Wusik Sound Magazine - December 2012
December issue of Wusik Sound Magazine featuring articles on Garritan's JABB3, D16's LuSH-101, FXpansion's Tremor, Cableguys's Curve 2, Chris Hein's Horns Pro Complete, TubeOhm's Gamma-Ray v2.0, the new Luftrum soundset for DIVA, Hollow Sun's Pulstar, Cinematic Strings 2 and more. Also featuring an exclusive interview with the brains behind "...and darkness came" plus our regular DanziLand Dispatch column for aspiring mix makers.
December 2012 Issue 42 www.wusiksoundmagazine.com The Wusik Letter... Dear readers, I regret to inform you that due to lack of interest the end of the world will be cancelledâ€Ś In the meantime, we have decided to present you just another new year Wusik Sound Magazine issue. Every year the same story, champagne, girls, rock'n'roll tutorials, reviews, tips and kids. - yes, we are not so young any more. I don't want to go into the details, but the old crew will bring you fresh information about what is hot and what not in the virtual market, giving you some ideas, things that you could ask Santa for, depending on how diligent you have been throughout the year. No presents for the mischievous, not this year. Behave!!! Libraries, effects and instruments. That's in our bag. Let us know, what will be in yours. Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year! http://www.wusiksoundmagazine.com Editor : William Kalfelz Assistant Editors : David Baer & Alex Arsov Contributors : Alex Arsov, David Baer, Warren Burt, Jon K. Carroll Danny Danzi, Adrian Frost, Robert Halvarsson Proof Reading : David Baer & Adrian Frost Layout : Adrian Frost All articles are copyright their respective authors Photos on pages 6, 15-17, 26-29, 41, 45, 46, 48, 50-53 are from stock.xchng - http://www.sxc.hu Some of the products reviewed in Wusik Sound Magazine are copies provided free of charge for review purposes Essential Reading ....................................................................... 4 Cableguys - Curve 2 ................................................................... 8 Interview with Headphone Commute ..................................... 12 Garritan - Jazz & Big Band 3 ..................................................... 15 D16 - LuSH-101 ........................................................................ 19 FXpansion - Tremor .................................................................. 23 Chris Hein - Horns Pro Complete ............................................. 26 Extreme Distortion ................................................................... 29 TubeOhm - Gamma-Ray V2.0 ................................................... 36 Luftrum 9 - Devine Sounds for DIVA ........................................ 40 Hollow Sun - Pulstar ................................................................. 41 Cinematic Strings 2 .................................................................. 46 Danziland Dispatch .................................................................. 49 Mini Tutorial - ChordWizard ..................................................... 54 Essential Reading Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio Mike Senior By David Baer place on the Shakespearean stage (and he likes to quote Lewis Carroll when doing a mic check). Mike Senior is a mixing engineer His presentation proved him to be who is probably best known for an animated speaker who has an his monthly “Mix Rescue” column obvious passion for his subject. In in Sound on Sound magazine. This speaking to him one on one is must-reading for anyone afterwards, I found him to be a interested in this subject, and his friendly and engaging person who recent book, Mixing Secrets for was more than willing to take the the Small Studio is even more so time to talk to an interested must-reading, particularly for amateur like myself. anyone just getting started in learning this craft. T�� B��� I had an opportunity to hear Mike speak at the AES trade show in San Francisco recently and it was a captivating experience. Mike is an impressive, tall and lean individual who has a speaking voice that wouldn’t sound out of The first sentence of the introduction provides an apt mission statement: studio environment by applying power-user techniques from the world’s most successful producers. The book gets my vote as the best introduction to the topic available (among the half-dozen or so titles that I’ve read). Even for those with some experience, I’d be astounded if the reader would not learn a great deal. The author writes with immense clarity and authority. Oh yes, and there is some wickedly funny humor that unexpectedly jumps out from time to time. Example, from the chapter on reverb when discussing the decay time parameter: This book will teach you how to There’ll be a slew of other controls achieve release-quality mixes on a on a lot of plug-ins, but for typical budget within a typical smallsmall-studio operators – indeed a 4 lot of professionals – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to worry about what all of those do. (They do serve a useful social purpose, however, in distracting computer anoraks from ever getting any music finished.) The author does expect some prerequisite knowledge of basic sound fundamentals (if you don’t know the meaning of terms like “Hz”, “dB” and the like, you need some preliminary education). He provides some recommended sources for information, but if you’re serious, you might first wish to read the book I reviewed in the last issue, Audio Expert by Ethan Winer. Read that review here: http://issuu.com/wusik/docs/ws m_oct2012/4 Furthermore, the Mixing Secrets will not teach you studio recording techniques and the like. You’ll need to learn those things elsewhere. It does assume you are starting with a collection of recorded tracks, irrespective of how you came by them, that need to be mixed in a computer digital audio workstation. It does not favor any particular DAW (as these days even the more modest offerings have enormous capability), nor does it favor any particular brand of plug-in effects. You can take advantage of his guidance on even a modest home setup. In fact, he goes to some lengths to accommodate those with only meager facilities at their disposal. Again and again, the book stresses that it’s the understanding and application of techniques, not the availability of high-end tools, that separate the near-commercial quality mixes from the also-rans. Indeed, he often cites plug-ins that can be had for free (or at most rather cheaply) to accomplish what needs to be done. While there is a constant recognition that some budgets will be very limited, great emphasis is placed upon getting the most bang-for-the-buck (although the author is British, bang-for-the-pound just doesn’t sound right). To that end, you are not advised that you will burn in hell for mixing on headphones, when that is all that’s available, or all that can be used in a setting with common walls or a lightsleeper sharing your quarters. In any case, there are reasonably cost effective solutions to be had if you purchase wisely. One thing that is stressed in this section, and frequently throughout the rest of the book, is the need for multiple monitoring options. In particular a single (non-stereo), single-driver monitor, used to augment your near-field stereo monitors, is clearly a preference of the author. And of course there is the expected admonition of spending as much on room treatment as you do on speakers. But once again, the author acknowledges that not all home studio practitioners will have this option available to them. C������ The book contains just over 300 pages, in which there are four major sections: ● Hearing and Listening ● Mix Preparation ● Balance ● Sweetening to Taste The author recommends that the chapters be read sequentially for maximum benefit. Mike places great emphasis on proper preparation before starting a mix, both in terms of having an adequate environment in which to work and having materials well organized before attempting any actual mixing. In fact, it’s not until the third section, 100 or so pages in, that we’re allowed to contemplate moving a fader for the first time. In the Hearing and Listening section, much is said on a proper monitoring setup. Spoiler alert: do not contemplate purchasing inexpensive ported monitors! 5 P���������� �� ��� K�� In the next section, much is said about getting organized before beginning a mix. Much of this is common sense, but this material is well worth your time. Tasks include organizing the tracks in a logical fashion, getting to know the material and identifying the major sections of the piece. One key part of this is spotting those tracks that need different treatment at times (intro, chorus, verse, etc.) and making duplicate copies (a process called “multing”) that, it’s time to leave some of the properly apply compression but how to recognize why you need it parts on the cutting room floor. so that each can be treated in the first place. As importantly, appropriately in context. we learn to recognize the F����� U�! Another tedious but essential Having made it through the often situations where compression is preparation activity is tightening not the answer. tedious preparation stages, it’s up the timing. If the kick and the now time to actually start the Finally we are taught about the bass aren’t in lockstep, the results mixing … what I imagine will be related dynamics processing will sound amateurish. Mike regarded as the fun part by most. options of gating and expansion. shows in detail how to deal with Mike approaches this with the The subject of dynamics these issues in great detail. And, understanding that an apprentice processing is given an excellent yes, there’s the unpleasant issue mixer will benefit from a very treatment, and these chapters are of tuning adjustments. If you’re a structured approach. Experienced well worth reading more than neophyte mixer, then it’s unlikely professionals might address basic once. you’re going to be handed balance, compression, EQ and pristinely recorded material to even effects in no particular We then turn our attention to EQ, work with. Much can be done to order, but this is not the other primary means of correct less than professional raw recommended for those getting achieving an initial balance. Once tracks, and it needs to be done started. again, much great and practical before you ever start your actual advice is offered. Following EQ, mixing activities. So we start with basic balance we have a chapter on the use of issues. This aspect of the process distortion, not as an effect for Finally, we are treated to the one includes the essential and delicate musical purposes, but as a truly creative part of this phase: task of adjusting the phase mix/blend tool. arranging. Yes, as the mixer you relationships of tracks. Multiple have the option of creatively mics not equally distant from a Finally, we return to dynamics modifying the material. The main sound source will receive sound at processing with a discussion of focus here is that of being an different times. This can lead to multi-band dynamics applications editor who decides what doesn’t nasty phase cancellations when and the powerful options make it into the mix. The band the associated tracks are presented with side-chaining in may have been in full-on mode combined. So, part of getting an compression. At the end of this from intro to outro, but as the mix initial balance is dealing with section, we should have reached engineer, you need to build phase issues. the point where the mix is nicely interest as the piece progresses to balanced. keep the listener engaged. To do Next, we tackle compression. Mike not only explains how to 6 this a wrap according to the author. The key here seems to be Time finally to put on the finishing the rigorous referencing of your touches. This section starts with a near-complete mix with most valuable discussion of commercial tracks of similar reverb. This is something a lot of genre. To do so, first some bus neophytes get horribly wrong. compression of the overall mix is The author clears away the normally called for as well as a mystery of effective application of final limiter to cap things off. reverb by explaining how it can be used to achieve very different No, we're not done yet! The ends: blend, size, tone, sustain finishing touches involve and spread. You’ll walk away with automation, primarily of vocal a clear understanding of how levels, but it can be along-the-way early reflections play a key role in tweaks to EQ, compression, some of those goals and reverb reverb tail or anything else that tails satisfy other requirements. needs to be done to make your This chapter is worth the price of effort sound like it came from a the book by itself. commercial studio. There are no S����! hundred “raw mix” musical productions which are freely available for download That you can use in mix practice exercises. This is without any doubt an invaluable resource, especially for anyone you know who’s teaches mixing. Check out the site here: www.cambridge-mt.com I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about recommending a mixing tutorial than I am about Mixing Secrets. It is first rate start to finish. It does focus almost exclusively on the production of contemporary pop music styles, but you’re not likely to find another mixing book that does things differently. Even if you shortcuts here nor plug-ins that Next we are offered a similar can magically get you through this work with non-pop genres (jazz, discussion on delays. There is classical, whatever), you’ll still last lap. It’s hard work, period. great advice here on not only how learn much that you can apply to to effectively apply delay effects, your efforts. B�� W���, T����’� but also why they are often preferable to the reverb you (S� M���) M��� Mixing Secrets may not be the might have instinctively gone for most comprehensive instructional If the book itself weren’t a gold in the first place. mine of wisdom, the author has a book out there (for that I’d web site upon which you can find heartily recommend Mixing Audio Finally, we get a lesson in stereo by Roey Izjaki), but you are numerous specific articles that enhancement: when they work and when they can destroy a mix further illuminate diverse subjects unlikely to find a better introduction to the topic. So, get covered in the book. In fact, the that is not heard on a proper your hands on this book. Plan to amount of material here rivals stereo system. read it more than once. It’s worth that within the pages of Mixing every penny and every minute of Secrets. Additionally, and this So now the mix is done, right? study you’ll invest in it. Not so fast there, Junior … there’s truly is something special, the much left to do before we can call author has collected over a 7 Review Cableguys : Curve 2 By Adrian Frost clothing. The interface is clean and clear yet hides a vast amount of power and tweakability. The best place to start is with the waveform window that takes up the top third of Curve's interface. This is where most of the magic happens and without this window Curve would probably be considered a fairly standard subtractive synth. In the waveform window you can modify Curve's ten built-in waveforms which themselves can be assigned to any one of Curve's three double oscillators or four LFOs. Envelopes have their own adjustable waveforms that appear in the same window but slightly different controls. 8 In October's issue of WSM I wrote a short introduction to Cableguy's just released Curve 2 synth. This month we get to take a slightly more in-depth look at Curve 2 to see what the Cableguy's latest offering brings to the synthesis tables, so to speak. Since writing in October Curve 2 has seen a couple of updates and an overhaul of the community sharing features - more of which later. So, where do you start with Curve? It's a monster of a synth dressed up in very sedate When you're editing a waveform you have a whole host of controls at your disposal for shaping and modifying the waveform. Node points can be added and manipulated with a click of your mouse button - either directly on the waveform or nearby to shape it more gently. A left click produces a small node that you can use to 'influence' the waveform whilst a right click produces a larger node that the waveform will pass through - this is how you can create stepped waveforms for use with LFOs. There is also a handy row of tools along the bottom edge of the window that allows you make big changes in one go. Behind the waveform is an additive representation of your waveform that updates in real time. This is handy as it enables you to see how and where you're introducing different frequencies to your sound. You can't actually edit the additive 'graph' yourself but it's nice to have it available. After the filters and envelopes and over to the right we have Curve's bank of four LFOs. Again, they're brain dead simple to use. The waveform window is easy to You can control triggering, speed Curve has two filters that each use and you get to see and hear and level but for routing need to offer ten filter types: 6db LP and the results of your tweaking head over to the mod matrix. The instantly. Personally I'd love to be HP, 12db LP, HP, BP, Peak and Notch, and 24db LP, HP and BP. A mod matrix is another example of able to flip it into Additive mode and get busy with the partials but nice selection and it has to be said well thought out design. Everything is clearly labeled and that the filters sound good, very can also see that that isn't quite fairly obvious. If you click on one the point of this synth - it's called smooth though they can be pushed into self-oscillation with a of the matrix slots in the "OSC" Curve for a reason. column a small orange box pops little bit of effort. up which allows you to set levels When used to power one of the LFOs you can have the waveform Below the filters are Curve's three individually for each oscillator. You can set them all at the same envelopes. One is a dedicated window display a note grid that time by dragging within the can help in producing, in effect, a volume envelope the other two step sequence for your sound. It's can be routed wherever you fancy original slot or slide your mouse a little bit hit and miss to pick out via the mod matrix at the bottom over and adjust each osc on its the notes that you want for your of the interface. In the waveform own. When the values for each osc are different the matrix slot window you can modify the sequence but your patience will envelopes shape in the same way simply shows an 'X'. be rewarded because you get as for the other waveforms such complete control of the The final part to mention is though you have slightly fewer result. Curve's Macros facility. Sitting options to play with. One thing I square under the middle of the found that takes a little getting When you're editing your sound waveform window are four knobs used to is that you don't, and and switching between different indeed can't, change the length of that you can use to control waveforms it's possible to lose the envelope from the waveform multiple other controls in one go. track of what you're doing and Click on the magnifying glass to window. You need to use the what is going where. It is, bring up the Macros' own window envelope's own Attack, Decay, however, quite easy to find out (see image). Each of the four where things are at - every control Loop and Release controls. macro knobs can control eight that makes use of a waveform has Although initially this feels a bit a small magnifying glass icon that weird it does actually make sense. other parts of the synth. The first two knobs are hard wired to the You can zoom in on each section will pull up the associated Mod Wheel and After Touch but of the envelope and then, if you waveform in the window at the top. Using this you can readily find set, say, an attack time of 0.5 ms the other two can be assigned to you get as much space to work in any other knob on your controller. out what is happening. One handy thing to mention is that Curve looks after looping the waveform for you so no need to worry about clicks or funny bits in your sound Each of Curve's three oscillators can host two separate waveforms and includes a crossfade control that allows you to mix things up a little. Apart from that you have fairly ordinary Pitch, Detune, Pan and Volume controls. Routing to the filters is handled by a dropdown menu in the top right of each oscillator's 'box'. as if you'd gone for the max attack of 32 seconds. The only part of the envelope you don't get direct control of, apart from its length, is the release - not really a problem though. 9 Connecting the different parts of the synth up one of the Macro knows is simple. Click the orange four headed arrow by each slot and drag 'n' drop to any of the subtly highlighted controls. Set the level and the job's done. In summary, Curve 2 is a high quality, very rewarding synth to use. It's easy to get going quickly producing good sounds but it takes a bit of time and effort to Well, hopefully that gives you really get the best from this synth some idea of what Curve can do - it has so much to offer. I've on a technical level. The question already used Curve in a couple of It's easy to join the community that is most important though is tracks that I'm fiddling around simply create a preset, name it always, however, going to concern the sound. Does Curve 2 and save it and then sync with the with and I can see it finding itself in future productions too. It sits Cableguys server. You'll be given sound good? Yes, undoubtedly! well in a mix and you don't feel the opportunity to fill out your You can tease pretty much any like you're having to constantly own personal profile and then… sound you want from Curve 2 fight with it. The understated away you go. You can also set a with a bit of thought and effort. interface hides an awful lot of preset to be private and it won't power and a very pleasing sound. be uploaded when you sync The presets that are offered as a starting point, before you get into though sharing seems to be the You can download a demo from Curve's online community, give a way to go. There's something http://www.cableguys.de quite addictive about having the good idea of the broad palette Curve 2 costs €119/$159 including that is at your disposal. There are ability to instantly share your VAT. It’s available as VST, AU, creations - I've uploaded two a good amount of Keys, Pads, RTAS, 32- and 64-bit. Basses, Leads and FX presets but presets so far… there may be more to follow. The quality of the the real fun comes when you submitted presets (not counting head into the Library and hit the Sync icon for the first time. Curve 2 will, at the time of writing, then download a further 2440 presets for you to play with. Each preset has been contributed by a Curve user and they're categorized into one of ten fairly large groups Bass, Lead, Keys, Synth, Pad, FX, Drums, Bassline, Synthline and Drumloop. my own…) is generally high though it'll take a while work your way through all that is on offer. 10 11 Interview Loss Grief and Acceptance in music and I'm happy to finally having an opportunity to know that it's as good as it will ever get, and let the Wusik Sound Magazine is public decide the rest. And from honored to feature an interview reading this particular response with HC, the anonymous writer First off, let me congratulate you you should gather that it's a of Headphone Commute, whoâ€™ve to the release of â€Ś and darkness pretty complicated mixed feeling, just released the massive benefit came one which I still haven't been able album â€Ś and darkness came, to clinically define. I'm riding this with all income going straight How does it feel to finally see this wave, and I'm letting it toss me... towards benefit-organizations work released unto the public? that, amongst other things, help - It's a bit unreal, very elating, and Benefit-albums are not usually American continental victims of a little sad at the same time. I associated with ambient, hurricane Sandy. mean, how am I ever going to top experimental and neo-classical this accomplishment? I've worked composers; do you think this First listening to the album, it so long on this project that I might be a step in broadening the comes by as hard to describe. cannot imagine myself doing conception of musical aid? There is nothing orthodox about anything else. On the other hand, - I would say that artists of all it. Being a collaborative album I don't feel like I chose to do this - walks of life come together to which features a whole lot of the project chose me. From the help each other on a usual basis. composers, this transcends rigidly second that I had the idea of Musicians revolve in family defined genres, but many pieces creating a benefit compilation I oriented communities where they could be said to go by definitions was already dreading a little (to constantly rely on each other's such as neo-classical, be honest) all of the hard work aid. Perhaps music of more experimental and ambient music. that I had to do to make it happen commercial genres is more It could be seen as a coherent - but at the same time I knew that prominent, but benefit albums of sound image of more than six only I could do this, and it's all styles exist. A compilation by hours of music, which contains something that had to be done. At ambient, experimental, and neoacoustic interpretations on the end it became an obsession, classical composers only 12 By Robert Halvarsson grieving, loss, melancholia and finally, of a strong sense of renewal, acceptance and peacefulness. showcases a fraction of this particular world, but it's a very tight circle of like-minded friends, and together we hope to broaden everyone's horizons through music. What are your thoughts on the role of artists in times of social trouble and natural disasters? - I've been involved in music for many years now in various incarnations and forms. At the end, I've learned a very basic lesson: artists are people too. No matter how "big" a particular name may be, behind the alias is another being, full of emotion, ideas, a bit of ego, and all those other funny human things. Everyone wants to feel their importance, and everyone wants to cheat death. It's morbid, but it's true. We haven't found a way to do that yet, so the only way to deal with mortality is to leave something behind. Artists create art. Musicians create music. All in hopes that they'll connect with someone on the other side, and hopefully be remembered in the process. If there is an opportunity to make a difference, every single person will step up. It's nice to know that some of us can help through music. So in short, we are all honored to be able to contribute, especially when our work benefits social trouble. Listening to the work front to back, what is your own emotional response to the work in question? - The 6+ hour journey is meant to trace the feelings of the You have a huge amount of folks devastating events by those who’ve experienced it, and those in the artist roster, is there any who’ve reacted to it from afar. All specific artist(s) whom you find especially pleasing to include on of the pieces are emotionally charged and are meant to evoke a the album in question? particular feeling as - There are a few of my personal idols that I'm honored to have had communicated by the artist on the other side. I tend to connect contributed. Clint Mansell is definitely one of them, as are Max with each track on a different level. And if a particular piece Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Nils makes me feel… if it makes me Frahm, Hauschka, Dustin feel _anything_ at all… then the O'Halloran, Ólafur Arnalds and goal has been accomplished. many, many others. As you can see (and hopefully hear), I really enjoy cinematic orchestral music The benefits will go to Doctors without borders and The Humane with a piano at the center stage. I've been a fan of all of the above Society. Why did you choose these specific organizations in artists for years, and own every single one of their releases, so it is question? - I’ve spent some time researching a true honor to see Headphone the charitable organizations that Commute (as a label) be part of would properly use the funds their catalog. across the globe. In particular, I And darkness came spans a didn’t want this to be just about The spirit of the work goes monumental amount of 87 New York or United States. against the grain of an explicit tracks, did you conceive the Hurricane Sandy has devastated interest and response you would positiveness associated with portions of the Caribbean, Midbenefit-albums. What are your receive from producers and thoughts on the emotive aspects Atlantic and, of course, the US. musicians when you began But I would hate for the world to of the album? planning for this work? - No. I'll be honest; I had no idea if - The entire compilation follows a think, “oh, we’ve had natural disasters and no one cared, but particular trajectory of a natural I would even receive ten now that it’s America, everyone is responses. I have literally emailed disaster. Although not explicitly paying attention!” That part may some of my friends in the industry positive, there is a narrative be true – but why not take that throughout the tracks (and their in hopes that they'll contribute 13 towards this humanitarian cause. I was incredibly impressed, humbled, and honored by the response I have received. More than anything, I was also proud of how well everything came together - I've had every single submission by the deadline in my mailbox, giving me plenty of time to work out the kinks. I was hoping to split up the compilation into multiple parts, but I chose the simpler route, making it easy for a potential buyer to make the decision. I could have easily gone to a hundred, but I finally had to draw the line. arrangement) that deals with loss, grief, and finally acceptance. At the same time it touches on resurrection and rebuilding of the life we've known. This is something to do with a circle of life, as we all live through these cycles. I don't think that the work is particularly sad, but rather meditative, contemplating and calm. particular thought and make something bigger, and allow our voices to be heard across the globe. The organizations selected have been approved by the artists contributing towards the cause as the ones that provide relief services worldwide. I am hoping that although the compilation focuses on Hurricane Sandy, the funds will go towards any and all humanitarian causes. And of course animals are covered as well! Last but not least, what are your goals and hopes when it comes to …and darkness came? - I want it to create positive vibes in the world on multiple levels. Sure, I want it to raise money and benefit the charities. But I also want the world be introduced to some wonderful music and the artists behind each track. I really want it to be a win-win for everyone and fail to see how it could possibly go wrong! I have no other hidden agenda, no ego, and no financial gain behind this project. Removing those particular evils from anything I've been involved with has really been working for me till this day, and I hope to continue and deliver projects in unprecedented quality that speak for themselves. I hope the world will agree... Buy the album via: http://headphonecommute.bandc amp.com/ http://reviews.headphonecommu te.com/ …and darkness came 14 Review Garritan : Jazz & Big Band 3 By Adrian Frost time with virtual saxophones. There are a few on the market and even a number free ones floating about. I've used one free one in particular that I really like but it is limited, not that I'm going to grumble. Then things changed. Garritan very kindly provided me with a copy of their Jazz & Big Band 3 sound library which includes a number of very nice saxophones. If you've been reading WSM for the last few issues you'll know that I've had the very good fortune to be able to review both Garritan Instant Orchestra (http://issuu.com/wusik/docs/ws maug2012/56) and Garritan Classic Pipe Organs (http://issuu.com/wusik/docs/ws m_oct2012/36) - two very respectable and affordable sound libraries that made a very good I may have mentioned this already elsewhere, but, I currently live in Belgium not a million miles from a town called Dinant (pronounced Dee-non, with a French accent). "So what!" I hear you cry. Dinant was once home to a gentleman called Adolphe Sax - his name should give you a clue as to the instrument he invented - yes, that's right the Trumpet! I kid. Mr. Sax was known for the invention of the Saxophone (patented in 1846), instrument beloved of jazz Adolphe Sax - Man about town and blues folk the world over. OK, that's the intro done, why this talk about saxophones? Firstly, it's my favourite instrument ever. I don't, and can't, play the real sax, though my son had a good shot at it a few years ago. But I love the sound - mellow and soulful, screaming and rasping - an incredible dynamic range and a tone that goes straight from your ears to your heart. Secondly, up until now I've not spent much 15 Garritan's usual high standards, and more importantly it includes information that you will need in order to get the best from JABB3. If you do nothing else before diving in, open the manual and print out page 95 - it's a reference sheet which details each instrument's controls along with their CC numbers, very handy to have. The ARIA player really needs no introduction; a few words will suffice. It's a very competent and easy to use player that gives a good amount of control of your sound. As you load up each instrument, or ensemble of instrument, the appropriate controls and keyswitches appear on the Controls tab. After that you have a 16 channel mixer - one channel for each instrument 'slot'. Finally, at least in terms of day to day operation there is an effects tab. On offer there is a standard reverb and a convolution reverb impression. Does Jazz & Big Band that was introduced quite 3 (JABB3) make it three for three? recently. The standard reverb is very good, the convolution reverb You'll have to wait and see, or is even better. For other effects jump straight to the end for my you'll need to look elsewhere but conclusions. given the nature of Garritan's W���� ��� P������� libraries you'll probably not be adding much other than reverb A good place to start any serious anyway. So far in my use of these inspection of an instrument is by libraries the most I've done is add, reading through the manual. But maybe, a compressor here and who am I kidding? Most of us there and, if the mix needs it, a bit install and get straight to playing. of EQ. Who needs the manual? It's true So, onto the instruments and let's that installing the ARIA player and start with the saxophones. authorising the library is a breeze - say, five to ten minutes for the Actually first a small aside… JABB3 install and a couple of minutes to as previously stated is Jazz & Big login to my Garritan account, Band 3. Can you only use this download the authorisation card, library for Jazz and Big Band stuff? fire up the standalone version of By no means, you'll find stuff that the player and register the library will fit into many genres - I'm - but don't overlook the manual. currently working on a Christmas For one thing it's very much up to song "O Holy Night" or "Minuit 16 Chrétien' for the French readers. I'm using a sax, bass and drums from JABB3 with strings and ensemble brass provided by Instant Orchestra. Arp, electronic drums and assorted noises come from elsewhere. It's a kind of dance mashup thing which I promise to never inflict on those outside of my family. S�� A����� Back to the sax. JABB3 offers 10 different types of sax. Yeah, you read that right, 10 types of sax and some of them come in multiple versions: 3 Alto, 2 Bari, 2 Bass, 2 C Melody, Contrabass, Mezzo Soprano, Sopranino, 2 Soprano, Sub Contrabass and 4 Tenor. Enough saxes? Each sax has a bunch of dedicated controls including, but not limited to, slur, auto-slur, vibrato, key click, growl, intonation and timbre. You'll need to set up your controller to make the most of all of these options but once you do you've got pretty much complete control over every aspect of your sound which, in the right hands, means you can produce a performance that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. As to the sounds themselves. The samples are impeccable, if a little on the quiet side - my only slight gripe about the library. Crank up the volume though and these instruments positively shine. They have enough guts to be able to cut through in the mix but they don't overwhelm. One thing I noticed whilst working on my latest 'oeuvre' is that all of Garritan's libraries work well together. I'm guessing that that isn't an accident but it's a pleasing thing to discover - not only a Big Band in a box but a complete If you've ever played slap bass you'll know there are actually two basic tones - slap and pop. The 'pop', often played with the forefinger of the right hand by pulling or 'popping' the higher A�� ��� ���� strings is rarely as well done as What else is in the box? The saxes the 'slap' - the part played with are only the start. In the 'Saxes the thumb on the lower strings. and Woodwind' section alone Garritan have, in my estimation, you'll find 4 clarinets, 5 flutes and succeeded where others have a harmonica. After that, well failed. The bright 'twang' of the there's a ton of brass, guitars, pop, as compared to the slightly keyboards and vibes (including 7 duller slap, is present and correct. different organs), basses and In most libraries I've used the pop, drums along with preset generally played on the D string combinations and light versions of and above, which is often just the all of the above. This is very much slap but played higher up. In a complete library for those JABB3 there is a difference looking for a good range of particularly when you hit the note instruments for the Jazz and Big Band genres. Short of running through all of the instruments that are available in this library I'm just going to pick out a few of the highlights, my favourites. Apart from playing virtual sax I'm also a real life bass player so after overindulging in the Saxophone and Woodwind section I headed over to take a peek at the basses. The selection is small but representative: 2 Fretless, 2 Jazz Fretted, 2 Slap and 3 Upright. They're good, the electric basses all go down to low B which is nice, you've basically been handed a good quality 5 string. The fretless offerings are capable of the both the long 'waaaah' sounds and a more percussive tone. The Jazz basses are solid with a good amount of the grunt. The Slap bass is done right. For the bases keyswitching gives you access to harmonics and there is also finger slide noise available on notes C5 to E5 though go easy on it, most bass players try and keep that noise to a minimum. orchestra and some pipe organs thrown in for good measure. Try to fit that lot in your bedroom for real. hard. Thank you Garritan! Actually, I've never been a great slap bass player - those kinds of riffs are often too fast and my thumb gets caught up in the strings, a situation made even worse once I moved to a 5 string bass with tighter string spacing. Have I said enough about the basses? OK, moving on. Amongst the brass instruments we have trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone and tube. Although you can load up a whole section in one go via Ensembles the individual instruments are available too. It's with the brass and particularly the trumpet that having a MIDI controller to hand pays off in spades. Set up controller CC#15 and you have instant access to Falloffs, Doits and Kisses. Falloffs are obvious. Doits and Kisses? Doit is an upside down falloff, a fallup perhaps. Kisses… hmmm, how do you describe this one? Once you go above high Bb (yeah, that high) you can use CC#15 to add kisses to the release sound of the note. The effect is interesting, a kind of pinched off 'spurt' to the end of the note. I can't say I've ever noticed the use of this technique in any music I've heard but you can be sure I'll be keeping an ear out for it. Maybe time to dig out some Louis Armstrong. Lastly, the drums. JABB3 comes with a number of different drum kits including a very nice brushed kit that sounds superb. On that kit you can control the strength of the first push via velocity and by aftertouch change the stir direction. As well as providing the kits in their own format Garritan have included GM versions of the kits which is great for those who 17 and precise, it's obvious that care has been taken to make all of the instruments fit and they do work well together. From that point of C���������� view you do feel as though you're Don't let the name make you playing with a whole band and not think that this library is only for a collection of disparate Jazz and Big Band. It's not, what is instruments. on offer here easily crosses genre boundaries. That said, it excels at Garritan have a comprehensive what it does. If you are putting page about JABB3 on their together some Jazz music, a bit of website at Fusion or wanting to recreate the http://www.garritan.com Big Band era than JABB3 deserves There are also a decent number of your consideration. It's a very examples/demos to listen too as good library and for $149.95 well as a funky jukebox that ($49.95 upgrade) you can't really welcomes you to the page, like go too far wrong. The samples walking into your favourite sixties that make up this library are clear haunt. buy and use MIDI loops for their drum making needs. If you're looking for a keenly priced, well rounded sound library for all things Jazz and Big Band, and more, than stop by Garritan's site and have listen. You can also check out a Jazz Arranging course via a link on the JABB3 page. Many thanks once again to Scott Yoho for making this review possible - the saxophones have won! Dinant, home of Adolphe Sax, seen from the Citadel 18 Review D16 Group’s LuSH-101 Synthesizer By David Baer The SH-101 was a primitive instrument by today’s standards, having a single oscillator (capable The D16 Group is an outfit in of simultaneous pulse and saw Poland that produces some well- waves along with a sub-oscillator regarded soft synths and VST wave), a solitary envelope effects. In the summer of 2009, it generator and LFO, and was announced a new synth, at the limited to monophonic sound time called Shioitor, which it production. But it was claimed would deliver “authentic nevertheless widely used by a analog character” along with a lengthy list of ensembles at the host of modern features. Over time. Fortunately, D16 chose to three years later the instrument model the sound of the finally was released, having been component oscillators, filters, etc. rechristened LuSH-101. Given that but saw the need to give it some the Roland SH-101 synth much needed feature upgrades. (overleaf), an analog beast from c. 1980, was used to model its T�� G���� T��� performance characteristics, the I should start with the disclaimer name change makes perfect that I’ve never played an SH-101 sense. Oh yes, it also can indeed and I’ve probably never even have a gratifyingly lush sound as been in the same room with one. well, but let’s not get ahead of My knowledge of the original ourselves. 19 instrument comes from the same place most of us get our information these days: the internet. LuSH-101 does reproduce much of its inspiration’s look and feel in the control panel (image above), but is vastly more capable. The original controls are mimicked with some fidelity in terms of layout, but we now have two EGs and LFOs where before there was just one, for example. More importantly, the update is polyphonic and there are eight layers of instrument to work with. These can be stacked for layered sounds, or can be programmed to respond to separate MIDI channels. Let’s start with the basics by examining the capabilities of one The original : A Roland SH-101 layer. LuSH-101 does subtractive synthesis exclusively. In this regard, D16’s assertion that it will be “the only synth you’ll need” might be a bit inflated. But as you’ll see, the subtractive synthesis leaves little to be desired. hard-sync and super-saw modes are mutually exclusive. A layer has 32 notes of polyphony and there is a unison capability (multiple detuned waves). Invoking two-note unison reduces the polyphony to 16 notes, threenote unison to ten notes, and so on. Pitch spread (detune amount) and pan spread can be specified, and in a nice touch I don’t recall ever seeing before, filter cutoff spread can also be specified. Moving on to the filters, what we see is pretty standard fare. There is a dedicated non-resonant highpass filter that has nothing but a cutoff control (and keyboard tracking does not appear to be an option). The other is a multi-type resonant filter offering (LP, BP or HP) than can operate in one of two modes. Normal mode is rather well behaved while SH-101 mode is less stable and is said to be a faithful emulation of the SH101 filter’s behavior. Keyboard cutoff tracking can be specified anywhere between zero and 100 percent. are probably going to love this instrument’s control layout. The basics are all right there in front of you. The filter cutoff has four adjacent sliders to modulate it with either (or both) EG and/or either LFO. Resonance likewise has two dedicated sliders (EG2 and LFO2 in this case). Given that the EG and LFO controls are likewise permanently accessible a short distance away, someone who knows their way around subtractive sound design is likely to be very happy with the efficient work flow this all permits. M��� S������� F��� But back to the basics. The envelope generators are standard ADSR shapes that can be inverted. There are four triggering options: ● Trigger is normal operation. A note-on fires the envelope. ● Gate fires with a note-on, but only if no other note is held. ● LFO1 re-triggers on each cycle start of LFO1. ● LFO2 … see LFO1. These last two were something I didn’t immediately appreciate when reading the documentation, but made my eyes widen when I heard them in action in some factory presets. They offer some very exciting possibilities to create dramatic pulsing chord presets that are trivial to set up. O���������� ��� F������ Each layer has a single oscillator that can produce a pulse wave, a saw wave, a sub-oscillator wave (square or saw, one or two octaves down) and noise, all of which can be mixed into the oscillator output. Both the pulse and saw have a hard-sync option, which brings a reserve wave generator into play that can be mixed with the slaved wave. I would have preferred to see a tamer wave like a triangle or sine as a sub-oscillator option, but perhaps what’s offered defers to the SH-101’s original capability. The saw portion of the oscillator may also be repurposed to produce a “super-saw” wave. When doing so, the “thickness” of the output (i.e., the number of component saw oscillators) and their detune amount can be controlled. Not unreasonably, The LFOs offer wave forms of triangle, square, saw-up, sawdown, random and noise. All but noise can be synced to the host Let’s take a brief detour and tempo. Otherwise an entirely mention modulation here (we’ll useful range of rates is available, return to this subject in more and in another nice feature that’s detail shortly). Veteran subtractive synth sound designers not all that common, the rate can 20 be subject to keyboard tracking. Like the EGs, several cycle start trigger modes exist including one that can be slaved to the arpeggiator. Speaking of the arp, let’s just say it’s quite capable and leave it at ● Distortion ● Decimator ● Tremolo Owners of D16 Silverline effects will not be surprised at the high quality on offer here. Special the settings of a single level and “Preset” presets an entire instrument including all eight levels including send effects. Furthermore, there is a consolelike mixer that is used to, well, mix the timbres (below). Each channel includes a simple parametric that. Space here doesn’t permit detailing all its features, but it should satisfy most players who use that type of sound. Numerous factory presets demonstrate this quite effectively. The arp supports saving and loading presets. One thing to mention gives the LuSH101 arp special significance. Each layer (and there are eight of them, remember) has its own autonomous arp. Just think of the possibilities! mention is warranted of the vowel filter, a formant filter that ranges through A, E, I, O and U with minimal setup. D16 has published a roadmap of planned enhancements for LuSH101, one of them being the addition of a second insert effect slot, which will be most welcome. equalizer and a compressor stage that can be configured pre or post EQ. Three channel send controls route the signal to the three dedicated send effects: reverb, delay and chorus. Once again, the D16 flair for great effects processing is evident. If this weren’t all enough, the three send busses include a channel strip EQ. Output of the layers and send busses can be directed to up to eleven output channels. Between this and the ability for each layer to respond to discreet MIDI channels, LuSH-101 becomes a formidable performance instrument. Finally, we have a modulation matrix at the layer level. In its present form, this is a bit of a disappointment. It’s not nearly as E������ ��� M��� capable as similar devices in other There are two levels of effects: a modern synths. However, this is layer “insert” effect and three another advertised upcoming dedicated global “send” effects enhancement in the LuSH-101 that can be shared by all layers. development road map. Details We’ll revisit the send effects later. are rather sketchy, but we are The insert effects include: assured improvements will be forthcoming in the not-too-distant ● Chorus future. ● Flanger ● String Ensemble ● Phaser ● Vowel Filter T�� S���� I have to admit that as I read through the documentation (which is excellent, by the way) before actually taking LuSH-101 for its first test drive, I wasn’t all that impressed. There seemed to P������ I� A�� T������� There are two levels of sound presets. “Timbre” presets define 21 be little here that couldn’t be found in lower-priced instruments that featured more robust implementations of many standard features. But all those reservations were immediately forgotten when I heard the sounds LuSH-101 can produce (“they laughed when I sat down at the synthesizer, but when I started to play …”). The software clearly does not use multi-threading in its current state and D16 makes no mention of forthcoming performance enhancements (which doesn’t mean they won’t be looking at P���������� that aspect). LuSH-101 supports Although the forum chatter two performance settings: normal during the release didn’t quite and high. There is no “draft” reach the intensity that mode to accommodate those with I want to make a accompanied the DIVA launch, machines of modest power. Also, recommendation to anyone who there was nevertheless a very and this would be my foremost auditions this instrument. Stick active online discussion. Much feature request, there is no way with the default preset when you debate revolved around how to automatically invoke the first try it out and simply load faithfully LuSH-101 reproduced highest quality mode when factory timbres into layer 1. You the sound of the SH-101 and more rendering. The prospective buyer will see just how impressive LuSHdebate ensued about whether will simply have to try it on their 101 can be using just a single layer that even mattered. And like the own machine to see what the with no effects coloring the result. chatter involving the DIVA launch, performance picture is. And there is one gem after the question of whether or not another in the factory timbres. software could ever take the place There are abundant expertly I� L�SH-101 of the analog goodness of yore designed sounds. A particular was hashed and rehashed. For all F�� Y��? favorite is the Atlantis timbre of that, let me just suggest you LuSH-101 is currently available as designed by Aiyn Zahev (aka Sami download a copy to form your 32 or 64 bit AU or VST for Mac Rabia). It does something quite own opinion. and 32 or 64-bit VST for PC. RTAS magical with just a delicate touch and AAX support is said to be of the Flanger effect. But there However, two issues of concern forthcoming. Download a trial are too many marvelous timbres we’re prevalent. The first has to copy here: to single just a few out. If your do with the UI. Those trying to use experience is similar to my own, the instrument on a smallish you will feel like the proverbial kid screen were not happy campers, http://www.d16.pl/lush-101 in a candy store. claiming the controls were too LuSH-101 has a retail price of small to effectively work with. Yet $199, with modest discounts One more point having nothing to another of D16’s announced available to owners of other D16 do with sound is worth making, enhancements may address this products. It’s not cheap and most although it’s probably the last concern. Alternate user interface prospective buyers will want to thing of importance when options will be forthcoming, so audition the trial version before considering the quality of a this may soon be a non-issue. parting with that kind of money. software instrument. The user But make no mistake, the D16 interface is absolutely gorgeous The other concern is Group has made a major (assuming you have a reasonably performance. LuSH-101 does large monitor … more on that in a seem to demand a generous share statement with the release of this instrument. It’s superb and is only moment). Not only do the of CPU cycles. A number of people going to get better. It’s is well keyboard keys behave with reported that they were able to worth your effort in giving it a try. complete realism, even the pitch make the instrument stutter on and mod wheels look lifelike. Each some of the presets. I did not of those has a notch and the experience this, and in fact on my Roland SH-101 image courtesy of simulated shadows cast on the own machine, the most I could Wikipedia user 909 bd cabinet surface move with the Used under a GNU Free Documentation License notches. Clearly great pride of authorship went into the interface design. Amusingly, however, the original SH-101 came in grey, red and blue, but was never available in the white cabinet that the LuSH-101 interface sports. drive a core to was about 70% usage. 22 Review FXpansion : Tremor By Jon K. Carroll T�� S�������� E����� Tremor's synthesis engine has a 'cloud oscillator' which produces multiple partials (harmonics) and these can either be arranged similar to how a drumskin vibrates, or can be set to be evenly spaced. When synthesizing drums, the synthesis engine is used in FXpansion, already known for their software synths from the DCAM Synth Squad package to their sample-based products BFD and Geist, has come out with a new take on drum synthesis, Tremor. Tremor is a full software drum machine and synthesizer that uses DCAM analoguemodeled synthesis to create both 'vintage' analog drum sounds as well as take it a step further and create your own drum sound, taking analogue-type synthesized drums in new and interesting directions. Membrane mode, which more accurately imitates an analogue circuit that is designed to imitate the partials that are created from a drum membrane. When a drum sound is triggered using this model, it is effectively playing multiple oscillators that are layered together to produce the specified arrangement of partials. The spacing, rolloff, and decay of the partials can be adjusted as well as which partial is 23 T�� S�������� Tremor comes with a built-in 8part grid-style sequencer. Each synth part (whether it be a synth, drums, effects, etc, in Tremor it is still a ‘synth part’) in Tremor has its own track in the step sequencer. Each track can be up to 32 steps in length, and the step length can be set from 1 whole note down to 1/64 note in regular or triplet time. It allows for global swing settings of four different styles along with a variable amount of swing. The sequencer stores 24 patterns and the play of patterns can be triggered using MIDI notes, allowing you to switch patterns on the fly. The editing tools allow for patterns to be moved, switched, copied and pasted between positions so you can create a pattern you like, copy it to multiple patterns, and change each pattern, with up to 24 patterns available. When used within other software, you can switch patterns on the fly by sending notes to the plugin, allowing you to change patterns quickly and easily. When changing patterns, the position within the pattern is retained so that it you switch patterns on, say, the first note of the last bar of a sequence, the new pattern will be played from the first note of the last bar of its sequence emphasized. This allows tuning and manipulation of the drum sounds. The exact waveform of the oscillator is set on the Oscillator section, and oscillator is continuously variable between saw, square and triangle. The Oscillator section also provides controls familiar to anyone who has used most subtractive synths, allowing you to adjust the pitch (in semitones using the Pitch knob, and in cents using the Fine knob), 'FM'- pitch modulation from LFO1, which runs up to audio rates of 1024 Hz, pulse width modulation and sync. Noise is tunable in pitch, width and in its stereo presence which allows drums to be tuned (as with the snare above). will be explored later in this review. The oscillator's signal is passed through a mixer stage with allows adjustment of the Oscillator, Noise and Sub-Osc levels. The sub-osc is a sine wave at 1, 2, or 3 octaves below the oscillator's pitch The mixer's output is then passed through a pre-filter gain/distortion stage which has seven available modes and then passed to the analog-modeled filter. The filter is very good, has all of the standard filter modes, and is switchable between OTA array (‘clean’) and State-Variable filter (‘Fat’) , which thickens up the filter considerably (not that the filter is thin and sterile in the The synth engine for Tremor can first place). The audible difference also be used to produce 'synth between the clean and fat modes sounds' and effects. The image above shows a synth bassline built is not just a thickening of the sound; there is also much more using Tremor in its Harmonic subtle variation in the filter and oscillator mode. The harmonics the filter accepts more drive are evenly spaces instead of spaced at the intervals associated without distortion in this mode. The filter sounds so good that with drum membranes, which FXpansion made it a separate gives it a sound more like conventional synth oscillators. It is product, Etch. Etch adds an additional two filter modes which possible to automate pitch are accessible in Tremor as part of changes on something like a the Effects section. bassline using the Graphs, which 24 on the ‘track’ of a slider rather than the slider cap. Modulations can be either unipolar (only going up or down from the source value) or bipolar (using the source value as its center). Yes, more than one modulation can be sent to the same control, in different amounts. This system actually makes it easy to assign modulations visually (instead of just picking source and Tremor also has four ‘graphs’ destination from a list) and means which can be applied to multiple by clicking on a source in the bar parameters of multiple synths. Think of the graphs as something at the bottom you can see at a glance where that source is like a modulation sequencer on routed in that synth since each some hardware synthesizers destination will have a blue ring or where steps to control some function (usually knob animation) stripe representing the strength can be input manually or recorded of the modulation routed to it. Of course these modulations can be and played back. In the image changed, routed and rerouted above, this is actually the note sequence for the bassline, which while the sequencer is playing so is also to a lesser degree routed to you can get immediate feedback the filter of the bassline. (You can on what your changes are doing. set up something like that pretty The Effects Section simply.) The graphs are actually The instrument features a very global modulation sources (see extensive effects section, with below). three channels per synth plus three channels on the master bus. T����M�� Of course, the master bus effects M��������� are only applied to the master out; if you use independent FXpansion has a reasonably easy to use modulation matrix system routing for any of the instruments it will not be applied. Many of the in Tremor they call TransMod effects are very good and several Modulation. You can take any of them are circuit modeled in source (by clicking on the list of sources at the bottom) and route and of themselves with multiple it to any destination by clicking on types (for instance, four types of the outer ring around the knob, or distortion) and modes in each. Each track in a pattern can be a different length, with a ‘repeat’ set at as short as one step. If you have a relatively unchanging part of your sequence, you can make its track length only one bar and it will repeat even if there is other animated action going on in that track - like the graph for the bass sequence in my example project. Compression, distortion, EQ, Delay, bitcrusher (with variable crushing and yes you can route a modulation source to it), they’re all there. The only thing that mars the otherwise lovely effects section is the quality of the included reverb, which is a bit lacking compared to the level of quality of the other effects included. B�� D��� I� S���� L��� A� 808? (Or 909 if you prefer, to each his own) Tremor isn’t meant to sound like any specific drum machine. It comes with some presets that sound rather 808-ish and 909-ish but it isn’t a perfect emulation of them and isn’t meant to be. Instead, it is much more than just another vintage drum machine emulation and instead allows you to take your drums beyond the limitations of these machines and create your own truly original drum sounds. It can sound lo-fi, it can sound vintage, or it can sound new and different and let you take your drum synthesis to the next level. 25 Review Chris Hein Horns Pro Complete from Bestservice.de B����� Chris Hein did his homework, now it is our turn. The whole library is very big, very complex with a great number of included instruments and an impressive number of articulations accessible as a key-switch through the lower part of the keyboard. The library uses the Kontakt player as a host, but nevertheless the user interface, or the main instrument window is divided into a few quite complex editors which are ranked in a neat order with plenty of tweaking ability. instrument should play and what not to achieve semi-realistic results, but I was not sure if that would be enough. I've heard audio demos which sound like a real brass section with all those dirty details and was a bit skeptical as to whether I would ever be able to recreate something similar just by playing my poor old keyboard without being a brass player. I watched carefully all the included video clips, a lot of them, learning everything about articulations and how to use them, how to change or add effects, how to tweak and adapt even the smallest part of the library, every small detail representing all that we can do with the library. All this stuff even increased my fear. The first day of my Horns Pro Complete experience looked like a total disaster. the library, to see if this would be a "Mission Impossible" for me or not. The same day I got his answer with a link to three songs which were composed to show all the abilities of C. H. Horns Pro Compact, which is just a part of the Complete package. Although Compact is not Complete and Kontakt 4 is not Kontakt 5 I loaded at least the midi files, loaded the Kontakt player and then a few basic brass instruments, Solo Trumpet, Trombone, Saxophone... after that I tried to figure which instrument should be used for which particular track. Trial and error, but thankfully after fifteen minutes, I got decent results. First things first. I started with the trumpet. Even with the basic sustain articulation it sounded surprisingly realistic, especially if you use it with an appropriate background playing a melody that fits the instrument. It sounds far away from the programmed brass instruments that we are used to At first I thought – Holly ham with all the chickens, how do I manage all this? I've programmed brass in the past, also over all those years I've co-operateed with a good number of brass players, but I'm not one of them. I know how a brass section sounds and also I'm aware of the role that a particular A���� wind instrument has in a brass band and I have some very basic So, I wrote to Chris to ask if there knowledge about what particular are any midi files to go along with 26 listening to or programming. It bites on higher velocities while shorter notes sounds properly the same as longer ones. That is not such common behavior for most other sound libraries. When I saw all those articulations, I thought that navigating the library would be the same experience as driving a Formula 1 car, playing the notes with right hand and changing articulations every three seconds with the left hand. Thankfully those three midi files proved to me that that's not the case with this library. In the second midi file I discovered that even with most of the other articulations you can normally play shorter notes as the typical behavior or sound for that articulation usually don't start immediately and therefore you can just press a longer note to achieve the desired result and not switching to that articulation just at the moment when the note appeare. Brass parts often use a lot of short notes, so you can press the desired articulation at the start of the phrase without worrying when thz specific articulation will be used. Yes, it looks like Chris really did his homework. can be used to build the typical brass section, also midi files will show you where and how to use the polyphony of the included instruments. That's all, no extra “after programming” cutting, muting, combining, gluing to get solid results. It requires some knowledge but after some practice you can even play it live; totally faking the real instrument. (I'm only half way there, but with C. H. Horns Pro Complete, here I come.) C��������� The whole library is driven by Kontakt player, but there are so many details inside this library, that I will mention just the most interesting ones. On one hand, everything is up to the point and logical (after you hear the explanations in the included video clips) while on the other hand, menus and sub-menus are so crowded with controllers that everything looks like an airplane's cockpit. Let's start with the essential data. There is almost 50 GB of instruments and sounds. The Chris Hein Horns Pro Complete is composed of all previous Horns packages. Compact package is more than handy. The next included packages are CH Horns from Volume 1 through Volume 4. The first one is XL Solo instruments, the second Brass & Woodwind section, the third brings the collection of Muted Brass instruments and the last one brings some additional brass instruments under the More Sax and Brass name. (Nomen est omen.) For a bonus we also get a great C Flute containing all those unusual articulations that better flute players use. All those mumbling, blowing near the hole and similar tricks that distinguish the real flute from the sampled one. All in all, you get 54 solo instruments along with 32 section instruments. Almost 50 GB for 650 Euros. I� ��� ������ The library is not a "one finger" solution, you will need to spend some time to learn how to use it, also it takes some extra time to make everything sound just perfect, but all that is just a matter of playing technique and using the right articulations, maybe here and there to adapt the general decay length, and that's mainly all. You'll need a good feeling for which instruments go together, but in a second video you will get information which instruments That's the facts, but there is a lot more. All the samples are phase synchronized giving smoother blending between the samples which are layered inside the same tone. I presume that is true because velocity response is very smooth and natural. Also keyswitches can be adapted to your needs, basically almost It contain all the instruments from everything can be adapted to suit the CH Horns Compact which your needs. At first I was scared itself contains all the instruments with all those cockpit possibilities, in reduced version controllable but it turns out to be a nice from a common window where bonus. There are a few very clever you can set more instruments solutions that I haven't noticed in under the same channel to other libraries. For instance, produce a richer, brass section vibrato controlled with one key sound trying various instruments from the keyboard. Press a note combinations. Nice one, but with with one hand to play a note Complete you can achieve even making the vibrato by pressing better results loading separate repeatably the other note, It felt instruments in the Kontakt rack almost like playing a guitar. using the harmonizer function. Another option is an auto vibrato More about that later, but for which follows the song tempo. No instant and fast results, the more fast music with the slooow 27 vibrato. Sixteen convolution reverbs, I've tried them all and have to admit - not bad at all. The harmonizer function is useful when you build a brass section to play harmonies in unison, defining the root scale and selecting the transposition interval for particular instruments. We can't mention here all doits and falls and all the other tricks and articulations, there are too many of them. My favorite one still remains the hot key for doubling the last note. There is no round robin that could help you if you try to play the same note too quickly, but using this hot key makes it sound very natural and very controllable. It is a note that will play your last note whenever you press it, basically you play fast intervals of the same note by pressing two different keys. I don't know if there is any additional programming behind the curtain, but it works. can simply take things in hand buying this one and with a bit of Very complex and takes some practice do it for yourself. Once time and practice to bring it under and for all. control, but as soon as you comprehend how it works, you I'm writing this, so you know my will realize that there is no other decision. What's yours? such tool on the market, offering so much freedom and reality By Alex Arsov who used to be a under your fingers. Say goodbye Horns Pro complete idiot, but now to your loops and pre-recorded he's doing his masterclass. phrases. A dream comes true. An underwear brass band. Just you, Thanks, Chris. sitting in the darkens of your home studio with your trusty old For more info and all the other keyboard. Chris Hein Horns Pro dirty details, excellent audio Complete can go deep, as far as demos showing the library in its you are prepared to go. I'm still best light, additional video clips not quite there but I'm practicing. and all other technical jewelry please visit the Bestservice site. It is not cheap, but freedom has its price. This library is a big step http://www.bestservice.de/detail further, specially in the brass and 1.asp/best_service/chris_hein_ho winds domain. You can spend a rns_pro_complete/en lot less money buying a zillion different brass and winds loops hoping that you will find the right phrase for your new song or you C���������� 28 Extreme Distortion Exploring the (Warm and) Fuzzy Side By Warren Burt The word “distortion” may make many people think of guitar pedals and turning a well-behaved guitar tone into a raging testosterone-soaked beast, slashing through the sonic spectrum with abandon. But “distortion” goes deeper than that. It's at the basis of ALL our activities as electronic musicians. In fact, in the mid-1970s, the Australian composer Ron Nagorcka expressed it beautifully: “The very essence of electronic media is distortion.” By this he wasn't just talking about waveforms, but the whole apparatus of music making. For example, listening an mp3 (128kpbs) of an orchestra playing a Bruckner symphony with earbuds is a far cry from hearing the same symphony played live by a large orchestra in a concert hall. And if we were to take a person playing acoustic guitar to a group of friends in a coffee house as a model of “normal” music making, then the situation of a lone person in their bedroom making music on a laptop and uploading the result to the web for people to listen to on their iPods can indeed be seen as a social distortion of how we used to make music with each other. I have one friend who composes on earphones (his family objects to the sound of his music), then uploads it to the web for people to download (and presumably listen to on their headphones). At no point in this music's creation has it ever vibrated more than the few cubic centimetres of air between the headphone and the eardrum, and at no point in its existence is it listened to by more than one person at a time. As stated above, this kind of sonic isolation might be becoming “the new norm,” but it can also be viewed as a kind of social distortion. That being the case, that all of our electronic music 29 activities can be considered “distortion” even before a single waveform is altered, it makes sense to embrace the concept of distortion and see what kinds of sounds we can get with it. What I want to talk about here are extreme forms of distortion, and some plugins that can do that in different ways. In fact, some of the distortions produced are so far removed from the input sound that they assume their own identity. It almost doesn't matter what you put into them, at some extreme settings they're going to always have the same or a very similar sound. Clearly, in these cases, the wet/dry knob (which allows you to mix the amount of original and effected sound) will be critical. A distortion which completely replaces the original sound with its own character might be used very sparingly, with mostly the original sound being heard, or it might be used to totally replace the original sound, Figure 1 simply using the original as a point of departure. In this article I don't want to talk about mild distortions which add a bit of colour or bite to a sound while leaving it still recognisable as a transformation of the original, I want to talk about distortion units which produce a fair amount of skronk, often transforming sounds far beyond their originals. As the American composer John Cage once said, “If we don't go to extremes, we won't get anywhere!” This is an audio sample and hold unit. That is, it grabs a wavecycle (a single zero-crossing to zerocrossing segment of a waveform) from the incoming audio, and sustains that for the duration of a step of the rate sequencer. It also has an incoming filter, and a step sequencer (to select between grabbed-wavecycle and original waveforms), a low frequency Here is a patch (Figure 1) I made oscillator and an envelope in Plogue Bidule, a wonderful generator which can be applied to patching environment from various aspects of the sound and SANDH Plogue (www.plogue.com) (Win its control. It can produce Proceeding from left to right, the and Mac) ($95), the Montreal everything from electronicfirst unit to be dealt with is Xoxos' based software design firm. In this sounding sequences that bear no Sandh (Win only) patch the same sound file player relation to the original sound is being sent into 8 different distortion units. The output of these 8 units is sent to a mixer, which then goes to the output. There is also a step sequencer module which provides rhythmic sync to modules which require one, such as the dblue Glitch, or the Xoxos Sandh. The sound of any one of these can be selected 30 individually in the mixer, or they can all be heard together, creating a truly intricate sound texture from any input. (Note: in this article, I want to avoid metaphors of destruction, like “sound mangling.” I want to think of this kind of extreme distortion without comic book images of mayhem and violence, concentrating instead on the idea of extreme distortion as positive creative transformation of the original sources. That said, if you want to think of any of these units as the Incredible Hulk (TM) of sound transformation, then go ahead.) http://www.xoxos.net/vst/vst.ht ml#effects - $25 for all VST Xoxos plugins – such a deal! Highly recommended! (except for the found-object pitch of the wavecycles) to interesting cross fades between wavecycles and the original, to very rapid burbles through which the original can sometimes be heard, faintly, as if through a haze. As stated above, Xoxos is charging $25 for ALL their VSTs – that's a very large number of synthesizers, sequencers, effects units, physical models, etc. for an incredibly low price. Rurik Leffanta (Mr. Xoxos) is one of the most imaginative software designers out there. You're sure to find something useful and fascinating in his bundle. One of the “kings” of interesting distortion units is the free (or donation-ware) dblue Glitch (Win only), from www.illformed.org. Kieran Foster is the developer, and Glitch is more of a full blown effects development sequencer than a specific effect or plugin. (At the time of writing his website illformed.org seems to have been hijacked by someone calling himself Mr.Kro0oz.305. Check back to see the progress of this – you might have to search for alternative download sites.) The BOJO heart of Glitch is a selection of 9 effects units: Tape Stop; WAVECHANGER 3 Modulator; Retrigger; Shuffler; Reverser; Crusher; Gater; Delay and Stretcher. These are selected by a sequencer-like timeline. Any of the 9 effects, or silence, or a random selection of the effect can be placed for any duration in the timeline. The brightly coloured ribbon running across the top of Fig. 4 is the timeline. It is driven by the clock from your host computer. The most common use of Glitch has been to sync up the effects changes with a sequencer to produce highly rhythmic effect work with, and of course, a This very interesting free plugin changes for dance music. But the wet/dry control and a volume (from http://www.bojopower of Glitch goes far beyond knob. I find some of the more software.com/) is not supported that. For example, each of the anymore. (Win only) Developer Bo extreme transformations available effects is pretty powerful on their Johansen no longer makes music here – for example, put some own. You can explore the New Age music through it with plugins, but he has kindly left his potentialities of each effect alone Waveform: Saw-Up; Distortion work on the web for those by setting the entire timeline to 13.5%; Amplitude: Inverted; interested to download. just one effect, and setting your Octave:14; Buffer Min: 2.5% and Wavechanger 3 is a “wavesequencer clock down very low Buffer Max: 85%; and you’ll find substitution” module. That is, it (for example, to 10 bpm) (multithat the original has been analyses the sound into its clock environments like Plogue transformed into a kind of roaring components, and then replaces Bidule are especially useful here), those components with particular sizzle with rushing wind in the and Glitch will become a background. Depending on your waveforms. If sine waves are wonderful “rack” to explore the relationship with the original used, with a low distortion possibilities of each plugin. The sound, this might be just the kind setting, the results can be mild. 31 But if random noise is used to replace the components, and if the distortion setting is high, then only traces of the original can be left. There are a number of replacement waveforms to choose from, and distortion is controllable from 0 to 100%. There’s also an amplitude control, which allows you to select from 5 different ways that amplitude will trigger off replacing the original sounds. There’s also an “octave” knob, which transposes the replaced sound by any number of octaves from 0 to 100. At the extreme settings the effect seems to disappear, but settings between 1 and 20 seem to work well for me. There’s also a buffer control to select which parts of the sound buffer you want to of transformation you’re looking for. DBLUE GLITCH tracking, detune (up to an octave in increments of .01 cent), and noise, as well as sampling rate, frame rate, sync, and MIDI on and off controls. As with all the plugins here, the effects can range from subtle to extreme. It’s especially good at buzzy, foldover-laden “digital edge” kind of sounds and it makes real-time changing effects available for a very small price. It also comes with a PDF manual which is well written, and shows all the features quickly and clearly. Stretcher, for example, is a very nice time stretching module with a pleasing sound and interesting controls. Stretcher has Divider, Amount and X-Fader controls. The effect of these is best heard by experimenting with the module itself. As well, each effect has a Randomization control, a Multi-Mode Filter, and Pan, Mix and Gain controls. All of these can, of course, be externally MIDIcontrolled. I’ve seen criticisms of Glitch as being only able to generate clichés, but it seems to me that those who are making those criticism as just not going deeply enough into its many possibilities. Glitch also has a comprehensive PDF manual to help you in mastering its complexities. It’s well worth spending time with this, as it’s such a feature-packed environment. (Win and Mac) ($29) may remind some of its older users of the Texas Instruments “Speak’n’Spell” toys of the 1980s. The resemblance is real – BitSpeek uses the same pitch-activated linear predictive coding algorithm as used by the early speech synthesizers that were in those toys. The algorithm extracts a number of aspects of the sound (including pitch, volume and formant data) and then resynthesizes the sound using either an oscillator, or noise, and a filter. There are controls for pitch (-36 to +36 semitones), SONIC CHARGE PERMUT8 In the 1980s, I used to breadboard digital chips together to see what kinds of sound modifications I could get. I never built something as elaborate as Sonic Charge’s Permut8, but I could have, and I should have. Now however, Magnus Lidstrom has saved me the work. This is a retro-soundmodifier’s dream box. From the faceplate graphics (reminiscent of Digital Equipment Corporation’s PDP computers) through to the sound modifier functions, this is definitely a contemporary SONIC CHARGE BITSPEEK Magnus Lidstrom has developed some unusual and fun to explore plugins, including the Synplant synthesizer. His BitSpeek plugin http://soniccharge.com/bitspeek 32 behind each control. For an effect as unusual as Permut8, this is incredibly helpful. I just purchased Permut8 myself, and I’m eagerly awaiting some time where I can explore it thoroughly, as well as kicking myself for not building something like it myself in hardware 30 years ago. PLOGUE SPECTRAL RESYNTHESIZER Plogue Bidule is not just a patching environment for external plugins, it has a full complement of sound modifying modules in its own right. It’s family of FFT modules is really useful. FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) is a technique where a sound is analysed into a number of “time windows,” each of which lists which frequencies of the sound are at which amplitudes at that particular incarnation of an 80s DYI digital chip aesthetic. http://soniccharge.com/permut8 (Win and Mac) ($66) The unit consists of a 12-bit (yes, I said 12 bit – for that 80s sound) digital delay with a variable sample rate from 0 to 352 kHz. Just adjusting the sample rate alone produces a huge variety of interesting sounds. But when you add the two “instruction” modules into the mix, then things get really interesting. These provide digital “instructions,” such as AND, XOR, multiplying and masking to the delay line, for some truly innovative, yet retro modifications. (We could have made any of these things happen in the late 70s and early 80s. We didn’t. Why? We were too busy with other things. Thank goodness we lived long enough to see Magnus Lidstrom get around to doing this. Permut8 gives a whole new lease on life to a set of techniques of sound modification that were too little explored when they first became possible. 320 presets come with Permut8. These include a number of conventional effects, as well as some wonderfully extreme ones. These can form the basis for your own explorations, or you can just plunge in, tweaking the controls as you see fit. Like BitSpeek, this comes with a comprehensive pdf manual, which not only explains the functions of the individual controls, but also the principles 33 moment of time. Since these are simply lists, all sorts of operations can be applied to both the frequencies and the amplitudes (called “magnitudes” in FFT land) of the sound. One of the simplest of these is the Spectral Resynthesizer, very similar to the Bojo Wavechanger looked at earlier. In this simple patch, I show the faceplates of both the FFT conversion module and the Spectral Resynthesizer itself. Below the two faceplates you can see the two modules patched together. The frequency and magnitude outputs of the FFT conversion module are patched into the inputs of the Spectral Resynthesizer. The FFT module has a drop down menu which allows you to choose the shape of the time window used to divide your sound up into analysis units. The Spectral Resynthesizer has drop down menus both for the kind of waveform used to reassemble your sound as well as its own Window Type for reconversion into sound. Mismatching Window Types on the FFT and Resynthesizer as well as selecting some of the harmonically richer waveforms (like Square and Ramp) can produce some quite rich and crunchy sound transforms. With the addition of other modules from the Plogue FFT menu, a number of amazing sound modifying programs can be set up, but that’s probably a subject for another more extensive article. to an output value. When the graph is like the one in image above, the result is the familiar mildly compressed distortion, or warmth, we’re familiar with. But when the graph is like the one below, the result is very far removed from the input sound. Melda Production’s MWaveShaper, part of its free effects bundle, is one such unit which allows you to specify very elaborate transfer functions and hear the results instantly. http://www.meldaproduction.co m/freevstplugins/mwaveshaper. MWAVESHAPER Waveshaping is one of the most elementary of effects. A simple graph (a transfer function for you math heads) is used to map each incoming value of the waveform 34 php (Win and Mac) (Free, but upgrade to Pro versions is 18 Euros). It allows four different ways of interpreting the graph, linear, squared, cubic and logarithmic, each of which provides a different degree of distortion. It also has an automatic gain control – very handy for avoiding speaker blasting – as well as several other controls for adjusting the kind of distortion. Like all the Melda plugins, everything is MIDI controllable, so there is plenty of scope for exploring real-time changes in effects parameters you would normally have thought of as fixed. MWaveShaper also has a big brother, MMultiBandWaveShaper, which allows you to break your incoming sound into 6 different frequency bands, and apply a different transfer function to each one. (Currently on sale for 15 Euros/$19 – and as part of several discount-priced bundles as well) The amount of control available in any one of the Melda units is mind-boggling. When combined with the MultiBand versions, they really do become quite serious which resynthesize the sound synthesizer units in their own with a morphing oscillator, a right. granulator, adding some jitter and a tuning and amplitude control. DELAMANCHA BENT All of these are MIDI controllable, allowing for real-time changes to Stephen Brambley’s Delamancha your sound modifications. The site has a number of extremely interaction of the jitter, morph interesting free and payware and grain controls is full of plugins, many of which have a fair surprises. It’s definitely a worthy degree of unpredictability about addition to your collection of them. Bent extreme sound modification http://www.delamancha.co.uk/fr resources. eeware.htm (Win only) (Free) is a sound modifier based on the idea This article, of course, barely of circuit bending, the modifying scratches the surface of plugins of pre-existing circuits to produce available which produce extreme effects the original designers sound modifications. There are never intended. It’s a very simple many more modules out there module with only 5 controls, that can do similar, or wildly 35 different, things. Additionally, you can always “roll-your-own” using programs like Plogue Bidule, SynthEdit, Max/MSP, SuperCollider or PD, among others. Keeping an open ear to the subtleties and textures available in these noisy sound modifications is also a help. If you do, you’ll find a whole world of fascinating and wild sounds to explore. Review TubeOhm : Gamma-Ray v2.0 TubeOhm : Gamma-Ray v2.0 By Adrian Frost interface is split over three tabs Synth, Effects and Arp-Step which keeps everything neat and Over the last year or so I've had nicely accessible. As usual on a the privilege of reviewing a TubeOhm synth there are plenty number of synths developed by of performance controls available TubeOhm. First there was including assignable after-touch Vintage, a very nice synth inspired and adjustable pitch-wheel by Roland's classic D50. After controls. The interface is fairly Vintage there was T-FM a 6 jam-packed with knobs, buttons, Operator FM synth that does a waveforms and virtual LEDs but very good job of recreating the it's not difficult to get to grips vibe of the Yamaha DX7. Now, for with, the overall layout is logical this issue of WSM, we have and if you hover your mouse TubeOhm's latest offering: cursor over any of the controls Gamma-Ray v2.0. Gamma-Ray you'll be greeted by a concise v2.0 follows on the heels of, pop-up explanation of that funnily enough, Gamma-Ray v1 control. Saves digging into the and the free Alpha-Ray whose manual and lets you get going effects section can be unlocked straightaway. for the ridiculously low price of €4.95. As usual, a word about the manual is in order. Gamma-Ray So, what does Gamma-Ray v2.0 comes with a detailed and have to offer? Well, it's a three comprehensive user manual that oscillator analogue style synth is worth looking through just to with a whole bevy of LFOs, get the inside edge on what this envelopes, filters and effects. The synth can do. However the synth 36 itself is easy to navigate with its built-in help that you may find that you never actually even need to crack open the manual. I� D����� Each of Gamma-Ray's three oscillators comes with slightly different features and capabilities. There are of course certain elements such as Octave, Semi, Fine, LFO and Envelope routings that are common to all three but each has its speciality. VCO 1 handles FM duties for the synth. It can modulate either of the other two oscillators with the Octave and Semi controls giving you basic control of C:M ratios and Volume controlling modulation depth. Nothing ground-breaking but it’s a nice feature to have in as much as it gives you an easy way to create some of the classic FM bell and piano type sounds so beloved of 80s. As always with FM synthesis moderation is the key to creating usable sounds. the waveforms in real time, as you LFO 2, replacing LFO 1 (see play. image). You have 16 steps represented by a grey column. VCO 2 has a Spread control which After the oscillator there is an Click and drag on the column and allows you to control the detune Overdrive section along with Ring a blue bar will appear - you'll of the oscillators superwaves. Modulator and adjustable 6dB notice that the waveform in the Here it's superwaves rather than High-Pass filter. One thing to note Sampler window over to the left just supersaw as the effect can be when messing with these controls changes as you drag the bar up applied to any of the oscillator's is that it's very easy to send and down. This is how you set the waveforms. Gamma-Ray's output into the red sample for each step. Use the VCO 3 can act as a 'normal' and create some quite piercing Next button to move onto the oscillator linked up to VCO 1 or, sounds. Use with care and maybe next step. Once you've set more usefully, as a standalone stick a limiter on your master bus everything up, hit the Start button sample based oscillator. TubeOhm just to be safe. Then go wild. and play. The Wavescanner (?) provide 125 sampled waveforms will step through the sequence that you can edit and mangle Gamma-Ray's second filter has that you've set up. Neat, and with using the osc's controls for more controls to hand. One almost endless possibilities you'll looping. A quick click on the small feature that I love is the ability to be playing with this one for a "Edit" button opens up a new use one, or both, LFOs to control while! window that gives a list of all of cut-off and resonance. There are the available samples. From here instant other-worldly sounds to Moving onto Gamma-Ray's you can add your own samples be had with a couple of mouse envelopesâ€Ś there are three of either swapping out one of th clicks and a quick tweak of a them and they are all fully TubeOhm ones or filling one of control here and there - beautiful. adjustable. In case you've not the USER slots that are found at noticed already, there is a small the end of the list. To select and LFO 2 includes a Wavescan button in the top right hand use samples you can either use feature that, I confess, I'm still corner of each envelope's the small arrow buttons under the getting to grips with. It's fairly graphical representation that waveform name or, if you click on simple to use but needs some gives access to different shapes the "Rel" button use the larger thought and time putting in to get for the various stages of the knob underneath. The knob is the best result. Simply (ha ha) envelope. assignable in your host so you click on the Edit button and a have the possibility of controlling small window will open up above 37 Sequencer is "The Gral" which has a tuned percussion style that works really well with the sequencer. It helps that whoever created the preset(s) know what they're doing! S������ U� Once again TubeOhm have produced a high quality, usable synth that is not to be missed. It's The final things to point out in the them before reaching into your very different in character to T-FM external effects arsenal. main synth page are that you and Vintage and brings along its have the ability to toggle the own share of great sounding synth's effects on and off from the Last, but certainly not least we presets - 128 in all. The sound is have the Arp-Stepper tab, and it's main panel. There is also an good - clear and bright but with feature packed. The Arp is a fairly "Analogue" control that the ability to produce some standard affair with all of the introduces a bit of randomness serious grit once you start turning usual controls that you'd expect and variety to your sound. things up. As with all of the to find. It works and works well, TubeOhm plugins that I've OK, onto the Effects tab. Gamma- but the pièce de résistance has reveiwed so far it has a good Ray comes with six built in effects got to be the Step Sequencer. It's string bass end that has got some similar to the one found in that are pretty much selfguts and a fair amount of thump TubeOhm's T-FM synth but with explanatory so I'll not bore you if that's your thing - what it does the addition of Gater and Swing with a description of each one. mean is that Gamma-Ray has a What I will say is that they sound controls. Each step features a two solid and full sound which might overwhelmingly good. This is one octave polyphonic keyboard need a little taming in a complete which can be shifted up or down area that TubeOhm have mix. Paired up with either T-FM or by an additional octiave using the consistently got right in their Vintage, Gamma-Ray certainly slider below the keyboard. synths - the effects are worth shows that it comes from the Amongst Gamma-Ray's presets using. They are varied and same branch of the TubeOhm configurable enough that you will one of the best for showing off family as its siblings so getting the the possibilities of the Step more than likely think to apply synths to sit alongside, and 38 Gamma-Ray is available from http://www.tubeohm.com for €59, or €49 if you already own another TubeOhm synth. You can So, all in all? Go and try it out, I don't think you'll be disappointed. also upgrade from Gamma-Ray v1 for only €20 which will give you In some quarters the fact that Gamma-Ray has been developed two fine synths to play with. using SynthEdit is seen as a blot on its copybook - please, please don't let that put you off if you normally have an aversion to SynthEdit creations. Andre', Gamma-Ray's developer, has produced something special here that is worthy of your attention. complement, each other is not difficult at all. Caution Gamma-Ray 0 . 2 � 39 Review Luftrum 9 - Devine Sounds for DIVA By David Baer only about 10% of them are soundscapes or sound effects). My normal reaction when viewing a list of patches that boasts “21 pads” is a typically cynical response like “Right! Just what the world needs … yet more pads!”. But in this case, these 21 pads do make the world a better place. They are complex, seductive and entirely magical. But there’s another good reason to purchase them as well. All of us in the computer sound community owe Luftrum a debt of gratitude for his efforts the last two years to raise money for a most worthy cause: Save the Children’s Emergency Fund. He has generously donated much time and energy to an annual auction on KVR the last two years that has raised in excess of The collection also boasts 19 arp $20,000. Say “Thank you” to him sounds. But wait … didn’t you say by purchasing his wares. this was for DIVA? Everyone knows that DIVA has no arp! And if you do not own DIVA, thank Interestingly, the collection u-he for their generosity as well appeared right before u-he by becoming a customer. They announced an upcoming arp have contributed some valuable capability for DIVA, so maybe the software to the auction and richly developer knew something the deserve our business as a reward rest of us did not. for their community spirit. Some of the sounds are dedicated to reproducing the vibe of some synth classic sounds used by the likes of Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream. Luftrum pulls these off with considerable panache. If you’re a DIVA owner, you’d be a fool not to check out this sound bank. They are not to be missed, especially at the modest price being asked. 40 Trying to write a review of a sound bank is somewhat of a fool’s errand. After all, what can you say that’s not already in evidence on the developer’s web site? That information will inevitably spell out the number of various types of pads, soundscapes, et al. As to the quality of the sounds, why trust what any reviewer has to say? First of all, you can just listen to demo tracks yourself and form your own judgment. More importantly, the type of sound that turns someone else on may not remotely be the sort of thing you gravitate towards. Nevertheless, I was so impressed with a recent bank I just picked up for DIVA that I thought it worth calling attention to it. The developer is Danish sound designer Luftrum (whose real name is reportedly Søren Hybel). The collection of presets is called Luftrum 9, and it’s available for the bargain price of $19 here: http://www.luftrum.com/ There are 64 presets, nearly all of which are musically useful (i.e. In either case, you will be enormously happy with your acquisitions and will just end up thanking yourself in the end. This is a win/win situation if ever there was one. Review Hollow Sun’s Pulstar secret that I’m a big fan of that company. They almost invariably conjure up something in their Hollow Sun Towers Laboratory On Nov. 30, I had occasion for great delight when I looked at my (Figure 1) that is unique soundwise and accompany that with a newly arrived emails. One of GUI that has an unmistakable them was from Hollow Sun and Hollow Sun flair. It turns out that started with the words “New not only does Pulstar embody Product – Pulstar. We have an those attributes, it may be the exciting new product out, available now, called 'Pulstar'. It's most delightful HS offering to part of a new range we call 'Alien date. Devices' which will be intriguing instruments with unique and P��������� P�� intuitive GUIs. Pulstar is the first P���������� of these . . .”. My reaction: “You Before anyone gets too excited, I had me at New”. should point out that Pulstar To those who might have read any requires the full version of of my previous WSM reviews of Kontakt, version 4. The sounds Hollow Sun’s offerings, it’s no will play with the free Kontakt By David Baer player but are subject to timeouts. Personally, I’m all for Hollow Sun’s decision to do things this way as it keeps the prices down. On the other hand, I can sympathize with those who do not own Kontakt because these individuals can only look on with envy. Pulstar does one thing and does it incredibly well. It offers a duallayer sample playback facility that absolutely excels at pads: stringish, synth-wave-ish, choral-ish, glass-ish, etc. samples can be combined in a vast number of combinations. There are 64 sample sets included, all of them of a type that can be leveraged for rich, lush pad sounds. More on the sample sets shortly. The onboard effects ably augment the pad-ness of the output. A primary factor in why this instrument is so effective is the intuitiveness and elegance of the control mechanisms. I speculate that these will tempt even those with the most non-preset-tweaker mindsets to do some casual sound design. Carrying on the tradition of the Music Lab Machine series, the GUI is a fantastical looking contraption (Figure 2). Figure 1 41 Figure 2 The Pulstar documentation (excellent, as can always be expected with anything HS has come up with in the last couple of years) describes it thusly: The panel is designed for people who need to work quickly … the ideas are flowing and you don’t want to be slowed down with arcane panels full of knobbage to get in the way of your creative flow ... or composers writing for TV and other soundtrack work on tight deadlines who can’t be arsing around with extensive programming when some ad agency executive is waiting anxiously for your submission … or maybe you’re just fooling around with some musical ideas and don’t want to be distracted by knob twiddling. of controls with which to tweak them in fairly effortless fashion. The bulk of the main screen contains two symmetrical areas in which reside several controls which are self-explanatory: Tune, Level, Pan and Mute. The purpose of the Size and Tone controls are inspired, even if their purpose is not immediately obvious. Size is a single control that essentially dictates how languorous the volume envelope is, controlling both attack and release envelope settings. Detailed editing is possible by clicking the Edit button, but much can be accomplished without resorting to that effort. containing one or more peaks and troughs, the curve morphing in shape as the tone control is moved throughout its range. This is definitely one of those “adjust by ear” type of things. And, importantly, it does delicious things when modified in real time. Unfortunately Tone cannot be modulated by an internal LFO but it can be easily associated with a MIDI controller. The middle area of the main panel has three sends to a chorus/phaser/flanger effect, a convolution reverb and a delay effect respectively. Width controls the wideness of the stereo output. For those sample sets that are mono, it introduces a pseudo-stereo effect, and for stereo samples, it controls the perceived width. The Tone control is another with which you can accomplish much with little work. It’s a filter, but In the main panel we select two not a simple low-pass filter. sounds and have a very simple set Rather it serves up an EQ curve 42 Finally in the upper center are two controls, a blend slider to dictate the relative levels of the two component sounds, and a button with a question mark. This is the serendipity control, something seen on several other HS instruments. In the case of Pulstar, it randomizes settings, but only a limited number of them. It will randomly select sample sets for each layer and it randomly set the tone and size settings on each layer. It will not, for example, change the reverb type selected, LFO settings or other parameters. What this means is that is actually extremely useful. By starting with a sound in which the reverb, delay, et al feel right, you can rapidly audition combinations of sounds you would be unlikely to purposefully engineer. Spend fifteen minutes and give each roll of the dice twenty seconds to evaluate. I’d be willing to bet you’ll find at least five or ten results that you’ll deem vaguely tuned and some are completely lacking in tuning. Several contain random arp-type sounds. There’s a little bit of T�� S����� Let’s move on to what sounds are everything you might want in a on offer. Ask yourself: what kind pad, but the emphasis is on lush, of sounds would I want available musical content. To audition the for a pad preset? You’ll probably sounds alone, mute the effects include some pad-ish synth analog (we’ll talk about those shortly), wave-forms, some string-machine mute layer 2, and set the tone control of layer 1 fully counter samples, some tape-playback clockwise. samples (think Mellotron type devices), and so on. Well, in Pulstar comes with a very nice Pulstar, pretty much all those collection of presets, any number bases are covered and there’s of which can be used as is. But I more. There are 64 sample sets think their real value is in supplied. Many were lifted from demonstrating what can be done earlier HS instruments (the with this instrument. Pulstar is so Novachord waveform, for dead simple to program, I think example, makes a delightful many owners who normally shy addition to the package); the rest away from sound design will at were acquired expressly for last be tempted to try their hand Pulstar. It doesn’t really matter at it. either way. There’s much to work with here. keepers, albeit maybe needing a little more fine tuning. E������ The sample sets exhibit the high quality we’ve come to expect in HS instruments. The majority of them are precisely tuned and completely musical. A few are The effects page is shown in Figure 3. There are three dedicated effects: Movement, Echo/Delay and Reverb. Movement offers a choice of Figure 3 43 Figure 4 Chorus, Flanger and Phaser. In this, the Speed control sets the rate of modulation (you’ll want slower speeds, certainly, for pad flanger and phaser coloring). Regen (not available for Chorus) sets the feedback amount. Depth sets the amount of LFO modulation (i.e., the intensity of the effect). Finally, Phase adjusts the phase difference between the two stereo outputs. Finally the Reverb is a convolution random. Depth can be modulated verb that offers the following by modwheel, breath of options: aftertouch, or a specific level can be specified. ● Spaces (three options) The general purpose LFO can ● Holy Spaces (Cathedral, Chapel, control filter cutoff, panning and Church) tremolo. The same waveforms as pitch LFO are offered, except that ● Halls (five sizes) square is replaced by pulse and an ● Plates (two sizes) additional control allows setting the pulse width. This LFO also ● Springs (three options) allows a delay time to be set. Echo/Delay is straightforward. No tweaking necessary for this Time sets the delay time. Regen verb. Use the send control on the For envelopes, we have three sets the amount of feedback. main panel to dictate the dry/wet generators: for pitch, for filter cutoff and for amplitude. The Damping sets the cutoff of an LPF mix level. pitch ENV allows setting attack applied to the delayed signal. The decay only. The Amount Stereo slider dictates how L�� L���� T������� and control is self-explanatory and the mono/stereo-ish the effect’s The edit page (Figure 4) shows envelope depth can be modulated output is. Like all good delays, the that panel. This controls the by velocity. time can be explicit values or specific parameters for a single tempo-synced, with all the tempo layer. There are two LFOs: pitch multiplier options you could ever and multi-purpose. The pitch LFO The filter envelope and the amp envelop are of the standard ADSR need. has five selectable wave forms: variety. The filter envelope’s sine, triangle, square, saw and 44 control over envelope cutoff is set in the filter control section. Its amount is set in the column to the right labeled Output, where we can also set several other obvious modulation routings. The filter offers seven filter types: Ladder, Pro 53, Lowpass, Bandpass, Highpass, Vowel (formant) and Phaser (presumably giving a comb filter like result). The remaining controls in the Filter section will be immediately obvious to anyone having done even modest subtractive synthesis sound design. In all, the Edit panel is quite straightforward to anyone who wants to wade this deeply into sound tweaking. For those who prefer to avoid that, do not despair. There is ample variety in the presets that higher level tweaking on the main panel will prove entirely sufficient for your purposes. pounds, you’re getting a lot for your money … assuming you like an unlimited variety of rich pads in an instrument with which a child could do sound design, that is. Purchase Pulstar here: http://www.hollowsun.com/ Hollow Sun would not reveal what else will be forthcoming in the At its introductory price of 20 Alien Devices line, other than to pounds (c. 32 bucks US), Pulstar is say there’d be more interesting a steal. Depending when you devices with interesting GUIs and read this, you may be in time to ethereal sounds. Personally, I pick it up for that. But even at its can’t wait. Sorry, Mr. Ridley Scott, anticipated regular price of 30 but bring on the aliens! I� P������ ��� Y��? 45 Review Cinematic Strings 2 from Bestservice.de At first I was a bit sceptical. I loaded my favourite library that costs a third more than Cinematic Strings 2 and played a few notes with both libraries, one after the other, comparing the sound. I was shocked that Cinematic Strings 2 uses even more RAM than my favourite library. (I have plenty of String libraries, so my favourite is the best of the best, and it is relatively light on RAM.) Long notes on my old library sounded a bit more consistent, having a slightly smoother decay, also staccato notes in that same library were pre-compressed and therefore felt less jumpy. At the time I thought that this compression was a bonus and not an obstacle. Two weeks and few cinematic songs in my stock account later it turns out that Cinematic Strings 2 is one of the best things to have happened in my musical life lately. Er.. should I mention that all those new cinematic songs were made exclusively with Cinematic Strings 2? How does that happen? Even round robin doesn't help as it is meant mainly for fast repetitive parts with the same The reason is simple. Cinematic note. I tried this part with strings are Cinematic Strings. That Cinematic Strings 2 and suddenly could sound like nonsense, but it's everything sounds as it should. not. So, what do Batman, Alex Wallbank, the creator of the Spiderman, Angels and Demons library, did his job perfectly. What and all those other action movies sounds like an imperfection when have in common? Yes, you got it. you try the library out of contexts Action, supported by the typical turns into an advantage when you orchestral music known as a put it in arrangement. cinematic music. Fast staccato phrases clash with long, almost Almost too wide a dynamic range sinister string notes. Sharp, kinda with extra aggressive notes on violent string basses with cello very high velocity make that goes in the opposite everything much more intense direction, building tension just and the so called “Live mode” before everything goes to hell. added small time fluctuations to the recorded notes preventing the So, let's start. First we need a phrase from sounding too dynamic staccato phrase. I repetitive. The Modulation knob is recorded a repetitive one through used for switching between four bars, quantized it and spread Staccatissimo and Staccato, so it to make an almost minute long you can change the phrase on the background. Then I loaded my fly without losing the flow. And mighty expensive library. So far so that's only the beginning. There is good, but after few first bars also a “Run mode” preset staccato sounds a bit too programmed for fast passages repetitive and unnatural. Nice and making them much more realistic steady, but it is not the real thing. providing far better results than a 46 much RAM. Thankfully every articulation can be unloaded from the main preset, so in less than a minute I had my staccato, legato (or Arco), marcato, tremolo, half trill and whole trill saved as a separate presets. Same for first violins, second violins, cellos, basses, violas, full orchestra along with light version of full orchestra. All instruments Another nice feature, a very share a similar window where clever solution, is the ability to almost everything can be control the volume of legato unloaded to save more RAM. strings through the mod-wheel. Nothing revolutionary, but with a Various microphone positions, close, room or stage can be bit of practice it proves to be an mixed, loaded and unloaded. instant solution providing excellent results without any need There's also a big knob for blending the hall reverb. for further programming. Also legato strings comes with one nice programmed ability to recognize One click away is an advanced how fast you are playing, adapting window where we can adjust the sustain and release time for the the transitions between notes staccato, staccatissimo and according to that. pizzicato articulations. Neat and Many other string libraries have a very useful for very fast short problem with lazy basses, but not phrases or passages. There are a few more small additional this one. The basses are soft but controllers and fine tuners and at the same time very punchy tweakers, don't want to bore you with strong, almost aggressive attack. Staccato basses share the with all dirty details, but all in all same abilities as staccato strings, everything you need is there. The point is, that you will not need so they sound really vivid and much additional tweaking, as the dynamic. Pizzicato basses are main goal of library creator Alex deep and soft but well defined Wellbank was to make a library with nice attack and a slamming that will allow the end user to sound when you hit the highest make an arrangement that sounds velocity. authentic, without losing too much time on additional A��������� programming. Thankfully Cinematic Strings 2 comes with the free Kontakt I'm the living proof that he Player so you don't need any succeeded. After a few hours additional software to run it. At exploring all the abilities of this first I was a bit surprised when I library (mainly for reviewing saw just a few presets, one for purpose – the library itself is “read every instrument, allowing you to a few sentence and play” – so reach all the articulations on the after a few minute you are ready fly through the keyswitches. Nice to go) I decided to make two if you like it this way, but for my arrangements just with Cinematic taste, this solution consumes too Strings 2. I spent less then half an normal staccato preset. All presets or modes can be changed through the keyswitch function. (For library newcomers: keyswitchs mean that you can change articulations or presets simply by pressing the appropriate low key on your keyboard.) 47 hour on each one. All you have to do is to play legato notes with your right hand, tweaking the modulation with the left or in the worst scenario re-recording the modulation wheel separately depends how skilled you are! On the Cinematic Strings site you can find a few tutorial video clips along with midi files representing what you can do with the library along with a few nice tips and tricks. Very useful and very informative. Highly recommended to watch them all before you start your arrangement. C�������� ������ There were only two things that bothered me. The first one is velocity. I wrote that the velocity range in this library is a bonus, it is true, but the problem is that Alex is one of those piano trained fellows who obviously uses a heavy weighted keyboard, and therefore I had to set velocity compression level on my midi track to get similar results with my keyboard (or to change velocity curve on my keyboard, which is not so simple) as all his staccato notes (according to his midi files) are much more compressed than was the case with my recording. A "Velocity Curve" button in the main Cinematic Strings 2 window could solve this problem. I had similar problem with MOTU's Symphonic Instrument and they solve it with such a button. One click and everything works as it should. I've talked about this with Alex and he said that they will look to solve this issue in a future update. The second thing is the mod-wheel. On my keyboard (Roland PCR 800) the mod-wheel always resets itself back to zero, causing the you. It sounds gentle but highly dramatic at the same time. It is the definitive go-to library for achieving good results in a minute without any additional hassle. Whenever I need additional articulations which are not present in this library or if I need any other special “out of the box” F���� �������� unusual sounding string thing, I Cinematic Strings 2 costs 499 US will probably use some other Dollars, and after splitting presets library, but whenever I' woken in into separate articulations it is the middle of the night by pretty light on RAM. It gives someone screaming that they fantastic results almost without need a cinematic score, answering any programming. (If using the my “When?” question with mod-wheel on legato strings could “Yesterday”, I will know what to be called programming at all.) It do. Cinematic Strings 2 and back, makes orchestral scoring as easy not even half an hour latter, as playing the keyboard. If you mumbling: If you are not happy have ever tried to make cinematic with the results, next time wake score before, then you know that the whole symphony orchestra, playing the keyboard is usually but I'm not so sure that they will just the first step. Not any more. make any significant difference.” Alex has done all the work for legato string to become silent whenever I tried to use the modwheel. At the end of the day, I programmed an additional slider on my keyboard to double as the mod-wheel action and now everything works as it should. Alex Wallbank deserves to have his statue near to Edvardo Tarilonte's in a modern "Sound library – Heroes of the 21st century" department at Madame Tussauds in London. More details: http://www.bestservice.de/found .asp/cinematic%20strings%202/ci nematic_strings_2/en By Cinematic Arsov 48 Hello everyone! In this month’s DanziLand Dispatch, we’re going to talk a bit about hanging with the pro guys as well as how stylistic genres and proper tracking at the source are of the utmost importance. “Tracking properly and stylistic genres, do they matter?” "can you HEAR what you are tracking accurately, while you're tracking?" This is super important...and is equally important when you mix. In this situation, you may need to have your room or monitors tuned...or maybe invest in that ARC plugin I've been bragging about for a few years now. and monitor tuning/calibration. Nothing should ever go out to the car to where you take notes on what should be tweaked. The reason being, when you come back in and listen in your studio, you probably won’t hear what you intended to fix. This poses a question. "If you heard all this stuff in the In my recordings as well as others A mix should take you 4-8 hours car, why didn't you hear it in the who record pro material, when to get solid tops depending on studio?" Followed by: "why would you capture the sound the way it how many instruments. From you trust a $500 car stereo and should be captured, you really there you take a break and listen not the awesome recording don't have to mess with EQ like the next day for possible changes. monitors you have in your you may be used to doing. A good Now these changes should not be studio?" So if that's you, we need capture is literally 90% of the anything major. You may need to to fix your room and your battle in this field, it truly is. When adjust a few levels; maybe monitors. Trust me, I dealt with you have great captures on all something was a bit bright or a bit this for over 15 years before I did instruments, and you know what too heavy with bass? For the most something about it and the day I to listen for as you are capturing, part, you should nail this mix in did, the black clouds over my you find there is less you need to one shot and be at least 90% on head disappeared for life. do when you mix-down because with it or better and if you aren't it's been pre-done already in the seeing those types of results, that 2. You could be a bit tracking stage. tells me there could be two inexperienced as to what calls to possible issues. make and how to fix them. Some Now that said, some of you people just do not know what to probably spend countless hours 1. Your room and monitors listen for. In certain situations, we mixing and messing around with probably need tuning because need to be taught what and how sounds, right? Most of the people they are giving you a false to listen. Some people get it and I talk to say they spend about 300 representation of what you are gifted, others need guidance. hours mixing and some even should be hearing. If you are one It’s nothing to be ashamed of longer until they are happy. The that makes a CD and then takes it really. How many of you struggle question you have to ask yourself out to your car with a note pad, with compression to this day and if YOU are one of those people is: you are in need of room tuning don’t really know how to use it 49 So the style of a song to me DOES matter. The dance song has keys and hip hop grooves, horns, female voices and male voices, fake drums, real drums, real guitars, synth guitars....that's a huge production that will take some time to EQ to make everything stay out of each other’s way even if it's tracked perfectly. Each one of these instruments needs a pan field and the more instruments you have in a mix, the more problematic it *can* become at times. correctly? Several I’d bet. The reason people struggle with this so much is because they were never shown what to listen for. If you had someone literally show you different ways to use compression using different compressors while they explain what you should be listening for, you pick this stuff right up. why. Let’s create two scenarios with two different sounding songs that are different genres. The first song is a hard rock song with a classic rock element with some progressive roots and some sonic electric guitar. The second song will be a song that is a dance/club tune with loads of synths, different beats, sub low bass, brass, strings and is loaded with This is the first thing I teach my production and back-up vocals. students when we get to the It’s also heavily processed and compression part of mixing. There effected. are sound consultation people that can help you out. I offer Song 2 has so many instruments sound consultations here where I going on in this mix verses the listen to your song and totally pick hard rock song, there really isn't it apart telling you everything much we can compare between that’s wrong with it, (as well as them. The dance song will always the things that are right with it) be more challenging than the rock while showing you how to fix song because the dance song has everything. I use charts, graphs, way more to deal with as far as audio, video; whatever it takes to instruments and different parts show you what to listen for and that would be troublesome in a explain where you may be failing. mix environment. Sub lows, Remember, if you don’t know keyboard left hand as well as bass, what to listen for, you can’t fix instruments all over the your problems. Don’t be afraid to place…this will be a challenge for ask for help from someone that is sure because everything needs to in the know. have its own space and can’t mask the other instruments. The more Now let’s talk a little about instruments you have, the more stylistic preferences and how they you may have to thin things out to can come into play. Believe it or create space for the other not, this IS important and here's instrumentation. 50 Let’s look at the instruments in the rock song. We have a drum kit, a bass, maybe 2 individually tracked rhythm guitars left and right, a lead guitar, maybe a few clean guitars that may not be playing when the dirty guitars kick in, lead vocals some backups and maybe a Hammond, strings or even piano. That type of mix is really quite easy to put together. Now take a look at the dance song instruments again. Hahaha! See my point? There’s so much more going on from all directions, that it makes it more challenging. So to those engineers that would say “stylistic preferences don’t matter”, I would have to peacefully disagree. They truly can make a huge difference based on the instruments used as well as how many of them are used. I’d like to talk about something else that is related to this and that is, your interaction between full tracks in your song all at once vs. attempting to work on single tracks individually. This is a catch 22, but it all stems back to what I had mentioned about tracking accurately so you don't have to spend loads of time EQ-ing. The toughest part of mixing is to make all the instrument tracks complement each other. If you are soloing instruments up and EQ-ing them, that tells me 2 possible things. 1. You didn't track properly and you're trying to fix problem areas. OR 2. You are so into EQ-ing individual instruments for good sound that you are doing more harm than good. Each time we EQ something by itself, we are EQ-ing it as an entity. This is not always a safe move. As soon as you make something sound good on its own, you will probably fail miserably when you put this instrument in the mix with other instruments. Each instrument adds something to the field that another may not. Then again, some will share like frequencies so this is where you need to be careful of frequency masking. When we EQ something all alone, we allow too much space within that instrument to be present via EQ. We need to always EQ within a mix because each instrument helps to make up the over-all sound. For example, a lot of new engineers feel bass guitar needs to be low endy. This is not the case realistically speaking. If you listen to a pro album without using an EQ in a music player (all onboard EQ's for players like Winamp, Win Media, etc. here in DanziLand are permanently disabled for life...don't use them) and find a spot where the bass is alone, you will notice it doesn't have anywhere near the low end people think it should have. The bass you think you hear comes from all the other instruments adding to it when the full mix plays. The lows in the guitar, the kick drum, the keys…they all make that you should solo something up, is if you are having problem frequencies messing things up that you can’t hear due to all the When you hear a guitar in a mix, you guitar players...it doesn't have other instruments playing. Now, the low end in it that you think it there are some engineers that have such a grasp on this, they does when you try to cop the sound. Listen to it closely in a spot can solo up and get a great EQ curve. This takes a very long time where the killer guitar tone is all to accomplish and again, will alone. The bass you think you depend on whether or not you hear is the bass from the bass know what to listen for. guitar as well as over-all bass overtones from the sum of bass, If you are taking a week, several guitar, and even kick drum at weeks or months to mix: times. So each sound literally reinforces the others. If we solo things up and EQ them, we end up 1. Get a good set of monitors, tune them, tune your room and with mud and a bunch of other honest when I tell you, that ARC stuff that will make your mixing plugin works...and this will change endeavor a time consuming your world. nightmare. So to sum this up really, here are my thoughts. 2. Once you do number 1 above, The art of mixing means creating you will now be able to hear the sound space for each instrument. right things. There will be things that you couldn't hear before If you solo an instrument up and because your room/monitors EQ it, you are going to make it sound good all alone. This means were bringing out too much, or masking the stuff that shouldn't you will probably make it too thick, use too much bass in it and have been masked. This will totally change your world now you will wonder why this great that what you hear TRULY is what sound you just spent 2 hours tweaking just doesn’t work in the you hear. mix. The only time (in my opinion) up the full EQ spectrum as an entity. 51 3. Now that you can hear things properly, the next stage of the game is knowing how to deal with what you hear. Sometimes you need to make drastic changes, other times subtle to no changes at all. This is because now that you can hear, you are also tracking things more accurately. 4. Tracking accurately is important. You should be able to track something that is so good; you will barely need to EQ it when you go to mix it. Anything that you think may be a problem to where you think for a second "ah, I'll fix it in the mix" should be something that should be retracked immediately...or at least archived and THEN re-tracked. The decisions you make while tracking will be decisions that make your mixing experience 100% better, faster, more accurate and with less issues to worry about. When all of the above is taken care of, a mix should take you 90% less time to do than it is taking you now. If all the right stuff is there, you really shouldn't have much to do. My mixes these days (depending on the size and how much is involved) take me 4-8 hours realistically speaking, sometimes less. The ones that take 8 hours are *usually* not projects that were recorded by me. sound you just keep on messing with for hours trying to make it work. You just think that you will nail it eventually and make it work. Sometimes you eat the bear, but most of the time that bear will eat you. When you DO end up fixing something that was really bad to begin with, that learning experience is something you savor and log for life. You never know when you will need to use that tactic again. not get frustrated. Some sounds just aren’t going to work in a particular mix. Don’t feel that you have failed as an engineer. What is really strange in this field is when we have an instrument that doesn’t sound too good on its own. Yet, when you mix it in with the other instruments, it just shines. You’ll definitely encounter that animal in your travels. It’s not one that I particularly care for, but it goes with the territory. So remember: ● There will be times when certain mixes come together faster than others due to stylistic genre. ● There will be times when great sounds by themselves will not work within a mix without extensive tweaking or may not work at all. ● Always track the best sounds you can and try not to go too crazy with what we call “destructive recording”. This happens when we use too much of something while recording in real time. Like a hardware compressor or a preamp that may give us a little But 4-8 hours should get you a great mix that needs minimal (if any) tweaking the next day when you play it back. That's when you know you have a well oiled machine and everything is where it should be in your realm. Remember, the pro mixes you hear are not EQ’ed to the point of turd polishing. They get great results because the stuff was I do lots of client remixes over tracked properly or it wouldn’t here. Some of them, well, let’s have been tracked in the first just say the instruments should place. If you find that something is have never been tracked to begin just not working, archive it and with. But, you can learn from stuff re-track it using a different sound. like that too. All of us seem to end After spending some time with up doing what is known as (I this and getting to know which know, it sounds gross, but it’s sounds work and which do not, what we call it!) “polishing a you just “know” when something turd.” This is when you have a is right. The main thing here is to 52 gain or warmth or even a ● Try not to EQ/mix your tracks reverb or chorus because we while using the solo button like the sound of it coming from unless you absolutely have to our synth or guitar processor. due to working on a problem area. Mix things like drums and ● If you find later on while mixing bass at the same time so your that these sounds don’t work kick drum and bass guitar form because you over-processed, a good working relationship. you will need to re-record them as you can’t take away stuff like ● Tune your monitors. You could this. You can’t un-compress or buy the best monitor rig in the remove a reverb or chorus that world right now and be no was recorded to the track in better off than you are now. real time. So this is why it’s so The monitors need to be tuned important to just get a great so they are flat sounding using sound while processing in room tuning software, ARC or moderation at the tracking having someone come to your stage and go for the major place and scope it out for you processing of your tracks later. like I mentioned in the ARC ● Repeat after me: “I will not article. Your room may need polish a turd…I will not polish a tuning also. This is the biggest turd….I will not polish a turd!” issue for home recording No TP’s…when the sound engineers. However, most doesn’t work, accept that it just doesn’t work and re-record it. J ● Know what to listen for at the tracking stage and the mixing stage and don’t be afraid to ask someone that may be more advanced than you for some pointers. times you will not need room tuning in a bedroom studio or small office. Besides, you don’t want that ugly stuff in your home. It looks ridiculous and you really don’t feel like explaining to your friends what it is, do you? Me neither. J The above keys should help you with your mixing and sound selection as well as the time it takes you to mix the finished product. Take just one of these things away, and your mix time doubles or triples. Best of luck and as always, thanks for reading. -Danny Danzi My Site: www.dannydanzi.com My Band: www.myspace.com/dannydanziband My Audio Services: dannydanzi.com/aud.php My Recording Lessons: dannydanzi.com/rec.php 53 Mini Tutorial By Alex Arsov A Small Chordwizard tutorial (for all future songwriters) In our last issue we reviewed Chordwizard, explaining what it is good for and what we can do with it, but now it is time to go a little deeper to show you how this little toy can help you in writing a song. Let’s say that you have a few notes, a phrase and you want to find which scale, and therefore which chords, might fit this phrase. First we should choose “Notes to scale” from the Tools menu. ChordWizard Here we can find the chords that can be used along with our scale. In the upper part of the window is the chosen scale while at the bottom we can go mad pressing the chords that are represented with red squares in the “Chords” window. That’s just for starters. Happy further discovering. This brings up a new as shown above. We can click on the notes that we used for the phrase and on the right-hand side we will get the scale that belongs to those notes. After the name of scale we see three buttons. Pressing the middle one (relations of scale) will bring up another, new, window. 54 www.wusiksoundmagazine.com 55