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Wusik Sound Magazine June 2011


Editorial Wusik Sound Magazine www.wusiksoundmagazine.com Issue June 2011 Managing Editor: MoniKe Assistant Editors: Johnathan Pritchett - aka Trusty A. Arsov Production Manager: MoniKe Articles by: Adrian Frost - aka anzoid www.anzoid.com Ben Paturzo - aka Astrin Dave - aka dmbaer Dave O Mahony - aka mCKENIC www.mckenic.com David Keenum david@wusik.com Ginno 'g.no' Legaspi www.facebook.com/ginnolegaspi ginno@wusik.com Jay - aka LeVzi www.soundcloud.com/levzi James McFadyeny www.devilishpublishing.com/jamesmcfadyen james@devilishpublishing.com Jeffrey Powell jsp_wsm@yahoo.com Johnathan Pritchett - aka Trusty www.myspace.com/crosssoldiers Stickybeats@yahoo.com Rishabh Rajan www.rishabhrajan.com Robert Halvarsson www.suecae.com suecae.sounds@gmail.com Simeon Amburgey - aka soundcreations www.praisetracks.com Warren Burt http://www.tropicapricorn.com/ Proof-Reading by: Adrian Frost Ben Paturzo LeVzi mCKENIC Tomislav Zlatić http://bedroomproducers.wordpress.com/ bedroomproducers@gmail.com

Gratitude Wow! Dear readers, you are now in the tens of thousands and climbing. This is so encouraging to us here at WSM. We thank you so much for.continuing to check out the little online.magazine that could. It is entirely because of your readership and support that we are now the online magazine that not just could, but is. So as long as you are out there reading, all of us will keep on gratefully writing, with each of you in mind. We know that your time is important, and we shall not waste it. But rather, make the most of it by giving you content that hopefully will become a steady and valuable resource as you navigate this crazy realm of software music production. We are growing on the home front as well...with all the pleasures and pains that go with it. In the end, our magazine is becoming better and more diverse. To say nothing of being put out more frequently now because we love to write it probably more than you all enjoy reading it. This magazine is for the community, and this community is as diverse as each of us as individuals. As such, as we grow at WSM, we grow to reflect that diversity in our content. This issue, check that, this packed issue is certainly evidence of that. It is not just that there is something for everyone, but rather there is everything for everyone. This is our aim, and we have you dear readers to thank for it. It is only appropriate for us to do so. WilliamK is a dedicated man who believes in community, and his track record of dedication is well chronicled. He and his wife-boss MoniKe are our shepherds, and our examples. We thank them above all, along with all those wonderful developers out there that succeed for the same reason. That reason : putting the people first. So thank you all. We are here standing with you in gratitude. Trusty

EVE’s Advertising: Henry Gibson Cover, Backcover and some Pictures from: www.dreamstime.com Some of the products reviewed in Wusik Sound Magazine are copies provided free of charge for reviewing purposes.

Trusty

A. Arsov

MoniKe


Table of Contents Table of Contents Interview: 36 Lucy Squire - Catapult 100% Vinyl by LeVzi

Creating Sounds: 04 Additive Synthesis Part 1: Theory and Practice by Ben Paturzo

Tutorial: 68 Geist - Ground Up Tutorial 1 by Trusty

Developers’ Corner: 18 Review: VertexDSP's MultiInspector by Adrian Frost Interview: Peter Lang 22 by Adrian Frost

24 25 28 32 34

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Focus On: 94 Dario Lupo, Charlie Yin and Boris Kovalev by Ben Paturzo

Review: Editors Keys’ Cubase Dedicated Short-cut Keyboard by LeVzi Interview: Mark Brown by LeVzi

Composers Corner: 128 Classification of Intervals by James McFadyeny

Review: Precisionsound’s Maestrovox Ps-Mod. for Kontakt 4 by David Keenum Review: Russian Balalaika by Jeffrey Powell Interview: Lars Westin by David Keenum and Jeffrey Powell

Mini-Review: 132 MeldaProduction Free Audio Effects by Adrian Frost

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Reviews 38 FabFilter Pro-G by Ben Paturzo

44 Progress Audio's Kinisis by Adrian Frost

82 Steinberg's Cubase 6 by LeVzi

88 Voltage Disciple LookUp Table Synth Pack by mCKENIC

AvatarST Pro and UltraSwampPro by Ben Paturzo

120 LinPlug's MorphoX - Part 2 by Adrian Frost

by Jeffrey Powell

54 KarmaFX

116 HG Fortune

90 Acousticsamples’ Elektron

50 BiFilter2 from Tone2 by LeVzi

Soundware Roundup by Ginno Legaspi

Blast from the Past: 154 ConcreteFX's "Unison" & "Micron" by Adrian Frost

48 Alchemy: Expanding... by Trusty

Generative Beats with Logic Pro by Rishabh Rajan

124 QuikQuak by Ben Paturzo

92 Addictive Drums Reel Machines by Trusty

142 Focusrite’s VRM Box by dmbaer

by Ben Paturzo

102 COMPassion and EQuality 144 Process Pack: 64 DiscoDSP's Discovery & Discovery Pro by Adrian Frost

by LeVzi

108 Sugar Bytes’ Guitarist by Trusty

78

Dyscratch by LeVzi

80

Fazioli by Robert Halvarsson

Sound Modification Tools by Warren Burt

148 Little Endian SpectrumWorx by Ben Paturzo

112 Nectar from iZotope by Simeon Amburgey

152 ProgSounds: Audiority Harshness by mCKENIC


Creating

Additive Synthesis

Sounds

by Ben Paturzo

Part 1: Theory and Practice We associate the name Fourier with Fourier series, Fourier transform, and Fourier analysis, but Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (Figure 1) was an actual man who led quite an eventful life over the span of his 62 years (1768-1830). Among other things, Fourier had accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on his Egyptian expedition in 1798, and was made governor of Lower Egypt as well as the secretary of the Institut d'Égypte, formed to carry out research during the Egyptian campaign. Fourier's important contributions to mathematics and physics also earned him a rare honor, as his name is one of 72 French scientists, engineers and other notable people inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

Figure 1

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What is now called a Fourier series whereas Subtractive Synthesis starts was created for the study of heat flow, with a complex wave (square wave for the series Fourier used to solve the example) and removes its component heat equation in a metal plate. The parts. Figure 2 demonstrates the idea of a Fourier series is that a addition of simple sines to create a complex repeating or periodic function square wave, or Additive Synthesis; can be built up from a series of simple oscillating functions, such Figure 2 as sines and cosines. What this means to us in the audio world is that, since sound waves are mechanical waves or oscillations that can be described by mathematical functions, we should be able to recreate a sound using a series of simple sine waves. The number of sine waves we use determines the ultimate fidelity of the recreated sound. This leads us to the notion of Additive Synthesis whereby a known musical instrument, for example a trumpet, is emulated by adding together a specific series of simple sine waves in a specific way. Additive Synthesis can also be used to create musical sounds that have no analogy to any known physical instrument. Additive Synthesis is the creation of complex sounds from simple waves (sines), June 2011


going backwards is Subtractive Synthesis.

produces an "ideal" square wave. However, practically speaking, we can only approximate this square wave in the real world using Additive Synthesis, as there is a only a finite number of sine waves we can generate. The result of using a finite number of sine waves is the Gibbs phenomenon, which creates ringing artifacts in our less-than-perfect square wave.

measured by electronic equipment in the laboratory, we have pitch, which is our human perception of frequency, There is quite a lot more to discuss with the value of pitch being given as and study regarding Fourier's initial a note, such as C. Middle C is the mathematical work and the ensuing pitch or note equivalent of the 200 years of theoretical and practical frequency 261.626 Hz. Complex work in mathematics and physics. musical tones can be said to be made Much of this work has resulted in what up of the fundamental pitch plus a today we refer to as harmonic number of partials. Partials relate to analysis. We know, for example, that harmonics in that they can both be the square wave of Figure 2 can be integer multiples of the root or created using sine waves by adding Fortunately for us, the natural world fundamental harmonic, but partials, in the odd integer multiples of the root doesn't require us to produce square describing tones generated in the frequency or harmonic to that root waves, at least not like those of the physical world, may deviate from this harmonic, as shown in Figure 3. From laboratory, with their instantaneous exact determination. So, for example this equation, the series dictates that transitions between the high and low in perscussive instruments, any to the root harmonic, one adds the levels of their amplitude swing. In fact, number of non-harmonic partials may third harmonic, which means 3 times the argument is often made for be present and yet our ears are the root frequency, the fifth harmonic Additive Synthesis that it produces satisfied with the resulting pitch. Even (5 times the root frequency), the results that more closely match the so-called pitched instruments will seventh harmonic (7 times the root sounds, both musical and otherwise, often contain partials that show frequency), and so on, to infinity. The of our natural world than do other inharmonic behavior, or deviation amplitude of each harmonic is defined methods, such as Subtractive from being an integer multiple (for as 1/3 the value of the root harmonic Synthesis. Leaving the theoretical, example 2.06 times versus 2 times for the third harmonic, 1/5 the scientific world, we'll now take up the the fundamental). amplitude for the fifth harmonic, and terminology of our musical world. so on. Using an infinite series Instead of frequency, which is

Figure 3

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Creating

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Sounds

Next, we need to understand what is often called the Western chromatic scale and 12-tone equal temperament. A musical pitch which is perceived as being twice as high in frequency to a starting pitch is said to be an octave higher in pitch. This interval, an octave, is further divided into 12 semitones, each of which can be visually and audibly recognized as the "next" key on a piano keyboard: B to C, or C to C# (Figure 4). The system of tuning known as 12-tone equal temperament divides an octave into 12 parts, all of which are equal on a

logarithmic scale. It is usually tuned To create a square wave in the relative to a standard pitch of 440 Hz, laboratory, we start (for example) called A 440. Why a logarithmic scale? with a sine wave of 100 Hz and Our ears perceive pitch as roughly the amplitude 1 volt, add to that a 300 Hz logarithm of frequency, so that the sine wave of 1/3 volt amplitude, add perceived pitch interval from each to that a 500 Hz sine wave of 1/5 volt note to its nearest neighbor is the amplitude, add to that a 700 Hz sine same for every note in the system, wave of 1/7 volt amplitude, and hence 12-tone equal temperament. continue adding odd harmonics in this Throughout the world there are other manner until we are satisfied with our methods of tuning, but in Western "square wave." In the real world of countries 12-tone equal temperament ears and psychoacoustic behavior and is the dominant method. humans trying to force the proverbial round peg into the square hole, we The table shown in Figure 5 puts all of have the table in Figure 5. Referring what we've gone over into perspective. to Figure 4 and 5, if we start with

Figure 4

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June 2011


Part 1: Theory and Practice

Middle C at 261.626 Hz (C4), the second harmonic, an octave higher (C5), is 523.251 Hz (pretty much 2 times the frequency); the third harmonic at an interval of a fifth above C5, or 783.991 Hz (G5), is 2.9966 times the root frequency; the fourth harmonic 2 octaves higher (C6) is 1046.50 Hz (pretty much 4 times the root frequency); the fifth harmonic at an interval of a major third above the fourth harmonic C6,

or 1318.51 Hz (E6) is 5.0396 times results. Figure 4 shows part of a the root frequency; the sixth modern piano keyboard with note harmonic at 1567.98 Hz (G6) is position and value versus frequency. 5.9932 times the root frequency; the seventh harmonic at 1864.66 Hz We've seen the Fourier series for a (A#6) is 7.1271 times the root square wave (Figure 3). In Figure 6 frequency, and so on. Since many of we have a more general equation, these harmonics are less or more than with the term φk[n] referring to the the integer multiples of the root starting phase or instantaneous phase frequency, the term partials seems of each harmonic. Each harmonic more appropriate, if we understand wave can be represented by the term to signify some "inharmonic" frequency or time duration, or be

Figure 5

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Creating

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Sounds

Figure 6 described in terms of phase, as 180 degrees (Figure 7) is half of the wave and 360 degrees is the whole wave. So if we sum two waves, each with the same frequency and amplitude, but 180 degrees out-of-phase, the resulting waveform is zero amplitude (Figure 8). In Figure 9 the red sine wave appears to start "before" the blue sine wave, but the correct way to look at this is that the blue sine wave starts out close to its lowest (or most negative) amplitude value as the red sine wave starts at its zero amplitude value. The two waves have a phase difference of approximately 90 degrees, or 1/4 of 360 degrees. Figure 10 shows what happens when we add the root or first harmonic sine

Figure 7

Figure 8

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Figure 10

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Part 1: Theory and Practice

Figure 9 wave to its second harmonic, with zero phase difference but at different amplitude values. The resulting waveform would look and sound different if we varied the starting phase of each sine wave. Figures 11 through 13 shows the creation of a "sawtooth" wave by adding the first harmonic (Figure 11), then the second and third harmonics (Figure 12), and finally the fourth and fifth harmonics (Figure 13).

Figure 11

Figure 12

Figure 13

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Creating

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Sounds

To create a triangle wave we start with the root harmonic (Figure 14), add the third harmonic (Figure 15), add the fifth harmonic (Figure 16), and continue until we are satisfied with the resulting wave. The triangle wave is similar to the square wave in that they both contain only odd harmonics; the reason they appear differently is that the amplitude of the triangle wave's harmonics drop much faster than those of the square wave and the triangle wave's harmonics alternate between positive and negative amplitude values. Figure 17 shows a waveform for a sustained trumpet tone, while Figure 18 shows a waveform for a sustained violin tone. These waveforms will vary depending on the maker of the instrument, which note is played, how the instrument is played, room acoustics and other environmental factors, and so on. Trying to emulate a piano by waveform is pretty much like trying to get to the moon by stacking Lego bricks. A flute tone, however, is a vastly different matter as it approximates a pure tone approaching that of a sine wave. Looking simply at a waveform is misleading therefore, as two waveforms that look quite different may not translate into very different sounds.

Figure 14

Figure 15

So there you have it! In theory, we can emulate any sound using Additive Synthesis. We simply add a certain number of sine waves, harmonically related, at certain amplitudes, and at certain starting phases, and presto, we have, for example, piano-ina-box. The reality is that we're still trying to create authentic piano sounds, 200 years after Jean Baptiste graced the world with his ideas. Real pianos have many partials that rise in amplitude, decay, sustain for a period of time, and falloff in amplitude, all at various rates and levels depending on how the instrument is played (how hard the keys are pressed, how long they are pressed,

Figure 16

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Part 1: Theory and Practice

what key combinations we use, and so on), what the room acoustics are (how bright or reflective, how large, what ceiling configuration, etc.), who made the instrument, the humidity in the room, whether there is amplification involved (what mixer, mikes, other electronics), how the piano was tuned, and so on. This is why the field (or perhaps fields) of Physical Modelling Synthesis came about, since, to paraphrase a certain saying, Whom the gods would destroy they first make use Additive Synthesis. So where does that leave us with Additive Synthesis? This method may be tedious in execution but it is simple to understand and produces sounds that are clean and musical, sounds that may be referred to as natural. That is why Additive Synthesis still has appeal in this age of Digital Signal Processors (DSP) and supercomputers. We will see in coming issues how various companies like Camel Audio and Native Instruments have come to terms with the Additive Synthesis beast, producing some truly wonderful and elegant products. But for now, let's play!

Figure 17

Figure 18

We will use Kasper Nielsen's excellent modular synth KarmaFX (karmafx.net) to create our "simple" Additive Synthesis patches. In this issue we have the accompanying review on this extraordinary instrument; there you will find more complete information on its operation and capabilities. For June 2011

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11


Additive Synthesis Figure 19

instrumentation we will use Robin Schmidt's combined oscilloscope/spectrumanalyzer plugin Signal Analyzer (rs-met.com) and s(M)exoscope waveform visualization plugin from bram.smartelectronix.com. The first is offered as freeware (Robin has a great synth and echo plugin for sale) and the second is donationware. Folks, let's support these people! We set up an empty patch as shown in Figure 19 by right-clicking on an empty area and selecting New Patch/Empty Patch. Next right-click on an empty area and select Add Module/Generator/Osc 1 (Figure 20); do this three times so that we have 3 oscillators. Change the Waveform to Sine and make sure that the Trigger on each oscillator is lit by clicking on the small blue light. Next add 3 Amplifier modules using the same technique as before. Finally, add 3 Notepitch Controller modules. Normally, we would need only one of these controllers, since they determine polyphonic note pitch, but adding three NotePitch modules gives us greater control over transposing, essential for

Figure 20

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Part 1: Theory and Practice

Figure 21

the Additive Synthesis experimenter. Change the Mode on each NotePitch module to Poly 6. We wire up the modules by right-clicking on the title bar of a module and selecting the appropriate input. Amplifier1's input is Generator1, Controller3's input is Amplifier3, and so on, with the Output module receiving all three Controllers. Now we're going to set up a fundamental sine plus the second and third harmonics, all using the 12-tone equal temperament tuning method. Click on the Note button on Controller1 to see that it is set for "Basenote: C-3"; adjust the Octave button on Controller2 until you get "Basenote: C-4 (this is our second harmonic as shown in Figure 5); adjust Controller3's Octave button until you get "Basenote: C-4" and then adjust the Note button until you get "Basenote: G-4" (our third harmonic as shown in Figure 5). The result is the patch in Figure 21. Now, by adjusting the amplitudes and phases of the three sine wave oscillators you can produce different output waveforms. I "hooked up" Signal Analyzer (rs-met.com) in energyXT 2.5.4 (energy-xt.com) so that it receives the output of the KarmaFX synth. Figure 22 shows a single C note being played, with the first harmonic at full amplitude and the second and third harmonics at a fraction of that amplitude; the second and third harmonic are at different phases, with the fundamental at zero phase. The waveform can be shifted

Figure 22

above and below the zero amplitude line (as in Figure 22) by adjusting the phase and amplitude controls. June 2011

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Creating

Additive Synthesis

Sounds

KarmaFX allows us eight modules of each type so I'll max everything out. I'll also add modulation of the amplitude of each harmonic by including ADSR modules. By taking advantage of KarmaFX's module shrink feature (topright button) I can add quite a few modules. So eight of everything: sine oscillators, amplifiers, ADSR modules to modulate the amplifiers, and pitch controllers to set each oscillator's basenote value. Again, referring to Figure 4 and 5: Controller4 is set to "Basenote: C5" (fourth harmonic), Controller5 is set to "Basenote: E5" (fifth harmonic), and Controller6 is set to "Basenote: G5" (sixth harmonic), Controller7 is set to "Basenote: A#5" (seventh harmonic) and Controller8 is set to "Basenote: C6" (eighth harmonic). Figure 23 shows the new 8harmonic patch, along with some initial knob settings for the ADSR modules. Hooking up the s(M)exoscope and playing with the Out slider on each oscillator so that starting with the second harmonic, the amplitudes drop very quickly, I got the sawtoothlooking waveform of Figure 24. Figure 25 shows a single C note being played and the overall amplitude

Figure 23

Figure 24

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Part 1: Theory and Practice

envelope of the note courtesy of the ADSR modules. Turning off the even harmonics and adjusting the amplitudes a bit gets us a pseudosquare wave in Figure 26. Again, using only odd harmonics and adjusting the phase of every other odd harmonic gets us the start of a decent looking triangle wave in Figure 27. What you will find in Additive Synthesis is that each change produces a subtle difference in sound, because you are affecting only one pure tone (sine) at a time. So patience is not just a virtue when experimenting with Additive Synthesis, it is a necessity. The patch of Figure 23 can create quite a range of different sounds, but the changes happen gradually. A change could involve tweaking the Attack time on one of the ADSR's so that a harmonic rises in amplitude more slowly; a slight change in harmonic amplitude or phase could also alter the sound in a subtle way. The point is to listen carefully and be patient. Now, as to the "tedious in execution" part: the patch in Figure 23, our simple 8-oscillator setup, has at least 48 controls we should monitor in our search for the "desired"

Figure 25

Figure 26

Figure 27

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Creating

Additive Synthesis

Sounds

sound. Now imagine the situation with 50 partials/harmonics (300 controls) or even 120 partials/harmonics (720 controls); then you will have a good understanding of why Additive Synthesis is such a challenge. All of the knob twiddling via mouse will give you Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Oh, and don't even think about mapping all of those onscreen knobs to a USB Control Surface, as they don't make 'em with hundreds of knobs and sliders! A software solution? No single software program can handle all of

the choices, so think of an Operating System for Additive Synthesis, an OS just like Windows or OS X, and....please....no jokes. Okay maybe one: you're on stage in the middle of your set and your Additive Synthesizer 7 reboots because it just downloaded and installed a new patch. One more: the police are able to find you because your Additive Synthesizer X has a "user track" feature built into it.

Figure 28

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Now, as to dynamic phase change: in Figure 28 I've deleted four of the eight oscillators to free up four Modulators; changed the oscillators to Additive, the Waveform to Sine, the Monics (harmonics) to 1; used the freed up modulators as LFO's so they can modulate the phase of the four sine wave generators. The effect of the LFO's ranges from subtle to extreme, since as the LFO rate is changed from under a Hertz to 100 Hertz, tremolo and vibrato are both covered, and then some. It is hard to


Part 1: Theory and Practice

capture in a single picture the effect, as each sine wave shifts in phase very slowly (under a Hz) to very rapidly (100 Hz). Now that the Additive oscillator has been introduced, we might as well go all in. In Figure 29, I've dialed the Monics for 30 harmonics, selected Ramp for the top waveform, followed by Distorted, Triangle, and a waveform I created by "drawing in" the harmonics in the large blue window. The Phase modulation is gone, but then again, this isn't a simple Additive Synthesis patch, as

each "harmonic" is a complex waveform with its own set of harmonics. Instead, try modulating each Additive oscillator's Out slider with an LFO which sounds much like the earlier phase shifting using simple sine waves . Figure 29 does show, however, some of the capabilities of KarmaFX to do Additive Synthesis with just one oscillator.

followed by an elegant solution in KarmaFX's Additive Generator. If you're a little disappointed that we could only manage an 8-oscillator patch, keep in mind that's per instance of KarmaFX. If you have the CPU for it, just imagine the possibilites! What we'll be covering in future articles is the many ways developers have found to make use of Additive Synthesis methods, without So there you have it: an introduction the headaches of a brute-force to Additive Synthesis, with some brute method. See you soon! force methods to achieve it yourself,

Figure 29

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by Adrian Frost

A quick browse through any of the online lists of VSTs will show that there are dozens of different kinds of analysers available - both for free and for a price. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours and, almost universally, your mix is presented to you on a graph that shows you the signal level at every frequency between 20 and 20,000 Hz. From the graph you can get something of an idea of which frequencies, if any, are causing a problem in your mix. However, unless you are prepared to put an instance of the analyser on each track in your DAW and then open a whole bunch of windows, it is hard to see how the different elements of your mix are interacting and overlapping. Enter MultiInspector by VertexDSP. (www.vertexdsp.com) So, do we really need a review of another analyser? In this instance the answer is a resounding "Yes!" Simply, MultiInspector allows you to see the frequency spectrum of all the different elements of your mix in one window at one time. First you need to add an instance of MultiInspector to each track that you want to analyse. Having done that you can open the first instance (or any instance, in fact) of MultiInspector and see the analysis 18

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from all the other instances. They will just appear before your eyes. How the different instances communicate is a question that I put to Peter Lang, developer of MultiInspector. You'll find his answer in the interview that follows this article.

pretty much self explanatory. One useful feature to note, that might get missed, is that you can zoom in on specific portions of the analysis using the plus, minus, and double headed arrows that appear below and to the right of the main window. This is great because you can focus right into a Each track is automatically assigned very narrow frequency range using its own colour, which you can change, the controls below the window, or get so it's child's play to see whether your a good look at levels using the bass line is stomping all over your controls to the right hand side of the kick drum or whether your vocalist is window. It is also worth mentioning being drowned out by a certain synth that if you click and hold the mouse part. OK, that's the basics; let's take a button with the cursor inside the look at MultiInspector in a bit more graph window, information on detail. frequency and level at that point appears just over the top right hand The first two images show the whole side of the window - very useful. of the interface, but after that, they show just the spectrum analysis itself. Below the main analysis window you I set up five instances of can find all the settings for how you MultiInspector on a tune that I'm want the analysis waveforms to working on at the moment. When you appear. The first two images show add a new track, it is always worth everything at full resolution with the setting its label on the "Names" tab on first image also showing the effect of the right hand edge of graph window. using Alpha Blending. Below those If you don't do this, you'll eventually settings are the controls for each get yourself into a right mess track that you are analysing. You can particularly if you decide to analyse 16 mute or solo a track and also tracks in one go, which MultiInspector memorize different graphs. For that, allows. you have up to 8 memory 'slots' per track at your disposal. To take a Next to the 'Names" tab is the snapshot of a graph and memorize it "Controls" tab. From here you can set you need only right-click on one of the how MultiInspector responds to the track's memory buttons - labelled M1 incoming signal. The options are to M8. This memorize function means

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that you can follow the evolution of a track which can help you in keeping levels constant. Apart from the memorize function you can also 'pause' the whole graph window at any moment and then zoom in on the parts of the graph that are of particular interest. We'll take a look through the rest of the images now. This third image shows a lower resolution version of the analysis waveform. Everything is still very clear, but you do lose some detail. Lowering the resolution can be helpful for getting the 'big picture' of your mix as, inevitably, there is slightly less motion to the graph. As well as a Fourier Fast Transform (FFT) window there is also a "1/3 OCT" view which gives a 31 band third octave analysis. This looks more like a classic graphical EQ, but again, it can give you the 'big picture' of your mix. The only difficulty with this view is that it can get very crowded very quickly. It seems to be at its most usable with only 3 or 4 tracks being displayed at a time. Since you can mute any track, you can choose the your mix. Finally, V-Space stacks the honest, it is unlikely you're going to best ones to view at any particular waveforms up one above the other. need to contact him except to say This shrinks the height of the "Thank you!" moment. waveforms, but allows you to see In the top right hand corner there is a each individual waveform more clearly MultiInspector comes as a 32 bit or 64 without having to either mute or solo bit VST for Windows or VST and Audio button for choosing how you want to Unit for Mac and costs only 89 Euros display the waveforms in relation to your tracks. each other, this affects both the 1/3 (about $115 US) without any OCT and the FFT view. The default is MultiInspector packs a lot into a small applicable taxes. Once you've bought horizontal overlay, meaning that all of space; it's a great "one stop shop" for the plug-in you receive a license key to enter, there is no other form of the waveforms are shown on top of all of your analysis needs. VertexDSP DRM. VertexDSP offer a free version each other. You then have V-Align and provides a comprehensive manual for of MultiInspector at their site. It is V-Space. Using V-Align all of the the plug-in, and it is worth taking the waveforms are aligned vertically time to look through it. Peter, limited to 4 instances and you only MultiInspector's developer, is also have access to 31 band 1/3 OCT view. without space between them. From Once you try the free version it won't this view you can get a good idea of very helpful with any other questions the overall frequency distribution of that might arise, although, to be

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There are any number of areas in which MultiInspector could be of help, but I'll just mention two. If your bass line is sucking up too much 'level' It has to be said that once you get into the world of plug-ins that are a overhead compared to the sound it's little too expensive to be called "nocontributing, you can see that immediately, along with how it's brainers", you have to think longer interacting with other elements of and harder before splashing out. So, is MultiInspector worth it? For me, it's your piece of music - bass drum or low pads. Then, as you go higher up an unequivocal "Yes"! Being able to the frequencies, it is helpful to be able watch my whole mix in real-time, zoom in on different parts and view to see where synths, pads and, maybe, percussion are sitting in relation to things in different ways is wonderful. Yes, your ears are vital for mixing, but each other - all without having to being able to see what's happening is juggles multiple windows. With a good EQ you can then carve out the space also very useful, particularly if your for vocals and lead, all the while ears are feeling too tired as you near the end of a marathon mixing session. watching how any EQ setting affects be long before you'll be wanting the full version!

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the mix. MultiInspector is incredibly light on system resources. Multiple instances seem to add hardly anything to your computer's load. Overall, MultiInspector is a very useful plug-in for any musician's tool-box. It is a helping hand towards a high quality mix.

VertexDSP also offer two other plugins: "FaderWorks" which is 'an audio plug-in for multi-instance gain and latency adjustment', and "vxPlug" with which you can 'control plug-ins (effects and synths) in a multitrack setup from just one plug-in editor window'. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ www.WusikSoundMagazine.com

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WSM: On your website you say VertexDSP. Besides my studies I that you worked at the Fraunhofer played in different bands and Institute in Erlangen on DSP produced my own music. projects. Could you tell us a little To record my own music, I started more about that work and how (back in 1994) to program my own that led you to create VertexDSP? DAW (a basic multi track recorder). I was a proud owner of a Turtle Beach Peter: Sure. At Fraunhofer Institute I Multisound, at that time the only worked in the field of visual quality sound card that could really deliver assurance with cameras, light sources CD quality. Coding parts of it in and 3D sensors. So it was digital assembler, I remember literally signal processing in up to 3 counting clock cycles of the machine dimensions (image processing and instructions to achieve real time audio evaluation of 3D data sets). At my (remember, that was the time of the department we were a unique mixture 486 CPU). of computer scientists, engineers and Unfortunately, finishing my studies did physicists. We all very much enjoyed not give me enough time to work a significant scientific freedom and more on my own DAW. Nowadays were very much self-dependent in our DAWs are equipped with tons of work. features. Plug-ins are a way to focus (Most people know the Fraunhofer on signal processing - you don't need Institute in Erlangen because MP3 was to deal with all the administrative invented there. But this was another tasks of a DAW. department.) With VertexDSP I switched from the WSM: You also mention a doctoral visual into the audio field. But as you degree, was this focused on see with MultiInspector, I now digital sound processing? visualize audio signals. With VertexDSP I combine digital audio Peter: I wrote my doctoral thesis at processing, music producing and for the Fraunhofer Institute. My work was me the freedom in work decisions. focused on image processing. The good thing about image analysis is WSM: How did your degree in that every step can be visualized and Electrical Engineering contribute is intuitively understandable. to your work? (I ask this because I also studied Electrical WSM: MultiInspector is a great engineering, ended up working in tool for watching your mix. How computing. I recently read an do you react to those who would article about hardware synths say that you should use your ears where the author had included rather than your eyes when some circuit diagrams and I mixing? thought to myself - ah, so that's what my degree was all about :D) Peter: MultiInspector is an assisting tool. It’s perfect for long studio Peter: What I really liked most sessions. Because it gives you already at the University was signal valuable and accurate feedback and processing. And that laid the doesn’t get tired. ;-) MultiInspector is foundation of today’s products of also very useful for explaining mix 22

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decisions to your clients. It’s not meant to replace your ears. WSM: I've only come across one or two other plug-ins that do something similar to MultiInspector but yours seems to be the most comprehensive, in fact, it is packed with features. How did you decide which features and options to offer in MultiInspector? Peter: Important for me was the ease of use and the intuitive work flow. Just put it on the tracks and you already can see the analysis results. No configuration necessary. WSM: A question I've been longing to ask though I'm not sure I'll be allowed to know the answer: How does one instance of MultiInspector communicate with the others in order to have all of the frequency curves appear in one window? Peter: The instances of MultiInspector communicate via shared memory (a feature of the operating system) and via an own protocol. That's the secret. :-) WSM: Do you have any favourite features in MultiInspector, either ones that you enjoyed coding and/or ones that you enjoy using? Peter: Both coding and using: V-Align to get an instant overview of the overall frequency distribution and Solo/Mute for quickly selecting/disabling individual tracks. WSM: How has MultiInspector changed the way you create your own music?


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Peter: You get a better feeling for sound levels. A while ago I did a mix for some musician friends. In the tracks I received, the bass guitar had a great fundament, but was not present in the mix. With MultiInspector, you could clearly see that rhythm guitar and bass guitar were strongly overlapping. With a few EQ and gain adjustments, the mix was a lot better. WSM: You have also developed two other plugins "FaderWorks" and "vxPlug". Were these plug-ins originally developed for your own use or did you see a need and try to fill it... or both?

developing for two platforms significantly increase the amount of work you have to do?

On the "About" page on his website Peter says that the "VertexDSP office is situated in an old carpenter’s village house in Germany, Bavaria, surrounded by meadows with cats strolling around. What sounds like the middle of nowhere is just a few minutes away from Europe's biggest music store."

Peter: Although I prefer the development environment on Windows, I work most of the time on my Mac. It's the fastest computer in the office at the moment and I'm doing some iOS stuff, too (not necessarily audio apps). Peter very kindly sent a photo so that The audio processing code is the same you can get a feel for the environment for both platforms, but everything in which he works. I'm now thinking related to the user interface has to be of moving house, and you guys and coded separately. I wrote my own gals can work out the name of the library to abstract all common tasks music store on your own! WSM: Of the three plug-ins, do you like mouse input, knobs, sliders, text have a favourite? (Don't worry, input etc. On the Mac side, WSM: And a bonus question... can we'll not tell the other two :D) specifications change more often than you give us a hint of what is for Windows. Therefore, adaptions to coming next from VertexDSP? Peter: Sure, it is MultiInspector - a the code are needed more often than visually rewarding programming I'd like to. (From this viewpoint, Mac Peter: I'm working on a plug-in experience. And it is really easy to versions should cost more than the bundle: 3 effect plug-ins to “enhance” use: Just drop instances on your Windows versions. :-).) your tracks/mix in different ways. And tracks and MultiInspector already 64 bit versions for Mac OS. displays the results. WSM: Final question! What music is currently on your play list? A huge thank you to Peter for WSM: You offer PC and Mac providing a copy of MultiInspector versions of your plug-ins. Do you Peter: An oldie but goodie: Yes for review and taking the time to code in Windows or on a Mac? And Going for the One. answer all of my questions. an associated question... does Peter: Well, both. The idea behind FaderWorks is a "one knob does it all" philosophy. I wanted to group tracks for quick comparison without changing the DAW's track setup. vxPlug also adheres to this philosophy. It is a plug-in for hosting plug-ins, chaining, routing behind your DAW and controlling parameters from a single user interface.

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Cubase Dedicated Short-cut Keyboard by LeVzi

Every craftsman has their tools, and musicians are just the same, whether it be a set of plug-ins, a DAW or a MIDI controller. Well now there is something else that has become invaluable in my set-up and that is the short-cut keyboard from Editors Keys.

detected as a generic keyboard by your system, so there is no need for third party drivers. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just a keyboard for Cubase, or whatever DAW you would purchase one for. It's a keyboard as standard,

which brought up my mixer panel, or the VST rack, but others like forward and backward through events, I didn't know. One of the best sections, for me at least, is the keypad section which is where you can cycle through your track quickly, and find sections you are working on etc, instead of having to drag through the project with the mouse. The reality of using this keyboard is that you will find it slightly alien to start if you are not used to using all the short-cuts. Eventually you'll be using them without thinking, but still referencing the keys to see your way, but after a while you'll find you are using the short-cuts without thinking. I use short-cuts a lot more than I used to, and my work flow speeds have increased dramatically.

Most, if not all DAWs have keyboard short-cuts that greatly increase the speed you work at. It saves so much time using a simple key press rather than going through menus with the mouse. Everything is right there in front of you, all the short-cuts laid out on a very well built keyboard.

QWERTY layout, with a keypad on the right hand side. The keys are really nice under the fingers, doesn't take too much pressure to get a key response, so as a standard keyboard for everyday use, it is great. There are also the LED's for the various key locking options.

It arrived well packed, so no need to worry about transit. It connects to your computer via a USB cable which is more than long enough to accommodate systems that are a little bit away from your working area. It is

Check out their website at: The keys themselves are quite large, http://www.editorskeys.com/ which again is a good thing as the information for Cubase's many short- The Cubase keyboard is priced at ÂŁ69.99 and is compatible with cuts is printed on top. I knew Cubase Windows and Mac systems. had plenty of short-cuts but I was unaware of so many. I knew a couple, ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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In summary, the keyboard has made a huge difference to me, and I am sure it will make a similar positive difference to yours. As a producer myself, I highly recommend this keyboard.


Mark Brow n

Interview with Editors Keys Company Director

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WSM: First of all, I'd like to thank you Mark for taking time out to answer this Q&A for Wusik Sound Magazine, I know our readers will appreciate it. Firstly, could you tell us a little about how Editors Keys came to be? Mark: Thanks, it's great to meet you. Editors Keys started at the end of 2005 when I was really into my video editing. I was setting up my first company and had saved really hard to buy a decent PC powerful enough to edit video, a couple of monitors and of course the camera. I really wanted to finish my home studio set up with an editing keyboard, but at the time the only ones available were huge and cost over £200. Considering I'd just spent nearly a £1000 on a new computer I felt spending that much on an editing keyboard would be silly. I started to look into the prospect of making a higher quality type of editing keyboard at a lower cost, so it could be available to everyone from students to high end film makers…. Editors Keys was born and our first product was a small series of plastic sticker sets which modified your own keyboard into an editing keyboard, saving the average user around £180!

WSM: Are you a musician yourself? there were keyboards dedicated to this task I was over the moon, Mark: Well, I don't play any was the idea of having something instruments but I used to love like this born from your own computer recording, and as I was experiences with the software growing up this was a new they are designed for? development which was quite inaccessible before around 2004 due Mark: Yes I always thought editing to the type of computer you would should be easy and more assessable. need and the cost of software. I mean, when you use programs like However things like GarageBand have Microsoft word, you have all the made it so easy for anyone to get into letters in front of you. When in a recording, which I think is great. program like Pro Tools or Cubase you no longer need to type letters, so it I used to work with bands and singers makes sense to turn each one of in college and try to produce singles those keys into an interactive shortfor people to put out. It was great fun cut tool. It really speeds up your and exciting at the time to have your editing and also helps your studio look own CD! much more serious and professional. In fact most of the comments we get Since then with the birth of Editors are from people saying how the Keys, we've been able to create a keyboard makes their own area look more professional which also gives great community and that's something I love about Editors Keys, producers more of a psychological it's getting to be more of a global power than they had before too (in family of musicians and video editors, addition to faster editing). rather than a cold corporate style company. WSM: As I have found during my review of the Cubase dedicated WSM: I have to be honest, it never keyboard, my workflow speed and once occurred to me to try and accuracy is increasing, primarily map out my keyboard short-cuts due to the fact I am not only able somehow or just try and to see what I need, I remember it remember them, so when I saw better as well, and always have June 2011

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the reference in front of me. Is get requests on how people could that part of the main feedback you record better vocals. There was really get? a lack of highly quality USB microphones, so we worked with over Mark: Yes a lot of customers are 100 musicians to create one of the often surprised at how it speeds up best USB microphones on the market their workflow. We provide keyboards today (and priced much better than to some of the world's best producers most too!). and trainers and even though they know a lot of the short-cuts off by We're finding the home recording hand, they say it just makes market is really growing rapidly. A few everything quicker again. You just years ago bands HAD to go into the don't need to think about it, they're all studio to get a great sounding demo, there colour coded in front of you, now you can get the same results at leaving you more time to focus on the home without spending a penny on edit. studio time. I think it's great for people's creativity. We often get customer letters sent in, thanking us for the product and it's I'm loving the fact that YouTube is really great to hear feedback from helping musicians get their music out musicians. I also urge people to send there. We had a customer who in songs they're recording using the brought a Vocal Booth Bundle on gear as we love playing them in the Monday, recorded a song Wednesday office! and by Friday had 210,000 viewers on YouTube! I still find that amazing! WSM: Editors Keys isn't solely about short-cut keyboards, you WSM: I notice you are in the have other products for recording process of organising training equipment. With home producing courses. What kind of training will constantly growing, do you find be on offer? that home recording is becoming more and more popular? Mark: We're currently working with training providers and individual Mark: Yes we started creating trainers to build a great selection of recording equipment about 2-3 years courses. Right from beginner level on ago. We had over 35,000 musicians how to set up your computer, to on our contact list and we would often producing music for films. It's still a

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work in progress and we'd love to hear from your readers if they're looking for training. Our courses will not just train the production side, but also how to build contacts and confidence in the market place‌ let's face it all musicians are in competition with each other. We really want courses which will develop a great future for the client. We're aiming to put together bespoke courses, so for example if you wanted to create music for a horror film, we'll show you all the expert ways to achieve great results! WSM: I am stunned how much difference the keyboard has made to the speed and efficiency that I work. I can honestly say that the Editors Keys keyboard for Cubase, has made a massive difference for the good on my work. Thank you very much once again Mark.


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Maestrovox

Making the Old New Precisionsound’s

Maestrovox Ps-Mod. for Kontakt 4 by David Keenum

For Precisionsound’s latest release they decided to focus on an electronic instrument that is almost 60 years old. Then they decided to update the instrument to a 2011 feature set, but made the programming simple and straightforward. Cool beans! So why don’t we take a look at it?

functioned in much the same way as an organ. But they could also be considered an early version of the synthesizer. They had a keyboard, tube tone generators, and, usually, a speaker cabinet.

Maestrovox was an early 1950’s version of these keyboards. It is similar to, and The History sometimes confused with, the Clavioline. The Maestrovox had a 3-octave keyboard When we talk vintage synthesizers, we are with a few buttons, knobs, and switches on usually talking about synths manufactured in its front and was designed to be attached the 1970’s or 80’s. Maybe we will go back to under a piano’s keyboard. If you want more the early modular synths of the 1960’s. But information on the Maestrovox, there is an have you heard about the 1928 Ondes informative website Martenot, the 1939 Hammond Novachord, (www.debbiecurtis.co.uk/id99.html) by the the 1940 Solovox, or the 1947 Clavioline? granddaughter of the designer/builder, Victor Harold Ward. Precisionsound was able Did you know that synthesizers went back to cobble together a working unit (See the that far? I didn’t until Hollowsound and side bar story about how all this happened), Soniccouture released their individual versions of the Novachord. These and they sampled the result. So now we have the new and improved 2011 instruments weren’t called synthesizers. Maestrovox Ps-Mod.! They were referred to as “organs,” and they

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The Product Kontakt 4 has provided programmers and developers with a host of possibilities when it comes to instrument and sample library development. You can now “create” an instrument within Kontakt, and that’s what Precisionsound has done with Maestrovox Ps-Mod. When you load the instrument, you see a GUI recreation of an instrument’s faceplate. This is, of course, not unusual with virtual instruments, but it’s new to Kontakt. There are four pages that are available from tabs at the bottom of the GUI. The pages are, in order: Arpeggiator, Registers, Filters+FX, and Credits. The Arpeggiator page consists of a “Global” knob (on/off switch), 3 Timing knobs, 3 Pitch knobs, and a Rhythm knob to select the number of Arpeggiator steps. The Arpeggiator page is easy to operate and program. The Registers page would be considered the main page for operating the instrument. Maestrovox Ps-Mod. has seven Registers. The term “Register” is used in organs, which is in keeping with Maestrovox’s intended use as an organ/orchestral instrument emulator. It is a simple form of additive synthesis. You add Registers to create a more complex sound, a lot like how it works with a Hammond B3’s drawbars. For Maestrovox Ps-Mod., each Register has adjustments for on/off, Octave, Fine Tune, Level, Pan, and a Reset button. If all this seems simple, it’s because it is simple. And simple is good!

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Maestrovox Ps-Mod. for Kontakt 4 Maestrovox Ps-Mod. Creator and Distributor: Precisionsound http://www.store.precisionsound .net/index.php Product Web-Site: http://www.store.precisionsound .net/maestrovoxinfo.php Owner’s Manual: http://www.store.precisionsound .net/proddetails/Maestrovox%20 Ps-Mod%20Manual.pdf Price: $19.00

The Opinion

The Filters + FX page contains adjustments for Filter 1, Fuzz, Cabinet, Filter 2, Delay, and Chorus. Again, all of the knobs and switches are simple and straightforward. In addition to the four pages, there are six global controls. They are Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, a Velocity to Volume knob, and a LFO knob that controls the rate of the tempo-synced vibrato. These global controls are available no matter what page is showing. There are 36 presets included, and while they are inspiring, they are intended as “starter” presets. There 30

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“Easy” may be the word I have used, but I think “straightforward” would be a better overall description. All the controls are accessible from the GUI, and adjustments can be made without going into Kontakt sub-menus. My compliments go to Precisionsound for their programming decisions in the area of user controls. It makes for an enjoyable experience… I could even say “easy”!

is even an included folder for user presets to encourage you in your endeavor. This isn’t really a preset instrument in the sense that the GUI As far as the sound of the instrument invites you to turn a knob, press a goes, I think it is safe to continue with button, or move a slider (virtually the simplicity theme, at least when speaking). So creating a new preset discussing the sound of the raw is really easy. Simply turning on and Registers. They have a sound that to off a Register will alter the timbre, me is a cross between an organ and and, of course, the ADSR is right on an analog synth. The analog “flavor” the GUI, accessible from the GUI at all is distinct. They sound similar to the times. I couldn’t resist playing with raw output from a synth. the controls. Easy. Come to think of it, I’ve used the “easy” word a lot in But when you begin to layer Registers the past few paragraphs. Could there and adjust the ADSR, effects be a theme developing? Maybe…. (especially the Filters), and the other June 2011


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Details (from the webpage):

The Interview – part duex

We asked Lars Westin about the story behind the Maestrovox Ps-Mod. release, and here is his reply:

Over 400 24bit mono samples in a monolith file, losslessly compressed down to a file size of 190MB • 36 presets • Effects include filters, ADSR envelope, Arpeggiator, Distortion, Cabinet simulator and more. • The GUI interface includes pages for an Arpeggiator, Registers (Pan, Level, Fine Tune, Octave), and Filters + FX (Filter 1, Fuzz, Cabinet, Filter 2, Delay, and Chorus). • Maestrovox Ps-Mod. is compatible with the full retail version of Kontakt 4. This library does NOT work with the free Kontakt Player. Sample Resolution: 24-bit/44.1 kHz resolution Formats: Native Instruments Kontakt 4 Test Computer: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 2.0GHz, 4GB RAM, Windows XP Pro SP 3, Echo MiaMIDI Audio Card.

The Maestrovox is like a Clavioline but with fewer registers. I like the idea of analog modifications, so for this library I thought like a traditional “instrument maker.” What could I add to the Maestrovox to make it more useful? I added polyphony, ADSR, the possibility to detune and mix all registers together, filters, distortion and a cabinet simulator. And, of course, I added an arpeggiator, a chorus, and a delay.

I do have one caveat that concerns processor load. Many of the involved presets that include several Registers and the Arpeggiator bring my ancient AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 2.0GHz computer “to its knees.” This has to do with my single processor computer reaching the end of its usefulness, and Kontakt 4 growing into the beast it is! I’m only bringing it up because there may be others out there that still have single core “dinosaurs.” I have found ways to work around the issues and still use the sounds, so I can put off upgrading for one more month!

I wanted it to be an instrument instead of just a sample library. It should be fun to tweak and only have the controls that make sense to the user. The Maestrovox Ps-Mod. is not a synth that can do everything for everyone, but it has its own unique character. It is suitable for ambient atmospheres, old analog bleeps, and bubbling pads when using the Arpeggiator. It is also very nice for lead sounds.

Maestrovox Ps-Mod. excels at Pads, Leads, and synthy-type sounds. The organ sounds are more pad-like. I believe that is because of the analog nature of the sound. Because of the single ADSR, Maestrovox Ps-Mod. would not be my first choice for long evolving pads. I don’t consider this a criticism, just an observation. Because what it does do, it does quite well. The sounds have character -analog character. And the Arpeggiator is useful in bringing animation to the pads. All in all, how can you go wrong for $19? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

parameters, you begin to hear the instrument come to life! Let me give you an example from the first preset available, Arp Ambient Pad 1. This preset uses five Registers, adjusting the Pan, Level, Fine Tuning, and Octave for each Register. The Arpeggiator is also engaged to give the sound a “shimmer.” The Filters give the preset a lot of its character – both are engaged. Then there is Delay and Chorus. The result is a complex-sounding pad that has depth (from the Delay) and spread (from the different Registers, the Panning, and the Chorus). And it has a distinctly analog sound.

I found the Maestrovox keyboards on EBay some years ago. One of the units was beyond repair but had some intact buttons and other stuff that could be used for the notso-broken unit.

The core sound of the Maestrovox is sampled in detail so it sounds exactly like the real thing in its whole note register with no stretched samples. And the notes are sampled with long loops so the notes evolve like the real oscillators in the unit. The GUI is “Maestrovox-like” and designed to look like the rusty original unit, but with more knobs and buttons. If you use just one register at a time and turn the filters and FX off, you get the original sound of the Maestrovox.

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Precisionsound’s

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by Jeffrey Powell Elsewhere in this issue you got an introduction to Precisionsound - a company that has sampled a wide variety of unique instruments. In this review I’m going to take a look at their Russian Balalaika, which is one of the few commercially available balalaika libraries out there. For at least some folks, this comment leads to one very important question…

samples in a variety of formats: Kontakt 2, Kontakt 3 & 4, HALion, EXS24, and SoundFont. Downloading the files was not a problem as I had excellent download speeds. The process to get everything unlocked and unzipped is a bit convoluted, but if you follow the instructions they send, you’ll find there are no surprises. Note that unzipped the library is around 360 MB.

What is a balalaika? A Russian balalaika is a three-stringed guitar-like instrument with a triangular-shaped body. There are several different kinds of balalaikas: the prima, sekunda, alto, bass, and contrabass balalaika. Precisionsound sampled a prima balalaika (the most commonly used type), which has two E strings that are both tuned to the same pitch and an A string. You can see a picture of three balalaikas on the product logo on this page. I was not overly familiar with these instruments when I started playing with the library, but I found that the demos on www.precisionsound.net and some YouTube videos quickly got me up to speed on the sound and playing style of this instrument.

I primarily worked with the Kontakt 3 & 4 version of the library, as it includes the most functionality along with a very impressive interface (shown in the picture). You can find out about the functionality of the other versions by checking out the product page ( ). Note that you’ll need the full version of Kontakt to load the Kontakt versions as the Kontakt Player will only open them in demo mode.

Getting Started Like many of their libraries, Precisionsound provides these

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What’s included? The Kontakt 3 & 4 version contains two instruments: Balalaika Solo and Balalaika Group. The Solo instrument contains the sound of one single balalaika, while the Group instrument provides a mix of three different notes that give the sound of three players playing in unison. In addition to both of them having a beautiful one page GUI, the interfaces for these two instruments have a similar look and functionality. Both provide a knob to control the mix between the A and E strings. Both have a Tone knob that you can use, as they put it, to “cut/boost the ‘body’ frequency register of the Balalaika.” Finally, you’ll find a reverb type selector (small, medium, large, or off), a reverb level, and a knob to control the speed of the tremolo articulation.


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How does it sound? So, needless to say, a great deal of care went into the creation of this library, but what really matters is the sound. The good news for us

musicians is that the sound is fantastic. The samples sound clean and clear, and I heard a great consistency among the samples in my time playing the instruments. The different articulations worked well together so that with a little practice I was able to put together some very realistic-sounding balalaika music with this library. That, to me, is the ultimate sign of a great sample library.

strings sounds with this library, which is another bonus. I try to always give some shortcomings or areas for improvement when I work with a product. Honestly, there’s not much here that I can see to improve this library. Two small items did come to mind. There is no documentation on the sound effects that are included (fret noises, hits, etc.). I would like to have a list of what sound effects are on which keys so that I could use them more effectively. Also, with a It is very helpful that you have both a library like this one with many Solo and Group instrument available articulations, I’d like to see a demo in this package. That way, if you want MIDI file included to provide an some balalaika accompaniment, you example of using the articulations to can just load up the Group instrument, make a realistic sounding balalaika and you’re ready to get started. It performance. However, these are both was definitely a wise decision to very minor points. As I mentioned include both. earlier, with a library of this quality, The sound you get from the library is there’s not much to complain about. a mandolin-type sound that’s suitable for a number of genres. It would Conclusion work especially well to add some realistic folk flavor to your tracks. The Precisionsound’s Russian Balalaika is a ability to control the mix between the well-recorded, well-executed sample A and E strings means that you can library that really delivers a great get a decent range of flavors of sound. It’s a top-notch library that can give your tracks a distinctive flavor. The Kontakt scripting makes it very playable, and the interfaces look great and very clear. I recommend that you take a listen to the demo tracks on their site. If you like what you hear, I believe you’ll be very pleased with this library. The Russian Balalaika library can be purchased from www.precisionsound.net for $69. Be sure to check out the other libraries while you’re there! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One point of difference between the two instruments is the different set of articulations, and for both instruments, there are a bunch of articulations! The Solo instrument has the following ones: up, down, round robin (up/down), thumb, flam, mute, tremolo, unison, and two different sets of recorded effects (string noises, hits, etc.). The Group instrument has articulations that let you select between the two playing groups, round robin between the two groups, and tremolo. You’ll also find a stereo spread knob on the Group instrument that modifies the delay and fine tuning among the groups to allow you to spread out the sound. Note that all of the articulations are selectable via the Kontakt interface or via your midi controller using keyswitches. You’ll also find a number of fret noises for both instruments.

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Lars Westin

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by David Keenum and Jeffrey Powell

Precisionsound is a company that is new to Wusik Sound Magazine, but is certainly not new to the world of sampling. You’ll find on their site (www.precisionsound.net) that they have an extraordinarily diverse collection of sampled instruments from around the world available in a variety of formats (Kontakt, .sf2, EXS24, etc.).

music in the eighties. The first band I WSM: Can you tell us about your had was a typical synthpop group. We team? had a KAWAI R-50 drum machine and an Ensoniq ESQ1 workstation. I made Lars Westin: The main team running a lot of songs back then when the the company is Andreas Rickstrand, possibilities were less. Jojje Issakidis, and myself. Other collaborators like Daniel Näsström, WSM: What led you to decide to Tito Rinesi (Italy), and Iain Morland create commercial sample (UK) are involved in projects from libraries? time to time. We are always looking for collaborators, particularly people To learn a bit more about the origin Lars Westin: After working with that have access to and/or can play and philosophy of Precisionsound, we Virtual Guitarist, I got a job as content different and unique instruments. took a few moments to talk with Lars manager for Primesounds (which later Westin, one of the founders of became Mi7 and is now out of WSM: Where do you get the ideas Precisionsound. business). I had a lot of ideas about for your libraries? sample libraries and distribution. WSM: Why don't you tell us a little Primesound went out of business, and Lars Westin: We get the ideas by I decided to start Precisionsound monitoring the market from a about yourself? together with Andreas Rickstrand, musician's standpoint, by listening to Lars Westin: I have worked with who also had a lot of ideas and customers, and by discussing with our sample editing and sound design since opinions about sample libraries. collaborators. I think it’s dangerous to 2000. My first project was Virtual only have a commercial view on Guitarist for Steinberg. After that, I WSM: What do you think sets what’s worth the effort. If that would was involved in sound design and Precisionsound apart from other have been our focus, we probably editing on the Virtual Guitars Electric sample developers? never would have released many of Edition and Groove Agent 1-3. I also our best selling libraries. did the editing on Broomstick Bass Lars Westin: We try to find from Bornemark Software. interesting instruments and ways to WSM: Which of the sample library sample what’s missing or not well that you have released was the WSM: How did you get started in represented in the market. We also most difficult to sample, and what music? try to be close to our customers, so as made it difficult? a customer you have direct contact with the developers. This may set us Lars Westin: The recording process Lars Westin: Music has always been apart, at least from the bigger can be difficult with some libraries, a hobby for me. I started making companies. and the editing can be difficult with 34

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developer’s +++++++++++++++++++++++

++++++++++++++++

corner

others. When we recorded the Knutby Church Organ, we knew it would be a big task to remove the huge fan noise of the organ. So, it was the cleaning of the samples that was the challenge in that case. WSM: If you were granted one wish that allowed you free access to sample any one instrument in the world, which instrument would you pick and why? Is there any instrument that you say, "I'd love to sample that one day!" Lars Westin: There are a lot of instruments I would like to sample, but I can’t say there's one particular

one. We would love to sample anything that's unusual and useful. WSM: What sort of products can we expect to see released in the near future from Precisionsound? Lars Westin: We are searching for interesting instruments (both acoustic and electronic) to sample all the time. We have some very nice stringed instruments coming up for release like the Ukrainian Bandura and the 36 stringed Finnish Concert Kantele.

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WSM: Thanks Lars for the interview. We look forward to more great instruments from Precisionsound coming soon!

Readers, be sure to check out the reviews of two of the products from Precisionsound in this issue and be sure to check their site at www.precisionsound.net.

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Lucy Squire

Lucy Squire from

Catapult 100% Vinyl by LeVzi

Catapult 100% Vinyl record store is a WSM: Hi Lucy, thank you very of product we sell that has changed much for taking the time to do i.e. Serato, Ableton and Traktor over place that is very close to my heart, this interview, it is great for me to turntables and cdjs. We have found a as it has been my first choice for do an interview about Catapult demand for a more information lead music for almost two decades. service and have placed much Catapult has always had an incredible and even more so to do an interview for a store in my home emphasis on providing classes range of vinyl for DJ's and CD's, tape town of Cardiff. So can you tell us explaining how all the new technology packs and merchandise from various about Catapult 100% Vinyl, how works. Luckily there has been a lot of labels and promotions. Catapult prides did you get started? support from the leading brands to itself on being a hub of information for demonstrate their latest products in the more “underground” scene Lucy Squire: I set Catapult up in Cardiff. This year so far has been very especially for local events in the 1993 as a direct response to there positive with an upturn back in vinyl capital of Wales, Cardiff. Located in being no real dance music specialist in along with broadcasting our first live the High Street Arcade, once through Cardiff at that time. It has always show via Ustream, and now producing the door, you enter into a Aladdin’s been a demand lead business, seeking Catapult Clothing. cave of music, merchandise, DJ to respond to what customers want. Equipment and now Producer Today Catapult stocks DJ equipment, WSM: Regarding live events, have equipment. music and clothing. We still have a you noticed a change over the whole floor dedicated to vinyl and years, in how many events there have just launched our own Catapult are and what kind of events are Recently Catapult have started up Records label. popular? Can you attribute that to their own Digital Production Master anything in particular or is it just class evenings which are held on the WSM: Have you always had the a natural evolution? premises by representatives of various software/hardware companies same building for Catapult? Lucy Squire: Everything has a life such as Ableton, Focusrite, and Lucy Squire: Pretty much yes. We span, although attendances have Novation, to name a few. occupy a three story premises in definitely been down as well. This Cardiff centre, in the famous arcades. year we have seen the stronghold that I was lucky enough to attend the was drum and bass give way to other latest Master class, and even luckier WSM: How have things changed genres including dubstep and house. to walk away with a full copy of over the years regarding how Ableton Live 8 which was raffled along Catapult has operated as a record WSM: Recently you've started your with various other items, including the store? Has the digital age really own label, Catapult Records and Launchpad from Novation. On a done as much damage as we are have released your first track personal note, I am extremely excited lead to believe? from it by CRST / Darkhouse that Catapult has started these family, was it a natural Lucy Squire: Obviously there has progression for Catapult to start master classes and I really hope they been an impact – with the digital age up a label? continue. Anyway, enough from me, marching hand in hand alongside the let's hear from Catapult's recession, physical sales were down. Lucy Squire: Not really as vinyl has owner/founder Lucy Squire. Equipment wise its just been the type increasingly become a difficult 36

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medium to back. However we have felt that the local talent in our area is so outstanding that we are confident to move forward with the label. We want to provide possibilities and a home to South Wales artists – we can`t keep giving them all away! The first release has sold really well with the backing of Giles Peterson. We are currently working on our second – its an outstanding release from local boy Cayne. We can`t get it out of our heads so hopefully that's a good sign.....

together with our brands and customers at the same time and get into it! WSM: Did you expect the master classes to be as popular as they are, admittedly I've only been to the one night but it proved extremely popular? Lucy Squire: Yes – they are free, provide outstanding info, demo's and prize products from the UK's leading manufacturers – Numark, Novation, Focusrite, Sennhesier, Serato, Novation, Ableton etc... Join us on facebook for details about the next one soon.

WSM: The fact you released this track on vinyl suggests that it is not dead yet as a medium which is refreshing, do you think vinyl only releases help with the fight WSM: As far as I am aware, against piracy in the music world? Catapult are the pioneers in music production seminars in South Lucy Squire: Don't know – just think Wales now, do you intend to keep that many of us just like to handle going with the master classes? vinyl and the way it sounds. Its far from dead. Lucy Squire: Definitely. Music production is a very complex subject WSM: Moving onto the music with lots of ground and new products production side of things, the to cover. readers here at Wusik Sound Magazine will be interested to WSM: Catapult is also selling audio hear about the Master classes you production hardware and software, offer. How did they come about? which I think is great. Do you Was it something you wanted to intend to continue expanding into get into or was it by chance? the digital production side of things? Lucy Squire: Catapult feel we have to offer the classes to help with the Lucy Squire: Yes more from Native expanding world of music production. Instruments – lets see what's on offer The products aren't cheap and you at this years BPM. need to be able to understand them and asses if they are right for you. We WSM: With production software also like the opportunity to get like Ableton, and dedicated DJ June 2010

software like Traktor growing ever more popular, do you fear for the humble turntable and the need for vinyl? Lucy Squire: Yes and no! Its horses for courses. I still use my 1210`s how about you? WSM: With digital downloads and net labels so popular and almost at bursting point, will that be something Catapult branches out into, digital downloads that is? Or will you stay true to the vinyl format? Lucy Squire: Catapult have considered downloads many times but unless you are Apple there we feel its not a very attractive proposal. At Catapult we enjoy the whole thing of getting together with our customers. WSM: Well thank you once again Lucy, for an insight into Catapult 100% vinyl, Cardiff's premier record store. On a personal note, as I said, I think it is great you are moving into the music production side of things and long may it continue. I am sure the readers of WSM will agree the more coverage music production gets, the more widely accessible it becomes. Diolch yn fawr Lucy. Visit : http://www.catapult.co.uk/ for more information or visit Catapult Records on facebook or follow @catapultvinyl on Twitter.

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FabFilter Pro-G by Ben Paturzo

A fine steak dinner, a new Robert Harris novel (Fatherland, Pompeii, Enigma), the laughter of your children, a new plugin from FabFilter (fabfilter.com) -- these are the things that wash away the tedium of existence, that add enjoyment to one's life. What's that you say? Absurd to equate a software instrument with the joy of children's laughter? Well mes amis, perhaps, but the plugins produced by Frederik Slijkerman and Floris Klinkert do provide great enjoyment and a new instrument from our friends in the Netherlands is cause for celebration.

and intuitive and invites you in to tweak and explore the many options and features of this extremely capable device. We all know that proper miking is essential for a workable mix, but live situations very often leave us with background noise or other audio clutter that keeps that optimum mix just out of reach. Consider also that the emphasis you gave a particular

Figure 1

The new Pro-G is a gate/expander with some interesting and yes, I'll agree, very flexible sidechain routing options. The interface is gorgeous 38

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instrument (or vocalist) may have sounded great live, or even in studio, but now it overly stands out when being mastered for CD. The FabFilter Pro-G is indispensable for these types of situations and more, as, for example, bringing new life to tired old clips by the judicious (and creative!) use of the Pro-G's controls and abilities.

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Figure 2 If you are unsure of what a gate/expander is for and whether you need one, check out the tutorial video by Dan Worrall at the FabFilter website. We'll be using some still shots from the video as it is an excellent tutorial. There are five nicely tuned expander/gate algorithms, including upward expansion, as represented by the five styles in Figure 1. There are a selection of useful factory presets to get you started (Figure 2). Note that there are over two dozen presets for Drums alone! We'll get started with the classic noise gating. Figure 3 shows the cursor pointing to the noise that is mixing in with the guitar signal.

Figure 3

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FabFilter Figure 4

Figure 5

We will adjust the Threshold control (Figure 4) so that the knee of the gate/expander is above the noise floor. The output is light blue and the input is dark blue (Figure 5) so you can see in real-time what is being removed by the plugin; however, adjusting the Ratio control (Figure 6) allows for less of a "brickwall" effect and a more gentle action on the gating. In fact, as shown in

Figure 6

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Pro-G

Figure 7, judicious use of the Ratio and Range controls allows us to remove the noise to a significant degree (sharp slope at and below Threshold setting) while providing a gentler action (gradual slope) on the remaining noise to avoid audio processing artifacts as much as possible. However, much more can be done with the Pro-G. Figure 8 shows that changing to the Upward style and adjusting the Threshold and Ratio controls can bring new life to overly-compressed tracks. Here we are more concerned with the part of the transfer curve above the threshold and, just as before with noise gating, you will find that the Pro-G operates smoothly and cleanly. You should use caution with the Upward style as it can produce some very high levels!

Figure 7

Figure 8

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FabFilter

The Midi features (Figure 9) include the ability to use a midi track to control the gating of the Pro-G by clicking on the Ext Side Chain button (Figure 10) in Expert mode. Imagine the possibilities! You can create a simple midi clip to gate your instrumental track, or use one midi percussion clip to control another percussion track; a vocalist can swing and stutter to drums no one hears, a guitar can be gated by unheard rhythms -- well, you get the picture. Way way cool.

Figure 9

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Pro-G Figure 10

The Expert mode in Figure 10 also shows how we can listen to only the gate/expander side-chain signal by using the Audition button. Figure 10 shows the cursor on the low pass filter slider (the other slider is the high pass filter slider) which can further limit what passes through. All of this can be used, for example, to hear and correct instrument spillage by first listening to the side-chain signal exclusively and then the processed input track, making adjustments as we go back and forth.

To sum up, the Pro-G is typical of FabFilter products. The controls are laid out intuitively, operate smoothly, and do what you expect them to do. The interface is stylish and elegant and never overwhelms. In short, musician-friendly. You might want to take this last piece of advice: get your significant other to purchase Pro-G at the FabFilter website. If you go yourself, you will probably end up buying some of the other fine plugins, and I don't want to be responsible! Enjoy!

June 2011

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43


Progress Audio's

Kinisis ...and now for something completely different by Adrian Frost

Sometimes you find out about new synths in slightly thought "Hmmm, this is too good to ignore!" The world needs to know the name "Kinisis" because as well as the unorthodox ways. I have the tendency to hang around a great sound quality, this synth offers something certain computer music related forum and was reading a completely new, different and interesting for soft synth thread there concerning synths that somehow or other users. have managed to fly under the radar - that is, despite their quality, they have never managed to hit the limelight OK, I've waffled on enough, let's introduce you to Kinisis. and have remained, for want of a better word, ignored. As you can see straight away, Kinisis is a little out of the There never seems to be a reason that one can articulate ordinary, and at this point it is well worth saying "Go read as to why these synths fail to garner the attention they the manual!" You can dive in and get going straight away deserve, but somehow they just get missed. Trying out a few presets and seeing what happens is enormously revealing, but the manual will fill you in So enter "Kinisis" by Progress Audio. The name cropped quickly and efficiently. Actually, it's nice to see such a well up in the thread that I just mentioned, and the developer written manual come with a synth. popped in to express his disappointment that his synth had largely been ignored. Even those of us who don't The main interface is split, more or less, into two halves. spend hours and hours pouring ourselves into a project The top half contains all the controls for each of the four like creating a new synth can still appreciate that it's voices. You can stack sounds up which just adds to the fun. frustrating to see your work get passed over. The lower half is home to the Timeline plus global controls I visited Progress Audio's site, looked at all the pictures, and this is where the magic happens. watched the video and listened to the samples and

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Kinisis

Time Lords! If you've ever doing any video editing or development in an application like Flash, you'll already be familiar with the concept of a Timeline - as you move along the timeline different things can be set to happen. With Kinisis, the Timeline works in much the same way. There are 6 tracks within the Timeline that control Amplitude, Voice, Wave, Filter, Modulation and Effects. The tracks are colour-coded and match with the same coloured section in the top half of the synth. You can see where this is going! At any point on the Timeline, on any of the tracks, you can doubleclick to set a break point. You then, in the upper section, adjust the controls related to that break point. When you play a note, as the timeline hits you're break point, the controls will be moved to the positions that you have set. But it gets better. Not only are the controls moved for you, Kinisis will actually morph between break points. As you can see from the picture above, break points can be set where and how you like. You can also loop part of the timeline by setting the 'L' and 'R' tabs beneath the tracks and clicking the "Loop Off" button which will change colour and say "Loop On". The area covered by the loop is also highlighted in the Timeline.

all over the place. Thus, it leads to some incredible sounds! Having four voices gives you an amazing range of possibilities because, of course, each voice has its own Timeline. One of the best presets for demonstrating the versatility of this synth has to be the "Dm Fugue (Hold A)-DM" from the Rhythm section. You get a perfect rendition of a large chunk of the Fugue from Toccata and Fugue in Dm by Bach, including melody, harmony and bass. I must have spent about 10 minutes just both listening, and tweaking this preset alone. Talking of presets; Kinisis comes with a good selection of quality presets that really do show off the main selling point of this synth the Timeline.

In the upper half you get all of your controls. This is probably the only part of the synth that seems at all recognizable. The great thing is that the interface is clean and easy to follow. The colour-coded sections in particular help you to find your way around. The only point that is slightly out of the ordinary here is how you assign your oscillators. You have four slots and can wander between them using a vector type control. If you load up some presets and play you'll see that the little ball sometimes dives 46

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The Global section right at the bottom of the synth gives you access to three effects: Delay, Reverb, and Distortion along with a couple of other bits and pieces. At the very top of the synth you can choose one of the three sections: Edit, where you'll spend most of your time. Presets, where, funnily enough, you can pick your presets and finally, Perform. Perform contains 6 assignable X-Y pads that you can use to control Kinisis live. The pads can be controlled by mouse but for the best experience you're going to want a whole bank of real X-Y pads. If someone hasn't already produced one they need to get on it right now!


synths should be harder work than this! In this review I've not managed to cover all that Kinisis has to offer. Again, go read the manual to find out what else is available.

I asked Alex Gounaropoulos, Kinisis' developer, about the rationale behind his synth. His reply is interesting: "The concept for Kinisis came about when I was thinking about designing some sort of simple pad synth, And in conclusion perhaps with just 4 or 5 knobs that were tailored for the task so that was When you first open up Kinisis it looks all you needed to create a range of pads. But my problem with this somewhat daunting. If I hadn't concept was that pads should swirl already listened to the demos and and evolve, so I had the idea of watched the video at the Progress 'animating' the positions of the knobs Audio site (www.progressaudio.co.uk) as a way of evolving the pad. It then then, I have to confess, I might well seemed this idea would be useful for have written this synth off as too complicated. But once you fire up and grasp the concept of the Timeline and the link between the Timeline and the controls... well, it's actually pretty brain-dead simple to produce some amazing sounds. It's almost unfair how easy it is to produce those sounds;

June 2011

more than just pads, so I expanded the idea into what became Kinisis, which is a general purpose synth, although certainly very useful for pads still." As Alex says, Kinisis is great for pads but to call Kinisis "general purpose" is a bit like calling a diamond "a tiny bit sparkly". This synth deserves your attention, it deserves to be brought out into the spotlight. It has flown under the radar for quite long enough! Maybe you can tell that I like this synth. In fact, I like it a lot. The concept of the Timeline is new, and unique in the soft synth world. It really is worth the effort to try (and buy) this synth. Kinisis can be had for $110 / â‚Ź85 / ÂŁ80 from Progress Audio's website. Copy protection is a simple license key.

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Alchemy: Expandi and

expa

by Trusty

I need to come up with a new motif for my continuing coverage of the expansions available for the most excellent Alchemy. They keep cranking out the sounds, and not only deliver the goods consistently, but have set the industry standard in quality control regarding presets and sound sets. Today, we are going to look at the two additions to the "Cinematic" line, Cinematic Atmospheres and Cinematic Impacts. Combined, they are about the size of a regular expansion pack, but individually, they are half the price of a usual one, so it comes out in the wash. Don't panic on that or anything. In any case, as you will read, you will want to own both.

its slump. When you listen to them you are not sure whether the world is ending or a new dawn is coming. Now, I know a lot of people are thinking The arpeggiated sounds are nice. "cool transition stuff"...well, no, cool There are only four (or 32 depending stuff to base a sound around. Quit on how you count with the remix thinking inside the box. But, if you pads), but they really get your blood need this stuff for film and video flowing. The sounds used to make games...I guess that will work too. these are best described as angry. I This is the stuff that those old know, but I don't know how else to Warhammer figures would either head describe them. They are awesome. bang to, or sound like if one could Three are Biomechanoid's, but Andre hear their thoughts... if they were Ettema added the Warmonger patch, animated. Love it! Yuroun did some and it rocks! fine work in this category. Hats off to you as well sir! The next section is "Drums"...but don't expect "drums"...these are bang There are three categories of Sound on something and make it hurt Effects: regular, hits, and transitions. "drums". They are percussive type The regular sound effects are unique. Cinematic Impacts sounds, but not of the type one finds They are somewhere between in many places. These are not simply percussive, melodic, and synthy. Very If you can't afford both at the same "ethnic" drums... they are carefully Earthy feel to them, and some are time, get this one first. This is just a crafted drum-like sounds that are a downright creepy... in a good way. killer set. It is focused around noises, mixture of various drum and Some of them sound annoying, but hits, swirls and rhythmic type sounds. percussion sounds, stringed again, in a good way. They are You will hear bells, percussion, instruments, random noises, all run supposed to sound that way, and be cymbals, sound effects, who-knowsthrough Alchemy's engine and effects. used to great effect. Many have a what; all of which are designed to Very nice. These sounds lend startling sound to them. I like that punch you in the face. I like it. When I themselves to all sorts of uses. Don't because they provide just the right first loaded it up and saw the let the "Cinematic" label fool you. I accent to wake people up just when Arpeggiated sounds, Biomechanoid's don't compose music for movies or they settle in. The bulk of these named popped up. As many know, video games but I will use these sounds add just the right amount of that dude is my favorite sound sounds. tension and suspense, and are very designer. When I hit play on his melodic in their own right. The Hits "Forgiven Forgot" patch, and started The Loops are sweet. Bottom line. category of sound effects is where the tweaking the remix pads, I was Welcome to the world of tribal true gems of this set are. Some excited to dig in and see what the cyberpunk and the march to the prepeople hear these sounds and think team of designers cooked up. Lots of post-apocalyptic showdown between "cool effects", I hear these sounds and hard hitting, build-up, and falling type whoever and whoever else. This is the think "cool songs". I will use them for sounds throughout. stuff top 40 music needs to get out of songs. Martin Walker's Ancient Surge

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ing,

anding,

gets honorable mention here. Nice one! What is absolutely amazing about these "hits" is the amount of layering and programming detail that went into them. This isn't just "sample a weird noise, load it up into a sample slot in Alchemy and add reverb". This is some serious professional work. Once you hear these, the "hits" category in your other synths and samplers will be boring. That's just the way it is. The transitions don't disappoint either. They are lots of fun, and sound great. There are some very creative twists on the usual sorts of transitional sounds. The patch "Dramaticus" has a nice layered string section, kind of film noir sounding, and then when it bottoms out you get a rumble that makes you feel like you just fell into the ocean paralyzed.... hold the key down some more and you hear others falling in behind you. The patch "Hit Rizer" is a fun twist on that "rising synth sound" you hear in a lot of rap songs. The Soundscapes selection is some great stuff as well. Most of them start interesting, turn nasty, and end in a haze. If you haven't been paying attention, that is a good thing. Dark Eqota from the aforementioned Andre Ettema being the standout in this category. Definitely a must have expansion. Cinematic Atmospheres When you think "atmosphere" don't make two common mistakes associated with that term for a sound expansion. The first mistake is to think "mellow", and the second it to think "background". While there is some of that here, there is a huge

range of atmospheres that conjure up how incredibly cool they are. "Plain all sorts of imagery. It fills the whole old strings" are now boring to me spectrum. And, not to be relegated to after hearing these sounds. I wonder the backdrop of other things, there what an Alchemy orchestra would are plenty of "musical" sounds in this sound like if all the strings (and brass collection. and woodwinds) sounded this As with the above expansion, this one interesting and beefy, or tinny, and too has some creative programming moving. These strings evoke a big that accompanies the very creative theater sound on the one hand, and and selective combinations of samples old time grainy film stock on the other. that make up each patch. The Remix Very nice. Pads are put to great use, especially in the pads category that contains This expansion concludes with some sounds that go from beautiful to Vocal sounds, there are three patches disturbing and back again. The Sound only, just as the expansion has in its Effects here are very interesting as first category of Loops. These six well. They compliment the above combined patches from both expansion very nicely, and evoke a categories have two things in common. wider range of emotion and depth. First, they sound great, and second, there are way too few of them. Soundscapes are the focus here, as Especially in the vocals part. Most most of the patches fall into this expansions I have covered have great category. The team of sound sounding, interesting sounding vocal designers lay it on thick, even when patches. Once again, the few gems the soundscape is not "thick". There is here cause one to hope the good folks a lot of movement and expression from Camel Audio will release a sound packed into these soundscapes, and expansion dedicated to Vocals only. I they cover a wide range of like what sound designers do with atmospheric moods for every occasion. these sounds in Alchemy. Hopefully, I think for musicians looking for we'll get more of what we have heard something extra to add in their here and elsewhere. breakdowns, drop offs and so forth, there are some goods here that can All Told quietly bring themselves out to add some kick and spice to musical tracks. For a combined $70, you can have As interesting and diverse as these are, both, and you should get both. At $35 there is no need to simply hold a key a piece, you can afford to get both down and let them do their thing all eventually, but get the Cinematic the time. There are some patches in Impacts right away, and then here that are very musical and Cinematic Atmospheres later. These playable, and easily lend themselves are a great complement to each other to uses for which they were not and the Cinematic expansion that intended. came out prior to these. They are not just for the video game and movie Sadly, the Strings section does not crowd... these are also for musicians. contain many patches considering Get on it. June 2011

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BiFilter2 from

Tone2 by LeVzi

There was a period I went through, where I was desperate to find a filter that fitted nicely into my work flow and had the exact functions I was desperate for, and was very light on CPU. I did a search around the internet and found so many different ones on offer; I really didn't know where to turn. Thankfully I checked out Tone2's website, and found BiFilter2.

The GUI just appealed to me from the first time I saw it, different types of Filter, ranging from the standard lowand there weren't too many controls, I didn't want an pass to a formant style filter. advanced filter bank, or a million different filter types that A Quick description of each is as follows: I knew nothing about; I was after something functional and easy to use. It became a "no-brainer" when I first saw • LP 30dB – A low-pass filter with a 30dB/Octave slope. it, and found out it had an added distortion section, so I • LP 12dB – A low-pass filter with a 12dB/Octave slope. purchased it. It wasn't until I started using it that I realised how in-depth this filter really is. • LP Analog – An analogue modelled low-pass filter with self oscillation. The two controls you expect of a filter are there, Cut-off • LP Moog – A low-pass filter with a 24dB/Octave slope, and Resonance. There is a drop down menu for the type of with a classic 'Moog Diode Ladder Filter' type response. • LP Fat – A low-pass filter with very broad resonance. filter you want to use. I expected to see the usual suspects in the menu for the filters i.e. LP24, LP12, HP24, • LP Oct – A low-pass filter with resonance tuned in octave distance from the cut-off point. HP12, BP, BR etc. but to my amazement there are 46

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• LP Elliptic – A 'brickwall like' low-pass filter with very steep slope. • HP 30dB – A high-pass filter with a 30dB/Octave slope. • HP 12dB – A high-pass filter with a 12dB/Octave slope. • HP Elliptic - A 'brickwall like' high-pass filter with very steep slope. • HP Analog – An analogue modelled high-pass filter with self oscillation. • BP 15dB – A bandpass filter with a 15dB/Octave slope. • BP 6dB – A bandpass filter with a 6dB/Octave slope. • BP Analog – An analogue modelled bandpass filter with self oscillation.

• BR – A band rejection or notch filter with an adjustable centre frequency and slope. • BR Analog – An analogue modelled notch filter with self oscillation. • EQ Low Shelf – A low-pass shelving filter. • EQ Hi Shelf – A high-pass shelving filter. • EQ loudness – A loudness filter. Frequency controls low boost, resonance control high boost. • EQ Peak 1 – An equalizing filter with a broad slope. The Cut-off knob controls the centre frequency and the Resonance knob controls the amount of boost. • EQ Peak 2 – An equalizing filter with a tight slope. The Cut-off knob controls the centre frequency and the Resonance knob controls the amount of boost.

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BiFil

fro

• EQ Block – cuts all frequencies below and above the • All-pass – Does nothing, just changes the phase of selected range. the signal. • VOC IEAOU 1 – A series of vocal formant filters, each • Phaser – A phasing filter that affects the phase offset centring on the frequencies emitted by vowel use in of the incoming audio stream. human speech. The Cut-off knob morphs through the • Comb 2x – A comb filter, with multiple equally spaced IEAOU formants, and the Resonance knob controls the resonance peaks. amount of formant frequency shifting. • Comb 3x – A different comb filter, similar to Comb 1. • VOC IEAOU 2 – A series of vocal formant filters, each • Comb 5x – A different comb filter, similar to Comb 1. centring on the frequencies emitted by vowel use in • Resonator – An oscillator which is excited from the human speech. The Cut-off knob morphs through the input signal. IEAOU formants, and the Resonance knob controls the • Diffuser 8x – A 8 step diffuser filter with feedback. amount of formant frequency shifting. Sounds like small room reverb. • VOC A – A vocal formant filter centring on the • Diffuser 32x– A 32 step diffuser filter with feedback. frequencies emitted by the use of the vowel sound 'A' in Sounds like large room reverb. human speech. • Delay – Delays the input signal by a given amount. • VOC U – A vocal formant filter centring on the • Re-sample – Re-samples the signal to a lower sample frequencies emitted by the use of the vowel sound 'U' in rate. human speech. • AM – Amplitude modulation. • VOC E – A vocal formant filter centring on the • Formant 2 – Double Formant (vocal) filter with 2 frequencies emitted by the use of the vowel sound 'E' in resonant maxima. human speech. • FM Sine – Frequency modulation with a sine oscillator. • VOC I – A vocal formant filter centring on the • FM Tri – Frequency modulation with a triangle frequencies emitted by the use of the vowel sound 'I' in oscillator. human speech. • FM Saw – Frequency modulation with a saw oscillator. • VOC O – A vocal formant filter centring on the • FM Square – Frequency modulation with a square frequencies emitted by the use of the vowel sound 'O' in oscillator. human speech. • W-Shape – Double parallel-switched bandpass filters. What particularly appealed to me were the Elliptic filters. The Cut-off knob controls the centre frequency of I've always wanted something for precise, surgical cuts bandpass filter 1, and the Resonance knob controls the within a frequency band, and I've always relied upon EQs, centre frequency of bandpass filter 2. which have been more than adequate, but now I have this • M-Shape – Serial low-pass and high-pass filters, with to add to my arsenal of effects. The other thing that really 2 resonant maxima at the edges of the filter - cuts both impresses me with BiFilter2, is the graphical display that treble and bass. The Cut-off knob controls the low-pass accompanies each filter type. It gives you a visual aid to frequency and the Resonance knob controls the high-pass what you are actually doing to the signal. The cut-off frequency. control is very smooth, as is the resonance, making it ideal for automated filter sweeps. 52

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lter2

om

Tone2

Moving away from the filter, you come to the distortion unit. This consists of three sections, Distortion type, gain, and pre/post, which is basically for when you want the distortion to be applied, before the filter or after it. You can, of course, by-pass the filter completely and just use the distortion unit. The distortion types are as follows : • Volume – Drive controls the volume of the signal. • Tube Amp – A 'soft knee' saturated distortion. • Transistor – An asymmetric 'soft knee' distortion. • Presence – A 'soft knee' saturated distortion with falloff at higher levels. • Hard Clip – A 'hard knee' clipping distortion. • Bitcrush – This distortion type reduces the bitrate of the audio to 'lo-fi'. • Waveshape – This distortion type adds additional harmonics by using round non-linear amplification of the audio signal. • Pow2 – This distortion type adds additional harmonics by using edged non-linear amplification of the audio signal. It is similar to exciters.

find extremely useful for synth leads or pads, when wanting to be very gentle in filtering, or very harsh. You also have the option to by-pass the effect completely, which is handy to A/B your audio. The final section is the pre-set area, and controls to skip through the pre-sets or load a another bank, or indeed save pre-sets or banks. BiFilter2 comes with 50 different pre-sets covering ideas that you may have not thought about when using a filter. Filters are used to sculpt sound, and BiFilter2 is more than capable of doing that, you can create some wild, impressive sounds with the comb filters or you could just add some subtle character to a lead with the Moog style low pass. So much bang for the buck, hats off to Tone2.

My conclusion on BiFilter2 is that I will never part with it, it is my go to filter and probably always will be. I've come to heavily rely on it for most of my needs. If I had the option to improve it somehow, I'd add an ADSR envelope option and LFO option for Cut-Off control, but I think These distortion types are not designed to be as in depth BiFilter2's big brother Filterbank3 may have this covered. as most distortion units, they are really there to add Even so, I fell in love with BiFilter2 when I purchased it, subtle amounts of distortion, and then you can additionally and have never looked back. shape it with the filters, or vice versa, just add a subtle amount of distortion to an already shaped signal. I love To find out more about BiFilter2 and/or purchase it, please this part of BiFilter2, as it gives a quick and easy way to visit : add some additional power to (for example) a percussion www.tone2.com/html/bifilter2_vst_au_effect_plugin.html section in a Drum & Bass track. I particularly like the It costs £28.86 and is compatible with PC and Mac Bitcrush and Tube Amp options, for my personal needs, they can add some real "grit" or character to break beats etc. The next section is the wet and dry control, allowing you even more options in how much of the signal passes through the filter and how much by-passes it, something I June 2011

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KarmaFX by Ben Paturzo

Figure 1

Figure 2

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Figure 3

Okay. Do this: start energyXT (energy-xt.com), or your favorite DAW, load KarmaFX, right-click on an empty part of the interface and select New Patch/Empty Patch (Figure 1). Right-click and select Add Module/Generator Osc 2 (Figure 2). In the same way, select Add Module/Filter/Zolzer, Add Module/Amplifier/Amplifier, and Add Module/Controller/NotePitch (Figure 3). Now let's wire up our Modules. Right-click on the Zolzer filter's title bar (Filter1) and select Input/Generator1 (Figure 4). In the same way, make sure Amplifier1's input is Filter1, Controller1's input is Amplifier1, and the Output module's input is Controller1. Now play. Congratulations, in less than a couple dozen clicks you haven't programmed a synth, you've made a synth!

Figure 4

Not very fancy though. There's no amplitude or filter modulation, kind of boring sound-wise, and it's Mono for goodness sake! Okay, then, add three Modulator modules, the first being an ADSR, the second an LFO, and the third another ADSR. Wire up these three Modulator modules by first

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KarmaFX

right-clicking on the RingMod (Ring Modulator) knob of Generator1 and selecting Input/Modulator1 (Figure 6); then do the same for the Cutoff knob on Filter1, but use Modulator2 (the LFO); finally modulate Amplifier1's Amp knob with Modulator3 (the ADSR). Since you're there anyway, click the little blue Gate light (to off) so we can enjoy some Release goodness from Modulator3's ADSR. Now, going from left to right: on Generator1 click the Trigger and Hardsync blue lights (to on) and move the Freq2 knob to oh say 400 cents or so, and crank the RingMod knob to about halfway; on Filter1 let's drag the Cutoff knob down to something useful, like 5 kHz, while cranking the Reso (Resonance) knob to 70; finally, change Controller1's Mode to Poly6. Now for the Modulators: for both ADSR's set the Sustain about mid-level, give them a little Attack time, little more for Decay, and leave the Release where it is; for the LFO set the Rate at half of one Hz and the Amount to about mid-level.

Figure 5

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Figure 6

Now we're talking. Figure 7 gives us a not-so-boring 2-sawtooth oscillator synth, one oscillator slightly detuned to make things fuller, with some Ring Modulation thrown in, a lowpass filter whose cutoff frequency swings between about 3 kHz and 10kHz and that is just itching to self-resonate, and of course amplitude envelope modulation to tie it all together.

Figure 7

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KarmaFX Figure 8

Figure 9

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Figure 10

Using Blue Cat Audio's (bluecataudio.com) multiple tracks real time oscilloscope, the Oscilloscope Multi, we can see the output waveform in Figure 8, together with the zoomed-in view in Figure 9. We see in Figure 9 the result of slightly detuning one of the sawtooths, as well as the ringing from the filter, and the ring modulation all contributing to the interesting "sub-waveforms." We could also change each of the oscillator's waveform to Sine, Square, Triangle, or Ramp (reverse Saw) and further add to the possibilities. Keep in mind that KarmaFX also has 8 Effect modules, from Reverb to Phaser to PitchShift and more, so that we've only just begun to explore the abilities of this amazing synth. Let's catch our breah. Just what is this KarmaFX? Started as a hobby project back in 1998, as part of a standalone application that included a tracker and sequencer, KarmaFX is the work of one Kasper

Nielsen, programmer and musician. The standalone app eventually grew too big and so Kasper decided to "rip out the synth" and convert it to a VST: KarmaFX. Kasper lives in Copenahgen, Denmark, and traces his music and technical roots back to the 90's when the Amiga computer was king. Influenced by Propellerhead's Rebirth and later Jeskola's Buzz, Kasper has been part of the ongoing technological development that has given us such amazing soft synths as KarmaFX. KarmaFX is a true Modular Synth. Allow me to explain. Here we have the man -- Figure 10; here we have the Beast -- Figure 11. The man is of course Bob Moog, the photo circa 1965 or thereabouts, and the beast is Wendy Carlos's custom-built Moog Modular Model 55, used to produce her seminal, now legendary classic album, Switched-On Bach.

Figure 11

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KarmaFX Figure 12 To suggest that this album, as well as the glorious Moog Modular 55 (here's a brochure, Figure 12) which your humble scribe had intimate access to during his time on campus in the early 1970's, to suggest that this music and this machine had any effect on his later development and interests in all things electronic music -- well let's just say in the language of the people, it blew my mind, man. So, back to "true modular." In Figure 13 we see a closeup of a Moog VCO and VCA module -- note the screws (some of which are missing!) which mounted each module into a cabinet or rack. The order in which the modules were arranged could be left up to you the customer, so that you could build any number of custom module layouts, before the sale as well as after you got your new synthesizer home. Each selfcontained (except for power) module had a front panel which allowed patching of control and audio signals between modules. A typical module, a Moog 921 Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO), is shown in Figure 14.

Figure 13

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Figure 14

The modules in KarmaFX and the way they can be arranged and routed come closest, in my opinion, to the original spirit and operation, especially in terms of layout and patching, of the modular synthesizers that Robert Moog (and others) made. You will never have to worry about tuning, however, because even a detuned oscillator stays "in-tune." I changed the last patch with an Additive oscillator for Generator1 (by clicking the little blue window), using a waveform I created by dialing in (via the Monics knob) the

number of harmonics I wanted and then "drawing in" the harmonic magnitudes in the large blue window (Figure 15). The resulting waveform is shown in the small green window. We could just as easily "draw" in the waveform and that would change the harmonic magnitudes, as well as their phases. The patch in Figure 15, because of the weak fundamental and overpowering harmonics, sounds thin and "waspy." By increasing the fundamental we can thicken the sound. Very easy and very fast!

Figure 15

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KarmaFX Figure 16

There are other oscillator types in KarmaFX including a Sampler module and Noise generator. There are almost a dozen Modulator modules and nearly a dozen Filter modules, yet I never felt overwhelmed. Oh, and the synth kept working, no crashes, stable as they come. You get the sense, after spending some time with KarmaFX, that this is a refined instrument, one that has been lovingly crafted and improved over time by Master Nielsen, and it shows as well in the 7 banks of pre-made KarmaFX patches and user banks, containing more than 1300 patches. I'll leave you with two: the "Virus sample" (Figure 16) patch showing the use of the Sampler Generator as well as the Phaser and Delay Effect modules; the "Phat Square"(Figure 17) patch showing the Unison Controller module that initiates many instances of a generator with slightly detuned frequencies for that "phat" sound. KarmaFX is a solid performer and a delight to use. Bob Moog would be proud.

Figure 17

Cheers!

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Wusikstation

Improving by the minute.

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DiscoDSP's

Discovery &

Discovery Pro by Adrian Frost

A Voyage of Discovery DiscoDSP's "Discovery" and Discovery At this point I have a confession to "Discovery Pro" synths have been around for a while - Discovery 1.1 was make. I'm a fan of ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) even though I'm only released in February 2003 and Pro followed a few years later in July 2007. thirty... mumble‌ mumble‌ something. When I see the word Since those release dates, version "Discovery" I automatically think of numbers have been consistently creeptheir 1979 album also called ing upwards with worthwhile, rather Discovery. One comment that I than just cosmetic, updates. Discovhave seen suggested that Jeff ery is now at release 3.3 and Pro has Lynne, with this album, was reached the giddy heights of release jumping on the tail end of the 5.5. George Reales, developer of disco bandwagon (if I may be these two synths (amongst others!) permitted to mix my metaphors) has been a busy man and shows no and that the album's title could be signs of slowing down. Both synths read as Disco - very! Why mention have recently been made available in this? No real reason other than I 64 bit versions for those who are into think that Richard Tandy, ELO's keyboard and synth wizard would that kind of thing, in fact, Pro has like this Discovery. He was known been 64 bit since release 5.4. For for trying out lots of different those who are interested in a little bit of history there is a complete listing of synths and was pretty cutting edge in his time. Certain albums Discovery and Discovery Pro releases are practically showcases for a available at: particular synth - the Discovery www.discodsp.com/news/archive/ album has the Yamaha CS-80 all over it. Anyway, I think he would Onto the synths themselves! We'll have given DiscoDSP's offerings a start with Discovery and then take a good try out and been well look at extra bits and pieces that pleased with the results. come with Discovery Pro. Discovery is a two oscillator synth with 2 LFOs, a filter plus arpeggiator and gate. Maybe this 64

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isn't enough to get the pulse racing, but then you discover that Discovery has this setup four times over. You can layer, in effect, four instances of the synth to create any one sound. Discovery's first preset is a great example of this. It's called "Antidote"


www.discodsp.com

and using only 2 of the layers makes even less use all four. The best of a real Clavia Nord Lead 2, yes, I a pulsing, moving, bubbling, rising example of a four layer patch is only have pictures to look at, I can't sound that belies Discovery's serene "Clockwork" from the factory bank. It's afford the real thing, shows that and calm demeanour. Frankly, it rocks. almost impossible to describe but Discovery faithfully follows the Nord Having said that, if I have one there's a lot to learn from taking the Lead 2's architecture - with a few complaint it's that most of the presets preset apart and seeing how all the additions of its own. that come with the full version don't different parts interact. often make use of the full four layers. One feature worth getting to grips I can understand why this is - it's hard It's worth pointing out here that with in Discovery is the ability to enough work creating one usable Discovery, and Discovery Pro, can morph between two different states. preset let alone four that all have to import Clavia Nord Lead 2 patches. I Adjusting each control knob whilst work together at the same time. So, can't say how effective the feature is holding down the CTRL key causes a the majority of presets use one layer, but I can imagine that it does what it second "ghost" position line to appear a lot use two, a few use three and says it does. A quick look at a picture - this is the point that your setting will morph too. You can assign the morph control to your mod wheel and use that to change the sound of the synth quite dramatically whilst playing. If you set up morphing on multiple controls they are all affected in one go. Try morphing the two arpeggiator controls - rate and amount together, you can easily go from a calm, gentle single octave slow arp to a multi octave high speed one. It's fun just to see what can be done! Discovery's design and layout is very clear and signal flow is fairly obvious with a quick glance. The synth comes with a well written 26 page PDF manual. It is worth taking the time to have a flick through so you don't miss anything important - the morph feature is one of those "not quite so selfevident" features that the manual explains clearly and logically.

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Discovery

Discovery Pro Let's move on to Discovery's bigger brother, Discovery Pro. Pro comes in an elegant black colour scheme though don't ask me to choose between the two because Discovery is pretty smart in its own blue suit. With Pro you get slightly better control over your preset banks in as much as you can list the whole of a bank in one go by clicking on the current preset name at the bottom centre of the synth. It's slightly curious that Discovery doesn't also include this feature but I'm not the one who makes such decisions. The biggest difference between the two synths is that Pro adds a wave oscillator to its already formidable arsenal of features. Pro ships with 287 Classic waveforms and 52 Factory waveforms. You can add as many user waveforms as you like. One useful feature of the wave oscillator is the PAD button: "For any active wave, Discovery Pro will render a new waveform set using PAD synthesis. It will generate a perfectly looped and beautiful set of sounds, no matter what the source is. So you can play pretty much anything you have to hand and get a usable sound from it. The other addition in Pro is the Graphic Envelope Modulator - a kind of step sequencer that can control the pitch of oscillator 2, the FM amount between the two basic oscillators, pulse width of PWM waveforms or the filter cut-off frequency. Used along with the gate you can make some powerful rhythmic sounds. A feature of Pro that it would be very easy to miss is the ability to save sub settings of any preset. The synth manual calls these "Zone presets". Wherever you see a small white arrow pointing down near the title bar of a logical group of controls you can save the settings for that group of controls, give the setting a name and use it in other presets. A surprisingly simple idea, but very useful.

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&

Discovery Pro

And in conclusion... Both Discovery and Discovery Pro both have a very clean, punchy sound to them. They don't lack grit though as that can be dialled in using the distortion in the filter section. The filters are smooth and responsive with a good number of different types of filter available - not just your standard high, low and band pass examples. In particular I love the formant filter, it has got a great feel and works beautifully for creating vocal and choir type presets. Overall the sound definitely falls at the "modern" end of the spectrum which is not surprising given its inspiration the Nord Lead 2 - but that modern sound is never sterile or plastic.


So far I've not been able to spend as much time with either synth as I would like, I don't feel as though I've got to know them as well as I might. In Discovery, once you add in the layers, the morphing feature and the other bits and pieces there is actually an awful lot of synth to work with. Discovery Pro then piles even more on top! Of the two Discovery is the cheaper - 75â‚Ź / $99 against Pro's 149â‚Ź / $199. If you can afford Pro, go for it, you'll have no regrets. You'll get a synth that offers significantly more than its little brother. But, having said that, if you can't afford Pro but you can afford Discovery then Discovery is very much worth buying, slightly more limited,

yes, but the limits are more theoretical than practical as this synth has an amazing amount of potential particularly once you start digging into creating multi layer patches. You can download Windows and Macintosh demos from DiscoDSP's website at www.discodsp.com Also available from the website are a number of different add-ons, particularly for Pro, that add presets as well as extra wave files.

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Geist tutorial

Ground Up Tutorial 1 by Trusty

Geist is for big beats. Geist will help you make big beats. I will help you, to help yourself with Geist so you can make big beats more easily... especially if you are just starting out. And Geist is the place to start if you want to get into making beats. If you are a pro at this, you still may find something helpful in here. Thankfully, Geist makes easy things easy, which makes my job easy. This is the first tutorial in a series that will help people see what goes into using Geist for big beats. While nowhere as cool as watching the FXpansion crew make that awesome collaboration beat video for the promotion of Geist, it will however, get into some nitty-gritty detail that will help people who may not be familiar with how to get beats to be "big". While it is true that some of the techniques presented here can be transferred to other plug-ins or whatever, it won't be big beats Geiststyle. Geist is king of big beats these days. This will become obvious as the series rolls on. Since this is the first tutorial, I think it is best to set the overall goal of the entire series. I intend to make, what is know around my parts as, a "club banger" (<-- note the quotes). I will be using Geist, the included Splitter, and the D-CAM SynthSquad (to be 68

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sampled into Geist) all inside a acoustic kick drum samples, and two stripped-down Sonar X1 template to synth kick drum samples. The first keep it simple. That is all I will be acoustic kick sample needs to be using. In fact, once all the sampling of something with a nice rasp to it. the D-Cam stuff is done, I will Perhaps pitch it up a tad if needed. probably finish everything up in Geist The second needs to be a thundering standalone, and I will be working in acoustic kick sample. Low and round, standalone for the most part anyway but not too "bassy". Save that for one when not using the D-CAM synths. of your synth kicks. One of them needs to be that big booty 808 type Here in this tutorial, we are going to synth kick with a longish decay begin where all big "club banger" (relatively speaking... and don't go beats begin, with the basic drums, too "sub" with it either, because we and specifically focusing on their will be bringing the bass-line courtesy sound. I am going to use one engine of Strobe later... all the best "club in Geist for the drum kit. Remember, bangers" have bass-lines... sissy each of the 16 pads in one engine in wannabes rely on just deep 808's and Geist can hold eight samples. I will be no melody for the bass), and the loading four kick samples for the kick other synth kick sample a more on Pad 1, three clap samples and one 606/909 type that sounds a bit like a snare drum sample for the snare on pop sound. Now, layering four pad 2, an open hi-hat sample for Pad samples is good, but not good enough 3, and 4 samples of closed hi-hats for big beats for several reasons. Most using Random in the pad's Layer Play of the time when beat-makers layer Mode for Pad 4. Finally, a crash kicks, they still don't find what they cymbal sample on Pad 5. Other are looking for. Even after they percussion samples will be added to figured out using the same sample THIS engine (Engine 1) as the series causes phasing, using four different progresses. Because Geist has an samples still doesn't add much, and awesome Mixer for each engine, it is they are left wondering why. no sweat having a lot going on in one engine. Here is the gold mine for you newbies out there: When you have all four The key to starting the big beat is to samples hitting simultaneously, no get the kick just right, so click Pad 1 matter how many kicks you layer with and let's get cracking. You want to the levels all the way up, you will not use four samples. That is enough. Two get a big sound because they are June 2011


tutorial Figure 1

hitting at the same time because the samples are usually too well edited. Geist helps out here with the big pre-delay knob for each layer. Click on each layer and adjust this knob on at least three of them so that each layer of the kick samples on Pad 1 do not hit at the same time. Do not over do it, but make small adjustments until you get that sound you have always wanted. (See Figure 1)

Figure 2

The next thing to do is to click on the the pad mixer, and for Pad 1, use the first effect slot for a filter. Tweak the Low Pass and High Pass knob to suit. If you are curious, I set the HP knob to 38.89 Hz and the LP to 5.52 kHz. In the next effect slot, I added some distortion, using the "Mid Warmer" preset. Once this is done, press the pad and hear it boom. (See Figure 2) Next up is the clap/snare on Pad 2. I loaded three clap samples, adjusted the pre-delay knob for each, same as above, and did a June 2011

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Geist Figure 3

tutorial

little gain adjusting as well for each of the samples. In the fourth slot, I added a snare. The snare is a bit of a high pitched pop, and I did not adjust the pre-delay at all on it. I wanted the snare to be up front with the claps lagging just a hair behind it. Now it is back to the pad mixer to do some detailing with some EQ and distortion. For the EQ, I used the parametric EQ and the "snare - bright" preset. Easy. Next, for the distortion, I used the "High Frequency Screamer" but dialled back the Tone and the Drive knobs a bit. Once this is done, press the pad and hear it clackle. (See Figure 3)

Figure 4

On Pad 3, insert the open hi-hat sample. Not much to do with this one, except I used the tune knob to get it more in line with the kick and claps. So, we will move on to the closed hi-hats on Pad 4. Here I am going to load 4 very similar sounding samples, but use the Random feature in the Layer Play Mode for this pad to get that "tick-ticktick-tick" to not be so static and machine-gun sounding. (See Figure 4) After adjusting the Tune 70

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t

tutorial Figure 5

Figure 6

knob for each layer to get them in line with each other and the kick and clap, it is time to add some effects to this layer as well. So, back to the Pad Mixer view and in the first slot, insert an EQ. I used the parametric EQ again, with the "Bass Cut" preset, and then boosted the highs a bit around 5.27 kHz. Sounded good to me. (See Figure 5) On Pad 5, add the crash cymbal sample and make any necessary adjustments needed (or pick a good sample). Now, in the Engine Mixer screen, insert the reverb effect called "Breverb Hall" and use the Empty Concert Hall preset, but dial back the "Time" and "predelay" knobs just a bit. Trigger your pads and have fun. (See Figure 6) In the next tutorial, we will resample the kit to save some processing juice, but mainly to teach you how to resample in Geist and show how easy it is. Then, we will lay down some drum patterns. Until next time, Trusty

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Generative Beats with

tutorial

Logic Pro by Rishabh Rajan

Introduction

Environment Objects

In this article I will show you how you can make interesting, self-generating/no-input patterns within Logic Pro. Most of this is accomplished with the help of the Environment window which is a very confusing, yet immensely powerful area within Logic. The learning curve for the environment can be steep but after you finish this tutorial, you will have a strong understanding of some of the modules that exist in the environment window which in turn will help flatten that steep learning curve. Eventually you will be able to look at Logic as more than just a sequencer and be able to come up with your own concoctions of other worldly ‘environments’.

The objects that are available in the environment makeup the core building blocks of the modules that can be created. For this example we will be using the ‘arpeggiator’ object. Traditionally this object is used to create an arpeggiation of a chord you enter. For example, if you play a CMaj7 chord, the arpeggiator will play the notes (C,E,G,B) one after the other at a rate defined by you. You can even define which direction to arpeggiate the notes. Upwards (C,E,G,B), downwards (B,G,E,C), both or even random where it randomly chooses the order of the notes.

GENERATIVE MUSIC A genre made popular by Brian Eno with the 1975 album, Discreet Music. In essence, this is music generated by a system with no input. The music thus will be ever changing and evolving based on how the system is programmed. The system Brian used for Discreet Music was called ‘Koan’ made by Intermorphic. In 2007 Intermorphic launched a new software based on the original Koan system called Noatikl. This program only creates MIDI information. It does not have any sounds of its own. It will need to be used in conjunction with a sound generating program like Logic Pro. Noatikl also comes with a powerful scripting environment where you can program simple real-time interactions from the mouse or keyboard to alter the system’s output. There are a few other freeware generative system programs like Tiction, Glitch Sequencer, Node etc.

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tutorial

First Steps Load a new empty project.

Select Ultrabeat (Drum Synth) > Stereo from the track’s input section. Add a software Instrument track.

ULTRABEAT BRIEF INTRO Ultrabeat is Logic’s built-in drum sequencer. It is modelled after actual hardware drum synths. It has a its own 32 step sequencer, independent from Logic’s sequencer. It comes with a whole load of presets containing a combination of sampled and synthesized drum hits. There are 24 sounds mapped from MIDI C1 to B2. On C3 you will find a melodic sound that shifts pitch chromatically as you play the higher notes above C3. Most of the presets use a bass sound here, though sometimes you will find chord stabs.

‘pattern’ drop down list or can be triggered by the MIDI notes C-1 to A#-1. For playing back the patterns from the MIDI notes, ‘pattern mode’ must be on.

Every Ultrabeat preset also comes with a bunch of preprogrammed patterns that can be accessed from the June 2011

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Generative Beats w tutorial

Open the Environment window by going to Window > Environment or by hitting the key command ‘command 8’. By default, you will be brought to the mixer layer in the Environment. There are many other layers that can be accessed from the top left drop down menu but for now we will continue working in the ‘mixer’ layer.

This will create the arpeggiator object in the environment. Most of the modules in the environment can be connected to each other in a very modular fashion. If you click, hold and drag on the little arrow that is sticking out of the arpeggiator object, a cable will pop out of it and now you can connect this cable to any other device in the environment. The connection signifies that MIDI information will flow from the first object into the other. Keep in mind, only MIDI and other propriety Logic control signals can be sent through these virtual cables, not audio. Now connect the arpeggiator's virtual cable to the input of the channel strip that contains the Ultrabeat instrument.

Once you let go of the mouse on the Ultrabeat channel strip, Logic will automatically complete the connection.

Add a new arpeggiator object by clicking on new > arpeggiator.

With this connection, MIDI information is going from the arpeggiator to the Ultrabeat software instrument track. Now we need a way to send MIDI information to the arpeggiator. Since the arpeggiator needs to know what chord you want to arpeggiate, we will have to create a blank MIDI track and send MIDI to the arpeggiator using the environment's virtual cables. Go back to the arrange view (command 1) and add a new software instrument track. Leave the track empty. Back in the environment window you will see a new channel strip, representing the track that was just added. Every channel strip has a similar MIDI output connection just like the arpeggiator object had.

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with Logic

tutorial

Pro THE ARPEGGIATOR PROPERTIES

When the arpeggiator object is selected, the inspector window on the top left corner will show its properties. Here you can set how the arpeggiator will respond to the MIDI input. Connect this output of the new blank software instrument track to the input of the arpeggiator object as shown in the image below.

Now if you go back to the arrange window (command 1), record enable the blank software instrument track and play a chord on your MIDI Keyboard, the chord should be arpeggiated. Make sure that the playhead is running. The arpeggiator does not work if Logicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s playhead is stopped.

Direction: This tells the arpeggiator which direction to playback the notes in. Ascending, descending, random etc. Velocity: Here you can tell the arpeggiator to either playback all the notes at its original velocity, randomize it or play it at a fixed velocity of your choice. Arpeggiator will wait for the next downbeat and then playback the notes. Key Limit: This sets a range within which arpeggiator will playback notes. Resolution: Sets the rhythmic note value arpeggiated notes, based on the tempo.

Also make sure to play a chord in the MIDI range of C1 to B2 as the Ultrabeatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sounds are mapped to those keys. Obviously you are not going to hear arpeggiated chords but you will hear arpeggiated drum hits. This was just the beginning. Now we are going to take this a step further and create a no-input system, where Logic keeps generating random patterns. For this we will have to look at some of the controls of the arpeggiator and tweak it to create the desired results.

Length: Sets the length of the arpeggiation. Snap to:You can think of this as real-time quantization. So if its set to 1/4, every time you enter a chord, the arpeggiator will wait for the next downbeat and then playback the notes. Repeat: If this is checked, the arpeggiation will repeat infinitely as long as the chord is held down. Octaves: this sets the octave range within which the arpeggiator will repeat. If you set the Key Limit to a small range and set Octaves to a high number, there will be loss of notes. Crescendo:The value given here is added to the original velocity of each note every time it repeats thus creating a crescendo. Only works if Repeat is checked. Controller Base: Enables MIDI control of all the parameters and sets the controller number for the first parameter (direction).

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Generative Beats w tutorial

Building the no-input system Create a MIDI region on the blank software instrument track. You can do this by clicking in the arrange area with the pencil tool. Stretch this MIDI region till the end of project marker or

You will see a bunch of notes created in the piano roll. It is very important that they all start at the same time, so be sure to be in chord mode. Now select all the notes and stretch them out to the end of project. The length of these notes determine how long the system will run, its important to stretch these notes out as much as possible. Stretch until the end of the project.

make it even longer if you want. Also make sure the region starts at measure 2 not 1. Now we need to create MIDI notes covering C1 to B2 (Ultrabeatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s note range) and extend it out till the end of project marker. This can be done manually in the piano roll but an easier way is to use the step input keyboard (Options > Step Input Keyboard). Enable chord mode and just drag over the keys from C1 to B2.

We are almost there. The only thing left is to tweak some of the settings of the arpeggiator. These are the settings that I used. By setting the Direction to Random the arpeggiator will randomly select any of the 24 sounds of Ultrabeat and play it back. Setting Velocity to Random also creates nice variations in the

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with Logic

tutorial

Pro

dynamics of the whole performance. I set the resolution to 16th notes so the system will only produce 16th note phrases. Of course, you can play with this to find a note duration you like. I left the Repeat button checked but it didn’t really change much since there are no additional chords entered. I set the Octaves to 1, any other number triggers notes higher than B3, which we know is a pitched instrument sound in Ultrabeat. You can play with this to introduce interesting melodic passages in between your beat. The rest of the controls were left in the default state. Move your playhead to the beginning of the project and hit play. You should hear a very random pattern being generated.

Conclusion Technically this is not a ‘true’ noinput system because you are inputting notes, but it comes very close to the real thing as the notes you are entering are only in

Tweaks

preparation of the system. During

I found one thing very annoying and that was that there are no rests in this randomly generated pattern. To introduce some rests, just add a few more notes below C1 to the blank software instrument track.

the performance there are no notes being entered. Logic just randomly picks any of the notes that you have ‘made available’ to it and plays them back. You can also replace Ultrabeat with any of the other pitched software instruments to create really random melodies. Experimenting with some of the arpeggiator settings can also create interesting variations.

Be careful not to add notes at A-1 and below as they are reserved to trigger Ultrabeat’s internal sequencer patterns. Now if you begin playback from the beginning again you will hear random rests introduced into the pattern. The more notes you have below C1, the more chances there are of a rest being introduced. Again, you can add or remove notes to your liking. If you happen to stop the playhead and start again you will not hear anything. This is because the Note ON message is at measure 2, so will have to set your playhead back to the beginning and make sure it crosses the beginning of the region, thats where the Note ON message is.

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DO YOU HAVE AN ITCH TO

DYSCRATCH? by LeVzi

Recently, while I was working on a project, I needed a section where some turntablism was needed. I needed thea vinyl scratching effect and not being a DJ, or having access to decks and vinyl, I started to search the internet. There were loads of options, some better than others, some totally unrelated that claim to offer this effect, but nothing really suited. Well, I thought I was never going to find

something ideal until I stumbled across Dyscratch. The website shows a picture of a turntable, loaded with vinyl, and some controls, perfect ! Seems just like what I was after, and indeed it was. After trying the demo briefly, it was another case of love at first use, Dyscratch had me hooked.

As you can see, it's split into three sections, first being the animated turntable itself, which moves in time to the actual scratching, which is a nice visual effect. On the top is the sound file waveform. This is the file you load, and how it looks. You can set the start and finish points here and basically the area you want to isolate for scratching. A lot of the modern DJ controllers like Traktor, Serato Scratch etc. have this for beat matching, so this is a nice way of lining up areas to use for scratching. Dyscratch loads up as an instrument in your host, so not only can you make the scratch effect with it, you can add external effects to enhance it further and really make some strange noise. 78

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You then come to the keyboard scale for the naked eye to see, and some control. Dyscratch is an instrument, even use all 4 fingers and thumb to and can be controlled like one with "crab" and move the fader from 100 MIDI commands. Wherever you set Mix to one channel many times in a your start position on your sample, tiny amount of time. Dyscratch also that corresponds to C3 on your MIDI has this in the gate function. When it controller. The keyboard scale is active, you will only hear a signal determines how much each MIDI note when a midi command is used, actually moves over the sample. A therefore "gating" the audio, which higher value shifts through practically really is effective in its own right. Very the whole sample, creating a much impressive indeed. more dramatic effect. Also there are buttons for help, should The humanize function adds a you need a quick reminder of what is "mystery" element to your acceleration what, and a load sample which will setting. This is to emulate human load any sample in WAV format 16 or error, otherwise it could sound almost 24 bit. robotic, and not human at all. I think this is an amazing touch to add, and it Now don't get me wrong, I am not does add a certain non sequential feel claiming that Dyscratch will do all that to Dyscratch. a professional turntablist like DJ Netik can do, but it can make scratch Finally are the gain, clip and gate samples, and make them well. I have Then there are the controls controls. The clipper, when active, honestly not had so much fun with a themselves. Start and End are pretty takes the whole of the signal that plug-in in quite a while, I've been self explanatory, they are the upper breaches the 0db threshold, and "clips" hooked on Dyscratch for ages now, and lower limits of the scratch range. it, causing a type of distortion known and I will continue to experiment and You will notice as you adjust these as clipping, which creates a nice literally play, pretending to be on the controls, the lines on the waveform overdrive effect. This is truly the case ones and twos, scratching it up. move in sync with them. The middle when you activate the clip button, and line is the start point, this is where increase Dyscratch's gain control to a Dyscratch comes in cheaply at ÂŁ31.52 the scratch will begin, then the left high level. The level will never breach in VST format only or for an additional and right lines are the upper and 0db, but it is wise to turn down your ÂŁ6.70 you can have it shipped out to lower limits on how far the scratch will monitors all the same, the resulting you on a CD (P&P included) go. Adjusting these can make for a "hot" signal really does have a nice longer scratch sample or a shorter character. Visit: one. There is then a control for http://www.dyvision.co.uk/dyscratch/ acceleration, which again is pretty self Finally, the gate control. When I have dyscratch.html for more information, explanatory, it adjusts the speed the watched professional turntablists at and happy scratching. record would be pushed or pulled, in work, I have marvelled at their hand other words the speed from start to that covers the cross-fader. The speed the upper limit. they move the fader is almost too fast June 2011

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by Robert Halvarsson

An elegant beauty with unmatched finesse. Let's start this review by making one thing perfectly clear. I do not play the piano well. It is an instrument I am very fascinated by though, and I have several family members of whom I am somewhat envious, since they have mastered the instrument. My own level of knowledge does not hinder me from appreciating the instrument and for a long time I lacked a special something sample library, with character, that I could add to my own collection. Along came the Fazioli offering of Imperfect Samples â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which comes in four different varieties. Ranging from a basic version still featuring roughly 2000 samples, to the monstrous extreme version (with a whopping 71,588 samples!). The more expensive versions offer more than one mic setting and several layers, paving the way for a realism that, before now, was unknown to yours truly. Wusik Sound Magazine reviewed the more rustic Schimmel Braunschweig Upright Piano by the same company, in the January 2011 issue. Our reviewer, David Keenum loved it. While I trust our reviewers, you really have to hear it to believe it, so when I surfed on to the Imperfect Samples web-site, I was stunned; particularly by the Fazioli. Being a reviewer of this product I have quickly risen to the position of a firm believer in it too. So after downloading and installing this great package, I set

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out with my limited skills and my tiny AKAI LPK 25 to play and record a few sequences. Believe me when I say, that the demo sounds do not disappoint one bit. The warmth, playability and quality are all there. Except for really enjoying fooling around with the different microphone settings of the main instrument sounds, I found a few other gems of this collection. Namely the staccato samples, which feature the piano played with short decay. There were also direct plucking of the strings and some special piano fx which could be used creatively for both realistic and bizarre applications. Since the developer made the wise choice As an ending note: I imagine that if Paulo of delivering this in the widely used Fazioli were to listen to Imperfect Samples himself, he'd be very pleased Kontakt format, it's really easy to layer the sounds with other parts of the Fazioli, about the result. The warmth of sound, to create something fairly unique as far as surely also part due to careful placement and quality of microphones and recording, the piano is concerned. While I did enjoy this immensely there is one issue, which I is truly there. As a result of this hard to already suspect that readers are aware of define warmth it also has the rare ability when it comes to libraries such as these. I to touch not only the brain, but also the am of course talking about the amount of heart. space it will take on the hard drive. There is no denying that it may be an issue for some, but at the same time, if you are serious about your music â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the space is totally worth it.

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81


Steinberg's

Cubase 6 by LeVzi

Every so often, the subject of DAWs comes up between producers and the pros and cons of each get thrown into the equation, some people become quite protective of the DAW of their choice. What I have come to appreciate is how certain DAWs suit some people more than others, and I was lucky enough to discover this firsthand when I made the change

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from another popular DAW to the, at the time, newly released Cubase 5. I instantly fell in love with how Cubase works, and how much it suits my style of producing, so when the chance arose to review Cubase 6, I literally jumped at it. What have Steinberg brought us in this latest incarnation?

June 2011

Installation, as with all Steinberg products, was painless, and allowed me to run C5 and C6 side by side, should I still want to keep C5 running. Excellent for those who are sceptical about updating their stable software. Upon running Cubase 6 for the first time, you assume nothing much has changed. The project assistant loads, offering me the templates I had


created in C5. I opt for my favourite template, and that's when you notice the changes in the GUI. There is a different colour scheme used in C6, a darker theme, that's really nice on the eyes. I loaded up my mixer and again, the changes are noticeable there. It looks extremely sleek now, and with the altered slider graphics, it is, in my opinion, an awful lot better... not that

there was anything wrong with the way it was before, but I really am impressed with this new looking interface. I drew some MIDI clips and imported some audio, and again, aesthetically there was a huge difference, and a welcome one. I have never heard anyone really complain about Cubase's interface before, but there is definitely no reason to now. As we all know, first impressions last, and this has certainly made a big first impression on me.

detection. Cubase's ability to detect hit points in C5 was pretty good really, but in C6, Steinberg have improved this by allowing Cubase to include volume while detecting the hit points, thus allowing the clip to be heard as we would hear it. This makes for a more musical approach to finding those hit points, and the results are pretty much spot on every time. Just adjust the threshold to suit, and eventually it will find the points you are looking for. Once that is done, you can slice the audio up. If you now check the pool menu, the sliced clip has a different icon, and you can load the clip in a new audio track and it will Back in June 2009, arrange itself to the correct tempo, Cubase 5 was fully and should that tempo be slower than reviewed by a the clip's you can tell Cubase to fill in fellow writer here the gaps, very nice indeed. It goes a at Wusik Sound lot deeper with quantizing, extracting Magazine, so I am MIDI and even setting up cross fades not going to run for transitions. through all of Cubase's functions, One feature I was extremely keen on instead I will is the tempo detection feature for concentrate on the syncing a whole project to a clip that new additions and has variations in its tempo. Cubase the improvements can now detect the clip's tempo and Steinberg have all the changes within it and create a made. tempo track that will adjust to these changes, so the project constantly One of the many stays in sync. I think that's something things Steinberg that maybe has thrown some people spoke about when over the years when trying to keep releasing C6 was time, things running quick or slow, the fact that they now with Cubase, you can match it. I were making tested it with some loops and editing easier. recordings of mine and it had no One area that problem working out the tempo interested me changes and was very accurate in how greatly was the it mapped the tempo track. Again, fact that C6 has extremely impressive. improved hit point June 2011

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Cubase 6

The audio comping section of Cubase is something I've come to love more and more, especially if I am playing more complex sections in my work. Using the lanes function, I can gather multiple takes of the section I am trying to perfect, but now with Cubase 6, I can gather the multiple takes, slice them and then audition each section to build the perfect recording. This would be a vocalist's dream. The next thing of real interest is the group editing function in Cubase 6. Instead of having to edit and change individual tracks, you can now very easily group together a selection of tracks, create a folder for them and then activate the group editing function. Basically you can then edit all the tracks together in one go, ideal for multiple takes from, for example, multiple microphone placements. One of the most important aspects of Cubase 5 was the introduction of VST Expression, which is the ability to have different articulations per MIDI note. This was the start of something big, as now instead of having to edit everything together, you could literally take 1 note of a chord, for example, and change how it sounds by the way it would be played. It was a very

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musical way of changing the way we regard MIDI, and to a certain extent, I don't feel it ever truly caught the imagination of some producers who probably wouldn't know what glissando or crescendo mean. That has all changed now, with Cubase 6's introduction of VST Expression 2. Now

June 2011

you have the power to alter all the note's data individually, and this includes things like filter sweeps, panning, etc. You just need a VST3.5 plug-in. Something I am noticing more and more is that developers are slowly moving to support VST3.5, and with this new Expression 2 technology,


Before the announcement of Cubase 6, I was wondering about Amp Sims, and the fact that I felt I needed one. I had no idea Steinberg were going to include one in this update, so you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out about this. I was extremely keen to test this out so I loaded some guitar samples into my sampler, and put VST Amp Sim in the insert effects. You have a great looking GUI to greet you, and straight away you can start customizing how you want it all to sound.

I can see why they'd be keen to embrace it. It makes a massive amount of difference to what might have previously been considered a tedious amount of editing. Having the ability, for instance, to edit one note's behaviour in a chord really offers something completely different, and

I am no guitar player, so I am inexperienced as to what the characteristics of each cab and head are like, so I quickly went through some of the pre-sets. I was amazed at how good they sounded. The Amp Sim basically took the plain guitar samples I had, and gave them some power. I started swapping around the cabinets, and the heads to experiment, and started to hear the differences between them, not being a purist in this area, I couldn't tell you how authentic the fact it is so easy to do now, just they sound, but to the untrained ear, makes it exciting to use. As I said, they sound amazing, as do the stomp there are more developers willing to boxes. Using things like the wah wah support VST3.5, which can only mean pedal was tremendous fun and good things for this, as some of the sounded great. I can see that being extremely popular third party synths linked to one of my MIDI controllers will have Expression 2 to use. This is a and used for more than just guitar very exciting time for producers. solos. I am very impressed with how

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Cubase 6

these effects sound, and the amount of ways you can manipulate the sound too, including placement of the microphones to record the sound from the virtual amp. I know there are highly specialised Amp Racks available from third party suppliers, but for me, this is the only one I'll ever need, and it is now part of Cubase. This is something that shows Steinberg's intentions with Cubase, to continue to offer more and more of the functions that are being utilised in a producer's world. Moving on from something that affects noise, to something that makes it, Halion Sonic SE. Cubase has a few VST synths already included, but now with Cubase 6, a streamlined version of the new flagship synthesiser from Steinberg, Halion Sonic, comes bundled with the software. Halion Sonic SE is the successor to HalionOne that was bundled with Cubase 5, though you won't lose HalionOne if you upgrade to Cubase 6 from 5, it is a non destructive update, and you get the best of both worlds. When you open Halion Sonic SE, you get the basic interface showing the keyboard, some pads and various controls over the sound. What I suggest is you locate and expand it to editor mode, where you have a lot more to choose from. There are 18 slots where you can load 16 different instruments, and switch between them, or link them together to be

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triggered from the same MIDI data. Each patch can be altered by various effects which makes "tweaking the pre-set" more fun than ever. The audio quality is amazing in Halion Sonic SE which straight away makes you wonder what its full version cousin Halion Sonic is capable of. Diving straight into the pre-sets, I was amazed at the range that's covered. Not only that, when you look around at the amount of different modulation/voicing options it offers, you cannot help but ask "how is this a scaled down version?" Halion Sonic SE is something every single Cubase user will appreciate. It has a plethora of sounds, ranging from 1990's stabs to nine inch screws, each with its own musical trait. For the purpose of testing, I loaded 8 instruments into the slots, assigned them all to MIDI input 1, and started playing. Not much CPU use at all, even chords didn't raise it by a lot. Halion Sonic SE is extremely light on the CPU, making it even more appealing. The actual effects within it are all very high quality, as are the pre-sets themselves. It will definitely have something to interest the user, and if you are like me, you cannot help but wonder now about its big cousin, Halion Sonic. It is also worth mentioning, Halion Sonic SE is VST3.5 compatible, so you can use Note Expression straight away with it. When Cubase 5 was released, one instrument I was particularly keen to use was Loopmash. Using it to create

June 2011

new and bizarre beats from my vast loop collection was something I really wanted to master. Unfortunately, the original Loopmash never really delivered, as I found it a bit hit and miss in terms of accuracy. Now Steinberg have revamped it, and released Loopmash 2 within Cubase 6. This time it has better slice and tempo detection than its predecessor and generally it is far easier to get results with. To test it out I loaded 4 loops, classics like the Amen break, Apache, etc. and set about randomising the order of slice playback. In literally no time, I had a really nice beat going taking aspects of each loop. It was random, but had a really nice groove to it. I armed an audio track and routed loopmash into it, and prepared to record this brand new loop. It was at this point I switched to the performance controls, which turned out to be a big mistake. I spent the next 20 minutes recording this loop in playback with various stutters, spin backs, tape stops and all kinds of effects, but I had forgotten what I was doing. In the end I had a 20 minute audio track of live percussion, and that was something I consider to be invaluable to a music producer. Without thinking about it, I was making music, inspiration had struck in the form of Loopmash 2, and I was lost in my own imagination. Loopmash has come of age and it can do a lot more than version 1 could, congratulations to Steinberg!


Steinberg has put in a lot of effort to making Cubase's workflow so much more efficient in version 6. The GUI is easier on the eye, as I have already explained. Things like automation, it is now possible to scale automation simply by dragging the mouse to scale left to right, up and down or tilt. Also, there is a new Quantize panel, similar to the Automation panel that arrived with C5, making Quantizing with C6 so much easier than before. Quick controls have also had an improvement in that MIDI Learn has been added to them so can assign a quick control to a MIDI controller by simply moving the control. That's something else that will save a lot of time. Also, should you want to assign a quick control to a plug-in parameter, just right click over the control you wish to assign and it's done. Simple measures that save a lot of time. Time stretching is something I think most people use quite often, and for good quality when time stretching material, you need the best algorithms. Cubase 6 has incorporated the famous Elastique Pro algorithm from zPlane into its system, offering yet another thing that the user can make good use of. Elastique Pro's

reputation is extremely good within producer ranks and now it is part of Cubase. Another hugely welcomed addition to the Cubase machine. The algorithm really is as good as the hype surrounding it. You only need to try it yourself to the extreme to see how accurate it is, and what high quality it gives. I've been a user of Cubase 5 since a month or two after its release, and I grew to love how it works, how it is so flexible. I hit problems in areas I didn't expect to, but even though I was initially frustrated, there are always ways to achieve the result you want. It might not be the most obvious method, or the one you "think" should be there, but it is exactly what you were looking for and it was there the whole time. That is just another one of Cubase's strong points, the ability to have solutions for virtually anything you throw at it.

in my opinions. Cubase has been around longer than most other music production software, and its status is more than cemented into the foundations of the digital DAW world as is its creator, Steinberg, who have impressed me no end with their ideas and innovations. There is no such thing as the ""DAW WARS", what sequencer works for you is a personal choice. Cubase works perfectly for me and my style, so if you are looking for something you can rely on, I urge you to download the demo and try it for yourself.

I absolutely adore using Cubase, I have done since I started using it, but now with this update, and the various improvements Steinberg have made, I am literally overflowing with praise for Cubase. The words of a "fan boy" you may suggest, and I am not going to disagree with you, but I am not alone

Visit: http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/cubase6_start.html

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Voltage Disciple Voltage LookUp Table Synth Pack by mCKENIC I have been a Wavetable nut ever since the days of the Waldorf/Steinberg PPG Wave software (Im afraid I'm too young to remember the hardware), so much so that I have a Blofeld, Fizmo and Piston Honda for Wavetable madness. In my search for new ways to sweep through the tables, the Voltage LookUp Table Synth Live Pack from Voltage Disciple popped up on my radar. I was quite excited to read that many of the close to 2000 Wavetables included in this pack come from such diverse instruments as the Piston Honda, WMD GamaWave Source and the Buchla Complex Waveform Generator! The pack of 21 instruments is a quick download and comes in at just $10 Aus. I have to say, the audio demos on the Voltage Disciple website had me hooked from the start!

The Voltage Disciple Ableton Live Packs focused initially on drum packs with their VOLT series and Digital Voltage Disciple started 1 year ago in Drum Pack, offering sounds from an effort to provide users of Ableton circuit bent drum machines such as LIVE and VST/AU instruments with some boutique and unique sounds and the TR606 and TR707, as well as instruments to use in their famous classic synths such as the Korg MS-20, Roland SH101, productions. Risome, a member of Sequential Circuits Pro One, Nord SYIKOM is the chief sound designer at Voltage Disciple. He has many Modular and Roland CMU 800. years of experience programming hardware and virtual instruments. In Also on offer is a complete Tension (an this day and age of amazing layered Ableton LIVE instrument) pack which synths and huge processing power includes two unique drum racks built provided by personal computers, entirely from the Tension instrument's percussive sounds. City Tech for Voltage Disciple decided to focus on providing users with unique but Tension also contains lots of usable sounds rather than gigantic instrument sounds for Tension layered landscapes that really don't fit including wobble basses. Recently into any track but sound great on they released their Voltage Table there own. Voltage Disciple offers Lookup Synth pack for Ableton's Sampler, which was developed in VST/AU sound banks for Rob Papen Predator, SubBoomBass synth, Sonic conjunction with Adventure Kid. This Charge's fabulous Synplant, and U-he pack allows the user to avail of sounds ACE synth. and techniques only once available in analogue modular synths. It also

About the Disciples -

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allows the user to rapidly (up to audio rate) or slowly read through wavetables which contain up to 100 unique waveforms sampled by Adventure Kid. This pack contains 21 Sampler rack instruments and upwards of 2000 digital and analogue waveforms. Voltage Disciple also offers the Voltage Sequencer Ableton Live pack which gives makers of glitch and noise type tracks a cool starting point for their tracks or it can be used as a unique performance instrument in its own right. It contains noise and glitch type waveforms from famous synths such as Buchla Make Noise synths and the Korg MS-20. Coming soon from Voltage Disciple will be another Ableton Live drum pack based on the famous Roland CR-8000 drum machine which has been modified and circuit bent to produce some great sounds. This pack will be great for producers of minimal and tech house tracks.


Voltage Disciple offers its customers lifetime support of their products, so if they loose their packs, get a new computer or their hard drive crashes their packs and sound banks can be resent simply by them contacting Voltage Disciple via the website. On this note, I have to complement Risome and Voltage Disciple for their stellar support. I had a little issue with the Voltage LoopUp Table Synth pack when I extracted my download. My Mac didn't recognize the file association and I had to manually move the files to where I wanted them. I contacted Risome with this minor issue and in a matter of moments he replied to my query letting me know he had fixed the issue and replaced the download file! Kudos Voltage Disciple!

About the Pack Voltage LookUp Table Synth is exactly what I was hoping it would be - and more! It is difficult to describe the sounds of Wavetable synthesis but these instruments shimmer and glisten with a movement that is a feast for the ears! Each of the 21 instruments is mapped with the standard controls (Filter, Reverb, Delay etc.) as well was LookUp Table Rate and some have arpeggiation. The effort put in programming these instrument racks is apparent - it is quite easy to get lost within one instrument. What surprised me a little was how nice, clear and usable the samples are when you turn off the Table Rate and Arp. Very inspirational and great sounds! In fact, I noticed I was getting a little fatigued while playing through some of the presets June 2011

and realized I had been jamming away with one synth for over an hour, coming up with riffs! After I assigned arp and groove to my controller I couldnt stop playing and tweaking seriously! Fantastic and inspirational! I have had a lot of fun using this pack for the paltry sum of $10 Aus. Voltage Disciple is now firmly on my radar and I'm looking forward to what the future brings from them. I would highly recommend Ableton users check it out - who knows, you might just become a Disciple! Voltage Disciple Voltage LookUp Table Synth, Ableton Live pack - $10 Aus. Download. http://www.voltagedisciple.com/ablet on-live-pack-7.html

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Acousticsamples’

Elektron by Jeffrey Powell

Acousticsamples is one of those sample library companies that just quietly keeps pumping out quality sample libraries, without getting all the attention that some of the other companies get. In fact, despite having a large array of products, no review of Acousticsamples’ products has previously appeared in the pages of Wusik Sound Magaizine. Well, in this issue, I’ve decided to rectify this great omission by taking a look at their Elektron guitar sample library.

guitar is electro-acoustic, you can get very clean, direct samples. So, it The Elektron library is sampled from a doesn’t sound exactly like your average nylon guitar library either. Godin Multiac guitar. Godin is a Thus, Elektron has a sound that Canadian manufacturer of guitars differentiates it from other guitar based out of Montreal, and they’re known for making unique, high-quality sample libraries while still delivering a guitars. The Multiac series guitars are very usable sound. electro-acoustic guitars which have a The Lowdown on the Sample distinctive shape, high-quality Library construction, and thinner bodies than most acoustic guitars. Some have steel strings and others have nylon The Eletkron library weighs in at an strings. The Elektron library features a impressive (though not unreasonable) Multiac series guitar with nylon strings. 2.06 gigabytes in size, and Acousticsamples has included all of With all that in mind, you’ll find that the sound from one of these guitars the bells and whistles on this one. Each note has twenty samples (ten and the Elektron library is a bit different than your average guitar. It upstroke and ten downstroke), with clearly doesn’t sound like your sixteen different release samples per average acoustic guitar because of the note. Round robin mapping is also nylon strings. However, since the used on each note. Note that the The Actual Guitar

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library is available only for the full version of Kontakt. The library also features an excellent Kontakt interface which gives you access to all the useful parameters. As on the actual guitar, there is a three band EQ on the interface to shape the sound. You’ll also find an “Amp” button which toggles on and off the Fender Frontman 212R cabinet simulation. The interface also provides a drop-down menu to choose among the five different play modes: normal, legato, hammers, slides, and strumming. Getting Control Let’s take a look at the different playing modes. Normal mode allows you to play so that every key press triggers a standard pluck of the string.


Legato mode allows you to play a second note (within 4 semitones either way) without triggering a release sample for the first note. Hammer mode will play a hammer sample instead of a normal sample if the second note is within 4 semitones. Slide mode behaves similarly, as it plays a slide sample as long as the second note is within a reasonable distance. As a nice touch, the speed of the slide is controlled by the velocity of the second note. The strumming mode is a particularly great feature of this library. When in strumming mode, several new options are added to the interface. You get a place to assign five different keys to activating the strumming controls (up stroke, down stroke, up ghost, down ghost, and the previously described legato mode). To strum the guitar, all you need to do is press the keys for the chords you want to play, and then press the assigned up stroke and down stroke keys to play your pattern. It’s really quite simple. A few other useful strumming controls are provided. You can change the strumming time using a knob on the interface. At very high strum time values, the strumming becomes an arpeggio. I found that to be a surprisingly useful feature. Additionally, the Elektron strumming engine features a harmonizer which, if you play less than six notes in your chord, will double some of the notes in a different octave to give you a full six note chord. While it doesn’t exactly simulate the exact chord structure you’d play on a guitar, it is really helpful as it gives you a fuller sound in strum mode. My Overall Impression Acousticsamples did a fantastic job sampling this guitar. The sound of the samples is crystal clear, and you can definitely hear the detailed sampling that went into this instrument. You

won’t get the machine gun effect while playing the same sequence of notes repeatedly, like you do with less detailed libraries. In other words, Elektron sounds like a real live guitar. Among the non-strumming modes, I found the hammer mode to be the best sounding to my ears. I thought it provided a sound that could easily mimic a real player. I was less enthused by the slide mode, which I found difficult to make sound natural. I have no complaints with the normal and legato modes. The real treat of this library is, of course, the strumming engine. At first, I found it a bit difficult to get used to playing in strumming mode. It takes a bit of practice to get the timing down pat. Like a real guitar player, you’ve got to get used to getting your chord hand fully in place before strumming. I found it difficult at first to play the chord ahead of the strum beat, and I also found it difficult to remember to completely lift the upstroke key before pressing the downstroke key. However, after a little practice, I got the hang of it and was able to put together some very convincing strum patterns.

could be used effectively by those comfortable with keyboard playing and those more interested in using the piano roll. Perhaps most importantly, the sound of this guitar is quite a bit different than the other guitar sample libraries that I have. This makes it valuable to me. Its sound would make it particularly useful in a Latin or jazz context among others. Conclusion Acousticsamples’ Elektron is an excellent guitar library that provides extensive detail and functionality. Its unique sound and extensive strumming engine make it a good option for those looking for a Kontaktbased guitar library. Be sure to check out the sound demos and the demo video on their website to get a feel for the sound and features of Elektron. You can purchase the Elektron sample library from www.acousticsamples.net for $85. You can also find a wide variety of pianos, basses, drums, and other instruments there as well.

So, overall, I found the strumming engine to be impressive. As I’m not a guitar player, I’m always grateful for great strumming engines to bring realistic strumming to my music and the Elektron engine certainly delivers. I found the harmonizer in the strumming mode to be useful, although I found its behavior a bit tricky to predict. For those of you less inclined to play real time, note that it would be very simple to use the up/down strum keys to set up your strum pattern in a step sequencer. Then you could simply enter your chords (just ahead of the strum activation) in the piano roll to put together convincing strum patterns. So, I think the strum engine

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91


Addictive Drums Reel Machines sounds Real Good! by Trusty

What a great idea! Sweet. The good folks at XLN Audio The sounds! decided to sample some great In case you are wondering... the electronic kits. We got the Linndrum, answer is no. These sounds never get a Simmons SDS-V, and of course, the old. In fact, not only are they staples, DMX, 808, and 909. Good choices. but software companies have been What is really cool is all the modules releasing sample packs and software they hooked the Simmons up with for clones of these drum machines for this Ad Pak so you can get a variety of quite some time as well, and one will always find them included with just stroke types. This is where you can about everything these days. But that adjust how you want the sound to be is all besides the point because they "struck". Click the "?" on the screen do not sound this good. In fact, I and select the "Map View" to see all would rank the sampling work here the options. That they got all those among the highest in the industry, options available for this set of drum and the extremely flexible engine of Addictive Drums opens up a lot of synth and sampler sounds possibilities. demonstrates just how much effort went into this product. Hats off The Simmons SDS-V samples are though the XLN crew for their efforts. actually the stand-outs here. Once They recorded the samples using an you start tweaking them in the engine, Ampex tape machine on 2 and 1/2 you find that you can get all sorts of good sounds out of it for a variety of inch tape, and laid on the saturation. purposes. Of course, that is not to I am really glad they did this, as it discount the others at all. In fact, they opens up all kinds of new possibilities all sound excellent. One of the cool with Addictive Drums. things they have done is with the tape saturation feature. On the kick drums (except the Simmons, which uses the

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normal mic positioning feature), in the mic positioning screen, if you move the fader to the right, you get a clean signal, but if you move it to the left, you start pouring on the tape saturation and you get some really good warmth added. This works great especially using the 808 and 909 kicks, and when you pitch it down, adding in the tape saturation really sets it off. Likewise, on the snare, moving the fader to the left and the right subtracts or adds the tape saturation (the 808, 909, and Simmons use the normal mic positioning feature). Though it only works for the DMX and the Linndrum, it still sounds really good. No doubt all these sounds are familiar, or at least should be, but they do not sound nearly as good elsewhere. When you factor in the high quality sampling, the great sound engine in Addictive Drums, and the stellar FX and dynamics built in, it is hard to get these samples in a better package to work from. Remember you get some real room ambience and plate reverb to go with it.


Presets and Beats!

tied to, is where a lot of great fun can be had with this package. When This comes standard with the five kits, it comes to using this Ad Pak for with each kit also having a dry mix various electronic genres, it is best to and a wet mix. Then, there is the program your own midi patterns various designer presets showing anyway, and maybe using the stock them off in the various tweaks the ones sporadically. On a positive note, different sound designers came up the they are all genre staples, and with. There are very good. They the Dub Step and Techno midi demonstrate the potential and the patterns are among the ones that fall flexibility of the product well, and into the "great" category. there is a good variety. Stand-outs here in the presets are the Mimi Oh All told... 80's takes on the Simmons, 808, DMX, and the Linndrum. Very nice. It is a fantastic deal for $59.00, and you can even get it bundled with As to be expected, there are some Addictive Drums for $279.00 if you midi files thrown in for good measure do not yet have Addictive Drums in various electronic and hip-hop (you really should get it, it is an genres. They run the spectrum from outstanding product that blows away average to really good, but only few similar products) For more at both extremes of great and boring. information, go to However, using these sounds on http://www.xlnaudio.com/ patterns that they aren't necessarily

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N by Ben Paturzo

Dario Lupo thecolorspace.net

Boris Kovalev m-rgt.com

Charlie Yin robotscience.bandcamp.com

Dario Lupo is a talented and energetic young man living in the beautiful town of Salerno, Italy. Dario's website thecolorspace.net is barely able to contain his numerous projects and infectious energy. A musician as well as developer, Dario composes music with the instruments he has designed, including Piky, one of my favorite synths. Covering a wide range of synthesis methods, the instruments at thecolorspace.net can be used for a variety of music. Rather than charge for these instruments, Dario simply asks that you try, and perhaps, buy his music.

thecolorspace.net and its three colorful rings! These projects and aliases, as he refers to them, have allowed Dario to create and release music that speaks to him at various times in his life. You can download and buy his music directly from his website.

Figure 1

The music you will find at thecolorspace.net ranges from the trance/progressive vibes of his project Tragida, to the electronic moods of Need A Name and to the spacious ambient/piano music of Kiis. Assigning colors to these three groups, Red symbolizes energy and euphoria (Tragida), Purple symbolizes experimentalism and futurism (Need a Name), and Blue symbolizes calm and immersion (Kiis), thus 94

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Working first only on the Windows PC platform, Dario has now branched into developing for the Mac. In addition, he has recently released a number of his VST's for Native Instruments's Reaktor. Let's start with Piky. Figure 1 shows the original Piky and its successor Piky 1.1, which contains more presets, waveforms, and a smaller visual and CPU footprint. This


Figure 3

synth is a plucked "pike" type instrument capable of some very clean and interesting sounds. In Figure 3 I'm driving Piky with AlgoMusic's excellent sequencer Atomic, using Atomic's Hypergate preset and midi out option to generate plucky ambient sequences using first Piky's Simple, then Plucked preset. Piky even has a Mario preset which sounds like the theme music from the popular games. Figure 4 shows all four Colorful Series instruments: CS Cloud, CS Drafter, CS Feeling, and CS Serio 3, all shown with different types of presets such as bass, pads, and leads. As you can see in this figure, Dario has experimented with different types of userdirected sound design, including drawing your own waveshapes in CS Drafter, or drawing your own set of harmonics in CS Feeling. It's obvious that someone interested in making music created these instruments. You will have a ball creating your own music with these instruments, all for the price of treating yourself to Dario's music.

Figure 4

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N

Figure 2

Boris Kovalev is the co-developer of three of my favorite virtual instruments. As part of his collaboration with the ambient wizards at AlgoMusic.com, Boris has given us AMB ElectraBass, AMB Enceladus, and the essential AMB Atomic, shown in Figure 2. Hopefully we will be able to present more on AlgoMusic in a future article, but for now, download the demos and see for yourself why people like Boris, Tim Conrardy, and Dr. Ambient (last two AlgoMusic) are absolutely necessary to maintain sanity in this mad world. Joy folks, we're talking about joy here. Check out timconrardy.last-memories.com for more info on the Master.

which Boris started in 2006. On this site you will find several instruments: the subtractive analog synth VS-1 "oscilloscope" shown in Figure 4, the wavetable synth Intro (Figure 5), the waveform-morphing Meddle II shown in Figure 6 (the free version is Meddle), and the last in the series, the waveform-morphing,

Boris is self-taught, both musically and programming-wise, which is just as well, as the surfing season is quite short in his native land, Siberia, Russia. Musical influences include groups such as Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream as well as electronic music guru Klaus Schulze and ambient artist Steve Roach. A very nice foundation for ambient, atmospheric, space, and other electronic music composition. Tracing his programming history, we start with BK SynthLab (www.sitesled.com/members/bksl/)

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Figure 5


N Figure 6

Figure 7 volumetric timbre Spheres (Figure 7). Each of these synths is eminently playable, and as a group can be used to create a very wide variety of music and effects. To my eyes the interfaces are gorgeous, evoking the electronic equipment of the forties, fifties, and sixties, with just enough controls to easily change the sounds but not overwhelm the user. In 2008 Boris began the collaboration with AlgoMusic which produced the AMB ElectraBass, AMB Enceladus, and AMB Atomic. The latest work by Boris is known as Music Regenerative Tools with his newest site, www.m-rgt.com. The first M-RGT is psyBOX, his "space-atmospheric soundscape generator," shown in Figure 8. This tool can be "pilotless," as Boris refers to it, allowing you to simply click the start button and envelope yourself in the slowly evolving soundscapes of this amazing instrument. I listened to the Hazardous Area preset for five minutes and, if the sequence of sounds repeated

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N Figure 8

Figure 9

in that time, I could not tell. Figure 9 shows the setup screen of psyBOX. To paraphrase Boris: psyBOX uses samples as a source of spectra, splitting them into multiple micro-grain waves and combining them into clusters. These clusters are formed randomly and flow from one to another, forming infinite drifting morphing. The two-layer scheme allows you to expand tool possibilities making the sound more condensed and multilayered, adding more volume to the panorama. The instrument has a track recording feature, since each replay of a particular preset is slightly different. You can set your own MIDI automation by right-clicking on most knob controls and choosing Learn. In this way you can "play" this instrument, but keep in mind this is no standard synth instrument. At this time psyBOX sells for $12.50, so do hurry and snap this jewel up before Boris comes to his senses. Expect more exciting things from this wizard, as the tantalizing shot of XScope, coming soon, will attest.

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N Figure 10

Charlie Yin

, based in San Francisco, California, USA, home of White Guilt, creates music under the name of Robot Science. Watching the Web game review show Bytejacker, I was intrigued by the music playing in the background, which was Daggers from Charlie's album Good Luck. If you're familiar with what is called "chiptunes," you may be in for a shock -- this in my humble opinion is quite musical and shows a well-versed background in music. The humble Master Yin (Figure 10) mentions starting on drums at 10 years old, doing some guitar work, and playing with general MIDI, but we know better. Charlie is the reincarnation of Ling Lun, the legendary founder of music in ancient China. That's why he's hiding from the camera. Tags for the music are chill, electronica, chiptunes -- but I prefer good. On his website (Figure 11) you will find Charlie's albums, all for sale at a "name-yourprice." Expect some interesting things from this talented young man, especially since he wants to venture next into live performance. Well, then, if I must, I'll look into inoculations for travel into the city by the bay.

Figure 11

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Time to show some by LeVzi

There have been a few times in my production career when I have been forced back in my seat and thought "Wow" with regard to something new I am using. When I first started using DMG Audio's EQuality and COMPassion, this was another one of those times. From the off it is obvious that a tremendous amount of thought has gone into how these plug-ins work. Let's deal with them one by one. Starting with:

EQuality The first thing you notice about EQuality is the striking GUI. Depending on how you work, you have three options to customise EQuality to suit your needs. You can have the graphical bands on their own, which is what most parametric EQ's tend to use. Or you can have the graphical bands AND the controllers which is what you see in the diagram. The third option is to just have the controllers with no graphics, which is more like a graphic EQ, but not with fixed bands. However you are used to using a certain style of EQ, this one has it covered. Personally I like to use the full view, as it basically allows every single EQ option to be seen and controlled. I guess, to the untrained eye, EQuality could seem a little overwhelming but this really is not the case. It is as simple or as complicated as you want. That is why I am totally in awe of its innovation. The developer wanted to make a complete EQ unit to cover all possible situations and as you start to learn about this plug-in, you come to realise that he might just have done it. There are six activated bands on EQuality, and a further three inactive shelf bands, two Low with differing steepness of the slope, ideal for those sharp cuts in frequency, and one high shelf. Each

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COMPassion and

EQuality

of the bands has an alternate mode; you can switch to this by simply right clicking the icon. They are either alternate to a shelf that is low or high, or a notch. It pretty much covers everything you'd need in an EQ.

often something I want to do with the careful application of EQ. Well I can achieve it with the EQs I am used too but with EQuality it was so easy. The accuracy of the bands and the ability to roll off frequencies so precisely makes a lot of difference, especially when you can contain it in one plug-in. Sometimes a combination of filters and EQs is needed I have found, but not anymore. EQuality is certainly living up to its claim to be a one stop shop for the user.

Each band has controls underneath that govern frequency, the Q (sharpness of the bandwidth) and the gain. The gain only applies to the six adjustable bands; the three others that are shelf like for cuts have an additional control to adjust the slope, all the way to 48db which is a very steep slope indeed, extremely To the sides of the graphical area, impressive. Two of the main bands there are two sliders. One is for the also have shift controls, which affect range value, which is essentially the resonance of the shelf as well, controlling the maximum amount of but the band has to be in shelf mode gain each band can give. You can for that to work. EQ's are, after all, even take this the other way and filters, and filters are known to have invert it, inverting the actual cut-offs and resonances. response, a boost becomes a cut, and with possible values of +/- 36db, When you actually use EQuality on that can be quite substantial. The something, you soon come to other slider is the gain control, again appreciate both the graphical display +/- 36db. Just more options within and the controls. I tended to grab a EQuality that give the user scope to band indication on the graphic and do pretty much anything they can move it where I wanted it in relation imagine from an EQ. to the spectrum analyser in the background. I'd then increase that Along the top of EQuality, there are band's gain and bandwidth etc. and various options; first is the A/B fine tune it all with the controls section, where you can make beneath the graphical area. My use comparisons between settings. When of EQ was becoming more accurate someone says you can "A/B" than before, and that was definitely something, they normally mean that reflected in the sounds I was trying you can compare between A and B. to achieve. For example, wanting EQuality can retain 8 different setmore "Punch" for a bass drum is ups and quickly change between

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COMPassion

them to make the comparisons. This is something that I have come to find invaluable. In the example I mentioned before about more punch to a bass drum, I am now able to setup 8 variations on a theme and flick between them quickly to compare. Forward thinking from DMG Audio, something that really is a huge benefit to the user. The next function is Copy To, which basically copies the current settings to one of the other A/B slots. Again, making life easier for the user, which is something everyone wants. Moving on from there, you come to the FLAT button which is basically a reset button, it puts back all the changes you made, and sets everything to null, so there is no effect in operation. It saves having to unload and reload the plug-in. When working in the stereo domain, you need the ability to check all aspects of the stereo field. This brings us nicely to the next button, which is the stereo mode button, but it doesn't just apply stereo to the signal, it allows you to apply EQ to each area in question. You can choose from the entire stereo signal, the left channel, right channel, middle or side channels, and you can even take this further and solo one at a time and mute the others, just to apply EQ to that zone. The next tab is the Processing one. This governs how EQuality actually does its job. The options are as follows (Lifted from the Wiki for EQuality) Digital - Digital mode is the standard processing mode, giving you a zero latency, low-cpu EQ for all tracks in a

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mix. This uses ultra-high precision prototypes and is as faithful as can be achieved to an analogue EQ. Digital+ - Digital+ mode supplements Digital mode by introducing an error-correction filter to render the frequency response more accurate. You should very rarely be able to discern a difference between Digital and Digital+ (only for very precise high-end adjustments), but when you need it, it's there! Minimum Phase - Minimum phase implements an FFT-style minimumphase EQ response. This mode gives the minimum possible transient distortion without introducing latency. Analogue Phase - This mode gives a precise replication of both the magnitude and phase response of an analogue EQ which exactly matches the settings of the plug-in. Linear Phase - This mode implements the specified EQ response with absolutely zero phase distortion. Transients are not phase-smeared in this mode. This mode is useful for mastering applications. This goes to show how powerful EQuality really is, by having the ability to shift modes at the push of a virtual button. Even on Linear Phase mode, the CPU hit isn't overly excessive. DMG Audio really has nailed a great ratio of performance to CPU use. The next tab is the set-up tab where you have a huge list of options to customize EQuality further and adjust how it performs. I am not going to go through each one, but suffice to say,

June 2011

there are more than enough options to set-up EQuality to suit anyone, a broad claim on my part, but I think a true one. One part of EQuality I really like is the ability to "AutoListen" to a selected band. This basically means that when you switch AutoListen on, as soon as you grab a band indicator in the graphical display, the other bands are muted and you can only hear the band you chose. So now if you feel there are rogue frequencies in the sound, you are able to isolate that band and hear it firsthand. Maybe now you understand why I sat back in my chair and just said "Wow!" I really could fill up the rest of this edition of WSM just talking about EQuality, I rate it that highly. It really is the best one stop shop for all EQing needs there is, and I think that DMG Audio have made something a bit special here. Speaking of special, that neatly leads me into my review of:

COMPassion There is no rest for the blessed here, and I truly am blessed by being the reviewer for yet another offering from DMG Audio. COMPassion is a compressor plug-in with a real difference, it offers the user everything you could think of doing within the art of compression (At least as I see it, I am sure compressor purists could suggest more). COMPassion is the latest offering from DMG Audio and it basically takes the user on a journey into compression


and

EQuality

you may not have known existed. I think it is fair to say that producers look for a certain tool to do a job and do that job in the easiest and most hassle free manner possible. One thing I am finding that is a common

trait between the different plug-ins coming from DMG Audio is that they like to offer both simple and advanced options with extremely easy switching between the two.

June 2011

The two views on offer are the basic/standard compressor controls, or the in depth options that offers a plethora of additional parameters that will cater to your finely tuned compression needs.

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COMPassion

The standard view consists of the controls you'd associate with compression, Attack, Release, Threshold, Ratio, Make up Gain. There is also a control for Input, which allows you to level out the input should it be really low or really high and also a control for Dry/Wet, which dictates how much dry (uncompressed) signal passes through COMPassion. This is the idea behind parallel compression. 50% compressed, 50% uncompressed. There is then the side-chain option, which tells COMPassion to use an external signal for side-chaining. The fact that this plug-in comes in VST3 format will be of particular interest to Cubase users. I should also mention there are switches available to enable auto-release, which is dependent on the strength of the incoming signal, the stronger the signal the longer the release. Also there is an Auto switch for the makeup gain, which is very useful when working out compression settings.

That is pretty much the simplest way to view COMPassion, but if you hit the bottom line in the = icon, you bring down the advanced options, and there are many.

The first thing you see is the sidechain EQ, which is a method of sculpting the signal that triggers the compressor when in side-chain mode. There are options to make the The Ceiling and Ceiling Curve compressor less accurate and more parameters refer to gain reduction, "analogue" by adding a noise floor. You and how it reacts particularly with can also mix between internal and large peaks. From what the developer external inputs, which means you can explains, usually when a signal goes use a side-chain trigger plus the too far beyond the threshold, the actual signal you want side-chained to compressor's knee graph becomes be the trigger, as I understand it. I linear and effectively stops working; think this is a particularly useful this is designed to stop that from option especially when side-chaining happening. The Depth parameter is something like a bass line with a kick for maximum gain reduction when drum, where frequencies collide. gating or expanding the signal.

The threshold parameters are next and they are very advanced. Bleed, Hysteresis, Ceiling, Ceiling Curve and Depth. I am no expert in such matters, but from what I understand, Bleed The one thing you will be drawn to relates to increasing the compression more or less immediately is the GUI of ratio further than normal, which is COMPassion. It includes a way of best displayed in the graphical area showing you the incoming signal, how showing the knee, with bleed at much of it leaks over the threshold maximum, that almost becomes a and how and when compressing takes hook, and that is severe compression, place. This is something I was really especially at high ratios. Hysteresis, excited to learn had been included in as far as I have seen, is a method of COMPassion. You can use the attack stopping harsh compression changes and release values represented to see forcing rapid gain reduction where the compression starts and alterations. It is basically like a safety ends, and how much gain reduction net for gentle compression. Perhaps you are actually getting. The best way this, from the manual, explains it to get used to it, in my opinion, would better. be to use something like a drum sample, run it through COMPassion "The best explanation is via an and adjust the various controls to see example: Suppose a threshold of how the compression works visually 10dBFS and a Hysteresis of 5dB. The and audibly. signal must now exceed -5 dB before compression will be applied. When the signal does so, release will not start

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until the signal drops below -15dBFS. In this sense, Hysteresis acts to prevent Compassion from changing its current GR level. Used on vocals, which require very subtle and gentle compression, or used when gate/expanding the signal, this parameter acts to enhance the smoothness of the overall response."

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Next are the ratio parameters, and once again, you can go beyond the standard controls you'd expect in a compressor. The expansion control allows you to alter the levels of everything below the threshold as opposed to over it. Ratios of say 2:1 and 4:1 are used in expanders (According to the manual) and a ratio of infinity:1 would gate the signal. I have to admit to this being alien to me, I've never really had the need for an expander, nor do I fully understand its application, but now I intend to find more out about it and whether it would be of real benefit to me, and through COMPassion I now have the means to find out. As you can see, COMPassion is far more than just a compressor, and as I said before, it's as complicated or simple as you, the user, want it to be. Next come the options to enable upward expansion or upward compression. Upward expansion takes everything after the threshold and makes it louder, very


and

EQuality

useful, but beware, it can be aggressive so I'd protect that channel with either COMPassion's clip limiter, set a ceiling within it or use a limiter on the channel itself. Upward compression is the reverse, and takes everything below the threshold and makes that louder. How versatile is COMPassion? It really does seem endless; so much thought has gone into this plug-in I am truly astounded. Without going into great detail, the Attack, Release and Auto-Release parameters can be further enhanced with more and more in depth parameters available in the submenus. This really is in-depth stuff, where actual circuitry from differing models and even country designs have been taken into consideration.

One thing I want to mention is the MODS section. Normally you would be used to pre-sets only, but COMPassion has an option for MODS which are similar to pre-sets but instead of loading a completely different state for the whole of COMPassion as you would with a preset, a MOD can alter just a few parameters instead. This is great for auditioning slight tweaks you may have made and saved from previous projects. The definition from the manual states:

"A pre-set encapsulates the entire state of Compassion. However, for efficient work flow, sometimes reconfiguring the entire plug-in is less than desirable. Being able to audition changes to just the character without influencing the overall style of There is so much more to COMPassion compression can allow for very than what I am listing here, but I feel efficient work flow and allow you to quickly tune-in to get the sound you if I continue going through all the need." various parameters and options, you might feel overwhelmed or just lost. I Conclusions: think what is important when considering COMPassion for your I am a plug-in lover, I have to admit compressing needs is that it can do everything a standard compressor can this, I love all plug-ins in whatever shape or form they come in, no do, and then you can fine tune it matter what they do I find them further to be so much more. How the fascinating, admittedly some more developers came up with this idea is an incredible feat of DSP engineering. than others but I love exploring what they can offer. When I started going It is so much more than just a through both EQuality and compressor, it is a transient shaper, COMPassion, I was truly stunned by an expander... the options are how detailed everything was with endless.

them, the amount of thought and care taken to lay everything out so well, to include as much as possible and not make the plug-ins appear bloated. What started as a review, quickly turned into an adventure in the world of equalisation and compression. With all the functions and options aside, how do these plugins actually sound? Are they light on CPU? Well firstly they sound exactly as I wanted them to sound with the parameters I dialled in. If I wanted a 200Hz high pass, that's exactly what I got. If I wanted to compress my bass drums to tame the transients yet remain punchy, that's exactly what I got. As regards my CPU, I tested on an AMD Phenom x6 1090T 3.2Ghz, and they barely made a dent on a core. Even when they were both on maximum settings (Linear Phase for EQuality and Oversampling on for COMPassion) the CPU hit was higher, but nothing I'd call remotely an issue. DMG Audio have arrived in the land of music production with two stunning plug-ins that would fit into any professional studio anywhere in the world. And finally, developers supporting VST3. Yes they are that good. Don't believe me? Try them for yourself. Congratulations DMG Audio on two amazing plug-ins. Highly recommended.

VISIT: http://www.dmgaudio.com/ for more information and purchase. Both units come in VST/VST3 and for Mac and in 64bit. EQuality : Pricing: £99.99 ~ $165.27 ~ €112.74 (Log-in to see if discounts are available!) COMPassion : Pricing: £149.99 ~ $247.91 ~ €169.12 (Log-in to see if discounts are available!)

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Guitarist

Sugar Bytes

Guitarist And it allows me too as well... by Trusty

Long time coming I got this thing a while back. This review is a long time coming for a few reasons. When I first saw the announcement and later watched the demo video, I was excited. Really excited. When I got it loaded on my computer and up and running. I was blown away by the sound quality of the samples, the three drive models, the expressiveness of the various guitars and the tweakability going on in the presets. I listened with awe for a few hours going through them. Then, I began to initialize (use the default preset) and decided to go at the thing from scratch. Man, I stunk at it. I was getting frustrated, and I spent two days off and on trying to get this thing to make the awesome guitar riffs in my head so I could rock some tunes. I knew this thing, judging by the presets, could be a big asset to my arsenal (to not have to bother

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with guitar players as much is always a bonus too) if I could only figure it all out. I gave up after a couple of days...mildly upset with it and, really, myself. However, it dawned on me that I am really the problem...Not only do I not play guitar so don't think like a Guitarist, but I was not thinking about the sequencer the way Robert and Rico want the users to think about it. I know they are great, smart guys who have crafted this thing expertly, and that they've always made sense to me and so many Sugar Bytes users in the past, that I needed to start again...because I am the problem. Certainly other people out there were having a blast with Guitarist, and I am being left out. Now, in the interim, before we get into all the gritty about how and why this rocks, I want to start at the end and work my way back to the sequencer.

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When I came back to this after some time, I started at it, and used my midi controller, and assigned all the fun goodies in the Action Section to knobs and pads and was in heaven. This thing, as a realtime instrument for rocking out on the "guitar" keyboard style is lots of fun. Even random pattern assigning and tweaking the results are fun. The sound and the Action Section make it extremely fun and playable if one approaches it like a regular instrument. Add the Wah (or volume) pedal to the mod wheel and you are off. The Chord Board at the bottom is assigned to the keybed within a two octave range, so it was lots of entertainment going about it that way. As I kept going and going with Guitarist in this way, along with tweaking presets and adding my own fun to them with the Action Section, clicking on things in the sequencer window and seeing what happens, slowly but surely,

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it started to come together for me. Once I got it, it all made sense and I have been rocking out ever since. Let's get to the gritty 'n' pretty Starting with the sequencer, it turns out it is dead easy to use. I have no idea what my problem was. Simple enough, you start with the "tempo" which selects the number of steps (or strums) in a pattern. The BPM is synced to your host, so no problem there. In standalone mode, you can set it yourself. Press play and start creating the pattern. Beneath it are the "Triggers". If you want it to strum on a step, raise the trigger. The triggers are velocity sensitive, so the higher you raise them, the harder and louder it strums. Simple. Beneath this are the active notes in the chord. You can have it full on or you can drop strings out as you go until you find the right combinations. Nice feature for

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Guitarist

those of us who haven't the slightest clue how to play guitar. Beneath that is where you can determine the The presets direction of the strumming, the style, the drag where you can insert bends The presets, as I said earlier, are and slides on the pitch, and stop strikingly good, and well laid out too. where you can kill unwanted fading Not to mention that there are plenty notes as the pattern moves along. of great ones to choose from. You can Getting going with this is a lot of fun pick global presets, as well as sound, and easy to do. Once you get the pattern, and chord presets. What this hang of what does what, it all simply all means is that if you find a guitar clicks. Below this is the chord sound you like, a pattern you like sequencer where the real action gets somewhere, and different chords, you going. You can set the number of can mix and match the presets all day repeats for each chord, the root note long in various combinations and for the chord, and pick the chord type make them your own, just as you out of 12 (major, minor, diminished, would on a synthesizer or using stock etc.). Once you get into your head midi patterns. Which leaves tons of how it works, getting killer riffs going combinations to use for your own is breeze (unless you have no talent). tracks until you get more comfortable Works just like that. Tabbed below it is with the sequencer, unless you are the animation sequencer that keeps not a dolt like me and get it right things in order, and the song away (probably most people). There sequencer that can arrange the 24 are ten categories to choose from, patterns stored in the pattern with lots of patterns and guitar sounds sequencer at the bottom next to the to pick from and grin. chord board.

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Other Goodies As mentioned before, this is the really fun part. One could reduce it to simply being a way to humanize and randomize the performance, and to an extent that is true, but it is a bit more than that. It gives you the options to dampen, stop, loop, restart the pattern, timestretch, cut the tempo in half, hit some dead notes, and slow it down while keeping up with the tempo when released. It almost feels like Artillery working with this, and some very creative, and cool effects can result from it. It is very impressive that Sugar Bytes implement these things in this way. The amp models (three of them...well, two and a DI model) sound great. So good that I am sure Sugar Bytes could release this little bit up in the right corner as a nice little plug-in on its own. Not much to it, but the sound is great. Beneath that are the effects. One slot has choruses, phasers and wahs, and the other has delays and reverbs. Top notch per usual with Sugar Bytes. They certainly know effects. Then there is the Wah and Volume wheel (acts as a peddle, so to speak) with some nice features.


The Bottom What is funny is that you can tune (or force out of tune) each string. Very clever. On the right side is the chord board and on the left the pattern slots. Like the chord board, the 24 patterns can be triggered via midi, and there is a nice range of options for this as well. Having a four octave keybed is a good idea to get the most use of this all at once though, or using a piano roll. This is also where the chord and style random buttons are located to add some spice to the sequences.

Keep on Rocking Not too sure how many people have gotten in on this one, but it is not to be missed. I found it a bit intimidating at first, but it really is fairly easy to use, even for us guitar illiterate folks. The sound quality is superb, and the presets are a dandy. When you throw in the cool effects and the action section, this thing is not only good and usable, but it is a heck of a lot of fun. Get it...can't hurt. Easier to learn than putting up with session guitarists for sure.

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nectar Your Complete Vocal Suite

by Simeon Amburgey

iZotope has done it again! Nectar is the latest software plug-in targeted at helping those working with vocal tracks. Nectar bundles 11 powerful tools together, creating a dynamic package. A Day At The Workbench Well, when I think of tools I see my father-inlaw's garage. It is filled with so many different screwdrivers, drill bits, nuts and bolts of all kinds - you name it and you could probably find it on the bench or on the wall hanging on the pegboard. If you have worked with digital audio for any length of time you might be facing a similar situation, a workbench filled with every conceivable effect or processing plugin, which quite frankly can be overwhelming at times. Thankfully, iZotope with their latest software plug in "Nectar" helps us solve at least some of the issues while dealing with all those nuts and bolts. Simplicity and Power Nectar has 11 underlying modules to help you deal with the everyday (and sometimes very unusual) situations you face when working with vocals of all types: Breath Control, Pitch Correction (Automatic and Manual*), Compressors, De-Esser, Saturation, Doubler, EQ, Gate, Limiter, Delay, and Reverb. As you

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can see from the screenshot, iZotope has done a great job of bringing the underlying modules together in Main View. Here is a link to a short intro video from iZotope: http://bit.ly/kqMF6G

It All Starts With Style The modules that appear in the Main View are configured when you select an initial Genre or Style. iZotope has collaborated with several topflight engineers who work in various styles and they have created several starting points to get you going. If you are going for a "Country" styled vocal, you are presented with several different presets that are fine tuned just for that style. Likewise, if you want a more "blast from the past" kind of vocal, they have you covered with Motown and even some classical presets. They also offer some styles that are specifically designed for those doing narration or commercial voiceover work for film and television. Each time you select a different Style, Nectar's Main View will change to display the combination of the 11 underlying modules that are appropriate to use for that style. Each Main View is tailor made for that particular style, giving you fast and immediate control and not overwhelming you with all of the details going on with the individual modules - so you can jump right in.

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Looking under the hood The Main View offers a very straightforward way of working with Nectar. It allows you to achieve speedy results when time is of the essence and it is very powerful. When you want a little more control over things, that is where the "Advanced" view comes in. As you can see, in this view you are presented with a more detailed view of the particular module selected from the list on the left side of the window. Here you are presented with the 11 individual modules and you have more precise control over what is going on with each one of them. Here we are looking at the EQ module. All of the module views are very intuitive and offer an extreme amount of control in achieving the sound you are after. Power When You Need It Most I have heard of some cars and trucks that allow you to switch between the number of cylinders you actually use when driving to either conserve fuel or to give you that extra power in the times you really need it. iZotope has taken a similar approach here by allowing the user to choose between a Tracking and Mixing mode.

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What this does is it allows you to utilize the full power of Nectar's processing when you need it most. Even with today's multi-core CPUs, you need all of the clock cycles you can get when tracking a live vocal. Nectar's Tracking mode helps out a lot in this respect by running on less CPU cycles to help you keep the creative flow going and allowing you to capture the best performance. After you get the vocal recorded, the Mixing mode comes into play giving you the full power of Nectar. This is also reflected in the Main and Advanced view approach. Nectar's workflow is designed to help you get the best sound in the shortest amount of time when you are working with an artist laying down the initial tracks, and then gives you the power of more control when you are fine tuning the mix and vocal, where you have time to focus more on the details. June 2011

Here's The Pitch One of the standout features of Nectar is the inclusion of Pitch Control. Over the past few years, you have probably heard vocal recordings that have been treated with pitch correction at some point in the mixing process. Whether good or bad, this is a fact which became an integral part of how we approach vocalists. Like anything else, this particular tool can be a blessing and save a vocal take that has everything right except for a little thing here or there, or if overused it can lead to a very unnatural sounding vocal and take away the life of the original performance. You have the option of using the Pitch Correction module as part of the Main view and you are able to adjust the sensitivity of the "Auto Correct" setting, or you can have more detailed control at the note level in the


to be tweaked and Nectar gives you plenty of room and power to tailor the sound to your particular liking. As with any new program you have to dig in and discover the personality and focus of the plugin you are working with, as each has its own unique character and sound. Fortunately, you can download a 14 day trial version to work with Nectar so you can see how it will fit into your project.

"Advanced" view as seen in the graphic above. Here you can view a detailed explanation of the Nectar Pitch Module: http://bit.ly/js0Cp3

functionality inside 64 bit hosts, in this case SONAR 64 bit. http://bit.ly/mCGnVE The Sound of Sweetness

One important thing to take note of is that the manual correction does not work with every DAW host. In my case using Cakewalk SONAR 8.5.3 in 64-bit, I could not use the manual correction as it comes out-of-the-box. However, by using jBridge (a third party 64-bit VST wrapper) I was able to gain access to the manual Pitch Correction mode. I have put a Screencast together to demonstrate how to do this and you can watch it by going to: http://bit.ly/jkGKBK.

Nectar comes out-of-the-box with a lot of history behind it. iZotope has spent years refining their approach to modeling sound, and this technology shines with Nectar. You may be wondering "Well, this is just another iZotope product and it will sound like all the rest of them", but this would be a very inaccurate assumption. Speaking with iZotope, they have assured me that this is in no way Ozone with a different user interface, Nectar is all about the human voice and is tailored to address that specific workflow.

Update: iZotope has released an update that addresses using Nectar's

Another thing worth mentioning are the presets. Well, presets are meant

June 2011

I am discovering each day how to get the most out of Nectar, but I love not having to hunt all around the workbench to find that pesky screw or pair of pliers because Nectar lays it all out in one organized and accessible tool and I think that is very sweet! Nectar is available now directly from iZotope for $199.00. They do offer a free trial version as well, so you can see if Nectar is right for you. Update: iZotope has released an maintenace update for Nectar that improves on a lot of the original features, and also improves performance in 64-bit host enviroments. If you have not already downloaded and installed the update, you can find it here: http://bit.ly/mCGnVE

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HG Fortune

AvatarST Pro and

UltraSwampPro by Ben Paturzo

When you first get an instrument by HG Fortune you know that it will be an adventure just running through the presets. There is a playful intelligence at work here and it shows in the names of the presets, their language, and in the moods they are intended to invoke in the user. Long a proponent of algorithmic systems of music composition, Fortune has a long history of developing instruments for use in ambient, atmospheric, soundscape, and other types of electronic music. In fact, his term Amorphonic Music might be best to describe the music and sounds his instruments excel at. To my eyes the interfaces of these instruments reflect his influences, dating back to the 1970's, both in the hardware he's used and the music he's made and listened to. Optimally you want someone wellversed in music creation and, especially, in live performance, to design your instruments. This is why Fortune's instruments do not fail to please.

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A substantial update of his UltraSwamp synth, the UltraSwampPro retains the resonant 24dB Low Pass and other filters of the previous version, with a 4-channel modulation mixer to create some interesting mixes of Filter Cutoff modulation. Mod Sources include three LFO's, one Sample and Hold, and one Double LFO with phase shifting. There is the TimbreModulator as before, but instead of a second TimbreModulator, Fortune has added a RingModulator with a generous frequency mod range of 7 to 100 Hz. With two PCM wave oscillators each with a choice of 256 waves, and with 12 voices and 512 patches, you will not find the sonic limits of this instrument anytime soon. And at a price that currently is so absurdly low, the only question is what are you waiting for? I sampled many of the presets, including the pad Amazing Tales DS (evocative of bedtime adventure stories), the sfx Assimilation EDT (very Borg), the atmosphere One of These Days DS (long live the Floyd!), and the strings Dangerous Strings DS (again, very evocative and great cinema music). There are even presets for tutorial work, such as those for exploring the RingModulator and the Gator functions. For someone overwhelmed at the choices in the control settings for each preset, Fortune includes his "Lazy Buttons" to randomize some of the settings, allowing the new user to learn how the controls affect the sound. For more advanced users, especially those live performers, the six-point XY Joypad allows for tweaking as you play. Finally, for those doubting Master Fortune's sense of humor, note that there is an Easter Egg (in the free version) that owes its appearance to Mantan Moreland. 'Nuff said.

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HG Fortune

AvatarST Pro and

UltraSwampPro

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The AvatarST Pro includes waves by Westgatesounds.net, so you know this instrument will be capable of some very evocative sounds, calling forth those dark and eerie voices that are just at the edge of your dreams. I'm going to go turn on a light. This synth has four PCM wave oscillators each with a choice of 384 waves; there are also 16 voices and 128 presets. Fortune says that this instrument is best suited for pads, soundscapes, atmospheres, and related FX sounds. However, AvatarST Pro can be used The interfaces of both AvatarST Pro and as your imagination dictates. The Prepare UltarSwampPro are striking with six different Yourself preset had me thinking I was hearing color skins available for the AvatarST Pro. someone's heartbeat (perhaps my own?) as I Both instruments have concise manuals that played. The BM Scary Bugs preset definitely evoked a waterfall of the squirmy critters. explain controls operation as well as theory The G Inevitability preset had me walking quite well, with many illustrations throughout. down the long hallway to what I hoped would You will find yourself rewarded for the time be Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates, only to find, as I looked around, that the walls had a you spend exploring and getting to know rather reddish tinge to them. Finally, the each instrument and besides, they're both Gaussian Dance (SP) preset had me great fun! witnessing those wacky Greys doing their frenetic frug. Your mind will be trippin' folks, in the best sense of the word. Again, to allay newcomer anxiety, there are the Lazy Buttons -- eight of them this time -- to help you play with the controls as you achieve different, useful, and definitely interesting new sounds. The price of AvatarST Pro is also quite reasonable. Keep in mind that Fortune gives away so many instruments for free that per instrument the cost is more than reasonable.

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Long-term review:

LinPlug's Part 2 - Getting to know you

In the last issue of Wusik Sound Magazine I of waveforms you get the traditional sine, started a three part series about LinPlug's square, saw, triangle etc plus a whole pile "MorphoX" soft synth. That first article was of specialized waveforms. In total there are very much a quick look around and an 48 waveforms to choose from for each explanation of MorphoX's principle feature - oscillator. You can access the complete list its ability to morph between two complete of waveforms by clicking on the waveform presets. Since writing that piece a month or name, or use the button to the right to flick so back I've been able to spend some more through them in order. time with MorphoX and dig a little deeper Above each oscillator is a small button with into all that the synth has to offer. Having said that, I'm not sure that I'll ever be able an "F" in it. In the screenshot this button is active for Osc2 which means that the to get to the end of what is available in oscillator is free running, in other words, MorphoX. There's so much to get to know! rather than starting at the beginning of the Because of that I'm going to spend my time in this article pointing out the more interesting features in MorphoX. First up though a picture of the whole synth to remind ourselves of what we're dealing with - a handsome plugin! Oscillating Up in the top left hand corner we find MorphoX's two oscillators. Each oscillator can be made up of two waveforms and by default they are mixed together. Using the "Wave" control you get to control the mix between the two waveforms. In terms

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MorphoX by Adrian Frost

waveform for each new note the waveform picks up from where it was at the end of the previous note. The effect is quite subtle but allows the creation of very smooth sounds good for pads. The "symm" control looks after the symmetry of the waveform. Twiddling it can make quite a difference to the timbre of a sound. Each oscillator also has a spread control whereby the instances of the oscillator are stacked and then detuned with

respect to each other. Osc1 can be "spread" to five detuned waves and Osc2 to three. At the extreme top end of its range the spread control produces a somewhat discordant sound; the sweet spot seems to be about two-thirds of the way up. As you can see from the screenshot you have an "fm" control and a ring modulator at your disposal. You can also mix in some noise if you're creating FX or more percussive sounds.

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MorphoX

The lower frequencies… LFO section is probably the most "standard" part of the synth. The main thing to point out is that you can use noise as an LFO (the highlighted button). Personally I've not come across this before - the "personally" bit is to stop the flood of letters and e-mails saying "Did you not know that…" - and I rather like the feature. You, evidently, get more randomness than a typical S&H LFO and can produce some very interesting effects by applying (via the Mod Matrix) a noise LFO to the filter. Both LFOs can be synced to host or can run freely based upon the "freq" control. The Del (delay) control allows you to delay the start of the LFO so your LFO effect only kicks in after a certain time. This allows a fairly flat innocuous sound to suddenly take on a new lease of life. Quite fun to play around with. The matching Att (attack) control "determines the time it takes for the LFO to reach its full level (and thus the full modulation depth)". Again this just gives you that bit more control over your sound compared most LFOs.

might sound like. The arp, as a source, can be directed to any of the destinations available in the Mod Matrix and depending on where you route it, the 16 controllable steps will have a different effect on your sound. In the screenshot I've tried to show the range of possibilities for setting each step: you can set a value between 1 and 127 (Maximum of whatever destination you've routed to). Off is fairly obvious… then you have "Tie" which can be used to joins two (or more) steps together. The step set to "Tie" is tied to the previous step. With these options you can create some quite interesting and

Arpin' on about it The arpeggiator is one of the global controls that isn't affected by the morphing control. I would imagine that it is practically impossible to morph an arp, or at least I can't imagine how you'd do it or what it

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intricate rhythmic presets. You also have the standard octave and retrig settings that really need no explanation. In using the arp you have access to 10 different modes including the usual up, down and random. Again there is an interesting feature that I've not often seen elsewhere - the arp takes the notes you play and arpeggiates them in the order played. And yes, arpeggiate is a real word; a transitive verb in fact… I looked it up! Using this mode, the possibilities are practically unlimited. If you click on the Arpeggiator label you'll open up a small menu that allows you to save and load, copy and paste arp settings. A great feature if you want to reuse patterns that you have already created in another preset.


Morph, morph, morph The final element I want to look at in this article is the Morph section itself the beating, and bopping, heart of MorphoX. The first thing to say for MorphoX neophytes. When you're twiddling controls and trying to create amazing sounds, if nothing seems to be happening it's because you've got the Morph wheel "pointing" to the wrong sub-preset (see last issue's review for some terminology). I say this only to save you twenty minutes of "what am I doing wrong?" self recrimination. The easiest thing to do is click the "LINK" button and MorphoX will automatically take you to the right place.

nice and saves time when you want B to be only subtly different from A, you have only to set everything up once, copy, paste and then tweak the controls at your disposal.

Make some noise already!

Parts one and two have been, I hope, The last thing to note in this section is a reasonable introduction to LinPlug's Setting "max" and "min" determine that you can control the relationship MorphoX. It's a very subtle looking how much morphing happens when between the morph function and the synth, it doesn't scream "look at me!!" you move either the graphical morph mod wheel of your controller. wheel or the mod wheel on your According to the manual: "On the very You might even be tempted to pass it controller. This is useful if you have a left of the morph section you find the by in favour of something more flashy. great sound that falls between the two morph curve. Usually the morphing Don't! MorphoX is a great synth, the sub-presets. You can set that sound happens in a linear fashion, indicated included presets are, on the whole, as the "limit" of the morph wheel's by a straight line. By moving this very good and designing your own range giving you more granularity control downwards the morphing sounds is a delight and an adventure over the morphing between subslowly moves from A to the middle rather than a hard slog. MorphoX's presets. and quickly approaches B at the end. filter is smooth and powerful, which When moving this control upwards LinPlug makes things easy for you by however, the morphing quickly moves really describes the overall sound of allowing you to copy and paste from A towards the middle and slowly this synth. It doesn't really do "grit" between sub-presets A and B. This is approaches B at the end". but is fantastic where you want a modern, clean sound that can hold its own in a mix. Next time we'll take a look at creating some sounds to show MorphoX in action. I'll have a go at a lead, a bass, a pad and some weird and wacky fx. Until next time!

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QuikQuak.com by Ben Paturzo

Figure 1

Dave Hoskins got interested in audio when the BBC's sound effect records he collected fired his youthful imagination. Later, he became heavily involved in computers, selling games, and designing a speech synthesizer. This led to the purchase of a Roland D50 and, of course, more programming. His venture into the multitimbral world of a Korg M1, which Dave still owns, and a Roland S330 sampler, meant that he could now create whole tracks using his Amiga and Cubase. However, music making was put on hold, as he worked on films such as The Descent and The Prestige doing percussion and sound effects. A ten year stint as a VFX programmer at the computer game company Acclaim Entertainment, along with its untimely demise, led Dave to consider going it alone. Studying the VST Software Development Kit (SDK), he decided that his interests in music and graphics could be combined by developing virtual instruments. This led to the creation of QuikQuak, a name that popped into mind during Dave's meditations with the Dalai Lama. That last part isn't true.

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Figure 2

QuikQuak plugins range from music instruments such as Glass Viper and BarChimes (a percussion synth), to effects such as the reverb plug-ins RaySpace, Fusion Field and others, and also to effects such as realtime pitch and timbre modulation in Pitchwheel. You may very well find that after experimenting with one or two plugins you simply must have them all. Dave generously offers a bundle which cuts 40% off the individual plugin prices. Let’s look at the reverb type devices first. Fusion Field (Figure 1) is described as a smooth diffusion reverb. It really does sit beautifully in a mix, as described, and unless you have high quality near-field monitors, I suggest the use of headphones to appreciate the subtleties that this plugin offers. Subtlety and reverb don’t seem to go together nowadays, in this world of glitch and bitcrushing, but this is what you will find in Fusion Field: a sense of smoothness and naturalness that does not detract from your music but enhances it. The reverberation created by Fusion Field can be separately dampened in the upper frequencies as well as the lower frequencies, with the dial ranges designed to be most

sensitive in the most useful regions. The animated “cloud” display intuitively corresponds with the controls, but best results will be achieved by ear. Presets such as Snare Catch, Vocal Floater, and Piano Classic indicate the range of this VST, so you will find yourself using it for percussion clips, vocal clips, and much more. I asked fellow WSM writer and producer LeVzi to give his opinion of Fusion Field:

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Well, I love it. It's a great unit, but what sets this reverb apart is the graphic, and how it works with the settings -you "see" your reverb. The plugin is really light on the CPU, in fact the best performer among several reverb units I'm testing. It's the reverb unit I want.

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QuikQuak.com

Figure 3 If Fusion Field is the subtle reverb, then RaySpace (Figure 2) is itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s extreme big brother. There are many presets in RaySpace: dozens in the Club, Cathedral, and Chamber rooms such as Chamber: Off the walls; dozens more for Drums, Pads, and Vocals such as Drum: Clap repeater (Figure 3) and Vocal: Poisoned!, and dozens more in the FX and Production categories such as FX: Horror scream and Production: Forest hiding. All of these presets encourage you to experiment with the settings and add your own sonic signature. From the figures you can see that Dave has fashioned another intuitive display that indicates the room being emulated; this view is interactive, allowing you to alter your view of each room by using a mouse. There is also an "Editor View" that allows the user to modify the room walls as well as add additional walls. You can also move the listener's position as well as that of the sources. Figure 4 shows the Editor View for Pads: Slow spiral. From the large number of presets you can be assured of an very wide range of effects.

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Combing phaser, chorus, reverb, spectral shift, delay, and other effects, Crowd Chamber (Figure 5) will have you experimenting until the wee hours. A vocal track can be altered by Hello Planet or Stadium Chant to sound like many, many singers in spaces adjusted both in size and other acoustics, with relatively few controls. The interface


Figure 4

Figure 5

is playful, direct, and intuitive. In short, a joy to use. Dave mentions that this effect plugin did start out for voices, but it has evolved to allow for some interesting effects for all types of tracks. Trying Crowd Chamber with a percussion loop will leave you smiling. The result can be a lot more organic than many sound "manglers." All of the QuikQuak plugins offer great value for the price; Crowd Chamber at 15 GBP is an absolute steal. That's all the space we have for this issue. Next issue we'll complete our tour of Dave Hoskins's QuikQuak plugins, including the amazing Pitchwheel effect plugin. We'll also cover future plans for the double Q, including the new MashTactic mashup tool (go to You Tube to see the video) and give out Dave's private number. Well, not that last part.

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Classification of Intervals

Classification of

Intervals by James McFadyen

The differences in tone and tension between different sets of intervals is a powerful tool for any composer or music producer to understand. In the th nd late 19 century, the so-called 2 Viennese composers devised a new system of harmony – serialism – it was very clear that a new understanding of the relationship between intervals was needed.

nd Leading the 2 Viennese school were Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Their new classification of harmony brought many new challenges and along with it many strict rules; of which forming a tonal centre or focus on a particular note, series of notes, or tonal harmonic framework were forbidden in the most strictest – and earliest forms – of serial (or twelve-tone) harmony.

For the purposes of this paper, it is not necessary to go into great depth about serialism, except to say that it single-handedly changed the way music was written and conceived. The basis of this is in the classification of intervals; this sets out a framework to enable composers to understand harmonic tension in various degrees of intensity.

Consider the following to classify the strengths of intervals:

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Label

Strength Rating

Description

M

Mild

W

Weak

A soft balanced sound which is open and free of obvious dissonance. Mildly dissonant but open-sounding harmony.

N

Neutral

S

Strong

H

Harsh

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Neither weak, nor strong and unable to establish tonality. Dissonant, often in close-harmony. There is normally a want of resolution. Harshly dissonant , often in close-harmony. There is normally no real want for resolution.

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Study this classification of intervals chart above:

The next thing to consider is dominant th 5 interval), we start from the note G, relationships. These types of as can be demonstrated in the relationships form more complex classification chart below: The following conditions hold true: interval designs which change the strength and start to introduce not Even just a quick glance will show that 1) These classifications apply to both only tonality, but harmonic structures familiar chord shapes are beginning to superimposed and adjacent usage. and chords. emerge but it is important to note 2) N classifications do not posses the that these may function as chords power to imply tonality. The dominant relationship interval (superimposed) or as melody 3) W classifications imply minor classification is taken from introducing (adjacent notes). tonality the dominant to the existing set of 4) 6 is given an S classification pitches. In our example, the existing The strengths of these new interval because its effect is not wholly pitches are based in C, and that classifications have changed. All the 'perfect'. means to introduce the dominant (the mild and weak intervals became

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Classification of

Intervals strong, and as a result, no strength lower than neutral can be achieved in these dominant relationships. It would, of course, be perfectly reasonable to assume that harmony is relative and such tones of 'mild' and 'weak' are relative to those which are on the other end of the scale. It is therefore necessary for the student to try these intervals out for themselves to gauge levels of strength and relative weakness. Please follow these conditions of the dominant relationship interval classifications: 1) #4 may only function as a minor sequence. Whilst it is fair to say that in modal harmony it may form part of a major chord – say that of Ab – the chord is major but the properties are distinctly minor. The reason for this is because no matter how you split each of the intervals up, you always end up with a minor pair of notes. The Eb and Bb together are too neutral to imply tonality either way as has been previously stated.

The student is advised to experiment and learn the tension differences between the intervals and the relationships they create both in superimposition and in linear usage. It is possible to keep adding dominants or other relationships to build a whole set of pitches and intervals; in this way, the producer can make new and exciting sounds and textures. Working in this way allows you to become free of the notion that a C major chord is comprised of only C, If you have any compositional issues and E and G; as is usually taught in techniques you'd like me to raise in future issues, first year harmony classes. please email me at james@devilishpublishing.com Some final points to note: 1) Neutral intervals should be used sparingly for a short amount of time only when they become the focal point of the music. They may be used to great effect when used for foreground material. 2) Harsh intervals work well when resolved to strong ones. 3) The counterbalance of using harsh intervals in a major framework works well.

4) If the intervals are split wider apart in different octaves, their 2) The exact opposite is true fundamental classification does not change (a harsh interval of #5 - that is to say that will always be harsh) but the the minor and major effect is softened and becomes properties are vice-versa. more melodic as the interval gap increases. If however, the 3) If #12 resolves into #13, gap is enormous – say that in the implied harmony will be excess of 6 or 7 octaves – a major. To imply minor, one classification of any kind is should resolve into #13 irrelevant. from #9.

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June 2011

James McFadyen Composer www.devilishpublishing.com/jamesmcfadyen


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MeldaProduction Free Audio Effects I wasn't going to write this minireview for this month's issue of Wusik Sound Magazine but decided, at almost the last minute, that the world needs to know about MeldaProduction's Free Audio Effects. MeldaProduction create high quality audio effects and I've often been to their site, looked at the many

offerings and drooled and wished. Well, at least part of my wish has come true. MeldaProduction offer a pack of fifteen free VST/AU effects. You can find the complete list at their site: www.meldaproduction.com. Whilst you're on the site take the time to look around and come drool with me.

For this issue I'm going to take a quick look at only two of the effects, we'll get to some of the others another time, maybe next issue. There's enough in this pack to keep us going for quite a while! As with any pack like this there'll be some stuff you might never use. The music I make I create exclusively with soft synths, it's all instrumental stuff so I don't need to worry about vocalists, miking up instruments etc. This means that a couple of the effects in the pack are not going to be of great use to me; so I probably won't attempt to review them as more than likely I won't really know what I'm talking about... yeah, quiet there in the back, I do know some stuff!

MAutopan We'll start with the MAutopan. It does exactly what it says on the tin - you can put the effect on a track and your sound will be panned according to how you have decided to set MAutopan's controls. Easy. Here it's worth talking about the MeldaProduction "look". The plug-ins are different, they don't look like hardware and, at first glance, seem to be overly complicated, there's a lot going on. I confess that at first, after having downloaded them I avoided using them because I couldn't deal with the look. How shallow am I? Well that has changed, the interfaces are functional, logical and actually look very smart once you get used to them.

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by Adrian Frost

MAutopan gives you considerable control over the panning that you do. You get to control rate (speed) and depth (how far left and right you go), the "path" that the sound will take and even the pan law - how the volume of the sounds dips at the far ends of the effect's range. The "path" is, in effect, a waveform and you get the choice of sixteen preset shapes which you can then adjust. There is also the possibility of creating your own "custom" shape in a separate little pop-up window. As if that is not enough, you can set up to eight different "scenes", of individual presets and morph between them. Oh yes, there's also a step sequencer available. The nice thing about MAutopan is that it is very simple to setup and use for basic panning but, if you so desire, you can dig deep, deeper than I've even suggested here, and come up with all sorts of panning effects.

MEqualizer Next up is MEqualizer. It's a 6 band equalizer - but that's not the half of it. Each band can be set to one of seven filter types, including peak and notch. You can also control saturation (globally) and harmonics (for individual bands). Again, as for MAutopan you can set up and morph between eight scenes. MEqualizer is becoming my "go to" equalizer because it is so simple to set

up and so easy to tweak to get the the fairly unobtrusive logo and sounds I want. It helps that each band can be adjusted between -24db "Upgrade" text, functionality stays the and +24db, this means you can really same. target and scoop out troublesome frequencies. MeldaProduction says In releasing these effects that the equalizer has a "vintage MeldaProduction have given away analog sound". As always in the something pretty awesome for free domain of digital effects it can be hard and also whetted the appetite for their to really define "vintage analog" but other effects which can be bought MEqualizer just sounds good. It's also either individually or in three bundles: lightweight so you can run as many instances as you need without having The MCreativeBundle at €169 (roughly to worry greatly about the impact on £150 or $245) for 18 effects. your system resources. The MMasteringBundle at €399 (roughly £355 or $580) for 20 effects. Conclusions The MTotalBundle at €599 (roughly £530 or $875) for a whopping 54 effects. Considering that these are free plugins you get an awful lot of quality effects for no money. It is possible to register the effects at the MeldaProduction site, this removes

June 2011

Visit: http://www.meldaproduction.com/free vstplugins/

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Soundware Roundup by Ginno Legaspi

Samplestar Deep Tech Sessions Vol. 1 & 2 Inspired by the sound of today's artists such as Stimming, M.A.N.D.Y, Gui Boratto, Sebo K, Robert Babicz, Marc Romboy, Booka Shade, and Reboot amongst others, Deep Tech Sessions 1 and 2 offers the samples necessary to create some bangin' tech and minimal house dance music. Content-wise, Vol. 1 (550 MB) comes with 388 loops and one-shots, while Vol. 2 (670 MB) has about 507 files. Volume 2 has added 27 construction kits if you're seeking inspiration. Both volumes are presented in 24-bit Acidized WAVs and Rex2 files for drum loops which is great if you like deconstructing loops in ReCycle or similar programs. These libraries feature basslines, single hits, synth and music loops, FX, stabs, percussions and groove loops. Upon auditioning the samples, I find them superbly programmed, true to the genre, with an undeniable authentic vibe. To me, the high-caliber synth loops are the 'star' materials, but even the bass loops will make their way into many productions. Bottom line: if you want a winning formula to succeed in your tech house productions, Deep Tech Sessions 1 & 2 will give you an easy one-two punch.

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Web: www.samplestar.com www.soundstosample.com Format: Vol. 1 550MB, Vol. 2 670MB (files). 44.1kHz/24bit WAVs and REX2 Price: â&#x201A;Ź27.99, $35.95

Wave Alchemy Drum Machine Collection This enormous bundle from Wave Alchemy contains two libraries rolled into one, the Drum Machines 01 and 02, combined to give you savings of ÂŁ11 if bought individually. This includes several of Wave Alchemy popular 'Micro Packs' such as Airbase Drums, Deep Drums, Electrik Drums, 808 Drums, 909 Drums and Drum Fire.

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There are over 3500 samples in this collection, from classic drum machines sources like the TR-808, TR-909, MFB Schlagzwerg, EMU SP-12, SP1200, Drumfire DF-2000, Jomox AIRbase 99, Jomox XBase 999, Jomox MBase 11 and Vermona DRM Mk 11. All samples were expertly crafted from the ground up. They were recorded with great detail and processed through high-end hardware units such as the API 512c, the Empirical Labs Fatso & Distressor, the SSL EQ, the Cranesong Hedd, the Sherman Filterbank and the Thermionic Culture Vulture. The results are some of the fattest, analogue drum hits I've heard. They are clear, crisp and punchy. The quality is superb and with its price you'd be crazy not to get this as part of your drum library arsenal.


Web: www.loopmasters.com

construction kits as complete arrangements. Urban Nation sounds Format: up-to-date. and the 24-bit Wav, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, programming of loops NNXT and Battery feels more on the pop side of Rn'B. Not that it's Price: bad. What I mean by £35.95 (digital download) that is it has a very accessible sound. Even Big Fish Audio construction kit #24 is very danceable producers, so don’t let the name fool Urban Nation and upbeat - which I like. If you want you. This library comprises 925 WAV loops and one-shots and is packed a global sound to conquer every For modern producers wanting to add nation then you might want to check with bigger-than-tank basses, punchy that certain Hip Hop, Rn'B and Urban drums, extreme synths, FX, and lots this out. vibe, you can't go wrong with this of tasty melodic musical loops. Like sample pack. Urban Nation is a 3 GB their other libraries, this one supports Web: collection of loops (duplicated in other www.bigfishaudio.com all major audio formats (24-bit) and formats for a there are also soft-sampler patches total of 7+ GB). Format: for EXS24, Kontakt, Halion and Apple It is spread Reason 5's NN-XT included. What’s across 25 Loops/REX/WAV/RMX great about Tech House is that it nails /Acid construction the tech and minimal sound. The kits with production and the recording of tempos ranging Price: samples is up to Sample Magic from 75 BPM to $99.95 standards, so you only get high 118 BPM. The quality loops that are useable for loops include many years to come. drums, synths, Sample Magic pads, synth FX, Tech House Web: guitars, Rhodes, www.samplemagic.com Wurly, vocoded Here is another tech www.soundstosample.com vocals, sitars house sample pack and more. You for this month and Format: will find the it's from Sample Wav, Stylus RMX, REX2, Apple Loops, 1500+ loops an Magic - the UK based EXS24, NNXT, Kontakt and HALion indispensible sample-smiths. complement to Simply called Tech Price: your tracks, or House, this collection £39.90 (Digital) you can use the is geared towards

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Soundware Roundup

Loopmasters Designer Dance FX It's rare to find a good sample pack containing a wide variety of FX for build-ups and breakdowns. Fortunately, Designer Dance FX is here to serve up some perfectly processed sounds for all you dance lovers and enthusiasts out there. Included are lots of cutting edge elements and sweeteners such as impacts, bleeps, rises, drones, echoes, gated sonics, transitional tones and uplifters. Designer Dance FX is crafted using some state-of-the-art equipment such as Eventide H8000 and TC System 6000 and is produced by Marc Adamo, who is also the man in-charge for Loopmasters' Minimal Undeground Techno series pack. This 1.4 GB, 24-bit library is definitely engineered with a fashionable dance genre in mind. What's good about the 600 samples themselves is that they are ready-to-play and quality is good enough to augment various mixes without further processing. DDFX is a cool way to spice up your dance tracks. Web: www.loopmasters.com Format: Wav, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ and NNXT Price: ÂŁ39.95 136

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some tasty melody loops and a couple of vox loops. The Rhythmic folder offers noise gate and chain loops, rhythmic build loops and more. All in all there are 385 files in WAV format and 20 MIDI files. No doubt these loops will help add a definitive edge to your productions or give jolt to your listeners Web: www.loopmasters.com Push Button Bang House Builds and Breakdowns

Format: Wav, Rex2, 1.2 GB, 24-bit, 20 MIDI Case in point: You've been working on files a dance track forever. You gave it your best and finally come to decision Price: that it is finished. But there's ÂŁ29.95 something missing. It lacks that edge to lift the crowd up and give your tracks the climaxes it needs. No need to worry, House Builds and Breakdowns is here. This collection boosts a healthy dose of unique loops and samples such as special FX, melodies, tonal flourishes and rhythm loops. The loops are in the 126128 BPM range, 2-64 bar in length, and are offered in pristine 24bit format. This pack is broken down into different folders of FX, Tonal and Rhythmic. FX consists of big hits, drop ends, noise and cymbal rolls. The Tonal section has June 2011


drum loops, and a full mix file for your demoing pleasure. A variety of nice guitars were used during the recording of this library, and some were laced with EMG 81 and 85 pickups for that solid, crunchy guitar sound. Hear for yourself and check out the various loops that are available at the Big Fish Audio site.

Sony Creative Software Charm: relaxing: commercial: downtempo: idm Aimed at the downtempo, trip-hop and chill end of electronica, this library has laid-back beats, percussion, basslines, synthesizer arps, synth FX, pads, Wurlys, bells, Rhodes, pianos, Mellotron and organs. Charm is a producer's toolbox offering a world of mellow sounds and more. This 452 MB collection of 31 construction kits (usually 8-10 files) comprises over 250 original, royalty-free Acidized WAVs in 16-bit format. The loops are recorded at the standard downtempo territory of 70 BPM to 120 BPM, so don't expect any “trancy” materials here – although there are synth arps to complement the arrangements. With this being a chill-out sample pack, the selection of sounds seems spot-on sonically. The drums are punchy and the kicks are solid. Even the basses cover plenty of low-end. And although I find the pianos, guitars, Rhodes, Wurly loops very synthetic, the addition of reverb is a nice touch... it gives that chill out feel. Web: www.sonycreativesoftware.com Format: Acid Wav

Web: www.bigfishaudio.com Format: Acid, Wav, Aiff Apple loops, REX and RMX Price: $99.95

Price: $39.95 Big Fish Audio Ghetto Metal A melting pot of powerful distorted guitars, urban drums and earpiercing synths, Ghetto Metal is a fusion of hip-hop and metal styles mixed together. Think Jay-Z + Linkin Park, Timbaland with Rage Agaist the Machine or Just Blaze jamming with Deftones. You get the idea. This is for Nu Metal Hip Hop and Alternative Rock. The DVD includes 24-bit files and all the popular audio formats such as WAV, REX2 and AIFF supported. There are 40 construction kits that are arranged in folders with key and tempo info. Each folder has all the elements needed to create a track: all the loops, a separate drum loops folders, drum hits folder of the sounds that were used to create the June 2011

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Soundware Roundup

Loopmasters Ghetto House It is quite interesting to see another sample library with 'Ghetto' in its title. What's with it, you might ask? Well, it's house but with a different twist. It's got all the elements of house and hip hop combined. Ghetto House (aka bootyhouse) is inspired by the sounds of artists such as Zinc, Redlight, Adam F and Jack Beats. You get 726 MB of loops at 127 and 131 BPM, oneshots, and multis in 24-bit quality. All the popular audio formats such as WAV, AIFF, REX2 are available as well as 64 soft-sampler patches for Kontakt, Halion, EXS24, NNXT and SFZ. There are plenty of wobbly basses, club-ready drums, music loops, urban FX, synths, chords and stabs. How does it sound? It's great for producers looking to make ghetto, crack, fidget and tech house. In fact, the programmed synths are very consistent to the genre. I dig this a lot.

of international loops of strings, wind, percussion, vocals and more. With world music being the target genre, this library offers great high quality loops that's very authentic. But I wish there were more Arabic mandolin, Celtic acoustic guitar and Doumbek loops. Web: www.sonycreativesoftware.c om Format: Acid Wav files, 932 MB, 44.1kHz/24-bit stereo Sony Creative Software Continental Drift: Aftershocks

Building upon the success of Continental Drift:World Music, this release from Sony Creative Software, a company known for poineering the Acidized WAV format, expands on the first volume's already massive offering. The goal here is to present more instrument loops, as well as provide an extension of the existing performances included on the main title. Part of the Premiun library collection, Continental Drift: Web: Aftershocks has 466 files (932 MB) of www.loopmasters.com content in 24-bit resolution. This library is split into the different Format: folders of African, Appalachian, Wav, Acid, Rex2, Reason Refill, Ableton Live Pack, Apple Loops, Halion, Arabic, Asia, Celtic, East Indian, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, Stylus RMX, NNXT, Native America and Ukraine Gypsy. What's new in this library are the 25 Ableton Live Presets and GarageBand instruments sampled. Also impressive is producer Paul Vnuk Jr. Price: work in assembling an incredible mix ÂŁ19.95 download 138

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Price: $69.95


Big Fish Audio Cinematic Percussion This percussion library from Big Fish Audio has an impressive array of loops for film, tv and game music. Included are live percussion instruments performed by veteran percussionists MB Gordy, who's one of the film industry's renowned talents. The 30 high quality kits are very, very inspiring and sound bigger than life. The Format: production by J. Carruthers and MB Gordy, and the editing by S. Bolar and ACID WAV, Apple AIFF loops, REX, RMX, Kontakt A. Kosloske are excellent. With just the right amount of processing, Price: Cinematic Percussion sounds $99.95 polished... ready to drop in every production. These guys really know Bluezone Corporation what they're doing. For example, the Ethno & Tribal Ambient kit called 'King's Battle' evokes movie scenes such as “Troy” or “Lord of the This is another excellent royalty-free Rings'” with its thunderous bass sample pack from Bluezone drums and marching snares. On the Corporation. This one, though, other hand, the 139 BPM 'Religion' focuses on ambient & tribal construction kit would be a good percussion sounds. Ethno & Tribal rhythmic background for a thrilling Ambient contains 395 MB (534 files) chase scene. There are lots of other in WAV and AIFF formats with the kits that are good, and you will be materials recorded at 110 BPM. inspired to make your next score. So if you need building blocks of loops for Over 260 loops and samples are on offer, with phrases recorded from you next thriller or epic movie I can't various instruments, aura moods, recommend this enough. FX, and of course, native percussions such as bongos, djembe, Web: darbuka and more. There is lots of www.bigfishaudio.com percussion stuff inspired by artists

June 2011

such as Robert Rich and Patrick O'Hearn. Furthermore, these packs can also serve as elements for lounge, soundtrack, film, game, and world music. With the production and overall presentation of this pack I give it a good rating of 9 out of 10, and combining that with the flexibility of using it in different genres, there is no reason not to consider this. Web: www.bluezone-corporation.com Format: Wav, Aiff Price: €18.95 (digital download)

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Soundware Roundup

Wave Alchemy Tech House and Minimal Another great electronic pack from UK sample developer Wave Alchemy. First, you get 1.3 GB of high quality samples in pristine 24-bit format, including REX files. Second, the WAV section alone has 1330 files for you to play with. Third, the samples themselves are very inspiring with a professional sound ready to add 'color' to any productions. The loops, at 125-130 BPM, are some of the best I've heard for minimal and tech house. They are very versatile and can withstand a beating from a producer who uses and abuses samples. I also love the fact that Wave Alchemy has put a lot of care and detail in to designing the sounds as these are very up-to-date. Overall, an outstanding and enjoyable pack, essential for anyone making dance music.

who doesn't know how to play the six-stringed instrument, this is a good companion library. Web: www.bigfishaudio.com Format: ACID, Wav, Apple loops, REX and RMX Price: $99.95

Big Fish Audio G-Strings

This title offers 40 urban and Rn'B construction kits that are well played, competently engineered and oozing with sexy smooth guitar loops. The tempos range from 60-120 BPM and are labeled by key. The collection includes not just guitars loops, but a full accompaniment of strings, bass, keyboards and drums within each kit. G-Strings contains a total of 7 GB, with 1050 files of Acidized Wavs alone. The represented style here is very modern with an emphasis on a Web: smooth, slow, laid-back flavor. www.loopmasters.com Besides the drum loops, G-Strings Format: also includes drum hits (separated in Wav, Acid, Rex2, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, its own folder inside the kit), which is a nice bonus for creating drum kits of SFZ, Stylus RMX, NNXT and Battery your own. If you're passionate about guitar sounds in your production, Price: nothing can beat a real expert ÂŁ39.95 musician, recording and playing the real thing. But if you're a producer

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Big Fish Audio Classic Rock Rock your heart out and tear down some walls with another construction kit by Big Fish Audio! Classic Rock has all the ingredients for rock music in the vein of Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Journey and Queen. Classic Rock is a 7.9 GB library that contains nothing but authentic epic rock loops with a vintage vibe. Each construction kit is filed by tempo & key, and contains multiple parts of guitars (acoustic, slide, electric), bass, drums, pianos (acoustic and electric) and organs. The kits come in a song format of intros, verse, chorus and outro, with an included 2-track mix file showcasing the sound of all the instruments put together. This is all performed live so you get that raw, energetic, non-quantized feel of every loop - giving your tracks all the necessary rock-filled vibe it needs. In my opinion, this is where Classic Rock excells; the use of tasty vintage instruments, the amount of detail in recording and the editing and usefullness of the overall content. In the guitar department alone the licks, riff, strums, and chords are well played and very inspiring. The drums are punchy and clean-sounding. The bass loops are also well played with enough juice and low-end to make them ready to drop into your productions. Overall, this is a great library if you want that 70's and early

reverberated hits, swooshes and all kinds modern EFX that were processed using state-of-the-art hardware such as TC Electronicsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; D Two and various effects racks for a polished sound. Sometimes having an enormous amount of files to choose from can be overwhelming, so producers who just want to concentrate on composing rather than sorting through gigabyte and gigabytes of files, can rely on Blaster FX to shape their track better with an edge. This is a nice collection of sounds perfect for electronic music and its sub-genres. Web: www.bluezone-corporation.com

80's classic sound. Good job, Big Fish Audio.

Format: Wav, 125 MB Price: â&#x201A;Ź10.95 (digital download)

Web: www.bigfishaudio.com Format: ACID, Wav, Apple loops, REX and RMX Price: $129.95 Bluezone Corporation Blaster FX This micro pack from Bluezone Corporation is a nice little package if you want a small collection of useable FX content. There are 141 files included in this pack and all of them are in WAV format. There are risers, growling noise, June 2011

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The Focusrite When Focusrite introduced the Saffire Pro 24 DSP in spring of 2010, I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only home MIDI hobbyist who experienced severe gear lust. Presumably a first rate audio-computer interface to begin with, the device offered an innovative and unique feature called virtual reference monitoring (VRM). VRM delivered headphone audio that simulated a variety of speakers in three different listening environments. So it promised to anyone who was limited to headphone mixing or who had a less than ideal mixing environment a shot at enjoying something akin to what the pros have at their disposal. The sound treatment modeled the characteristics of the selected speakers and the acoustic properties of the selected room. To quote Focusrite’s own description: “The loudspeaker simulations are created using convolutions of impulse responses measured using the original loudspeakers.” The downside was that at $400, the Pro 24 was a bit pricey for the home hobbyist, especially if that hobbyist was only interested in soft synth orchestration. Part of that $400 bought you two good quality mike pre-amps. Furthermore, the unit had on-board signal processing that offered in-the-interface effects in addition to the VRM capability. Finally, the interface was FireWire only, making it less attractive to many PC users than if a USB 2.0 interface was provided. Fast forward 8 months or so to NAMM 2010. Focusrite introduces the VRM 142

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Box, which began shipping shortly after the start of 2011. It put VRM technology within reach of a much larger potential user base with its modest price of $99. I think it’s safe to say that I was not the only one who jumped on it immediately. So what does your 99 bucks get you? For starters, it gets you a good quality headphone amplifier that would be a reasonable deal even that was the only feature. But of course the star attraction is VRM. Focusrite was able to keep the costs down, not only by eliminating the pre-amps, but also the on-board processor. The VRM processing is now performed on the host computer. Finally, the interface was changed to USB 2.0. What, were these guys reading my mind? First let’s examine the two configurations in which to run the VRM Box. In the more simple mode, the box is connected via USB to a computer (Windows and Mac both supported) that has no sound card, which certainly might be the case for a laptop computer. In this case, the VRM Box is the audio interface and that’s all there is to it. Note that the VRM Box has no MIDI ports. Since most MIDI controllers these days have USB connectivity, this should rarely be an issue.

monitors, and the VRM Box only affects headphone-delivered audio. This means that VRM simulation is not sent to your monitors and, conveniently, your monitor volume is not affected when the VRM Box volume control is changed. In either case, a simple application is run on the computer (this is standalone, not within your DAW). With it, you make your speaker and room selections, or use it to enable/disable the VRM simulation. When VRM simulation is disabled, the VRM Box remains active as a headphone amplifier.

But let’s cut to the chase. What anyone who hasn’t experienced the VRM Box first hand will want to know For use with a computer that has in is this: how does it sound? In a word, internal or external sound card, things it sounds ... well, it can’t be described are a little more complicated. The in a word. To begin with, the USB connection remains a simulation for headphones is not requirement, but another connection going to change the laws of physics. is necessary: the sound card’s S/PDIF Your room is not going suddenly shake output is fed into the VRM Box. The as if a massive subwoofer were sound card continues to control any delivering bass content. June 2011


VRM Box by dmbaer Visit: http://www.focusrite.com/products/vrm/vrm_box/

The room types are studio, living room and bedroom. Changes in this selection aren’t as dramatic as switching between some of the speaker types. But switching between VRM 'off' and VRM 'on' provides a noticeable change. Select one of the higher quality speakers, shut your eyes, and enable VRM. It will feel as if someone removed the headphones and you are listening to the real thing. If there were a way to duplicate this effect for my living room (computer-less) stereo system, I’d buy that technology in a heartbeat.

Other than that limitation, your listening experience will depend on two things: the quality of the headphones in use and which speaker type you’ve chosen to have VRM simulate. Among the selections are low-cost computer speakers and speakers like those typically found in a flat panel TV. These don’t sound great. They’re not supposed to because their real life counterparts don’t either. Most of the speaker types available are bona fide monitors intended for mixing purposes. The ten monitor speaker types include the Yamaha NS-10 and Auratone 5C classics as well as models from Adam, Genelec, Alesis and others. All in all, it’s a nice range of small to moderate monitor sizes from which to select. Two nonmonitor consumer speakers are included as well: the KEF 055 and B&W DM12. These are not identified as such but rather as 1980s and 1990s British HiFi speakers. Finally, we have the aforementioned computer speakers and TV speakers.

Not all speakers are available in all rooms. You don’t get to select the computer speakers in the studio, for example, or the Adam models in the bedroom. Of course, the VRM Box gives you one thing that cannot be had without considerable sacrifice of money or décor aesthetics: an acoustically treated listening environment. Comb filtering due to reflections? Standing waves? Not in the virtual room, no way.

now two additional trips via USB between the VRM box and the computer in the soundcard-plus-VRMBox configuration. This will increase the latency somewhat. In my experience, the latency is hardly noticeable, but you’re probably going to want to turn the monitors off while using VRM (which makes sense anyway). Finally, I experienced some weirdness when installing the software. One or more errors were reported for which I was clueless as to how to respond. But, I brought the VRM application up on the PC and everything worked without problem, so I did not bother contacting Focusrite tech support for a resolution.

There is no doubt in my mind that the VRM Box is worth every penny of its modest price tag. Even if I had a studio with fabulous acoustic treatment, the variety of speaker simulations and the ease with which one can switch between them might make this device desirable. In his book “Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio”, Sound on Sound mixing guru Mike Senior advises that an invaluable So, does all this sound (no pun technique for keeping your ears from intended) too good to be true? lying to you is to switch between Actually, there’s very little downside. different monitors on a frequent basis One minor annoyance is that during a mixing session. For this switching speaker types during music playback results in some short pops or goal, the VRM Box delivers in spades clicks, but otherwise I have no without emptying your wallet or crowding you out of your studio. complaints about performance. Recall that the VRM sound simulation is done in the computer, and this has a couple of consequences. First, it’s going to consume some computational resources. The added load is hardly egregious (it might add ~5% usage to one core), but if your machine is already huffing and puffing when performing its audio responsibilities, VRM could push it to the edge. The other consequence is that there are June 2011

While the VRM Box itself is modestly priced, its effectiveness will depend on the fidelity of the headphones you use with it, so spend as much as you can afford for quality here. Make sure the headphones are comfortable. The virtual room is a very nice place to listen to music, for work or for pleasure, and you may very well end up spending rather a lot of time there.

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Process Pack: Sound Modification Tools by Warren Burt

From Wellspring Music price: Introductory Offer Price, £47 GBP.

waits while the computer calculates can save the results of your the results. One then listens to the performance into a Mixfile, which has resulting sound, and makes further two forms, both as a .wav file, and as modifications on the basis of what is a text file. If you want to edit the heard. The resulting sound can then results of your performance, the be modified by any of the other ReMix function allows you to edit the programs. Most of the off-line resulting text file, and make a new processing is very quick, although .wav file of the revised mix. Here’s an some processes (such as Dispersal), if example of how PlayMix looks: used to make long sound files with Mostly, though, Process Pack is not lots of modifications, can take designed as a performance program, considerable time (up to several but as one where you can experiment minutes). But since one is working with modifying sounds and radically off-line, away from the time demands transforming them in an overall of live performance, this is not too composition-oriented environment. much of a problem. The only part of Here is a summary of the processes, the program which does work in realand what they do: time is PlayMix, which gives you an Ableton-Live like grid of buttons to select and play any of the sound-files in your selected directory. PlayMix lets you select any sound file, or any combination of The program is non-real-time, which sound files ,to means that one specifies a sound file hear the results. to work on, then makes adjustments If you like what in the parameters to the program, and you hear, you

Richard Orton and Archer Endrich are two of the people behind the legendary Composers’ Desktop Project software. This is a set of over 400 sound processing tools, which was developed in the 1980s, and is still expanding today. (www.composersdesktop.com) Orton is also the developer of Tabula Vigilans, an algorithmic composition program mostly oriented towards producing written musical scores. Their latest effort, Process Pack (www.wellspringmusic.net/), combines these interests into a package of easily usable, non-realtime sound processing tools, in which the composing power of Tabula Vigilans can be applied to the shaping of sound samples. At this stage of development, the program consists of nine processes within a common interface: Dispersal, Echo, FilterBank, Hover, Pan/Spin, PlayMix, Pyramid, ReMix, and Wraith, plus the utility programs Audition and Reverse. Each program has unique capabilities, and each is designed to seamlessly integrate with the others.

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Audition: This is a simple utility that enables you to play the sounds you make in Process Pack out of your selected soundcard. Reverse: Another simple utility, it simply reverses your desired sound. Dispersal: This is the most complex (and powerful) of the processes, and one that takes considerable time to learn. The time spent learning it is worthwhile, because it can do so many things. Basically, Dispersal is a highly controlled granulator. You can chop up your original sound into any number (up to 999) of fragments, control the length of those fragments, how the length of those fragments changes over time (randomly, getting shorter, getting longer), where those fragments come from in your original sound file, how they are arrayed in time, how the fragments are transposed (or not), and if the fragments are modulated internally or not. All the transpositions and modulations can follow a number of preset shapes, such as making a wedge shape, starting with no transpositions and ending with fragments transposed over a wide (user-specified) range, or, if you’re so inclined, you can draw your own shapes to determine transpositions. Similarly, each fragment can be modulated internally, and you can either use preset shapes (think of them as LFOs of a kind) or you can, again, draw your own. You can also transpose

fragments onto a harmonic grid (that you specify), or specify a sequence of pitches for the fragments to follow. With all this power, Dispersal offers a lot of possibilities, and will give you many hours of fun exploration. A look at the interface for Dispersal will give an idea of the many opportunities it offers. Hover: This is another of the very powerful tools in Process Pack. This one is much easier to learn than Dispersal, but its results are often much more surprising. The principle is simple. Specify a length and location for a fragment of a sound file. This fragment will then be looped, forwards then backwards, to make a new waveform. So far, so simple. But June 2011

now you can draw graphs for how the length of this fragment changes, where it comes from, and how much random variation will be applied to each of the fragment length and location parameters, and how that random variation will change over time. With this module, you can get everything from successions of tiny buzzing sounds (derived from very small loop lengths) to elaborate reorderings of recognizable fragments of your original sound. It’s another very powerful tool, and one that richly yields a wide variety of sonic results. I’ve been working with both Dispersal and Hover for several months now, and I’m nowhere near the end of exploring their results.

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Process Pack:

Pan/Spin: This is a module which moves sound in stereo space, again with lots of parameters to specify. Pan allows many kinds, speeds and depths of panning; while Spin allows you to specify starting and ending speeds of your spinning, along with the direction and starting position of your sound. It’s very effective, creating a wide variety of kinds of sound movement.

FilterBank: This processes your sound with a bank of up to 100 band-pass filters. You can set the overall Q (or sharpness) of the bands, and specify a frequency and amplitude for each band, or you can have the program generate a set of frequencies for you. Because the Q can be specified over such a wide range (from barely detectable to so sharp that only one frequency is heard per band), this can yield everything from mild coloration to total transformation of the sound. Wraith: This is another kind of filter, but this one allows you to extract the bottom partials of a sound (up to 32, but lower numbers work best) using a Fast-Fourier Transform process. You can also then choose to invert those frequencies, and specify frequency around which the inversion will take place. This is an interesting way to turn a sound “upside down,” and can also yield ghostly sounds which can be heard as an echo of the source sound.

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your improvisations as wave files or text files, and ReMix gives you the option of editing your files.

Here’s the interface for the overall program. It contains two side by side windows, one with a list of sound files, the other with a list of processes. You double click on a sound file, then single click the process you want to apply. The larger Echo: This is a highly horizontal window controllable reverb unit. at the bottom tells You can specify input you what the gain, rolloff, the programs are doing average delay and the number of and the progress of reflections for the reverb. Again, this the modification. offers great scope for placing sound in imaginary environments. So much for the processes in the Pyramid: With this process, you can program. How mix together up to 32 copies of your might one use it? Here’s a story of original sound, each transposed to a how I used the program on Thursday, pitch level you set. This uses normal 2 June. Early in the morning, I went “tape-type” transposition, so higher down to Port Melbourne pier to enjoy sounds will be shorter, lower sounds the view of the Bay, and the early longer. These sounds are then mixed morning sunlight. While on the pier, together into one of three different using a sound recording app on my “pyramid” shapes: With all sounds phone, I recorded a bit of the ambient starting together, with all sounds sound, which included some rhythmic ending together, and with sounds hammering on metal and a distant stacked so that the beginnings and train whistle. I then transferred the endings are symmetrically displaced. sound from my phone to my netbook, This can quickly make very thick which I happened to have with me. I textures, or widely dispersed then got onto the tram for the 70 harmonic fields with many minute ride across the city from Port simultaneous tempi. Melbourne to my place of employment. I decided that, working on PlayMix and ReMix: These were headphones, I would modify a ten mentioned above. They provide a second segment of the Port recording means of playing with your sounds in with Process Pack, using the results in real time, experimenting with different a piece. Once I’d reached work, I combinations of them. You can save would stop modifying sounds, and use June 2011


Sound Modification Tool

The final sounds sounded nothing like the original, but all stages of transformation, from slight to extreme, were represented in my final sound set. On the train home (not quite as noisy as the tram, but still pretty dominating), I decided to make some mixes using PlayMix. I made three short mixes varying in length, from three to five minutes. When I got home, and I could hear what I was doing, I decided I liked both the samples and the mixes, and I simply mixed together the three mixes to get the final result, which can be heard as the middle section of my new piece, Before, At and After the Pier, on my www.warrenburt.com website. Direct link: http://www.warrenburt.com/jou rnal/2011/6/19/before-at-andafter-the-port-a-new-pieceusing-process-pack.html.

only the sounds I made on the tram in the resulting piece. Unfortunately, my headphones were pretty acoustically transparent, and the tram sounds were rather loud. I found myself composing sounds with the sounds of the tram as a barrier between me what I wanted to hear. Undeterred, I decided to take this as a challenge, or an opportunity to “compose blind” or “almost blind,” and proceeded. After all, my teacher, Kenneth Gaburo, had experimented with a number of sensory deprivation processes as a part of composition, so my working with acoustically transparent headphones in a noisy environment was just one more kind of sensory deprivation.

Process Pack can obviously be used in conjunction with other sound modifying programs. In fact, working in tandem with it and a sound editor at least makes things a lot easier. But my little experiment showed that by using just the resources available within it, one can construct pieces which have a great amount of interest.

I took my original pier recording and made three different versions of it processed through Hover. I then processed these Hover sounds through Dispersal, and made four sounds with that. Then the four Dispersal sounds were each processed The program has an extensive and with a different set of frequencies and helpful on-line manual. I hope that loudnesses set in the FilterBank. The eventually this will also be available as resulting FilterBank sounds were a pdf download. However, the processed through Pyramid. The program is still in development, with a Pyramid sounds were then processed number of other processes scheduled through Wraith, which thinned them to be added to it, so hopefully, once out and inverted them. I then arrived things are a bit more advanced, and at the tram terminus, and my documentation is stabilized, a pdf workplace. manual will become a reality. In the meantime, however, even at this I had a set of twenty sounds, stage of development, Process Pack including my original sample, to play offers a wealth of resources to those with, with each sound representing who want to explore the wonderful some stage in a multi-generational and intricate world of composing with transformation of the original sound. sound modification. June 2011

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Little Endian SpectrumWorx by Ben Paturzo

Figure 1

When I initially saw SpectrumWorx, my first thought was how cool is this. I confess I'm a sucker for the modular concept, having been bitten by the beast, the glorious Moog Modular, way back in the 70's. And yes kiddies, it's 1970's, please don't put me back in the time of Lincoln. My second thought on SpectrumWorx was please let this be real, as in, actually work! SpectrumWorx (littleendian.com) does indeed work and quite well thank you. The modular concept is alive and well in that the user is allowed to select the types of components to be installed and how they should be routed. From the manual: The components are audio effects processing modules, each of which is a sophisticated audio processor with its own unique selection of adjustable parameters. Most of these modules can be modulated automatically using independent SpectrumWorx LFO's. In addition, certain modules can be sidechannel driven, using either the builtin SpectrumWorx external sound file support or by utilizing side-channel routing in hosts that support it. There are over fifty individual modules to choose from and as many as five may be loaded into SpectrumWorx at any time. You can arrange and rearrange them as you like without interrupting the signal being processed, making it ideal for processing on the fly. 148

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The lads at Little Endian explain quite well what makes the SpectrumWorx so special. Basically, it does its processing in the frequency domain, as did the original Spectrum Worx from Delaydots (which was acquired by Little Endian). The use of complex algorithms involving Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis are responsible for the audio magic, and these algorithms, though computationally intense, are easily handled by today's CPU's. Processing in the frequency domain has a few benefits: it is fast enough to allow for more realtime manipulation, and offers less delay than other methods.

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But what is most important, it is also similar to the way our own hearing works. The ear analyzes only a short segment of audio at a time (on the order of 10-20 ms worth), similar to the way audio is processed by SpectrumWorx. It's a natural fit, and the proof is in the results. The striking GUI is far more elegant than the original design, with much improved usability. The "rack" (Figure 1) can hold five modules at a time, from the fifty plus modules; the modules themselves are grouped in several groups such as Timbre (Figure


1), Pitch, Phase, and Loudness. The and inviting, understanding the order, from left to right, determines modules will involve at the very the way the signal progresses through minimum reading the manual, and the modules in the rack. Module more likely a few trips to the forum at position can be changed at any time, KVR, lots of experimentation, and including realtime. Each module in a perhaps some burnt offerings. Don't rack can be turned off to disable that forget the videos at the Little Endian particular effect. The modules have website as well as those on You Tube. reasonably descriptive names; Whatever time you spend learning however be prepared for "Burrito" in SpectrumWorx, rest assured the the Combine group, "Vaxateer" (same results will be worth it. If you are a group), and "Sumo Pitch" in the Pitch sound designer, of any kind, you need group. Also, while the design of the this plugin. plugin and that of the modules is clear

You can learn a lot about a new device by running through the presets. There are almost a dozen groups of presets, from Autotune to Techno to Wahs (Figure 2). Each group will contain a number of presets as for example the Echoes group shown in Figure 3. Some presets will have descriptions, others will not, but the best way to learn about the modules is to start with a preset and gently tweak each module to hear the differences. When you become more confident, create your own rack with modules you know, experiment with other modules, and build your knowledge and experience with as much patience as possible.

Figure 2

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Little Endian

So let's play. The preset in Figure 3 did indeed sound like a Jumbo Jet to the point where anything I used sounded like a Jet until dialing the Mix to 70 or below, and then...an instrumental track as the Jet landed! The "Basement Voices" and "Creepy Deepy" were also useful for effects, but the "Skokomish" preset I left at Mix 100 as it made the instrumental track sound as if it were coming from a small radio somewhere off in another room in a very big house. Switching to the Autotune group I sampled the "Aeolian" preset with a vocal track; this preset as well as the others in this group use only the TuneWorx module, so the vocal pitch was shifted to the particular set of semitones selected (Figure 4). Selecting different semitone combinations allowed me to experiment with the way TuneWorx "autotunes" the vocal, from quite usable to an eerie chorus effect where the original singer has her baby

twin grafted onto her (think Total Recall), singing along in its mutant child voice.

The Tumbi Umbi group was next on my run through. The "Bindoon" preset with the vocal track started with singing at the bottom of a deep, Honestly we could go on for days. echoing well, morphing into a voice We could probably devote an entire that spoke in tongues with a very article to just a few modules, and deep, demonic voice, morphing into you have over fifty to choose from! a whispering echo singsong back to You will lose sleep playing and the original voice at the bottom of a experimenting with SpectrumWorx. I well. The preset uses the Pitch don't usually repeat myself in a Follower, Wobbler, and Freqverb review, but I'll say it again: if you modules. The Noise group had the create sound effects for movies, preset "Leaps" which gave my drum ambient soundscapes for your band, track a metal-on-metal scraping techno loops for sale, any kind of edge to the overall sound. The wellwork that involves audio -- if you are named "Swoosh" preset from the a sound designer of any kind, you same group produced Whirling need to get SpectrumWorx. Dervishes playing drums as they, Cheers! well, whirled. In the Voices group, I tried the "Friendly Voice" preset on

Figure 3

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my drum track -- the result was like the intro on Skateway (Dire Straits, Making Movies) -- kind of a stuttering echo effect on the drums. Way cool. With the preset "Frobot" the vocal track became a singing Cylon.

June 2011


SpectrumWorx

Figure 4

Figure 5

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151


ProgSounds harshness by mCKENIC

I have been trying to do more 'in the

About ProgSounds

Live pack contains 61 Ableton Live devices divided into 12 Instruments, Born in 2003 as a community for 42 Drum Racks (within five families), focus on Ableton Live. I have Live 8 keyboardists and sound designers, 5 advanced Audio Effect Racks, 2 Suite, and although the included Progsounds - led by Italian sound advanced MIDI Effect Racks and 20 sounds and instruments are wonderful, designer Luca Capozzi - has evolved sample Live clips. Coming in at a during the years becoming a onewallet- friendly â&#x201A;Ź14.90, that is a lot of I began to wonder what else is out man-company which offers several bang for your buck! Contact with the there. There was something missing products and solutions for professional developer is really quick and friendly, for me. I love the included content, audio and musicians. In summer 2010, so I can't imagine there would be any but sometimes it is a little 'polite'. Progsounds launched Audiority Sound issues getting support, if you ever Librabry (www.audiority.com), a need it. Head on over to the Now I know that is down to the user, brand dedicated to the release of high website(http://www.progsounds.com/ but in certain situations, you just want quality sounds, samples, and patches featured/harshness-for-ableton-live) to grab a control or fader and have for synthesizers and virtual and just check out the Harshness your head ripped off! This is where instruments. audio demos while you have a read through the PDF manual - I dare you! ProgSounds - Auditory Harshness Their latest release, Auditory Just listen to the tortured percussion comes in with a bang - a big BANG! Harshness, is a tiny library dedicated in Harsh Kit w/ Drum Animator. If you to those who want to add some real don't like the grit and crunch of Luca's destruction to their tracks, or to demos, then this pack may not be for artists who are not afraid of heavy you - but if you are ready to have distorted, degraded, clipped, shortyour buzz Harsh, read on. circuited sounds. The downloadable box' work of late and I decided to

ProgSounds Auditory Harshness, Ableton Live Pack â&#x201A;Ź14.90 Download. http://www.audiority.com/sounds/ableton-live/harshness/

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About the Pack

pigeon-hole this wonderful collection, but AFX and NiN tracks can be had from Harshness with very little coaxing - of course the set is much broader than just these sounds. I find that a little time with Harshness, and adding some distorted guitar gives me tracks really quickly - truly inspirational stuff here from ProgSounds. The FX included in this release really should have a review all of their own. Load up any of the kits and insert Metro Glitcher, Tight Hole and The Melter - assign Bounce, Harmonic and Drive to midi controllers and bask in the insanity, wonderful.

I have to begin by saying I had a hard time doing this review, I really didn't want to turn it in. The reasons for this are, I couldn't stop writing tunes when I fired up Harshness (it is impossible not to jam away for hours with the instruments and to be struck with inspiration) and I wanted to keep it to myself as my dirty little secret! Harshness really is that good. The attention to detail in the programming of these instruments and the selection of FX is stunning. It is not a huge pack but there is an awful lot to explore here. There is a sense of humour in The only negative about the this pack and it is infectious pack is that I just wish there you just have to smile at the was more content. This is not pure evil locked inside to say that you don't get very Harshness. good value for your money you certainly do! It is just that The twelve instruments really these sounds are so addictive, live up to their names. From I wish there were more. I am screaming bass to smokey keeping a very close eye on pads, its all covered here with the ProgSounds and Auditory plenty of control! The Puncher websites in the hopes that and Tuned Smoke are among Luca will bless us with another my favourite instruments pack of the same high quality, while the Harsh and PVC kits value, and inspiration found in are must-have, crazy Auditory Harshness as soon as percussion kits. There is a possible. Until then, I am great deal of variety in each going to squeeze as much grit kit, so make sure to load up and crunch as I can from the alternate sets when you Harshness. Live users, do are going through the drum yourself a kindness and check folders. I would hate to it out, you wont be sorry!

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ConcreteFX's "Unison" & "Micron"

ConcreteFX's "Unison" & "Micron" by Adrian Frost

Cast your mind back, if you will, to the dawn of the Virtual Studio Technology era. Actually, it's not really that far back; we only have to go to 1999 as that is the time that Steinberg released the second version of their VST specification that allowed developers to produce VST instruments. Previously VST had been limited to effects only.

Well, in this new series "Blast from the more 3D look on offer in the Rob Past" I'm going to dig around in the Papen synths. archives, contact developers and see what I can find to present to you. All The style is pretty much "love it or of the synths I've found so far are still hate it". Personally, I love 'em, available to purchase and should work everything is clearly laid out and the on any modern system. I'm running a overall look is easy on the eye. Both 32bit host on 64bit Windows 7 and synths also come in a "hardware" look haven't encountered any problems version. Personally I don't like these with these older synths. quite as much, but at least you get the choice! So, who's first up? In this edition of "Blast from the Past" we're going to be According to ConcreteFX's own If you read the last issue of Wusik description "Unison / Micron are PC looking at two synths from Sound Magazine you may have cast VSTi subtractive synthesizers. Unison ConcreteFX (www.concretefx.com) your eye over the article about VST is the full version, Micron a less CPU Beginnings that took a look at the "Unison" and "Micron" that date from intensive version with its own features. very early days of VST instruments. In 2004. ConcreteFX are probably best Both Unison / Micron are both very that article I highlighted Muon known for their collaboration with Rob versatile synths and come with a large Software's "Atom" which was the very range of basses, leads, pads and Papen on synths such as first third party VST synth. Then, once other more unusual sounds." SubBoomBass, Blue, Predator and RG. you start down this road, you realise However, they stand in their own right that there are a whole load of synths ConcreteFX don't seem to be ones to out there that have, over time faded as developers of fine VST instruments toot their own trumpet! When you from view. They disappear not and effects. actually go and take a look at these because they were bad, but because If you've used any of the Rob Papen two synths you find that they are new stuff has come along and our synths mentioned the style of Unison packed with features. Let's look at magpie "Ohhh, it's shiny" mentality and Micron might come as something each synth on its own. kicks in, and we go hunting the latest of a surprise. Both synths have quite and greatest. a flat look that contrasts with the

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ConcreteFX's

Micron We'll start with Micron because it is the simpler of the two. The spec is quite modest compared to Unison: Three oscillators with five analogue modelled waveforms plus 64 additive waves. The oscillators can be arranged, from the "Main" section, in 7 different ways using ring and frequency modulation. There is a 12/24 db filter with peak separation and key tracking. For the LFOs you have 9 waveforms including "Sample and Hold" that can be directed to volume, pitch and wave shape. There

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are also 3 envelopes for volume, pitch and filter. Down in the bottom right hand corner is a double 16 step trance gate. There are also a number of effects provided: Stereo delay, chorus, stereo widener and two band EQ. The 128 included presets, half of which are by Tim Conrady, are a great way to get a feel for Micron's capabilities. Based upon those presets, Micron does really good keyboard, blown and plucked type sounds that rely heavily on a fast attack. It generally sounds slightly weaker on pads and slower sounds. One thing very much in its favour are the 64

June 2011

additive waveforms that offer a huge amount of variety for creating your basic sounds. You also get the standard sine, saw, square, triangle and noise waveforms for more classic sounds. The double trance gate that affects volume and filter add movement and rhythm. As you alter different controls their values appear in the bottom left hand corner of the synth along with any associated hard wired MIDI controller assignment. CTRL + click on a control returns it to its default value - a very handy way of undoing any mess you might make.


"Unison" & "Micron"

and noise waveforms available to you and then 6 user waveforms. We'll talk about those a little later on. Each pair of oscillators has its own filter offering 15 different filter types that can then be piped onto one (or all) of the three FX sections. For effects you've again got quite a wide choice - delay, 4 tap delay, comb filter, chorus, ensembler, phaser, reverb, distortion, wahwah and cutter.

Unison other pages for LFOs, sequencers Let's move onto Unison now. Of the and user waveforms. Maybe the two Unison is my favourite, I find "paged" nature of this area could be that it draws me in and says "play clearer. The lower box, initially with me, tweak me". OK, maybe not, marked "Amp" also offers a number but it is certainly is a great synth for of different pages but somehow, starting a sound from scratch and despite using the same button seeing what you can come up with. control, it is more obvious that There are a lot of possibilities but the you've got multiple options there. synth isn't overwhelming because everything is laid out in a logical and Unison has 6 oscillators grouped in pairs. Within each pair the clear manner. The only thing that waveforms can be added together, might not be instantly obvious is that mixed, ring modulated, synced or the "Envelope" box up in the top used for FM synthesis. As for Micron right hand corner also hides three you have sine, square, saw, triangle

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The real business end of Unison comes in the shape of the three Mod Matrices. Each matrix has three groups of 6 sources (Env, LFO, Seq) that can be routed to up to 7 destinations (Ctrl). What is not immediately clear is that each destination has its own three groups of 6 sources; your modulation options are almost unlimited. The Env, Lfo and Seq refer to the contents of the top right hand section of the synth already mentioned. The main image for Unison already shows the "Envelope" page. Using the Shw1-6 buttons you can overlay any of the other envelopes over the one that is currently selected. There are then various controls underneath.

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ConcreteFX's

It's probably worth taking a look at the other pages available in this section. LFO gives you access to the six low frequency oscillators. You have 7 different waveform shapes - 2 sine, 2 saw, 2 triangle, 2 square and noise that you can shape, distort, bit-crush and phase. You can also direct each LFO to one of the envelopes.

pretty good. You can change the shape of the sequencer bars between square topped and curved whereby the sequence will form more of a waveform type curve which gives a smoother action to the sequence.

The last of the pages has nothing to do with the Mod Matrix section of the synth. Here you can play about with the 6 user waveforms mentioned previously. There is a lot of fun to be had here! The User Waves are made The Sequencer offers up 6, 16 step sequences that you can alter by hand - using additive synthesis (See the changes are shown as a percentage of "Additive Synthesis - Part 1: Theory" article in this issue for more the level plus semi-tones if you are information). As you click and move using the sequencer to control pitch. your mouse around in the upper The control "box" is large, responsive and easy to use. Steps not being used window raising and lowering partials are grey whilst those in use are bright you can see the effect on your waveform in the lower window. If you orange. The colour actually looks

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have used ConcreteFX's "Kubik" synth you'll already be familiar with this style of editing window. You can, if you end up making a good sound, name it and save it to be used again. There are 20 preset shapes including saws, bells, organs and vocal waveforms at your disposition if you don't feel like trying to create something from scratch. For those of you who have shortish single shot samples you can analyse them for use as a user wave - this means that the possibilities for sound design are limitless. When you buy Unison you get 448 presets including 64 presets by Tim Conrady. Since only 64 presets can be loaded at a time you'll need to load up the additional banks as and when you


"Unison" & "Micron"

want to use them. These days there would probably be a way to have all 448 instantly available but it's really not a great hassle to open up a new .fxb file. Unison has a powerful sound that is hard to categorise you can get a very classic synth vibe going easily but there's enough "modern" in there that you're not going to feel limited in any way, this synth seems to pretty much do it all if you take the time to get to know it and work with it. The only thing that might be off putting the first time you fire up Unison is the profusion of buttons. There are a lot of them, but thankfully the clean, relatively spacious, interface keeps things neat and ordered.

Summing Up Considering their age, over five years old!!, Unison and Micron are still great sounding synths that would stand up to many modern VSTs. Both are versatile and offer a whole palate of sounds. Unison is the chunkier of the two but that is to be expected given that it has twice as many oscillators plus a whole raft of modulation possibilities with which Micron can't really compete. But Micron holds its own and excels in metallic and lead sounds. Unison is more of a pad monster because the modulation options allow you to create long sounds with lots of movement thanks to the LFOs and the 5 stage (with

June 2011

delay) envelopes. Between the two you can cover a lot of ground and the synths are complementary; they go really well together. Unison and Micron come together and the pair are available for only $37 29Euros - ÂŁ20. They pretty much fall into the "no-brainer" category of synth purchases. There are demos of both synths available from ConcreteFX's website but they are quite limited in as much as they time out after only ten minutes use. But ten minutes is definitely enough time to know that they're worth investigating further.

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