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


Elektron Analog updates let you sequence other gear, add musical complexity

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 21 Oct 2019 5:13 pm

Elektron just revised their Analog Four and Analog Rytm MKI/MKII OSes. Finally: MIDI out. Wait, that’s cool: per-track scale, powerful macros, and more.

A few features really stand out here.

First, finally you get sequencer MIDI out. Now, that’s been a long wait, but it at last brings the Elektron sequencer workflow and conditional trigs and whatnot to all the other stuff in your studio.

There’s some other cool stuff in this update, though:

Scale per track: Borrowed from the Digitakt and Digitone, this makes even more sense as an advanced feature on the Analog line.

Parameter randomization: You can do this instantly across a whole page, and there’s revert if you don’t like it.

Multiple performance macros, one knob: The Quick Performance Control knob now can be assigned multiple macros. I’d say Elektron are gradually improving their live performance features, and it’s a welcome move.

Graphics have been improved, too, and there are various bug fixes and other little details.

https://www.elektron.se/support/

News item on upgrades

The post Elektron Analog updates let you sequence other gear, add musical complexity appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Novation Launchpad X, mini are the latest take on the hit music grid controller

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 15 Oct 2019 4:48 pm

Novation’s new grids remain straightforward, but now offer updated expressive and portable versions. And a separate bonus – DIYers wanting to make custom apps for these grids will find it easier than ever.

It’s now a full decade since the first Launchpad burst on the scene. There were grids before, and certainly a multitude of grids since. But what set the Launchpad apart has always been its focus on the task at hand. Launchpads are ultra-rugged, lightweight, simple grids that do just that. So, you’ll probably still want some knobs and faders, but the Launchpad was always the go-to for an a la carte 8×8 set of friendly squares. And they’re simple, lean, and light enough that you can also toss one in a backpack – especially if we’re talking the mini.

Novation today are revising two of the most popular models:

The LaunchpadMini [MK3] is an adorable, tiny grid that now has RGB lights. It’s really hard to overstate how portable and useful that is; I got a test unit and have started taking it everywhere. US$114.99.

The Launchpad X is the latest middle-of-the-road model, which now boasts more expressive, playable features for its pressure- and velocity-sensitive pads. US$229.99.

Both now have USB-C, as we gradually usher in the age of the latest USB connector, and both continue to work out of the box easily with Ableton Live.

There’s a bonus twist, though – Novation are adding a standard API which will make it easier than before to integrate Launchpad with your own custom software inventions and hacks.

I’ve tested both controllers, and immediately find them invaluable.

New hardware

Okay, so first – if you don’t know the Launchpads, yeah, these are grids. (Full credit to the original, independently designed monome much that predated it by a few years, though those aren’t available broadly like the Launchpad!)

What Novation has managed to pull off in the intervening years is to make a string of variations and regular iterations without sacrificing simplicity, and compact size and weight. Later versions have added pressure and velocity sensitivity, color, and portability, plus the ability to operate without drivers. (The very first Launchpad won’t work with iPad, Android, or Raspberry Pi, among others; newer models will.)

Part of the advantage of the Launchpad line is that these generic grids could work with anything. But there are dedicated triggers for Ableton Live when you want them, and that remains the most popular use case. Both Launchpad X and mini MK3 will launch clips and scenes and control the transport. Plus, while you don’t get continuous control as with faders or knobs, you can still control the mixer and other parameters from the grid in a unique, one-touch fashion.

Note the dedicated Capture MIDI button, top right. What you can’t see: Launchpad X is also bigger, and features pads that register how hard you hit them, and if you apply pressure as you hold them down. (Launchpad mini works just as on/off buttons.) Plus there are extra shortcut labels, as well.

Launchpad X

  • More responsive velocity- and sensitivity-sensitive RGB pads
  • Drum and Note modes for programming drum kits and melodies, respectively. And they’re really simple, like dedicated buttons that say “Drum” and “Note” on them
  • Capture MIDI button which lets you immediately store an idea even if you forgot to hit record, as found as part of the latest Ableton Live. (I uh envy those of you tapping out these brilliant ideas; I need the pressure of the record button, but hey… )
  • Dynamic Note and Scale mode for keeping stuff in key
  • Dedicated stop, solo, mute, record arm, levels, pans, and send

You can find all of these things elsewhere, but Launchpad X literally fits on my desk when other gear won’t, and it’s uncommonly easy to find those one-button tools versus other more complex controllers.

Plus, having tested the Launchpad X, the performance is now really fantastic and expressive – something that generally requires more money or (again) more space and complexity. It’s fantastic to have a truly expressive Launchpad.

https://novationmusic.com/launch/launchpad-x

LaunchpadMini MK3

The mini also has Drum and Dynamic Note modes, still has dedicated controls, but now adds USB-C and RGB light-up pads to the existing mini design.

I always loved the mini, but it felt like a throwback going to those monochromatic pads – and visual feedback becomes somehow more important since you sacrifice velocity and pressure.

https://novationmusic.com/launch/launchpad-mini

And extras

Both tools also give you membership to Novation’s Sound Collective which delivers a free plug-in a few times a year, plus a bunch of additional plug-ins (AAS, XLN, klevgrand, Softube).

Both products:

https://novationmusic.com/news/introducing-launchpad-x-and-new-launchpad-mini

Here’s KiNK playing live with the mini:

DIY delight

Here’s where things get interesting – you can customize everything. And since the Launchpad is driverless and relatively simple, you can quickly plug it into your Raspberry Pi or PC or some custom hardware you’re building and quickly prototype. And you won’t be tripping over buttons that you can’t customize because they’re tied to specific software from the same company.

These customizations will exist on a number of levels:

Custom MIDI mappings. There are three custom modes on mini and four on Launchpad X, which lets you send MIDI CC, notes and program change messages, and use rows or columns as faders.

That means multiple pages of control you can map to whatever you want, via Novation Components. So, for instance, put the mini alongside a compact controller with faders and knobs, and you get a controller rig you could fit into a purse, let alone a backpack.

MIDI API. Everything the Launchpad does is also available as a programmable API – in both directions, so output from the device, plus the ability to light the pads. This will allow third-party developers to make all sorts of new integrations with popular software, or for hackers and artists to try their own custom creations for tools like Pd, Reaktor, Max/MSP, Processing, and VCV Rack.

r_cycle – like a hardware module for your software. Okay, so given this all runs on MIDI, what if you could be a live coder or patcher with access to the Launchpad grid directly from software. I mean, sure, you can do that with MIDI, but that means tediously referencing MIDI CC numbers and other awful things. What if it were more elegant?

That’s the vision of an open source project called r_cycle that will build on the API and work with your favorite DIY tools. It’s not part of Launchpad in its officially supported use, but – that’s not really the point. The point is, you’ll be able to quickly spawn, say, a colored grid that plays a particular synth you’re live coding or patching in software.

This is obviously exciting and worth a deeper look; expect more on this soon.

But yeah, the idea of just live coding hardware? That’s pretty excellent.

I was already starting to play with the Launchpad mini MK3 with VCV Rack, and I’m keeping it with me while I work with Pd and other tools.

More on all of this soon.

The post Novation Launchpad X, mini are the latest take on the hit music grid controller appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Fractal Bits is a drum synth with over 4 billion sounds, for iOS and Android [warmplace.ru]

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 15 Oct 2019 10:58 am

Alexander Zolotov, genius creator of SunVox and other tools, strikes again. This time, you get a donationware “fractal” drum synth capable of producing some four billion unique sounds.

Each drum sound starts with an 8-character code, from which the synth generates the sound via “fractal algorithms.” It seems we may need to talk to him more about what the heck is going on here, but the results are gorgeous, metallic textures with richly varied possibilities.

You just navigate with the simplest controls a drum synth may have ever seen: next, previous, and (for editing the codes) edit. (There’s also a LCK button to “lock” a particular drum hit you like so you don’t lose it as you randomize the rest.)

Because there are eight characters spawning all of the sounds, you can copy or paste presets as plain text and share with others.

The drum synth is also playable. You can record individual hits and export them for use elsewhere (as in your favorite hardware drum machine). You can just finger drum in real time. You can control the synth from MIDI. You can export full recordings.

For now, this is only available on mobile platforms, but I’m trying it out on both iOS and Android. And as usual, Alexander has packed this with features – and this can be a sketchpad for his excellent, omniOS-compatible tracker, which also impossibly costs just a few bucks:

  • three types of keyboards for live drumming: on-screen buttons, PC keyboard, MIDI input;
  • six additional processing parameters + control of all parameters via MIDI;
  • real-time audio recording to WAV (32-bit);
  • export to: WAV (one file or a set), SunVox (samples + effects in one file), text clipboard;
  • iOS: Audio Unit Extension (AUv3), Audiobus, Wi-Fi export/import.

I mean, wow. Donationware / pay what you will.

https://warmplace.ru/soft/fbits/

The post Fractal Bits is a drum synth with over 4 billion sounds, for iOS and Android [warmplace.ru] appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

You should delay upgrading to iOS 13, too, music makers – but don’t sweat the future

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 14 Oct 2019 6:32 pm

Okay, so you got the message not to rush into macOS Catalina. But we didn’t talk about the new iOS and what it means for musicians using iPads and iPhones in their work. Let’s explain.

What’s the hurry?

With iOS, just as with macOS, the main message is – don’t rush. Moving to grab a new OS the day it’s out is crazy. There’s virtually no case where you need to stay that current for music making. At the opposite extreme, never upgrading the OS is also problematic in most cases. You’ll eventually miss out on newer features in your favorite apps, and can even create security vulnerabilities if you wait long enough. (Since an iPad or iPhone is definitely connected to the Internet, that’s a serious issue in a way that it wouldn’t be on, say, a vintage KORG MS-20 hardware synth.)

iOS does pose an additional challenge: it’s practically impossible to roll back after upgrading. So take your time, leave some weeks for the bugs to be ironed out, and make sure you’re not upgrading right before going onstage with your iPad as a live instrument.

Okay, with all of that out of the way – iOS 13 doesn’t appear as though it will cause any long-lasting incompatibilities with music software. iOS 13 brought some major changes, particularly on the iPad, but those are gradually getting smoother out – in particular with the iOS 13.1 release.

Fixes are here or inbound

iOS 13 got off to a somewhat rocky start for music, but Apple are fixing issues and redeemed the OS, according to various developers with whom I’ve spoken.

There are two specific areas I’ve been tracking.

Bluetooth MIDI. iOS 13 does in the short term introduce some connectivity issues with working with MIDI over Bluetooth and discoverability. I’ve seen sporadic unconfirmed reports of this, plus an official statement from KORG that their wireless devices that work over Bluetooth MIDI are presently incompatible. (That’s microKEY Air, nanoKEY Studio, and nanoKONTROL Studio.)

Apple did make changes to some Bluetooth security permissions, as the company seems uniquely focused on security and privacy as issues. (See also: macOS Catalina.) I would presume that may be the reason for this.

KORG says they are working on a fix, though. Wired connections are also a workaround. There seems to be no evidence this will be a long-term issue, just something that requires some short-term fixes.

Inter-App Audio (and Audiobus). This one I think probably impacts more people – but there’s actually good news here.

Starting in iOS 12.4, software like Audiobus might encounter an issue where routing audio between apps ceased working when operating in the background (or interrupted by a call, etc.).

Anyway, it’s not so important now. These issues are fixed, both on iOS 12 (12.4.2+) and iOS 13 (13.1+).

Audiobus remains a great way to route audio between apps. And the migration to AUv3 from the original architecture is – actually okay, as well. I spoke with the developer of Audiobus and Loopy about how that transition will go earlier this year:

Other issues. iOS 13.1 delivered a bunch of fixes to various unexpected behaviors, and developers are following suit. (Bleeding edge, advanced apps like Moog’s Minimoog Model D and Model 15 saw some issues, which have since been resolved, CDM has confirmed.)

There are also some reasons to genuinely look forward to iOS 13, particularly in that it finally adds real file management (with Files), though it’ll take some time for developers to update their tools.

Bottom line

I’m not here to bash Apple releases or to be a cheerleader. The question is what will allow you to focus on making music. Right now, from Apple, that’s looking like macOS Mojave for the rest of 2019, and iOS 12.4.2+ or 13.1.

iOS 13 is a reasonable update at the moment if you’ve got some time to make adjustments. You don’t need to grab it right this instant, but you certainly could if you’re not sitting backstage about to play live on Bluetooth MIDI controllers.

Love it or hate iOS, I think it is plainly inaccurate to claim that Apple isn’t looking at these issues. We can say objectively they are attempting to fix issues identified by third-party music developers – as they should, as any OS vendor should. You don’t have to love the results, but you can’t say the process isn’t happening.

And on another level, I think it’s equally fair to say that Apple’s iPad is unmatched if what you’re looking to buy is a dedicated touch tablet. Sure, Windows is a player with its Surface line for running Windows software with some touch capabilities, and you will definitely even prefer a Surface if you want to run desktop-only software like Ableton Live or Reaktor.

But there’s no reason to change the evaluation of the iPad as a platform. Their low-end models are already powerful enough to run a host of live music and audio apps, with a growing range of pro-quality tools from the likes of Eventide. (That in itself is a big enough story to talk about separately, since it makes Eventide’s effects accessible and affordable like never before. There are other examples, too – but this one is particularly plain.)

If we missed something, do sound off in comments – developers or users – as we’d love to hear your experience and pass it along.

The post You should delay upgrading to iOS 13, too, music makers – but don’t sweat the future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Some brutal handmade electronic sounds live, from Balfa

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 11 Oct 2019 7:42 pm

It’s Friday night; you want to set the mood. How about some violent electronic sounds from the handmade electronics of Spain’s Balfa? ¡Por supuesto!

We premiered Balfa’s music video and explored the range of his dynamic music last month. It’s time to return to check in on his live performance:

Details:

Live performance @ Eufònic Festival – 6th September 2019
Live improvisation while exploring the handmade devices I built. All the sound is generated only by analog crafted machines and synthesizers.
Video produced by Nektar Studio – IG: @nektarstudio

If you read Spanish, he did an interview in his native tongue with Red Bull accompanying the premiere of this live set documentation:

Mira en exclusiva el singular directo de Balfa

Previously:

The post Some brutal handmade electronic sounds live, from Balfa appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Quick! This ffmpeg cheat sheet solves your video, audio conversion needs, for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 11 Oct 2019 7:33 pm

Video, audio, convert, extract – once, these tasks were easy with QuickTime Pro, but now it’s gone. ffmpeg to the rescue – any OS, no money required.

It’s Friday, some deadlines (or the weekend) are looming, so seems as good a time as any to share this.

ffmpeg is a free, powerful tool for Mac, Windows, and Linux, with near magical abilities to convert audio and video in all sorts of ways. Even though it’s open source software with a lineage back to the year 2000, it very often bests commercial tools. It does more, better, and faster in a silly number of cases.

There’s just one problem: getting it to solve a particular task often involves knowing a particular command line invocation. You could download a graphical front end, but odds are that’ll just slow you down. So in-the-know media folks invariably make collections of little code bits they find useful.

Coder Jean-Baptiste Jung has saved you the trouble, with a cheat sheet of all the most useful code. And these bear striking resemblance to some of the stuff you used to be able to do in QuickTime Pro before Apple killed it.

19 FFmpeg Commands For All Needs [CatsWhoCode]

And on GitHub: https://gist.github.com/protrolium/e0dbd4bb0f1a396fcb55

There are some particularly handy utilities there involving audio, which is where tools like Adobe’s subscription-only commercial options often fail. (Not to mention Adobe is proving it will cut off some localities based on politics – greetings, Venezuelan readers.)

It’s great stuff. But if you see something missing, put it here, and we’ll make our own little CDM guide.

The post Quick! This ffmpeg cheat sheet solves your video, audio conversion needs, for free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Around VCV Rack modular community, eclectic flowing sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 11 Oct 2019 6:44 pm

A funny thing happened on the way to the VCV Rack forum. In a paradigm many still stubbornly imagine as chin scratching noise, software modular makers are producing beautiful, liquid electronic sounds.

The latest fruits of these labors can be heard in volume 3 of the Switched On Rack series. Actually forget that this has anything to do with software at all – what you get is really a perfectly gorgeous compilation of experimental sounds, lush textures, expansive ambient music, intelligent rhythms.

It’s hypnotic, warm, entrancing stuff:

What strikes me is actually how coherent the result can be. Despite coming from an open submission online, the results hold together both than … well, than the vast majority of various artist compilations! I occasionally hear some familiar sounds, particularly from the influential Mutable Instruments-derived stuff, but even that in a good way. It’s almost unfortunate that this is associated with a tool, and people might miss the musical significance.

But maybe that isn’t incidental at all. There’s always this question of what makes a scene. Having access to the same set of instruments and tools is always significant to music-making – VCV Rack itself is free, and even paid add-ons are relatively affordable and one click away. And not only that, but VCV Rack users also have various ways to share tips about modules, whether they prefer reading forum posts or sending messages to friends or watching detailed YouTube tutorials.

Or they can even simply post videos of their patches to share and inspire – and even if you prefer not to try to squint to see what they’ve done, it might still prompt you to try an idea or find a previously unknown module.

For developers, this also demonstrates that you don’t necessarily need a comprehensive online strategy to make users do this. If you make inspiring tools, they may well do it on their own. (In CDM parts, we’ve seen this story repeat, from Eurorack hardware to the open monome community to live coding and even larger phenomena like Ableton Live use.)

https://switchedonrack.bandcamp.com/album/switched-on-rack-vol-3

For still more music, one person I’ve been following closely is Iowa IDM maestro Kent Williams aka Chaircrusher. Not This Time, his newest, is crisp, brain-tickling stuff. It isn’t 100% VCV Rack here, but the mind dancing textural precision is very much influenced by his Rack workflows, which are, quite frankly, where I’ve gotten a lot of my own tips. And I love the artwork.

It comes with this poetic, provocative accompanying text to puzzle over:

Somehow the main point of the story got lost in the telling. The digressions were full of details too specific to be true.

Over the course of a long life, the past disappears. New memories arise of alternate timelines, things that were never to be.

The ax laying rusted in the tall grass might cut again.

I have forgotten her face and her name, but the memory of my feeling for her is so vivid.

People are outlived by the smell of the cigarette smoke on their possessions.

What I want is to hear the music that no one makes, and to which no one will listen.

Everything is deadly if you wait long enough.

http://chaircrusher.bandcamp.com/album/not-this-time

So this really is somehow the point – some of the people close to their tools will be the ones working together to push a shared musical language forward, together.

For more on VCV Rack and the community – which now runs on an excellent independent forum as well as on The FaceBook:

VCV Rack: vcvrack.com
Community Forum: community.vcvrack.com
Facebook User Group: www.facebook.com/groups/vcvrack
Sign-up sheet: docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FUi3cekjhm_WmEocb7KXg_qdnIYosZIyQyr1i_Q6EK4/edit#gid=0

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Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 10 Oct 2019 6:19 pm

It started with some feedback from a musician and music theorist to a developer. What happened next: this powerful set of Android music tools evolved some new rhythmic chops.

Android doesn’t get a lot of musical love, despite its popularity. But while the assortment of apps is a fraction of what’s available on iOS, some of the choices that are there are real gems. That opens up possibilities in case you prefer Android as your smartphone (some of which already get into tablet sizes), or if you’ve picked up an inexpensive Android tablet.

In this case, CDM reader Jon Stubbs had bought the Planet-h line of apps, and decided to get in touch with the developer about some additional rhythmic features he wanted. The results exceeded his expectations.

I’m recently back on Android myself with a Huawei phone and I do have a tendency to, uh, collect devices, so I found this fascinating. Jon asked if we would reprint his review. And it has everything I love – engineering and music theory meeting to let you do more with music-making. Here’s Jon:

Exploring rhythm

As a life-long learner, composer, performer, teacher and tinkerer, I’m obsessed with exploring new rhythms. It’s not just a pursuit of odd-for-odd’s-sake. Rather, I love hearing and crafting compositions where delightfully unusual rhythmic elements are presented in a blanced and compelling context.

This obsession began with the humble triplet and the music of Zimbabwe. I studied jazz and was accustomed to the well-worn rhythms of swing and triplets. Later, I found my way into the community of Zimbabwean music, where I was surprised to hear entirely new triplet-based rhythms; and where even the triplet grid itself has a “swing” that is refreshingly different from the even “grid” of western music.

Around that same time, I started creating quintuplet (5 steps-per-beat) grooves using a couple of drum machine apps. These apps forced me to fake the beat divisions using 16th notes, but I was still able to get my feet wet. Then I discovered the wonderful Metronomics app by John Nastos, which allowed me to delve into more unusual ideas. [Ed.: That app, dubbed a metronome for “real musicians,” is available on macOS, iOS, and Android, all three – you can also run it on Windows or Linux in an Android emulator.]

The grooves I eventually made with quintuplets, septuplets and nonuplets were serious fun – especially when using the technique of starting out with ordinary rhythms but then shifting them to fit the new subdivisions. The results are glitchy grooves with a new flavor of “shuffle”; these beats are quite natural sounding after only a few listenings.

A Simple Favor

From time to time, I’ve submitted requests to mobile app developers that they expand their step-rate (steps-per-beat) options to allow for greater exploration of new rhythms. Though my requests mostly go unanswered, I have had a few successes. However, no developer has met my requests with as much enthusiasm and determination as Andreas Graesser of Swiss-based Planet-h.com. The scope and quality of his G-Stomper Producer app are massively impressive, giving the user immense creative and sonic freedom.

I originally asked that he add quintuplets and septuplets to the existing step-rate options. He responded saying, “I have room for six more options”. We settled on expanding the step rates to include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16 steps-per-beat! He made this change for all four apps in the G-Stomper lineup.

We worked together on ways to integrate time-signatures so that they look and act the way experienced musicians expect them to. For example, most mobile apps treat 6/8 (if they include it at all) as equal to 3/4– (3 beats, each divided into 2 or 4 steps) but 6/8 should actually be two beats with triplets (3 or 6 steps per beat). It is the same with 3/8, 9/8, 12/8, where the dotted-quarter note is the actual beat (and NOT the quarter, nor the eighth). Andreas had to make a few special cases to reveal more information than a typical time-signature would allow, yet without making it hopelessly confusing for seasoned users of his apps. He found an elegant set of solutions.

Andreas puts great care into the documentation– which is essential for this feature-packed, deep software. The docs were updated to clearly explain the new features. We both had very specific ideas about how to communicate things. We even debated over how to format a table. When there were a couple of button labels that were unclear to me, Andreas quickly adapted the docs to make things more clear. It was a fascinating and fun process.

G-Stomper apps

The apps in the G-Stomper product line include:

All of these apps provide slightly different features, approaches, and workflows. Yet they all use the same expanded system for step-rates and time signatures. It’s worth mentioning here that every step can be individually shifted by 32 micro steps (separate and apart from the timing system).  G-Stomper Producer provides the most flexibility by providing the aforementioned step-rates, 1-16 steps per bar, 1-8 bars, all on a PER TRACK basis. That means the kick, hat, snare, (or user samples) can all have their own timing setup. The other G-Stomper apps use a more standard groovebox approach with rhythm settings applying to all the tracks of a pattern. I like the flexibility and power of Producer, but I also appreciate the ease of workflow in the Studio, Rhythm, and VA-Beast apps. There are several best-in-class features in all of the apps, but rather than list them here, you can try out the demo and discover for yourself. 

If you’re an Android user and maybe you thought Caustic was the only game in town, you owe it to yourself to check out G-Stomper Producer. There’s a whole world of new sounds and rhythms to explore!

Jon Stubbs

www.jonstubbsmusic.com

G-Stomper Producer is available for $12.99 USD via Google Play or Amazon. A free demo version is also available.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

Planet-h website:

https://www.planet-h.com/

This story was edited from an original version on Jon’s site, with permission:

https://jonstubbsmusic.com/2019/09/25/g-stomper-producer-review/

The post Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Accusonus Rhythmiq is an AI assistant that works with your rhythms and control

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 9 Oct 2019 4:20 pm

“AI” in the popular imagination has become a vision of machines making the music. Rhythmiq is a new plug-in that’s the opposite – software that promises to let you do more with your own grooves.

Rhythm is one of the areas where machine learning seems already to excel. The science around these AI techniques at the moment focuses on just this sort of pattern recognition – it’s powerful for analyzing time-domain nuance, like grooves. So for anyone who complains about the cookie-cutter impact of “on the grid” music software, AI might actually offer some hope. “The grid” no longer needs to be a mechanical, perfect division of the beat or repetitive groove and swing. You can train machines on recognizing more sophisticated patterns, and producing variations accordingly.

I’ll go into a deep dive as far as how Rhythmiq works at another time, but you can certainly count it as an early attempt to chart music software into just these waters. And yeah, the whole idea here is to get more out of your own loops. Accusonus have even produced an elegant-looking interface with hands-on controls so you can dial in what you want interactively.

The basic workflow is this:

Add a loop. Yep, you can use your own sounds.

Make variations on that loop, by turning an on-screen knob (or mapping that to hardware) – essentially guiding the software algorithms where you want them to go.

Play the variations in real-time as you jam, even without looking at the screen, for fills, breaks, build-ups, drops, and, uh, whatever else you want as you play.

Yep, it has controls on it. So this isn’t just a ghost in the shell – the whole idea is to give you something you can play. It’s machines as more interactive, not less.

This is in stark contrast to the primitive way you might be tempted to work with loop- and sample-driven software and hardware. That use case is more like: start a loop, let that loop play repetitively forever, and attempt to jam over top of that loop as it gets progressively more annoying. (Whee!) Sure, that works really well for music that relies on repetitive patterns – behold, the mystery of the techno 4/4 kick. But it applies pretty poorly for everything else.

This also demonstrates that the real-world applications of AI may be more sophisticated, and more appealing to actual musicians, than some of the popular fantasy. We’ve been told for years that AI needs to be autonomous – that it needs to replace us as humans, or come up with ideas when we’re uninspired. If you talk to actual data scientists working in real-world applications of machine learning, though, they will routinely still refer to their work as “AI” without being concerned with this autonomy. Why? Well, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain:

  • a) because it’s not presently possible to make that sort of autonomous machine code, and
  • b) because there isn’t necessarily a real world demand for it.

This should particularly obvious in music, however. I think musicians want the machines to make the music for them in the same way that they want video games to play themselves, or to watch someone else doing it.

No, if you’re willing to invest in music technology, odds are that you do have some inspiration and ideas and you do actually enjoy, you know, making music yourself. Where the frustration comes in is that software works in ways that are often pretty foreign to the way we hear music. And that’s why Rhythmiq is part of a promising direction in adding intelligence to the music.

In short, this isn’t about making you dumber. It’s about making your music software smarter – more like you. Even as beginners, you are already pretty damned smart when it comes to understanding rhythm. (Seriously. Humans are amazing.)

Anyway, that’s the concept. Actually making this work involves some deep research and technology on one side, and requires some extensive testing in user music making on the other. I’ll be investigating both sides of that shortly. (I’ve already started looking at pre-release versions of the software.)

One note – this does still rely on audio content. That means you do have some of the audible artifacts of deriving portions of the sound from the larger sound material, which gives the loops some of that lo-fi, IDM sound – which you might love or not. It seems there is also potential in driving variations in MIDI (or other timing information) alone, and then triggering slices in a more conventional way.

But this is a huge leap forward for Accusonus’ technology, and delivers on some of what we saw previously in their Regroover plug-in. (See links below, which also go into some of the AI behind this.)

Also, stay tuned, as I’m part of a team continuing to explore the applications of AI and music. Following our work with GAMMA Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, we head next to a partnership in November with MUTEK.JP in Tokyo, again pairing data scientists and technologists with musicians and curators and lots of people fitting several of those descriptions at once.

Rhythmiq is available today. It’s US$99 through the end of October, $149 after that. And you can try a 14-day test version, so you don’t have to trust me or the developers or anyone else about how well it works; you can find out yourself.

You’ll be better off in certain hosts than others – yep, try Reaper and its free evaluation version if all else fails. According to Accusonus:

Compatible and fully tested: Ableton Live 10, Apple Logic Pro X

Compatible: FL Studio 20, Presonus Studio One, Cockos Reaper

https://accusonus.com/products/rhythmiq

There are a couple of marketing videos, but I actually think you should start with the playlist of tutorial videos to see how this works – especially if you’re trying the demo:

Here are the developers talking a bit about their thinking going into this, but I’ll try to get a little deeper with them about how it all works and why go this way:

Previously:

The post Accusonus Rhythmiq is an AI assistant that works with your rhythms and control appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Don’t upgrade to Catalina yet – here’s an easy explanation why not

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 8 Oct 2019 12:38 pm

I’ve done the deep dive. Here’s the easy explanation of why it’s too soon to upgrade to macOS Catalina – either if you’re pressed for time, or to forward to your friends.

macOS Catalina will break some music and visual software and hardware, because of changes to backward compatibility and some major new security features never before seen on a desktop OS.

The question is whether you want to find the incompatibilities and bugs yourself, or wait a while and let someone else do it for you.

Also, there is no reason to upgrade right now. Features like Sidecar, letting you use Apple Pencil and iPad as a second display/input device, are available elsewhere. (Try Duet. Or upgrade to Mojave if you haven’t already.)

So the fact I see people rushing to upgrade tells me they don’t understand why it’s a bad idea. Here’s why it’s a bad idea.

What could go wrong if you upgrade too soon

Some software won’t launch. Just one 32-bit dependency can break software like DAWs from launching. There is a tool that checks for whether apps are entirely 32-bit called Go64. But many DAWs and notation tools, for example, do require updates even to what could be labeled a 64-bit version.

DAWs will require an update before they work with plug-ins. Security changes mean that DAWs need to be specifically updated for Catalina in order to work. Check with your DAW maker. Ableton Live 10 in its latest, Catalina-specific release work, as does Apple’s own Logic Pro X. Many popular DAWs don’t have updates, and won’t until later in October (or even beyond that). And just because a DAW says it’s updated is not a 100% guarantee on your specific system, because —

Plug-ins and other tools may behave in unexpected ways. New macOS features for providing security permissions haven’t been tested in every combination yet. And new security requirements can also mess with software in obscure ways, because some of the things we do in music and visuals interact with input hardware (like keyboards and mice). Developers tell me this can cause unexpected behaviors – think bugs or even crashes with certain plug-ins or other tools. If you update today, you’re the one testing some of these combinations, even if you think your software is up to date. If you wait, you can let developers test it for you.

Some installers won’t work. A lot of older installers and uninstallers are 32-bit, not 64-bit. So if you update a system, then decide to install a plug-in or driver you forgot, you may hit a hard wall. If these are not actively supported devices or plug-ins, you may be unable to use them without rolling back the OS version.

You won’t be able to use iTunes with DJ software. Do you manage your music library with iTunes, then DJ with that library with Traktor, Serato, Rekordbox, and other tools? Do you use iTunes on the Mac for playlists and library management and then use Rekordbox to load the library on USB sticks? iTunes is removed from Catalina, it doesn’t run on Catalina, this functionality doesn’t work, and there’s currently no information on what workaround will be possible or how the new Music app will or won’t work with these tools. It’s very possible this will get fixed, but right now it doesn’t work and there’s no information on what the fix will be. Got it?

You’re going to see a whole bunch of dialog boxes. Yeah, about those new security features – the first run can be, uh, exciting. Here’s an image. Fortunately, this is only on the first time you launch software. It’s another example of why you should do major OS updates basically when you have no critical work coming up and some free time on your hands.

Printers and other hardware may need an update. Look around you. See every device you rely on? Double-check that device has support. Does that seem like too much time? Maybe wait some weeks or months, because it will get better.

How long is long, and who should upgrade, and how?

Even waiting two weeks helps. Various developers including heavyweights like Steinberg and Pioneer are saying they expect to have more information by the end of October. That may sound arbitrary, but it has to do with the amount of time developers have had to deal with final pre-release versions of the OS and, as of yesterday, the OS being out in the wild with all of us.

Who should upgrade now? Developers and system administrators or anyone whose job is support.

For everyone else, plan on this:

If you want to retain support for older plug-ins and drivers that may not be updated, expect to keep one Mac around that runs Mojave or earlier.

If you do want to upgrade, just use a second hard drive to test first. This is even more effective than making a full backup (though that’s always a good idea, too). Here’s an easy guide. But even if you’re thinking of a testbed system, you should probably wait 2-4 weeks minimum.

If you’re thinking of buying a new system, for now, these will all still run Mojave if you need them to do so. In the future, Apple may upgrade its Mac hardware in such a way that will require Catalina, so be aware of that if you need to run any old 32-bit tools.

Use a break soon to upgrade to … Mojave

For stable systems, many of us for years have simply lagged Apple by one year, because macOS is now on an annual autumn release cadence.

So now is – seriously – a great time to update to Mojave. That upgrade is still available from the Mac App Store. It’s now quite stable and thoroughly tested, and updates are available to most tools.

It’s also an ideal “long term” upgrade for the Mac for a long time to come. It has the most stable audio system of recent updates, it has support for most of the newest Apple APIs (even including Metal graphics), and yet it retains support for 32-bit software.

https://support.apple.com/macos/mojave

Download directly from the App Store

Hey, remember, some people still have Atari machines they use actively for music.

What about Windows? Look, all OSes are complicated to support. And yeah, Windows users, don’t get snarky yet. While Microsoft has excellent developer support and tends to prioritize backward compatibility in ways Apple does not, it’s very likely Windows will also face some challenges as it moves away from 32-bit support and deals with security threats. Basically, let’s leave OS wars for the 1990s and focus on what works best for your actual use case. Though I would happily engage in an Atari versus Amiga debate for nostalgia’s sake if someone wants.

Why would we ever want this upgrade?

Okay, good question. This isn’t limited to Catalina – you might even wait for the OS update after this one – but Apple is adding features that could eventually matter to the Mac. (It’s hard to compare this directly to Linux or Windows, but at least for Mac users.)

More iOS apps will work on the Mac. 10.15 is the minimum OS version that supports a technology called Catalyst that will make it easier for iOS-only apps to run on the Mac, too.

The Mac is getting more accessible. Users with disabilities will find additional features in macOS Catalina, both for people with impaired vision and those using voice control and entry.

There should be expanded performance working with visuals. We’re waiting on more test data on this, but just as Apple is dumping some old graphics APIs, you should expect enhanced video and 3D graphics performance from many of the new ones. (As I said, for now you do getthe Metal benefits under Mojave, though some specific features for working with for instance Apple’s own displays are Catalina-only.)

There are various consumer features, too. If you’re involved in game development, for instance, you may care that Apple Arcade is on the new Mac release.

And yes, I think for people with iPads, the Sidecar combination with Catalina will be great – though I’m sticking with iPad Pro / Pencil and Duet on Windows and Mac for now, personally.

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macOS Catalina is here; Final Cut update, Logic compatibility, who should wait

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 7 Oct 2019 10:56 pm

macOS Catalina is here as a free update today, along with updated information on Apple’s own pro apps. But music users should continue to delay upgrading for now.

I’ve already written about what changes in macOS Catalina, and why many DAWs, plug-ins, and hardware drivers will be incompatible without updates. You can read that full deep dive, which also includes resources on how to backup your system if you do want to upgrade, and how to retrieve previous macOS versions in case you want to upgrade to something like Mojave instead. (Mojave is now very stable, most readers and developers support, meaning a Mac upgrade that lags Apple’s annual upgrade cadence may make sense.) To catch up, check that article here:

The short version: Catalina adds security requirements for installers and software, and removes support for 32-bit code.

This isn’t an argument about whether or not those changes make sense – generally speaking, they do. But basically, if you have any need for stability and compatibility for critical creative work, you probably shouldn’t upgrade today. (And even if you do, you absolutely should back up everything first, and plan in advance how you would roll back the OS if needed.)

In fact, nothing has changed as far as the compatibility situation described in the article. Some developers do have updates ready for their latest software, as in the case of Ableton Live 10.

Most don’t, though, and it might only take one hardware driver or piece of software to ruin your day. Steinberg, for instance, referred back to their September 24 announcement and tell CDM they’ll need more. That illustrates just how fragile this can be – they’re working with Apple on issues involving their Dorico software and the Soft-eLicenser.

There’s also a lot of new technology in this update, meaning that if you really want a stable release, you need to wait anyway, even to give developers ample time to test the final build.

Start scratching off those lotto tickets, and this could be your desk. Final Cut Pro on the new Apple Mac Pro and matching display.

Apple Pro Apps updates

Here’s where I do have some news – Apple’s own pro apps are verified as compatible. (That isn’t necessarily a given, I might add.)

Logic Pro X and Motion are each compatible as of their most recent updates – Logic’s latest came in July, and Motion in March.

You’ll see in particular a significant notice in Motion that indicates that Apple has removed some deprecated media file support: “Detects media files that may be incompatible with future versions of macOS after Mojave.” (That may be related to 32-bit removals, but yeah, you might want to keep one machine around running an older OS, generally speaking.)

Logic release notes: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203718

Motion release notes: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202203

Final Cut Pro actually gets a dedicated update, optimized for the newest Apple hardware and software tech, version 10.4.7. You don’t need Catalina to run this latest FCP – Mojave 10.14.6 is the minimum – but you do get some additional functionality unlocked if you pair the latest Final Cut with the latest macOS.

What’s new:

  • A new engine powered on Apple’s Metal graphics API that the company says delivers enhanced performance
  • Specific Mac Pro optimizations, as expected, and support for Apple’s Pro Display XDR hardware
  • Support for the Mac Pro’s Afterburner card
  • Specific support for Sidecar, which lets you use your iPad as a second display (wired or wireless)
  • High dynamic range (HDR) video grading, with color mask and range isolation tools (this may actually be the coolest feature, hidden in the fine print)
  • HDR video is now tone-mapped to compatible displays on Catalina only – and that’s across Motion, Final Cut, and Compressor
  • Select which internal or external GPU you want to use

Apple claims a 20% performance gain for editors on the current 15-inch MacBook Pro or 35% on the iMac Pro, versus the past release.

The important thing here, though, is that you get most of this with macOS Mojave. So I think there’s no huge rush to update – give this one some time so you can, for instance, test out on an external drive before you commit your production system to an OS that could ruin things. And that’s what pros should do anyway.

As always, this is a free update.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/10/final-cut-pro-x-update-introduces-new-metal-engine-for-increased-performance/

If you have further compatibility information (hello, developers), do let us know.

More on what’s new in macOS:

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/10/macos-catalina-is-available-today/

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Polyend’s Medusa still looks unique amidst wavetable rush, and now it’s €798

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 7 Oct 2019 2:47 pm

With characteristic engineer’s modesty, Polish maker Polyend calls its Medusa wavetable+analog grid “slightly different.” But it’s really rather different, and a €798 price makes it more accessible.

TL:DR – the Medusa is a unique instrument sonically, nothing else has its control layout, the grid adds expression and doubles as MPE controller for other gear (including modular), and the price cut should bring it slightly more in range. (Plus you now get some colored knobs for customization.)

I’m honestly surprised, then, that it hasn’t gotten more attention, but I think it could be a slow burner. At the risk of being accused of shilling for Polyend, let me explain why I feel that way; you’re welcome to disagree, naturally.

Let’s get into it:

There’s an embarrassment of riches in the synth world now, both modular and desktop. And 2019 has quickly become a flood of instruments employing wavetable synthesis. At first, I thought that might make the more boutique, idiosyncratic Polyend Medusa lost in the crowd. But on reflection, I think now with all these wavetable options – and yes, more about those soon – the Medusa stands out.

I’ll be a bit blunt. One drawback of wavetable synthesis is that the sounds can become grating. And the same thing that makes wavetable appealing (wild possibilities as you modulate through the wavetables) can also make it tiring or hard to control (wild possibilities as you modulate through the wavetables). That’s arguably an objective assessment, even – the whole idea of the approach is, you get a bunch of harmonic and inharmonic content shifting quickly. We’re not accustomed to that in acoustic instruments or most natural sound. It’s exciting, but too much of it could then become like drinking hot sauce out of the bottle.

So with that in mind, Medusa’s split personality seems rather prescient. By pairing the three digital wavetable oscillators with three analog oscillators, the Dreadbox analog filter (to tame some of that harmonic content), and an analog noise generator, there’s ample opportunity to balance out the instrument’s edgier sounds with some warm body. And Polyend’s deceptively simple approach – putting dedicated fader smack dab in the middle of the unit – means you can literally just reach out and grab either side to adjust.

If you just want a wavetable synthesizer, in other words, you now have a growing number of cheaper options. But a big reason why I don’t want to part with the Medusa is, it has this strong tendency to be warm and fuzzy when you want it to be – and to mix hard-synced analog sounds with the wavetable ones.

That alone isn’t quite enough to set apart the Medusa, though, since there are various other architectures available. So now, some of the braver design decisions Jacek and Polyend made on the Medusa mean that it continues to stand out of the pack. That is, no one else is really attacking ideas like this:

  • The XYZ touch detection of the Medusa grid (which is still astoundingly precise and expressive, something that’s hard to nail on this sort of 8×8 grid)
  • MPE compatibility (now a MIDI standard for polyphonic expression, so you can use all those fingertips of yours independently, as intended)
  • Lots of independent modulation sources and the ability to route them with just a couple of button presses – that is, the five LFOs and five loopable envelopes – all without menu diving.

Here’s a beautiful demonstration of how well this MPE stuff works, using Polyend’s also-superb Poly 2 MIDI to CV converter. It really makes an excellent polyphonic controller for modular hardware and advanced MPE-compatible software synths:

On specs alone, other wavetable instruments do look competitive. But none so far under a grand offers this accessibility of modulation and expression that the grid and control layout of the Medusa provide.

And I feel now more than ever than owning the Medusa really is like having a unique Eurorack modular, minus the rack. And it’s one that you get attached to, rather than wanting to unscrew a couple of modules and put them up for sale used. (Yes, Dreadbox for their part even have a new line of budget modules. And they’re great, but note that you quickly reach the price of the Medusa, without a case, and with fewer capabilities and arguably even less-ready routing.)

All of this ought to be an answer to people droning on… Oh, wait – drones! I forgot! Drone mode is really superb, allowing you to latch tones and create gorgeous, shifting drones. You can spend hours doing this.

Sorry, got distracted there. Where was I? Oh yes –

People are constantly droning on (a much less appealing sound than music drones) about how there are no new ideas in electronic instruments, yadda yadda, everything is from the 70s, everything is a clone or remake…

The Medusa ought to be an answer to that, if more people paid it some attention. 3D grid sensing is absolutely new, as is the kind of integrated control possible here. Now, sure, individual elements like envelopes and wavetable synthesis and 24dB/octave analog filters are all new. But it’s peculiar that synths are suddenly held up to this idea of needing to reinvent fundamental building blocks every single time. If acoustic instruments were judged by the same standard, you could argue there was no difference between a bagpipe, an English horn, and a Cambodian Sralai because they all have reeds. The exact combination really does matter. You might love or hate the combination on the Medusa, but that’s the point – it feels like a particular set of instrumental decisions.

I’ve reviewed the Medusa already, though, and thanks to being slow with my review incorporated lots of the firmware improvements early reviewers missed.

But I do feel reasonably confident in saying it’s worth a look if €799 is now in budget. It’s definitely not for everyone. But why should everything be that? What the Medusa proves is, even doing something relatively obvious (polyphony, wavetable sound sources), you can still remain unique by taking some risks.

And if I didn’t cheer-lead a bit for that, it would mean I had probably ceased being myself.

Previously, full review:

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Make an ultra-simple DIY oscillator, inspired by vintage Heathkit

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 3 Oct 2019 4:44 pm

With a stupidly simple number of parts, you can make this oscillator on just a breadboard. Its inspiration is classic, vintage DIY gear from Heathkit.

Electronics class is in session with Synth Diy Guy, who has a detailed video explaining the hex inverter – the chip at the heart of this idea – and how it all turns into an oscillator.

His inspiration is quite clever: it’s the beautifully retro Heathkit model ET-3100 Electronic Design Experimenter. American builder Heathkit inspired early experimenters in computation and electronics – it even influenced some of the people who would go on to make the personal computer revolution. Their kits are laid out like consumer products, complete with handsome cases. And they’re models of simplicity – a fundamental notion in logic, wiring, and calculation would be laid out in spacious, minimalist demonstration boards. Built-in breadboards then let users modify the designs and learn more.

Here’s a breakdown of this particular model, on an equally retro (90s!) Website with other Heathkit models, as well:

http://www.vintage-computer.com/heathkit3100.shtml

You don’t need a Heathkit to try this, though – you can start with the hex inverter chip, and then try different resistors. He gives a complete, compelling explanation:

I’m posting this partly because I imagine we’ll get a lot of feedback from the electronics teachers and electrical engineers in our audience. (“No, that isn’t the simplest possible oscillator.” “That’s interesting, but it’d be better if you –“ Yeah, fire away.)

But I imagine even some of you with rudimentary skills could get going on this quite easily. Thoughts welcome!

Also, anything with hex in it is obviously cool. (Wait, hex inverter, that makes this less Satanic? Or … more?)

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What are all the synths hiding in Mutable’s modules (and their free VCV ports?)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 2 Oct 2019 8:21 pm

Mutable Instruments packed a lot of different sound models into a single module with Braids and “spiritual successor” Plaits. Learn what they do in these videos.

Émilie’s work in modular is some of the most innovative of recent instrument designs. Braids and the later Plaits are so deep, in fact, that they can seem a bit like cheating – like the sound design work is already done for you in that engine. But that’s before you begin to appreciate the simplicity of the interface, on one hand, and the flexibility of being able to dial in entirely different models. Plaits and Braids break with the uni-tasker tendencies of modular; they can shift into very different roles in different patches. See the original source:

https://mutable-instruments.net/

Actually, sorry for saying that if you were trying to haggle down a used price. (Maybe complain about teal and French rose as colors? Dunno.) But it’s also worth noting that even if you don’t have a rack and hardware, you can explore the possibilities of these modules. Braids is available as Macro Oscillator, and Plaits as Macro Oscillator 2. Just download VCV Rack, and add the fully authorized port of the hardware as the Audible Instruments collection. As the code is open source, you have a one-to-one translation of the sound and function of the hardware, which is also useful in evaluating if you want to invest in the gear.

If you like reading, the manuals suffice for hardware and software – Braids, Plaits.

But even as someone who does like reading, video has proven a medium for people to go beyond just making a manual and talk about how they work, demoing sounds as they go.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t MK1 and MK2 so much as two really distinct takes on the idea, each built from scratch, and each with its own character and musicality.

Omri Cohen has built a whole series of episodes around the original, Braids.

Hat tip as ever to Synthtopia.

Check the full playlist – it’s an epic series. (Too much Civil War talk. “Dearest, it is now the 34th day I have been tweaking this patch, and I fear I may never return to our warm bed again…”)

The excellent and prolific YouTube channel “VCV Rack Ideas” has been covering Plaits. And just as you could translate the Braids series above from hardware to software, you can do the reverse and apply the VCV Rack notions to your physical rig.

Here are 15 tips and tricks:

There’s even a specific idea around melodic techno:

And, actually, bonus, let’s throw in my personal favorite Clouds even though I didn’t mention it in the headline. It’s a wonderful granular audio processor, and I imagine we’ll all be overusing it in this version when VCV Rack finally has a proper VST plug-in implementation, too:

It’s good stuff. And it’s been wonderful to watch Émilie’s embrace of open source lead to variations and twists. It’s something I talked about a lot with open source, but rarely got to witness in action – and it’s encouraging.

Speaking of which, if you’re doing interesting things with either the technology here or you’re particularly pleased with your musical results, and want to share tips or sounds, do get in touch.

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Natural-sounding reverbs come to Eurorack: Tasty Chips stereo convolution reverb

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 1 Oct 2019 10:03 am

It’s one more way your Eurorack modular is starting to look like a total replacement for your computer: stereo convolution reverb is next.

Sure, you’ve got convolution reverbs in your DAW, and maybe a favorite plug-in. But this hardware adds some twists – not just delivering realistic modeled reverberation to your modular rig, but bringing some hardware-specific functionality on the way. It’s the work of Tasty Chips, known for their granular hardware.

Quick refresher on convolution reverbs – the idea is, a sound measurement of the space lets you create a fairly accurate model of how sound will reflect. You record an impulse (some broad-spectrum transient or sweeping frequency, so you capture a full frequency range), and the resulting recording in time can then be applied to any source you choose. So, why would you want this in modular?

You can record impulse responses right on the device. Fire up your starter pistols (okay, more likely sine wave sweep), and record impulses directly. I imagine some people might just tote a portable modular rig into a church in the town where you’ve got a gig. Sure, you could do that with a recorder, too, but – this is at least fun. run

Alternatively, you can capture synth impulses from your modular, and then run those little synth-y bits through your saved impulses. I’ve always loved this for sound design, even outside the “what does my local parking garage sound like as a reverb.” (Apple’s pro apps team must like it, too, as you will find a bunch of these sorts of impulses in Space Designer in Logic these days.)

You can crossfade between convolution files.

There are tons of hardware controls. Also some nice thought into options like pre-delay and position.

You get CV control. Here’s the modular part – you can use CV to control position, crossfade, and stereo width. Convolution reverbs are normally a set-it-and-forget-it affair, so I’m curious how this works in practice, but it does help make the case for hardware.

The excellent Synth Anatomy get the scoop on this and have some of their own take:

Tasty Chips Electronics Announced ECR-1 Convolver (Stereo Convolution Reverb) For Eurorack

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