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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Mac

VCV Rack modular is about to get gamepad support

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 23 May 2018 4:14 pm

Computer or Eurorack, you still want to get those grubby hands on your sounds. So the latest update to the free and open modular platform Rack makes that cheap and easy, with gamepad support.

Developer Andrew Belt is clearly a busy man. His latest update maps from gamepads to virtual voltage inside the software modular environment. Watch via this — uh gentle ambient demo?

Anrew explains on Facebook:

Just added gamepad and computer keyboard support to VCV Rack, soon to be released in Rack 0.6.1.

Joysticks are mapped to voltages -10 to 10V for each axis using the MIDI-CC module from Core with the new “Gamepad” MIDI driver. Buttons can be converted to 10V gates using MIDI-Trig. Similarly to actual MIDI controllers, click the CC or note name display to learn/assign a gamepad joystick/button.

“But I don’t have a USB gamepad controller!”

They’re super cheap on eBay or Amazon by searching “usb gamepad” for around $10. Compare that with $300 MIDI controllers, and this is more fun per dollar if you’re on a budget (so you can save your money for the next upcoming VCV module!)

The “Computer Keyboard” driver supports the QWERTY US layout and spans two octaves with octave up/down buttons.

This update also adds the ability to use the same MIDI device on Windows with multiple virtual MIDI modules. Previously this was caused by the Windows MIDI API requiring exclusive access to each MIDI device, so having multiple instances would crash. I have written a MIDI “multiplexer” that solves this.

Good stuff. I can also imagine an ultra-portable sound rig with a compact PC and a gamepad and keyboard attached – running Linux, of course.


Speaking of Linux, until there’s native support in JACK at some point, hopefully, there’s already a hack for the best audio system on Linux (and the best way of piping sound between software):


Oh yeah, and while VCV Rack is free (with inexpensive software add-ons for high-quality modules), there is this problem – it could make you buy hardware.

The post VCV Rack modular is about to get gamepad support appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get a powerful spectral delay, free, in MSpectralDelay plug-in

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 23 May 2018 3:29 pm

What makes a delay more interesting? A delay that’s combined with spectral controls. What makes that better? Getting it for free. MSpectralDelay is here – and looks like a must-download.

It’s been a while – I’m sure I’m not alone in missing Native Instruments’ Spektral Delay, discontinued some years back. MSpectralDelay is a different animal – NI’s offering had a whopping 160 bands, whereas this has just six – but you do get a powerful, musical interface that lets you treat delays in a different way.

The idea is this: divide up your sound by frequency, with one to six bands, then add the delay effect with tempo sync and apply modulation.

What the developers Melda have done that set their offering apart is to provide really precise parameter controls with clear visual feedback, MIDI control of everything, and clever features like automatic gain compensation and a “safety” limiter to prevent you from overdriving the results.

Also surprising: not only is there mid/side processing, but you can set up to eight channels of surround, offering some spatial applications.

Melda plugins also feature some nice standard features like modulators with time signatures, morphing and preset recall, different channel modes, and more.

Full feature list from the devs:

The most advanced user interface on the market – stylable, resizable, GPU accelerated
Dual user interface, easy screen for beginners, edit screen for professionals
Unique visualisation engine with classic meters and time graphs
1-6 fully configurable independent bands
Adjustable oscillator shape technology
M/S, single channel, up to 8 channels surround processing…
Smart randomization
Automatic gain compensation (AGC)
Safety limiter
Adjustable up-sampling 1x-16x
Synchronization to host tempo
MIDI controllers with MIDI learn
64-bit processing and an unlimited sampling rate
Extremely fast, optimized for newest AVX2 capable processors
Global preset management and online preset exchange
Supports VST, VST3, AU and AAX interfaces on Windows & Mac, both 32-bit and 64-bit
No dongle nor internet access is required for activation
Free-for-life updates

There’s also this kind of funny demo video, which first explains why you want a delay, and then – as is custom in our industry – tell you that, naturally, everyone from complete beginners who barely know how to switch on their computer to advanced professionals will be able to have exactly the same experience because presets parameters blah blah.

That said… well, you do need a delay. And this is awesome. And beginners and pros will probably have fun with it. And there are presets. So… fair points, all.

Go grab it:


via Sonic State

Free download requires registration; the offer ends June 3.

The post Get a powerful spectral delay, free, in MSpectralDelay plug-in appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

FL Studio 20 for Windows and now Mac, with Hell-freezing functionality

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 22 May 2018 1:21 pm

FL Studio aka Fruity Loops has hit a version the developers are dubbing FL Studio 20. At age 20, the software still includes lifetime free updates – and a bunch of new features, including freezing of audio, and Hell freezing over.

The “Hell freezing over” bit you’ll see a lot around this release. It’s a reference to a claim developers Image-Line made that they’d add native Mac support “when Hell freezes over.” The comment at the time wasn’t so outrageous: FL Studio had been built a Windows-native development toolchain that made porting unthinkable. And while about ten years ago the company flirted with using emulation layer WINE to provide rudimentary support, that approach wasn’t terribly satisfying.

Now, Mac users can be first class FL Studio citizens if they so choose. FL Studio 20 is entirely Mac native – not running any kind of emulation. Of course, it may be hard to Image-Line to shake the Windows association, and some Mac users are coming the opposite direction, opting for the power-for-price ratio on Windows PCs. But the Mac still represents a huge portion of musicians, and this means choosing FL doesn’t require choosing a particular OS.

(I will say, though – a new Razer Blade is out. And even the old Razer Blade remains cheaper and better equipped than the Mac. Now you do have to disable some Windows 10 annoyances, like a CPU-hogging malware check and automatic updates on by default. Ahem.)

Hell isn’t the only thing FL Studio can freeze. You can now bounce selected audio and pattern clips to audio, render clips to audio, consolidate clips or tracks or takes by bouncing, and more. That’s a huge difference in the FL workflow.

There are plenty of other new features in version 20, too:

Time Signature support (both in playlists and patterns, independently – so, yes, polymetric support if you like – and you thought FL Studio was just for 4/4 trance.)

Playlist Arrangements. Here’s something I find I’m often missing in linear DAWs – you can now set up multiple alternate arrangements, including audio, automation, and pattern clips, all in one project. That could be massive for tasks from trying out alternative song ideas to specific game or live performance sound designs. (I could see a theater show design using this … or fitting a score to different versions of a film trailer … and so on.)

Plugin Delay Compensation, rebuilt. FL already had delay compensation, both automatic and plugin varieties, but it’s been rebuilt from the ground up, say the developers. And it sounds very useful: “Mixer send compensation, Wet/Dry mixer FX compensation, Audio input compensation, Metronome compensation, Plugin Wrapper custom values remembered per-plugin and improved PDC controls in the Mixer.”

Graph Editor is back! This should never really have left, but a “classic” FL feature has returned, letting you edit MIDI information from the Channel Rack – a very Fruity Loops workflow.

Better recording. There’s now a live display of recorded audio and automatic grouping of tracks as you record – both overdue but welcome.

There are loads of improvements to various plugins, of course, plus lots of other fixes and improvements. Details in the manual:

New Features in FL Studio 20

It’s also pretty remarkable that FL Studio has hit 20 years without ditching its lifetime free upgrade policy. FL users have a substantially different relationship with the software than do users of most typical DAWs, both because of its unique workflow and interface and that lifetime policy. But I’m personally intrigued to give it another go – bouncing and working delay compensation make a big dfference, and FL remains a peculiar, interesting toybox full of nice stuff. I think the fact that FL has perhaps not been taken as seriously as tools like Cubase or Ableton Live might itself be a badge of honor – if you can adapt to its often nonstandard ways of working, it offers some big rewards on a small budget.

Announcing FL STUDIO 20 [FL Studio News]

And… uff… Image-Line again launch with a video with truly terrible music. (Sorry, guys!) But… who cares? Go make whatever music you want in it. It’s a production tool!

How to watch the Image-Line launch video without clawing out your eadrums

Okay, so… I have a theory.

Maybe one reason people assume FL Studio is for people making terrible dance music is … because Image-Line (sorry, guys) insist on putting terrible dance music beds underneath the videos. Oh, sure, Ableton can throw a big posh party in Berlin and toss moody high-contrast artist photos beneath a stylish typeface they hired a London design consultancy to choose for them. FL Studio’s video is slightly more … uh … pedestrian.

So I’ve found a solution. First, cue up this delightful live performance of “Söngur heiftar” by classic Icelandic black metal band Misþyrming. It’s a little longer than the FL Studio 20 launch video, so don’t panic … you’ve got up to 60 seconds to then hit play on the FL Studio launch video, and hit the mute button in YouTube.

It’s the “Dark Side of the Moon” / Wizard of Oz approach to making music tech marketing videos more palatable. And it kind of fits. You’re welcome.

You’ll need the sound back on for this one, but here’s an extended tutorial video explaining what’s new:

The post FL Studio 20 for Windows and now Mac, with Hell-freezing functionality appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

iZotope adds modeling features to Vocal Synth, makes a creative bundle

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 10 May 2018 6:48 pm

Singing – it’s the simple most important human instrument, but it’s too often overlooked in technology. iZotope has doubled up on innovations there with Vocal Synth 2 – and in case you haven’t been keeping track, they’ve bundled all their production tools together into the new Creative Suite.

Vocal Synth 2 upgrade

Vocal Synth was already a compelling, semi-modular set of tools for processing vocals and applying vocal tech to incoming signal – something you can do creative stuff with whether you’re a singer, or a producer who sings, or a producer working with vocalists, or a producer pretending you can sing. (Yes, it’s useful even on other inputs, even if you lack the vocal chops yourself.)

It’s really, really good, but – the one thing I sort of expected when I first heard about the product was something like physical vocal modeling in the box. Now, sure enough, they’ve added just that.

So, Vocal Synth 2 delivers:

Biovox: A module for physical modeling of the human vocal track (with “science,” say iZotope), from nasality to formants. This isn’t something like Vocaloid – it’s not about voice synthesis or faking vocals – but in a way, it’s something more musically useful, a model of all the good stuff that happens inside your vocal tract and the resonant cavities in your head, delivered as an effect. That’s really important, because our perception is trained to take all this sort of nuance for granted.

There’s more, too…

Chorus and Ring Mod effects. Yep, less futuristic than Biovox, but very essential.

Improved Shred effect.

Advanced sound, advanced controls. So, hiding controls doesn’t always make things more intuitive – sometimes you actually want to dive down and get something that’s missing in the panel. iZotope say they’ve both improved the sound model, and added the ability to get advanced control over parameters, including “access to Vocoder band controls, per module Oscillator presets, and per module panning and filters.”

Integration with other plug-ins. Since iZotope are selling their production stuff as a suite, they’ve also added the ability for Vocal Synth 2 to show up in Neutron 2’s Masking Meter and Visual Mixer, and in Tonal Balance Control. That means a nice chance to apply Vocal Synth where it does – and doesn’t – belong.

I definitely will review this one soon; this stuff is very much up my alley, and a lot of yours’, I’m sure, too.

Creative Suite

Okay, those of us who also do design or video editing work may shudder and think of big monthly subscription fees from Adobe when we read those words but – don’t panic.

Creative Suite is just the new bundle of iZotope production tools. While they may be more well known for mastering and post production offerings, iZotope have applied sonic science to an impressive and unique stable of stuff you’d use when actually making the music and designing sounds. So, what had been “Creative Bundle” is now the more complete “Creative Suite.”

Included: VocalSynth 2, Iris 2, Trash 2 Expanded, BreakTweaker Expanded, Stutter Edit, DDLY, and Mobius Filter. (I’m pretty sure someone caught on that filter, because I’ve heard it cropping up in new releases. Don’t know if that’s CDM’s fault in part or not. But it is great fun.)

You can buy Creative Bundle for US$349 now, a steep discount, and then get the bigger Suite when it ships – including the new VocalSynth 2. See:


There are of course equivalent suites for the other interest areas – an RX Suite for post production and correction/cleanup, plus the O2N2 Bundle that covers mixing and mastering, including the industry favorite Ozone.

Yeah, Ozone – there are definitely some mastering engineers out there keeping big racks of impressive looking gear, then, like, doing most of the mastering on Ozone. (And why not? Just sayin’. Ducks…)


Coming Soon: VocalSynth 2 and New iZotope Creative Suite

The post iZotope adds modeling features to Vocal Synth, makes a creative bundle appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free new tools for Live 10 unlock 3D spatial audio, VR, AR

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Apr 2018 7:06 pm

Envelop began life by opening a space for exploring 3D sound, directed by Christopher Willits. But today, the nonprofit is also releasing a set of free spatial sound tools you can use in Ableton Live 10 – and we’ve got an exclusive first look.

First, let’s back up. Listening to sound in three dimensions is not just some high-tech gimmick. It’s how you hear naturally with two ears. The way that actually works is complex – the Wikipedia overview alone is dense – but close your eyes, tilt your head a little, and listen to what’s around you. Space is everything.

And just as in the leap from mono to stereo, space can change a musical mix – it allows clarity and composition of sonic elements in a new way, which can transform its impact. So it really feels like the time is right to add three dimensions to the experience of music and sound, personally and in performance.

Intuitively, 3D sound seems even more natural than visual counterparts. You don’t need to don weird new stuff on your head, or accept disorienting inputs, or rely on something like 19th century stereoscopic illusions. Sound is already as ephemeral as air (quite literally), and so, too, is 3D sound.

So, what’s holding us back?

Well, stereo sound required a chain of gear, from delivery to speaker. But those delivery mechanisms are fast evolving for 3D, and not just in terms of proprietary cinema setups.

But stereo audio also required something else to take off: mixers with pan pots. Stereo effects. (Okay, some musicians still don’t know how to use this and leave everything dead center, but that only proves my point.) Stereo only happened because tools made its use accessible to musicians.

Looking at something like Envelop’s new tools for Ableton Live 10, you see something like the equivalent of those first pan pots. Add some free devices to Live, and you can improvise with space, hear the results through headphones, and scale up to as many speakers as you want, or deliver to a growing, standardized set of virtual reality / 3D / game / immersive environments.

And that could open the floodgates for 3D mixing music. (Maybe even it could open your own floodgates there.)

Envelop tools for Live 10

Today, Envelope for Live (E4L) has hit GitHub. It’s not a completely free set of tools – you need the full version of Ableton Live Suite. Live 10 minimum is required (since it provides the requisite set of multi-point audio plumbing.) Provided you’re working from that as a base, though, musicians get a set of Max for Live-powered devices for working with spatial audio production and live performance, and developers get a set of tools for creating their own effects.

Start here for the download, installation instructions, and overview:


Read an overview of the system, and some basic explanations of how it works (including some definitions of 3D sound terminology):


And then find a getting started guide, routing, devices, and other reference materials on the wiki:


Here’s the basic idea of how the whole package works, though.

Output. There’s a Master Bus device that stands in for your output buses. It decodes your spatial audio, and adapts routing to however many speakers you’ve got connected – whether that’s just your headphones or four speakers or a huge speaker array. (That’s the advantage of having a scalable system – more on that in a moment.)

Sources. Live 10’s Mixer may be built largely with the idea of mixing tracks down to stereo, but you probably already think of it sort of as a set of particular musical materials – as sources. The Source Panner device, added to each track, lets you position that particular musical/sonic entity in three-dimensional space.

Processors. Any good 3D system needs not only 3D positioning, but also separate effects and tools – because normal delays, reverbs, and the like presume left/right or mid/side stereo output. (Part of what completes the immersive effect is hearing not only the positioning of the source, but reflections around it.)

In this package, you get:
Spinner: automates motion in 3D space horizontally and with vertical oscillations
B-Format Sampler: plays back existing Ambisonics wave files (think samples with spatial information already encoded in them)
B-Format Convolution Reverb: imagine a convolution reverb that works with three-dimensional information, not just two-dimensional – in other words, exactly what you’d want from a convolution reverb
Multi-Delay: cascading, three-dimensional delays out of a mono source
HOA Transform: without explaining Ambisonics, this basically molds and shapes the spatial sound field in real-time
Meter: Spatial metering. Cool.

Spinner, for automating movement.

Spatial multi-delay.

Convolution reverb, Ambisonics style.

Envelop SF and Envelop Satellite venues also have some LED effects, so you’ll find some devices for controlling those (which might also be useful templates for stuff you’re doing).

All of this spatial information is represented via a technique called Ambisonics. Basically, any spatial system – even stereo – involves applying some maths to determine relative amplitude and timing of a signal to create particular impressions of space and depth. What sets Ambisonics apart is, it represents the spatial field – the sphere of sound positions around the listener – separately from the individual speakers. So you can imagine your sound positions existing in some perfect virtual space, then being translated back to however many speakers are available.

This scalability really matters. Just want to check things out with headphones? Set your master device to “binaural,” and you’ll get a decent approximation through your headphones. Or set up four speakers in your studio, or eight. Or plug into a big array of speakers at a planetarium or a cinema. You just have to route the outputs, and the software decoding adapts.

Envelop is by no means the first set of tools to help you do this – the technique dates back to the 70s, and various software implementations have evolved over the years, many of them free – but it is uniquely easy to use inside Ableton Live.

Open source, standards

Free software. It’s significant that Envelop’s tools are available as free and open source. Max/MSP, Max for Live, and Ableton Live are proprietary tools, but the patches and externals exist independently, and a free license means you’re free to learn from or modify the code and patches. Plus, because they’re free in cost, you can share your projects across machines and users, provided everybody’s on Live 10 Suite.

Advanced Max/MSP users will probably already be familiar with the basic tools on which the Envelop team have built. They’re the work of the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology, at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste in Zurich, Switzerland. ICMST have produced a set of open source externals for Max/MSP:


Their site is a wealth of research and other free tools, many of them additionally applicable to fully free and open source environments like Pure Data and Csound.

But Live has always been uniquely accessible for trying out ideas. Building a set of friendly Live devices takes these tools and makes them make more sense in the Live paradigm.

Non-proprietary standards. There’s a strong push to proprietary techniques in spatial audio in the cinema – Dolby, for instance, we’re looking at you. But while proprietary technology and licensing may make sense for big cinema distributors, it’s absolute death for musicians, who likely want to tour with their work from place to place.

The underlying techniques here are all fully open and standardized. Ambisonics work with a whole lot of different 3D use cases, from personal VR to big live performances. By definition, they don’t define the sound space in a way that’s particular to any specific set of speakers, so they’re mobile by design.

The larger open ecosystem. Envelop will make these tools new to people who haven’t seen them before, but it’s also important that they share an approach, a basis in research, and technological compatibility with other tools.

That includes the German ZKM’s Zirkonium system, HoaLibrary (that repository is deprecated but links to a bunch of implementations for Pd, Csound, OpenFrameworks, and so on), and IRCAM’s SPAT. All these systems support ambisonics – some support other systems, too – and some or all components include free and open licensing.

I bring that up because I think Envelop is stronger for being part of that ecosystem. None of these systems requires a proprietary speaker delivery system – though they’ll work with those cinema setups, too, if called upon to do so. Musical techniques, and even some encoded spatial data, can transfer between systems.

That is, if you’re learning spatial sound as a kind of instrument, here you don’t have to learn each new corporate-controlled system as if it’s a new instrument, or remake your music to move from one setting to another.

Envelop, the physical version

You do need compelling venues to make spatial sound’s payoff apparent – and Envelop are building their own venues for musicians. Their Envelop SF venue is a permanent space in San Francisco, dedicated to spatial listening and research. Envelop Satellite is a mobile counterpart to that, which can tour festivals and so on.

Envelop SF: 32 speakers with speakers above. 24 speakers set in 3 rings of 8 (the speakers in the columns) + 4 subs, and 4 ceiling speakers. (28.4)

Envelop Satellite: 28 speakers. 24 in 3 rings + 4 subs (overhead speakers coming soon) (24.4)

The competition, as far as venues: 4DSOUND and Berlin’s Monom, which houses a 4DSOUND system, are similar in function, but use their own proprietary tools paired with the system. They’ve said they plan a mobile system, but no word on when it will be available. The Berlin Institute of Sound and Music’s Hexadome uses off-the-shelf ZKM and IRCAM tools and pairs projection surfaces. It’s a mobile system by design, but there’s nothing particularly unique about its sound array or toolset. In fact, you could certainly use Envelop’s tools with any of these venues, and I suspect some musicians will.

There are also many multi-speaker arrays housed in music venues, immersive audiovisual venues, planetariums, cinemas, and so on. So long as you can get access to multichannel interfacing with those systems, you could use Envelop for Live with all of these. The only obstacle, really, is whether these venues embrace immersive, 3D programming and live performance.

But if you thought you had to be Brian Eno to get to play with this stuff, that’s not likely to be the situation for long.

VR, AR, and beyond

In addition to venues, there’s also a growing ecosystem of products for production and delivery, one that spans musical venues and personal immersive media.

To put that more simply: after well over a century of recording devices and production products assuming mono or stereo, now they’re also accommodating the three dimensions your two ears and brain have always been able to perceive. And you’ll be able to enjoy the results whether you’re on your couch with a headset on, or whether you prefer to go out to a live venue.

Ambisonics-powered products now include Facebook 360, Google VR, Waves, GoPro, and others, with more on the way, for virtual and augmented reality. So you can use Live 10 and Envelop for Live as a production tool for making music and sound design for those environments.

Steinberg are adopting ambisonics, too (via Nuendo). Here’s Waves’ guide – they now make plug-ins that support the format, and this is perhaps easier to follow than the Wikipedia article (and relevant to Envelop for Live, too):


Ableton Live with Max for Live has served as an effective prototyping environment for audio plug-ins, too. So developers could pick up Envelop for Live’s components, try out an idea, and later turn that into other software or hardware.

I’m personally excited about these tools and the direction of live venues and new art experiences – well beyond what’s just in commercial VR and gaming. And I’ve worked enough on spatial audio systems to at least say, there’s real potential. I wouldn’t want to keep stereo panning to myself, so it’s great to get to share this with you, too. Let us know what you’d like to see in terms of coverage, tutorial or otherwise, and if there’s more you want to know from the Envelop team.

Thanks to Christoper Willits for his help on this.

More to follow…



Further reading

Inside a new immersive AV system, as Brian Eno premieres it in Berlin [Extensive coverage of the Hexadome system and how it works]

Here’s a report from the hacklab on 4DSOUND I co-hosted during Amsterdam Dance Event in 2014 – relevant to these other contexts, having open tools and more experimentation will expand our understanding of what’s possible, what works, and what doesn’t work:

Spatial Sound, in Play: Watch What Hackers Did in One Weekend with 4DSOUND

And some history and reflection on the significance of that system:
Spatial Audio, Explained: How the 4DSOUND System Could Change How You Hear [Videos]

Plus, for fun, here’s Robert Lippok [Raster] and me playing live on that system and exploring architecture in sound, as captured in a binaural recording by Frank Bretschneider [also Raster] during our performance for 2014 ADE. Binaural recording of spatial systems is really challenging, but I found it interesting in that it created its own sort of sonic entity. Frank’s work was just on the Hexadome.

One thing we couldn’t easily do was move that performance to other systems. Now, this begins to evolve.

The post Free new tools for Live 10 unlock 3D spatial audio, VR, AR appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The 90s are alive, with a free, modern clone of FastTracker II

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 24 Apr 2018 6:44 pm

It ran natively in MS-DOS, then died by the end of the 90s. But now it’s back: one of the greatest chip music trackers of all time has been cloned to run on modern machines.

FastTracker II will now run on Windows and Mac (and should run on Linux). The clone project started last year, but it seems to have picked up pace – a new set of binaries are out this week, and MIDI input support was added this month.

FastTracker II is a singular piece of software that helped define trackers, demoscene, and the music produced with it. If you’ve used it, I don’t really have to say more. If you haven’t, but you’ve used other trackers – even up to modern takes on the genre like Renoise – you’ve used software influenced by its design.

Like all trackers, the fundamental use of the tool is as a sequencer. But unlike other sequencer concepts – piano rolls which represent time visually like pianolas and music boxes do, multitrack recorders and DAWs modeled on mixers and tape, or notation views – the tracker is a natively computer-oriented tool. Its paradigm is simply about a vertical grid, with shortcuts for entry (represented as numerals) via the computer interface.

That makes trackers uncommonly quick via the computer interface. In the case of FastTracker II, you program every note and timbral change via mouse or keyboard shortcut, and it’s represented compactly in characters onscreen. FT2’s doubling up of mouse and keyboard shortcuts also makes it quick to learn and still quicker to use once you’ve mastered it.

In fact, firing up this build (in 64-bit on Windows 10, no less), I’m struck by how friendly and immediate it is. It’s not a bad introduction to the genre.

MIDI in is great, too, though MIDI out will “never” happen (in a message from the 13th of April).

But it’s kind of amazing this thing even exists. The clone is built in SDL, a cross-platform media library, the work of one Olav “8bitbubsy” Sørensen, who apparently got permission to do this. And it was never supposed to even happen. Heck, the thing was even buried with this note:

“FT2 has been put on hold indefinitely. […] If this was an ideal world, where there was infinite time and no need to make a living, there would definitely be a multiplatform Fasttracker3. Unfortunately this world is nothing like that.”

So, we may not live in an ideal world. But we live in a world where FT2 again runs on our machines. (Amiga fans, there’s also a ProTracker clone.)

Download it:


Thanks to Nicolas Bougaïeff for this one, fresh off his Berghain debut. I want some new chip music from you, man.

And it’s … like the 90s are alive.

The post The 90s are alive, with a free, modern clone of FastTracker II appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How to try GPU-accelerated live visuals in a few steps, for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Apr 2018 11:59 am

The growing power of gaming architectures for visuals has a side benefit: it can produce elaborate visuals without touching the CPU, which is busy on musicians’ machines dealing with sound.

But how do you go about exploring some of that power? The code language spoken natively by the GPU is a little frightening at first. Fortunately, you can actually have a play in a few minutes. It’s easy enough that I prepared this lightning tutorial:

I shared this with the #RazerMusic program as it’s in fact a good artistic application for laptops with gaming architectures – and it’s terrific having that NVIDIA GTX 1060 with 6 GB of memory. (This example can’t even begin to show that off, in fact.) These steps will work on the Mac, too, though.

I’m stealing a demo here. Isadora creator Mark Coniglio showed off his team’s GLSL support more or less like this when they unveiled the feature at the Isadora Werkstatt a couple of summers ago. But Isadora, while known among a handful of live visualists and people working with dance and theater tech, itself I think is underrated. And sure enough, this support makes the powers of GLSL friendly to non-programmers. You can grab some shader code and then modify parameters or combine with other effects, modular style, without delving into the code itself. Or if you are learning (or experienced, even) with GLSL, Isadora provides an uncommonly convenient environment to work with graphics-accelerated generative visuals and effects.

If you’re not quite ready to commit to the tool, Isadora has a full-functioning demo version so you can get this far – and look around and decide if buying a license is right for you. What I do like about it is, apart from some easy-to-use patching powers, Isadora’s scene-based architecture works well in live music, theater, dance, and other performance arts. (I still happily use it alongside stuff like Processing, Open Frameworks, and Touch Designer.)

There is a lot of possibility here. And if you dig around, you’ll see pretty radically different aesthetics are possible, too.

Here’s an experiment also using mods to the GLSL facility in Isadora, by Czech artist Gabriela Prochazka (as I jam on one of my tunes live).




Planning to do more like this, so open to requests!

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Maschine adds loop recording, controls Apple Logic, more

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 5 Apr 2018 9:43 pm

Native Instruments quietly stuffed a bunch of little improvements into its Maschine groove production tool today – including the ability to control Apple Logic and at last, to record loops.

It’s only called 2.7.3, but it shows NI are continuing to smooth out workflow and integration in their software.

The big one: loop recording. So, Maschine already had a Sampler device, for recording workflows, and recently added the much-requested ability to play audio via the Audio plug-in. What you couldn’t do – which obviously you want to do – was record into that loop mode. Now, at last, there’s a LOOP recording mode in the Record tab.

It also works the way you need to for live use (or spontaneous use in the studio). Recording is quantized to the start of the pattern, and once you finish recording, the loop automatically starts playing back from the Audio device.

So you can record loops with this thing. It’s about time. The whole point of Maschine from the start was to incorporate the ease of working with hardware. And what do people do with hardware? They sample, and record loops.

Of course, since it’s also a plug-in host, you can grab those loops from plug-ins, Reaktor Blocks patches, whatever – in addition to mic and external inputs.

NI overcame another important limitation of the way they had first implemented their new Audio plug-in. You can now enable and disable playback of the Audio device per Pattern, and enable/disable via the STEP page on hardware. This also means you can put full tracks in your set (if you set the loop length long enough).

That’s a big deal, too: now you can take full tracks and stems and mix them in with a set, essential for hybrid use – without combining Maschine with other software.

I’d like to see more control over how the Audio plug-in works; it’s still sometimes mind-bogglingly primitive. But this is a start.

Maschine MK3 updates

As you might expect, NI are also bringing some additional enhancements to their new MK3 hardware. It now has an Ideas View (a lot like Ableton Live’s Session View, but rooted in the Maschine paradigm). And its 4-wheel encoder can now do some clever event editing – select, nudge, pitch-shift, and change length of notes. That’s another reason not to look at your computer – try hiding it under the stage.

You can also record events directly, and MK3 gets velocity curves, too.

Apple Logic Pro integration

You can access the Logic mixer via the MK3 hardware, too, with a new template, as well as adjust pan, mute, and solo. You can also trigger Logic’s Play / Stop / Record, Quantize, Undo / Redo, Automation Toggle, Tap Tempo, and Loop Toggle General.

This sort of functionality is already on NI’s keyboard line, and it’s hugely useful when you want to track ideas quickly. Plus, with Apple adding some great effects, sequencers, and the like, the one thing they’re lacking is a really good drum machine. So the Maschine – Logic combo I think could be terrific; I’ll be using it to start some new ideas. (Sorry, Ultrabeat and Drummer but … you’re just not really my thing.)

Sculpture techno? Yes.

Having used NI’s Maschine Jam template, I hope we also see enhanced Ableton Live support in the future.

More scales

NI keeps adding more scales to Komplete Kontrol; now those come to Maschine, too.

Other fixes and tweaks abound. This was a lot in just a small update, so I’m curious what’s next.

Note: as with a lot of vendors, NI will drop 32-bit plug-in and standalone support. So if you’re on an old machine, you may want to maintain the last version. 64-bit is the way to go, though: more use of memory, and fewer crashes when you run out of it. It’s time. (You can read what I wrote about Ableton’s move to 64-bit only for an explanation of why it makes sense. The same holds here.)


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A free download turns Reaktor into a powerful Buchla modular emulation

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 14 Mar 2018 7:14 pm

West Coast synthesis is yours for a song, by combining a free/donationware download with Reaktor. And now Cloudlab 200t just got a major V2 upgrade.

First, okay – this is not an authorized Buchla product. The Buchla legacy is alive in hardware and software forms. The Buchla Easel got a full-blown remake from Arturia. The Twisted Waveform Generator module has an official remake from Softube – though it’s silly spendy, at US$99. (That’s the price of some actual hardware module kits, or halfway to getting Reaktor!) And of course Buchla the hardware company are back in action with some of the original engineers.

But that’s besides the point: this is in Reaktor. And because it’s in Reaktor, you can pick it apart from the outside in and see how it works. And you can combine it with other Reaktor stuff, and then run the result as a plug-in. That’s something unique – ever wondered what a granular patch would sound like routed through some Buchla effects, for instance?

Does it sound any good? Yes – enough so that colleagues who have spent considerable time on Buchla hardware say they appreciate it. It certainly replicates the control layout and basic ideas of the Buchla, even if it has its own unique sound.

There’s one major downside of Reaktor: all the patching is hidden in the structure. That’s pretty weird if you’re use to patching on the front panel, as on hardware (and software emulations). But it will be familiar to Reaktor users, and it means the control layout on the Buchla is clean – even if there’s some tension behind the way the Buchla was conceived and how it works here.

In version 2, you get some significant updates – starting most importantly with clock sync:

External clock. Any gate in or clock out can be synced to external input, and the 266t Chronikler gets a clock output. Now you can sync to DAWs – or, if you like, stuff like VCV Rack.

Lemur control works both ways. The popular iPad and Android controller app now gets parameters back from Cloudlab, so it responds in realtime.

More noise. Noise sources on the 266t Noise module now include -3 Pink, Flat, and +3 White noise. If this makes you swoon as it does me, then you’re definitely a synth nerd. (Flat is labeled “Buchlesque,” a word I hope to now apply in completely inappropriate situations…)

Easier on the CPU. You’ll still want a hefty processor, but this version promises to be more stable and efficient, says the developer.

More modules. 227t Output interface & 248t Multiple Sequential Generator.

Be sure to make a donation if you like this.

It’s also wonderful to see these ideas spreading. From efforts like this to the rising stardom of people like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, it’s now not uncommon to meet aspiring musicians on the street who know the name Buchla. That’s a sea change from a few short years ago, when people might know the name “Moog” (and pronounce in a way that rhymes with a sound a cow makes), and referred to all computer production simply by “Pro Tools.” Now, they’re very likely to start lecturing you on their thoughts on West Coast versus East Coast synthesis or tell you what oscillator module their favorite producer just started raving about.

And that’s relevant here, too. It means Reaktor can help spread the viral interest in esoteric synthesis. And that means Native Instruments customers are likely to want to do more than just dial up presets. And certainly as the Buchla brand and other lesser-known names catch up with the giants like Roland, Moog, and KORG, we’re seeing synth lovers willing to look to hardware and software from a greater variety of models.

I’d say this could be overwhelming, but – I think that ignores the possibilities of sound. Once you dive into the Buchla Way, you may just find yourself … really happy.

Let us know if you make some sounds with this.

Big thanks to the wonderful Synth Anatomy where I saw this first:

Cloudlab 200t V2 Released – A Stunning Buchla Based Modular Synthesizer For Reaktor 6

The gorgeous GUI comes from David Frappaz

Trevor Gavilan, who designed and programmed the ensemble, has also used it to make some of his own music. Here’s something entirely produced in just one instance:

More information and download at the NI Reaktor User Library:

Cloudlab 200t V2

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Arturia now let you add classic filters and preamps to anything

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Mar 2018 1:49 pm

Here’s a simple sales pitch: preamps and filters you’ll actually use. No, seriously – that’s the real product name. Here’s a look at what Arturia just unveiled.

It does seem these days we’re being offered recreations of the same gear in a slightly dizzying combination, but here’s another set. Arturia this time have come up with models of three preamps, plus three filters.

Of the two sets, the filters seem the most useful. (We’d have to do a proper shootout – maybe with blind A/B testing and the original gear – because the pres are everywhere.) The filters, for their part, are a unique take: the fact that you can just tear off these popular filters and insert them wherever you want.

Here’s what you’ve got, with those cheeky product names:

3 Preamps You’ll Actually Use
1073-Pre = Rupert Neve solid-state preamp, with different transformers selectable
TridA-Pre = Trident Studio A range
V76-Pre = Telefunken tube (hello “White Album”), now with shelf EQ

To be fair, some of these models are glued into something else (like a channel strip model), so it’s potentially useful to have dedicated models like this.

3 Filters You’ll Actually Use

SEM-Filter = Oberheim meets a sequencer
Mini-Filter = Moog ladder filter
M12-Filter = Tom Oberheim Matrix-12 multi-mode filters

Here’s where this all gets interesting – that M12. You get twin filters, random generators, a modulation matrix, and programmable envelopes. So these three filter tools essentially add modular filtering to anywhere you want it in a DAW – and that’s a big deal.

And the filters are the good deal, too – US$99 intro price. (After that, it’s $199 – but a hundred bucks for this could unlock a really powerful sound tool).

The pres are $199 intro, $299 after that. That’s in more competitive waters, as there are quite a few models you can get for those prices. Arturia do have an interesting take on the design and UI here, at least.

Existing Arturia users will find their pricing gets a whole lot cheaper… and that’s where I suspect these suddenly get more tempting.

Now, all that said, if you really want a bargain buy, consider investing in something like Reaktor, which is an entire, open modular environment for the price of what a lot of standalone tools are these days. (Or Max/MSP. Or VCV Rack or Pd, which get yo into this for free – if you’re willing to invest an amount of time – okay, to be fair, sometimes a considerable amount of time!)

But those filters look tasty. And it’s simply awesome being able to drop them anywhere you want in a DAW! (This pairs nicely with that sequenced filter that just got added to Apple’s Logic. I see a lot of filtering in our future.)

The best way to understand what’s here is in the pics, so have a look.


Here’s the best bit – getting the Matrix-12 anywhere you want it, complete with powerful modulation and envelope options.

SEM and still more sequencing.

Minimoog filter mania.

Telefunken pre.

Trident. (The preamp, not the missile.)

And of course, Yet Another Neve emulation.

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Mammut is free software that does completely insane things to sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 27 Feb 2018 4:25 pm

From the darkest arts in auditory alchemy, you can find gems like Mammut, a free tool that will utterly mangle digital audio into forms beautiful and chaotic.

And I mean really weird. From producing eerie, smeared convolutions of files to manipulating the spectrum of a sound in ways that are actually unlistenable (as in, they cause excruciating pain), Mammut is delightfully un-commercial and totally unpredictable.

Here’s how this all started. Last week, I noticed that popular time stretching algorithm PaulStretch had found its way into a convenient plug-in form for Mac and Windows. That opened the floodgates to lots of discussion of where to find similar tools.

If you want PaulStretch, it’s worth checking out the original, or the version now baked into free sound editor Audacity:


More tools also came up with Soundhack. As creator Tom Erbe wrote me (after I mentioned I loved his software for doing convolution all the way back to the mid 90s), he mentioned:

“++spiralstretch does a pvoc stretch on realtime incoming sound with up to 8 overlapping “stretchers”. also does granular stretching for a less spectral sound. (shameless plug)”


Mammut represents a different path to strange noises. You know you’re in for something out of the ordinary from the moment you launch it, and are treated to a woodcut of a woolly mammoth and some braying animal noises and … wind … or something. Then, with that dizzying animation looping in the background, you load a sound. You’re then able to directly manipulate the spectrum of the sound, via a seemingly random assortment of tabs with different functions. These have descriptions that range from detailed and useful to glib to … tabs that have no explanation at all, or one that says “Rather useless.”

Okay, then!

There’s some beautiful stuff in there. In addition to being able to edit a spectrum directly, you can apply more beautiful time stretching and features like convolution, which combines audio waveforms by spectra.

And there’s undo/redo, too, accessed by up and down arrows in the middle of the interface, so you can back out of decisions that just screwed up the sound. (Those you’ll find pretty readily!)

As the creators describe it:

Mammut is a rather unpredictable program, and the user must get used to letting go of control over the time axis. The sounding results are often surprising and exciting. Mammut is also ideal for common operations such as filtering, spectrum shift and convolution and it provides an optimal performance.

Mammut is old software, from pre-2007, but thanks to being built in the free JUCE environment still compiles and runs nicely. It’s a project of Notam, the electronic art research center in Oslo, and developed by Øyvind Hammer, with a UI by Kjetil Matheussen.

The “mammoth” reference is because it takes the FFT of the whole sound file at once instead of using windows / chunks of the sound. While the results here are radical, similar techniques find more practical applications – like building a smooth waveform pad synth.

Anyway, I suspect you can from here go down either a link hole looking at that research and the engineering side, or get lost playing with sounds.


I wound up making sounds with it, including convolutions of other productions I was working on, and assembled a track:

In honor of Mammut, I think it’s also only appropriate to paste in this film – enjoy!

Thanks to Jhh Löwengard for the tip!

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Serato DJ gets more modern features, no longer requires hardware

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 26 Feb 2018 9:15 pm

Serato’s new software gets support for 64-bit and high-resolution displays – and now you can run it in “practice mode” without having to plug in a controller. Hello, prepping on airplanes.

And in very big news, Serato Lite (formerly Serato Intro) now runs without any license or any controller at all. So you can get going for free – and plug in entry-level controllers if you like.

Some software releases you can just meet with “ah, finally.” And that’s the case here. Serato’s newest update isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it’s good news both to current Serato users and to people who found limitations on past versions were an obstacle.

You will have to get used to some (slightly annoying) name changes. Serato Intro is now Serato Lite. Serato DJ is now, for no good reason at all, Serato DJ Pro.

But let’s forgive them the nomenclature, because whatever they want to call it, this is good news. Got a Serato DJ license? You get Serato DJ Pro for free. Plug in a controller? Works as it always did.

What’s new is, you can now use Serato DJ in 2-deck “Practice Mode” and go ahead and mix without hardware. That’s a good thing, too, as those supported hardware controllers tend not to always fit in bus and coach airplane seats or comfortable while you lie in bed or on the couch. Now, you can mess around with new tracks in Serato, as you should.

Practice mode, in the new Serato DJ Pro.

This also means you can give Serato a try and see if you like it without going out and buying hardware. So it’s likely to help bring new users into the fold.

Yes, I know virtually every other DJ tool on the planet already works this way. But that’s why it’s nice to finally see this come to Serato.

Serato DJ Pro gets some other modernization. 64-bit support brings better performance and stability. Think increased access to memory, plus fewer crashes as a result of out of memory issues. And there’s improved support for high resolution screens – so this will look better on your nice new display or MacBook Pro or other laptop.

There are other UI enhancements (pictured here), and – also a big “finally!” here – there’s better help and support built into the tool.

All of this is worth mentioning, because frankly lots of areas of Serato are really better than rivals, yet they’ve been held back by these limitations. I’m going to hang on to a Roland DJ-202 controller as I really like mixing and remixing in Serato, and those decks are so responsive as to make mixing fun. (Yes, even with “sync” mode off.)

You can download the new software now.


Images of the new UI courtesy Serato.

Serato DJ Lite now looks like this – and also works without hardware.

In performance mode, with hardware attached, you get an expanded Serato DJ Lite interface.

Performance mode in Serato DJ Pro, now featuring an enhanced UI and high-res display support (such as Retina Display from Apple).

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An online and mobile DAW called BandLab just acquired Cakewalk’s IP

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 23 Feb 2018 3:42 pm

Cakewalk may not be all dead. A developer of online and mobile music creation tools has snapped up the former PC DAW maker’s complete intellectual property.

As I wrote earlier this week, Gibson Brands, the guitar maker-turned-wannabe consumer electronics giant, is hard up for cash. So, while they discontinued operation of their Cakewalk division, apparently they had not found a buyer for one of pro audio’s biggest names.

That changes today. Signapore-based BandLab announced they’ve acquired the “complete” intellectual property and “certain assets” in a deal with Gibson. There’s no word on what those assets are, and BandLab say they’re not making any additional announcement about the specifics – so we don’t know how much cash Gibson got or what those assets were. If the Nashville Post numbers are correct, it seems this will make little difference to Gibson’s debts, but that’s another story.

So Cakewalk’s codebase, product line, trademarks, everything go to BandLab. BandLab also has confirmed to CDM that some former Cakewalk team members will join the new company. (That itself is big news.)

And there’s some relief here: all those thirty years of accumulated expertise in making music software may not go entirely to waste.

BandLab is a familiar idea. There’s a mobile app with multiple tracks, automatic pitch correction, guitar/bass/vocal effects, and cloud sync, plus a grid-style riff interface and more traditional track layout. And there’s a free online tool you can use to collaborate with other people on the Internet and DAW features.

BandLab’s browser-based DAW.

Of the two, it’s the online DAW that looks most interesting, at least in that it’s more ambitious about incorporating desktop tools than some rivals. There’s built-in time stretching, automation, a guitar amp, and virtual instruments, for instance. I’m impressed on paper at least – I hadn’t heard of BandLab before today, to be honest, though it’s easy to lose track of various competing online solutions out there, since they tend to be somewhat similar.

And that raises the question – what’s the Cakewalk angle for BandLab?

I presumed on first blush this would be limited to assets relevant to their existing mobile products, but it seems it’s more than that. From the official press statement, it sounds as though you’ll see Cakewalk’s line of software – possibly including the flagship DAW SONAR, virtual instruments, and other tools – continue under the BandLab name. That’s been the case with other acquisitions of media creation software, if with mixed results in terms of development pace. From the press statement:

The teams at both Gibson and BandLab felt that Cakewalk’s products deserved a new home where development could continue. We are pleased to be supporting Cakewalk’s passionate community of creators to ensure they have access to the best possible features and music products under the BandLab Technologies banner.

[emphasis mine]

Then there’s the product that was just seeing the light of day right when Gibson shuttered Cakewalk operations, the one with the unintentionally ironic name:


Momentum even looks quite a bit like BandLab’s mobile app. The mobile app and cloud sync solution runs on iOS and Android, with four-track recording, editing, looping and effects. And it cleverly captures ideas as recordings (via something with the dreadful name “Ideaspace”), then makes them available everywhere.

Momentum also has something that BandLab lacks – a VST/AU/AAX plug-in for Mac and Windows. Here’s the thing: it’s all fine and well to start talking about making music making easier, and reaching people with phone and browser apps. But even though big desktop DAWs don’t look terribly friendly, they’re still reasonably popular. Ableton Live alone has a user base the size of most major cities. Adding that plug-in could bridge Cakewalk’s product line and other desktop products with BandLab’s own mobile solutions.

And it’s not just the plug-in – Momentum also had an integrated cloud sync service and server-side infrastructure. (Plus don’t forget the ScratchPad iOS app. Well… maybe.)

BandLab’s mobile apps might be complemented either by Cakewalk’s mobile/cloud offerings or desktop products – or both.

So, we’ll see what BandLab are planning. Of course, the nostalgic part of me wants to see some of the soul of Cakewalk in what they do.

It seems from the way BandLab are handling the announcement that they share some of the same emotional attachment to Cakewalk that a lot of us do. For evidence, see what they’ve done to Cakewalk’s website, where there’s a headline reading:

“The news you’ve all been hoping for…”

Follow through to their own http://cakewalk.bandlab.com landing page for the acquisition, and there’s a charming ASCII art reading Cakewalk and a line reading “Cakewalk is dead. Long live Cakewalk!”

I’ve asked if any of the former Cakewalk team are joining the new effort. That would inspire more confidence than just selling these DAWs with minimal updates as-is. BandLab for their part promise a product roadmap and other details soon.


So yeah, Cakewalk? Dead?

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Arturia AudioFuse Review: the tiny square that packs nearly everything

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 22 Feb 2018 2:54 am

There are some exceptional audio interfaces out there. But Arturia stands out by cramming an unusual amount of connectivity in an ultra-mobile package.

Look, when it comes to audio interfaces, compromise is the name of the game. The interface either never has every single port you want, or … it does, but it’s big. And computer operating systems remain an obstacle – especially once you’re beyond what theoretically should work, and into the realm of now something is popping and I better turn up the buffer size. Some of this is in the hands of manufacturers; some is decidedly not. (Computer and OS makers, I’m looking at you. Yes, you. Music – it’s kind of important to human civilization. Check it out some time.)

What’s impressive about Arturia’s AudioFuse is that they seem to have taken to heart a lot of the wishes of the mobile musician – and actually delivered.

I’ve had my hands on the AudioFuse for some time now, long enough to torture test it with both my Mac and PC in a variety of live and studio conditions. And I can share what I’ve been sharing with friends about it – this is easily on my short list of easy-to-recommend audio interfaces. (More on the others at the end.)

What the AudioFuse manages to pull off, and this isn’t easy, is maximizing flexibility in a variety of situations while still fitting into an enclosure small enough that you may always keep it in your backpack.

Plug-and-play, reliable performance

First, one feature that makes the AudioFuse essential to keep around is, it’s USB 2.0 class-compliant, driver free. With this amount of I/O, USB 2.0 makes this box far more flexible and compatible. Officially, that means Mac and Windows support that’s plug-and-play. But unofficially, that means Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS, and Android, too.

You will need Mac or Windows to run the AudioFuse Control Center for additional configuration options. But I’ve happily dual-booted to Linux on my PC and gotten great results from the box. And there’s enough onboard control that I didn’t feel stranded without the software control panel, even though it’s useful in some situations. Meanwhile, the AudioFuse remembers all of its settings after you disconnect from the control panel.

You mileage may vary, but I got extremely reliable results with a 64 sample buffer size, which means well under 10 ms latency, on Mac, Windows, and Linux with a variety of tools. Remember that with latency the point isn’t just paper specs or whether the audio interface can run with a small buffer size; it’s whether you consistently remain without pops at that small buffer size. For me, the Arturia out-performed a number of USB devices laying around my studio.

If you have a single OS environment, and you don’t mind installing drivers, you may well best the AudioFuse’s performance. And I would consider Thunderbolt/USB3 if you want to use more I/O than the AudioFuse has onboard. But I find there’s some comfort in knowing I’m traveling with an interface I can plug into a different computer without worrying about driver installation, and I like owning at least one box like the AudioFuse that can work outside just Mac and Windows.

Connect nearly everything

Wow, did someone hear or intuit what I wanted in I/O (with one caveat below):

4 inputs: 2 XLR mic ins, 2 phono/line ins
2 RIAA phono preamps (seriously)
4 analog outputs
2 analog inserts
ADAT in/out
S/PDIF in/out
Word clock in/out
3-port USB hub
2(!) independent headphone jacks
MIDI in/out (via minijack adapters)


Including MIDI, the USB hub, and separate headphone jacks alone makes this a huge boon to the mobile musician. And everything works as advertised – plus it all runs via bus power if you like (adjusting automatically to allow it to do so). A bit on the power modes:

USB is via micro USB. That may sound fidgety, but structurally I’ve found these to be sound. The included cable has a second USB connection, but if you lose your cable, you can swap a phone cable – also critical, because it means again the interface will still function when you’re on the road and misplaced a cable or someone lifted it from you. Uh… not that those things ever happen.

Arturia advertises their own, built-from-scratch mic pres. They certainly sounded transparent to me, and I appreciate that they get their own signal path. And you’ve got onboard 48V phantom power plus a multi-level pad and auto-impedance matching. Basically, you can more or less plug anything into this and forget about it. 24-bit 192kHz may sound like overkill, but then – quite literally, friends and I have lately got interested in recording ultrasonic birdsong and bat noises, so there’s that.

There are also unique monitoring settings, like handy summing to mono. (Having once had my trusty mastering engineer yell at me when I accidentally sent something that had phase cancellation problems, thanks for this!)

The one thing I’m missing here is more than four outputs. With some serious multichannel output situations becoming more commonplace, that means the AudioFuse isn’t quite the last interface I’d ever need to own. (Someone somewhere is saying the same about the inputs.) But let’s not consider the fact that the whole thing is a tiny square. Speaking of which:

That form factor / UX

Arturia really nailed it here. This is the one audio interface with a decent selection of I/O I can comfortably drop in a backpack or suitcase without worry, thanks to its small size, low weight, and a cute and indispensable cover. That’s not just for looks – a lot of audio interfaces have some dangerously exposed controls. (It does look nice, too, of course.)

I’m also a fan of the top panel. There’s a big knob, certainly reminiscent of interfaces from Universal Audio and others, plus dedicated meters for input and output and gain and phone knobs, plus shortcut keys and a cleverly-positioned dial for adjusting whether you monitor from the computer source or direct through the interface.

Arturia were clearly inspired by Universal Audio both in those dials and the displays. (Not to be outdone, UA also have a slick new box called the Arrow. Upside: Thunderbolt, DSP processing. Downside: far less connectivity.)

Here, I’ll link directly to Sound on Sound and say everything Sam says about monitoring is absolutely true. (Sam, I’m not cribbing your review notes – I just definitely can say I can directly count myself with the opposite use case!)

I can be even less diplomatic than Sam and say, if you want an audio interface that doubles as a (sub)mixer, or if you want particular control over what goes to the monitor mix, forget the AudioFuse and go with something else.

But —

If you just want to quickly plug in some inputs and then reach one dial that’s either the computer or whatever input you’ve got, the AudioFuse makes sense. That is, if you literally aren’t thinking about what’s plugged in – and quite often in the heat of the moment onstage or on the road recording, you really aren’t – it’s great. Monitoring, like connectivity, are about instant plug and play. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that; I’d say what this box does is suit this particular use case.


As a versatile all-around mobile interface, I love the AudioFuse. I’d still choose the Universal Audio Apollo Twin for audio quality, and the ability to add processing via UA’s effects without adding round-trip latency through the computer. I’d consider MOTU and RME for adding more I/O, too (especially if you don’t need or want the UAD effects), and certainly MOTU for its unique AV applications and mixer operation. Thunderbolt really does look like the future for more advanced applications.

MOTU is worth an additional mention for being universally compatible with their 828es, which has both Thunderbolt and USB. And that’s the box you want if you find the AudioFuse appealing but want more I/O and real standalone mixing operation, plus better performance.

But that also slightly misses the point. You wouldn’t throw an 828es into a backpack and take it with you everywhere. The AudioFuse, you would. And all musicians don’t always travel with road cases.

And that’s why one size doesn’t really fit all. But for under $/EUR600, in a small size that does fit everywhere, the AudioFuse is worth a look. Now, note to Arturia – if this is a big hit, a micro edition might make sense. Or an expanded box that’s a rectangle rather than a square for a little more I/O. In the meantime, I’ve got to go pack my backpack and get a move on.


Got another audio interface you’re using? One you prefer? Let us know in comments.

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A free plug-in brings extreme PaulStretch stretching to your DAW

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 20 Feb 2018 5:21 pm

You’ve heard Justin Bieber mangled into gorgeous ambient cascades of sound. Now, you can experience the magic of PaulStretch as a free plug-in.

It may give you that “A-ha” moment in ambient music. You know:

The developer has various warnings about using this plug-in, which for me make me want to use it even more. (Hey, no latency reporting to the DAW? Something weird in Cubase! No manual? Who cares! Let’s give it a go – first I’m going to run with scissors to grab a beer which I’ll drink at my laptop!)


The plugin is only suitable for radical transformation of sounds. It is not suitable at all for subtle time corrections and such. Ambient music and sound design are probably the most suitable use cases.

You had me at radical / not subtle.

Okay… yeah, this was probably meant for me:

You can use it two ways: either load an audio file, and just run PaulStretch in your DAW, or use it as a live processor on inputs. (That’s weird, given what it does – hey, there was some latency. Like… a whole lot of latency.)

It’s on Mac and Windows but code is available and Linux is “likely.”


If you want the original:



That does other nifty tricks, like binaural beats.

But the plug-in I think just became the easiest way to use it. Now go forth and make long sounds and chill to them.

The post A free plug-in brings extreme PaulStretch stretching to your DAW appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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