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Wusik Sound Magazine

February 2012


Wusik Sound Magazine Issue February 2012 Managing Editor: MoniKe Assistant Editors: David Baer A. Arsov Production Manager: MoniKe

Writers: A. Arsov Adrian Frost - aka anzoid Ben Paturzo - aka Astrin David Baer - aka dmbaer David Keenum Ginno '' Legaspi Jeffrey Powell Rishabh Rajan Robert Halvarsson Tomislav Zlatić Proof-Readers: Adrian Frost Ben Paturzo David Baer Jeffrey Powell Peggy Tomislav Zlatić

Muppets, cannibals, and Carolyn Jones (Morticia Addams)—and that's just one article! (sadly, mine) There are of course, more serious and erudite essays, without cannibals. What's the point though? You will find the usual gang of writers, musicians, and producers: Jeffrey, Adrian, Alex, Ginno, Rishabh, Robert, and our new co-editor, Mr. David Baer. David picked the short straw. Keep in mind, we do this for the love of it. Alex does it for the payola. I do it to keep my parole officer off guard—yes, of course I'm in Tuscaloosa—just check my IP address. Muwha haa haa. Returning to some semblance of reality, you could not pay us to do the stuff we do: inform, entertain, and—we hope—stimulate your curiosity to try something new (like muppet cannibalism). The reviews in this magazine are more in-depth than any magazine (print or web), the articles on every subject more thorough and complete, and the humor—well, enough of that. Remember, all those other people, working for the man, in print and online media, want to get paid for their work. We do it for free, as volunteers, and why? Stupidity. Utter and complete stupidity. Cheers! Enjoy this issue!

Ben Paturzo

Covers and Some Pictures: EVE’s Advertising: Henry Gibson

Some of the products reviewed in Wusik Sound Magazine are copies provided free of charge for reviewing purposes.

A. Arsov


Table of Contents Table of Contents Creating Sounds: FM Synthesis Part 3 - More theory… more practice by Adrian Frost Developer’s Corner: > Review: There’s a New Prima Donna in Town Diva Interview with: Urs Heckmann by dmbaer > Review: In Depth Fxpansion’s DCAM: Synth Squad Part 1 - Strobe Interview with: Mayur Maha by Adrian Frost Tutorial: MAX/MSP for Non-Programmers Part 3 by Rishabh Rajan

eviews R Supersynths' Klang by Jeffrey Powell

Mama, Don't Take My Chromaphone Away! by Ben Paturzo Applied Acoustic Systems’ Chromaphone by Jeffrey Powell Requiem Light Player Edition by Soundiron by A. Arsov Ian Boddy - Odyssey by Ben Paturzo Discovery Sound’s Koto by Jeffrey Powell PreSonus’ Studio One by Ben Paturzo Emulation II by Uvi Soundsource by A. Arsov Hollow Sun’s Novachord by dmbaer

Articles: quiver 1.1 by Ben Paturzo How to make your own music video Magix Video MovieMaker Pro MX by A. Arsov The Amazing Novachord by dmbaer with Dan Wilson of Hideaway Studio Thank You Hermann! by Ben Paturzo SynthMaster 2.5 by Ben Paturzo Blast from the Past: LinPlug Roagine by Adrian Frost

Don’t' Crack V.I.P. Plug-in Bundle - Part 2 by Adrian Frost Future Audio Workshop Circle by Ben Paturzo Reflex Pro by Robert Halvarsson Broken Wurli from Sonic Couture by A. Arsov Rose Whisper Piano - Sound Magic by Ben Paturzo Driven Machine Drums by Robert Halvarsson Linplug Relectro - Part 2 by Adrian Frost LoopNation Prime Loops Vocal Allstars Series by Ben Paturzo Mini Reviews: Soundware Roundup by Ginno Legaspi

C reating Sounds FM Synthesis by Adrian Frost

Part 3 - More theory… more practice For a number of reasons it's been a fh = fc ± (k × fm) few months since we last looked at FM synthesis, so it's time to dive back in Where fh are the harmonic and get to work. If you've only just frequencies generated, fc is the started in this series I would suggest carrier frequency and fm is the that you go back and read part 1 (September 2011) and part 2 modulator frequency. k is an integer. (October 2011). Those two articles will give you a basic understanding of what FM synthesis is about, explain some of the terminology that is used and introduce you to a number of different FM synths that are available either for free or commercially. So far we've dealt with what happens when we use two equally pitched sine wave oscillators (usually called operators), one modulating the other at audio rates. Basically, as we increase the amplitude of the modulating operator's sine wave more and more harmonics are created at the output of the second (carrier) operator. Figure 1 shows the result as a frequency analysis of the output of the carrier. Without wishing to delve too deeply into the arcane mathematics of FM synthesis it is possible to calculate exactly where the created harmonics will appear on the frequency spectrum. The formula, for those who like that kind of thing is:


February 2012

As we saw last time, using ADSR style envelopes we can control how the modulator affects the carrier over time; but up to now we've limited ourselves, as mentioned, to two equally pitched sine waves. It's now time to spice things up a little and talk about C:M Ratios.

Figure 1

creating the clangourous sounds for which FM synthesis is famous. We'll come back to enharmonic sounds a bit later.

The C:M Ratio

For now, if you've installed Digital, load it up and let's get down to business. I'm going to be using MeldaProduction's excellent "MAnalyzer" plug-in for frequency analysis. The first thing that we need to do with Digital is set everything to usable values. If Digital has not automatically loaded up a patch bank don't worry too much, we're starting from scratch. Simply click the "Clear" button on the "Programs" tab and we're ready to go. You then need to select the "Alg" tab. "Alg" stands for algorithm, an algorithm being a preset way of connecting up the synth's oscillators. To demonstrate C:M Ratios we're going to whole numbers though we can use The "Alg" tab presents you with 15 decimals too. When the C:M Ratio be using a ConcreteFX synth called algorithms (Figure 2), the one that we consists of whole numbers, say, "Digital" that is available from the want is number 6 (highlighted) - two ConcreteFX website for $37/Euro29/ÂŁ20. 1:2, 3:5, 4:1 the resulting sound is pairs of operators in series. Of the ( harmonic, i.e. pleasant. A ratio of pair we're only going to be bothering 1:2.82 will give an enharmonic with the operators labelled "a" and "b". sound which can be useful for We'll be using Digital because it features specific controls for adjusting C:M Ratios which makes the Figure whole thing easier. If you have an FM synth that does not feature dedicated ratio controls then you'll have to make do with adjusting the relative pitches of the synth's oscillators. It works but it's slightly more complicated, or at least not so intuitive. So, what is a C:M Ratio? It is the ratio of the frequencies of the Carrier and Modulator. Simple, huh? The C:M Ratio is generally expressed in terms of

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C reating Sounds Figure 3

From this point on we're finished with the array of tabs in the lower half of Digital's interface. There is a ton of stuff hidden behind those tabs for you to explore in your own time. Those of you who know a bit about the VST "scene" might find that there is something familiar about Digital. Jon Ayres, Digital's creator, worked with Rob Papen to make BLUE which is Digital's bigger, and slightly better looking, brother. We'll be taking a look at BLUE later in the series. Now, to work! When we clicked on "Clear" Digital's controls were set to basic defaults. Op A's volume is set to -10dB and Op B's volume is set to "-", which is minus infinity. Because of the algorithm that we've chosen this means that we can't hear anything since Op B, the output, is what we want to listen to. Back Op A off to about -20dB and bring Op B up to 0dB. Doing this gives us a clear sound that isn't overly endowed with complex harmonics, no need to push everything to its limit. Play an 'A' at 440 Hz and you'll end up with the frequency analysis as shown in Figure 3. Note: For all of the subsequent examples we're going to be using the same key on our MIDI controllers that gives an 'A' at 440 Hz for this first example. This is important to remember - maybe stick a dot to the key just to be sure‌

Figure 4

Having done this, the controls that we are most interested in are over to the right, labelled "FM Ratio". You can see where this is going! Remember, Op A is our Modulator and Op B is our Carrier. We're going to start with a simple C:M Ratio of 1:2 so adjust Op A's FM Ratio control to 2.00. The result is shown in Figure 4. But what has actually happened? By changing the frequency of the Modulator, effectively doubling it, we have created a different


February 2012

FM Synthesis Figure 5

set of harmonics, as would be predicted by the equation shown previously. The basic pitch hasn't changed but the timbre of the sound has. It is slightly more hollow. Carrying on, Adjust Op A's FM Ratio up to 4.00. This time we have more harmonics and a richer sound (Figure 5). This is because we are starting to create harmonics above the Nyquist frequency and they have "wrapped round" back down to where we can hear them - for more on this aspect of FM theory please read part 2 of the series.

Figure 6 Bump Op A's FM Ratio up to 8.00 and we have even more harmonics. Once the FM Ratio of one of Digital's operators goes above 15.00 you can no longer get only whole numbers but by this point it doesn't really matter, you'll have your basic pitched note plus a whole series of very high harmonics that will add some real fizz to your sound. So far we've only changed the frequency of Op A, the Modulator. Now let's see what happens when we start changing the Carrier's frequency, Op B. Right-click Op A's FM Ratio control to reset it to 1.00. We're now back to where we were a few minutes ago. Now, adjust Op B's FM Ratio to 2.00. This is heady stuff! The pitch of our note should go up an octave as Figure 6 clearly shows - the dominant frequency is now 880 Hz although we've pressed the key for a 440 Hz 'A'. Increase the ratio to 3.00 and then to 4.00 and above. The larger the value of the FM Ratio the higher the pitch of the note. We can also go the other February 2012


C reating Sounds Figure 7

way. Drop Op B's ratio down to 0.5 and you'll notice that the note's pitch has likewise dropped. Our 'A' at 440 Hz key is now playing an 'A' at 220 Hz (or thereabouts - see Figure 7). So, to sum up C:M Ratios. Adjusting the frequency of the Modulator will affect, mostly, the quantity and the position of the harmonics generated leading to either a richer or thinner sound. Adjusting the frequency of the Carrier will change the pitch of the note. This is a somewhat simplified way of looking at things but gives us some useful building blocks for designing our own sounds. Just to show there's no trickery and that even FM synths without dedicated ratio controls can get in on the fun we'll recreate this last example by another means. Right click Op B's FM Ratio control to reset it to 1.00. Now, further to the left you'll see a slider harmonically interesting sounds. control for pitch. Set it to -12 semiKnowing that the frequency of the tones and hit the 'A' key again. Carrier affects the pitch of the played Exactly the same sound. note means that we know how to go It would be worth spending a few about setting up basses, leads, pads moments trying to recreate the other or any other "instrument" that we examples using only Op A and B's want to fit into a certain part of the Pitch controls. The advantage of frequency spectrum. Understanding dedicated ratio controls becomes C:M Ratios also takes some of the apparent when you start wanting to guesswork out of sound design using create C:M Ratios such as 3:7 or 5:4. FM synthesis. Working those out in terms of operator pitch/frequency is a little harder to do, Just for fun, and to see what else though not impossible. Digital is capable of we're going to make a quick, slightly strange FX Why bother with all this stuff about sound. We'll be sticking with C:M Ratios? Understanding what Algorithm 6 and Ops A and B. Set the happens with different C:M Ratios is operators as follows: essential for our understanding of how Op A : Volume = -20dB; FM Ratio = to put together the sounds we want. 1.73 If we know that bumping up the Op B : Volume = 0dB; FM Ratio = frequency of the Modulator will give 4.71 us more harmonics we know instantly Both these ratios will create how to create richer, more enharmonic sounds which is exactly 08

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what we want for the FX that we're making. You can also try the same thing using integer values for the FM Ratios. Click the "Mod Mtrx" tab and, in the first slot set the controls as follows: Ctrl = Op B Pitch; Mod = LFO1; Amount = 100% (yeah, this is going to be wild‌) In the second slot: Ctrl = Op A Pitch; Mod = LFO2; Amount = -50% or +50% Finally, click the "LFO" tab and adjust LFO1 as follows: Type = Sine; Period = 1 1/2 qb; Smooth = 0%; Phase = whatever you fancy. Then for LFO2: Type = Saw; Period = 10 qb; Smooth = 0%; Phase = 0%. Start playing! We've used LFO1 to change Op B's pitch which will change

FM Synthesis

Yamaha in the DX series of synths the "C" (pitch) part of the C:M ratio over time. LFO2 then changes the "M" decided to hide it behind the scenes. Essentially, the Modulation Index can (harmonic) part of the ratio to alter show us how rich, or thin, the the harmonic content using a saw frequency spectrum of a given sound wave. Throw in some Delay and may be but it isn't of much use to us Reverb from the "Effects" tab and reach for the stars. Of course, you can on a day to day basis doing FM sound design. take things even further by adding in Ops C and D. But for now it's time to The Modulation Index relates to the come back to earth and move on. amplitude(s) of the synth's modulators and determines the Modulation Index bandwidth of a sound. The higher the amplitude the bigger the index, the In the last part of this series I said bigger the index the richer the sound, that we would be looking at the richer the sound the greater the something called the "Modulation bandwidth, i.e. there will be more Index" Although the theory behind it is interesting it is not actually of much harmonic content. If we know the Modulation Index we can actually practical use in any of the FM synths work out and predict a sound's that we're likely to encounter. Even

February 2012

bandwidth (how much of the frequency spectrum it covers) for any given C:M Ratio. And that's about all I'm going to say about the Modulation Index. Introducing TubeOhm's "T-FM" We've spent a fair amount of time looking at ConcreteFX's "Digital" synth. Now I'd like to introduce you to a brand new synth that was being secretly built in TubeOhm's labs before I even started thinking about writing a series of articles on FM synthesis. So, without further ado, here is TubeOhm's brand new FM synthesizer called "T-FM"


C reating Sounds FM Synthesis

Anyone with a passing acquaintance with the Yamaha DX7 will notice that T-FM has a lot in common with Yamaha's illustrious synth though it has a much improved interface - no membrane keys or 7 segment LED displays - and adds in a number of mod-cons. Overall, T-FM is a purebred FM synth that builds upon the DX7's legacy. Can you tell already that I like it? A quick look around the interface shows us that T-FM comes with 6 operators each with its own selection of waveforms, an envelope and key tracking controls. Everything that you could possibly need. In the centre resides T-FM's algorithm selection control. There are 22 different algorithms on offer that cover pretty much any combination of operators that you are likely to want to use. We have here the essentials for FM synthesis but T-FM goes further. There are two LFOs available that can be routed to any operator, after-touch controls, effects (Chorus, Delay and Reverb) and a nicely designed ARP. There is also a 16 step, host syncable, sequencer which is beautifully easy to program.

"Octave", "Semi" and "Fine" controls enable you to work through frequencies in a sensible manner. With the Octave and Semi controls at their default mid-point, and presuming that Fine is at 0, an operator will output an 'A' at 440 Hz. From there it's not too hard to work out your ratios. One thing that is worth noting, and this is common to most algorithm based FM synths, is that the bottom (or far right in the case of Digital) operator in an algorithm is the one that produces the sound. To make this clear T-FM shades the envelopes of the sound producing operators whilst leaving the envelopes of the others clear. This is handy because at a glance you can see which operator is doing what - an important consideration when designing sounds on an algorithm based synth.

T-FM ships with 128 presets which do a good job of showing what can be achieved with this synth. Personally, preset N° 25 "Little Pan 1" is my absolute favourite - a pure, slightly breathy, panpipe sound that I could listen to all day. It is a great example of using a carefully adjusted C:M Ratio Although T-FM doesn't feature to produce a high pitched breath dedicated ratio controls TubeOhm sound that sits alongside a single have set things up such that it is quite operator that uses an "almost" sine easy to work on C:M Ratios. Each wave. In a word, gorgeous. Operator displays its frequency and


February 2012

The synth itself costs €59, or €49 if you are a previous TubeOhm customer. So for less than €10 an operator you can take home one of the best VST FM synths on the market. TubeOhm offer a demo of T-FM from their website: -FM.html

Next time Now that we've covered the most important theory we're going to start on some more practical endeavours, starting by looking at building sounds using complex FM synthesis in algorithm based synths. We'll be looking at T-FM some more along with DiscoDSP's "Phantom" and De la Mancha's freeware "FMMF". Until then, happy FM synthesis and keep working on your C:M Ratios!



w e i v Re Diva



There’s a New Prima Donna in Town by dmbaer The DIVA Makes Her Debut If you were offered a softsynth that supplied three oscillators producing a limited number of single cycle waveforms, only two LFOs, only two basic ADSR envelope generators, no arpeggiator, no m-seg envelopes, an


February 2012

immense appetite for CPU cycles and a price of $179, what would your reaction be? I would not be surprised if many would think: “I’ve already got far more capable instruments that cost way less and are much more efficient. They want a hundred eighty bucks? No way!”.

Fig. 1

But add to the above information the fact that this instrument comes from synth-designer superstar Urs Heckmann and that the reason for the significant CPU consumption is that the software produces a genuinely authentic analog sound. In other words, we may have at last come into the possession of the Holy Grail of computer-based sound synthesis. Now what would the reaction be? It might be something like: “The Holy Grail? For just a hundred and eighty bucks? No brainer!”.

marketing can set expectations such that we can believe we hear things that aren’t really there. Peer excitement can do this even more so.

Pleases the Eyes As Well As the Ears

The first time you launch DIVA, even before you hear a sound, you’ll be I’m certainly not immune to peer struck by the fact the lady has big ... excitement. Given just how much of um ... esthetic appeal. The interface is that’s been going around, the only gorgeous (Fig. 1). When you look way one could conclusively verify the closer you’ll also note that it appears prevalent claims about the audio to be fairly intuitive as well. In fact, superiority of DIVA would be to set up there was no manual available at the blind tests to compare it with other VA time I first installed DIVA. But even software synths and to real analog without one, I could easily understand instruments. Given that I’m just one what was going on in about two-thirds person (who has no analog gear in his of the interface. A preliminary draft of To anyone who spends time on on-line possession in any case), that’s not the DIVA manual was posted in due music forums like KVR, the arrival of going to happen. So you shouldn’t course. While some detail is still u-he’s DIVA will hardly be news. take my word for it regarding DIVA’s lacking, it’s clear the documentation There’s been a level of chatter about exhilarating sound. You really need to for this instrument will satisfy (it is this instrument unlike anything I’ve demo it for yourself and draw your being written by Howard Scarr who ever witnessed. Lots of folks are own conclusion. authored the generally excellent clearly very excited, which requires Zebra manual for u-he). that I start with a serious disclaimer. That disclaimer out of the way, I can tell you that I’m enthralled with DIVA. While I’ve learned much of DIVA’s It’s well known that most humans In a word, the sound of DIVA is (pick functionality through experimentation, have great difficulty being objective one): dazzling, beguiling, voluptuous, there are a few aspects that remain about what they hear. If you don’t stimulating, spectacular, inspiring, inscrutable, even with the preliminary believe that, consider the number of sumptuous, dazzling, riveting, brilliant user manual in hand. So, in this companies that manage to stay in [your-favorite-superlative-adjectivereview I’ll be treading lightly in a few business selling $250 stereo here]. areas that I’m still a bit vague on. interconnect cables to audiophiles who That said, let’s take a tour of the think they sound better than quality facilities. interconnects that can be had for less than a tenth of that price. Clever February 2012




Fig. 2a

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Interview Fig. 2b

The grey area in the upper area of the DIVA interface is comprised of four sections, each of which has a selection of modules to choose from. On the left is the oscillator section, for which you have four choices (Figs. 2a through 2d). These are:

the second oscillator a slave of the first (the detune button thus controlling the timbre rather that the pitch of the slave). Both oscillators can be set to octaves between two below to two above the central pitch.

The purpose/function of nearly everything is obvious. Of those few things that aren’t, many can be understood with a little ♪ Dual VCO (multi-wave experimentation and the oscillators with sync, PWM and manual fills in the rest. This cross mod) makes it is a good time to take ♪ DCO (single two wave a small detour and talk about oscillator with PWM and flexible the Scope tab in the lower sub-oscillator) section.

Triple VCO (morphing oscillators with FM, sync and filter feedback)

♪ Dual VCO Eco (CPUfriendly with pulse width and, ring modulation) Each of these is reportedly constructed from (modeled on) a real-life piece of gear. Some clues as to what that gear was can be found in the preset browser which, along with the actual musical patches, offers a small set of templates with names like June-60, Jupe-6 and Minipoly.

In the center of the lower panel is a tabbed area, the fourth tab of which is labeled Scope. This is a simple oscilloscope display. When in doubt about what the oscillator settings do, this can clarify a lot of what the ear can’t definitively tell you.

Sliders and knobs with a small downward-pointing triangle next to the label can have alternate modulation sources selected. In a gesture of whimsical panache, when this Let’s look at the Dual VCO choice a little more closely, just is done, the “painted on” label is overlaid by the image of a to explore one model. There piece of appropriately labeled are two oscillators (duh!) that “dial-a-label” tape. have a selection of traditional analog wave forms. This will The Heart of the Action look like pretty standard fare for those experienced in analog or VA synth programming. The To the right of the oscillator usual suspects are represented panel is a high pass filter, which you get unless you’ve in the choice of waveforms. selected the Triple VCO There’s a sync option to make oscillator option, for which that 14

Fig. 2c

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Fig. 2d

Diva Fig. 3a

Fig. 3b

Fig. 3c

Fig. 3d

real estate is claimed by the oscillator mixer controls. There are three choices plus an additional choice that is a feedback-only control. These are labeled: Feedback, HPF post, HPF pre and HPF BITE (Figs. 3a through 3d). Actually, there are five options here from which to choose since the HPF BITE model has two very different sounding versions selectable. Let’s move now to the immediate right where the real subtractive synthesis excitement happens, the low-pass filters.

models, so we really have five choices. and resonance settings stay the same All of the models can have filter cutoff as you switch between the filter frequency modulated, by the way. options. Although the actual cutoff value (KHz) may change slightly at As with the oscillators, some clues as the same setting among the different to the gear upon which they were models, the variation is minimal. This modeled may be found in the preset makes it easy to audition alternate templates. In all cases the two most filter selections without needing to significant controls are, of course, tweak the settings as the different cutoff and resonance. The scale for choices are tried. cutoff spans from 30 to 150. I’m not sure what the significance of that For those interested, the results of my numbering scheme is but it clearly has calibration testing were posted in a nothing to do with hertz. Resonance KVR thread that can be seen here: values are from 0 to 100. For LPFs we have four choices: Ladder, topic.php?t=340152 Cascade, Multimode and BITE (Figs. I did some calibration tests and 4a through 4d). Once again, the BITE discovered that one nice property of option offers two significantly unique the filter controls is that the cutoff

Fig. 4a

Fig. 4b

Fig. 4c

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Fig. 4d




w e i v Re &

Interview Fig. 5a

Long story short ... the filters all have great individual character. Even with just five to choose from, you have a wide palette of sound shaping with which to work. If there’s any place analogue authenticity delivers results, it’s in this area, and DIVA delivers those in spades. May I Have the Envelope Please? Finally in our trip across the top portion of the interface, we come to the envelope generators. There are two EGs. EG1 always defaults to volume, which is perfectly reasonable. EG2 would normally be routed to LPF cutoff, but other/additional options exist.

interchangeable. You get two LFOs to work with for example. These are of a single “model” type and no alternate choices exist as is the case with the EGs. A variety of wave forms is offered and LFO syncing to host time clock is fortunately an option. I’m not certain just what the maximum non-synced frequency is but it’s quite fast.

Fig. 5b

Most of the LFO controls will be familiar ground to experienced patch tweakers. The rate and In this case we have three generator the depth can be types to choose from: ADS, analogue modulated by that which and digital (Figs. 5a through 5c). All is specified in the are immediately obvious as to selector controls to the function. The controls all are immediate right of those Fig. 5c numbered from 0 to 100. Once again, knobs. One other point: refer to the KVR thread URL above to the control labeled see the results of some calibration “Delay” is really a fade-in tests I did on what the numbers time. translate to. The next three sections The ADS envelope would normally be to the right are devoted of little use with amplitude levels. It to Tuning, Amplifer/Pan has a switch which forces the level to and Master. Nearly zero at note-off vs. leaving the level everything here has an at the sustain level. In the digital obvious function, but envelope option, two switches labeled once again, some Q and C respectively give you more of documentation helps to explain a few a stepped response and a curved less than obvious controls. response, although I have not tested either. Of considerable significance in the Master section is the Accuracy and The South Side OfflineAcc selectors. DIVA can be made to considerably reduce its CPU At the bottom of the DIVA interface is consumption by selecting draft mode. a multi-section area with further Going up from there we have fast, controls. Unlike the upper portion of great and divine levels, each doing the interface, these are not more intensive computational 16

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crunching and producing more authenticity. To be perfectly honest, I could hear no difference between great and divine for the presets upon which I listened to the various quality settings. The difference between draft and great was easily evident. This is a good point at which to bring up the issue of CPU consumption. I know from reading the KVR DIVA


producer will turn these off in preference for a quality external plug-in. But a good plate at the instrument level is greatly appreciated. The Rotary speaker completes the effects offerings, and it’s a very nice sounding one indeed.

The Patches tab takes over the entire upper portion of the interface with a patch browser. It’s not world class but it is perfectly serviceable. DIVA comes with a generous number of very diverse presets, enough to get anyone started on learning what this instrument can do.

threads that Mr. Heckmann tried to incorporate multi-threading into the release version but could not get it to scale sufficiently well to make its inclusion worthwhile. We may see some breakthroughs in a future release though. As to my own experience, I had no problems with playing eight simultaneous voices on a single instance in great mode on anything I tried. Granted, I recently upgraded to a very capable DAW machine, so that doesn’t hurt. I’d just venture say two things. If you have a reasonably current machine, you should not let any worries about DIVA’s efficiency scare you off. And no matter what the capability of your DAW is, you should be able to do realtime work in draft mode and let freeze-track become your BFF (or at least BFUYUYD – best friend until you upgrade your DAW).

Lastly on our tour of the interface we It Ain’t Over Till the Phat Lady need to consider the tabbed section in Sings? the lower center. We’ve focused on the Main page and briefly mentioned Well, the diva has sung, but I don’t the Scope tab. Two other tabs, think it’s over by any means. I’m Trimmers and Modifications, will be confident we have much to look intimidating until one studies the forward to. The modular nature of the manual. Briefly, the Trimmers panel instrument just begs to have offers controls over a “slop” factor additional analog oscillators and/or that can be applied to tuning and filters modeled and included in future other settings. One nice thing here is releases (not that we need them in that we don’t need an LFO with a any hurry given the wealth of what’s random setting to accomplish these present in the initial release). It’s also things as we might in other synths, so reasonable to believe that a small the two precious LFOs can be left free army of sound designers are busily for more important duties. programming sound sets for commercial release as I’m writing this. The Modifications panel is a limited DIVA is fabulous and it will only get modulation matrix type of facility. It better. doesn’t appear to be as flexible as what can routinely be found in other Even if no other synth company does premium digital synths these days a single thing to upgrade their (Alchemy being the gold standard for offerings in the coming year, I think Shifting our attention to the lower modulation routing in my book), but 2012 will be regarded as a banner right of the interface, we come to the the level of capability seems to be year in computer sound synthesis, all effects section. Two effects can be consistent with the overall philosophy thanks to the diva. Get to your feet, selected. The effects include Chorus, of what DIVA is trying to be. However, ladies and gentlemen ... the lady Phaser, Delay and Plate Reverb. These u-he has promised to augment the merits a standing ovation! coming from the company that manual (possibly by the time you read brought us Uhbik, it’s no surprise that this) with some more detailed Purchase DIVA at: they all sound fabulous. I’m especially information on how to use the pleased to see the Plate option. Too modulation routing, so we await many synths offer full reverbs that are enlightenment. barely adequate. Any serious music February 2012




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Urs Heckmann by dmbaer

Ask any typical group of individuals who have a good knowledge of current software synthesis technology the question: who are the key players in this field today? Chances are good that the name Urs Heckmann will not only appear in most lists, it will be at the top of many of them. Urs is the founder of u-he, the company that has brought us the Ace and Zebra software synths and the Uhbik effects collection. With the recent release of DIVA, Mr. Heckmann’s reputation as one of the foremost synth designers/engineers has only grown. Urs was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with us in the interview that follows.

This makes the result of my work not support. This left many people in a a draft or study, but a finished void. I was basically forced to start product, one that I can the sell over over with plugin design, because I had the internet. Logic as my main DAW and I couldn't That's another difference actually. afford to switch. On the other hand I Designers sell their work once for a quickly realized that this was also a one-time payment, and then they chance for me. I was the first need to acquire a new job or move to developer to publish an audio unit the next project. I have products with a custom user interface. It was which sell multiple times, for a much buggy as hell and I haven't got it lower amount of money. But it gives anymore, but some guys at Apple me more "certainty" and lets me loved me a lot back then. concentrate on a project over much So then I did Zoyd in 2003, which was longer periods of time. And of course, also one of the first free synths for software is never finished. There's Audio Units - It's a monophonic synth always something that can be done to that's still available on my website. improve it. Which in total I like more Later that year I started over and than the job I would have, had I stuck made it into a polyphonic synth. That to a common designer's career (if was Zebra 1.0. Around that time I had WSM: Tell us about your such exists...). an assistant job at a university. But background and what led you into Lastly of course, I love making music when I released Zebra 1.0, it sold so becoming a designer/implementer myself. Developing audio plugins was well that I quit my job, to concentrate of software synthesizers and VST a great chance to marry hobby with fully on plugin development. effects. profession. Then came the Group Buy that started it all. More than 200 people signed up UH: First off, I'm a graduate industrial WMS: For those who know little for Zebra in 2004. After that, my designer, so my academic background about u-he, tell us a little about friend Ben Gillet of Camelaudio did is about designing everyday products the history of the company. What one too, and from then on everybody such as cars, vacuum cleaners or products came when? and his aunty did Group Buys for their furniture. Even though this stuff deals plugins. The Zebra one however was with hardware products, the actual UH: Well, the domain was the first one that got a lot of attention work of an industrial designer is very registered in July 2001. I had a few in media. similar to what I do now: Designers prototypes of VST plugins going, but The rest is quickly explained: in 2005 develop concepts of usage for new nothing worth mentioning. It took came Filterscape and Windows technologies, then render sketches, another year till More Feedback support (back to VST!). Then came make 3D-models, do animated Machine 1.0 came out. Zebra2, More Feedback Machine2, prototypes and so on. The only thing Around that time Apple introduced Uhbik, ACE, a few magware synths, a that makes a big difference is that I Audio Units, bought Emagic and few more studies and alphas of things, also write the code for my applications. discontinued their Windows and VST and recently DIVA.


February 2012

Urs Heckmann with his u-he collaborators: left to right are Hans Hafner, Howard Scarr, Urs and Clemens Heppner.

WSM: Let's talk about DIVA. First of all, how did the concept come to you in the first place?

with a multitude of distortion/wavethe analogues. That was very shaping units that were inserted at complicated to get right, but I'm very the right points in the signal chain. happy with the result. The zero delay feedback filters are the UH: The concept evolved over time. icing on the cake though. WSM: Will we see any of the Firstly she was supposed to be our But also, we were lucky enough to technology that came from the "low cost simple polysynth" that so have about 20 analogue synths for R&D you did for DIVA being many people requested. Zebra is too reference, most of them in great retrofitted into Zebra or other uexpensive for many; ACE - while condition. Much of the development of he offerings? cheap - is too complicated for others. analogue sound in software is related People were looking for the sound of to listening carefully to the gear, and UH: Yes. ACE and Zebra in a cheaper and easier finding ways to implement the to use package. behavior in code. There's a lot of WSM: In other words, we’ll just However, at the same time we were interesting stuff happening that I have have to wait and see? Well, fair trying to get that insanely CPU never read about in papers or forums. enough. But can you tell us what's intensive zero delay feedback tamed, It took quite some time to specify in the u-he pipeline for the next and I collected some analogue synths, these things, and then tackle them. year or two? What are you going mostly those Japanese synths with to be working on when the dust names of Roman gods. Diva means WSM: You’ve made much of the from the DIVA launch settles? goddess in Italian. ;-) importance of zero latency (zero Once we had the zero delay filters delay) filter technology. Why is it UH: We're working on a Zebra update, going it was immediately clear that such a big deal? and then we're working on Berlin DIVA would become something Modular. Both shall happen this year. different. UH: It’s significant because it's one I hope. Then, when Hans Zimmer sent us his thing that can be named and that's And also, we might finish a plugin that Minimoog and Alexander Hacke immediately obvious when comparing we once announced and then dropped. parked his MS-20 in our studio, we DIVA's approach of analogue modeling We'll see... decided to also use these as to the common approaches that are, inspiration, not just those Roman e.g., used in our other plugins. WSM: Urs, thank you so much for gods. It also certainly is the best candidate taking the time to talk to us, and to describe what DIVA stands for. congratulations on the WMS: DIVA's biggest attraction is, We've modeled DIVA's parts as closely enthusiastic reception that DIVA of course, the genuine analog to analogue circuits as we possibly seems to be getting. goodness coming out of a piece of could. computer software. What is the While removing the 1 sample delay in UH: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for technology that allows this? the feedback path is rather easy and your interest in u-he. has been done before, we wanted to UH: Well, it's mostly an insane preserve all those distortions and amount of oversampling accompanied "filters inside filters" that we found in

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FXpansion, purveyors of high quality plug-ins since 1999, the dawn of the VST age, released DCAM: Synth Squad in August 2009. We here at Wusik Station Magazine got our grubby little paws on it in December of that year and Trusty did a great job of presenting the DCAM: Synth Squad trio of Strobe, Amber and Cypher. But that was not all, lest we forget, there is also Fusor, an extra plug-in by means of which you can join the three synths up in new, wild and wonderful ways. So, why are we taking another look at DCAM: Synth Squad? Well, there is certainly more to be said. Firstly, FXpansion have recently released a 64 bit version of the Squad so those who are working towards running a "64 bit only" setup have another weapon to add to the armoury. Secondly, there is a depth to FXpansion's masterpiece that simply can't be conveyed, nor covered, in one article alone. DCAM: Synth Squad brought a whole range of 20

In Depth Fxpansion’s D Part 1 - Strobe

matrix, in its place a versatile routing system that hides an awesome amount of power in what turns out to be a fairly simple interface. I'm new ideas to the table on its release not sure that I'd say that it's intuitive back in 2009. Each synth has plenty to offer, and there is plenty to discuss, exactly but once you've understood but the standout feature has to be the the principles behind TransMod there will be little to hold you back in your TransMod system that is common to sound design. all three synths. TransMod is, at first, sight rather daunting - hover your mouse cursor over any of the eight large buttons in the top right hand corner of each synth's interface and controls start to move as if by magic, flashes of yellow appear in and around those same controls and... it can all feel a bit bewildering. Gone is the "traditional" February 2012

These then are my aims over this series of articles on DCAM: Synth Squad: Present an in-depth look at each of the synths in turn; show you how the TransMod system works and how to get the best from it. We'll also take a good look at Fusor and see what possibilities this extra plug-in throws into the mix.

DCAM: Synth Squad by Adrian Frost

Onwards and Upwards Where to start? As the title suggests we're going to begin with Strobe. Strobe is probably the simplest member of the Squad but don't let that fool you into thinking that it is lacking in any way. What it does, it does very well and with a certain finesse. First though, a step backwards. DCAM stands for Discrete Component Analogue Modelling and yes, FXpansion is based in the UK.

and some of the possibilities that it offers for sound design before taking a more general look at the TransMod system. The Main Panel

- Sine, Triangle, Saw and Square that you can use to beef up your basic sound and give it some heft. Each of the sub-oscs waveforms has its own octave control. It's worth mentioning that Strobe's square waves are pulse

In their own words "The philosophy behind DCAM is to model a circuit based on each individual component of the circuit and its structural context, rather than simply treating a circuit as a 'black box' and analyzing its overall output. The result is a genuinely waveforms that can be controlled by realistic model of the circuit - its non- For the moment I'm going to totally the "Pulse Width" controls at the ignore all of the controls at the top linearities, structure and behaviour right-hand end of the oscillator and bottom of the interface and just are preserved intact". segment. focus on Strobe's main panel. We'll come back to the upper and lower What this means in practice is that The Oscillator FXpansion haven't emulated any panels at a later date as the upper panel, which contains the preset particular synth, rather they have Around the main pitch control there looked at classes, or genres of synths management options and the and attempted to reproduce their best TransMod system, is shared across all are seven smaller knobs which give three members of the Squad. The you a surprising amount of control features. In Strobe we have a single lower panel that contains performance over the raw oscillator sound. Moving oscillator polyphonic synth that anti-clockwise from top left we have: and voice controls is the same for behaves like some of the best Sync, Stack, Detune, Fine, Pitch Strobe and Cypher and slightly analogue monophonic synths of the Envelope, Pitch LFO and Pitch Key. late 70s and into the 80s. Again, to different on Amber. Sync basically gives you up to 4 quote FXpansion themselves: octaves of frequency control in semiStrobe's main panel is helpfully "Strobe's design is motivated by the segmented so it's easy to see which tones. Stack and Detune are probably immediacy and simplicity of classic the most important controls. Stack, as controls belong with which parts of performance synths like the Roland its name suggests allows you to stack the synth. In the top left corner we SH101 and SH-09, Oberheim OB-1 up to five 'copies' of the oscillator and and Yamaha CS-10". have all of the controls related to Detune allows you to control the pitch Strobe's single oscillator. You have difference between the stacked the option of mixing three different An overview of Strobe oscillators up to a whole octave. One waveforms together - Saw, Square thing that is maybe a little weird but and Noise. There is also a subOK, down to business. We'll start by oscillator with four mixable waveforms quite useful is that you can stack part taking a look at Strobe, its features

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In Depth Fxpansion’s D

Interview of an oscillator... whatever does that mean? Well, you're not limited to stacking whole numbers of oscillators. If you feel like stacking 4.36 oscillators you can! Using Stack and Detune it's a total breeze to create a powerful SuperSaw sound with Strobe's single oscillator, and the fun doesn't end there.

Right-clicking soon becomes second nature when you're working with one of the Squad members as they all function in the same manner and this, I think, is one of the trio's strengths learn how to use one and you can use the others without having to rethink how you work. Yes, they all have very different structures but you can get a good work flow going relatively quickly across all three synths which is always nice when you've got inspiration and ideas floating about.

basically, flipped over. At -100%, if you start at the low end you get high notes and vice versa. So, set up a sound, silently tweak the Pitch Key and let someone else have a play... The Filter

Strobe's filter, whilst looking There are three pitch related controls. all simple and Pitch Envelope is hard-wired to the efficient is an "Mod Env" segment that is just to the absolute right of Strobe's "Visualiser" window. power house. A musical joke Pitch LFO is, unsurprisingly, hardThere are 22 wired to the LFO which is in the different filter Before moving on to look at the filter, types at your segment just beneath the oscillator. there is one control that could be a lot disposition, The Pulse Width and Filter Cutoff controls are also directly connected to of fun if you're showing off your some of which the LFO. There are a number of these Squad synths to someone else. The are actually Pitch Key control looks after key fixed routings already in place. multiple filters tracking and is bi-polar (does plus and in series. I'm minus). The default position is +100%, not going to The Visualiser this means that the note you play on detail them all your keyboard is the note that will A word about the Visualiser is here but will come out of your speakers. As you probably in order at this point. Each point you to turn down Pitch Key strange things member of the Squad includes, right Synth Squad's in the centre, a window that is used to start to happen. At +50% the manual. Page display all kinds of useful information. 'distance' between consecutive keys 15 details all becomes a quarter-tone instead of the of the filter As you hover over a control with your usual semi-tone. At 0% you get one mouse cursor its name and value are options that note (related to the Pitch control) shown at the bottom of the window. are available whatever you happen to play on your Any associated waveform or envelope and at the keyboard and then as you move into is also shown. As you adjust controls back of the negative numbers your keyboard is, information in the Visualiser is manual you'll updated in real-time. The Visualiser is great therefore for giving you an idea of what is going on in any sound that you are trying to create. You can also lock the Visualiser to a control by right-clicking the control and selecting the "Lock Scope" option that appears in the menu. From this same menu you can also reset the control if you realise that your experiment in sound has gotten out of hand. 22

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DCAM: Synth Squad

find frequency response charts for each filter combination. Whilst on the subject of manuals I have to say that FXpansion's manual for DCAM: Synth Squad is quite possibly one of the best and most complete manuals I've ever read for a synth. It is packed with information and even if you would normally ignore the manual because you know what you're doing this one is a "must read". I say this not only because you'll find a lot of little hints and tips, you will, but because the manual is simply very well written, it's a pleasure to read. And yes, I've read it from cover to cover (I printed it out - mea culpa to the trees...)

Part 1 - Strobe

To start off with Strobe's LFO offers 21 different waveforms for you to play with. You get a fairly standard rate control and you can sync the LFO to your host after that we are treading new ground, at least I am... First up, "Swg" means "Swing" and it's easier to show you a couple of pictures than try to explain exactly what Swing does. The first picture shows a basic Sine waveform, nothing particularly special there... then we increase the Swing and end up with something that gives considerably more movement to your sound.

OK, back to the filter. Given the large number of possibilities it's hard to say everything that needs to be said even in a relatively long article such as this is likely to be. Basically, the filters sound good, very good. Using Cutoff and Resonance along with the Drive control will quickly have you producing screaming leads and basses with bags of grunt. The filter has hard-wired routings to both the LFO and the Mod Envelope so there's also plenty of scope for making good, lively use of the filter.

available modulation sections - LFO, Ramp, Mod Env and Amp Env. It relates to how the modulator is gated or triggered and gives a whole new pile of ways of adding movement to your sounds. Depending on which Gate option you choose playing a note or a series of notes will have a different effect on how and when the modulator kicks in and how it does its 'stuff'. Section 7:5 of the manual goes into a decent amount of detail about each of the Gate options. What all of this adds up to, even before we get to the TransMod system, is that you have a huge variety of ways of shaping any sound that you are trying to create. Obviously, some combinations aren't going to work as well as others but Strobe is so tweakable and the "Reset Param" option is so near to hand that you're not going to end up going too far off track. And?

Last of all in this overview we'll take You can also alter the Phase and the a look at just one of Strobe's Pulse Width of any of the chosen LFO modulation options: the LFO. Before you think, "Oh no, he's going to witter waveforms. So, lots of possibilities. And there is one more. The Gate on about modulation... Duh, I think I control appears on all 4 of the understand LFOs", let me say that Strobe has some new and neat ideas up its sleeves.

February 2012

As always the question to ask is "How does it sound?" I have spent some time listening to examples of a number of the 80s monophonic synths that provided inspiration for Strobe and to me Strobe is making the right kind of sounds. It has a certain depth, variety and grit that sounds authentically analogue. If you decided to swap out an old Roland SH101 and replace it with Strobe I would be very surprised if anybody could tell the difference. Having said that, Strobe isn't as limited as those old synths; the range of modulation options on offer, the stackable and detunable oscillator and built in performance controls mean that you can produce sounds that synthesists of the 80s could only ever have dreamed of. But then again, it's now 2012, DCAM Synth Squad has been out for over two and a half years, which is an eternity in the plug-in world... how's the Squad holding up?




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In Depth Fxpansion’s D


Traditionally (and generally), synths that use a Matrix based routing system limit you to one source and one destination per modulation slot on the matrix. TransMod works slightly Well, as far as I'm concerned differently, one source can map to any FXpansions trio of synths is still up number of controls. You can also map there amongst the best of the best a source to another source which in and Strobe more than holds its own turn maps to any number of controls. against any of the current batch of There is a "one to many" relationship Virtual Analogue synths on the market. between Strobe's sources and destinations. In this article we'll take a Introducing TransMod look at the practicalities of using the TransMod system. As I mentioned earlier, part of my aim in writing this series on DCAM Synth Squad is to shed some light on the Buttons whole TransMod system. Since the Squad ships with a good range of presets and since you can do a whole lot of sound design just using the basic controls and available modulation options it's easy to bypass, and forget about, the Of the eight TransMod buttons the TransMod system. So, you can do a lot first three default to using certain without even touching the row of sources: Velocity, Perf1+ and Perf2+. eight buttons at the top of each Perf1+ is Performance controller 1 interface but to ignore them is to miss and is, by default, assigned to your out on some amazing opportunities to controller's Mod Wheel. Performance create dynamic and original sounds. controller 2 is, again by default,


February 2012

assigned to After-Touch. You can reassign these three sources but I would suggest that you may, at least, want to keep the first two as assigned. If your controller features after-touch then you may as well keep the third as well. The TransMod buttons are "lit" to show their state as seen in the accompanying image. The brightest button shows which TransMod "slot" you are currently working on. If a slot has routings that have been set either by you or in a preset - then the button is medium bright. The darkest buttons are those where no modulation options have been set for any controls.

Each of the buttons is effectively divided into two parts - The Source and the Scaler. Clicking on the text at the top of the button will reveal the menus as shown:

DCAM: Synth Squad

Part 1 - Strobe

over every aspect of the synth and, hence, your sound. Cursors!

In fact, these are just some of the possible sources at your disposal. There are a lot of them - 71 in total by my count... though I may have lost track of one or two. Under the text at the top of the button is the simple word "via" which relates to the text at the bottom of the button - the Scaler.

Once you have set your Source and Scaler the next step is to set the various controls in the main panel. This is where we encounter the "flashes of yellow" mentioned previously. The yellow areas that appear on a control indicate the depth of modulation for that particular destination/control the more yellow the greater the effect of the Source and Scaler. I've taken a number of screenshots and enlarged them to show how to set the controls for modulation. It's not difficult but requires a bit of attention to detail.

What is a Scaler? It's an ingenious There are three basic types of way of modifying a source before it is control used in the Synth passed on to the destination. The Squad trio - knobs, sliders Scaler may be as simple as a constant and buttons. That is probably - the first option on the menu. The stating the obvious; but action of the source can be multiplied knobs and sliders both work by a constant amount before reaching in slightly different ways when its destination. The Scaler can also be using the TransMod system. more complex as you have the full Buttons are either on or off and, as depth. To change the modulation range of menu options as found for such, don't have a large role to play in depth for a knob you need to move the Source. For example: using setting the synth's modulation options the mouse cursor over any part of the Perf1+ (Mod Wheel) you can set it to - although it is worth pointing out that darker blue (in Strobe's case) outer go via the LFO before reaching any of changing buttons via the TransMod ring. The cursor will change - the dot will disappear and by dragging the controllers that you have set as system can lead to clicks and pops in destinations. This would mean that by your sound if you're not careful. upwards or downwards you will alter using your Mod Wheel you can affect the depth of the control's modulation. the modulation of the Pitch control by, Firstly the knobs. You'll notice that the say, using a sine wave. The Mod The yellow area that appears starts at position and the type of cursor is Wheel then acts as a completely different in each picture. When the the control's initial position with the adjustable control of the sine wave arrow at the other end showing the cursor appears as two vertical arrows which itself is controlling pitch (pointing up and down) with a dot maximum value for the modulation. according to how you have set the between them you are adjusting the The max value can be either positive Pitch control. This is maybe not the or negative and also depends upon whole control, that is, you are most enthralling option but shows changing the initial position of the the initial position of the knob. immediately the control that you have control and any associated modulation February 2012




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In Depth Fxpansion’s DCAM:

Part 1 - Strobe


Now for the sliders: Sliders use the same cursor as knobs but the method for adjusting them is slightly different. When a slider is in its default, unmodulated position it appears as two black bars over a darker blue background area. If you grab the slider control with your mouse you will get the cursor with arrows plus dot and can move the control up and down. To split the two bars and introduce any amount of modulation you need to move the mouse cursor into the darker blue area above or below the slider control. The cursor loses the dot and as you drag up or down a white arrow will appear on one of the two black bars. This arrow indicates the maximum value for modulation depth. The other black bar is the starting point for any modulation. You can subsequently adjust the whole ensemble by moving the mouse cursor over the yellow area which allows you to adjust the initial position and hence the max/min for the modulation depth - the cursor will regain its dot. You may be wondering at this point why spend so much time and use so many words to talk about cursors. Well, it's because getting to grips with how the TransMod system uses modulation of controls is fundamental for everything that we'll be looking at in the coming months. It is also confession time - when I first installed and loaded up DCAM: Synth Squad I decided to just dive in and fiddle and I couldn't work out how to adjust the modulation depth of any controls. I


Synth Squad

Summing Up As I've said before in other reviews there are some synths (and effects) that end up staying installed on my computer where others are removed once the review is done. DCAM: Synth Squad will be staying. Playing around with Strobe over the last few weeks (yeah, I write slowly because I'm playing too much) has shown it to be a versatile and capable little synth that has been a pleasure to use. The sound is maybe a little grittier than most of my other synths but I think I've fallen in love with Strobe's analogue charms. And I haven't even really started on Amber or Cypher, the other members of the team, yet! With the Squad FXpansion have created a winning combination of synths. The TransMod system adds even more depth to what is already a full featured trio of plug-ins.

ended up reading the manual and worked things out quite quickly. Maybe I'm just plain dumb (always a possibility) but this is one area of Synth Squad that I didn't find immediately intuitive. So now you know, maybe I'm just writing this for myself; but if I save you even a couple of moments of frustration with what turns out to be an incredibly simple and elegant feature of the Squad then I consider my work done.

February 2012

Next time we'll be looking at Amber and will dig further into the TransMod system to see how best to use it for adding interesting variations to any sound that we may wish to create. FXpansion offer a demo of DCAM: Synth Squad from their site: DCAM: Synth Squad is available from all good music retailers as well as from the FXpansion Online Shop for USD $249, EUR €189, GBP £165 inc VAT where applicable.

Mayur Maha

Interview with

Mayur Maha Technical Writer for FXpansion by Adrian Frost

Often neglected, sometimes missing, WSM: How long have you been a good manual is indeed a rare beast. working as technical writer with If a plug-in ships with a manual it's FXpansion? generally the last thing we look at, something we turn to, maybe, in Mayur: Since the first version of desperation when all else has failed. BFD... I think it's been around 8-9 But it's time to bring manuals, and years. those who write them, into the spotlight. I have had the pleasure of being able to ask Mayur Maha of WSM: The Synth Squad manual FXpansion a few questions about his shows you have a very good and work as a technical writer for clear understanding of all three FXpansion. Mayur wrote the excellent synths, along with Fusor. How manuals for DCAM: Synth Squad that much time did you take getting to I've mentioned in the review of Strobe know them before starting to that precedes this interview. One write? thing becomes clear - writing the manual for plug-ins takes a lot more Mayur: I find it's actually good to effort, knowledge and dedication to dive straight in and start planning the clarity than maybe we would have structure. I like to use my initial thought‌ impressions of an instrument's interface to figure out how to present the information in the most friendly WSM: What was it that drew you way possible. to technical writing? Mayur: I had some experience in WSM: Then, once you'd started writing tutorials and manuals for a few writing, how long did the manual independent products in my spare for Synth Squad take? time, so it was a natural step. Mayur: This is tricky to answer quite a long time, as the development February 2012

process was pretty long, and the manual was written in parallel.

WSM: When faced with a synth as complicated as Cypher, where did you begin when writing the manual and how did you decide what to include? Mayur: With Cypher, it was necessary to try and present some fairly complex synthesis concepts in a way that is relevant to musicians. I think that most people would lose interest very quickly if you used scary-looking equations to explain things like FM, so I tried to describe these functions more in terms of timbral changes and other concepts that make more sense to most musicians. Whether I succeeded or not, that's what I set out to do!

WSM: Do you have a favourite amongst the Synth Squad trio? Mayur: Yes - undoubtedly Cypher. I can honestly say it surprises and excites me every time I use it. It can look a bit overwhelming at first, but if




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Interview you take some time to break down each section and check out what it does, it is very rewarding and throws all kinds of amazing sounds at you. I like it so much I'm developing a suite of presets for it.

WSM: What is your least favourite part of the writing process?

Mayur Maha Technical Writer for FXpansion

WSM: What are your own interests in music? Mayur: I listen to everything from jazz fusion and krautrock to hip-hop and electronics. I don't really have many rules when it comes to messing about with my own music. WSM: Do you have any tips for budding technical writers?

Mayur: I'm not sure there is one. But one thing that's always at the back of your mind is that a lot of people don't like reading manuals, and the nature of interfaces is moving towards very simple, more intuitive ergonomics which require little to no documentation, especially with the rise of small, dedicated smartphone apps. With software as powerful as ours it's always about finding a balance - there's always a need to have a reference guide for specific info on certain things, as we often introduce innovative ways of doing things that may need some initial explanation.


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Mayur: I think I already mentioned that it's good to try and engage the reader and make things relevant. Try and build up some experience by offering to write manuals for developers of free software. And definitely be prepared to take criticism on board and act on it! :) Many thanks to Mayur for taking the time and effort to reply to my questions!


quiver 1.1 by Ben Paturzo

Ralph Brorsen has designed a modular synthesizer with a distinctive UI. The synth is called Quiver. Ralph's KVR Forum listing is Straightarrow, if you'd like to drop in and say hello. I'll be doing a proper review of Quiver in an upcoming issue. In the

meantime, you should download the demo and see for yourself why I think there are some great things in store for us. Cheers!

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Supersynths' by Jeffrey Powell

Supersynths is the company moniker of Mike Felker who has created several libraries and preset banks for Wusik Station like PRIZM and Vocalsphere. He's also created several themed soundfont banks like Monstrous, which is aimed toward making eerie, spooky, and sci-fi compositions. His latest project is called KLANG. As the name indicates, the focus of KLANG is on percussion samples, primarily on big hits, booms, and other hardhitting percussion. KLANG comes in three different varieties: the KLANG sampleset (which is available in a variety of formats like Kontakt and Wusik Station), the KLANG virtual instrument (a low footprint, basic instrument available for 32 or 64bit Mac or PC), and the KLANG drum machine (a full featured drum instrument for PC only). In this review, I'll primarily be taking a look at the first and third of these products, but my comments will be applicable to the second in the list above as well.


February 2012

The Library Content The KLANG library is a very diverse library consisting of over 400 percussion and effects samples. The size of the library depends on the version that you're using. The library included with KLANG drum machine weighs in at about 370 MB. The Kontakt version, which contains basically the same samples with small exceptions, weighs in at around 1.2 GB. The main difference (at least in the versions I tested) is that the Kontakt version has a higher samplerate. The KLANG library is divided into five different folders: Brass-like, Effects, Klangs, Panflute, and Percussion. The Brass-like folder contains around ten different breath and horn samples ranging from a foghorn to a few trumpet blasts. The Effects folder contains approximately ten sound effect samples including a car engine, faucet drips, and kids' voices. As expected, the Klangs folder is one of the largest with over 100

February 2012


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samples. This is really a diverse category and in it you'll find all sort of objects that have been hit such as wooden tubes, a djembe, metal plates of all types, snare drums, and even balloons. In particular, you'll find a good mix of short hits, medium hits, and hits with a very long decay so you're able to get a bit of that Hollywood sound with these. The Pan Flute folder contains around 40 samples of a pan flute played at different pitches and with different articulations. They would work well in isolation, or various pitches of the same articulation could be combined into one sampler patch. The final folder, Percussion, contains samples further divided into Bass, Cymbals, Ethnic Drums, FX, Hits, Large Percussion, Metallic Percussion, Snare Drums, and Toms. Each of those subcategories has between twenty and forty samples each, and they are all strikes you can get from traditional percussion instruments.


The Drum Machine

bass section that allows you to load samples as well. This section was a If you purchase the KLANG drum "work in progress" part of the drum machine, in addition to the library, machine when I was testing it, so I you'll also get the virtual instrument was not able to evaluate it in-depth. in the picture accompanying this In the upper right of the interface, review. The KLANG drum machine you'll find two quite powerful packs a lot of features into its sequencers. These are the heart of interface. On the left side, you'll find the KLANG drum machine. The rows eight different sample slots for loading of the sequencers represent different percussion samples. Each slot has an notes, and the columns represent ADSR envelope, a level control, and a different beats in the pattern (which is waveform display which allows you to what you would expect). You can use set loop points for the sample. You the mouse to place MIDI notes, and can also select the MIDI channel for with a left click, you can adjust each layer. A left click on the sample parameters of the note (such as MIDI waveform gives you several options channel, velocity, etc.) You can use that you don't find on the interface. In this section to sequence songs by particular, you can use this menu to stringing together patterns in this set the MIDI note that triggers the section as well. That's just the tip of samples. Using this you can set up a the iceberg, as they say. There are a number of different mappings, lot of options in this section…perhaps including having the samples trigger too many options in fact. The good on successive keys that respond to news is that you can save your the same MIDI channel or having sequences in a pattern preset that is multiple layers trigger with the press independent of the samples loaded. of one key. It is important to note that the The Verdict supplied samples are dry samples, On the left, underneath the sample So, what do I think of Supersynths' which is the way that I like them. That slots, you'll find a mixer for controlling KLANG? First, I'll focus on the sample way, I can apply the exact effects the levels and panning of each slot. library. As noted above, the KLANG chain that I want in order to achieve On the lower right of the interface library is diverse and well-recorded. the sound that I want. Also, the you'll find a basic reverb, compressor, There aren't a lot of sample libraries samples are clear, well-recorded, and delay, and a visual keyboard that you that feature such a variety of appropriately trimmed. can use to trigger the samples. In the cinematic and percussive hits that center at the bottom, you'll find a 32

February 2012

come in at such a low price point. I especially like the fact that the library comes in many different formats. While I usually like working in Kontakt, I found that I preferred using the .wav files in FXpansion's Geist and the Wusik Station soundsets in the Wusik Groove Box. In those environments, I found it fast and fun to put together big percussion soundtrack-type beats and basic percussion tracks (especially using the ethnic percussion). It occurred to me that Geist and Wusik Station do not have many such big percussive sounds in their factory libraries. So, if you regularly work with one of those (or Poise or Guru or the like) and want some fresh and unique sounds, then I think you'll really like the KLANG library. While most of the samples are single hits, a number of the samples in the Klang folder have multiple variations which gives you enough material to be able to set up velocity layers or round robin layers. At any rate, the KLANG library is a useful library at a good price, and it's worth your while to check it out.

As for the KLANG drum machine, there is no doubt that it has a ton of features. Having eight separate sample slots is very versatile, and the double drum sequencers (with the ability to sequence the patterns themselves) means you can do a great deal with the drum machine. While the feature set is fantastic, I did find elements of the work flow to be less than ideal. Many important features are found in left-click menus (such as mapping the samples and deleting a note from the sequencers), and I found them a bit awkward to use. Right-clicking to delete a node would be more useful. Also, at this time, there is no manual, and I found the many options in the sequencer section tough to figure out without guidance. I imagine that a basic manual will be released in the near future. In the mean time, Mike has a tutorial video on his site that gives some of the basic work flow. In my time with it, I was able to get some good rhythms going with the drum machine, but I'd love to see some refinements to make it more intuitive to use. February 2012

As a word of note, Mike continues to work on and refine the layout of KLANG drum machine, so I imagine some work flow enhancements have already been implemented at the time of the publishing of this review. If you have questions, Mike can often be found at the KVR Forum, and you'll find him to be a nice guy who likes to listen to, and interact with, his customers. Check It Out If you're interested in adding some KLANG to your music, head over to the Supersynths site at to get the scoop on the various formats available. The price is dependent on the format you choose, but the products of the KLANG line all fall within the $40 to $50 range. You'll also find some song demos to give you a feel for the types of sounds in the library. Be sure to check out the other products while you're there!


w Mama, Don't Take My e i v Re

Hello I Love You Won't You Tell Me Your Name? As soon as I hit a few keys, I was hooked. And look at this face! (Figure 1). I told Eric T of AAS that they had a home run on their hands. Okay—confession here: I have a soft spot for Modeling Synths. But still, c'mon, if you don't like Chromaphone, and I mean really like it, the future of humanity will be in jeopardy (not the show—Figure 2—I said in, not, on jeopardy—pay attention!). Seriously, when's the last time you wheeled in a Figure 2 marimba into your office-slash-studioslash-man cave? And that's what I heard on those introductory notes—a real marimba. Wow. And what's this (Figure 3)? An Electric Marimba? Did I miss a meeting? Who made this and why haven't I heard this before? This preset sounds, to my smiling ears, like a very happy union of a marimba and an electric piano. Such amazing subtleties of echo and decay, very smooth vibrato, itself subtly decaying, with just the right amount of reverb. I am awash in adjectives, kinda like having no mouth and needing to scream (Figure 4). Seriously, dude, download the demo, right now, or you will be missing out. Big time. 34

Figure 1

Figure 3

Figure 4

February 2012

Away! by Ben Paturzo

Figure 5 Look at this (Figure 5). Ethniticity. Let me draw you a picture: even though this is in the Mallets bank, I swear to you, I can see the weathered, callused hands striking the instrument. There is a dry, brushing type of effect, like palms rubbing against a membrane, that gives this preset a human quality. Not sure how hard it is for a designer to achieve this quality, but I'm guessing not too easy.

Figure 6 Hmm hmm hmm, Silly Me

Figure 7

I confess to having had a short panic attack. "Silly me" (Figure 6). It looked like Chromaphone had a mere 46 presets, but that was only in the Mallets bank. Ohhh. So human beings need sleep. I get it. No, Chromaphone has 12 banks (Figure 7), with oodles of presets among them. "I should say so!" (Figure 6) I'm going to sign off and go to bed now. Jeffrey Powell will take over the reins and do a proper review of this remarkable instrument. I can almost guarantee窶馬aw, forget it, I will guarantee, that you will find a great deal of enjoyment in Chromaphone. Truly a home run. Cheers! And good night!

February 2012


w e i v Re Applied Acoustic Systems’ Chromaphone by Jeffrey Powell

Applied Acoustic Systems is one of the champions of physical modeling in the virtual instrument world. Many know about their modeling instruments like Tassman 4, Ultra Analog, String Studio, and a host of instruments for Ableton Live. Outside of their sound bank series, things have been quiet for a while at AAS. But right at the end of 2011, AAS surprised many as they introduced “a synthesizer dedicated to the creation of acoustic instruments” called Chromaphone. Let’s take a look at Chromaphone and see if AAS’s newest instrument really delivers.

sound of a single basic resonator that has been “excited” in some way requires high-powered mathematics to even approach the correct sound that we hear in real life. To complicate matters further, many instruments involve multiple resonators which interact with each other and behave differently than they would in isolation. A classic example of this is an acoustic guitar which has strings and a body which both act as resonators that interact with each other. Needless to say, when the resonators interact, the difficulty of the mathematical modeling required increases.

resonators, you have a quality control (for adjusting the number of modes used), a decay control (which gives the decay time of the partials), a release control (used to simulate dampers on the sound), a material control (used to adjust the decay time of certain partials and is only for certain resonators), and then usually one or two resonator specific controls. For many of these, you can use key tracking, velocity, or even an LFO to modulate them.

As noted above, you can select either one or two resonators. If you choose just one, then you’ll get the response The Concept Despite the computational hurdles, you would get with this resonator in AAS has designed Chromaphone to isolation. If you choose two When playing a physical acoustic model these complex processes resonators, then Chromaphone allows instrument, there are generally two involving resonators in an attempt to you two different options. You can things involved. First of all, you need bring acoustic instruments to your have them behave in parallel and a something that will resonate (i.e. DAW. slider on the GUI simply controls the naturally oscillate at certain mix of the two sounds. Alternately, frequencies with certain amplitudes). The Resonator Module you can choose to couple them, which Examples include the stretched skin of means that energy is transferred a drum head, a string, or the body of Chromaphone consists of three main between the resonators after a wind instrument. Note that every modules that represent the resonators Resonator A is excited. The slider on acoustic instrument has resonators of and the items that cause them to the GUI then acts as a knob which some sort. In order to get them to resonate. The most important module sets how easily each resonator can be resonate, of course, you must do is the Resonator Module. This gives set into motion relative to the other something to them like strike them you a choice of two different resonator. with a stick, pluck them with your resonators which will be used to finger, or blow air into them. produce the sound. The choices for As noted in the well-written manual, resonators are: a string, a beam, a this coupling of resonators allows you In the real world the behavior of marimba beam, a rectangular plate, to make new resonators that contain a resonators and their sound is really an acoustic membrane, an open tube, mixture of the characteristics of the quite complex as there are a number a closed tube, and a manual resonator two original resonators. of factors that interact to produce the (which allows you to adjust the sound you hear. So, modeling the frequency of partials). For most 36

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The Mallet and Noise Modules If you have resonators, then you’ll need something to “excite” the resonators. In Chromaphone, you’re given two options in this area. The first is the Mallet Module, which simulates the striking of the resonator with a mallet. In this module, you can control the force with which you hit the object and the stiffness of the mallet that you use. Noise can also be added to the striking of the mallet to produce some interesting effects. If you’re not interested in striking the resonator, then you can use the second module provided by AAS: the Noise Module. You’ll want to use that module when you’re interested in getting sustained excitement of the resonator. A good example of this is for an organ sound, where you’ll want to simulate air going through a tube. The noise is the “air” for that process. Chromaphone gives you several options to filter the noise, a couple of controls for adding variety to the noise, and even an ADSR to shape the amplitude envelope of the noise.

As with the resonators, you can also use both the Mallet and Noise Modules at the same time. In that instance, both will be used to excite the resonators. This is useful if you want an initial strike sound that is followed by a sustained sound. Those types of sounds work great in ambient music, by the way. As with the resonator modules, many of these controls can be modulated using keyboard tracking, velocity, the noise envelope, and the onboard LFO. A slider in the modules allows you to mix in some of the sound of the mallet or the noise with the output of the resonators. At times, you’ll want to do this, but at other times (particularly when using the Noise Module as “breath” for a resonator), you’ll probably want to mute the input sound. Control and Effects Modules Chromaphone also contains several smaller modules in the lower part of the GUI that either add control or apply effects to the output. One of these (the amplitude envelope for the February 2012

Noise Module) was covered in the section above. The Vibrato Module applies low frequency pitch modulation to the output. You’ll find you can use the modulation wheel to control the amount of pitch modulation in this module. Another of these modules is the aforementioned LFO module. Chromaphone gives you five different LFO shapes, and these LFOs can be used to modulate the pitch of Resonator A along with several of the controls in the Noise Module. The last two modules are Multi-Effect Modules which are applied in series at the end of the output chain. Each of these modules can actually be any of the effects offered on Chromaphone. The effects that you can choose from are three types of delay, three types of reverb, three types of distortion, two types of tremolo, two types of wah, overdrive, flanger, chorus, phaser, notch filter, and EQ. Wow! That’s an impressive list. Each effect type has the usual basic controls that you would expect for that effect.


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Is Chromaphone a Success? Now that you’ve got a handle on Chromaphone’s intent and layout, we can address the most important question of all: “Is Chromaphone a success?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” While it’s not perfect (as I’ll point out in a minute), Chromaphone does all of the important things very well, and it’s one of the most unique and fun instruments I’ve played in a long time. Before getting to the sound, let’s talk about some of the peripheral aspects that are a success in Chromaphone. First of all, the GUI is probably the best of all of the AAS plugins. The colors are pleasing to the eye, the design with the pictures of the resonators is useful, and the layout is easy to follow. Secondly, the preset handling system is quite good. I have found the systems used on some of their other instruments to be cumbersome at times, but they’ve got a whole new system in Chromaphone. It’s very easy to use. Lastly, as with all of their other instruments, the manual for Chromaphone is detailed and very well-written. I always appreciate when companies work to make a quality manual. My


recommendation is that you should have it printed or downloaded so you can refer to it while you work with Chromaphone.

along with synth sounds that have an acoustic flavor to them.

These acoustic sounds produced by Chromaphone are the sort of sounds Fortunately, Chromaphone is not just that most musicians add to their another pretty GUI. The sounds that it arsenal by buying sample libraries can produce are wide ranging and which, in order to sound authentic, incredible. Working through the more require tons of velocity layers, round than 300 presets in the factory library robin samples, and hard drive space. provides quite a revelation. With Chromaphone can certainly reduce Chromaphone, you can achieve very your need for many of those libraries. realistic mallet instruments (e.g. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t need marimbas, xylophones, vibraphones, any bell or mallet libraries in the etc.), percussion instruments (bongos, foreseeable future. That’s pretty much drums, etc.), string instruments the case for many basic percussion (basses, guitars, ethnic strings, etc.), instruments as well (although if you bell instruments, organs, keyboards, want epic percussion, you’ll still need and strange acoustic effects. Among to buy the sample libraries as that’s the factory library, it’s easy to find outside of Chromaphone’s specialties). jaw-droppingly good presets in each With physical modeling, you not only of these categories. I especially like get a an instrument that takes up the mallet presets, and my favorite little hard drive space that easily single preset is “Beauty in Numbers” avoids the dread “machine gun effect” from the Plucked String category. It’s but you also get an instrument that a perfect mournful guitar sound as allows you to easily tweak the you might hear on a recent and nuances of your sound so that it can mellow Bill Frisell record. In addition sound exactly like the sound you are to emulating acoustic instruments, hearing in your mind. That’s a Chromaphone can create sounds that wonderful thing! Needless to say, I are unlike any instrument you’ve ever had a blast playing Chromaphone, and heard in real life. It can definitely I found it incredibly easy to tweak the produce amazing drones and textures presets and even come up with my own unusual “acoustic” instruments.

February 2012


Be forewarned, however, about the CPU usage is naturally a concern for high CPU use of Chromaphone. In those with older systems. Also, the order to provide accurate modeling, writing on the GUI might be too small physical modeling synths require a for some screen settings and for some great deal of processing power, and people’s vision. Perhaps two different Chromaphone is no exception to this sized GUIs would be a good choice. rule. I tested it on a quad-core Q6600 Lastly, I’d love a way to “lock” the processor, and I did not run into too effects so I could swap presets much trouble. However, on a few without having to set up the delay and patches (with long release times), I reverb that I want for each preset. was able to push my CPU a bit too However, these issues are clearly not much and received some distorted deal breakers. Since my list of audio in the process. So, be sure to “negatives” is this small and nit-picky, test it on your system to make sure it’s a sign that I’m struggling to find that your system can handle it. You’ll any downsides to this great probably still find one or two patches instrument. that run up your CPU if you play several notes, but a few adjustments As a side note, it appears that some to the patch will likely keep your CPU (but not all) of the functionality of usage in check. Chromaphone can be found in Tassman 4 and in Collision (an Is It Perfect? instrument made by AAS for Ableton Live). So, if you happen to own those, Well, of course, the answer here is you might want to make a comparison “no.” I’m not sure any virtual with Chromaphone’s demo before instrument is perfect. So, there are purchasing to see if it adds anything certainly a few minor improvements useful to your arsenal. In my that I’ll suggest. First of all, pitch estimation, the great interface and the bend is not recognized, and while the coupling of resonators (which I parameters are exposed to the host, believe is unique to Chromaphone) there’s no MIDI learn at this point. likely make it a worthwhile purchase Secondly, there’s no way to use even if you own the others. But you tuning files in Chromaphone, and I might want to test it first to be sure. think that would be an excellent feature to have. As noted above, the February 2012

Try it Already! For this reviewer, Chromaphone is one of the most interesting and fun virtual instrument releases I’ve used in a long time. The wide-variety of realistic and (if you want) otherworldly sounds you can get out of this instrument is incredible. I highly recommend that you give the Chromaphone demo a spin on your computer. I think you’ll be pleasantly impressed. Note also that Simon Stockhausen (of has already released a Chromaphone bank, and AAS will be introducing new sound banks for Chromaphone in the months ahead. So, even if you’re intimidated by making your own sounds, you can be assured that you’ll have even more presets in the months ahead. Chromaphone is available as a download from the Applied Acoustic Systems website (see link below) and at other online retailers for a retail cost of $199. Audio demos along with the instrument demo and the manual can be found at the site as well. Website:


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Requiem Light

Making cinematic dramatic music is a tricky business. As soon as you try to step into those shoes, you will hit a classical Catch 22 problem. You need a good amount of money to get all the libraries for a decent start, sometimes a much more money than you could earn with selling that so called dramatic, cinematic music anyway. Thankfully there are a few affordable orchestral libraries around, but if you try to achieve big dramatic moments, then orchestra will not be enough. You would also need a big impressive choir. And that's the moment when you are hitting the wall. Normal choir libraries sound too prosaic, static and somewhat non-dramatic, no matter how good or big they are. The new generation of choir libraries, the ones that let you use phrases and not just a single syllables, offer you a lot of emotional and dramatic impacts, sounding so realistic and intense that they can bring your music in a whole new level. But at the same time they can make you cry, especially when you realise how expensive they are ... more or less around 1000 dollars each. A few of them cost in the neighbourhood of 500 to 600 dollars, but they work only with a full version of Native Instruments Kontakt, which will cost you an additional 400 dollars – or 1000 dollars in total. Even with special discounts that you can usually get for buying a full version of Kontakt along with some of those


February 2012

Player Edition by Soundiron by A. Arsov

libraries, it still will hurt your wallet. Most of us enthusiastic or even semipro musicians are married or at least in some sort of relationship. Imagine that you should tell to your wife or girlfriend that you need 1000 dollars to buy one specialised sound library representing just a part (maybe a very important part, but still just a part) of the sounds you'll need for composing your music. Imagine that we could collect all video clips that capture this pleasant moment, the dialogue between us and our beloved ladies chatting about our musical needs. I presume that we can easily compile a really intense slasher movie out of these video clips. Let's call it “The Deadly Choir I.” The Deadly Choir II – the new beginning Requiem light player Edition is the first among the new generation of Choir libraries that offers almost everything that other, more expensive libraries of that generation have but it will not kill your budget. It costs 375 us dollars and it works with free Kontakt Player. Dear Soundiron, thank you 625 times for each dollar saved. Working with the Requiem Light library is a pure joy. Of course, you will need to tweak a thing or two to get the most realistic results and maybe here and there you would need to record more takes of various syllables. But as soon as you enter in a “Latin chants” zone, the thing reaches the whole new level even

without additional tweaking. Yes, it is true that those Latin fellows mostly talk nonsense. But if you are good with the Latin language, then with just a few “trials and errors”, you can easily get pretty decent Latin sentences. As the human voice is the most expressive instrument that we know, even without always understanding every word we can usually get the general message. I listened to British rock years before I've learned English, and to tell you the truth I was a bit disappointed by some artists when I finally figured out what they were talking about. The phrases that you can play with in those Latin chants are so impressive and so dramatic that no other instrument can bring this emotion. If you saw any SF or war movie lately than you've probably heard them many times. When the fight began, they are there, standing behind the camera, sprinkled with a blood, singing something in a Latin language. Entrails So, what do we get exactly? Technically, it is a 6G library with 70 Kontakt patches. But this library is not about the quantity and about the size. The point is that we have a well recorded and carefully programmed big Choir supplemented with all kinds of goodies: men, women, in groups or solo. The library covers everything you will possibly ever need for spicing up your dramatic score. The whole choir can be singing legato for three

February 2012

separate vowel sounds. Add to that a capability for marcato and staccato syllables along with a wide variety of polysyllabic Latin chants for choir and maybe several soloists. For a good measure there is also a nice selection of various choir effects. In a less then few minutes I became familiar with the library, tweaking and adjusting like mad the various knobs. Trying all combinations, I soon got the sound I was aiming for. With the Low and Hi knobs, you can change the general sample (or maybe we should say the syllables for lower and higher parts of the keyboard). A tweak or two on a few additional buttons and you will have a nice realistic choir. Doubling the track with a choir line using different syllables for every line you will get much more realistic results you’d think was possible with any older generation of Choir library. Most of the essential controls are presented in a main window, while rest of the controls are easily reachable with a click or two. Almost all libraries have implementations of a dozen of various controllers that I usually don't touch, but these can really change the feel and are perfect for fine-tuning the overall sound of a choir by adopting it to the specific arrangement. Another live saver for making a more realistic choir line is a key-switching functionality, used mostly for changing the syllables, doubling the Hi and Low controller buttons. This is a must-have tool for achieving a realistic solo part with male or female voice. Along with those


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Requiem Light Player Edition

aforementioned Hi and Low controllers Next there’s the Offset controller for and along the most common setting the starting point of the controllers like the ones for controlling sample. Swell for tweaking the overall Attack, Release or Dynamic and volume and intensity of the sound. Octave, there are also two Blend There are also some additional controllers for controlling the cross controllers for some legato functions fading between different syllables. and number of others for tweaking the


February 2012

nice rank of common effects like reverb, EQ, stereo imaging and delay. Furthermore you have less common ones like Lo-Fi, Pro 53 filter, flanger and rotator (the Leslie speaker rotator effect).

by Soundiron

construct a phrase by ordering a selection of seventeen different We have yet to talk about the best and syllables. As soon as you press a new note a new syllable will start. At first most desirable parts of this library: a glance the whole concept looks a bit phrase builder and a utility available silly, but as soon as you hit a few wide for staccato and marcato voices. chords you will smell the blood and These are in a window where you can sweat and hear the swords clashing, the deadly screams and arrival of the mother-inlaw for a good dramatic measure. Jokes aside, if you are serious with your music production for TV or movies, you will need something alike sooner or later. Requiem Light Player Edition is a Mercedes The best is yet to come

February 2012

for a Yugo price. I’ve been playing with this library a lot lately and haven't noticed any difference between it and the other bigger ones. It sits nicely between all sort of orchestral sounds and big hits, and you don't need a PhD to make it sound right. Just use your both hands and you are on your way. It’s clear that Soundiron put a lot of effort making such a specialised and exacting library, and I'm really grateful that they decided to make it affordable in the bargain. So folks, grab it before they change their mind. Available for 375 US dollars at ts/choirs/requiem-light-player-edition/


w e i v Re Ian Boddy Odyssey A Journey In Sound Design Zero-G by Ben Paturzo

Good Heavens Suppose I told you that you could have, at your electronic beck-andcall, slices of joy from one of the best-known and most-respected sound designers on this blue planet, Ian Boddy. Suppose I told you that this collection of Boddy's work includes the following eight Zero-G products:


February 2012

Outer Limits a virtual instrument with more than 500 soundscapes.

Ambiosis a sample library with hundreds of megabytes of sounds.

Elektrolytic another sample library with hundreds of megabytes of sounds, and, like Ambiosis, part of the SoundSense series.

ASL-Analogue Sequencer Loops a virtual instrument with 1,000 loops and over 1.5 GB of brand new material.

Airwaves part of the Waveforms series of sample libraries.

Beatalogue another in the Waveforms series of sample libraries.

Drumalogue another in the Waveforms series, and a companion set to Beatalogue.

Radiophonica the first title in Ian Boddy's Waveforms series of sample libraries. The intention was to provide a library of sounds that are synonymous with the name of the Radiophonic Workshop from their early work on such seminal programs as Doctor Who.

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w e i v Re Now suppose that this amazing collection, which I calculate at over $650 (!), is priced at $169.95! Great Caesar's Ghost! I mean, Good Heavens! I love a bargain, but doesn't Zero-G have shareholders to worry about? Sheesh. This massive collection, Odyssey, is shown in Figure 10. Doctor? Doctor who? Yes, that's right. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop was responsible for the theme for Doctor Who, a show that has run for generations. Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor (Figure 11), helped me stay sane during those stressful days of engineering school. Radiophonica is a return to the '70's and '80's when story came first, then effects, even though those effects were incredibly— but wonderfully—cheesy. In the Atmospheres group, Atmospheric Echoes and Soup are especially effective in bringing back those Who sounds.

Figure 10

You would think that Ambiosis continues where Radiophonica left off, especially sampling the loops in the Vintage and Spacey groups. To me, however, they evoke more of the sounds of the '50's sci-fi flicks that made the local drive-in so popular. Well, that, and the snuggling. The elevated spirits of Light contrast vividly with the menacing tones of Dark. Something for everyone! An amazing collection, with twenty categories, Outer Limits has an enormous range of sound textures. I'm willing to bet that the Master of Xoxos would very much enjoy Chamber of Horrors, with its ghoulishly delightful collection of loops. Wild Wah Wah, in the Distorted Views category, is what the Scorpions would sound like, if they met the zombies— 46

Figure 11 not the band, the brain-eaters. Any of the loops in the Surreal to Real group would work well in—for example—a dystopian-future anime, or a supernatural search-through-themaze first-person shooter. If, in space, February 2012

no one can hear you scream, the sounds in Outer Limits will make up for that. Highly evocative, highly effective.

Ian Boddy Odyssey

Boddy turns his sense of the surreal and atmospheric to the world of rhythms and beats in Elektrolytic. There are drum loops, FX hits and loops, Glitch loops, and more—all with a cleanly-recorded analogue sound, all with Boddy's signature style. To my ears, these loops sound vintage but fresh, with lots of ways to make your tunes unique, yet retain that much sought-after old-school vibe. Very nice.

ASL-Analogue Sequencer Loops, made with hardware analogue synths and hardware analogue sequencers—no virtual stuff here, mate—is a time capsule of life when Afros and Naturals (for white people), flair paints with sequins, open shirts and giant Beatalogue is the follow-up to gold medallions, Drumalogue, which has 1,000 platform shoes and the analogue drum, percussion and onehustle—all roamed the shot hits. Beatalogue is a collection of Earth. But not just 300 electronic drum patterns and disco—this collection of loops fed through a massive modular 1,000 loops would be synth system. Of the two, I personally just at home with prefer Beatalogue, since Boddy's loop Depeche Mode or Soft construction abilities are something I Cell, or even—dare I say can only aspire to, but probably never it—my favorite equal. A sound designer would want Homosapien, Mr. Pete both collections—and with Odyssey, Shelley (Figure 12). I that's what you get. played the extended-mix LP's so much, I'm pretty sure my synapses rewired Airwaves, with its sounds "recorded themselves to that song. But I swear using a high quality and powerful I've never owned platform shoes. radio transceiver" brought back (for me) the television show, Outer Limits. Conclusion There are garbled voices, phaseshifted voices, demon alien voices— ASL—by itself, mind you—sells for and that's just the Voices category. $199.95. Odyssey, which includes ASL, The loops in the Atmospheres and plus the other seven libraries I've Backgrounds groups are so effective, described—sells for $169.95. The you can just drop them into your conclusion: Don't let Zero-G develop footage of astronauts doing the your Business Plan. All kidding aside, moonwalk. Like so much of Boddy's Odyssey is more than an incredible work, these sounds will get your value. It is a trip down analogue creative juices flowing. memory lane, but without all the crud we had to deal with—drifting tuning,

Figure 12

pops and squeaks, small fires—you name it, Odyssey brings it all back, in such a pure, clean form that you just swear, that's the way it used to sound. Ian Boddy is a musical and producing genius and this collection is an invaluable source of inspiration and amazing utility. Now, time to give Telephone Operator another spin. Where's my gold medallion?

Note: You can find Ian Boddy at A promo video for Odyssey can be found at

February 2012


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Discovery Sound’s

by Jeffrey Powell Even though they’re a new company to me, the Japanese company Discovery Sound has been making sample libraries for a number of years. Sampling ethnic instruments is their specialty, and they have an extensive catalog of instruments. One unique aspect of Discovery Sound is that they not only provide their libraries in Kontakt format, but they also provide them in formats usable in Propellerheads Reason. In this review, I’ll be taking a look at Discovery Sounds’ Koto library, which is available for both Kontakt and Reason.


The Actual Instrument

often used to bend or pull the strings so they become sharp or flat (depending on which way the string is Before examining the sampled instrument, let’s take a look at the bent). The strings themselves each actual instrument. A typical koto is have names, and these names were nearly 6 feet in length and has a traditionally used to pass down songs hollow wooden body with a sound hole to other players rather than using traditional music notation. There are a at each end of the body. It has thirteen strings that have, quite handful of different classical tunings unusually, the same size and pitch. In used in traditional koto playing and order to change the pitches of the these tunings play a large part in the strings, a player moves a bridge sound of the instrument. The koto is the official instrument of Japan, and (called a ji) for each string. A koto player attaches plectrums to its sound is distinctly recognizable as an Asian instrument. their thumb and first two fingers to pluck the strings. The other hand is February 2012

The Sampled Koto Now let’s turn our attention to the sampled instrument. In addition to coming in Kontakt and Reason formats, Discovery Sound’s Koto also comes in two separate versions based on sampling quality. The standard quality version has 48 kHz/16-bit samples, and the higher quality one has 96 kHz/24-bit samples. Both versions have 1,023 samples with the standard quality weighing in at around 700 MB and the higher quality version weighing in at around 2 GB. I spent my time using the Kontakt format, and while I tried both the standard and higher quality version of the instruments, I found that there was practically no noticeable difference to my ears between them. So, I did most of my playing using the standard quality version, but I do think it’s great to include the higher quality version for those who frequently work on projects needing higher quality sound.

pizzacto, surit-sume, and arpeggios in one patch). Most of the time, I found myself just using the “full” instrument since I found that even with all of those articulations, Kontakt loaded and streamed the samples without a problem. How’s the Sound?

The koto sounds fantastic to my ears. The samples are clear and wellrecorded. In particular, the samples have great natural decay, which is essential for this type of instrument. I’m a fan of keyswitches in general, and I found the keyswitches to be responsive, easy to use, and well laid out. I did discover one quirk, however. The instruments load with no keyswitch selected, so until you press one of the keyswitch buttons, you’ll get no sound out of the instrument. This means that when you use it in a project, you’ll need to make sure to put in a keyswitch MIDI note before recording MIDI using the instrument. Most of the articulations have multiple The Kontakt version of the koto velocity layers, with the normal consists of six different Kontakt articulations (thumb and middle instruments. Each uses the standard finger) having the most with three Kontakt interface (which is fine with layers. So, this isn’t as deeply me), and all use keyswitches to sampled as some of the instruments change the articulation being used. you find today. As you’re not likely to The included Kontakt instruments are ever do any rapid fire plucks on a koto “arpeggio” (with major and minor string, this is not too much of a strums of the strings), “normal” (with limitation. On the plus side, the thumb and middle finger plucks), “pizz” numerous articulations in the (with right and left hand pizzicato instruments mean that you can put playing), “surit-sume” (with two ways together expressive passages without of sliding along the string), “bending” a great deal of effort. The Kontakt (with normal playing styles along with instruments have chromatic mapping several bent notes of one or two for the samples, which is versatile, semitones), and “full” (with staccato, although I would like to have some February 2012

way to use the most common turnings and scales found in traditional Japanese music. A quick internet search, however, also works for this purpose. Never underestimate the effect that the correct scale or mode can have on making a performance of a non-western instrument sound authentic! Overall, I enjoyed playing Discovery Sound’s Koto. The multiple articulations made it easy to put together realistic sounding koto touches. While most people don’t typically write traditional Japanese music, I think most musicians will be able to use its distinctive sound to provide an Asian touch to a number of genres ranging from Ambient/Chillout to House to Pop/Rock. Check It Out! Discovery Sound’s Koto is available in Kontakt (v.2 or greater) and Reason (NNXT & Combinator, v. 3 or greater) formats for $91 from their website at The sample library is sent via mail on a DVD. Note that you’ll need the full version of Kontakt to be able to use their libraries without restriction. Be sure to check out the rest of their sample library while you’re there.


How to make your own music video (with a little help of Magix Video Movie Maker Pro MX) by A. Arsov

O, happy you!!! You finally made a few songs, putting into them everything you know, and now you can't wait for someone to discover you. OK, we all know that things don't work like that. Even if you have really good song it doesn't happen anymore. Even when you upload your song to a Soundcloud or even if you made your own home page – nothing happens. These days kids and even older fellows discover new music through the Youtube. Don't lie to me, I bet that even you do that from time to time. So you need a video clip. At least 5.000 to 10.000 US dollars or Euros! No way today. Hmm... to tell you the truth my dear friends, if that was the case than I wouldn't have made any videos for my music and I've made three video clips up until now. The last one reached some solid success, I had a meeting at a major TV station in my country and was surprised that everyone knew it. At one point a general manager dropped in and his assistant, with whom we had this meeting, said to him: "Let me introduce you to this man, he is the one from the train video clip". He smiled and told me that he really liked the video! Total cost of this video didn't exceeded 400 dollars. And once you have all equipment, you can make another video for free.


What do we need?

similar to what I did in the last video, using a fake background First of all, if you're doing a clip (a picture or even the part of for local TV or even just for some other movie) than you will Youtube, then every Full HD need a blue screen. A regular camera will do the job. A year blue screen is not cheap, so you of two ago you could by one for will need a touch of imagination. 500 – 700 dollars, but now they I bought two blue bed sheets, are almost for free. I bought but you can use anything. You one last month for 140 dollars. can even colour the wall in a It is not Sony, but never mind, blue colour or you can use any it is a Full HD with all the big blue piece of gum, plastic or functions you need. My last two even dressing material. You videos were shot with similar need a big piece of blue camera. If you have any something. There are plenty of additional money you can buy a good videos on Youtube that are Canon EOS 550D or similar, it is made in a real place with a not a camera in the first place, touch of imagination. Depending but a lot of people use it to on the topic of your song, you'll making professional video clips. need to find some interesting With Full HD cameras you can't place. An old factory, a funny or get a blurred background as you interesting wall, anything except can with professional cameras. your boring room or garage. It This effect is known from all could be somewhere in nature great movies, when the main or inside an interesting building. character is focused and You also need a tripod for your everything around him is a bit camera as you really can't do in the background and blurred. anything decent shooting from That's something that you get your hand. It will cost you less with extra expensive cameras or than 30 dollars. Search and you with a rank of Canon photo shall find! Put yourself or your cameras, but then you will need band in position and put the extra lenses and suddenly it will camera on the tripod and make not be our 400 dollar video clip two wide angle shots and don't any more. Let's stick with a Full forget to play your song from an HD and Youtube. audio source. You will need this sound for synchronising the Next thing we need are a few tracks on the time line. Then reflectors with stands. It is not shoot two close-up takes, so hard to find them in various shooting just the face of the mega stores. I bought three vocalist, or any other detail. The 500w ones for 18 dollars each. more the merrier. Then make If you intend to do something two additional shoots from the February 2012

side, same from the other side. A net I've found that Magix Movie Edit close up or two from the side and Pro MX is a really cool solution that you have enough material for your offers everything you will ever need video clip. That's all you need. Later for a really small amount of money. you can also combine those shoots Magic Movie Edit Pro comes in three showing the band in action with versions. The basic one will cost you some other, non musical shots, the only 69 dollars, but I suggest you face of your girlfriend, a band that you buy at least a Movie Edit walking up a street or anything else. Pro MX Plus which will cost you 30 There are also some well known dollars more but you get some really "analog" tricks that you can use, like cool and useful additional effects, throwing something from up high, like slow motion or many others that and walking backwards then can push your video to another level. inverting that part of the movie in There is also a Magix Movie Edit Pro editor getting the scene where you MX Premium version for another 30 walk normally but things that you dollars offering you even more throw down will start to float up. I effects, if you want to be sure if used this trick in my first video you'll need them just visit where most of the leaves were flying and up instead of falling down. watch the three video clips that Magix Movie Edit Pro MX represent the extras you get with premium edition. I've tried many free editors, but to tell you the truth, they are no good. So, no matter which edition you buy, Maybe there is some decent free after downloading and installing it software in the Linux world, but I you can start learning the program. really doubt that you can finish the If you are familiar with any audio task with it. Searching around the editors than you will not have a big February 2012

problem learning this one. Under the Task menu you will find various topics, and if you haven't already downloaded the tutorial videos, you will be asked to do that as soon as you try to open any of the help topics in the Task menu. I've learned the program from video clips, you can also google for some additional getting started video clips on Youtube. After an hour or two you will be in saddle. After all, all you need to know for now is how to import those clips, how to underlay them and how to cut them and how to make a good transition between the cuts. I suggest you download also a demo project and everything will be much easier to understand. Import your recorded files and drag them on to the time line. Now it is time to be a DJ, remixing and cutting up pieces of all those tracks and making the various transitions between the clips using the ones you can find under the Fade menu. You need to follow a few general rules, like that a scene should not last


How to make your own music video longer than four seconds. If it is longer, than it should be longer with purpose. Don't put close-up after close-up or wide shot after wide shot and so on. Also don't forget, if you are on the left and another actor is also on the left, to recalculate the position


if you change the angle or if you intend to make a shot from the back. If you are entering the shot from the left, you can't be on the right on another shot. Keep the same side and same distance from the actors and objects if you shoot only with one

February 2012

camera because you are shooting the same scene from various positions. If you make a mistake at least make it a creative mistake by overdoing it and letting people know that you've done it with a purpose.

I presume that with all those tutorial videos and even with the whole "trial and error" procedure you could learn how to use this program in a day or two. If you want to take things to another level in your video, you can also download a freeware program called Wax 2.0 for making

some additional cool effects. It is not a must have, because you can make a really good video just following the basic rules described in this article. If you decide to follow the blue screen route, then you should know a few additional things. If you use too much light then your face will be burned too much, also you should put one light between you and the blue screen to detach you from the background (not direct light, but it should be pointed in a place between). Also the sheet should be strained without any curly points othervise you will have a lot of trouble keying it properly (it is an effect called Chroma Key). Working with blue screen is not a one day process, there will be a stack of trials, and errors, before you get the proper result, but there are a lot of video clips regarding this topic on Youtube. How and where As we've already pointed, but it can't hurt if we repeat this - Videos made with this video camera and this program are good enough for use on Youtube and local TV. If you want to put it on another level, preparing it for MTV or for the big screen than you will need the same program, (Magix Movie Edit Pro MX is really very cheap, but nevertheless it is very capable video editor), but a better camera. Any Canon EOS photo camera will do the job, but be prepared to pay at least 500 dollars for such a camera and almost the same amount for additional lenses, but even this budget set up can make a big difference to your career. We live in the 21st century. If you don't have a video clip than you are not a musician. That's it.

You can find a Wax 2.0 and Magix Movie Edit Pro MX on and my video clips on my site

February 2012


Days of Future Past The Amazing Novachord by dmbaer with Dan Wilson of Hideaway Studio

Origins Synthesizer trivia question: what year was the first polyphonic subtractive synthesizer available for commercial purchase? Until just recently, I would have guessed late 60s or early 70s ... and I only would have missed the correct answer by thirty or thirty-five years. The instrument with that distinction was the Hammond Novachord, manufactured between the years 1939 and 1942. It was gorgeous (see Fig. 1), but doomed from the start to never be a commercial success. The reasons were many, not least of which it cost about as much as three family cars, weighed 500 pounds with the 160 or so valves (vacuum tubes) and was often a maintenance nightmare thanks to a nasty tendency to go out of calibration in damp conditions. Oh yes, and there was also the little 54

Figure 1

matter of WW II altering R&D and manufacturing priorities of the industrialized world. The total number of Novachords produced was just over 1000 before it was discontinued. Nevertheless, the Novachord was an amazing piece of engineering at the time, and it produced sounds that February 2012

previously had never been possible. We’re going to take a look at the Novachord in this article, both from an historical perspective and an engineering one. Because there’s a good deal of information on the former easily accessible on the web, I’m going to limit the historical aspects to a fairly brief discussion and focus more on the technological

aspects, information about which is not so easily obtained. I’ll provide a number of links at the end for those wanting to explore further. If you have an interest in historical electronica, believe me, it’ll be well worth doing some further reading! This is an absolutely fascinating story.

operatic works in addition to their film scoring).

number of the originals. This particular instrument, previously owned by vintage synth guru, Marc Doty, had been shipped all the way to the UK from Seattle. All of these gentlemen are accomplished electronics specialists and experts in historical synthesizers.

Although prohibitively expensive for the common man, Hollywood had no problem with the price tag and embraced the instrument. The story goes that the studio musicians at the time balked at the possibility that, The Novachord was a bone fide given the wide range of “orchestral” Happily, all of these initiatives synthesizer, offering selectable ADSR sounds the Novachord was capable of succeeded admirably, both (ish) envelopes and configurable producing, that their livelihoods were cosmetically and sonically. Dan filters operating on (more or less) a endangered. We know now of course Wilson’s restoration became the basis saw wave. It was truly polyphonic that their concerns were premature by for Hollow Sun’s two Novachord (72 notes worth!) and could produce a over a half a century. Kontakt library offerings and Phil range of sounds, some of which would Cirocco’s for a similar offering by sound engaging even by Rebirth Soniccouture. A review of the Hollow contemporary standards. Sun libraries follows this article. In time, use of the Novachord in Make no mistake ... a Novachord But there was one sound that was, soundtracks declined and eventually restoration is an incredible labor of somewhat unfortunately in my view, completely disappeared. This must love, as can be seen by checking out to become the Novachord signature have been, at least in part, to the fact the links at the end of this piece. And sound. Those old enough to have that the existing instruments became certainly it isn’t inexpensive. The been regular viewers of the Twilight unplayable and unmaintainable. The music world owes a considerable debt Zone and Outer Limits would Novachord was on the brink of of gratitude to the few who have been recognize it ... sort of a cheesy extinction. dedicated enough to take on such “spooky strings” sound. Given that projects. capability it’s not surprising that it Fortunately, in the last few years, a was featured in a number of early SF number of remarkable restoration The Shape of Things to Come, films as well, including This Island efforts were undertaken. Phil Cirocco 1939-Style Earth, The Beast from 20,000 of Cirocco Modular Synthesizers in Fathoms, It Came from Outer Space, Georgia, USA embarked on a very So, let’s take a close look at this early et. al. brave mission to strip down and technological wonder. Information in rebuild instrument number 1256 this area isn’t exactly easy to come by. But surprisingly, it graced the completely from scratch. Similar It’s not like one can locate a orchestration of a number of far more rebuilds were undertaken in Canada Novachord owner’s manual PDF on the conventional films, such as Rebecca, and Italy. A successful partial web. But we’re most fortunate that The Ten Commandments, The Maltese restoration was also accomplished by Dan Wilson has generously provided Falcon and, surprisingly, even Gone Dan Wilson of Hideaway Studio near some of his considerable knowledge to with the Wind. Any number of A-list Bath England on number 346 which me to share with you and has kindly film score composers embraced the had endured two transformer fires. permitted me to quote him directly. instrument, including “serious” The project still resulted in several Since I will be doing so extensively in composers like Erich Wolfgang hundred hours of reverse engineering what follows, I’m simply going to Korngold and Nina Roti (who after all and component replacement despite italicize his direct quotes. Thank you, also composed symphonic and being able to retain a significant Dan! February 2012


Novachord Front Panel The Novachord keyboard spanned six amplitude envelopes. These functions octaves, from F, two-plus octaves were regulated by the Novachord below middle C, to E, three-plus control panel immediately above the octaves above it. Above the keyboard keyboard (see Fig. 3). is the control panel which we’ll examine in some detail shortly. The Let’s look at the vibrato controls first. instrument offered four foot controls, One could select a small or normal three piano-style pedals and an vibrato (or a combination of both). organ-type swell pedal. The latter They were on or off with no depth was just that, a volume controller. control available. And it really was We’ll come back to the function of vibrato, not a tremolo. The other pedals momentarily. Novachord features a very unusual 6-channel electromechanical vibrato The oscillators produced a single wave system. It is a genuine vibrato effect form, somewhat akin to but more whereby six small electromagnetically complex than a saw wave (see Fig. 2). actuated pendulums drive leaf Each of the 72 keys had its own switches in and out, thus imparting a monostable divider based tone free-running square wave LFO to generator circuit, and the frequencies momentarily alter the frequency on of these were governed by 12 each pair of adjacent top octave oscillators of the topmost octave, one Hartley oscillators at around 6hz. for each note of that octave. These essentially controlled the instrument’s tuning. Trigger times for the Novachord Filtering remaining 60 oscillators were doubled for each success lower octave. The Of course, the heart of any Novachord was indeed one of the subtractive synth is its filter section. earliest examples of an electronic While the Novachord didn’t offer instrument employing a divide down anywhere near the sophistication of architecture.

Figure 2

The beauty [of the waveform] is that it's far from a perfect sawtooth - it's in fact a highly distorted exponential sawtooth and since the tube dividers are non-retriggering monostables, the effects of mis-calibration impart a pleasant array of harmonics on each subsequent lower octave. Each oscillator free-runs so nothing is phase locked. The infamous Novachord logo is in fact based on the native waveform shape. From there, the tone was shaped by vibrato (optional), filtering and


February 2012

what we’ve become accustomed to today, for its time, the capabilities were pretty awesome. Refer to Fig. 3 again and pay attention to the six leftmost selectors. These, along with an overall tone control above the wide control panel, were how the timbre was shaped filter-wise. The Deep tone and Brilliant Tone are like low and high shelf EQ controls. The First through Third Resonator are much more interesting. The Novachord features a 3-channel formant resonator. Please note that none of the controls, including the master volume, are continuously variable - they switch in discrete steps. Each resonator setting is in fact a different Q or damping level. Often the resonator section is mistaken for a glorified EQ. This is not strictly true as the Q's are very high and the bands are well spaced leaving three very well defined peaks in the audio spectrum. There is also a certain degree of inter-modulation due to the passive nature of the L/C resonator network. It's thanks to this very high

The Amazing Novachord

Figure 3

resonance that the Novachord has its distinct nasal quality. The sixth filter control is labeled Full Tone. Full tone is in fact a bypass control - a bit like a wet/dry control on outboard. In the full tone mode, the formant resonator is fully bypassed and the unfiltered signal is passed to the output. A Bright/Mellow control sits above the control panel (not pictured in Fig. 3 but look closely to spot it in Fig. 1). The bright/mellow control is not continuously variable as is often mistaken. It is a mode switch. The complex mechanical arrangement is there to permit a subtly more progressive low pass filter to be applied to each note. It was implemented to mimic the frequency signature of a piano and is surprisingly convincing in the lower 3 octaves. It is quite amazing to think that not only was the Novachord the first commercial polyphonic synthesizer, but almost certainly the world’s first all-electronic piano. Amplitude Envelopes Lastly, let’s look at the envelopes that control amplitude. These are ADSRlike envelopes, although we are limited to seven fixed choices, from a pluck-like shape at one extreme to a very slow attack shape at the other. These are selected with the Attack control (again, Fig. 3). Actually, ADSR isn’t the right description. The first three envelope choices all have an instant attack with no hold segment and a medium decay, to zero, to low and to medium sustain levels respectively. Choice four is organ-like. Choices five provide a slow attack to a

maximum sustain level and no decay. The three choices offer a different “curve” of the attack profile, from faststart-with-slower finish to linear. What made the Novachord quite remarkable for its time was that it featured a front panel envelope control remotely configuring 72 independent envelope generators each driving a dedicated vacuum tube based VCA per key.

design for 1938 and historically very important. Although many musicians might not have grasped this notion, many electronic instrument designers clearly drew from the Novachord's concepts many years later. The early polyphonic string synths, such as the Eminent 310 in particular, bare an uncannily strong resemblance in places to the Novachord's discrete monostable divide-down architecture utilizing 12 free-running top octave oscillators - and yet the Novachord pre-dates the 310 by 34 years! More amazingly, the envelopes on the Novachord are more complex than the 310's featuring polyphonic attack, decay and sustain control.

For each of the envelope options there is a natural fixed short release on each key – i.e. it is not simply an organ type release. A longer release can be imparted using the three piano-like foot pedals. The rightmost and middle piano pedals were mechanically linked and affected the Further Reading/Viewing entire keyboard. They were sustainlike, but different from the MIDI CC64 A highly recommended Novachord control we’re accustomed to today. show-and-tell 9-minute video by Dan The leftmost pedal had the same Wilson can be seen here. purpose but only controlled the lower x0C-zK4wU 36 notes. A wealth of Novachord facts and lore and a detailed record of his The effect of the sustain pedal is to impart beautifully long release profiles restoration project are to be found on each of the 72 notes polyphonically here: which take many seconds to die away Finally there is the record of Phil in turn. The Novachord is one of the first synths ever to use the polyphonic Cirocco’s restoration project, with many additional links (and a graphic charge-transfer envelope generator method - synths such as the Arp Omni of the Novachord’s “ADSR” envelopes) here: made use of the same technique several decades later. Since intro.htm capacitors are used to generate the In closing, I want to once again offer envelopes, they are all exponential in my sincere thanks to Dan Wilson for shape. his generous assistance in assembling this information. Wrapping Up So, there you have the Novachord, an incredible innovation for its time. Absolutely no expense was spared with this beast. It is a truly amazing February 2012


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Opening Bit

But I kid ol' Frederick the Great. Fritz was Want to have some also what the Brits fun? Go to the KVR called fellas like this forums, post bunch (Figure 3). something along the What was this bachelor lines of The Best DAW party like? But, again, in the World Is [fill in I kid ol' Kaiser Wilhelm the blank]. Then watch II and the gang. Lest the fur fly, mainly you think that pointed from toupÊes badly in heads, I mean, need of repair. Why pointed helmets are the resulting ruckus, only found in regarde? Again, you Germanic places, try it in two languages. check out Figure 4 Because, declaring a (Sweden) and Figure 5 particular DAW as The (Colombia)—proving One (Figure 1) is as that we men, all over incendiary as, well, the world, really do yelling Fire! in a love our phallic crowded theatre. symbols. After all, What's a theatre? when you have a puss That's the place where like that (Figure 6, you're forced to go Otto von Bismarck), when the blu-ray is on you do have to the fritz. What's a compensate, somehow. fritz? That's a Fritz All puns intended on (Figure 2). Yeah he's the puss comment. looking at you. Get the point? N'yuk, Imagine being the n'yuk, soitenly! (Figure servant that drops the 7) soup on this guy's lap.

Figure 1 Figure 2

Figure 3 Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6 Figure 7 58

February 2012

Studio One by Ben Paturzo

Figure 8 Figure 9 Back to Reality You might say a DAW is simply a tool, like a hammer. But in my toolbox, Figure 8 (x-ray courtesy of the TSA), hammers are not simple clubs (all you practicing metrosexuals probably have a tool pouch—that is so cute!). A hammer for every purpose, different sizes, different weights, different designs. When I want as little as possible between me and the music, the elegant minimalism of energyXT ( (Figure 9) never fails to please. But that doesn't mean you'll be able to take away my SONAR X1 ( (Figure 10)— not a chance. There is so much you can do with SONAR; the instruments are wonderful, the interface is clean and purposeful, and Roland has managed quite well to continue the legacy of this worthy software.

Figure 10

February 2012


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Studio One

Community So I was a bit skeptical when I looked into PreSonus Studio One (Figure 11). Don't I have enough DAW's? An impulse buy at my local Guitar Center got me started (Artist edition), and after an introduction to the company PreSonus by an energetic and very friendly chap, Steve Oppenheimer, as well as some mild tinkering with the software, I was hooked. The marketing people I've known in my past life as a manufacturing engineer were all....interesting. Let's just say that they would take this (Figure 12) and say, "Yeah, I just went out for a smoke, and...." You get the picture. But Steve made sure I gave the proper credit to the developer folks in my first Studio One article. Wow. Honesty and integrity, and he's a marketing guy? Turns out all the hogwash companies usually spew about their being a "family" might actually be true in this case. There is definitely a sense of community with PreSonus. Take the users, for example.

Figure 11 On his web site he admits not working for, or selling for PreSonus. Yet he's got a Home Recording Series called "The Song," which shows you how to build up a composition (I hate calling it a mere song), using PreSonus hardware and, of course, Studio One. He's up to Part 16 (!) and the informal, real-world producing and arrangement segments are worth their weight in gold. Johnny is a talented multi-instrumentalist who's very generous with his time and talent. Figure 13 is a screen grab from Part 5 of the series.

Figure 12

Johnny "themuzic" Geib, r/themuzic, www.homestudiotrainer, is a character and a half.

Figure 13 60

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Figure 14

Figure 15

Jeff Pettit, ettit123?feature=mhee html/studio.html Not only did Jeff create a threepart series on fixing your timing with Studio One's new "Bend Audio Tools," but he also has an in-depth, five-part series on using Studio One's new Melodyne ARA Integration. They are high def videos, professionally done, with clear direction, and excellent production values. Like Johnny Geib's tutorials, Jeff Pettit's videos are essential for those learning Studio One. Figure 14 is a screen grab from Part 2 of Jeff's Melodyne series. These are just a couple of end users who have produced high quality tutorials for others. That is what community is all about Charlie Brown.

Figure 16

PreSonus has their own YouTube channel, esonusaudio/videos, and with over three million video views, I'd say it's pretty popular. You will find videos in German, February 2012

French, and Spanish (what, no Italian?). These guys also know how to have fun: Figure 15 is a screen grab from the PreSonus Christmas 2011 - Hanukkah Rap and Figure 16 is a screen grab from the PreSonus Christmas 2011 - Hard Rockin' Holidays. Humor is a sign of intelligence (why do you think dolphins are always smiling?) and being able to laugh at your self is a sign of sanity. Again, part of the community. Here's an analogy: if you accidentally dropped in, uninvited, to a PreSonus Party, you'd be welcomed, given a big ol' bowl of gumbo, and seated at the head of the table. Let's say you tried that with Ableton: you'd be welcomed with the ever-most sincere-appearing smile and the most courteous manner possible—all hallmarks of Deutsch Effizienz—and then seated at the little kids table. Oh, and you'd be given breadsticks, because, so sorry liebchen, the good stuff is for, well, people we think are important. Sounds pretty bitter, huh? Try dealing with their marketing people, and let me know how that goes for you.


w e i v Re


Studio One

Review—Sort of In case you were wondering, Studio One does indeed have the technical chops. Earlier in this long-winded exercise in self-indulgence, Melodyne was mentioned. Celemony Software ( developed Melodyne. The important thing to keep in mind is that the software, for optimum usage in a DAW, has to be integrated into that DAW. The magic of this software isn't technically possible via a simple VST or AU interface. Studio One Version 2 has been specifically developed for that essential integration. Figure 17 shows a demo song loaded into Studio One, with the Lead Vocal in the lower half, all set for editing. Now, as a Producer, if you asked me to correct the singer's pitch using the waveform in Figure 17, I would feign a seizure just to get hauled out of there. Fortunately, I have—Figure 18—Another Way. In Figure 19, you're looking at the vocal track using Melodyne. The "blobs" (as they're called) represent the track analyzed by Melodyne, including the optimum pitch ranges (the gray boxes around the blobs). The blobs represent discrete chunks of pitch changes that make pitch correction simplicity 62

Figure 17

Figure 18

February 2012



Figure 19

itself. Holding down the mouse button (Figure 19) plays that particular blob and gives me useful note/pitch information alongside of it. In Figure 20, I've clicked on "Correct Pitch"; the black arrow indicates the suggested pitch range. I use (Figure 21) the "Correct Pitch Center" slider to bring the vocal up from lil' flat to okey-dokey; the "Correct Pitch Drift" slider helps with the warbles so even the birds will want to sing along. The result is a vocal track that sounded pretty good to start with, but is now perfect. Once you start using Melodyne inside of Studio One, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it. Amazing.

Figure 20

Lest you think that Studio One has only one feature, keep in mind that Studio One has almost a gigabyte of demos and tutorials, and—my hard drive is gasping for air—over twenty gigabytes of soundsets, from acoustic drums to vintage synths, to all manner of loops. In the next part of this series (I did write Review—Sort of), we'll go through the process of setting up a song and detail the Studio One workflow.

8 Cheers!

Figure 21 February 2012


w e i v Re

Emulation II by Uvi Soundsource by A. Arsov

Uvi Soundsource is known as a firm specialising in making high quality sample libraries. They still do that, but from now on, they will also be known as a brave company. They reinvented the digital synthesizer in a digital era and put it in a digital domain. A digital synthesizer? The first thing that crossed my mind was: “Who on the world will ever need that?” Most of us thought that we were damned lucky when we finally sold our old digital synths years ago catching the last train … getting some semi reasonable price for them. Nowadays they are worth almost nothing. Remember those days when digital synths came out and everyone tried to sell their old analogue stuff? I sold my Roland TB 303 for 100 us dollars and thought that I got really fantastic price for something that no one would ever use again. Never mind, after I've tried this instrument I changed my mind. It is so... er... digital and it could be pretty useful. 80's for 2k10'ns

which will be better than the last one. A zillion different ones and a zillion ones pretty much the same. There were a few attempts to make an emulation of digital synths, mostly those based on FM synthesis, but even the best ones sound about the same as the other virtual ones. They simply don't sound the same as the old digital synths that we had. Different digital/audio converters, different capacitors, whatever, they don’t sound the same. Digital synths used to sound cheesy but they were never dull or thin. I know a lot of producers that still use some of them in their everyday production. Not because they are better than analogue synths, but because they simply sound different, giving a special colour to the otherwise pretty uniform analogue sound. Also “8 bit” basses from old Emulator samplers are still unbeatable. Their pleasant warm, fartinglike low end is still a must have for a lot of RnB producers.

The 80's - they come and goes and keep coming back. So, what is the secret of an I just hope that those funny Uvi Emulation II instrument? curly haircuts from 80's will Digital instruments had such never come again. If you ask a unique sound that you software developers, they simply can't emulate them. will tell you that 80's are out They should be sampled with of the question. They are all good quality if you really excited about yet another want to achieve all shades of virtual analogue synthesizer that farting low end,


February 2012

whistling bells, funny choirs and all sort of keyboard sounds. Digital synths are definitively anything but normal. All included instruments, or patches, have that significant digital sound: strong almost hammering attack and a bit cheesy but pleasant sound. I don't presume that anyone will use this library for making a whole song. After all we are not in 80's anymore. But I'm sure that

any sound from this collection can find a place in any modern production. No matter which preset you use, it will sound different from any of your “analogue”

sound and will nicely cut through the mix in all its bright 80's presence. There are more than 250 different sounds. Some are from E-mu Emulator 2. Those you can recognize by their warm fuzzy “8 bit” low end. And others are from various other classical digital synths, like the Roland D50 and Yamaha DX7. More than a nice number of basses, bells, choirs, strings, synth pads, synth poly-s, fretted, FX, synth solos, wind, brass, keyboards, mallets, world, orchestral hits, drums and percussion. Of course all those real instruments sound fake, in a good way, and they are good as digital FM technology was good. At least they are funny, unusual or they have a specific charm. If you can't use a real string player then it is sometimes better to use a sound which is obviously fake. It is an old trick by well-known producers. especially RnB and Hip Hop ones. As a bonus, all sounds can be widely edited because Uvi offers us a part of some technology they developed for the Motu Mach 3. So, in some sense it is still sample library, but the main engine allows us to tweak those samples as if they were instruments. Every preset can be fine-tuned and modulated with ADSR envelope controllers, one set for filter and another for amplitude. There are also additional controllers for changing the stereo width, an ability to add one of the three retro effects, chorus, delay and reverb, and a bit crusher (which I even haven't tried since all instruments which are sampled from Emulator are already bit reduced by the 8 bit nature of Emulator 2). And for other synths, they are good as they are. A bit reduced bell is just a bit worse bell. The last set of controllers allows you to change the rate of vibrato, tremolo

and filter with the Mood Wheel. I spent some time tweaking most of the controllers and got nice useful results without unnaturally changing the original sound. Obviously all controllers are carefully chosen enabling us to change the sound without losing the digital nature. Well done, Uvi team. Nice addition, or as Uvi call it – a bonus – is a drum sequencer with an additional 500 drum sounds. Like them or hate them, but they are totally retro with doink-chack drums from the 80's. A lot of crazy sounds from that era can make wonders here and are great for spicing your arrangement. I see it as a nice addition, for taking the ultra-modern “analogue” arrangement and suddenly adding these adorable “go-go” rhythms from the curly haircut time. Anyway, it is an absolutely adorable collection with totally authentic sounds from the past, and even if you are not an 80's fan, there will be still a lot of material for you to play. It is so plinky-donky that you can't find anything quite like it anywhere in a virtual world. All those digital sounds February 2012

beat like a hammer compared to any modern production. And after all – our main goal is to stand out from the crowd, being recognized in the throng of other artists. Yes, digging an old digital synth out of dustbin is a good way to achieve that goal, while buying this library is a bit more dignified than being spotted with a shovel on a refuse pit. One thing is for sure, the time will change and those digital beasts will come back because they don't sound bad. They are simply not in vogue at a present time. Somehow it looks as if Uvi are ahead of the curve. This was a very brave decision from Uvi Soundsource and a really good one if you ask me. By DX 007. The name is Arsov … Aleksander Arsov. 200 dollars for 4.7 GB of digital memories. Demos and other digital equipment available at


w e i v Re

Hollow Sun Serves Up the Novachord …

Fig. 1

Having read about the Novachord for some time, I was more than delighted to get my hands on not one but two sound libraries offered by Hollow Sun which sampled from that nearmythical instrument. We’re going to look at both in this review.

excellent track record in when it comes to instrument sampling, there’s little reason for concern here. The sounds are backed with 547MB of sample data.

Seventeen of the presets have an “X” in their name. It’s my understanding The first Novachord offering (referred that these are direct samples, free of to hereafter as “Novachord”) any Kontakt coloration. But it’s appeared about two years before the abundantly clear that at least a few of publication date of this review. A more presets have some decidedly nonrecent sound library (referred to Novachord manipulation added. The hereafter as “Novalite”) appeared in preset named “Cathode Sweep” (one November of 2011 as part of Hollow of my favorites) has a filter sweep Sun’s Music Laboratory Machines happening, for example, and the (MLM) series. The price of Novachord Novachord had no ability to is 50 pounds (~80 dollars) and dynamically modulate filter cutoff. Novalite is just 10 pounds (~16 dollars). Both require the full version This gets me to my only two of Kontakt, 3.5 or later for Novachord complaints (fairly minor ones in the and 4.2.3 or later for Novalite. grand scheme of things). I might not Let’s start with the earlier library. You even have those if I knew Kontakt can see from Fig. 1 that there’s not a well enough to do some serious lot there graphically. What’s there is a tweaking, but I generous number of presets (as .nki haven’t files) ... lots of them ... in excess of learned the 120 if I counted right. Oh yes, and instrument there’s also no documentation. This beyond loading won’t be a problem for those who are up presets at load-and-go preset users, but there this point. The are a couple of things about which first complaint some documentation would be helpful. is that the mod wheel Sound-wise, I can’t imagine that some introduces of these presets are other than an vibrato that’s authentic Novachord sound. I’ve way over the never heard a Novachord in real life ... top. The only recordings of them on second is that movie/television soundtracks, so I there’s a can’t attest that these sounds are resonance authentic. But given Hollow Sun’s control 66

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(Reason8r) that sounds sweet when swept across its range. I wish the mod wheel had been configured to control that instead of vibrato. Controls are also present called Brilliant (basically an HPF) and Mellow (an LPF). But really, the presets are so good and varied that, apart from the aforementioned Reason8r manipulation as seasoning, you’re not going to want to do much more than play the presets as they initially come up. Now let’s turn our attention to the Novalite. This shares some characteristics with its MLM brethren. It embodies a very flexible programmable instrument with a delightful interface, as can be seen in Fig. 2. It also comes with brief but complete documentation.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

… Two Ways by dmbaer

There are four oscillators, all of which produce the signature Novachord sawwave-ish waveform, provided by 23MB of sample data. But from there on, everything is simulated with Kontakt filters, envelopes, etc. The end result is twofold: you can get a sound out of it that is close enough to the Novachord that only an expert would be able to tell the difference. At the same time, you can construct sounds that the original would never have been capable of, layering up to four Novachord sound engines. Looking at the control panel, it’s not obvious, but most of the controls can be set on a “per-oscillator” basis. Each of the layers can have its own amplitude envelope, resonance settings and tuning (one octave in either direction). The amplitude envelope is AHDSR. The original Novachord had three envelope shapes: essentially three variations on ADR, one organ like with an R phase, and three variations of AHR. The Novalite’s AHDSR capability covers all those bases and more. The resonance controls serve pretty much the same function as on the original instrument, except that Novalite provides only two rather than the original three. Like the original, these have three fixed settings plus off. In other words, they’re not “sweepable”. The global Vibrato control provides a way to introduce simulated vibrato. It’s not the same as the original, but few listeners would be able to detect a difference.

A global control for Velocity lets you add velocity sensitivity to the playback (needless to say, the original instrument had no such capability). The global Balancer control allows you to add amplitude emphasis to either end of the keyboard range. Finally, the global Spread control allows you to introduce panning key tracking to a preset.

If you like doing a little bit of sound design, which in the case of Novalite is a piece of cake, you’ll be captivated by the lite option. It can sound much like the original but can also do things the original could not. It merits repeating, as far as fidelity to the original sound goes, only an expert is likely to come close to telling the difference in any case.

Where Novalite exceeds the original instrument’s capabilities by leaps and bounds can be found on the effects tab (see Fig. 3). We have the option of adding any combination of amp simulation, chorus, phaser, echo, a rotary speaker and a reverb. These are quality effects and it’ll be unlikely you’ll need to resort to external effects to improve upon the sound.

If you do not own the full version of Kontakt, you might want to consider an alternate offering from Soniccouture which runs on the free Kontakt player (but you’ll be paying a premium price for the privilege).

So, are these libraries a good value? Considering that the price of the original instrument, adjusted for inflation, was a serious six-digit For the reverb, Hollow Sun has number, I think it’s safe to say supplied 24 impulse files, from cosmic Novachord is indeed a good value. atmospheres to halls and rooms to a And that makes Novalite an plate and several spring reverbs. Once exceptional one. But wait ... there’s again, excellence is the order of the more! In January of this year, Hollow day. Sun announced a bundled collection of all the current MLM instruments (ten So, is Novachord/ Novalite for you, of them) for just 40 pounds (about 60 and if so, which one? If you’re a dollars). This is a terrific bargain in budding Danny Elfman, you might my opinion. You may see a review of very well want both. the first seven MLM instruments in the previous issue of WSM here: If you’re a load-and-go type who c_2011/42 wants lots of presets, you won’t go wrong with the Novachord. Also, if These libraries may be purchased and you demand the highest degree of downloaded directly from Hollow Sun: fidelity to the original sound, Novachord would be the preferred pick. February 2012


w e i v Re Don’t Crack V.I.P. Plug-in Bundle Part 2 by Adrian Frost

In December's issue of WSM I had the something years later I still have a good fortune to be able to present to soft spot for the humble flanger so it you the recently released "V.I.P. Plug- is with great relish that I introduce in Bundle" from Don't Crack. As you to the DC Classic Flanger. It previously mentioned the current follows the same basic "look" as all of bundle contains 22 high quality effects. the other plug-ins in the bundle so In that first article I took a slightly there are no surprises there. Controls more in-depth look at three of them: are basic but do the job nicely. Retro Compressor, Monster Boost and Digital Reverb. I also said that I would The main control is "Speed" which you probably have more to say about can either set by ear or, if you flip the Don't Crack's V.I.P. Bundle, so this "SYNC" switch, you can synchronise month I'm going to look at three more your flanging with your host (oo-er...) plug-ins. Don't Crack have said that "Depth" obviously controls the amount they are hoping to bring the total bundle up to 40 plug-ins by the end of 2012; I'll see if I can keep up! Classic Flanger Before turning to the world of computer music I was (and still am) a bass player and one of my favourite effects was a flanger that I picked up for about 15 quid when I was at University in the glorious city of Leeds, North England. I don't think I ever found a terribly practical use for my flanger while playing in bands but when I was practising (or messing about) at home the flanger got plugged in and my sound was mercilessly... flanged. Some twenty-mumble-mumble68

of the effect that is applied to the incoming signal and "Feedback" does exactly what it says it does. Generally the more feedback you throw in the more hollow the sound becomes and it also takes on a swirly edge that, actually, is rather hard to describe if you've never used a flanger before. I tend to think of it as sounding like you're playing inside a large pipe that is rolling down a hill. Maybe others think the same, maybe not... DC Classic Flanger offers three different flanger types: Classic, MTron and Stomp. There is little information in the bundle's manual about what exact types might be being emulated but each type certainly has its own voice. To my ears the smoothest sounding was the Stomp. M-Tron has a slightly grittier, hard edge and Classic, well Classic just sounds good. Each type responds differently to the Depth and Feedback controls so it is hard to try and give a definitive "This sounds like..." statement. Depending on how you adjust them they're going to work well with different instruments and styles of music. Overall though Classic Flanger is a great sounding effect with plenty of variety available through the minimal set of controls.

February 2012

EchoFlex Up until recently I've never spent much time using any kind of echo or delay effects in my music. This whole category of effects just seems to have passed me by. But no longer because I now have DC EchoFlex to play with. According to the the documentation EchoFlex is "Based on the famous Echoplex guitar pedal. This tape delay effect was used by some of the most notable guitar players of the 60's and 70's eras". I wasn't around in the 60's, only saw a few years of the 70's and didn't really get into music until the early 80's but Wikipedia assures me that some of the notable users of the Echoplex were the likes of Duane Allman, Chet Atkins, Miles Davis, Eric Johnson, Brian May, Steve Miller, Gary Moore, Jimmy Page, Joe Satriani, Andy Summers and Eddie Van Halen. Yeah, I deleted the names I didn't know from the list... Anyway, in a word EchoFlex is fun. Whether you use it centred or as a ping-pong delay it sounds good. With "Sustain" cranked up to Max you'll be listening to your notes repeating on and on for a good half a minute or so. "Variation" adds in some of the wobble that is typical of tape based delays though you can go over the top with it quite easily. Something the EchoFlex does that you'd never be able to do with an Echoplex is sync it to your host's tempo. However, flicking "Sync" to off gives you up to 1000 milliseconds of delay. Once again everything is clearly laid out, there are no surprises, just a good quality echo unit that is going to be seeing quite a bit of use from now on. From gentle washes of quiet delay to totally wild echoing... noise, EchoFlex pretty much covers it all.

Dimension 3D Finally for this month we have Dimension 3D which is based upon Roland's SDD320 'Dimension-D' effect that dates from the late 70's. If you can even find one to buy these days a good example will set you back a fair amount of cash - the cheapest examples I could find were going from around ÂŁ500 and upwards. So, for less than a tenth of that price you can pick up Don't Crack's version of this famous effect. Dimension 3D is more than a chorus effect but isn't "just" a stereo enhancer. It adds a shine and bigness to your sound that is not so easy to describe. On the interface you have three buttons and one knob. The buttons will flip you between different levels of chorusing whilst the knob will increase, or decrease, the detuning effect. The knob is helpfully labelled "Less" and "More" and, personally, I think that this is one of those effects where less truly is more. Dimension 3D can get quite wild and almost discordant sounding if you turn the knob too far to the right. But back things off a bit and it'll give a beautiful lushness to your sound, pads in particular, that really has to be heard. A final word

them. I've tried them all out but have spent more time with the six that I have looked at so far. I've got 16 to go and it's going to take a while to get a good feel for what each of them can do, so it's certain that you're going to be hearing more from me about these plug-ins. You can grab the downloadable demo from Don't Crack's Tech Support Page at ndle.php?ref=VIP1#downloads The demo plug-ins are limited to 30 minutes of use at a time before needing to be reloaded but none of the controls are disabled so you can give these effects a good work out before dragging out your partner's credit card. The demo download contains all of the plug-ins. Even if you only want to try out one plug-in you get the whole lot in the installer and no real reason not to install them all.

Individual plug-ins retail at $49 or you When, as a reviewer, you get handed can buy the complete bundle for $489 a package of plug-ins like the V.I.P. Bundle your first thought is "Where do - which is still less than a second-hand Echoplex! I start?" Well, I'm working through Formats available are VST, AU and the plug-ins based on how I'm using RTAS. them and how I'm getting to know February 2012


w e i v Re

Future Audio Workshop

The Dude Abides

Figure 1

When fellow WSM writer Adrian Frost (Figure 1) graciously allowed me the task of reviewing Circle, I must confess to feeling—stuck. You see, I was of two minds on the review (Figure 2). On the one hand (or head, Figure 2) I have a policy of not writing negative reviews. Our Little Slice of Heaven, which includes devs like Future Audio Workshop, should not be subject to anything that hinders success. An email, a forum post, but not a "slam piece." On the other hand, I could not fully endorse something that I considered pricey, which Circle was—for me—at the time (several months ago). I actually joined FAW's Forum just to complain about the price! Gavin Burke, FAW founder and an absolute gentleman, made the effort to try reasoning with me. Kind of like trying to get this guy, Figure 3, to go Vegan. Mmmmm tootsie.

Figure 2

Figure 4

Figure 6

A Pleasant Surprise I visited the FAW website recently and found that Circle had not only been updated, but, more importantly—to me, a Scrooge (Figure 4, "No coal for you, Mr. Gavin!")—the price for this instrument was now within Impulse Buy Territory. The review was back on! But could I possibly have had anything to do with this price change? Well, there are those who think the world/galaxy/universe of themselves (Figure 5). What? Well, you see, that is a galaxy, and at the center—oh forget it. You wouldn't understand!


Figure 3

Figure 5

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Figure 7

Circle by Ben Paturzo

Figure 8

Finally, the Review Circle has a lovely UI (User Interface—for those who had trouble with the Figure 5 gag). A nice looking interface makes playing an instrument that much more inviting, and Circle is gorgeous. Figure 6, 7, and 8 are some action shots. Using Circle makes me feel as giddy as an Apple fanboy getting a new iToy—look mom, it's an iLawn Mower! And it's aluminum and overheats! [in case you forgot, the address is: dear jerk-mac hater@bla bla bla]. But the interface is also very functional—look at Figure 9 where I've clicked on the Sounds tab. Compared with the "minimized" view of Figure 6, the Sounds section rises for your selection, and then, with another click on the Sounds button, slides back down. This elegant solution makes for a clean and uncluttered design.

Figure 9

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w e i v Re

Figure 10

In Figure 10 I've selected the Keyboard tab; Figure 11 shows Settings; Figure 12 shows Effects; and Figure 13 shows the Control setup. But why is it called, Circle? In Figure 14, the cursor is on the VCA's modulation input, which "lights up" the source of that modulation—the top (green) Envelope generator, indicated by the arrow. You can also see that Osc 3 is modulated by the second (orange) Envelope generator. In Figure 15, I've turned on the first (red) LFO, dragged the red dot (red arrow) and dropped it on an open VCA modulation input. You'll notice, indicated by the orange arrows in Figure 15, that all available module inputs "light up" as soon as I click on the LFO's red dot; this includes modules that are not "on." This last bit is yet another example of Circle's well-thought-out design. The notion of connecting modules with these dots is simple and elegant; the use of color to differentiate modulation sources is eye-pleasing and functional. For another example, look at Figure 16. Here I've clicked on the VCA's LFO modulation input; the slider that pops up allows me to vary the level of modulation, with clear, easy-to-read lettering. The slider disappears after I select the level. There are no extra clicks, drags, or other bothersome interface quirks. Minimal interaction, pleasing graphics, excellent execution. Interface Nirvana.

Figure 11

Figure 12


Figure 13

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Figure 14


Figure 15

Figure 16

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Figure 17

How Does It Sound? Well, from the paltry few presets (Figure 17, hah!)—and this list goes on, all the way to Zeta—pretty darn good. Zeta (Figure 18) reminds me of the Japanese plucked instrument—what's it called? You know, the thing Mrs. Addams (Figure 19) used to play. Man, we boys in 'da 'hood sure had the hots for Carolyn Jones—hubba, double-hubba. The Sanshin. Yeah, that's it (Figure 20). Very nice sound.

Figure 18 Figure 19 Figure 20


February 2012

Figure 21


Figure 22

Figure 23

Overkill (Figure 21) is definitely a keeper. This sounds like you took this guy (Figure 22—yes, the ol' Giorgio Moroder trick), stuck him and the equipment in a very small box, and he's clawing to get out. Bad Gavin. Seriously though, great fun. Deeper Love (Figure 23) shows off Circle's Majestic Pad chops. Really nice, very smooth and lush. Padcrys (Figure 24) is another atmospheric/cinema delight. No kidding—one finger movie scoring. Try it and see. An instrument lives and breathes through its presets, which of course means that the artists that create those presets give an instrument validity and worth. The FAW website lists a number of folks who've created such presets. Circle does have a community, and I believe Gavin and company are in the process of winning back the hearts and minds of that community. What I've seen in this version of Circle is a stable and refined product, one that I wouldn't hesitate in buying or recommending.

Figure 24

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w e i v Re

Circle Figure 25

Roll My Own Let's start fresh and see where it takes us. Figure 25 gives us our blank canvas, simple sawtooth with amp mod on the output. Add another saw, detune for lil' fat—needs more fat, add another saw, detune to taste. Yum. Where did I get the third saw? Clicked down arrow, selected Analog Oscillator. Adjusted osc levels in Mixer. Messed with the VCA EG (Envelope Generator), put it more-or-less back, turned on Filter (Low Pass), dialed it down to about 520 Hz, gave it another EG—messed with that one a lot, gave the Resonance duty to one of the LFO's, Figure 26. Oh, you gotta see this— Figure 27—LFO shapes; nice. Okay, look around, do I want another osc—naw, mess with Noise—almost lose an ear with the High position, quickly—must—change—switch. Flip back to Low Noise, put gauze in ear. The Noise is subtle but makes the blend really yum. Especially with the Filter's Resonance LFO doing double duty in the Mixer (on Noise) and the Noise Frequency modulated by one of the Sequencers. Convert one of the LFO's to a Sequencer and add that to the Filter's Frequency mod mix, Figure 26. What'd I get? Man, I am channeling Mr. Isaac Hayes (Figure 28) channeling this dude (Figure 29). Talking 'bout Shaft... We can dig it! That wasn't so difficult, and we got a very playable preset. There's a range of timbre available, going from staccato pecks to Beethoven mash-and-hold. Try it for yourself!

Figure 26

Final Thoughts Circle is an instrument that invites experimentation and exploration. The UI is a pleasure to use, the sound quality is very high, and the number and range of presets makes it a must-have in any composer's toolbox, even those of us on a budget. I highly recommend it.

Figure 27

Thanks Gavin!

Figure 29 Figure 28


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! n n a m r e H u o Y k n a Th You might remember the Focus On article on Hermann Seib, back in the September 2011 issue of WSM. I mentioned in that article how generous Hermann is. Here's another example, Figure 1. Go to and you will get a free download of Wolfgang Palm's PLEX 2. Dr. Palm, founder of PPG and creator of the PPG Wave, Figure 2, is one of our electronic music founders

by Ben Paturzo

and gurus. Here he is greeting one of his many groupies, Figure 3. Seriously, that's Queen Elizabeth II. The original PLEX was developed for Steinberg by Dr. Palm. Getting version 2 for free, courtesy of Hermann, is a rare treat. Go to Hermann's site,, and give him a big thanks for hosting the PLEX 2 site.

Figure 1

Figure 3

Figure 2

February 2012


w e i v Re Reflex Pro

by Robert Halvarsson

Show me your reflexes Can another new multi-effect VST bring something interesting to the table? STW Audio set out to demonstrate that it can by creating a big brother to Reflex, their free effect offering. In all honesty, it is more of a titan that eats its children for breakfast than a caring loving father to the original freeware diffuse chorus and reverb effect. When we enter the modestly priced Reflex pro, we have something larger in our hands than I, personally, originally expected.

Categorized as a VST Ambience FX unit it is hardly a jack of all trades plug-in with bog-standard distortion, reverb, and compressor slapped on it. Rather the effects are quite special, able to accomplish specific goals. It excels in bringing air, saturation or easily constructed yet complex delay patterns to different parts of your mix. Simple leads from my personal favorite, Dune by Synapse Audio, became otherworldly while tuning in to the more esoteric parts of Reflex Pro. Learning to use this effect is made easier by the amount of presents


February 2012

shipped with it: 150 of them, to be specific. It demonstrates the versatility of what added ambiance can actually mean. And it’s not only reverb tinged washes that this puppy is capable of. Among other things we find two filters, two saturation-stages and a LFO filled with quite a lot of waveforms. There’s also a stereowidener, a delay (with different modes) and the modulation oscillator known from the Reflex free ambiance generator and a frequency modulator. And as for fans of effects such as Ronin by Audio Damage, you will probably be happy to know that you

can route the effects stages quite freely. There’s a lot to say about the quality of each stage, but I was pleasantly surprised in most aspects. The saturation isn’t the smooth analogue that is the feature of most VST marketing these days, it carries a distinct yet pleasant digital tone that can drive things over the top, perhaps something to give that necessary edge to the half good 303-clone of olde? Or just making stand out trippy fx out of whatever audio material you throw at it.

The graphics are more or less selfexplanatory for the more seasoned user of synthesizers and VST-effects, although I would have wanted to be able to increase its size a notch. But this will be implemented in a future update, which is positive. But if we remain in the here and now, I can safely say that it remains hardly unusable, for those with normal eyesight and vision. I find the decay effect to be the thing which sets Reflex Pro apart from many others, and want to add that the saturation has a nice bite on synthesizers. Overall, STW audio's February 2012

first commercial offering is quite unlike most other effects I’ve tried, while still remaining affordable. Big up also goes to the LFO, in which you can see what is going on, a way of doing things for which I’ve praised FabFilter in the past. And as I write this, a quite significant update is already being planned, which is bound to add several substantial enhancements. All in all, I hope this will add yet more fuel to an already quite pleasant and warming fire. If you’ve read this far, you already know my verdict. Reflex has been slain, long live Reflex Pro!


w e i v Re


by A. Arsov

Having an old Wurlitzer is a musician's wet dream. It is definitely one of the sexiest sounding instruments. A friend of mine has an old Wurli in his studio and when he is practising or recording with his band the sound of that old Wurli overwhelms every other instrument and makes you constantly smile when you listen. I have a lot of sampled emulations of that instrument along with digital ones from old sound modules, but none of them come close to the real instrument. Until now.

first library from that firm and I have to confess that I'm really impressed with all the dirty broken details they captured during the sampling procedure. All previous Wurlitzer libraries mostly fail because those companies sampled only the essential tone. That's nice, but not even close to the real instrument. The tone is just a part of that machine. After all, it is an old electrical instrument and if you try to play the real thing you will soon notice that the whole machine is a bit ramshackle, loud and somehow chunky, in a Technology has changed, good way, because the sample libraries are years leaves a trail no better and better and, as matter how much you a bonus, Sonic Couture take care of it and in really know how to nail most cases you can even the things. It is not my hear how its capacitors 80

February 2012


Sonic Couture

are leaking when you are playing a note - enabling you to hear the local radio station occasionally somewhere low in the background. The truth about all these Wurlitzers is that the more they became ram-shackle, the better they almost sound. They are like a good wine, years add some additional character. The Sonic Couture fellows decided to go even deeper finding an old Wurlitzer with a broken speaker for getting an even dirtier sound. As a result we've got 8 GB of material sorted inside 50 various presets. The whole thing is carefully recorded with four microphones capturing the whole spectra of the sounds. There are nine velocity levels and

three alternate round robin sample layers. All these facts sound impressive, but they are just a part of the usual PR stuff written in the promo material. The real joy comes when your finger touches the keyboard. Demo clips sounds amazing, dirty and lovely, but when you hold a chord or just a tone you will hear all the background electric hiss and noise so specific to an old Wurlitzer. Sonic Couture have an incredible ear for details. I often meet various idiots who claim that they can hear the difference between the real instrument and sampled one. There is only one man in my country, a top sound February 2012

engineer, that can really hear all the colours and details of a recorded sound, while most of the others who make that claim can only hear the sound of their prejudice. This dirty Wurli sounds more alive than the real thing. Most of the time I had problems with the other Wurli libraries because none of them could replicate the dynamic response of a real instrument. The real Wurli goes totally Twang when you hit it hard and moans like an old bear when you play it soft, with all the colours in between. Finally a Wurli that sound like an Wurli, beautiful, a bit unpredictable but with certain rules - an ideal description of my wife...


w e i v Re In the heart of Dirty Wurli Presets cover most situations that you and your Wurli can experience, from chunky staccato sound through to floaty dreamy dirt. You can control the volume of both speakers, totally excluding the dirty, broken one or excluding the other healthy one. There is another additional set of controllers for adjusting the ADSR envelope for filter and amplifier along with Noise and Tremolo buttons. The whole library weighs in at 8 GB and lives happily ever after with the Kontakt Free player. If you have any problems with the velocity curve (I didn't had any issues, but it is nice to have such control to hand) you can tune this in the Option window. There are also a few other things there, memory switchers for excluding dirty or healthy speaker or even a line out, key of level control and a knob for adjusting the output noise envelope. All those technical details are nice and useful, but the essence of every sample library is its sound. This one finally sounds like the real thing, with all 82

the good and bad additions. Noise was always a part of the sound, almost every sound, and as you know the main reproach in the digital era is a lack of noise. Dirty Wurli comes as close to the original as it is possible at this stage of technology. Maybe, some day by day player will notice the difference but I can't. I've played the original a few times and fell in love with the noisy, almost bell like, attack that you get if you press it hard and this library reacts in the same way. I presume that was the result of a lot of hard work during the sampling process. Anyone can program nine velocity layers for one note, but the real art is to make an appropriate sample for every layer. I don't know how they did that, but they did it. Hats off! If you love the sound of Wurlitzer, then this is a steal. For only 69 Euros you can have the best Wurly clone that exists at this time. It is a bit broken, you know, one speaker is a bit fuzzy, but hey, that gives it extra charm and dirtiness. And if February 2012

you don't like the additional dirt, then feel free to turn off that speaker. But I presume you will not do that too often, because it is a Wurlitzer after all, and if you are really after the clean sound then buy yourself a digital piano. This one is born for mumbling and groaning along with yelling and hitting around. That's my impression. If you think that is a bit of a personal view then at least visit the Sonic Couture site and listen to the demo clips. But I must say that there are a lot more goodies hidden in the presets than you can hear on the Sonic site. More broken details at products/24-the-attic/g31-brokenwurli/ By "can't be fixed" Arsov A. But we like it as it is ;-)

Wusik Station Improving by the minute.


MAX/MSP for Non-Programmers - Part 3 by Rishabh Rajan

In this tutorial we will look at working with audio in Max/MSP. There are a lot of possibilities for manipulating audio loops within Max and today we will learn how to bring audio into Max, set loop points within an audio file and even manipulate the playback speed and direction. Using Buffers Audio files can be played back from the hard drive using the object sfplay~ but the possibilities for manipulation are limited in this scenario. When the audio is used in a small buffer in the RAM, there is a lot more that can be done in terms of processing and manipulation.

Create a new object called buffer~ looper -1. This will create a buffer with the name 'looper1'. It is important to give this buffer a unique name as we will be accessing is via its name elsewhere. The '-1' is to define the buffer size. In this case it will use the size of the audio that is loaded in. If you want to define a specific size you can by replacing '-1' with any value in milliseconds. Create a

Create a new patch and include the gain~ & ezdac~ as shown in the diagram.


February 2012

message with the text 'read'. You can also use 'import' instead as that will give you support for mp3 files. Lock the patcher, click on the message and load an audio file. To verify that the audio has indeed loaded you can double-click the buffer object and a window showing the content of the buffer will pop-up.

Grooving with groove~ Now that the audio has been read/imported into the buffer 'looper', we can access it via the object groove~ looper. Notice that the same name that was used in the buffer~ is used in this object. This is because we could use many buffers if we wish, and having a unique identifier for each would make is easier to remember which is which. You will also notice that the buffer~ and groove~ are not connected with patch cords.

Turn on the ezdac~, increase the level on the gain~ and hit the toggle switch. You should hear the audio playback. Now, there are some properties of this groove~ object we can set. Send a message 'loop 1' to enable looping. To make this user configurable, you can also change the

Connect the groove~ looper object to gain~. Now the groove~ needs a message of '1' or '0' to play and stop the audio respectively. But, this can't be a Max message, it has to be an MSP signal. Fortunately we can use sig~ to convert a Max message to an MSP signal. In the diagram I chose to use a toggle switch instead of messages 1 & 0. The toggle will output '1' when ON and '0' when OFF.

message to 'loop $1' and connect a toggle to the left input of the message box. The $1 acts as a placeholder and when the message box receives a number in its input, the number replaces the $1 and the whole message is sent out the message box's output.

You may need to restart the ezdac~ to hear the audio again. This time it should loop around continuously and you can control the looping feature by turning the toggle ON/OFF. Playback Manipulation So far we have not done anything unusual. Just standard playback controls. What if you want to reverse the audio playback. If you send a message of '-1' to the sig~ you will hear the audio played back in reverse. We can't use a toggle for this so we will have to use the message object. If you change the number to -2 you will hear the audio playback in reverse but at twice the speed and pitched up. February 2012


tutorial So, numbers between 0 and 1 will play the audio pitched down and slower while numbers greater than 1 will play the audio pitched up and faster. Negative numbers will do the same but will reverse the playback.


Change the values to -2 and 2 respectively. Now connect this flonum to the sig~ object. Note: we chose a flonum instead of a number box because we want to use the decimal values between whole numbers. If we chose number it would only output -2, -1, 0, 1 & 2. This is also useable but is not as much fun. In a locked patcher state, click and drag on the flonum box while the audio is playing to hear the audio behave like a turntable, slowing down and speeding up.

Now the fun begins. Instead of constantly changing the message text, lets create a flonum box and limit the range within -2 to 2. The range of any number box can be set by right-clicking the object and opening the 'inspector' window. Under the 'value' tab you will see 'minimum' and 'maximum'.

Setting Loop Range So far we are not able to change the loop length. The audio loops for its entire length. There is also no GUI where we can click and drag like in a standard audio editor application. Let's change all this by bringing in an object called waveform~. As soon as you instantiate the object, you will see a blue rectangle. This is a waveform window. It is not showing anything because it does not know which buffer to display. Create a message box and enter the message 'set looper'. Connect this message box to the leftmost input of the waveform~ object. Lock the patch and click on the message box. As long as the buffer~ has some audio in it, the waveform~ object should now show the waveform of that audio file. You will notice that you still can't click and drag on the waveform~ object. We can change that by unlocking the


February 2012

Non-Programmers - Part 3

patcher, opening the 'inspector' by right-clicking on the waveform~ object and changing the 'Click Mode' to select as shown in the diagram.

Now in a locked state you can make selections with the mouse, within the waveform~ object. You will notice that this actually does not change the audio playback at all. That is because we have not sent the selection information from the waveform~ object to the groove~ object. Luckily the waveform~ object has two outputs that give selection

start and end points and the groove~ object has two inputs that define the loop start and end points. Make the connections as shown in the diagram and lock the patcher.

Now, while the audio loop is playing you can change the loop length on the fly by just making a selection within the waveform~ object. Loads of fun~.

February 2012


w e i v Re

Rose Whisper



Fazioli Brunei

What a pleasure it is to play an instrument of Rose Whisper's caliber (Figure 1). Sadly, I recognize that I am not able to fully do it justice; there is an obvious range of capability here, layers of subtlety—even a novice can tell, just by playing this wonderful instrument. You will simply have to listen to these samples from more capable hands (go to ct/demo4.htm) to get an idea of what Rose Whisper can do. When I first heard these audio demos, I was convinced that a real piano had been substituted.

Wang Yichi created Rose Whisper One of the things you'll notice with based on the sounds of the Fazioli the Rose Whisper (Wang's wife was Brunei the inspiration for the name) is that, ( unlike many sampled pianos, this /brunei), a concert grand costing over instrument shows a great depth of $400,000. The ten foot Brunei, playability. The reason for this Figures 2 and 3, was made by extended level of expression is Sound engineer and pianist Paolo Fazioli, a Magic's NEO Hybrid Modeling Engine. man who is as well known for his For example, standard sampled piano scientific acumen as for his musical sounds are always static with no skills and knowledge. It is therefore interaction between the strings while fitting that another engineer and playing, but the NEO Hybrid Modeling pianist, Wang Yichi, should attempt to Engine forges these subtle harmonic emulate this extraordinary piano. changes, generating subtle Wang is playing some of the demos at resonances based on which notes are his site, showing his classical training being played at any given moment. as well as his experience as a classical The NEO Hybrid Modeling Engine is concert pianist. always changing, always reproducing


February 2012

NEO Hybrid Modeling Engine

Piano Sound Magic by Ben Paturzo


this interaction between strings. This produces a living, breathing sound, if you will. The NEO Hybrid Modeling Engine achieves this realistic and authentic sound by using physical modeling to shape the sound's "skeleton" and then maps it to a series of harmonic components in real time to provide the resonance between the strings and the sound of the piano "box." The proof is in the playing. HD Velocity Layers Adding to the nuance and expression of Rose Whisper, Sound Magic’s revolutionary HD Velocity Layers suggests a new way to achieve many more velocity layers using traditional MIDI. When you press a key, Rose Whisper Piano not only reads the current velocity of this note, but also takes into account the velocities and after touch information from the previous 2 or 3 notes. HD Velocity Layers will then use a set of algorithms to combine the data and produce an actual velocity level (a 6 digit number). In this way, Rose Whisper Piano can support up to 65536 actual velocity layers when using traditional MIDI signal (127 levels). In addition, Rose Whisper Piano achieves a new level of realism by emulating the behavior of Piano Legato. When you are playing legato phrases on a real grand piano, the transition between two legato notes is created by subtle


February 2012


w e i v Re variations of key pressure. Rose Whisper Piano is able to respond to these differences and allows your playing to come closer to that of a real piano (Figure 4). Master Wang It is always easier to write about people who are doing worthwhile things, people who are definitely adding to our little corner of the audio world. Just from our limited interaction, I have learned a great deal about pianos, their tuning and structure, the importance of proper emulation techniques, and what it takes to properly play an instrument, even a virtual one. I am constantly amazed by the talent and generosity of the devs you've seen in this magazine. Wang is an excellent example. There is a series of weekly piano lessons (available via email) that teaches you how to get the most out of Rose Whisper. An excerpt is: How To Get Your Ideal Piano Sound in 6 Hours - or Less! Part 3: Get Warm, Spicy or Hot through Dynamic Control, a little Magic!

Rose Whisper Piano Apart from velocity layer, the effect of dynamic on piano sound is often ignored. In fact, a little adjust on dynamic may lead to a magic result on sound which none other effect units could ever reproduced. So we should first know how a real grand piano acts on its own dynamic.

ranging from A0 to C8; all 88 notes have the same dynamic range. They all did wrong in this point and the terrible result will be revealed.

Further on in this particular lesson there are diagrams and audio demos to illustrate and demonstrate what Wang is teaching. This is a dev who is obviously proud of his work and Real Piano Dynamic generous in sharing his knowledge We often heard that a piano’s dynamic and experience. Master Wang doesn't have to do this, but he chooses to do is around 33dB. That’s part true for it. they did not tell you this 33dB is measured only on note A440. Just think about more in your mind, with a Closing bit physics knowledge, we all know that bass strings are heavier than the Looking at Figure 1, you will notice a strings for highs. That means bass fair number of controls to adjust the strings are always carrying more timbre of Rose Whisper, the dynamics, energy than higher strings. This will tonal color, as well as the player's lead to the fact that strings for highs interaction with the instrument. There will decay much faster than bass is even a control for the Lid Position! strings. The research by scientist also The controls are logically laid out and proved this fact, which shows the perform as intended; the caveat here dynamic for C8 is over 50dB. This is is that as you progress in your also the reason why the piano sounds abilities, more of the subtleties of mellower when you play it soft. It is a Rose Whisper will open up to you. great pity many pianos are using the This is an instrument you should try same algorithm calculating the for yourself, and if you are a novice, dynamic. If you have the chance to grow with. Quite delightful. measure their dynamic, you will find they have nearly the same dynamic



February 2012

10/10 In Computer Music Magazine ! O O SynthMaster 2.5 WOOH

by Ben Paturzo

Bülent Bıyıkoğlu, shown here in miniature form, one of the The saga of the development and hardest-working and most release of SynthMaster 2.5 responsive of dev's, has scored a captured a lot of attention at the major victory: Ten Out of Ten in KVR Forums. The main thread at the February 2012 Computer KV331 Audio has over a quarter Music Magazine review of of a million page views! Great SynthMaster 2.5. Not only that, Caesar's Ghost! There will be but SynthMaster garnered a reviews of SynthMaster 2.5 in an Computer Music Performance upcoming issue of WSM. Award. The Verdict Box states Download the demo now! that this “desert island” synth covers all sonic bases. Your humble scribe agrees.

February 2012


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s w i n Mi Revie

Soundware Roundup by Ginno Legaspi

Big Fish Audio rolls are my favorites, Epic Drums 2 as well as low Big Fish Audio and frequency hits. If Funk/Soul you've purchased Productions didn't Epic Drums, make just sit on their sure you pair it with laurels after the volume 2. Simply, release of blockbuster one of the best Epic Drums library. cinematic libraries for With high praises a one-two punch. from different publications, I was WEB: sure that they'd www.bigfishaudio.c om release a fantastic, bigger and bolder FORMAT: sequel. Here we have ED2 that features performances from top-notch Apple Loops/REX/WAV/RMX/Acid/Kontakt 4 players. ED2 is a library with a broad selection of samples that will energize PRICE: and electrify your next cinematic score and soundtrack hit. It consist of $129.95 1800-plus samples loops and construction kits from different Delectable Records percussion instruments such as Strictly Melodic FX Chinese kang gu, Chinese kettle drums, battle drums, gongs, cymbals, The title is definitely catchy.....and the content? Awesome. I've tank drums, waterphone, massive toms, metals and etc. As with the first reviewed many good SFX sample packs in the past but so far, this is volume, you get fantastic sounding my favorite for 2012. The name samples off the bat, with a multitude says it all. Although very versatile, of differently live-played loops. As I it's mainly geared for electronic was going through the samples and dance music, especially if you auditioning them, I can't help but want to spice up some tracks in appreciate the sound quality I'm the drum and bass, electro, trance, hearing. They are huge, inspiring, dubstep, electro house, tech house, up-to-date with lots good sound design trickery. The risers and timpani cinematic and ambient sub-genre. 94

February 2012

This unique sample set features some really nicely useable content that are organized and labeled properly. You'll get 770, 44.1khz/24-bit transitional, rising and falling FX elements that was made with high-end gear and state-of-the-art valve outboard (according to Delectable Record). If you want to impact your audience with your tracks, using some tasty audio FX, this library is worth purchasing. WEB: FORMAT: WAV, 24-bit, 1.22 GB PRICE: ÂŁ19.95

crafted 350 Sounds-ofMB library Loopmasters Revolution focusing on Hats & Tops Vol. 1 Monomade Presents: Big Room futuristic SFX Progressive House Here we have a small sounds for sample pack (dubbed This Loopmasters and Monomade cinematic, micro series) from collaboration includes 1035 24-bit ambient, Sounds-of-Revolution samples of loops and single hits, experimental aimed primarily for house producers entitled 'Hats & Tops and game Vol.1". This is a everywhere. Inside you'll find basses, music. The 'specialty' collection drums, tom, top, tuned percussion, comprising 100 hat and top loops, and overall sound design is stunning with chord and lead loops. I find the sounds ranging from digital metallic nothing else. It is very convenient to included tuned percussion loops grinds to advanced robotic noises. those looking for a specific kick-less interesting as they can be transposed loop without having to sort out folders Need impacts or tonal hits for your to fit over the key you're working in. next track? Robostep has it. And with Also, the 64 bass loops are fat and and folders of samples. Use the sample files tagged as 'mutate', samples to augment into your drum growling at best. But what're great mixes or use as is as fillers in gaps or 'transform' and 'hydraulics' you will are the single hits, especially the 234 find this pack a joy to use. It's a transitions in breakdowns. All 24-bit drums, to create your own authentic monster release from Loopmasters files were programmed from scratch kits. It is really one of the meatiest and applied with the latest processing and with Push Button Bang, I simply and useful house sample offerings tools for maximum sound and fidelity. cannot find no fault. Or maybe these that I've come across with and the are made by aliens? Best if used for house or any EDM. content speaks for itself. Obviously there has been some highend gear WEB: WEB: used in the production of this library as the samples sound professional and cutting edge. For inspiration to spark FORMAT: FORMAT: your creativity, Big Room Progressive Wav, Rex, Apple Loops, Kontakt, Wav and Ableton Live Pack, 350 MB, House can't be beat. EXS24, Stylus RMX 24-bit WEB: PRICE: PRICE: 10.92 € £17.95 FORMAT: REX2, WAV, Apple Loops, Push Button Bang Stylus RMX, GarageBand, Robostep MIDI files It's been a while since I last reviewed one of their samples PRICE: packs, but it is good to know £19.95 that Push Button Bang is still crankin' out good sample libraries, and Robostep is no exception. They have done it again with this painstakingly

February 2012


s w i n Mi Revie Big Fish Audio Pop'd Indian Percussion Lately, I've seen a bunch of sample packs released for use in complimenting one style. Such sample packs are geared mostly to add flare to mainstream arrangements. Here we have Pop'd Indian Percussion that offers something fresh to the table. Sample developer giants Big Fish Audio and producer Vijaygee have teamed up to put together this library of Indian percussion loops for producers looking for authentic World/Ethnic flare for their Pop and RnB productions. Just like most of Big Fish libraries, this library is arranged in 62 construction kits broken down by instrument. You can choose a single instrument loop or an entire ensemble depending what your needs are. There are a total of 393 loops in WAV, Apple, REX and Kontakt formats in pristine 24-bit. As far as the loops go, they are nicely played and well recorded. The performance is very professional, comparable to any percussion library out there. If you want to sound adventurous by combining Eastern-style samples to West-type genre then this library is worth having.

ready-made disco influenced sounds produced by Utku S. Drawing inspirations from vintage disco style with a touch or modern house combined, Discotecha is able to offer producers samples such as funky basses, vintage-fueled beats, lovely disco strings, synths and guitars. The quality of the samples is extremely high, thanks to 24-bit resolution. For producers wanting to create NU Disco, Italo and Future Disco House, give your rocking audience a party with this set of samples. And you'll even love the huge collection of one-shot samples, especially the classic snares and vintage percussion hits. WEB: FORMAT: Wav, Acid, Rex2, Reason Refill, Apple Loops, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, Stylus RMX, NNXT, GarageBand, Ableton Live Pack and Ableton Live Presets PRICE: ÂŁ 19.95

WEB: FORMAT: Apple Loops/REX/WAV/RMX/Acid/Kon takt 4


PRICE: $69.95

FORMAT: Wav, 24-bit

Loopmasters Discotecha Discotecha does exactly what it says on its cover, with lots of 96

Sample Magic Vintage House Vintage House pays homage to the retro sounds of house, a genre that was simply called 'House' back then. House used to be simple but nowadays, we all know that there are plenty of complex and sophisticated house sub-genres, from Swedish to Electro and Future to Progressive it's everywhere and all over the dance floor. This is your typical vintage house library with all the appropriate ingredients dug from the Sample Magic vault: classic 909 drums, FMstyle sounds, horns, synth stabs, electric pianos and electric & synth basses. Weighing at over 650 MB, this collection is good for those seriously looking to craft classic club anthems. Of all the samples on offer, my favorites are the drum loops and kickfree loops. Sample Magic pretty much nailed this one as they have that undeniably 90's vibe. They're very useful yet punchy but far from today's over-compressed beats. The bass loops are worth mentioning, also, as they are well delivered with lots of low-end. Sample Magic has another sure winner here.

LIST PRICE: ÂŁ39.90 (digital) February 2012



Loopmasters Spektre: Atmospheric Techno After listening to a couple of loops I was convinced to give this Spektre (DJ's/producers Paul Maddox and Filthy Rich) sample pack a high mark. And why not? It's well conceived, programmed and recorded for all the right reasons. On offer are some Best serious drum loops, deep basses, Service hypnotic atmospherics, effects-heavy Production Tools Vol. 5 synthesizers and really some jawdropping sounds. A lot of the samples This is the 5th volume of Soundorder's sample library series called sound big with the help of meticulous 'Production Tools'. While the 4th but careful processing. My favorites volume concentrated on the subare the 'Music' and the 'Instrument house genre, Vol. 5 offers loops, Tones' folder category. You may find some of the sounds dark and haunting multi-samples, presets for Kontakt instrument and MIDI files for but that's the beauty of this. Is it Progressive trance, Trance and Tech worth getting it? An absolute yes! trance productions. The Soundorder team does a good job of producing a WEB: euphoric, banging slice set of samples that are club-ready. Arranged into 35 construction-type kits (drums, FORMAT: instruments & MIDI) with tempo Wav, Acid, Rex2, Reason Refill, Apple information, the overall production Loops, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, here is good. You'll find 'up-to-date' Stylus RMX, NNXT, GarageBand, elements such as punchy drums, edgy Ableton Live Pack and Ableton Live synths, powerful basses, lush pads, Presets etc. as well as fully mixed cue to get an idea what the samples are capable PRICE: of. With over 4.5 GB of materials, ÂŁ 24.95 there are lots of useable sounds here, especially the drum hits - if you're looking to build your own drum kit. Having quality drum hits in the first place eliminates the hunting of good samples, and this has it! Soundorder and Best Service continue to deliver a nicely produced pack. I wonder what they'll come up next?!

Organic Loops Real Strings Vol. 3 - Dark Moods The Dark Moods volume is the third in the Real String Series of Organic Loops' libraries. Here we have another treat for producers and composers of orchestral and cinematic arrangements. Created by Pete Whitfield, this string library contains over 2 GB of cello ensembles, solo cello, violin ensembles, solo violins and piano loops recorded in tempos of 80-95 BPM. As a bonus, you also get 12 samples of each instrument so you can program your own melodies or phrases. Softsampler patches for Halion, EXS, SFZ, NNXT and Kontakt are also included. Like the previous volumes, vol. 3 covers a wealth of fine, real orchestral instruments captured using some high-end kits. But this is more of a collection with a darker feel, which can be useable in more intense scores or suitable for dark ambient music and soundtracks requiring a more sinister mood. These loops are geared to work with each other giving you the flexibility to mix and match or combine them for epic results. If you're looking for an instant soundtrack, a sophisticated orchestral

WEB: FORMAT: Wav, Apple loops, REX and Kontakt PRICE: $92.62

February 2012


s w i n Mi Revie pack for underscore movement, Dark Moods is worth considering. WEB: FORMAT: Wav, Acid, Rex2, Reason Refill, Apple Loops, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, Stylus RMX, NNXT, GarageBand, Ableton Live Pack and Ableton Live Presets

want to get you started for quick song compositions. This is hot … it'll make you sweat. WEB: FORMAT: Acid, Wav, Aiff Apple loops, REX and RMX PRICE: $29.95

Sample Magic Techno An aptly titled sample pack from Organic Loops Sample Magic, Techno focuses on the Americana - Guitar Licks and Riffs sounds that put Berlin and Detroit on Big Fish Audio Producers looking for an original the musical map. Techno sample Sweet Seduction collection of samples that is a tribute libraries are quite popular and have Last issue, I reviewed the construction to the sublime sounds of the been available for so long, but you kit pack called Sweat by Big Fish Americana guitar...take notice! A full can't go wrong with SM's Techno as Audio and happen to like it. This time range of electric and acoustic blues they've done it again with this hot guitar loops and samples is presented these are authentic and fresh. The materials on Techno bundle includes R&B pack called Sweet Seduction. here as sampling material for rock, plenty of WAV, apple loops, Rex2, This library includes WAV (738 MB/24- chillout, downtempo, metal, world, Stylus-RMX REX loops, and soft bit), Apple loops and REX files for a cinematic and ambient compositions. total of 1.8 GB downloadable content. Americana Guitars Licks and Riffs was sampler patches. The WAV files alone weigh in at over 500 MB of original It is oozing with sex appeal that even performed by guitarist John Konesky demanding producers can appreciate. (of Tenacious D fame) and incorporate content that includes driving basses, kick-heavy beats, useable drum hits, Taking inspiration from the sounds of all kinds of playing techniques such ambiences, arped synths and a whole Usher, R. Kelly and Trey Songsz, slides, picks, chugs, power chords, lot more. As always, you get quality Sweet Seduction is full of smooth riffs and dynamics - stamped with samples from Sample Magic. Need grooves, seductive Rhodes, heavenly American-style, of course. As for his pianos, soft synths, drums, FX and playing, it is solid. The performance is fast construction of bangin' tracks more. They're fresh, unique, and easy top notch with plenty of class to boot. together? Techno is your easy ticket. to infuse into your own productions. Bottom line: Americana collection The 10 very polished construction kits provides maximum flexibility, ease of WEB: include just about any elements you’d use and features plenty of 4, 8 and 12-bar long loops that were recorded with proper guitars, amps and fx units. FORMAT: Great sounds that provides instant Wav, Rex2, Sylus-RMX Rex2, Apple pieces for starter projects. Loops, EXS24, Kontakt, NN-XT, Halion PRICE: £ 29.95

WEB: FORMAT: Wav, Acid, Apple Loops, GarageBand, Rex2 and Stylus RMX PRICE: £ 24.95


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LIST PRICE: £39.90 (digital)



Bluezone Corporation Dubstep Adrenaline This small sample library from Bluezone Corp is geared towards DJ's, live PA and producers needing loops and samples for their next dance floor authentic Nashville sound to their filler. It has over 140 files that were productions. Americana Country is created with wobble in mind. Good available in different audio formats selection, great detail that was done but the Kontakt pack includes and has that deep dubstep vibe. instrument presets such as kit combos, Dubstep Adrenaline features contents single instrument and sliced loops, such as drum loops, kick-free loops, with the samples arranged in 12 synth loops, bass loops, pad loops, folders. The samples are labeled very sound effects and more, all of which clearly with their various key info, and are recorded at 140 BPM. The choice tempos range from 74-128 BPM. Stuck in a rut? Let Americana Country help you finish your tracks in an instant with its song-type (intro verse, chorus 1 and 2 and alternate, turnaround, breakdown, ending, prechorus, bridge, etc.) kits.

Rankin Audio Techy Synth Riffs This micro pack from Rankin Audio serves as a fill for any track that is missing something or needing that extra synthy edge. Techy Synth Riffs features 170 synth riffs that are inspiring and ready to drop in any production. Most of them are in the 130 BPM-range with an emphasis on dance music, especially tech house and minimal techno. I love how the loops are clearly labeled with key and tempo information (mostly 130 BPM). If you like synth loops, and at the same time want to apply your own set of effects processing, I think this library is a go. It's packed with hyper, adrenaline-type sounds that will WEB: satisfy the loop nut in you. WEB: FORMAT: Acid, Wav, Apple loops, REX, RMX, Kontakt 4 FORMAT: WAV PRICE: $99.95 PRICE: ÂŁ 14.95 Big Fish Audio Americana Country What is it? A collection of banjo, acoustic and electric guitars, drums, bass, slide guitar, piano and more in a construction kit format. Americana Country is a massive 7.2 GB library that has all the pure raw and rockin' power to compliment your blues, country, folk and western tracks with the necessary 'twang'. Not only does this library sound fantastic but the samples are 100% played live. I am in no way a guitarist but this library is a treat to those wanting to add an

of samples is great especially the heavy synth sounds and the LFOdriven bass lines. Exciting pack, although I wish there were more samples included. WEB: www.bluezone-corporation FORMAT: WAV, 124 MB PRICE: â‚Ź14.95 (digital download)

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s w i n Mi Revie Sounds-of-Revolution Clicks & Glitches Vol. 2 I've noticed that Sounds-of-Revolution has been cranking out Vol. 2 of their previous titles. One of those title is Click & Glitches, a library focused on one thing: to offer cut-up loops and quirky miscellaneous debris of samples to producers. Style-wise, this volume is pretty much the same as the first one with the exception that it has 25 more files (107 MB). This library can be used in conjunction with other loops or drum mixes that requires certain charm or lacks edge over others. Although a micro pack compared to the multi-gigabyte libraries out there, but still has lots of useful sounds that are great for many genres.

guitars, shaking basses, bouncy synths, soulful keyboards, sexy vocals and sizzling percussions all nicely executed by Andy Lee and the 5Pin Media crew. You'll find 327 high quality loops and 655 one-shot samples (1.35 GB) in Acidized WAV, Apple loops, REX and 37 soft sampler patches for NNXT, Halion, EXS24, SFZ, Kontakt and Battery formats. Also, there are 168 expressive MIDI files for playing the patches that you can use depending on your arrangements. These are very well made, especially the 96 MIDI drum loops for project starters. For remixes or good set of

WEB: FORMAT: Wav, Rex, Apple Loops, Kontakt, EXS24, Stylus RMX PRICE: 10.08 € 5Pin Media Nu-Disco House Edition Disco is definitely back and this time it is as blistering hot as ever. As the name suggests, this library aims to cover the genre in the veins of Disco, House, French, Funk, Soul and Electro. Nu-Disco House offers lots of groovy elements such as drums, funked-out 100

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inspirational tools, Nu-Disco is a solid release from 5Pin Media. WEB: FORMAT: Wav, Acid, Rex2, Ableton Live Pack, Apple Loops, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, Stylus RMX, Ableton Live Presets, Battery, GarageBand and MIDI Files PRICE: MIDI+One Shots £ 19.95 Loops+One Shots £ 29.95 ZIP (main) £ 39.95



Big Fish Audio Guitar Soundscapes Produced by Dieguis Productions, Guitar Soundscapes: Cinematic and Ambient Guitars is perfect for any desktop musician or producer looking to spice up their arrangements cinematic, atmospheric and special FX elements. This has quite an array of atmospheric riffs, distant chords, pulses, ethereal pads & rich textures, lush reversed guitar tones that are highly inspiring and original in style. In this massive 6.6 GB collection there are (more than 3 GB of WAVs alone in 24-bit format) 20 construction kits, each with a full demo mix, every melodic riff imaginable, and textural and rhythmic elements that you can combine with your own mixes. Picking, mixing and matching is easy thanks to the flexibility and the assortment of loops contained within each kit. I can see this as ideal for use in films, games, trailers, TVs, and ambient music (ala David Torn style). My favorites are the clean tones with lots of delays and reverberation as they just sound huge. Even though this is not your everyday guitar library, man, Guitar Soundscapes just sound astounding and very organic. A must buy! WEB:

FORMAT: Apple Loops/REX/WAV/RMX/Acid/Kontakt 4 PRICE: $129.95 Bluezone Corporation Ambient Injection - Evolving Space Ambient Injection - Evolving Energy How's this for a sci-fi, suspense thriller scene? You're trapped in a pod, without any power, floating with no direction in space. Then suddenly a bunch of luminous bodied aliens strike you mercilessly, injecting greencolored ink in your body. Then you become one of them! Whether it's a big budget Hollywood flick or a 'madefor-video' destined for the $1 bin, a scene like that requires good sound FX, soundscapes, drones, textures and atmospheric sound. This is where Bluezone's Ambient Injection series comes in. Both are good collections that are also designed for use in any musical projects such as electronica, breakbeat, industrial, downtempo, dn'b and dubstep. Both sample packs are almost identical in terms of content data, style and price. And they would definitely complement with each other making Ambient Injection February 2012

a comprehensive collection. Also, what's good about both libraries are the sheer quality of the samples, how they were processed and designed. The included long samples (over 1 minute long) are some of the best for layering (as beds) or a good choice if you need textural building blocks fast.

WEB: www.bluezone-corporation FORMAT: Wav, 400 MB each PRICE: â‚Ź12.95 each (digital download)


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Driven Machine Drums by Robert Halvarsson

New weapons for drummer boys 'n' girls Nathan Shreeve is the drum and analog technical mastermind behind our previously reviewed sample collection Driven Machine Drums and Hi Fi 909. After the substantial 1.5 update of Driven Machine Drums, he's now back with an entirely new offering in the form of Driven Machine Drums Strikes Back (in short, DMDSB). A collection of samples promising an entirely new approach. According to Shreeve himself the process of creation was entirely altered, because: "(‌) creating new sounds, IMHO, wasn't enough. There had to be an improvement in the methodology because I wanted you to feel like you owned these 'newly-discovered' instruments."


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In this, I think the pack in its entirety is a huge success, since I cannot pinpoint any drum machine which delivers what this, on the other hand, does. And since it packs 2072 wavefiles you will have a lot of time to discover its bountiful plethora of riches. And never did I feel like I was trading quality for quantity.

The organization is flawless, and the drums are meticulously organized into different folders. The main ones being claps, hats, kicks, percussion, snares, toms and assorted unknown electronic. There are, in turn, even more subfolders depending on the type of clap/snare/kick you are after. Often these sub-folders are quite selfexplanatory, but sometimes reveal a Instead, while browsing this collection, more esoteric side to this collection. I often got the feeling that I was The kind that makes good use of the stepping into a gold-mine of secret Cwejman Modular systems and STS audiological artifacts. The kind of Serge Modular no doubt. effect I imagine Tonebuilder was after. I would go further and say that In essence the full list of gear used is potentially this would be one of the very much impressive and should be few sample packs of analog(esque) avoided by all those inflicted by drums you would ever need. severe gear lust. Browse at your discretion. And while I really enjoyed Tonebuilder's previously released 909 DMDSB is sold in two reasonable sample-pack, DMDSB contains a lot priced variations. A standard offering more of everything – and since it and a deluxe version. They contain creates new textures that I've yet to the same amount of samples (thank hear anywhere else there's quite a lot God!). The standard version, aside more fun to be had here. from wave-files, also contains

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mappings for FXpansion's Guru and Geist plus a whole lot of kits for Native Instruments monsterworkstation Maschine. The Deluxe version also contains all these things and Native Instruments widely used Kontakt-format and Logic's EXS-24. All over, a great approach which covers two widely used bases. Nathaniel Shreeve still imposes a virtual limitation to his samples, were he vouches that only 966 copies will be officially sold and licensed. It is an interesting concept that we recognize from Tonebuilders previous, original, Driven Machine Drums. See this as a further incentive to not delay checking out the free mini-sampler of this intriguing offering. So go check-check it out!


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relectro Part 2

by Adrian Frost Back in the October issue of WSM I got the chance to review LinPlug's "relectro" effects plug-in. It had been released only a few days before and was still hot from coming out of the fiery furnaces of the LinPlug plug-in foundry. Plus it was a load of fun to play with.

however relectro is something altogether new. According to LinPlug, "relectro is a specialised effects plug-in designed for creatively modifying drum loops and samples and converting them into unique and unusual electronic-sounding drums." To the beat of a different drum‌

As mentioned in my previous article, relectro is LinPlug's first ever effects plug-in. They've released quite a few highly successful instrument plug-ins over the years - Albino, Alpha, RMV and Octopus to name but four,


So let's dig in. I'm going to be using LinPlug's RMV drum synth plug-in for most of this article about relectro though I'll probably throw Albino at it a bit later just to see what happens. If

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you don't have RMV you can grab the demo version from Installation is easy enough: start by installing the plug-in itself then download and install the content. There are two libraries, each over 1.0 GB; one for drums and the other for loops. In RMV I'm using the "KKS Yamaha Maple" acoustic kit so as not to start with a sound that is too electronic.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

If you're new to RMV it's not too hard to get everything set up for a basic beat. You select drum kits by clicking on the folder icon as shown in Figure 1. This will open up a browser to the right with long list of kits that are available to you. Click the "Load" button to load all the samples into RMV's pads. To choose a beat click on the folder icon to open up the loop library as shown in Figure 2. I've gone for a straight four to floor beat called "ElectricRock1 (100)". You can preview the beat with your chosen kit from the browser window itself. Once you've chosen your beat you actually get it going by clicking on the play button to the right of the folder icon. Easy. And now to battle!

Figure 4

Be gentle with me We're going to be working from the "Z_Default" preset. Load it up and‌ nothing changes. For the moment we'll leave the top half of the "Input" section alone as it comes more into play once you've done some beat mangling as a way to add some of the original sound back into the mix. OK, let's see what happens‌ First we'll add a little delay to give a little bit of a swing to our loop by setting the Left and Right delay times to 1/8T and 1/8 respectively (Figure 3). Adjust the amount of delay using the "Wet" control. I've decided to keep it fairly low and the delay is felt most on the kick drum and, to a lesser extent on the hi-hats.

In general, as far as drums are concerned, you As we move into the main can go two ways with section of relectro's interface relectro - you can be pretty much anything goes. The gentle and just tweak a signal moves from left to right few bits and pieces here to the "Output" section starting and there whilst keeping with a "Compressor/Expander" the basic beat prominent then into the "Cut Filter" (Figure in your sound. Or you can 4). The Compressor/Expander go wild and crush, mangle has an immediate and and destroy your original significant effect on the signal beat to produce and you can easily change something completely new things to a mush at this point and different. so it's best to go easy on things so that you've got something left to work with later. The only February 2012


w e i v Re giving it a bit more oomph. It would also be fun to use host automation with this control. The "Fix" control is… unusual. It controls the length of each wave-cycle making them all the The Cut Filter has two controls - Hisame length as you reach the Cut and Lo-Cut. It acts as either a top of the slider. Again it's band-pass or band-reject filter another control that you need to depending on how you set the be careful with else you can lose controls. A bit of judicious use of the most of your signal. The "Note" two controls will get you anything control works hand in hand with from a series of bleeps and blops (if the Fix control to decide which that's even a word…) to a gentle note you're going to Fix - i.e. electronic fuzz. I've given all three which pitch should dominate in controls a gentle tweak which serves to break up the sound a small amount. relation to all of the others. It doesn't have a particularly notable effect on a drum loop Now we move into major mangling but should work well with a territory, as if what has come before synth. isn't enough. The next set of seven controls all deal with the pitch of the signal flowing through relectro (Figure Relectro's manual notes the difference between the Pitch 5). The "Mode" control, although it looks as though it's with the Cut Filter control and the combination of Fix and Note: "The difference is actually part of the pitch section. between PITCH and FIX/NOTE is The three modes are: that with PITCH you change the frequency of the audio material ♪ GAP - every gap in the output of relative to its original frequency, the Cut Filter remains as gap, i.e. while with FIX/NOTE you set it nothing added. to a predetermined pitch, no ♪ FILL - every gap is filled up using matter what pitch the audio the waveform that has just been material is at." played. This can lead to a stuttering kind of effect. The last three sliders - "Track" control available, though it's not marked as such, is the compression ratio - up to 60dB if that's what you want.

BLEND - the position and size of each gap is evaluated and is filled with a blend of the previous and the next wave-cycle.

You definitely need to experiment with the Mode button to determine what works best with your material. To my ears "Gap" makes things a little too hollow but "Fill" and "Blend" both produce fairly similar results. Next up is the "Pitch" control which allows you to change the pitch of the signal by a whole octave in either direction. For drums knocking the pitch down by a couple of semi-tones does wonders for the bass drum 106

Figure 5

Figure 6

and "Speed" (there are 2 Speed controls) belong with the Fix control. They are responsible for how Fix follows the material that it is working on. Track controls how far and Speed, funnily enough, how fast. One Speed control affects how fast you glide up and the other how fast you glide down - it's nice to have such control. These three controls are just crying out to be automated as you can create some quite interesting effects by keeping them moving. Following on from the Pitch section we come to the Wave section which could well be relectro's secret "crunch" weapon. First up the "Repeat" control February 2012

depending on where you set the level for this control relectro will repeat the preceding cycle of the waveform as long as it detects no cycle with a higher volume. Really the best thing to do with this control is play with it and see what it does. At low levels it'll add a bit of fuzz and grit and at high levels turn your loop into something that sounds like R2D2 on acid, just before he has a nervous breakdown… fun times. With a bit of careful manipulation of the controls in the Pitch section you could turn your loop into a fairly usable bass line. For me


relectro Part 2

menu will be displayed allowing you to choose your waveform directly - as shown in Figure 6. The Wave-Replace does exactly what its name might suggest - it replaces a wave, the current wave form "passing through" is gradually replaced by the chosen wave form. The more you move the slider to the right the more quickly this transformation takes place. As the manual notes, this is "sonically interesting". Again, if you opt for high levels you'll find yourself heading very quickly into the realms of 70s sci-fi. "Use some moderation Luke!" I found though, I think I prefer to keep that a small amount of "S+P High 1" Repeat at relatively low levels. gave a satisfactory amount of 'thud' Wave-Replace consists of two controls to my loop. - a slider to set the amount of the Finally, at least for the top half of the effect applied to your sound and a main section we have some equalizer button with two small arrows that allow you to select a waveform. If you controls. Nothing particularly fancy but useful for shaping your sound if click the text in the button a pop-up you feel Figure 8 the need.

Figure 7

Time's up In order not to turn this into some kind of epic and overlong article, I'm going to draw things to a close for this month but there is plenty more to be said about the combination of relectro and RMV that we've been using. Before I finish though it's maybe worth taking stock and seeing where we're up to so far. If you've been following along with your own copies of relectro and RMV you should have a reasonably gritty sounding loop that bounces along but which doesn't contain much in the way of movement - it's still not amazingly interesting. To spice things up a little more we need to turn to relectro's LFOs, Step Modulator and Matrix (Figure 8). These three items will be the focus of my next article. Until then‌ relectro and RMV can both be purchased from Demos are also available. relectro costs 79 US$ / 59 Euro and RMV costs 179 US$ / 139 Euro

February 2012


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LoopNation Prime Loops Vocal Allstars Series

Vocals Made Simple Prime Loops have been steadily building up their series, Vocal Allstars; now, a new addition, Let Go (Figure 1), brings the vocal series up to a lucky number thirteen. Since I've been fortunate enough to get the first seven in this worthy series, I thought it high time we explored what the lads (and lassies) have brought forth. Backstage Pass This is a 130 BPM loop construction kit, with a full-length, fully-mastered song, a bunch of one-shots that include not only the percussion and effects, but also the "King of Pop" vocal hook; all of the audio tracks are available as stems, and the over-two dozen construction kits allow seamless integration into your next mix. Prime Loops provides enough synth/pad variations to make the melody even more flexible. In Figure 3, I've started a new project in PreSonus Studio One. The full song is shown below, and I'm checking out the synth melody stem. The Prime Loops gang always seem to please; for me, the wow moment was the pad sound—I likes me some reversephasing. Yee-eh-sirr! Been A While This is a more laid back, R&B-flavored loop construction kit. The 104 BPM kit has a more relaxed vocal, plenty of vocal 108

by Ben Paturzo

harmony one-shots, a cappella hooks (in the original stems), and certainly plenty of construction kits (almost 30) for you to mix and match to your heart's content. The kids on the dance floor will plead for these sounds, especially as the need arises for some up-close-and-personal. A fully-mastered, full-length song is included.

Figure 1

Come With Me I hear this a lot from the local constabulary, but Come With Me (Figure 4), a 105 BPM kit, will bring the upclose-and-personal of Been A While to A Clear and Present Danger, if you happen to be the pops of yon hottie shaking her stuff. This mix is slow but sexy, with plenty of one-shots—there are several vocal harmonies alone— together with all audio tracks in original stems form, plus thirty-four construction kits. Puh-len-tee to work with, mates. A full-length tune is included. Drop It Down Low This 74 BPM kit will put a little distance between the dance partners, phew, as they slide into this very catchy vocal and rhythm mix. Forty-two loops in the construction kits will keep you mixing and matching into the wee hours. There are even some tubular bells (Yee-ehsirr!) to hopefully remind the hipswinging sinners, of church. Tsk tsk, y'all.

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Figure 2

Figure 3 Figure 4

As with all the Vocal Allstars Series, a premastered song is included.

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Last Thing I Say A 65 BPM anthem-style mix, with an infectious vocal, this kit is big on percussion. A thumping kick is slow and steady, providing a solid foundation for all the other percussive elements. There are piano and synth elements as well in the over thirty construction kits, allowing you to dial in just the right melody/percussion mix. A full-length song comes along for the ride, showing you what you can do with this kit.

Figure 8 Figure 9

Party Like Wow This 130 BPM kit will liven up the party, with a "King of Pop" vocal hook right off the charts, together with a driving beat that doesn't overpower the vocal. As with all Prime Loops offerings, this again shows professional-level loop compilation and arrangement. With thirty-nine construction kits, you will find lots of possibilities in this kit. Spin the fullymastered song and tell 'em it's yours. Hey, just mouth the words—Brittany does it. Shawty's A Keeper Wow. I just had a forehead-slapping epiphany. All these years of BritishDental-Hygiene jokes, and we got this, Figure 8. Well, you can get your grill on, and save your teeth—just include this kit in your DJ/MC grab bag. Shawty's A Keeper (Figure 9), a 120 BPM loop construction kit, will have you clapping yo' handz (out-of-sync), pelvis-swinging, 'til

da poh-leece crashes yo' crib. Or however it goes. Sniff. There are enough stems, one-shots, and construction kits—all recorded in pristine Prime Loops 24-bit quality—to generate lots o'mixes. Show-nuff. I was going to say get down, but I think I threw something out.

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The Series—Continues You can count on Prime Loops to continue the high-quality loops shown in the first seven kits. All of the Vocal Allstars are priced so reasonably you may be tempted to load up the shopping cart. Try out the demos on the web site and see for yourself. Mama dinnit raise no foolz, sucka!





Roagine by Adrian Frost

Hands up if you've ever heard of though that it looks quite fetching in LinPlug's "Roagine" synth? 1… 2… 3… red and blue and certainly stands out 4… plus you over there in the back… from the other synths that were OK, that's more than I was expecting. around at the time - synths such as Up until 2 days ago (relative to writing Neon, Atom and GakStoar that have this article at least) I never knew that already graced the pages of previous such a beast existed. As you can see Blast from the Past articles. from the picture accompanying this There is precious little information text, Roagine has an interesting interface - a cross between synth and available online about Roagine but sci-fi ductwork. It has to be said after a bit of time spent digging and 110

February 2012

searching I've turned up one of the original pages from that details Roagine's features. Thank you to the Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine! The instrument built for being percussive. Simplicity has its own strength. Find out how Roagine changes your percussion tracks.

Key features:

perform it Live! And whenever you turn one of Roagine's parameters the sound again got another timbre - just as if you make your cowbell bigger or change its material or the position you hit it. Check out the Inexhaustible Source of Percussion.

VST 2.0 plug-in virtual analog percussion instrument for PC, use for bass and percussion and even drums designed for studio and on stage use. All Parameters are to be controlled via MIDI Controllers, set up yours within one minute

Ultra fast operation with minimum of parameters that generate a broad variety of percussion sounds

True stereo sound with individual sound generation for left and right Purchasing Information: channel The license fee is 29 US $. You can purchase directly from our shop. Up to 24 note polyphonic (CPU Delivery typically in less than 24 hours. dependent)

Requirements: VST2.0-capable host software (see compatibility list) and a PC that matches the host software requirements (min. 300 MHz)

Linsener's typical humorous and engaging style - an example: "In the lower left corner you'll find the Pound parameter. You probably never had a Pound parameter before so be told that it changes the position in the stereo panorama as well as how Roagine sounds." A pan control that does more than pan it would seem. The most significant of Roagine's controls is found in the center of the synth - Drive. With the Drive control you can make immediate and drastic changes to Roagine timbre - from a fairly smooth sine (I think…) based tone to a gritty overdriven blast of sound.

The Depth control over to the right also turns out to be quite unusual - up Free pitch envelope assignment to to 4 octaves (up and down) of pitch timbre and base for decent as well change when you play a note. You as extreme effects month - was something quite new and can't control how quickly the note unique in the VST world - a dedicated arrives at its destination which does ♪ Fully recognized velocity + pitch limit the control's usefulness a little drum and bass machine that didn't bend -but who cares, it's fun! pretend that it was trying to do ♪ Sample accurate timing, full automation and settings are saved everything. Roagine shipped with a Up in the top right corner is a small single HTML page manual available in with your song button that gives us a good indication English and German. The manual of what was to come from future includes a description of all of the Simplicity: LinPlug synths. The button is the CC Roagine does not offer you all types of controls. control. I'll let Peter explain it: sounds like, for example our Delta. It The upper red shape is the percussion has a limited range, but that's its area and the lower one is for bass. To "The probably most important part for exact strength. You couldn't find any the right are the synth's pitch controls LIVE performing is the small CC instrument that gives you instantly button in the Pitch section. But it's no and a couple of other bits and pieces. the sound that Roagine gives you. Pitch parameter. It's the MIDI-CC The manual is written in Peter With all the variations and ability to

♪ ♪

128 user sound programs

Roagine, at the time of its release in October 2000 - it was announced to the world around the 7th or 8th of the

February 2012



(Continuous Controller) setup. After clicking on it is lit, indicating that an external Controller like Phat Boy or Pocket Control may now be assigned to the virtual knobs of the edit window. First change any parameter you like, perhaps the Drive parameter. Second move a knob on your hardware controller box. You should see the knob in the edit window following your knob movement on your hardware controller. You've done it! Now you can set up any parameter you like in this manner and switch off the CC button when you finished. This assignment will be saved with the song."


Roagine turns out to be a full blooded and fairly chunky sounding little synth. Not every control worked correctly or had a huge effect but Drive did what it was supposed to and turned Roagine from a fairly gentle animal into a snarling beast. I like it though there was a slightly odd problem that every fifth or sixth note up or down the keyboard was significantly louder than the others. Opps, sorry speakers. And there's more‌

has got me thinking about how we can best preserve our heritage before it all disappears into a stack of 404 pages and deleted articles. Even the Internet Archive hasn't managed to capture everything - there are gaps and holes all over the place and things seem to be vanishing at an astounding rate. Apparently the average "life" of any un-archived web page is about 70 days. It's time to act before we can't remember our own past.

I think I may be getting a bit of a Thanks to being able to talk with reputation around WSM as being people like Peter from LinPlug and something of a LinPlug fanboy. I am, I Dave Waugh of Muon Software (Atom am!! Finding Roagine along with and Atom Pro - WSM May 2011) some This is the forerunner to LinPlug's ECS Rupsta Alpha and Gamma, Gakstoar of our history has been safeguarded system for controller assignment. Omega and RM F - you've heard of all but "Blast from the Past" is a (very) those, right? - has been an absolute small contribution to keeping some of OK, after all of the talk you're dying to joy and you'll be learning more about our history around - and these things know what it sounds like. During my these synths in the coming months. too will pass. So, may I ask; as and trip to the Internet Archive I had the So, we'll just change this series' title when you come across orphaned good fortune to stumble on a still live to "Blast from the LinPlug Past information about old VSTs, note link to a download of the demo Fanboy Edition". where you found it, download and version of Roagine. So I downloaded it save what you can and then give me a and installed it in Reaper 4.0 and you A final thought. The VST world is shout - - and I'll try to follow it up. know what - it works more or less young - only just moving out if its without problems. Happy grins all infancy and turning into a surly round. teenager. Sadly though there is a real dearth of information about a huge Considering its age Roagine sounds number of the synths and effects that surprisingly good. I had to crank the laid the foundations of our hobby (or volume up a bit because it's quite a job!). Stumbling upon the Internet quiet synth but once the levels are up Archive's selection of LinPlug pages


February 2012


Profile for Wusik Dot Com

February 2012  

WSM February 2012

February 2012  

WSM February 2012

Profile for wusik

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