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


Those standalone MPCs do wireless Link and MIDI and it’s the future

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Oct 2017 8:40 pm

The world now: a bunch of mismatched cables, and then complicated setup. The world of the future: wireless, easy to configure. Or so we hope.

Akai has managed to deliver MPCs that function both as standalone production boxes, untethered from your computer, and computer accessories (they’re a controller/software combo when you plug them in).

But they’re also making these things work wirelessly with some new technologies.

Via Bluetooth, you can connect keyboards (making this a kind of weird computer, or letting you touch-type your musical sets), or wireless MIDI devices (so you can use a piano-style interface instead of just pads, among other solutions).

Via Ableton’s Link technology, you get the ability to jam with other software, hardware, and mobile apps over a wifi network. In fact, that makes this about the only standalone hardware to do so – though of course it’s really just a PC beneath that skin (and that’s kind of a good thing).

I suspect the stumbling block to this happening more is simply having more of a hardware ecosystem of stuff that does this.

It makes the MPC Live and MPC X still more appealing right now, as well as being a glimpse of things to come.

Now, you still have to decide whether Akai’s workflow is what you want, or whether you want to buy another piece of gear, with competitors from the likes of Elektron and Native Instruments eager to keep you on their side. But if you do, here’s what you get to enjoy, explained in video:

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Reason 10 is a return to form: all about the instruments

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 29 Sep 2017 7:46 pm

Remember when the main draw of Reason was adding a whole bunch of toys to your computer and playing until you couldn’t play any more? Those days are back.

The last few years have seen lots of workflow refinements and maturity in music production software. And that’s all fine and well. We’ve even seen new DAWs entirely, new combinations of hardware controllers and software (Maschine, Push), standalone production tools that work without a computer (the new MPC). And we’ve seen a whole lot of music production software evolution, gradually working through the elaborate wish lists we foist on the developers – and with good reason. Heck, maybe you begin to think that adding new sounds is about buying fancy modular rigs, and the computer will quietly disappear into the background.

But since the beginning, Reason was always about something different. Reason users didn’t just get a whole bunch of effects and synths as a bonus, icing to sweeten the deal. Reason was those effects and synths. And you’d be forgiven if you assumed that era had come to a close. After all, most Reason upgrades focused on adding in the openness and multifunctional capabilities of rivals – audio recording, Rack Extensions and a store to buy add-ons, even VST plug-in compatibility. Once you have VST support in Reason, maybe Reason isn’t really about the stuff Propellerheads put in the box.

Think again, because – Reason 10.

Now, there’s some chatter at Propellerhead about this being the “biggest content upgrade” ever, but let’s talk specifically about which instruments are getting added. And it’s a big ‘ol Swedish smörgåsbord of the kind of synths that made us notice Reason in the first place.

So, to answer Thor, there’s Europa – a wavetable synth.

To those granular goodies in Reaktor and Max for Live, there’s The Grain.

And in the tradition of Reason, they look, well, Reason-y. Functions are encapsulated, simplified, hardware-like, but without sacrificing deep modulation. The Grain, for its part, looks like the native granular synth Ableton never quite got (outside Max add-ons). Europa has its own biggie-sized instrumental quality.

For more acoustic timbres, you get new sampled instruments: Klang for tuned percussion, Pangea for a potpourri of “world” instruments, Humana for choir and vocal sounds. (Even if Humana makes those of us in Germany think of retro DDR fashion…)

Happily, these aren’t just ROMplers or sets of presets – you still get the control panels that mimic vintage hardware, and CV routing for patching monster hybrids and strange sound designs.

Propellerhead took a similar approach with their aptly-named Radical Piano, which allows the construction of hybrid, physically-modeled piano instruments, and it’s nice to see that instrument now included in the box.

And there’s one really killer effect, too: Synchronous, which brings modulated signal processing, with sidechaining and LFOs, even with the ability to draw your own curves to route into filter, delay, reverb, distortion. That alone could fill albums of material, and with a lot of different takes recently on how to do this, the Props’ take looks genuinely unique.

There are a lot of samples, too – Drum Supply and Loop Supply get a refresh. Now, that would normally bore me, except — oh yeah, that granular thing. Interested again.

In beta now, out 25 October.

I think it’s going to be a good winter.

They’ve worked hard; let’s embed their video. They earned it.

https://www.propellerheads.se/en/reason/new

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Buchla’s twisted waveforms get a software rendition

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 27 Sep 2017 6:18 pm

It’s pretty close to sticking Buchla inside your PC: Softube are adding a Buchla 259e Twisted Waveform Generator to their virtual Eurorack, “Modular.”

This is in fact the first officially licensed software rendition of a Buchla module, though the official part may be the source of some controversy. Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments wound up in court with its original founder, Don Buchla, before his death. The parties settled out of court, but certainly some of the shine of the brand was lost in the process.

That said, branding aside, this looks like it might be the most complete software rendition of a modern hardware Buchla module yet. And it’s got a price to match – US$99, so oddly just one module model costs you the same range as a lot of full-blown software modules. (US$79 intro price through end of October.)

What you get is one of the more interesting modules around, though – digital waveshaping and deep modulation. I’ll let them describe:

The 259e consists of two separate oscillators—Principal and Modulation—where Modulation can be used either to modulate the Principal oscillator or as a separate generator of audible notes. Furthermore, the sine wave generated by the Principal oscillator is simultaneously applied to two of the eight available waveshape tables. A morph voltage pans between the two tables and a warp voltage varies the amplitude of the sinusoidal (driving) waveform. Both these functions can be modulated by the Modulation oscillator. Three of the waveshape tables are actually not tables in the classical sense—they are simply portions of the 259e operating program, full of unpredictable noise and frequent silences. This is the innovative Mem Skew mode, possibly the most unique feature of the Buchla 259e. When these tables are selected, the FM controls are re-assigned to table scanning functions and the FM inputs become table modulators.

In short, while the Buchla 259e can certainly be used for more traditional sounds, it excels at creating otherworldly twisted digital sonic landscapes. Which is why it is one of the most coveted synth modules on the market.

Why is this man smiling? Softube tapped Buchla engineer Todd Barton to work on this recreation.

Video intro:

More:
https://www.softube.com/index.php?id=buchla_259e

The post Buchla’s twisted waveforms get a software rendition appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

macOS High Sierra upgrade requires some caution

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 Sep 2017 3:19 pm

macOS High Sierra (10.13) is out today. And that means it’s time to check in on compatibility with all your gear.

High Sierra is mostly about under-the-hood changes, and what Apple promises will be some forward-looking architectural improvements. There’s a new high-performance 64-bit Apple File System, intended for those internal flash drives. There are major changes to graphics support, dealing with the GPU and Apple’s own Metal API – though no indication that has any particular implications for music and media just yet so much as in the future. Virtual Reality support, long possible on Windows, is coming to the Mac – well, sort of, in that you’ll need an iMac Pro or a pricey external GPU. But what most users will see right now is the usual bundle of minor refinements and usability features.

No, usually what this means – especially for the complex ecosystem of tools in music – is checking to see if anything breaks. And for once, this appears to be a relatively trouble-free update if you’re on the latest version of software.

Changes to the file system, though, mean some caution is warranted.

Here are some early reports. If you’ve got more to add, either as a developer or user, get in touch (comments on this post or Twitter are probably easiest).

One piece of advice: update your drivers before updating, as the only real wrinkle appears to be driver installation related.

Driver vendors need to catch up on validating their drivers, as reported by Serato.

Serato users are advised to hold off; Serato have a blog entry explaining. The culprit is a driver installation issue.

The latest AIR Music Tech plug-ins all work; see knowledge base story

New versions of Propellerhead Software work; old versions, though, don’t. (Think file damage with that new file system – danger, Will Robinson.) Reason 9.5.2, Reason 10, Reason Essentials 9.5.2, Reason Essentials 10 are all good, so just watch older versions. Here’s their statement:

Due to Apple’s introduction of a completely new file system (APFS) in High Sierra, many older versions are not compatible. This means that Propellerhead products before Reason 9.5.2 will not work correctly after updating to the latest version of macOS. Using High Sierra may in some cases even damage your documents, rendering them unusable.

We strongly recommend you NOT to upgrade to High Sierra if you intend to use earlier versions of Propellerhead products on your computer.

Most Akai Professional products are supported; there’s a blog post covering both macOS High Sierra and iOS 11.

Traktor Pro has an update now in beta; 2.11.1 is now in release candidate so I’d wait for that to appear as an update before upgrading the OS. There’s a public beta available.

We’ll add to this story as we get more reports.

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Resolume 6 is big news for VJs and live visualists; here’s why

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 18 Sep 2017 10:19 pm

You can think of Resolume as the “Ableton of VJing” – a tool that lets you trigger visuals instead of musical patterns. And it just got a big upgrade.

There are lots of ways to play and composite videos and animations live on a computer. What sets Resolume apart is its distinctive, three-layer interface. That lets you group clips into convenient scenes, then add per-clip effects and automation, all while making a composition in three layers. It isn’t as open-ended as semi-modular environments like VDMX, and it’s not a from-scratch visual development tool like TouchDesigner or Max. It’s also not rigidly limited to a DJ-style mixing paradigm. Instead, it’s somewhere in between – somewhere that works really well for programming live visual shows to music.

Resolume isn’t the only clip-oriented VJ tool, but it’s probably the most comfortable to people coming from Ableton Live (and it can even mix audio as well as video), with some adjustments to how you think. Since you’re dealing with image, not sound, the three horizontal layers make more sense for optical composition than Ableton’s endless vertically-oriented mixer tracks.

Oh, and – it’s cross-platform. That alone allows for some convenience.

What’s new in 6

Resolume comes in two editions: Avenue and Arena, the former more for the solo visualist and indpendent VJs, the latter more for bigger-budget productions. (I could talk about where that line is technically, but frankly with all live visual software, this comes down to the fact that part of the user market has more money to spend because they get paid more. That in turn funds the development of the tools, so no complaints.)

Layer groups and masking! Okay, this changes everything. Layers can have sub-groups, expanding that powerful three layer metaphor. And a layer can work as a mask. So that changes how the whole tool works creatively.

It’s easier to manage and trigger clips. This alone I think might be worth upgrading – or switching. Persistent clips and locked clips make it harder to lose or accidentally trigger clips, respectively. You can also trigger next and previous columns, for scenes of clips. That should work well as they say for theater shows and the like. This should be familiar to Ableton Live users, but it’s also an idea Mark Coniglio has championed in his software, including Isadora. It’s something we should see more of – perhaps missing simply because developers aren’t normally familiar with what it takes to run theater, dance, and other performances.

There’s Ableton Link support. Easy networked sync with Ableton Live, iOS apps, desktop apps, other instances of Resolume – everything that supports the de factor Link sync standard, even without MIDI.

The interface is easier to manage. Without making Resolume hyper-modular (like something like VDMX), the developers have at least given us more flexibility. You can drag things around, and the UI works better on bigger screens. Most importantly, previews are more visible.

Standard features from other tools are there, too. A more-standard color palette, browser and media manager (à la Ableton etc.) are included.

You can make animated envelopes. A new editor, with presets, allows for more sophisticated envelopes – and might turn Resolume into a replacement for motion graphics software for a lot of quick jobs.

Text generators and effects. See above. Also: how to make the sponsor happy. Hey, you need to eat…

Map colors to MIDI, assign controllers more easily. A MIDI and OSC and DMX overhaul should make controller mapping easier. (Ableton Live, Traktor – I’m really waiting for you to someday get this right.) And you can use all those disco-colored music controllers for color-coding clips. (Oddly, it’s visual software that really needs this, much as music software really kind of doesn’t.)

That’s not all, but those are the things that I think will be the most relevant to the most users.

We’ll have a review on CDM. And yes, Resolume 6 (and some other news this fall) means — it’s time to bring back Create Digital Motion.

https://resolume.com/software/v6

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Now a DAW does pitch and time shifts the way you wish it would

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Sep 2017 6:16 pm

If the last generation of production software was about UI, workflow, and add-on extras, the next generation may be about science. Witness MOTU’s DP 9.5.

DP, aka Digital Performer, is that DAW everyone forgets about, but really shouldn’t. Now on both Windows and Mac, and a long-time staple of hard-core niches like the TV scoring business, DP has quietly added all the stuff that makes using a DAW better, without too much extra stuffing, often advancing without any hype past other rivals in key areas.

But even doing that, it’s hard for a DAW to stand out.

So, how about this: how about if a DAW let you manipulate time and pitch in a way that sounded less artificial? Wouldn’t that be a reason to use it?

And while various DAWs have licensed technology for improving time and pitch stretching, most of them still sound, well, pretty crap – especially if you go beyond small changes. (That hasn’t stopped me from using the artifacts creatively, but then the problem is, even those results tend to sound too much alike.)

So, the pairing of Zynaptiq with MOTU gets pretty interesting.

Zynaptiq is one of a handful of developers working on brain-bending DSP science to achieve sonic effects you haven’t heard before. (For some reason, a lot of these players seem to be in Germany … or Cambridge, Massachusetts. The latter is an MIT thing; the former, a German thing? Zynaptiq is out of Hannover.)

In the case of Zynaptiq, “artificial intelligence” and machine learning meet new advances in DSP. Whatever’s going on there (and I hope to cover that more), the results sound really extraordinary. Every time I’ve been at a trade show where the developer was exhibiting, people would grab you by the arms and say, have you heard the crazy stuff they’re doing it sounds like the future. That was aided by a unique demo style.

But there’s a big leap when you can integrate that kind of capability into a DAW and its existing workflow, without all the weird extra steps required to go back and forth to a plug-in.

And that’s what DP 9.5 does – in an update that’s free for all existing users, adding Zynaptiq’s ZTX PRO tech.

You get time stretching everywhere, so speeding up and slowing down by small increments or huge sounds natural. And they’ve done a bunch of work so you can change tempo adjustments and conductor tempo maps – which was always, always one of the best features of DP. (I was at the Aspen Music Festival in the late 90s listening to a film composer show off how easy scoring with DP markers was, fully two decades ago. Two decades later, the competition still hasn’t caught up, and DP has continued to expand on that feature.)

Plus you get pitch shifting and relative pitch editing, as you’ve seen with products like Celemony, but far more deeply integrated in the DAW and with (to my ear) better-sounding results. So yes, that does pitch shifting and pitch correction, but it also opens up some really interesting creative possibilities. This isn’t just about making bad singers sound better; it could be a boon to creative editing. (I just spent the last weekend poking around in Logic’s archaic and dated implementation for the heck of it, not knowing DP 9.5 was coming and… well, just no.)

There are “quality” presets, too, to help you find the right settings.

Have a listen in the demos. Here’s pitch shifting:

And here’s time shifting:

And from the ever-lovely Gotye (really nice chap with a terrifically nice band and some great producers, I have to say, just because I like nice people), some other examples:

Unrelated to all this, 9.5 also has a window that makes it easier to monitor processing load, so you can identify CPU hogs. (Heck, that may mean DP is now part of my standard test suite for plug-ins.) This combines with other unique performance management features in DP, like “pre-gen” capability, which eases the load on your CPU by pre-rendering audio.

Good stuff. More from MOTU:

http://motu.com/products/software/dp

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PPG Infinite’s touch morphing could make it soft synth of the summer

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 31 Jul 2017 5:47 pm

Over the weekend, PPG mastermind Wolfgang Palm let slip his latest creation: PPG Infinite. In previews for iPad, we see an innovative touch synth full of morphing and wave shaping tools.

There are two videos. The first one … uh … well, mainly involves hearing some sounds and staring into the void of space. (True fact: this is what normally happens inside my brain when I look at my to-do list on a Monday.)

But the second video actually reveals plenty – way more than just a teaser. And even from these screenshots, the “Infinite” name suggests that PPG took basically everything they’ve ever done and built a fresh synth around it.

There’s vocal synthesis (à la their Phonem app and plug-in).

There’s wavetable synthesis, with fingers gliding through representation of waveforms, as per the original PPG Wave synths and PPG’s first app, WaveMapper. (Palm is the inventor of wavetable synthesis.)

There’s also the new functions of their follow-up synth WaveGenerator, with more ways of generating and navigating and shaping waves.

And then it seems there’s more.

If you blinked, you may have missed something, so let’s get some frame-by-frame replay. Infinite sees synth wizard Palm teaming up again with designer Cornel Hecht (who also provides the spacey background music for these videos).

Here, we get a unique-looking synth architecture, one that adds loads of touch-accessible morphing modes for combining sounds, as well as something called the “noiser” – which appears to be a spectrally-shaped noise source.

And at its heart, there’s the functionality that made the first PPG app such a breakthrough on the iPad, the ability to “touch the sound” by scanning and morphing wavetables with 3D and 2D views. That visual seems now greatly expanded as a central user paradigm, and it seems to me that it could be reason to see iPads running this app alongside beloved hardware synths in the studio or onstage.

Of course, the other Palm apps have also now been available as VST/AU plug-in, so I hope we’ll see that for this, too. (No reason to choose, either – you might use your iPad to shape presets, then loads those into the plug-in when it comes time to track and arrange and finish tracks. I need to research whether multi-touch computers on Windows can support touch gestures for plug-ins – not sure on that – but even with a mouse, this looks fun.)

Let’s have a look:

Touch is central to the UI. These morphing options look especially nice and accessible, even if you aren’t ready to delve into every nitpicky detail of the architecture and sound design:

A glimpse of the architecture, including simplified oscillator controls and these morphing and noiser options:

The oscillator interface really appears to shine via touch interaction:

A closer look at those controls:

The presets are suggestive of the combination of two or three of the previous instruments from PPG – and indicate some diversity of possibilities with this one, from vocal-ish presets to percussion to pads, bass, leads, and all that business:

For those so inclined, it appears you can get really deep with mapping by key range and matrix-style modulation:

I love the LFO interface, both for its advanced parameters (for going deep) and clever touch adjustment (for quick play):

Stills don’t do it justice, but as in the other PPG apps, it’s really getting your grubby fingers on the 3D waveform view that looks like fun. Combine that with some new vocal synth options, and … sold.

It’s about time for an exciting new soft synth, especially with Alchemy having disappeared into Logic and most of the headlines covering hardware. And for all the depth and diversity on the iPad, this could be one that stands out on that platform – not least if it’s paired with desktop plug-ins so you don’t disrupt your workflow.

Ready, Wolfgang. Watching for this one.

Stay tuned to CDM for this one, with team coverage by myself and Ashley (Palm Sounds).

wolfgangpalm.com

The post PPG Infinite’s touch morphing could make it soft synth of the summer appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Syntronik is the new monster softsynth from IK; hear from its creator

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 26 Jul 2017 8:17 pm

IK Multimedia’s all-new Syntronik isn’t just one vintage synth – it’s up to 38 of those, plus loads of filters and effects, in one plug-in package.

This isn’t the first time IK has offered this sort of “models of everything” approach. But this time, there’s a ground-up approach to modeling original analog circuits, combined with sampling – new engine, new presets. And since there’s a free version, you don’t have to be afraid of commitment before you test drive.

That technological explanation alone doesn’t say that much, though. Part of what makes any synth playable – whether that instrument is analog or digital, hardware or software – is the humans who worked on it.

Erik Norlander, one of the lead sound designers of Syntronik project, makes a particularly special sound programmer. Norlander was the lead on the legendary, multitimbral Alesis Andromeda. When it was released in 2000, analog had largely been abandoned by the mass market – this is two years before even the Minimoog Voyager. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say the Andromeda was the instrument that changed the course of the industry (well, changed it back again, that is). Unique analog sounds and hands-on controls (rather than digital sound and menu diving) were finally back in the game, paired with a more modern architecture and pitch correction.

That is, even if the Andromeda doesn’t trigger warm, fuzzy feelings, you can thank it at least in part for a lot of the character of synths today.

I’ll even forgive Erik some bias and sales jargon here, because he’s got some points about the IK offering. To find out what he has to say, we’re going to try something different. Norlander and IK talked first to Japan’s IKON Magazine. Here, we have an edited, English-language edition of that interview.

This is an experiment for us, but hopefully allows us to share more content with our friends in Japan at ICON. (The original is at bottom, if you do speak Japanese.)

Erik Norlander. (Photo: Erik Nielsen.)

Full list of synths:

Modular Moog, Minimoog Model D, Moog Voyager, Moog Taurus I, Moog Taurus II, Moog Taurus 3, Polymoog, Moog Opus 3, Moog Rogue, Realistic Concertmate MG-1, Multimoog, Micromoog, Moog Prodigy, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Sequential Circuits Prophet-10, ARP 2600, Oberheim SEM, Oberheim OB-X, Oberheim OB-Xa, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha GX-1, Yamaha CS-01II, Yamaha SY99, Roland Juno-60, Roland Jupiter-8, Roland Jupiter-6, Roland Jupiter-4, Roland JX-10, Roland JX-8P, Roland JX-3P, Roland TB-303 Bassline, Alesis Andromeda, PPG Wave 2.3, ARP String Ensemble, Elka Rhapsody 490, Hohner String Performer, Roland RS-505 Paraphonic & Roland RS-09 Organ/Strings

CDM English-language ICON.jp article

ICON: Why did you choose to release a vintage synthesizer and string machine instrument as the first virtual instrument after MODO BASS?

Erik Norlander (EN): We want to be the total solution for virtual instruments. To reach this goal, IK has created major updates to our instrument product line, starting with SampleTank 3 in 2014. We released several SampleTank Custom Shop Instrument Collections after this, including the spectacular Cinematic Percussion and Brandenburg Piano. Then we released Miroslav Philharmonik 2, our orchestral / symphonic virtual instrument recording in Prague, along with the follow-on Orchestral Percussion Instrument Collection, recorded in Hollywood, California. MODO Bass is a brilliant product that had been in the works for many years, while developing this amazing new modeling technology.

So, we have covered most acoustic instruments with SampleTank 3, Miroslav Philharmonik and the Custom Shop Instrument Collections, and electric bass with MODO Bass. The next logical step was a synthesizer product to provide our users with the best electronic sounds available. Rather than simply update SampleMoog or Sonik Synth, we took a different approach and made a completely new and far more extensive instrument called Syntronik. Syntronik combines the best of sampling and modeling to recreate our favorite classic synthesizers and take them even farther.

ICON: IK Multimedia has been selling vintage synthesizer instruments like SampleMoog. What are the main differences between Syntronik and those vintage synthesizer instruments released in the past?

EN: First, we should establish that Syntronik is not just a vintage synthesizer instrument. Of course you can get all of the vintage sounds, but Syntronik is a modern instrument intended for creating all kinds of music, including the latest cutting-edge pop and electronica. We have sampled 38 timeless, classic instruments that form the foundation of Syntronik, and then those get processed by our amazing IK modeling technology which includes both classic filter emulations and modern digital filters. Our new DRIFT algorithm adds life to our samples in a truly animated and compelling approach.

We add to this an engineer’s dream collection of effects, including models of the famous Pultec, Urei, Teletronix, Fairchild EQs and limiters, guitar amps and modulation effects including our new Ensemble effect modeled especially for Syntronik. This one recreates the beautiful analog chorus-ensemble effects of the famous ARP String Ensemble, Roland Juno-60 and Roland string machines such as the RS-505 Paraphonic Ensemble. All of this puts Syntronik light years ahead of our past synthesizer products.

IKON: Syntronik is using sampling technology, apart from the modeling of filters and effects. Why didn’t you make it by 100% modeling like MODO BASS?

EN: IK is a leader in both sampling and modeling, and we chose to use the best of both worlds for Syntronik. We have found that the best way to truly capture and recreate the sound of classic analog hardware is to sample it using our finely-tuned recording techniques and editing workflow that has been developed over decades. Modeling can give you more flexibility in some cases, but there is nothing like hearing an audiophile sample of the actual instrument. When you hear our samples of the Oberheim OB-X, it really sounds just like an Oberheim OB-X. Because it is an OB-X. The tone is undeniable. Our DRIFT algorithm removes many of the limitations of sample playback, and the modeled filters and effects add a further dimension.

IKON: How did you choose 38 instruments? Do we have a plan to expand it with more instruments?

EN: We started with the ten most famous classic synthesizers, the Minimoog, the Prophet-5, the CS-80, the SEM, etc. and then we expanded on that base to add related instruments like the Multimoog, Micromoog, Prodigy, Rogue and similar synths that are less known but still sound amazing. In the case of our String Box synth, we started with the most famous string machine, the ARP String Ensemble. Then we expanded that synth with other great string machines, like the Roland RS-505 and RS-09, the Elka Rhapsody, Hohner String Performer, and Univox Multiman, which is a variant of the famous Crumar Orchestrator. We started out with a smaller set, but we just kept adding synths because they sounded so great, and it made sense in the context of the product.

IKON: How did you have those 38 instruments themselves? Were they owned by IK? Or are some of them rented from someone?

EN: I own most of the hardware instruments as you can see in the photo on our Syntronik product page on the IK web site. I sampled a few rarities like the Yamaha GX-1 and then the tiny CS-01 (incidentally, the biggest and smallest synths in the collection!) during other sessions over the years when I could find the opportunity.

IKON: Are all samples included in Syntronik new? Or are you using some samples from previous products like SampleMoog?

EN: 98% of the samples are new. We included some legacy sounds from SampleMoog that I recorded several years ago that we felt were good enough to include in Syntronik. And in some cases, we even went back to the original recording sessions of the SampleMoog material and made larger versions of the keymaps.

IKON: What is the bit depth / sample resolution, — bits/–kHz? Are you using Pro Tools | HDX to record those samples? Could you also tell us which A/D converter are you using?

EN: All of the samples were recorded into MOTU Digital Performer, and the original sessions were done at the highest resolution available. Some downsampling was done in some cases to create more manageable file sizes, where there was no perceivable audio quality loss. In the case of bit depth, in general, the looped, sustaining samples are at 16-bit, since they do not have more amplitude resolution than that and it would be a waste of disk space and memory to keep all 24 bits of data. Our Syntronik internal audio path is 32-bit, so our envelopes have more dynamic range than any DAC can even reproduce! So when our envelopes decay a looped sample to silence, it is with extreme dynamic resolution. Then for the samples that decay to silence, we kept them at 24-bit to preserve the full dynamic range of the sampled analog decays.

IKON: Please explain what is the Drift technology.

EN: DRIFT is a very sophisticated algorithm that the IK team developed after over a year of transcontinental discussions. We debated what it should do, what it should not do, how to do it, and how not to do it. DRIFT modulates multiple aspects of the sound to authentically recreate the behavior of free running oscillators.

On an analog synth, the oscillators are running all the time. It is the envelope that gates them on and off. So unlike a digital sample, the waveform does not always start at a zero crossing. The synth envelope will often catch the wave in the middle or somewhere else in its cycle. Simple sample start point modulation doesn’t quite work for this, because you get clicks when a sample starts far away from its zero crossing, so some kind of smoothing is necessary to recreate the rise time of an analog VCA. Then there’s the famous pitch drifting of analog oscillators that cannot be duplicated by a simple LFO. So using everything we know about sampling and modeling, we came up with an algorithm that combines multiple treatments to a sample to give it the organic life and animation of an analog oscillator. It’s proprietary technology, so I can’t go into more detail than that. But suffice it to say, it sounds amazing.

IKON: When did you start developing Syntronik? What are the biggest challenges to finish making it?

EN: It took less than a year from the time we conceived the product to the time it was released. But we’re building on 20 years of IK Multimedia technology, so we had some pretty amazing resources at our disposal. In this sense, it was not like starting from zero. And many of the samples come from a private, unreleased library that I have been crafting over many years. I was looking for the best time and platform to release the the library, and Syntronik is it.

IKON: There are many virtual instruments of vintage synthesizers in the market. What are the main advantage of Syntronik over those products?

EN: There are so many excellent virtual synthesizers. We love the Spectrasonics, Arturia and UVI products, and so many others. But comparing Syntronik to these is like comparing a Ferrari to a Porsche, or comparing a California Cabernet to an Italian Barbera. They are different approaches borne from different visions and different inspirations. We set out to capture the feel, the style, the essence of our favorite classic synthesizers with a specific sonic intention and present them in a powerful, easy-to-use virtual instrument that would put the real sound of 38 amazing instruments at your fingertips. I really think we achieved that.

IKON: Propellerhead announced to stop selling ReBirth-338 due to some intellectual property issues. We see the names of synthesizers in Syntronik pages. Aren’t you worried about the intellectual property issues?

EN: We are tremendously respectful of the original hardware manufacturers. Moog Music has of course been a partner with us in the past, and we have the highest regard for them as well as Roland, Yamaha, Dave Smith and Sequential, Tom Oberheim and his companies, Wolfgang Palm and PPG, and all the rest. I was the original product manager for the Alesis Andromeda hardware synth, so naturally I have tremendous respect for that brand and product. Our GUIs are all homages to these great hardware synths. They provide visual elements that harken back to the originals and give you the feeling of those great hardware instruments, but they are most definitely not copies of the original designs. And you will never see us using the term “Jupiter” or “Juno” in the product. We have also been very thorough with our legal disclaimers to state who owns which trademark and to clarify non-affiliation when appropriate.

IKON: What’s behind the name Syntronik?

EN: It is the logical next step from our “Philharmonik” product. Both of these instruments end in “ik” which of course is a reference to IK Multimedia. So Philharmonik is the orchestral instrument, and Syntronik is the electronic instrument. Who knows, there may be more of this theme to explore. And in the case of the “Syn” part, this very much follows Bob Moog’s excellent definition of synthesis meaning simply “many parts.” In our case, the “many parts” are the samples, the modeling, the effects and the super-user-friendly graphical experience. “Syn” here does NOT imply “synthetic” — the opposite of organic — or “artificial” in any way. Syntronik is very much a living, breathing musical instrument full of expression and animation.

IKON: Syntronik can be used as SampleTank 3 expansion instruments. Do you have a plan to publish an open SDK so that third party developers can make SampleTank 3 instruments, Native Instruments KONTAKT and UVI Engine?

EN: We are discussing this, and there is a good possibility that we will open up the platform at some point.

IKON: Can you tell us a bit of the update roadmap of Syntronik?

EN: You can of course purchase the full version, which I recommend. The 17 synths in the product were all chosen to be complementary, and we don’t expect any one synth to provide every synth sound you would want.

But you can start with Syntronik Free which includes 50 instruments and 1GB of samples. It is truly free, and it is fully functional — there are no limitations in the functionality, it is only the samples and instrument count that is reduced. And the free version is pretty spectacular, I have to say! If anyone has any doubts about the product, please try the free version, which will give you a very good feeling of the full product. With the free version, you can purchase individual synths, any of the 17, and custom-build your own library. So, if you only are interested in Roland® TB-303-style synth bass sounds or Moog Taurus® pedal-like timbres, you can buy just the T-03 or Bully synths.

IKON: Lastly, please give us a message for IK Multimedia fans in Japan.

EN: Syntronik was a lot of work to create, and it required some very heavy lifting on every side, from the recording to the editing to the modeling to GUI developing to the coding. But it was an exciting and rewarding project, truly a labor of love for all involved. We have a really inspired vision for this product, and we can’t wait for our musicians friends in Japan to play our beautiful instrument. We look forward to hearing the wonderful music you will make with our instrument, and we hope that it inspires you as much as it has inspired us.

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/syntronik/

http://icon.jp/archives/14191

Photos: Erik Nielsen.

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Aphex Twin gave us a peek inside a 90s classic. Here’s what we learned.

Delivered... David Abravanel | Artists,Scene | Fri 21 Jul 2017 5:25 pm

Aphex Twin’s “Vordhosbn” just got a surprising video reveal, showing how the track was made. So let’s revisit trackers and 90s underground music culture.

You’re probably familiar with the term “white label,” but where did that term originate?”? Back in the early days of DJing, DJs were very territorial about their crate digging. Sometimes, in order to avoid rival DJs looking at their decks to ID their selections (this is way before the days of Shazam, remember), DJs would rip off the labels of a particularly rare record, leaving the white label residue with no identifying information.

Similarly, the 90s were an interesting time for music production. With the advent of computer sequencers, music became more complex – and in the wild west days before YouTube tutorials, concert phone vids, and everyone using Ableton Live, there was legitimate mystery behind how some of the most complex electronic music was made. Max? SuperCollider? Some homebrew software unavailable to the plebs?

If mystery in electronic music production was a game in the 90s, then Richard D. James was its undisputed winner. As Aphex Twin and a host of other pseudonyms, he created mind-bending sequences. As an interview subject, he was equal parts prankster and cagey. Sure, there was an idea of what the IDM greats were up to – Autechre and Plaid used Max, Squarepusher used Reaktor, Aphex used…something? The mystery has always been part of James’ appeal – here is a man who has claimed to sleep only four hours a night, or to have built or heavily modified all of his hardware, or to be sitting on hundreds if not thousands of unreleased tracks, among other tall tales.

Around 2014, something flipped with Richard D. James. After releasing Syro, his first album in 13 years as Aphex Twin, he unleashed the floodgates with a massive hard drive dump onto SoundCloud – seems he wasn’t lying about all those tracks after all. Following up with this, today you can see the debut of a custom Bleep store for Aphex Twin, including loads of unreleased bonus tracks to go with his albums.

Of most interest to the nerds, however, has got to be this seemingly innocuous video, in which we get a trollingly-effected screencast video of Drukqs track “Vordhosbn”, playing out in the vintage tracker PlayerPro. James had previously identified PlayerPro as his main environment for making Drukqs – now we have video of it in action:

So, there we have it. A classic Aphex Twin track with the curtain drawn up. What can we learn from this video? A few things:

  • PlayerPro’s tracks were all monophonic, so the chords in “Vordhosbn” had to be made using multiple tracks
  • As expected with a tracker, it’s largely built from samples – likely from James’ substantial hardware collection
  • Hey, those oscilloscopes and spectral displays are fun

Perhaps what’s best about this video is that it shows an Aphex classic for what it is – a track, composed in much the same way as any other electronic musician might do it. It doesn’t detract from the special qualities of Aphex’s music, but it does show us what was really going on behind all the mystery – music-making.

Keep Track of It

It’s worth spending a moment to celebrate trackers. Long before the days of piano rolls, trackers were the best way to make intricate sequences using a computer. YouTube is riddled with classic jungle tracks from the mid-90s using software like OctaMed:

For a dedicated community, trackers are still the way to go. And there’s no better tracker around now than Renoise – whose developers have done a fantastic job bringing the tracker workflow into the 21st century. Check out this video of Venetian Snares’ “Vache” done in Renoise:

Like most trackers, Renoise has something of a steep learning curve to get all the key commands right; once you’re there, however, you’ll find it to be a very nimble environment for wild micro-edits and crazy sequences. There’s definitely a reason why it remains a tool of choice for breakcore producers!

Do you use a tracker? What do you think of the workflow? What’s the best way for someone to get started with a tracker? Let us know in the comments!

Ed.: PlayerPro is available as free software for Mac, Windows, Linux … and yes, even FreeBSD.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/playerpro/

Returning CDM contributor David Abravanel is a marketer, musician, and technologist living in New York. He loves that shiny digital crunch. Follow him at http://dhla.me

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Tool to make music from Leap Motion gestures is free, VR could be next

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 6 Jul 2017 2:22 pm

This is about as affordable and easy as gestural interaction with music can get. The powerful Geco music controller app pairs with the $80 Leap Motion hand tracking hardware – and now the app is free.

But it could be just the beginning.

For its part, the Leap Motion is now sort of yesterday’s news. But the small rectangular box is still a quick-and-easy way to get your computer tracking hand gestures – if you’re into that sort of thing. Geert Bevin’s Geco app provides the glue between the Leap’s sensing capabilities and your music software, allowing the computer to recognize gestures and then convey them as MIDI or OSC messages (among other tricks).

And if for some reason you had a Leap and waited to pick up the app – or if you needed an excuse to give this a play – now the app is free. (Since its release, it’s also had some major updates, so it’s worth another go even if you tried it before.)

I’ve played with Geert’s app before, and it’s fairly impressive. You’re always going to be a tough critic of any sort of gestural interaction, because the link between hands and perception is so finely tuned. But the Leap opens up some possibilities – even if you don’t really want to wave your hands around for a whole performance, it could add the ability to perform quick shortcuts or control a single parameter. And it’s a huge advance in comparison to things like Roland’s IR-tracking technology, for instance.

But it’s what’s coming round the bend that may be most interesting. The reason Geert had to make Geco free at this particular moment is that Leap is killing its app store. (See their blog post on the topic. It’s not the most elegant “sunsetting,” but then it seems the whole industry had to get over this idea that everyone should create an app store as Apple had.)

Leap are moving on to take the software and hardware smarts of the Leap Motion and start to build it into two new (overlapping) arenas – mobile and VR.

lm_mount-curved-bundle-for_store_large

Right away, in fact, you can use the Leap Motion with Windows and Android VR headsets. (The, erm, sophisticated integration technology there is a “universal adapter” that involves just mounting the Leap Motion to the headset itself – plastic and 3M adhesive.)

The thing is, the Leap Motion is kind of cool when tethered to a computer, but way more interesting when it’s set loose. And that’s the next step, with something upcoming that Leap is calling the Leap Mobile Platform.

Think virtual reality and augmented reality – battery powered, untethered from a computer, and totally mobile.

For music, this is especially compelling as it opens up the possibility of new experimentation with interfaces. VR and AR have given us the visuals of what that could look like, but that’s meaningless without the ability to interact with those worlds.

Geert tells CDM he’s working in this direction: “I’ll be getting an early version in order to be able to take what I’ve learned from my GECO and GameWAVE Leap Motion apps and apply this to Mobile Leap Motion with VR and AR,” he says. “I’m really interested in the AR part for live performance.”

AR is augmented reality – that is, a visualization that you see atop the real world, instead of replacing your vision entirely. AR beats VR onstage, unless you want to shut yourself off from your audience with enormous goggles.

In the meantime, there’s no need to wait – you can use Geco right now, provided you can get your hands on a Leap Motion. And with Apple having unveiled its augmented reality solution last month, and a bunch of parties jumping on VR and AR on Windows, Android, and beyond for gaming and other experiences, we’ll be watching to see whether musicians find a way to use these technologies in coming months.

http://uwyn.com/geco/

https://developer.leapmotion.com/

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Cableguys are showing some amazing tips for their shaper plugins

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 26 Jun 2017 5:39 pm

Cablesguys are one of the more interesting purveyors of plug-ins out there, and they’ve been showing off some interesting stuff with their lineup.

These things can be a bit hard to describe, just in theory – okay, so you’ve got VolumeShaper and TimeShaper, which shape … volume .. and … time.

But in practice, you begin to see some really compelling possibilities coming out of this approach and user interface.

With VolumeShaper, one recent plug-in, you can take hi-hats out of an existing loop (meaning this is also a must-have plug-in for remixes, for example).

TimeShaper can be used for special effects, like faking vinyl scratch-style effects without using vinyl.

Their YouTube channel, fairly quiet for some time, has been popping with new plug-in tutorials. See here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/CableguysOfficial/videos?view=0&sort=dd&shelf_id=1

And you can try some free trials of each of these tools. I remember watching these developers way back with their first MidiShaper years ago. It’s great to see how they’ve evolved.

TimeShaper

VolumeShaper 5

Products

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Arturia AudioFuse: all the connections, none of the hidden settings

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Jun 2017 4:13 pm

After a long wait, Arturia’s AudioFuse interface has arrived. And on paper, at least, it’s like audio interface wish fulfillment.

What do you want in an interface? You want really reliable, low-latency audio. You want all the connections you need. (Emphasis on what you need, because that’s tricky – not everyone needs the same thing.) And you want to be able to access the settings without having to dive through menus or load an application.

audiofuseatwork

That last one has often been a sticking point. Even when you do find an interface with the right connections and solid driver reliability and performance, a lot of the time the stuff you change every day is buried in some hard-to-access menus, or even more likely, on some application you have to load on your computer and futz around with.

And oh yeah — it’s €/$599. That’s aggressively competitive when you read the specs.

I requested one of these for review when I met with Arturia at Musikmesse in Frankfurt some weeks ago, so this isn’t a review – that’s coming. But here are some important specs.

audiofuseback

Connections

Basically, you get everything you need as a solo musician/producer – 4 outs (so you can do front/rear sound live, for instance), 4 ins, plus phono pre’s for turntables, two mic pres (not just one, as some boxes annoyingly have), and MIDI.

Plus, there’s direct monitoring, separate master / monitor mix channels (which is great for click tracks, cueing for DJs or live, and anything that requires a separate monitor mix, as well as tracking), and a lot of sync and digital options.

It’s funny, this is definitely on my must-have list, but it’s hard to find a box that does this without getting an expansive (and expensive) interface that may have more I/O than one person really needs.

This is enough for pretty much all the tracking applications one or two people recording will need, plus the monitoring options you need for various live, DJ, and studio needs, and A/B monitor switching you need in the studio. It also means as a soloist, you can eliminate a lot of gear – also important when you’re on the go.

Their full specs:

2 DiscretePRO microphone preamps
2 RIAA phono preamps
4 analog inputs
2x Mic/Instrument/Line (XLR / 1/4″ TRS)
2x Phono/Line (RCA / 1/4″ TRS)
4 analog outputs (1/4″ TRS)
2 analog inserts (1/4″ TRS)
ADAT in/out
S/PDIF in/out
Word clock in/out
MIDI in/out
24-bit next-generation A-D/D-A converters at up to 192kHz sampling rate
Talkback with dedicated built-in microphone (up to 96 kHz Sample Rate)
A/B speaker switching
Direct monitoring
2 independent headphone outputs
Separate master and monitor mix channels
USB interface with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux compatibility
3-port USB hub
3 models: Classic Silver, Space Grey, Deep Black
Aluminum chassis, hard leather-covered top cover

Arturia also promise high-end audio performance, to the tune of “dual state-of-the-art mic preamps with a class-leading >131dB A-weighted EIN rating.” I’ll try to test that with some people who are better engineers than I am when we get one in.

Also cute – a 3-port USB hub. So this could really cut down the amount of gear I pack.

Now, my only real gripe is, while USB improves compatibility, I’d love a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C version of this interface, especially as that becomes the norm on Mac and PC. Maybe that will come in the future; it’s not hard to imagine Arturia making two offerings if this box is a success. USB remains the lowest common denominator, and this is not a whole lot of simultaneous I/O, so USB makes some sense. (Thunderbolt should theoretically offer stable lower latency performance by allowing smaller buffer sizes.)

audiofusetop

And dedicated controls

This is a big one. You’ll read a lot of the above on specs, but then discover that audio interfaces make you launch a clumsy app on your PC or Mac and/or dive into menus to get into settings.

That’s doubly annoying in studio use where you don’t want to break flow. How many times have you been in the middle of a session and lost time and concentration because some setting somewhere wasn’t set the way you intended, and you couldn’t see it? (“Hey, why isn’t this recording?” “Why is this level wrong?” “Why can’t I hear anything?” “Ugh, where’s the setting on this app?” … are … things you may hear if you’re near me in a studio, sometimes peppered with less-than-family-friendly bonus words.)

So Arturia have made an interface that has loads of dedicated controls. Maybe it doesn’t have a sleek, scifi minimalist aesthetic as a result, but … who cares?

Onboard dedicated controls that don’t require menu diving include: talking mic, dedicated input controls, A/B monitor switching, and a dedicated level knob for headphones.

And OS compatibility

This is the other thing – there are some great interfaces that lack support for Linux and mobile. So, for instance, if you want to rig up a custom Raspberry Pi for live use or something like that, this can double as the interface. Or you can use it with Android and iOS, which with increasingly powerful tablets starts to look viable, especially for mobile recording or stage use.

Arturia tell us performance, depending on your system, should be reliably in the territory of 4.5ms – well within what you’re likely to need, even for live (and you can still monitor direct). Some tests indicate performance as low as 3.5ms.

audiofuseincase

Plus a nice case and cover

Here’s an idea that’s obviously a long time coming. The AudioFuse not only has an adorable small form factor and aluminum chassis, but there’s a cover for it. So no more damage and scratches or even breaking off knobs when you tote this thing around – that to me is an oddly huge “why doesn’t everyone do this” moment.

The lid has a doubly useful feature – it disables the controls when it’s on, so you can avoid bumping something onstage.

Dimensions:
69*126*126 mm.

Weight:
950 g

I’m very eager to get this in my hands. Stay tuned.

For more:
https://www.arturia.com/audiofuse/details

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Waveform woos DAW switchers with clean UI, features, Raspberry Pi

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 4 Apr 2017 11:42 pm

The struggle to make an all-in-one computer production tool that’s different continues.

Tracktion, a lesser-known “indie” DAW that has seen a rapid resurgence in recent builds, is now back in a new generation version dubbed Waveform. As usual, the challenge is to make something that kind of does everything, and necessarily needs to do all the things the competition does, while still being somehow different from that competition.

Waveform’s answer is to build on Tracktion’s clean UI by making it yet more refined. It builds on its open workflow by adding modular mixing and enhanced “racks” for processing. And it runs on Linux – including Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04, the Mate desktop environment, and ultra-cheap Raspberry Pi hardware.

waveform-screen-modular-mix

For producers, there’s also some sweeteners added. There’s an integrated synth/sampler called Collective. And you get a whole bunch of MIDI generators, interestingly – atop a step sequencer already included with Tracktion, there are new pattern and chord generators. That’s interesting, in that it moves the DAW into the territory of things like FL Studio – or at the very least assumes you may want to use this environment to construct your ideas.

waveform-screen-composition-tools

waveform-screen-collective-hd

Oh yeah, and there’s a cute logo that looks, let’s be honest here, very reminiscent of something that rhymes with Bro Drools. (sorry)

Obligatory promo vid:

It looks attractive, certainly, and seems to go up against the likes of Studio One for clean-and-fresh DAW (plus standbys like Reaper). But this is a crowded field, full of people who don’t necessarily have time to switch from one tool to another. Pricing runs $99-200 for the full version depending on bundled features, and upgrades are $50 or free for Tracktion users — meaning they’ll be happy, I suspect.

If you’re up for reviewing this, let us know.

https://www.tracktion.com/products/waveform

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Apple announces that they’re not ready to announce new pro hardware

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 4 Apr 2017 11:14 pm

Apple today summoned a handful of tech reporters to a product lab, essentially to announce that … they were between announcements.

Apple’s unusual PR experiment today was to mix mea culpa and product teaser, in a drawn out explanation of why their hardware wasn’t shipping. The result of this messaging technique: journalists in the room for the briefing dutifully recorded the agonizing details of how Apple sees its “pro” user base and how it prioritizes desktop functionality:

The Mac Pro is getting a major do-over [Mashable]
Apple pushes the reset button on the Mac Pro [TechCrunch]
The Mac Pro Lives [Daring Fireball, who at least added some more reflection]

Journalists not invited to the same briefing tended to go to an angle more like this:
Apple admits the Mac Pro was a mess [The Verge]

There are two questions here, though, as I see it.

Question one: what’s a pro user, anyway?

It’s easy to dump on Apple here, but one thing I will say is that they’ve historically understood the first question better than any of their competition. Gruber was actually the only writer who seemed to pick up on Apple’s intention there. And, frankly, the results were telling. One big revelation (if an unsurprising one): most Mac users aren’t pro users. Defining the percentage of Mac users who use apps for serious creation and software development as pros at least once a week, Apple found only 30% of users count. For more regular use, that number drops to 15%. And notebook computers (MacBook) dominate both that pro market and the overall Mac user base, at 80% (I think that’s by revenue, not number).

Catering to slivers of that group can’t be easy. When users talk about “pros,” what they really mean is themselves, individually. And that market is full of endless variation.

CDM readers are routinely doing far more specialized things, like virtual reality experiments or live visuals or running 3D game engines onstage or programming robotic drum ensembles. That may sound extreme to even cite as an example, but remember that over the years Apple Computer (under Jobs but also under other CEOs) did sometimes refer to exactly those kinds of weird edge cases in, you know, expensive TV ads. In fact, today, you still see edge cases cited in iOS ads.

Question two: what hardware do you make for that user?

If pro users are by a definition an edge case, and desktop a subset of that, and advanced desktop another slice, we’re talking ever-smaller bit. It’s not totally clear what Apple sees as important to that group, actually – and it’s even murkier what they intend to do. Here’s what Apple did clearly say publicly, though it was more about what they aren’t doing than what they are:

What they aren’t doing:
They’re not shipping new iMacs until later this year.
They’re not shipping a new Mac Pro in 2017.
They’re not shipping a new dedicated display in 2017.
They’re not shipping a largescreen dedicated touchscreen or a product like the Surface Studio, and they say the Mac Pro user they’re targeting isn’t interested in that.

What they will be doing in the future:
There will be a new iMac this year, and it will cater to pro specs.
There will be some kind of ground-up redesign of the Mac Pro, and it will be “modular” (which I could interpret from context only as meaning there’s no integrated display).
There will be a display to go with it.

What they didn’t entirely rule out:
Federighi followed up ruling out touch for the Mac Pro user by mentioning a “two-prong desktop strategy with both iMac and Mac Pro.” (I wouldn’t interpret that as a promise of a touch iMac, but it did seem to leave the door open. Then again, he also was responding to the question of the Microsoft Surface Studio, which seems a lot like what a touch iMac would be.)

What they’re shipping right now:
There’s a new Mac Pro configuration. You won’t want it, though, as it only swaps a new CPU and GPU config for the existing model – so you’re still stuck without modern ports (Thunderbolt 3, USB-C). It’s also bloody expensive:

US$2,999 now buys you a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory. That’s £2,999.00 (UK)/ €3,399 (Germany).

US$3,999 gets you an 8-core processor and dual D700 GPUs. £3,899.00 (UK) / € 4,599.00 (Germany).

Each of those has 256GB of internal storage. It does not include a mouse, keyboard, or display. Memory, storage, and graphics are upgradeable options, but they’re expensive — the base model with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of internal storage will run you US$3,999. (Maximum is 64GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD.)

Those are middle-of-the-road CPU and GPU specs, too, given what’s now available in desktop factors in larger form factors.

What did we learn?

Uh… nothing? Well, we learned that Apple isn’t eliminating the iMac or the Mac Pro. We just have no idea what they’ll look like.

Look, I’ll be honest: this is weird. Apple has a decades-long record, under multiple different leadership teams, that demonstrate the importance of letting shipping products do the talking rather than future products, and focusing on user stories over specs. Today feels a bit like there was a transporter accident and we a reverse-universe Apple that did the opposite.

The only thing missing was Tim Cook showing up with a beard.

Windows I think has some opportunities here – not least because Apple for some reason decided to make headline news of its own shortcomings rather than its strengths. In theory, the Windows PC ecosystem has always been better positioned to cater to specific edge cases through hardware variety, and things like music and motion qualify. In practice, though, it’s down to whoever delivers the best user experience and overall value.

If Windows continues to improve the OS experience and offer competitive hardware options, I don’t doubt that we’ll see some re-balancing of the OSes used by creative users.

This is nothing new; we’ve seen regular oscillations between platforms for decades. But I think the next months will be revealing; you compete with what you’re shipping, and PC makers keep shipping new stuff while Apple isn’t.

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Sloo is the maddest, most swarming soft synth you’ve ever heard

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 10 Mar 2017 10:32 pm

When was the last time you just got lost in a synthesizer? Like, when you forgot everything else you were doing and just turned knobs and forgot what hour it was?

Well, if it’s been a while, you might want to try Sloo.

If you want, you don’t actually need to read any more. Just know that Sloo is a thing for Reaktor from Tim Exile, and it involves a gazillion oscillators, and it will make totally mental noises. It feels like someone has just heated up a giant, hot, steaming Jacuzzi of oscillators and you’ve jumped in and dunked your head.

Here, this is literally the first sound I managed to make with it, plugging it into Bitwig Studio (just for kicks), and then … uh … let’s say I’m sure I did something highly technical and sophisticated. I definitely didn’t just turn up a bunch of knobs and move the morph fader around. That suggests I don’t really know what I’m doing, and just mess with stuff like a toddler. Ha!

Sloo makes loads of other sounds, too. Here’s Tim Exile’s own demo, which gives you a taste of just how much synth-y synthness is in this synth, and how synthtastic that is:

Okay, so what is this thing, anyway?

Think of 48 independent voices – and imagine each voice has not just pitch as a parameter, but oscillator type, frequency modulation, and modulation via an LFO and mod matrix.

Now you can take all those parameters, and randomize clouds of voices around each directly. Where things get really interesting is moving the “morph” control – then these voices all “swarm” to a new destination, in denser or sparser clouds. (If you know the Swarmatron, that does something like this with just pitch. Now, imagine … a bunch of parameters.)

And that’s it, really. Sloo isn’t complicated, but that’s a good thing – the results are insanely varied. You can make fairly slick, conventional lead synth sounds or wild EDM-ish rhythms or psychotic Xenakis-style sound assaults or any number of dozens of whole genres lying in between. And you can actually decide to do all of those things and morph between them.

There are various other performances features: multiple scale settings (click on the different letters of the word “scale” – cute), pattern storage with live pattern switching, quantization, and an amplitude envelope (though that, too, is routed to the independent voices).

If you want to delve in still deeper, start clicking the ‘+’ icons scattered through the interface, and you’ll find multiple filter types, LFO modulation and routing, scale editing, fine-tuned pitch spread options, and other more granular controls. The whole instrument is indeed a lot more sophisticated that it may look at first blush, by design.

sloo_details

For getting hands-on, there’s Komplete Kontrol S-Series compatibility out of the box. I also found accessing parameters was really easy via Bitwig Studio, which mapped nicely to the parameters (and provided its own useful modulation and pattern control).

But — I can’t emphasize this enough — you don’t need to know what you’re doing. The randomization settings here are always at hand in the clock-looking icon at the top, and you can always dial through previous random settings.

At first, I thought that everyone would be all over a particular sound the synth makes – until I realized that was almost an utterly random occurrence, and it seems to make a bunch more, too.

Here are some examples from Herr Exile:

So, good grief, this is good. £39 / US$48 / €45 gets you a copy, though you’ll need Reaktor. (But I have to say, of all the software I advise people to invest in, at the moment Reaktor is way, way up on the top of the list.)

And Tim Exile, if you haven’t checked him out yet, is a rare bird himself, both a virtuoso electronic soloist who always gets everyone having a devilishly good time, and a master crafter of electronic inventions, largely by delving into the furthest depths of Reaktor.

Also, Reaktor experts – this patch is unlocked, meaning you can get into its powerful inner workings if you’re ready.

Have at it:

https://shop.timexile.com

The post Sloo is the maddest, most swarming soft synth you’ve ever heard appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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