eurorack Modular world I was introduced to the 4ms Rotating Clock Divider. This module takes a pattern and then starts moving or “rotating” or shifting it around. In this months issue of Sound on Sound (July 2013) there is a review of Soniccouture’s Konkrete 3. It’s a drum sample library created with things like a Buchla or Telemark paired with a sequencer and glitch effects. We have seen other software like this but Konkrete has a really cool feature called The Beat Shifter. The Beat Shifter is similar in idea to the 4ms RCD but with more control. Check out the video above to see it in action. I also included a video of the glitch parameter which is also nice. $129 USD.
“A powerful sample-based drum synth for all kinds of electronic music. A creative beat generator – The Beat Shifter. An incredible sonic arsenal – 90 kits | over 5000 sounds. Huge sonic range – acoustic recordings to analogue hits. A massive range of custom convolution effects. Real time glitch module” – soniccouture.com
SonicLab’s Cosmosƒ is the first plug-in I have been really excited about in a long time. I’m not sure how to describe it exactly so be sure to watch the videos above. According to Wikipedia Stochastic means “sequence of random variables.”. Well this plug in takes a bunch of LFOs and puts them through a Stochastic morphing engine and has a modern interface. Mac/PC for $205 USD.
“Cosmosƒ V2.2 offers a unique preset morphing mechanism. With 2D / 3D control interface + homogeneous and heterogeneous micro waveform handling, it “rethinks” for you what you know as “morphing“… A sonic morphing process defines a metaphor of exploring the sonic shape and timbral evolution on intermediate levels.Cosmosƒ V2.2 gives the possibility to manipulate its composants responsable for its bottom-up sonic construction within necessary correspondance, precision and smoothness.It delivers an unheard medium by reaching the untouched points of the sonic universe.. Stochastic morphing with distribution range for altering the morphing position, speed and interpolation control. Built-in mathematical functions to automatically and precisely move the morphing pointer in the space.” – sonic-lab.com
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
PSP Audioware are one of my favorite plug-in makers. From Poland they create my all time favorite plug-in PSP N2O which used to be called Nitro. They have just released a spring reverb emulation called SpringBox. I have an Ekdahl Moisterizer but I still have my eye on finally getting a spring in plug-in form. Let me know if you tried this and if you think it sounds like hardware. $49 until May 1 then it goes to $69.
“PSP SpringBox is an emulation of a hardware spring reverberator (VST, AAX and RTAS for Windows; AudioUnit, VST, AAX and RTAS for Mac OSX). It recreates several features typical of a spring reverb, such as a convincing “boing” on transients and a repeatable resonating musical character with an adjustable presence. A selection of configurations from two to six springs total is provided, as well as the ability to set stereo spread and pan/balance configured to suit various mix setups – from a typical guitar reverb to a creative uses as a send reverb in the mix. Thanks to PSP SpringBox’s two channel A and B settings setup and range of presets operation is fast and easy.” – pspaudioware.com
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