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May 2019 / CM268




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In case you missed the enormous six-letter word on the cover, this issue of Computer Music is devoted to those knob- and slider-covered software contraptions that generate the sounds we love. If, like me, you enjoy nothing more than spending an evening noodling away with oscillators, filters and modulators, you’ll have noticed the exciting new breed of virtual instruments that have dropped in the past few months. These supersynths all offer something new, and will undoubtedly take your music in fresh and exciting new directions. Join us and explore them in depth, starting over on p20. Of course, many argue that the virtual instrument market is now oversaturated, and there’s definitely some truth to that. But there’s no need to fork out wads of cash to feed your habit – without spending a single penny, you can fill your softsynth folder with incredible freeware, not forgetting the armoury of powerful options . That’s that come with every issue of why I suggest you skip to page 54 and check out this month’s free modular synth: Seaweed Audio’s Fathom CM. Arguably the most versatile and expansive virtual instrument to grace Plugins folder, it’s yours to use our with this very mag. As ever, I hope you…


advanced modular softsynth for PC and Mac Exclusive free version of Seaweed Audio’s



Joe Rossitter Editor

Issue 268 MAY 2019


Cover feature

2019 Get to grips with today’s powerful virtual instruments, p20




Producer Masterclass 42 FEED ME The mau5trap prodigy talks us through his new hit, Satanic Panic




54 FATHOM CM How to use this incredible modular synth freebie

58 UNDERRATED synths Under-the-radar instruments in virtual form

66 PAD THEORY Pro music theory and synth programming tricks

How American landscapes, FL Studio and a little optimism helped the US producer craft Superdream

Free samples 104 DUSTY FUNK An exclusive pack of 500 retroinspired one-shots and loops to fuel your studio endeavours



/experts Your guides to the ever-expanding world of production are here 74 easy guide Dave Clews explores suspended chords



10 news


16 What’s on your hard drive?

92 blue cat audi0 mb-5 DYNAMIX 2 94 Waves CLA MIXHUB

14 freeware news

40 SUBSCRIBE 114 B  last from the past: ENSONIQ VFX


76 s  tudio strategies ACM tutor Shea Stedford on multisampling technique


78 dr beat Ronan Macdonald enters the world of polymeters


101 Mini reviews


4  /  Computer Music  /  May 2019


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video Download this month’s videos:


Meet today’s hot new synths and discover how to use them with our expert video guides Read the full article on p20

1  Synapse Audio Dune 3’s Wavetable Editor

2  Easy FM and Snapshots with Waves Flow Motion

3  Virtual analogue synthesis with Audiaire Zone

4  Building a basic synth voice with Voltage Modular

5 Delving deeper with Cherry Audio Voltage Modular

6  Granular synthesis with Audio Damage Quanta

6  /  Computer Music  /  May 2019

video FATHOM CM In-depth video tutorial session

Read the full article on p54

PAD THEORY Pro programming tips and tricks

Read the full article on p66

Producer Masterclass


The UK producer’s monstrous track Satanic Panic broken down

4  Amplitude envelope settings

Note: this video is only available using the link on page 45 Read the full article on p42



5  Inverting and opening chords



creative POLYRHYTHMS multisampling PART 1


Our resident music production gurus walk you through their specialist field every Read month the full

article on pxx

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May 2019  /  Computer Music  /  7

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>  news

New releases • comment • industry happenings

Rob Papen Vecto Now you don’t need a Reason to get your hands on quality vector synthesis A secret sound design weapon for many a Reason user since 2015, Rob Papen’s Vecto synth has – in response to a tide of requests from existing and wouldbe users alike – been ported over from its original Rack Extension realisation to VST/AU/AAX plugin formats for use in any Mac or PC DAW. Vecto is a four-oscillator vector synth that has a very sizeable range of oscillator waveforms onboard, plus a whole heap of sampled and “spectrum” waveforms. Vector synthesis – as often associated with the classic Prophet VS and Korg Wavestation hardware instruments – involves morphing sounds in real time by mixing the outputs of a quartet of oscillators with the use of a joystick-style controller. In Vecto’s case, that interface comes in the form of the central X/Y pad, which will be familiar to users of Papen’s other synths. The vector path can be drawn or recorded, and quantised and edited after the fact, and a variety of preset paths and shapes are included to get you started. You’ll be throwing together all manner of weird shifting pads in no time. Beyond that, Vecto is yet another wellappointed synth from house Papen, and one that keeps everything in view at all times in a single window. Two filters each offer 28 response types and can be routed in various ways; all the expected envelopes, LFOs and MIDI modulation sources are present and correct;

Blend Vecto’s four oscillators with the incredibly powerful XY pad

an arpeggiator provides internal note generation; and two insert FX slots house a range of useful processors. Over 1000 presets are there, too, constituting a cornucopia of ready-to-go sounds.

You can get Vecto alone for €99, or as part of the all-encompassing eXplorer-5 bundle, which nets you all 21 Rob Papen plugins – synths, effects, the lot! – for €499.

Plugin Alliance synths

Modelling pros Brainworx’ first synth is an SEM Expander emulation

10  /  Computer Music  /  May 2019

High-end plugin effects distributors Plugin Alliance are getting into the virtual instrument game, and are now official distributors for Dmitry Sches’ brilliant Thorn synth (9/10, 253), as well as the first ever synths by Brainworx and Unfiltered Audio. bx_oberhausen is an emulation of Oberheim’s legendary SEM Expander module, while Unfiltered Audio’s Lion “combines two multi-engine oscillators with a waveform-smashing creative mixer and numerous filter types”, and features BYOME technology for modular effects processing. Thorn and bx_oberhausen are out now; Lion is due in April or May.

news <

App watch We report on the latest developments in phone and tablet music making

Overloud’s latest line of plugins claims to be TH-U largest collection of guitar amp simulations around

Overloud TH-U

Claiming to be the “world’s largest collection” of guitar amp simulations and effects in a “single software”, Overloud’s TH-U is the latest and greatest instalment in the Italian developers’ TH line of plugins, expanding on previous flagship, TH-3. The numbers are pretty staggering: you get 240 models in total, comprising 89 guitar amps, four bass amps, 50 guitar and two bass cabs, 18 microphone models and 77 effects. The all-new Rig Player uses proprietary sampling

tech to capture the response of entire rigs – amp, cab, preamp, mics and room; while the Amp Tweak feature enables customisation of TH-U’s amplifiers by swapping the valves in the preamp and power amp sections. Other improvements over TH-3 include Shimmer Reverb and Shimmer Delay effects, a redesigned, improved cabinet impulse response module, and a new multitrack looper. Available now, for Mac/PC, priced €299.


Credible music-making apps for Apple Watch have been thin on the ground, but MIDIWrist, which turns your smart timepiece into a MIDI controller, looks genuinely useful. Combining the tactile feel of the digital crown with haptic feedback, this lets you control various software elements simply by tapping your wrist. Available for £4.99/$4.99.

Universal Audio UAD Software v9.8

The latest version of the software for Universal Audio’s UAD-2 and Apollo DSP systems and audio interfaces includes three new plugins for trial and purchase. Antares Auto-Tune Realtime Advanced is an ultralow latency take on the existing Auto-Tune Pro, making it possible to apply Antares’ lauded automatic and/or manually-guided pitch correction to live performances. Diezel Herbert Amplifier is a Brainworx-developed emulation of the original Diezel Herbert 180watt guitar amp, endorsed by Peter Diezel himself and supporting UA’s amazing Unison technology for an authentic “real amp” feel. Finally, V76 Preamplifier models the Telefunken V76 – “arguably the most coveted standalone mic preamp ever made”. With up to 76dB of “hi-fi tube” gain,

Output Audio and BMG Publishing The Crate

Output’s cloud-based loop instrument, Arcade, has been given a shot in the arm

Elastic FX

this one again makes use of Unison technology for hardware-like performance. UAD Software v9.8 is out now, as a free download for registered UAD-2 and Apollo users. Antares Auto-Tune Realtime Advanced is priced £229; Diezel Herbert Amplifier and V76 are £115 each.

thanks to a deal struck with BMG Publishing (in partnership with Universal Music Group and Countdown Media). Amongst other minor improvements, Arcade 1.2 adds a new sample collection called The Crate, comprising original master recordings (“time-honoured songs dating back centuries”, they say) of BMG-owned tracks, arranged into kits of MIDI-triggerable loops, that you can use in your own productions royalty-free. If you want to get your hands on Output’s Arcade 1.2, a subscription will cost you £9 per month.

Already a hit with iOS producers, version 1.2 of Elastic FX has guitarists in its multieffecting sights. This is thanks to a new preamp section that sports a tuner, extra compressor with built-in noise gate, and an overdrive/distortion. The four main FX on/off buttons, meanwhile, can now respond to both MIDI CC and MIDI note messages, so you can trigger them using a foot controller. A pretty pointy point release. Elastic FX costs £9.99/$9.99.

Mellotronics Streetlytron Pro

We’ve seen Mellotron emulations before, but Omenie’s Mellotronics Streetlytron Pro has the advantage of being created in collaboration with Streetly Electronics, the company behind the original instrument. Therefore you get the original production master tapes among the 90 sounds that are included. A reverb unit is also onboard, as is compatibility with AudioBus and Inter-App Audio. £23.99/$24.99. May 2019  /  Computer Music  /  11


>  news

Get with the programmers We get the inside story from one of the product developers behind Nektar’s new Bolt softsynth

Nektar Technology

Ralf Schluenzen

What makes Bolt special? RS “Harmonics synthesis was developed by Udo Zölzer at Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, originally for vocal synthesis. He has a long history in audio and DSP development. The first Matlab-based proofof-concept he showed us – featuring only the two Harmonics and Rolloff knobs – already had a unique, ‘organic’ sonic character. Unlike additive synthesis, where you use banks of oscillators to create the sound, or subtractive synthesis where you filter the generated waveform into shape, Harmonics Synthesis creates the desired shape directly in the oscillator, using just these two knobs. That makes it fast and easy to use. What I find special is that even if you just fiddle around, the results somehow always sound good.”

What can you do with Bolt that you can’t with other synths? RS “Bolt is not an emulation of anything. I’d say its qualities lie in its core sonic character, not any particular feature and how you create sounds. Harmonics Synthesis somehow has an unusually clear, transparent and rounded character. It can deliver sounds ranging from warm analogue to FM-style digital, and even patches that almost sound like samples. So being able to deliver this range of different characteristics is unusual, too.” Bolt is Nektar’s first softsynth. What challenges did you face? RS “Bolt’s development has been a fascinating ride: I mean, when in life do you get the opportunity to create a synth including its synthesis from scratch? We started with a blank sheet: not knowing what the synthesis would be capable of; no pre-defined parameter list, structure or anything beyond the oscillator prototype. HSU assigned a staff scientist to the project, who also had a software development background, and we just got going. I’m not a programmer, so my role was concept, sound design and product management. HSU have excellent audio department people. Sebastian, the key guy from their end, has joined Nektar now.”

“If you fiddle around, the results somehow always sound good”

Bolt is also remarkable for its easy single-screen interface. Did you have to make compromises in order to make it work? RS “Thanks! Ease of use was a key design goal – we wanted a UI that invites experimentation and lets you create new sounds more intuitively. Adding parameters for the sake of it was not an option. So some may see the meta parameters for Reverb and Delay in the effects section as a compromise, but they make using these effects really fast. It let us reduce parameters to three per module. Conceptually, we decided to exclude a standard low-pass synth filter, as we worried such a filter might destroy the uniqueness in Bolt’s oscillator-based approach to sound design.” What’s next for Nektar on the software front? RS “We just introduced Nektarine, our new software for instant remote control, mapping and library management of virtual instruments in any VST/AU compatible DAW. Nektarine was launched with our new Panorama T-series and will now be available for the Panorama P-series. Plus, we have new DAW integration software for PreSonus Studio One that should be out shortly. Then some things I can’t talk about…” 12  /  Computer Music  /  May 2019

VAST Dynamics Vaporizer2

The second version of VAST Dynamics’ hybrid wavetable/additive/subtractive synthesiser/sampler plugin features a “stateof the art wavetable engine” that apparently does away with aliasing entirely but still maintains low CPU usage, “even with 1000 oscillators playing”. There’s also a comprehensive wavetable editor, wavetable effects, harmonic morphing, resampling of samples as wavetables, five LFOs and five MSEGs, three step sequencers and an arpeggiator, ten DSP effects on three busses, and much more besides. The price for such wanton power? Just £38!

WA Production Outlaw

From prolific soundware and plugin developers WA Production, Outlaw is a gainriding effect that aims to keep the incoming audio as close to a user-specified target RMS level as possible. The Gate control sets a threshold below which gain-riding doesn’t occur, the Advanced panel houses filtering and envelope parameters for fine-tuning of the gain-riding response, and ample visual feedback is given by the meters, which show peak and RMS levels and the amount of gain-riding taking place. It’s out now, for $39.

Boom Library ReCenter

We were blown away by Boom Library’s subbass bolstering plugin Enforcer (9/10, 258), so expectations are high for the recently-released follow-up. ReCenter is a stereo positioning tool that dynamically rotates the stereo input signal to a fixed angle without narrowing it, no matter how much the source moves around the field. Up to four frequency bands can be individually processed in multiband mode, mid-side recordings are welcome, and a mono filter is built in for monoising everything below a set frequency. ReCenter is available now, priced $79.

Krotos Audio Igniter

We knew it had to be coming at some point: hot on the heels of Refomer, Dehumanizer and Weaponizer, the latest in Krotos Audio’s range of expressive sound design plugins for movie and game producers enables the creation of “any real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects with ease”. Based on samples of various cars, motorbikes, helicopters and planes, including models by Ferrari, Porsche, Harley Davidson, Westland and Cesna, it comes with 20 “performable” vehicles and provides plenty of adjustables for designing your own. Get it now for £539.

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Computer Music 268 (Sampler)  

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