The Slate Digital Virtual Console is a set of plug-ins that model the character of both mixer channels and an analog summing engine. There has been a huge discussion of this plug-in set on various forums including Gearslutz. I’m not 100% convinced using the VC will get you the same sound as outboard gear however I do believe it will give you a new color. I often use microphone impulse responses on a few channels so they sound like they have been recorded through say a Neuman and 15″ away. I know that definitely adds something unique and interesting to my mixes so plug-ins like the Slate have my interest. The Beta is available now for $199. iLok required.
“What it aims to do is precisely emulate the sound of mixing through a legendary analog desk. We’ve worked very hard on the algorithms and we’re happy to say that in our testing, it was extremely difficult to pick out the real desk verse the emulation in an blind A/B test. Fabrice Gabriel implemented modeling techniques that capture the entire dynamic response of the desk, meaning that the sound of the desk, (depending on the emulation), can change as you drive it harder.” – Steven Slate
The XILS Lab XILS 3 is a recreation of the EMS VCS synthesizer. It comes in two flavors. There is a LE version for $37 and a version with more features for $181. There is a demo. All versions including the demo require an iLok. There is an extended review of the XILS 3 in the August issue of Sound on Sound: click here. Basically they say it’s not a spot on emulation but a very interesting plug-in. Hardware lust and purism aside is the XILS 3 in the realm of the TimewARP 2600, UHE ACE and the Korg Legacy Collection?
“Given the DSP power available nowadays, you might think that it would be possible to emulate the VCS3 in software. You could imitate its unstable oscillators, model its unpredictable filter, recreate its loopy envelope generator and all its other facilities, iron out its idiosyncrasies, add a few enhancements, and then stick a pretty GUI on the front that forces players to approach it in the same way as the original. So, what is XILS 3? On the surface, it’s a soft synth designed to look, feel and sound like a VCS3. However, as we delve deeper, we’ll find that it’s much more than that.” – Sound on Sound
PSP Audioware from Poland was one of the early great VST plug-in makers. One of their plug-ins Nitro is in my top 10 of all time. They have updated there very good delay plug-in the 84 up a number to 85. $39 upgrade until August 8th then it jumps to $99.
“PSP 85 successor of the PSP 84 which became the favorite delay plug-in for some of you. PSP 85 is the product of our eternal fascination with the endless possibilities offered by variable sample rate delay lines. PSP 85 benefits from aggressive algorithm optimization and adds numerous significant new features while retaining full preset and bank compatibility with our renowned PSP 84 delay. The plug-in comes with sixty wild and twisted new presets designed to highlight its exciting new attributes, in addition to a supplementary bank containing more ‘bread and butter’ PSP 84 factory programs.” – pspaudioware.com
Years ago I owned a Lexicon MPX1. I was amazed to see they still sell the unit! Today I use Lexicon reverb impulse responses inside Altiverb. It gets me a good retro 80s reverb sound I like. I didn’t try the new native LXP bundle so I can’t tell you if it has that Lexicon sound. Honestly I doubt it but if anyone has tried these and they are “it” let me know. The main obstacle here as will be the $750 price. Many of the old hardware units are still around and operating. Will this software still be up and running in 15 years?
“Lexicon’s LXP Native Reverb Bundle provides your music with an engaging aura that brings it to life by placing it in the perfect resonant space.” – lexiconpro.com
Sonic Charge’s MicroTonic is one of the best software drum machines. Now you can browse patterns and drum sets on their website in the Patternarium. You can thumbs up or down patterns, save patterns and if you have MicroTonic running simply copy the pattern with a few clicks. I think it’s a pretty interesting web meets sequencer diddy!
“What you are experiencing above are computer generated patterns for µTonic created through principles of evolution. All the sounds and rhythms you are hearing are produced by algorithms running on our servers (even the names are made up by random). Think of Patternarium as a giant collaborative patch randomizer. Our servers are regularly spawning new generations of a thousand unique patterns, each one being the cross product of two other patterns picked at random. The higher votes a certain pattern receives, the more likely it is to get picked and bear offspring into the next generation. This means that you may participate and influence the outcome of Patternarium simply by voting.” – soniccharge.com/patternarium
Chris Randall has released an updated version of his nice stereoizing delay, pitchshifter, modulator named Discord. This plug-in always reminds me of the effect Meat Beat Manifesto used on breakbeats on their early albums.
“The pitch-shifter consists of three separate algorithms: a “vintage” mode (the original Discord algorithm, modeled on the Eventide H910 and H949), a “clean” mode for more modern shifting sounds, and a “granular” mode for experimental effects. Each mode has its strengths, depending on the input material, and Discord3 has a broad palette of capabilities as a result. The P1 and P2 algorithms have full control over the buffer (window) size of the shift effect, for fine tuning the shift to the input signal, or for stranger sound effects. At the extremes of the six-octave shift range, some truly strange aliasing and artifacts can be had with this control. Now, to be clear, if you’re looking for a nice, clean diatonic pitch shifter for fine surgery and re-pitching the full program, you need to look elsewhere. Discord3 is a tool for sound design, barberpole shifting delays, and special effects; think Eno, Visconti, Bowie, or Dirty Mind-era Prince and you’ll be on the right track.” – audiodamage.com
Dutch based Fabfilter plug-ins are some of the coolest looking. However, it can take you a bit to get used to the futuristic interface. Here’s some videos to get you going with Twin 2. FYI my personal favorite and highly recommended plug-in from Fabfilter is Timeless.
Here’s a plug-in from German developer Vengeance called Metrum. It’s for Mac/PC, costs $200 and gives you a computer generated sub-oscillator, mixes it with a few sample layers and has a mod-matrix and randomizer solely for creating kick drums. For those all ITB (in the box) it could be good however I think your money is better spent on a Jomox MBase 11.
“Kick Synthesizer VSTi / over 330 Kick Drum Presets / over 1800 Attack Sample Presets / over 150 Sine Oscillator Presets / ability to integrate own WAV samples / realtime & smooth graphic envelopes / flexible pitch & velocity routings / play tonal kicks! / huge mod matrix with every parameter / every presets comes with assigned modwheel and 3 GUI controls / GUI control knobs freely re-nameable / 6 high quality effects built in / 2 filters for every layer / 3 drive distortion models / 2 band parametric EQ / randomizer function / all parameters automatable / output limiter (you can turn it off if wanted) / 100% timing accurate and click free.” – vengeance-sound.de/eng/VPSMetrum.html
There are similar products to Xfer’s Nerve yet I am still interested. Mac/PC VST/AU. $199. What do you think? Is there something unique to Nerve that should be mentioned?
“Nerve is a software drum machine which brings powerful beat creation and manipulation to your Host Sequencer. Nerve runs as a VSTi or AudioUnit plugin. Nerve was designed and coded by veteran dance music producers, with a diverse sample library included from many of todays top sound designers. Create your own beats entirely from scratch using sounds you already have (AIF/WAV/REX/RX2/AKAI .SND), or utilize the factory-included Drum Kits, Presets, Patterns, and Sounds.” – xferrecords.com
I believe melody is hardwired into human’s brains in a way different than hearing just sounds. We remember notes as they hum up and down scales. Every time I leave The Gap I end up singing whatever song was playing over and over in my head for hours. So I always say piano lessons beat a new Apogee interface for making your tunes better. I really like helper applications like Harmony Navigator or even something like Microsoft SongSmith. Harmony Improvisator is a new plug-in from Germany in the same vain. The cochleor website says videos and a demo download are coming soon. It’s Mac/PC VST for 99 EUR.
Improvisator is a programmable chorder and sequencer VST plugin which outputs chords as MIDI data or sound from an internal synthesizer. It can be controlled via MIDI input or by clicking the harmonic functions of the graphical user interface. The first thing in the process of working with Improvisator is to click chords with the mouse which you hear immediately. – www.cochleor.de