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The tech DnB marksman crafts breaks and bass

January 2017 / CM238




Build knockout drums in your DAW Today’s hottest genres ripped apart! >TRAP



>House/ Techno







>DnB/ Jungle







PANAGEMENT CM Get mind-blowing width with this advanced stereo toolkit!








VPS Avenger

World exclusive review and video session!

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welcome Saying it’s been a hectic month here at would be an understatement. As well as a whirlwind trip over to the ’Dam for ADE 2016, we’ve been hard at work cramming as much as possible into your latest issue! Drums make or break any track. Sonically, they must hit hard and impress the listener. Every style has its own signature tricks and quirks. So no matter what genre you produce, turn to p22 and dive into our genre-busting Killer Beats guide. We’re also pulling out the stops for freebies this month. Get pro-level width, depth and space with Panagement CM (p52); bag yourself 3.8GB of incredible samples (p106); and new or renewing subscribers get a free copy of the epic Xpand!2 workstation plugin from AIR Music Technology, as sold for £80 – which is more than the price of a print subscription itself! Head to p18 for full details. You’d be crazy to miss out! During our ADE whistlestop tour, I grabbed a pint with Dutch techno legend Secret Cinema, who was all too happy to divulge some top production wisdom. Check out his in-depth modular tips, DAW tricks and plugin advice on p82. And if all that wasn’t enough, we’ve got a world-exclusive review of Vengeance-Sound’s gargantuan new synth, VPS Avenger. Trust me – it’s a whopper! Head over to p90 to get our full verdict, and check out our in-depth video session to see and hear it in action. Phew! Until next time…

“Drums make or break any track…”

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Joe Rossitter Editor

Issue 238 JANUARY 2017


Cover feature

Producer masterclass

BEATS! Get the building blocks you need to rock the kit in any genre


We take you behind the scenes as he creates DnB beats and bass


Free Plugin



56 2  016 CM AWARDS



67 virtual SEQUENTIAL


Your guides for the ever-expanding world of production are here every month to show you the way



studio strategies: parallel saturation


 asy guide: e Circle progressions

 r beat: d trap beats

The ultimate stereo toolkit is yours for free this month

Emulate Dave Smith’s classic synths using today’s plugins




vengeance-sound avenger




izotope neutron


freeware news


synapse audio the legend


what’s on your drive?


blue cat audio destructor


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100 kush audio hammer dsp


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PLUS 17 MORE products reviewed


back issues

4  /  Computer Music  /  January 2017

Which of this year’s releases will stand the test of time?

He dishes out production advice aplenty at ADE



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January 2017  /  Computer Music  /  5

video Every tutorial feature in this issue comes with pro video guides. Go get them right now from our Vault download area

KILLER BEATS Get a genre-by-genre overview of techniques for knockout beat-building Read the full article on p22

1  The foundations of a house drum beat

2  Deconstructing a techno groove

3  Machine music – house vs techno

4  Modular techno hi-hats and percussion grooves

5  Bassline and sub-heavy house

6  Programming authentic live disco hi-hats

7  Synthesising a punchy EDM kick with CM Plugins




11  Deconstructing UK Garage drums

12  Making a grime beat from scratch

15  Mastering the most useful beats in rock

16  Reggae: three little beats

Pop: the sound of now

13  Hard-hitting DnB beats

The trap kick code

14  Creating organic DnB drums from a breakbeat

6  /  Computer Music  /  January 2017

Mixing EDM drums

video To download all these videos onto your PC/Mac, just head along to and register this issue Producer Masterclass*

PANAGEMENT CM Get perfect width, depth and space with this far-out psychoacoustic stereo toolkit plugin Read the full article on p52

ICICLE Watch him create a furious DnB beat from scratch in this in-studio video session Read the full article on p44


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January 2017  /  Computer Music  /  7

video Grab this issue’s videos via Vault download – see p5 for details VIRTUAL SEQUENTIAL They’re some of the most significant keyboards ever. See how to get Dave Smith’s creations in your DAW Read the full article on p67

1  A virtual overview of the Prophet-5 synth


/experts Our resident music production gurus walk you through their specialist field every month

plugins reloaded / make music now <

focus > CURVE 2 CM

We turn our attention to this versatile, inspiring synth, the latest Plugins family addition to the



Last issue saw the arrival of the incredible Curve 2 CM, a Computer Music-exclusive version of Cableguys’ amazing Curve 2 synthesiser. The synth is now part of the Plugins suite, an awesome collection of proquality instruments and effects that’s yours free with every issue of Computer Music. For those unfamiliar with previous versions of Curve, this synth is based around a powerful waveform editor that allows you to create your own custom oscillator and LFO waveforms with ease. This means you can fine-tune the harmonic content of your oscillators with aand great deal of Satson… on… finesse, and even blur the lines between LFOsescaped and arpeggiators It can’t have your with unusually attention thatcomplex we’ve used the modulation The LFO Satson CMsequences. plugin on almost can be synced your DAW’s host a every track intoour tune. There’s tempo or set to run free with a rate good reason for this: It’s that can exceed 5kHz! awesome! Satson CM emulates Curve 2 CM now includes unison the sound of a hardware mixer detune capability with up to 16 channel and it’s designed to be voices, and it also replaces the placedvolume on every in your AHDSR andtrack modulation mix, to lend itsflexible subtleenvelopes signature envelopes with sound that useto, thewell, sameeverything. advanced It’s light on CPU andoscillators can make waveform editing as the pretty much any track sound and LFO. Even more importantly, warmer and more rounded. The rather than having a single wave, pluginbetween can alsothe help to smooth shaped two out the sometimes-harsh sound oscillators, Curve 2 now has three oscillator – one for each of digitalwaveforms synths. Driven harder, oscillator plus an provide extra waveform Satson CM can some for oscillator 1 that can besounding balanced authentically vintage with the main waveform using distortion effects. Theby gentle the modulatable Crossfade highand low-cut filters give us a parameter. cool quick andAnother easy way ofnew thinning feature is the lows introduction of macro out muddy or rolling off knobs canand be assigned tinny that highs, you can to switch control multiple parameters

off the drive function if you just want to use it for the filters. For a

“You fine-tune the closercan look at Satson CM take a look at our YouTube video at harmonic content of your oscillators with a great dealby of finesse” > Step step

> Step by step

11. Piano and vintage synth sounds

parallel saturation

trap drums

Get a solid chord progression in a flash with this theory advice

Get some quick-fire sound advice from our resident mixdown expert

Build bulkier trap drum sounds without just reaching for the 808


CMU189.t_focus.indd 74

2/12/13 10:20 AM

Read the full article on p80

CM Plugins Tutorial Bank




We’ve got almost all the musical ideas we need to create a full tune, but we need to spice it up with extras and ‘ear candy’. First, let’s process a piano patch so that it sounds a bit like it’s been sampled from an older tune. We start by loading a MIDI track panned 9R with a patch from the Keys»Gran Piano preset in Alchemy Player CM.

We EQ the piano in quite a distinctive way in IIEQPro, using the curve shown here, cutting off the low frequencies and adding a big boost at around 8kHz, for a thinned out, vintage kind of sound. The piano sound is finished off by Satson CM, with the Gain increased to +4 and High Pass set at 400Hz to lose even more low end.



We play some chords into the track (Piano.mid) and copy some over from the strings track. The piano sound is quite short, so we raise the Release to 70%, to lengthen it, making it more suitable for our track. We also turn the Delay Mix to 0 to knock out off the inbuilt echo effect.

Next, a vintage synth lead line (Glide.mid) from PolyKBII CM, which boasts some truly great analogue-style sounds. We choose Lead»All»LD Soaring Glider JRM and play in a melody line using the pitchbend wheel to add interest (Glider.mid). We add Satson CM with -3 Gain, 750Hz High Pass and 16kHz Low Pass, enabling the tighter 12dB/oct mode.


We take the easy option for the reverb, using ReverberateCM’s Cathedral preset, with the Dry/Wet at 10dB Wet to create some big, splashy hits and crashes. An instance of Satson CM set to 400Hz on the High Pass dial removes some of the more boomy elements, which could conflict with the kick drum and bass.


There’s a good white noise riser sound in Alchemy Player: Sound Effects»Breakdown Booom. This patch uses four different layers, so we use the X/Y 1 matrix to manipulate it. Dragging the control to the top right of the panel means that only the white noise sweep layer of the sample is played. In the track, we can use volume and pan automation to add interest.

To help you get the most out of our immense plugin collection, we’ve assembled the Plugins Tutorial Bank, containing over 100 guides and tutorials for our Plugins, specially selected from past issues. You’ll find Getting Started PDFs and videos for most of the individual plugins, along with

December 2012 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 47

CMU185.t_plugins.indd 47

Read the full Readon the full article p78 article on pxx


12. Risers and effects with Alchemy Player CM

simultaneously. As well as these new capabilities, Curve 2 CM includes all of the original Curve CM’s goodies, including dual multimode filters, frequency modulation and independent glide times for each oscillator. In this Focus, we’re going to take a look at how you can get the most from Curve 2 CM’s filters, LFO, unison detune and FM functionality. Make sure you check out the included videos, and VIDEOyou can get all the remember TUTORIAL patches we create in the Tutorial Files folder. Curve 2 CM can be found in the We’re Plugins folder, going to need a few one-shot along with a selection of other percussion FX to sprinkle throughout stunning instruments and effects. the track, and a really simple way to create Get it installed and we’re them is to loadoff! Alchemy Player CM on a new track and select the Drums»Four Way Drum Morph preset. Add KR-DelayCM set to PingPong mode and 1/4 beat Sync Delay time. A Feedback and Dry/Wet level of 40% is perfect.



Read the full article on p76

Download Curve 2 CM, the videos and tutorial files at


4  Emulating the Pro-One with u-he RePro Alpha

10/25/12 12:16 PM

8  /  Computer Music  /  January 2017

tutorial PDFs and videos on using Plugins for sound design, mixing, and even creating entire tracks. You’ll find all of this as a handy download in our Vault – go grab it now and start getting more out of your plugins!

>  news

New releases • comment • industry happenings

Handy hardware quartet Four new physical experiences for producers who like to stay hands-on A bunch of intriguing hands-on solutions have been sighted on the computer musician’s horizon this month. Here’s our instant overview…

LinnStrument 128

Music technology legend Roger Linn has released a smaller version of his LinnStrument ($1799) MIDI controller. The LinnStrument 128 ($1199) has 128 note pads instead of 200, a four-octave range, and is powerable only via USB. It’s otherwise identical, featuring RGB back-lit pads that sense strike/release velocity, finger pressure, and X/Y movement; MPE compatibility for expressive polyphonic control; all benefits of the v2.0 software update (which saw the addition of polyphonic step sequencer amongst other things), and more. URL


For those who can’t make their mind up, Joué is a large pressure-sensitive sensor onto which ‘magic modules’ are placed. These include drum pads, keyboard, guitarstyle fretboard, or a 3D control surface. Joué (that’s the company and product name) say their system allows natural vibrato, bending and finger drumming. Output is via USB MIDI. Pricing will be established during an imminent crowdfunding initiative. URL

Top-left, LinnStrument 128; top-right, ROLI Blocks; bottom-right, Joué; bottom-left, Reactable Rotor

ROLI Blocks

New from the Seaboard innovators is this “modular music studio” that snaps together magnetically. Lightpad Block (£170) is an LEDlit silicone surface of adaptable configuration (5x5 for melodic play, 2x2 for a four-sound drum kit, etc), responding to strike/release velocity, movement and pressure. Lightpad Blocks can be connected to expand the setup, and Live Block (£70) and Loop Block (£70) do octave switching, transport, etc. Sound is produced using the free Noise app for iOS. URL

UAD 9.0

Fill up with virtual gear thanks to UA, Brainworx and Softube

10  /  Computer Music  /  January 2017

Reactable Rotor

Famous for their large-scale “Reactable Experience”, where real objects placed on a large multitouch display interact with music software, Reactable bring this closer to your iPad with Rotor ($19.99). Essentially, it’s a v2 of the existing Reactable Mobile app, (a music environment with synths, samplers, effects, etc). The big new feature is support for “tangible controllers”: small knobs you place on the screen, moving and twisting to manipulate parameters. Price TBC. URL

Universal Audio’s UAD DSP system reaches v9.0, ushering in three new processors. The API 2500 Bus Compressor ($299) is crafted by UA’s in-house DSP team, “capturing its all-discrete circuit path”. The Chandler Limited Zener Limiter ($299), developed by Softube, emulates the hardware, itself “inspired by the iconic EMI TG limiters and rare RS168 from Abbey Road Studios”. Finally, it’s Brainworx’ turn to have a pop at the emulation game, with the cult classic A/DA STD-1 Stereo Tapped Delay ($199), a six-tap bucket brigade delay. URL

news <

Trackers & Demoscene There’s movement in the SunVox scene, and we check out a 64KB demo

Stronger together: Slate have enlisted the cooperation of three audio greats for their latest plugins

Slate Digital FG-Stress, VerbSuite Classics and Repeater A trio of goodies from Slate Digital and friends here, starting with FG-Stress ($TBC), an officially endorsed emulation of Empirical Labs’ legendary Distressor compressor. Famed for adding punch, power, smack and glue to practically any signal, Slate reckon their plugin is practically

indistinguishable from the real thing. VerbSuite Classics ($199), meanwhile, uses LiquidSonics’ slick Fusion IR processing to recreate the sounds of eight revered reverbs. Finally, a collaboration with D16 Group has resulted in Repeater ($TBC), a dual-delay plugin featuring 23 delay styles, “ranging from classic oil cans and plates to the most famous vintage digital designs”. All these effects are also in the subscribable Everything Bundle. URL

Brainworx guitar plugins Guitarists are in for a virtual treat with Brainworx’ latest clutch of plugins. First, their flagship guitar amp sim has been overhauled, resulting in bx_rockrack V3 ($199). The interface has been refreshed and the code given a complete makeover “for a drastic improvement in quality and sound”. The package contains eight amp models, including four official Engl sims, two Marshall-alikes, a Mesa Boogie replica, and a brand-new Brainworx original, the Metal BX 666. To get a taste of all this amplified goodness, try the free bx_rockrack V3 Player, containing 26 non-editable presets. If that’s not enough to satisfy your hunger for high-gain shenanigans, then you can add one of Brainworx’ new distortion pedal plugins to the mix. bx_metal2 ($49)

u-he Repro-1 in beta

Soft synth supremos u-he lifted the lid on Repro-1 earlier this year with a freely downloadable alpha (ie, early work-inprogress) version. Now the wait is over!

recreates Boss’ buzzsaw MT-2 Metal Zone pedal, while bx_blackdist2 ($49) is based on the grungy ProCo RAT 2 stompbox. All of these plugins are out now, available via Plugin Alliance. URL

This component-level emulation of the Sequential Circuits Pro-One should be out by the time you read this… and check out our feature on p67 for a history lesson and virtual session! u-he have stuck closely to the original spec, packing in two oscillators, 4-pole lowpass filter, twin ADSR envelopes, an LFO, step sequencer, arpeggiator and more. They’ve added some nifty extras, too, such as an effects section. However, just like the original analogue hardware, it’s a purely monophonic device, with no unison or polyphonic capability. Repro-1 is priced $99. URL

It’s getting on for a year since we’ve heard any news from our favourite Russian, Alexander Zolotov, the man in charge of SunVox. Happily, the latest version (1.9.2) is a hearty update to this great multiplatform tracker. We’ve often heaped praise on Renoise for the awesome control afforded by its meta devices, and SunVox

“It’s the kind of discotheque you might find Buck Rogers and his white trousers in” takes an important step in that direction, adding two new modules that convert either incoming pitch or velocity information into values which can then be used to control parameters on other devices. Elsewhere, Windows and Linux both gain multitouch support, while Mac users continue to languish with passé pointing device input. There are also dozens more tweaks and changes, including updates to the various synth and effects modules and new bundled example projects and songs. As ever, it’s available for Win, Mac, Linux, Pi and more for free and for a modest fee on iOS and Android. demo of the month Elysian by Logicoma Some of the best demos are found in the 64KB pile. It’s a size big enough to squeeze in decent graphics and sound, and small enough to encourage efficiency and innovation. Elysian is no exception, and took the crown at this year’s TRSAC demoparty in Aarhus, Denmark. Our favourite effect by far is the prism tunnel, which looks like the kind of discotheque you might find Buck Rogers and his white trousers in. The rest is a triumph of mathematically generated geometry, fascinating light shows, stunning real-time camera depth-of-field, and a soundtrack that is as stunningly produced as it is compact. And as the whole shebang actually fits into 56KB, Logicoma still had room to spare.

Elysian impresses in far under 64KB

January 2017  /  Computer Music  /  11

>  news

Get with the programmers Find out how this innovative new plugin development house put together their marvellous musical software


Gaurav Dayal

For those that don’t know, what’s your history in music, composing and product design? Why did you start up Beatskillz? GD “I’m a computer engineer by education, and I was the very first guy in India to write a MIDI sequencer in C++ as my final-year project. Once I graduated, I was lucky enough to have a super career in India as a composer and producer, selling over 10 million records. “I’ve always preferred analogue gear, even though I was born in the digital age. The inspiration behind Beatskillz really has been my own approach to production – I wanted tools like i had in the analogue world: chains of processors set up to do the job easily, without distracting from the creative process.”

Your plugins focus less on visualisation and metering than others do. What’s the philosophy behind leaving these components out? GD “This is not a new approach – I feel that just because ‘we can’ in the digital world doesn’t mean ‘we have to’. I don’t want to make technicians out of producers and musicians. “In all cases, we do feature awesome visual feedback – even our first product Slam Dawg featured output meters for response, and it went on to be a top-selling product that even major plugin companies are now happy to take ideas from. Things that make you feel like you’re working with something tangible are more popular and valuable in my opinion.” Plugins such as Slam Pro and Slam Dawg feature simplified controls on the surface. How complicated are they underneath? GD “Slam Pro features very very complex algorithms and technology. The Bass section, for example, features a mix of processes from EQ to sub-harmonic generation and a touch of multiband compression… and then comes the heat, with four flavours of distortion – we had to spend months getting the emulations perfect… and it’s just one knob for the user!”

“Finally, we applied some maths from the 1800s…”

What coding or technology did you implement within Bounce and Valvesque to separate them from the abundance of compressor and distortion plugins on the market? GD “For Bounce, we studied how transients actually work in such a short period of time, and developed multiple stages of detection and frequencydependent detection. Valvesque was very very hard to do as well – it was modelled on a popular british tube distortion preamp. We tried waveshapes, and other available technology, but finally, we applied some maths from the 1800s, which offered a new way of capturing multistage distortion and transformer signal paths. We call it RTT (Reactive Transients Technology). This enables us to now make products which sound like real distortion units. I would also like to thank my additional programmers Carlo Castellano and Aaron Leese for their brilliant work and collaboration.” What’s next for Beatskillz? GD “We’re creating a new limiter plugin which will be free for the audio community – a very transparent limiter and volume maximizer. Besides this, we have a new tape machine emulation, and some virtual instruments coming up this year. Also a brand new platform for loops, which will hopefully revolutionise the way people use and purchase loops online.” URL 12  /  Computer Music  /  January 2017

oeksound soothe

Ringing resonances and harsh frequency peaks are the bane of many a mix engineer’s life, but here’s a plugin to tackle them. soothe was originally conceived as a vocal processor, but oeksound say it’s capable of suppressing whistles, noises and harshness in everything from individual instruments to the master bus. In technical terms, it’s a dynamic equaliser with adaptive frequency bands and adjustable sensitivity, and is apparently “free from pre-ringing, crossovers, and summing artefacts.” Priced €149, soothe is out now for Mac, with a Windows version in the pipeline. URL

AudioThing The Orb

This new formant filter aims to give any sound a human-like drawl, simulating the vowel characteristics of the human voice. There are four vowel sets, Male, Female, Child and Custom, with the latter allowing you to define your own set of vowels. Three LFOs are on-hand to modulate the vowel itself, the formants’ resonance, and Drift, which offsets formant frequency. For those into DSP tech-specs, The Orb’s formant-fiddling trickery is accomplished using a trio of zero-delay feedback band-pass filters. The Orb costs €49 and is out now. URL

Sonimus TuCo

The analogue-modelling masters behind Burnley 73, SonEQ Pro, and Satson CM have created their debut dynamics processor. Based on variable mu valve compressors, TuCo is not a direct emulation of any specific piece of gear, instead being an original Sonimus design. Sonically, they say it exhibits “subtle and natural compression at low amounts, and plenty of punch at higher settings”. Features-wise, you’ve got four dynamics modes (slow/fast compressor and slow/fast limiter), four stereo modes, dry/wet mix, sidechain high-pass filter, tube saturation, and more. TuCo is out now, priced $74. URL

Audiority Harmonic Maximizer

From the minds behind our own TS-1 CM transient shaper comes this multiband exciter and loudness-shaping plugin. The exciter spans six bands, each with adjustable Frequency and Gain, while the Maximizer section offers Drive, Blend, Push and Gain controls. Auto-gain and auto-release are part of the spec, and there’s input/output metering on hand to further keep your levels in check. Sonically, Audiority claim the plugin will “make your tracks powerful and more alive”. You can get it right now for €45. Check out our review on p103! URL

Computer Music 238 (Sampler)  

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