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

This free phaser from NI is a must, even if you don’t like phasers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 15 Dec 2017 4:36 pm

Native Instruments has a free phaser plug-in called Phasis as a holiday special – and, wow, definitely don’t skip this one.

Here’s the deal: as NI do yearly, they’ve got a holiday special going. This year, there’s an e-voucher and a giveaway contest and blah blah — let’s skip to Phasis.

Phasis is a free plug-in (VST, AU, AAX) for Mac and Windows. You’ll need to sign up for the mailing list, then get a serial number to enter into Native Access, NI’s latest all-in-one software for managing licenses and updates. That tool works well, though one note on Windows: look for the phasis.dll file on your hard drive, as I had to manually copy it to the correct VST plug-in folder.

Phasers may call to mind cheesy guitar effects and overused pop sounds, but this one’s different. Here’s how NI describe it:

PHASIS is a brand new phaser. It offers timeless phasing sounds – adding movement, soul, and creative magic to any signal. PHASIS draws inspiration from classic phasers but adds powerful new features for never-heard-before results. The Spread control changes the spacing of the phaser’s notches, for vocal-style effects. Ultra mode pushes modulation to ultra high rates, producing unique FM-esque tones. Download the VST/AU/AAX plug-in for free now!

It’s the combination of the phaser with those notch filters and “ultra” extreme audio rate modulation that produces something genuinely novel. I apply it here to a bland 909 drum loop, and already you get some more radical results:

Holiday Deal or …

Phasis download page

Wow, Windows backwards compatibility has gotten way easier than the Mac… Mac users will need 10.11 or later (10.13 if you use Cubase); Windows runs back to Windows 7. Well, once we find the darned VST plug-in folder. I’ll put it on both my machines. I only wish we’d gotten a Reaktor ensemble here so we could play around with the innards.

The post This free phaser from NI is a must, even if you don’t like phasers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Try a new physical model of a pipe organ for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Dec 2017 5:01 pm

Now, all your realistic pipe organ dreams are about to be solved in software – without samples.

MODARTT are the French firm behind the terrific Pianoteq physically modeled instrument, which covers various classic keys and acoustic pianos. That mathematical model is good enough as to find applications in teaching and training.

Now, they’re turning their attentions to the pipe organ – some of which turns out to be surprisingly hard to model.

For now, we get just a four-octave preview of the organ flue pipe. But that’s free, and fun to play with – and it sounds amazing enough that I spent some part of the afternoon just listening to the demos. (Pair this with a convolution reverb of a church and I think you could be really happy.)

The standalone version is free, and like all their software runs on Linux as well as Mac and Windows. Stay tuned for the full version. Description:

ORGANTEQ Alpha is a new generation physically modeled pipe organ that reproduces the complex behaviour of the organ flue pipe.
It is a small organ with a keyboard range of 4 octaves (from F1 to F5) and with 2 stops: a Flute 8′ and a Flute 4′ (octave).
It is provided in standalone mode only and should be regarded as a foretaste of a more advanced commercial version in development, due to be released during 2018.


The post Try a new physical model of a pipe organ for free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What you need to know about VCV Rack, a free Eurorack emulation

Delivered... Ted Pallas | Scene | Thu 7 Dec 2017 11:38 pm

In a few short weeks since it was released, VCV Rack has transformed how you might start with modular – by making it run in software, for free or cheap.

VCV Rack now lets you run an entire simulated Eurorack on your computer – or interface with hardware modular. And you can get started without spending a cent, with add-on modules available by the day for free or inexpensively. Ted Pallas has been working with VCV since the beginning, and gives us a complete hands-on guide.

There’s always a reason people fall in love with modular music set-ups. For some, it’s having a consistent, tactile interface. For others, it’s about the way open-ended architectures let the user, rather than a manufacturer, determine the system’s limits. For me, the main attraction to modulars is access to tools that can run free from a rigid musical timeline, but still play a sequence. It means they let me dial in interesting poly-rhythmic parts without stress.

An example: I hooked a Mutable Instruments Braids up to a Veils modular, triggered their VCA with an LFO, and ran the resulting pulse through a Befaco Spring Reverb. I used this patch to thicken the stew on a very minimal DJ mix. I also had a simple LFO pointed at a solenoid attached to a small spring reverb tank boinging away in a channel on the master mixer.

This is all pretty standard Eurorack deployment, except for one tiny detail – all of the modules exist in software, contained inside a cross-platform app called VCV Rack.

VCV Rack is an open-source Eurorack emulation environment. Developer Andrew Belt has built a system to simulate interactions between 0-5 volt signals and various circuits. He’s paired this system with a UI that mimics conventions of Eurorack use. Third-party developers are armed with an API and a strong community.

VCV Rack is open-source, and the core software is free to download and use. The VCV Rack website also features several sets of modules as expansions, many of which are free. The most notable cost-free VCV offering is a near complete set of Mutable Instruments modules, under the name Audible. Beyond the modules distributed by developer Andrew Belt, there’s an ecosystem of several dozen developers, all working on building and supporting their own sets of tools – the vast majority of these are free as well, as of the time of this writing.

The result is a wide array of tools, covering both real-world modules (including the notable recent addition of the Turing Machine and a full collection of Audible Instruments emulations) and original circuits made just for Rack. The software runs in Windows, Mac OS and Linux, though the system doesn’t force third-party developers to support all three platforms.

VCV Rack is a young project, with its first public build only having become available September 10th. I became a user the same day, and have been using it several times a week for several months. I don’t usually take to new software so quickly, but in Rack’s case I found myself opening the app first and only moving on to a DAW after I had a good thing going. What continues to keep me engaged is the software’s usability – drop modules into a Rack, connect them with cables, and the patch does what it’s patched to do. Integration with a larger system is simple – I use a MOTU 828 mk2 to send and receive audio and CV through and audio interface module, and MIDI interfacing is handled in a similar fashion through a MIDI module. I can choose to clock the system to my midiclock+, or I can let it run free.

VCV Rack runs great on my late 2014 MacBook Pro – I’ve heard crackling audio just a handful of times, and in those cases only because I was doing dumb things with shared sound cards. To a lesser degree, VCV Rack also runs well on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, though using the interface via touch input on the Surface is fiddly at best. Knobs tend to run all the way up or all the way down at the slightest nudge, and the hitbox for patch cable insert points is a bit small for your fingers on any touch screens smaller than 15”. Using a stylus is more comfortable.

Stability is impressive overall, even at this early pre-1.0 development stage. Crashes are exceptionally rare, at least on my systems – I can’t specifically remember the last one, though there’s been a few times the aforementioned crackles forced me to restart Rack. Restarting Rack is no big deal, though – on relaunch, it restores the last state of your patch with audio running, and more than likely everything is ok. Rack will mute lines causing feedback loops, a restriction which ultimately serves to keep your ears and your gear safe.

As part of my field work for this write-up, I decided to run a survey. The VCV Rack community is more approachable, open, and down to get dirty with problem-solving than any other software community I’ve participated in directly. I figured I’d get a handful of responses, with variations of “it’s Eurorack but on my computer and for free” as the most common response.

Instead, I got a peek inside a community excited about the product bringing them all together. Over a third of the respondents have been using VCV since early September, and a quarter of the respondents have only been using the tool for a few weeks. Across the board, though, there’s a few key points I think deserve a highlight.

“Modular is for everybody”, and VCV Rack is modular for everybody.

Almost every single one of our 62 respondents in some way indicated that they love hardware modular for its creative possibilities, but also see cost as a barrier. VCV Rack gets right around the cost issue by being free upfront, with some more exotic modules costing money to access. There’s also a solid chunk of users coming from a university experience with large modular systems, such as Montreal’s SYSTMS, who say what initially appealed to them was “getting to explore modular, whereas before that was just not available to a low income musician. I had been introduced to Doepfer systems in university, and since then I have of course not had access to any very expensive physical Eurorack set ups. Also the idea of introducing and teaching my friends, who I knew would be into this!”

(While Rack is especially hardware-like, I do want to shout out fellow open-source modular solution Automatonism – you won’t find anything like a complete set of Mutable modules, but you will find a healthy Pd-driven open source modular synth with the ability to easily execute away from a computer via the Critter and Guitari Organelle.)

VCV Rack can be used in as many ways as a real Eurorack system.

The Rack Github describes Rack as an “Open-source virtual Eurorack DAW,” and while I wouldn’t use it to edit audio, Rack can handle a wide enough set of roles in a larger system to fairly call the software a workstation. There are several options for recording audio provided by the community, with an equal number of ways to mix and otherwise manipulate sets of signals. It’s possible to create stems of audio data and control data. It’s possible to get multiple channels of audio into another piece of software for further editing, directly via virtual soundcards.

VCV Rack also has a home within hardware modular systems, with users engineering soundcard-driven solutions for getting CV and audio in and out of a modular rack running alongside VCV. User Chris Beckstrom describes a typical broad array of uses: “standalone to make cool sounds (sampling for later), using Tidal Cycles (algorithmic sequencer) to trigger midi, using other midi sources like Bitwig to trigger Rack, and also sending and receiving audio to and from my diy modular.”

8th graders can make M-nus-grade techno with it.

I mean, check it out.

If you build it, they will come.

For having been around only since early September VCV Rack already has a very healthy ecosystem of third-party modules. Devs universally describe Rack’s source as especially easy to work with – Jeremy Wentworth, maker of the JW-modules series, says “[Andrew Belt’s] code for rack is so easy to follow. There is even a tutorial module. I looked at that and said, hey, maybe I can actually build a module, and then I did.” Jeremy is joined by over 40 other plug-in developers, most of whom are managing to find their own Eurorack recipe. VCV Rack also has a very active Facebook community, with over 100 posts appearing over the three days this article was written in. I’ve been on the Internet for a long time – it’s unusual to find something this cohesive, cool-headed and capable outside of a forum.

The community aren’t just freeloaders.

Almost two thirds of our respondents have already purchased some Rack modules, or are going to be purchasing some soon. Only a handful plan not to purchase any modules. There’s a market here, a path to the market via VCV Rack, and a group of developers already working to keep people interested and engaged with both new modules and recreations of real-world Eurorack hardware. Two thirds of respondents is a big number – if you’re a DSP-savvy developer it’s worth investigating VCV Rack.

DSP is portable.

The portability of signal processing algorithms isn’t a phenomenon unique to VCV Rack, but it is my opinion, VCV Rack will be uniquely well-served by the ability to easily port DSP code and concepts from other plaforms. Michael Hetrick’s beloved Euro Reakt Blocks are being partially ported from Reaktor Core patches into VCV Rack, for example, and Martin Lueder has ported over Stanford’s FreeVerb as part of his plugin pack. As the community cements itself, we’ll likely only see more and more beloved bits of code find their way into VCV Rack.

A handful of cool, recent VCV developments

VCV Rack are selling commercial modules. Pulse 8 and Pulse 16 are drum-style Sequencers, and there’s also an 8-channel mixer with built-in VCA level CV inputs. You’ll find them on the official VCV Rack site. Instead of donations, Andrew prefers people purchase his modules, or buy the modules of other devs. All the modules are highly usable, with logical front-panel layouts and powerful CV control. Ed.: This in turn is encouraging, as it suggests a business model pathway for the developers of this unexpected runaway (initially) free hit. -PK

An open Music Thing module has come to VCV. The Turing Machine mkII by Music Thing Modular released by Stellare Modular – A classic looping random CV generator, typically used for lead melodies or basslines, sees a port into VCV Rack by a third-party dev. Open source hardware is being modeled and deployed in an open source environment.

There’s now Ableton Link support. A module supporting Ableton Link, the live jamming / wireless sync protocol for desktop and mobile software, is available via a module released by Stellare. In addition to letting you join in with any software supporting Link, there’s a very handy clock offset.

Reaktor to VCV. Michael Hetrick is porting over Euro Reakt stuff from Reaktor Blocks, and making new modules in the process. Especially worth pointing out is his Github page, which includes ideas on what to actually do with the modules in the context of a patch: https://github.com/mhetrick/hetrickcv

VCV meets monome. Dewb’s Monome Modules allow users to connect their monome Grid controllers, or use a virtual monome within Rack itself. He’s currently also got a build of Monome’s White Whale module: https://github.com/Dewb/monome-rack

Hora’s upper class tools and drums. Hora Music is to my knowledge the first “premium” price module release, at 40euro for his package of modules. With a combination of sequencers, mixers, and drums, it could be the basis of whole projects. See: https://gumroad.com/horamusic

I’ll be back next week with a few different recipes for ways you can make Rack part of your set-up, as well as a Q&A with the developer.

Ted Pallas is a producer and technologist based out of Chicago, Illinois. Find him at http://www.savag.es/

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Arturia add CMI, DX7, Clavinet – and Buchla Easel – in software

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 7 Dec 2017 5:06 pm

Arturia refreshed their mega-collection of synths and keyboard instruments, with new sought-after additions – including a recreation of the Buchla Easel.

Get ready for some numbers and letters here here. The resulting product is the Arturia V Collection 6. The ancient Roman in me apparently wants to read that as “5 collection 6” but, uh, yeah, that’s the letter “v” as in “virtual.”

And what you’re now up to is 21 separate products bundled as one. Inception-style, some of those products contain the other products, too. (If you just want the Buchla, sit tight – yes, you can get it separately.)

So, hat we’re talking about is this:

Synths: models of the Synclavier, Oberheim Matrix 12 and SEM, Roland Jupiter-8, ARP 2600, Dave Smith’s Sequential Prophet V and vector Prophet VS, Yamaha CS-80, a Minimoog, and a Moog modular. To that roster, you can now add a Yamaha DX7, Fairlight CMI, and a Buchla Music Easel.

Keys: Fender Rhodes Stage 73 (suitcase and stage alike), ARP Solina String Ensemble, Wurlitzer. And now there’s a Clavinet, too.

Organs: Hammond B-3, Farfisa, VOX Continental.

And some pianos. Various pianos – uprights and grands – plus other parameters via physical modeling are bundled into Piano V.

The bundle also includes Analog Lab, which pulls together presets and performance parameters for all the rest into a unified interface.

This isn’t all sampled soundware, either – well, if it were, it’d be impossibly huge. Instead, Arturia use physical modeling and electronics modeling techniques to produce emulations of the inner workings of all these instruments.

About those new instruments…

There’s no question the Clavinet and DX7 round out the offerings, making this a fairly complete selection of just about everything you can play with keys. (Okay, no harpsicords or pipe organs, so every relatively modern instrument.) And the Fairlight CMI, while resurrected as a nifty mobile app on iOS, is welcome, too. But because it’s been so rare, and because of the renaissance of interest in Don Buchla and so-called “West Coast” synthesis for sound design, the Buchla addition is obviously stealing the show.

Here’s a look at those additions:

The DX7 V promises to build on the great sound of the Yamaha original while addressing the thing that wasn’t so great about the DX7 – interface and performance functionality. So you get an improved interface, plus a new mod matrix, customizable envelopes, extra waveforms, a 2nd LFO, effects, sequencer, and arpeggiator, among other additions.

Funk fans get the Clavinet V, with control over new parameters via physical modeling (in parallel with the Arturia piano offering), and the addition of amp and effect combos.

Okay, but let’s get on to the two really exciting offerings (ahem, I’m biased):

The CMI V recreates the 1979 instrument that led the move to digital sampling and additive synthesis. And this might be the first Fairlight recreation that you’d want in a modern setup: you get 10 multitmbral, polyphonic slots, plus real-time waveform shaping, effects, and a sequencer. And Arturia have thrown us a curveball, too: to create your own wavetables, there’s a “Spectral” synth that scans and mixes bits of audio.

I’m really keen to play with this one – it sounds like what you’ll want to do is to go Back to the Future and limit yourself to making some entire tracks using just the Fairlight emulation. If you read my children’s TV round-up, maybe Steve Horelick and Reading Rainbow had you thinking of this already. Now you just need a PC with a stylus so you can imagine you’ve got a light pen.

The Buchla Easel goes further back to 1973. It’s arguably the most musical of Don Buchla’s wild instruments, bringing the best ideas from the modular into a single performance-oriented design. And here, it looks like we get a complete, authentic reproduction.

Everything that makes the Buchla approach unique is there. Think amplitude modulation and frequency modulation and the “complex” oscillator’s wave folding, gating that allows for unique tuned sounds, and sophisticated routing of modulation. It all adds up to granting the ability to make strange, new timbres, to seek out new performance life and new sound designs – to boldly go where only privileged experimentalists have gone before.

This video explains the whole “West Coast” synthesis notion (as opposed to Moog’s “East Coast” modular approach):

Arturia makes up for the fact that this is now an in-the-box software synth by opening up the worlds of modulation. So you get something called “gravity” which applies game physics to modulation, and other modulation sources (the curves of the “left hand,” for instance) to make all the organic changes happen inside software. It’s a new take on the Buchla, and not really like anything we’ve seen before. And it suggests this software may elevate beyond just faux replication onscreen, with a genuinely new hybrid.

My only regret: I would love to have this with touch controls, on iOS or Windows, to really complete the feeling. It’s odd seeing the images from Arturia with that interface locked on a PC screen. But I think of all the software instruments in 2017, this late addition could be near the top (alongside VCV Rack’s modular world, though more on that later).

But it’s big news – a last-minute change to upset the world of sound making in 2017.

Watch for our hands-on soon.

Intro price and more new features

Also new in this version: the Analog Lab software, which acts as a hub for all those instruments, parameters, and presets, now has been updated, as well. There’s a new browser, more controller keyboard integration, and other improvements.

Piano V has three new piano models (Japanese Grand, a Plucked Grand, and a Tack Upright), enhanced mic positioning, an improved EQ, a new stereo delay, and it’s own built-in compressor.

There are improvements throughout, Arturia say.

There’s also a lower intro price: new users get US$/€ 249 instead of 499, through January 10.

And that Buchla is 99 bucks if that’s really what you want out of this set.


V Collection

Buchla Easel V

The post Arturia add CMI, DX7, Clavinet – and Buchla Easel – in software appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Maschine will finally get time stretching, melodic shifting for loops

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 28 Nov 2017 7:27 pm

You can already sample and slice with Native Instruments’ groove production instrument. But soon, you’ll change loops’ pitch and time in real-time, too.

Maschine has been guided by focusing on certain means of working, ignoring others. The hardware/software combination from the start began with an MPC-style sampling workflow and drum machine features, and it’s added from there – eventually getting features like more elaborate pattern generation and editing, drum synths, more sound tools, and deeper arrangement powers.

But hang on – that’s not really an excuse for not doing time stretching. Real-time time stretching has been a feature on many similar hardware and software tools.

Now, it’s sort of nice that Maschine isn’t Ableton Live. In fact, it’s so nice that the combination of the two is one of the most common use cases for Maschine. But it’s so expected that you’d be able to work with changing pitch and time independently with loops, that it’s almost distracting when it isn’t there.

So, Maschine 2.7 adds that functionality. In addition to the existing Sampler, which lets you trigger sounds and loops and slice audio into chunks, there’s now an Audio plug-in device you can add to your projects. Audio will play loops in time with the project, and has the ability to time stretch in real-time.

The features we’re getting:

Real-time time stretching keeps loops in time with a project, without changing pitch

Loop hot swapping lets you change loops as you play – apparently without missing a beat, so you can audition lots of different loops or trigger different loops on the fly

Gate Mode lets you play a loop just by hitting a pad

Melodic re-pitching lets you change pitch in Gate Mode of a whole loop or portion of a loop, just by playing pads

Gate Mode: trigger loops, change pitch, from pads.

More discussion on the NI blog.

The combination of pads and Gate Mode sounds really performer-friendly, and different from what you see elsewhere. That’s crucial, because since you can already do a lot of this in other tools, you need some reason to do it in Maschine.

I’m eager to get my hands on this and test it. It’s funny, I had some samples I wanted to play around with in the studio just before I saw this, and decided not to use Maschine because, well, this was missing. But because the pads on the Maschine MK3 hardware feel really, really great, and because sometimes you want to get hands-on with material using something other than the mouse, I’m intrigued by this. I find this sort of way of working can often generate different ideas. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. Actually, I know you do, because you’ve been yelling at NI to do this since the start. It looks like the wait might pay off with a unique, reflective implementation.

We’ll know soon enough – stay tuned.

The old way of doing things: the Sampling workflow:

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Gibson just killed Cakewalk, because Philips?!

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 21 Nov 2017 7:06 pm

Gibson, the company known for legendary guitars and killing your favorite DAW in the 90s … now gets the chance to remind the pro audio crowd of the latter.

Gibson is discontinuing all development of Cakewalk products, which would include the SONAR flagship DAW. The explanation: they want to focus on consumer audio electronics, namely Philips:

Gibson Brands announced today that it is ceasing active development and production of Cakewalk branded products. The decision was made to better align with the company’s acquisition strategy that is heavily focused on growth in the global consumer electronics audio business under the Philips brand.

Cakewalk has been an industry leader in music software for over 25 years by fusing cutting-edge technology with creative approaches to tools that create, edit, mix, and publish music for professional and amateur musicians. Gibson Brands acquired Cakewalk in 2013.

For perspective, this means Gibson is pointing to an acquisition that took place just one year after the acquisition of Cakewalk, namely WOOX Innovations. That sale, which cost US$135 million (plus an unspecified brand licensing fee), covered home audio and music accessories, with video products moving to Gibson this year.

And it means that just as Dutch giant Philips moves to “health and well being,” Gibson is moving from being a guitar company into being a consumer electronics megacorp.

Armin van Buuren selling his collaboration with Philips – a product included in the acquisition.

Cakewalk’s SONAR DAW, while it may not be relevant to each reader here personally, had retained a passionate following with many producers, particularly because of its focus on the Windows platform. It’s also one of a handful of tools that has survived multiple decades of technological change. (From the same generation: Logic, Cubase.)

It may be a mistake to focus on the high end here, though. Cakewalk’s entry-level products were a generally overlooked cash cow. As the entry-level market has refocused on mobile, it’s unclear whether a desktop tool aligned with higher-end products makes sense in the same way. To their credit, Apple has managed to position their GarageBand product across iOS and desktop – but, then, Apple gives away that product and they make iOS.

The announcement comes on the heels of Momentum, a tool for capturing ideas on mobile and then translating them to a DAW. But then, discontinuing the Cakewalk products means Momentum doesn’t have a DAW vendor to migrate to – only a plug-in. And it loses the Cakewalk name.

Momentum already was a questionable investment: for anything better than MP3-quality audio, you pay a hundred bucks a year, which is a steep price to pay given the fact that tools like GarageBand are free or a few bucks on iOS, and $100 a year easily buys you massive amounts of storage for hwatever you want.

Now, Momentum’s future is called into question, which I think makes investing in the subscription downright insane.

At the risk of being blunt and making some enemies, though, I think musicians might well be suspicious of corporate acquisitions and whether they really further innovation. There’s reason for users to be hurt and angry. And telling users of a professional music creation product line with a 30-year history that some branded speakers are the new direction adds to the sting.

There’s some business risk for Gibson, too. Consumer sound electronics are commodity markets – and big players can set themselves up for big failures.

For pro music creation, of course, terrific alternatives abound on Windows, including software developed by independent companies, from Reaper to Renoise, FL Studio to Ableton Live. And it seems independence and longevity go hand in hand.

But I have to be personally nostalgic. Cakewalk for DOS was the first sequencer I ever used, the first music software I ever owned. (My parents actually bought me the box.) Greg, the developer, had his name right on the screen.

To this day, I still like knowing the engineers behind the tools we use by their first names. I wish everyone at Cakewalk the best – and I’m certainly happy to keep getting to know individuals who work on stuff, and not just faceless brands.

And thanks, Greg – because without your work, I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.

PS – hey, by the way, Gibson, my second DAW wound up being Opcode Vision, so this is what I’ve got to say to you:

The post Gibson just killed Cakewalk, because Philips?! appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get a terrific Little Plate reverb from Soundtoys, free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 8 Nov 2017 8:39 pm

Soundtoys are on a short list of the best plug-in developers out there. Now through Nov. 22, you get their model of the classic EMT 140 plate, for free.

That seems a little dangerous. The EMT 140 is a versatile enough plate that … it’s tough sometimes to use anything else. There’s an exceptionally good set of models from Universal Audio I use all the time, which have three different plate models included. But the Soundtoys rendition is good enough to use right alongside, thanks to some clever design additions.

There’s delay times up to infinite reverb, for one. (There’s your next ambient project, sorted.)

And doubly useful, since the 140 was never intended to go beyond five seconds, there’s also a crucial mod switch that fattens up and varies those reflections.

This plus an all-important low cut filter.

I’m obligated to tell you that while this is free, it does require an ilok.com account. Don’t panic, though – those have been far more reliable these days. You don’t need a dongle, and very often ilok is more convenient and responsive than third-party plug-in developers rolling their own authentication systems (depending on the case). Of course, it’s up to you.



The post Get a terrific Little Plate reverb from Soundtoys, free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Two sequenced Max for Live devices go off the usual grid

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 7 Nov 2017 12:03 am

Will a step sequencer be a tool just for expected repetition? Or can it take you somewhere different? A series called “Out Of Grid” aims for the latter.

There are certainly plenty of step sequencers and sequenced devices for Max for Live, let alone for music software in general. The angle in MOOR and Twistor is to help you produce more pattern variation and irregularity right from the get-go. The notion: 16 steps? Two bars? Why not change step length and randomize steps and set custom dividers and multipliers? And why not play all of that in real-time?

The two tools for Max for Live come from K-Devices and composer-founder Alessio Santini, who has already been busy making oddball music tools for Live and iOS.

You’ll probably want to crack the manual, unless you’re just going for straight-up IDM chaos. But once you do, you’ll discover that Cardassian-like user interface belies some clever tools for getting you out of the usual step-by-step monotony. There are two tools: MOOR is a mono step sequencer for creating patterns of notes, and Twistor outputs modulation to other bits of Ableton Live. That is, MOOR won’t make any sound until you hook it up to a soft synth, and Twistor only when you wire up parameters of some other device. But then, you’re given a wealth of options for mangling the patterns as you create them.

The center of Moor’s interface will look immediately familiar: it’s just the vanilla steps with note values. Where the irregularity comes in is, you can then opt for different time divisions, and a global multiplier for arbitrarily modulating the overall length. You can do that live, including with automation, making for some crazy possibilities. If a global multiplier and timing division weren’t enough, you can additionally modulate individual steps as a percentage of the whole.

Oh yeah, and the playhead doesn’t have to move steadily across the sequence, linear style – while it may never have occurred to you before to even try this, you can opt for exponential or logarithmic curves, too. There are per-step chance values and extensive randomization options.

Basically, even if you start mashing around the controls or load some of the many included presets, you can immediately start producing mangled, complex patterns.

When you’ve got a pattern you like, you can simply let it run from this Device, or drag and drop MIDI clips to your Session.

Moor spits out mono notes, but its sibling Twistor simply outputs modulation, which you can then use to target the parameter of another Ableton Live device of your choosing. Appropriate to that choice, Twistor also provides various choices for shaping interpolation of the signal between steps.

(Live 10 will bring more modulation routing options, so hopefully K-Devices will consider polyphonic models before that’s out.)

Both tools store snapshots, each of which can also be triggered via automation or MIDI.

So everything can be “played live. Where they’re really fun is once you add a controller then. The easiest way to do that, of course, is Ableton Push. In fact, to me it’s really with Push that this all starts making sense – the whole architecture of K-Devices’ work here is really built around real-time modulation, so getting your hands on the step programming and dialing in variations is perfect.

Whether you’ve something complex in mind or just want to scramble some patterns that have gotten dull, they’re both really compelling tools. Moor is US$34; Twistor is $22.

I’ve been playing with them a bit. If you always loved messing with step sequencer chance and length parameters, these are definitely for you.

CDM special: K-Devices wrote to offer up a special discount coupon for CDM readers. Through Monday, November 13, though, you get a special discount off the bundle. Add both products, then enter that code on checkout, and the two are discounted to 29€˘instead of 39€.

Code: koog17

More: www.k-devices.com

The post Two sequenced Max for Live devices go off the usual grid appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ableton Live 10 in depth: hands-on impressions, what’s new

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Nov 2017 12:27 pm

Live 10 adds a tasty new synth and delay effect, an updated look, and many more small details. We’ve had it now a few weeks; here’s a look at what’s new.

What’s the story behind 10?

It’s tough for updates of mature music production software to keep us happy. On one hand, we’ve all got a big list of stuff we want to see improved, fixed, added – and that list tends to get longer. On the other hand, we don’t want any major changes to disrupt how we work, break our existing projects, or lead the tool away from why we chose to use it in the first place.

What Live 10 does is to focus on making a lot of little changes that have a big impact on how you interact with the interface, in editing, arranging, and finishing tracks. There’s more and clearer visual feedback and editing behaviors, on screen and on Push.

In other words, imagine it’s a studio overhaul that did some cleaning, renovating, and reorganizing. And like a studio reorganization, you’ve also added some new gear – in the form of new devices called Echo, Wavetable, Drum Buss, and Pedal.

Photo courtesy Ableton.

An updated interface

Ableton has doggedly resisted messing much with its minimal interface. And sure enough, the biggest Live makeover yet is – actually pretty subtle. Those just get more useful as you dig.

So, on the surface, you can instantly see some new colors (now organized in “themes”), including some much more consistent darker themes. And there’s the new Ableton Sans font.

On high-density screens or as you scale, you’ll notice still more improvements – particularly around vectors like knobs. Windows users also get specialized HiDPI support – crucial since the PC platform otherwise doesn’t work as seamlessly as Retina displays on Mac. There’s also a Pen Tablet mode, which works with graphic tablets as well as tablet PCs, though I didn’t get to test it yet.

Scaled up, you can see the impact of that new font and lots of precise details (even a tiny notch indicator on the knobs).

Lots of little details like these add up to being able to more clearly see what you’re doing – sometimes even without noticing why you’re suddenly working faster. Ironically, this is probably the biggest UI overhaul Live has ever had – and yet you won’t really notice it, which is sort of the point.

Capture: Never miss an idea

The new transport – your challenge is to try to recognize it over someone’s shoulder in a club. That dotted rectangle icon on the right is significant.

So, there’s a funny mystery to the universe: the moment you hit the record button, all your creative ideas go away. Also, if you aren’t recording, you’ll suddenly play something ingenious – and then immediately forget it.

“Capture” is a way around this – it listens in on any connected MIDI input on armed/monitored tracks. Just played something on the keyboard you like? Hit the Capture button, and it turns instantly into a clip – no recording needed. (You can do this from Push, too; it seems inevitable that a Push 3 will have a dedicated button, but for now the Record and New buttons will do.)

Arrangement and Automation

The Arrangement View is the reason I think you’ll want to update to Live 10. It’s now finally easier to edit, arrange, and automate your projects. And here, it seems like they were watching over our shoulders, adding in features we had been looking for (shown with shortcuts):

  • Stretch Arrangement audio clips directly. (Shift-drag the border)
  • Slide the contents of an Arrangement clip directly, by dragging. (Alt-shift/Ctrl-Shift)
  • Reverse a selected bit of time, or part of a clip. (R)
  • Activate/deactivate just a portion of a clip, if you select only part of it.
  • Move clips by dragging the upper half of the clip.
  • Double-click on a MIDI track to create a MIDI clip.
  • Minimize all tracks at once, aka “Show All Tracks.” (S)
  • Zoom to and from a time selection. (Z/shift-Z)
  • Zoom tracks by scrolling with (alt), (cmd/ctrl) vertically

At last – view more than one MIDI clip at a time. Image courtesy Ableton.

The fact that a lot of this is true of other DAWs makes this even more welcome – both because it’s hard to re-train those habits, and because, well, this is a better way for this to work.

In addition to adjusting how you edit that content directly, Ableton has also made the whole view far more sensible by separating out automation – those “rubber-band” line segments that control changes to device parameters and mix settings. Now, you can hide or show all automation lanes via a global Automation button (or hit ‘A’).

This makes adding fades and cross-fades easier, too. You can always just drag from the corner of a clip to create fades.

Things you wished you could do previously suddenly magically start working: like you can double-click anywhere and make an automation breakpoint (not just on the envelope itself).

Oh yeah, and finally: “It is now possible to move automation segments horizontally.” (People who have been next to me in the studio while editing know that I tended to use … colorful language … in past versions over this.)

Many other DAWs work in similar ways to this already, but Ableton has managed to add these features without messing too much with its own distinctive interface. And that means you’ll adjust I think very quickly – ironically both if you were doing most of your editing in Live, and if you weren’t (because you found the absence of these things frustrating).

There are lots of other subtle helpers and visual feedback that make it easier to select, edit, and move breakpoints as you’re working. So there’s nothing new here in the sense of the addition of fade curves – just everything works better.

Small details abound – fades are always accessible at clip corners, cursors change more clearly so you’re aware of how you’re editing, and — even little stuff like this visual feedback on breakpoints can be a big help.

One thing that wasn’t changed here: you still can’t edit MIDI events directly in the Arrangement View lanes. But at last, you can edit multiple MIDI clips at the same time – both in Arrangement and Session. That’s beautifully implemented, and at last stops all this hunting in and out of clips when you’re editing. That may be a better solution, on balance.

Wavetable, the new Ableton synth. Looks impressive with everything expanded, but it retains a simple interface. Image courtesy Ableton.


Finally, Operator has a worthy sequel – a synth that feels truly native to Ableton Live.

And it’s about the most flexible synth you could wish for. It’s also more approachable than Operator’s FM (frequency modulation) synthesis – even though that design, conceived by Ableton co-founder Robert Henke, made FM easier to understand. By contrast, Wavetable is a synth that almost dares you to dive in without reading the manual.

Bride of Operator: classic Wavetable architecture, simple design, but with interesting twists. Note the Sub oscillator at left, Unison modes at right.

Wavetable synthesis is all about starting with an interesting waveform, then adding modulation and moving through that waveform. Animations show you how that works, even if you’ve never done it before. (Waldorf’s synths do that beautifully on the iPad, built by Wolfgang Palm, the man who perfected the technique. That seems to have influenced the design here, but — imagine it far simpler, more compact, flat, and Ableton-y.)

From there, you can add filters and modulation in a terrifically straightforward way. Filters look the way they do elsewhere in the software – you’ve got two multimode filters to apply as you like. Choosing some different filter models and adding drive will dirty up what is otherwise a very pristine-sounding instrument.

There’s also an easy modulation matrix, if a simple one. And you can pop out envelopes and LFOs (modulation sources) when you want more real estate.

The deal is sealed for me by the Unison modes – that Shimmer is lovely – which thicken up the sound of each note by using multiple oscillators. And there’s a sub oscillator, making this an excellent bass synth.

With the use of the various wavetables, different filters with drive, and unison modes, you can very quickly get away from sounds that are too clean or too clinical, which for me was always missing on Operator.

On paper, the whole thing honestly looks boring. But those filter models, the fact that you can route the two oscillators together or in parallel, those filter models (which you may already know from Live 9’s revamped Simpler), and those unison modes… oh, those unison modes… (Just trust me on that.)

It’s fun to design sounds on-screen, but even more fun with Ableton Push, as all those visualizations now map perfectly to the displays, and the encoders are ready for hands-on control.

In the end, it’s exactly what you want a built-in Ableton Live synth to me. It’s easy, it’s consistent – but it’s got personality, and it isn’t limiting.

Echo: a single device bringing together a lot of the digital and tape delay sounds you’d want, all in one consistent interface.


Wavetable is great, but … might not sway you if you’ve already got a stable of synths you love. Echo, on the other hand, is irresistible.

Echo almost made me forget everything else I planned to work on on this review, because suddenly I had a bunch of tracks just based on Echo.

We’re spoiled for choice now when it comes to delay effects. Native Instruments’ Replika XT is exceptional, just to name one. Universal Audio and the like have beautiful models of analog classics. Eventide have brought their whole arsenal of delays. Surreal Machines have some especially brilliant models.

I happen to use all of these. And even I have use for Echo.

The genius of Echo is really that it seems to merge a lot of different kinds of delays and echo effects into a single unit, and then let you morph between them relatively seamlessly.

You get two delay lines, which can run free or synced. These then operate in stereo, ping pong left to right, or mid/side. There’s also a reverb you can add pre or post delay.

The Modulation section is here things get interesting. You can modulate both delay times and filter frequencies, for some pretty far-out effects, and even morph between an envelope follower and modulation.

Modulation – route this to the delay itself as well as the filter.

That would already be enough, but there’s more. Using the “Character” modules, you can add Noise and Wobble effects – simulating tape – as well as dynamic controls (Gate, Ducking).

The “oh, maybe I’m a Space Echo, too” and “let’s change this around with dynamics” section. Or, uh, “Character.”

The upshot of all of this is, you get a uniquely Ableton-y delay with a character that ranges fully from subtle to out-the-starcraft-airlock, digital and clean to old and grimy. I happened to have some stems I’d made with a real Roland Space Echo, and I was able to produce some effects that were pretty close. This is … much lighter to carry around. But beyond that, I could morph the same sorts of effects back into software territory, and anywhere in between.

It’s terrific for any kind of sound design, as well as dubby and dance-y stuff. It’s about the most invaluable effect I could imagine them adding – and like Wavetable, it manages to root itself in classic gear without being overly nostalgic or overly complicated.

Don’t overlook the Drum Bass and Pedal effects. Pedal may not look like, well, anything – but it sounds amazing.

Drum Buss and Pedal

Echo isn’t the only effect – there are two more, Drum Buss (not a typo) and Pedal.

Drum Buss is a multi-effects processor with distortion, compressor, low-frequency “Boom,” transient shaping, and high frequency dampening. Now, the “Drum” part is meant to indicate that you can warm up, thicken, and compress/glue drum sounds together. But even though a lot of this was already available elsewhere in Live, the combination of these elements and new additions all in one device make it useful – and not just for drums.

Pedal is one you’ll probably overlook, but shouldn’t. It looks homely. It sounds… surprisingly amazing. That gnarly distortion, overdrive, and fuzz are actually more useful than all the previous Softube stuff combined, all with dangerous one-knob access. I’ve been destroying drum and synth sounds with them. Don’t be surprised if you start smearing on eyeshadow and sleeping in a coffin during the day. It’s worth it.

Oh yeah, and put Echo and Drum Buss and Pedal together… even with Wavetable? Indeed.

Visualizations now show up on Push. Image courtesy Ableton, because … I’m lazy and my desk is a mess?

What’s new for Push?

All these other changes should silence anyone who thinks Ableton are only making enhancements for their Push hardware customers.

But if you are a Push hardware customers, you do get a lot, too. There are tons of little fixes and additions. Some standouts:

On Push 2, you can now visualize lots more stuff – EQ Eight filter bands, Compressor, envelopes, and more are all visible, plus notes in MIDI clips.

There’s now a note layout mode for Push, combining step sequencing and note access. On the top, you get a 32-step sequencer, on the bottom, 32 notes. This was a convenient feature on the (smaller) Novation Circuit; it works really beautifully on an 8×8 layout.

MIDI notes on Push 2. (Push 1 users get lots of little enhancements, too, though, so don’t feel left out.)

Everything else in a nutshell

Groups inside groups for better organization. Image courtesy Ableton.

Nest Groups inside other Groups. Useful for drums in particular, this is apparently an oft-requested featured. I agree that it’s cool, so I will resist the urge to make an Xzibit meme.

Install Packs inside Live. No more trips to the Website for sound packs – you can do it in the Browser. (note that this only works for Ableton-provided Packs; others install as before)

Better Browser organization. Color-code entries. Make your own Collections (really nice if you’re doing a lot of sound design).

You can export more easily. WAV, AIFF, FLAC, WavPack export, MP3 export, and – finally – you can export MP3 and WAV at the same time.

Saving doesn’t clear the Undo history. Good.

It’s faster. Two examples: large Live sets now close 5-10 times faster, and samples load a lot faster. All around, it definitely feels snappier.

Max for Live is more integrated. Bundled in Live, loads at startup.

Double-click to reset knobs and sliders. Another “finally.”

Split stereo option for pan.

More flexible audio routing. Drum Rack pads can be routed to the return of the parent. You can also support multiple audio inputs and outputs inside Max for Live, which opens up lots of new possibilities (including multichannel/surround applications), and route to arbitrary tracks via the Live API.

Zoom and scroll! More vertical zooming of tracks, but also horizontal scrolling on Windows (not just Mac), using your trackpad or mousewheel in Simpler and Sampler and Detail View and Arrangement… and Detail View now zooms as you expect.

Set names for inputs and outputs. Good lord, at last!

Updated metronome drop down.

Set metronome settings like sounds and interval and when to click, right from the context menu on the transport.

What isn’t in this update

To me, Ableton Live still has two big weaknesses.

First Live just isn’t a terribly convenient scoring tool, because of a lack of convenient video display and management of markers. This might seem an odd thing to point out, but it’s something I hear with some frequency from users, and I find it’s a frequent reason people choose a different host.

Second, Ableton’s controller customization is still a nightmare. Even basic MIDI features implemented back in Live 1.5 haven’t gotten a look lately – it’s still really tough to edit MIDI CC assignments. (The inability to type in custom CC numbers, for instance, is … kind of weird.) And while the whole notion of unique controllers for Ableton Live came from DIY projects and the community, there’s still no open, accessible interface for making your own controller mappings. Ableton may point to Max for Live as the solution, but that’s actually even clunkier to use in practice than the Python API that predates it. A consistent API could greatly expand the range and imagination with which people use Live as an instrument – and “sequencing instrument,” the moniker used by Live 1.0, is someho even more relevant today.

It also seems the time is approaching soon when Live will want to be more agnostic about multichannel outputs and less stereo-centric.

But these are all worth mentioning as they’re areas for possible future growth. I think Ableton have addressed a lot of what users most wanted.


The real test of any upgrade is – once you’ve updated, would you be able to go back? I can say very precisely, no. Normally, I keep a beta running side-by-side with the stable release. With Live 10, for the first time, I just couldn’t bring myself to look backward, not once.

Plenty of DAW upgrades introduce splashy new features. Live 10 ought to be commended for focusing on the details of how you interact with the software, from recording and capturing ideas to arranging them, and all the visual feedback you get along the way – whether on Ableton’s own Push hardware or just on your screen. What’s really nice about a lot of this is, once you upgrade, you’ll stop noticing it’s there. You’ll just experience less resistance from the software as you work.

And the devices have a similar feel: Echo and Wavetable are two that you simply won’t want to give up. They feel totally native to Live and have a character all their own – a bit like you’ve added two nice pieces of hardware to your studio.

Live 10 isn’t likely to win over a lot of new converts, I think, but that isn’t the point. It’s an upgrade that should just make Live’s enormous user base happy. And if you’re behind in upgrading, now might be a great time.

We’ll look more in detail in the coming days and weeks at how to make Live 10 as productive as possible in your music making. Let us know if you have any questions or interests.

Disclaimer: I’m working with a prerelease version of the software. This isn’t yet a comment on stability – though I didn’t have any issues with performance, reliability, or functionality. The only thing I found was, on Windows 10, I had to set the systemwide default scaling to 100% for some third-party plug-ins to work properly. Your mileage may vary; we’ll check in on the final release.

Official Ableton site

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Here’s what that software for the Pioneer samplers looks like

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Oct 2017 7:04 pm

You can tote a USB stick and plug into CDJ decks, yes. And now, if the club starts buying Pioneer samplers, you can do the same with sample sets.

It’s bringing us from “USB stick as record bag” to “USB stick as live rig.” Here’s the gear:

Pioneer made a CDJ-shaped sampler – what does that mean for DJs?

And the software that makes it all happen … is …

Not really very exciting. But let’s have a look anyway, just so we understand the process.

Basically, Pioneer’s DJS-TSP Project Creator – named in the way only a Japanese music gear maker would – gives you a picture of the layout of the new Pioneer samplers, and the ability to manage projects and samples.

So, even if you don’t own a DJS-1000 or the previous TORAIZ SP-16, you can sit with this thing and load up some custom samples, then bring a USB stick with you to a studio or club that does have the sampler. You can load and offload projects, load and offload individual samples (though sample file format is restricted to what the hardware supports), and you can name scenes and clips.

And … that’s it.

Of course, that’s fine. This is a librarian for samples, essentially. Though it’d be nice to make other edits to sample settings without the hardware.

That may make this headline seem, well, like an overreaction:
Ableton and Native Instruments should worry about the DJS-1000

Well, okay, I wanted “maybe a little bit worried” to be the headline, but it didn’t fit.

While this particular editing software is nothing glamorous, though, I think Ableton, NI, and others ought at least to pay attention. Remember that Rekordbox had similar, humble beginnings – before it blew into its own Traktor-style DJ software and took over the world. Pioneer could consider making standalone software that does the actual sampling and editing, perhaps on desktop and mobile, that then can act as a satellite to the hardware samplers.

The point stands, though. Clubs that have this gear installed may be less amenable to complicated live or live/hybrid rigs. USB sticks are really, really convenient. And the competition for computer/software combos is increasingly standalone hardware – whether that’s Pioneer, Elektron, Akai, or something else entirely. The lines are blurred enough that computer-tethered tools need at least to hold their own as a value proposition.

A few minutes mucking around with this may remind you that, heck yeah, the computer tools may still be better. Or you can look at something like Akai’s MPC line – we’ll be hands on with the latest version of that soon. It behaves like computer software, and even works with a computer, but also works untethered like standalone hardware – without sacrificing computer software flexibility.

I do think that we’re starting to see the tools and workflow change for live, though. Time will tell. Until then – download the manual and software here:


The post Here’s what that software for the Pioneer samplers looks like appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Getting creative with a different kind of compressor: Zip [Plugin premiere]

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 24 Oct 2017 7:58 pm

By analyzing different sonic qualities of a sound and then modulating the results, Zip has a new take on the familiar compressor/expander..

What do you do when all the basic categories of signal processors have been done? Well, you invent new ones, of course.

So, normally we think of a compressor/expander as taking amplitude as input, and processing the result from that. And we assume if there’s any modulation, it’s got fixed routings. Zip turns that on its head, with multiple ways of analyzing incoming signal (not just amplitude), and then an open system for adding modulation of its various parameters.

Zip isn’t alone. I’d say we’re seeing a whole new direction in plug-ins that’s moving this direction – performing more intelligent digital analyses on sounds, using everything from new DSP to new machine learning techniques, in order to twist around existing signal processing metaphors. It’s a big break from what has been an ongoing avalanche of software that emulates traditional hardware – this is stuff that just wasn’t possible before the computer (or indeed wasn’t available to us unwashed masses until recently).

In the case of Zip, some time playing around with it already has me understanding that I might not apply this compressor/expander the way I would a conventional model. It starts to become a creative tool rather than just a utility – and more ripe for abuse. (Go ahead; turn it up all the way, set the settings wrong, start patching in modulation without a particular plan … you can’t really break anything. Yeah, there’s even a randomize button.)

Even in a fairly compact interface, you’ve really got a multi-effects plug-in as much as a unitasker tool. But it doesn’t feel tacked on – it’s all built around the compressor/expander paradigm. Pushed to the extreme, this thing is gritty and digital – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and subtler effects are possible.

Patchable modulation at bottom, and the light skin. (The interface is scalable – all those settings are hidden behind the gear menu at top.)

How it works

To break it down, we can think input to output:

Input analysis: Amplitude, Quietness, Brightness (high frequency bits), Darkness (low frequency bits), Tonalness (think dominant frequency response), and Noisiness (the non-tonal bits) allow you to think in musical terms. That is, there’s a more elaborate digital analysis going on here.

Yes, it’s a compressor/expander. This goes without saying, but having a conventional centerpiece to all these extra goodies helps ground them. There are also four different envelope flavors, which in fact are fairly subtle and let you tune the results to your liking. (The names – Classic, Goopy, Quick, and Extreme – sound a little more radical than they are; think of these more as getting your timing settings just right.)

Patchable modulation: This is really lovely, a signature Unfiltered feature – you can drag patch cords from modulators to wherever you like. That includes:

  • Sine, Sawtooth/Triangle and Square LFOs
  • Input Follower
  • Macro Control
  • Sample and Hold Noise
  • Step Sequencer
  • ROLI Lightpad
  • Gain Reduction

Internal effects: Saturation, bitcrusher, and filters are all built in, as well – and combined with the modulation above, get really powerful.

What it’s like to use

I’m just wrapping my head around this having had a few days to play with it – partly because the relatively conventional applications are already more flexible. But I like the creative depth here. The developers send along the following ideas. I think the ability to modulate anything, and to always have access to envelope follower and dynamic settings, is really the key:

Turned a boring bass synth into a rhythmic and punchy sequence by using the modulation system with the onboard bit crusher for some tasty grit.

Use an LFO to modulate the Threshold on a vocal to add rhythmic effect, letting the lyrics duck in time with the rest of the track.

Patch Zip’s LFOs to the Color knob to create tempo-synched filter sweeps and pulsating distortion on guitar and keyboard tracks. Zip sculpts both dynamics and tone.

Here’s me wandering around the basics of the interface – actually, these fairly vanilla effects I already found really useful.

To be honest, it’s cool enough that it makes me both want to use it more and to try some new ideas in my own (bodged-together) DIY efforts.

Here’s Todd Urban with a full tutorial/review:

And the developers made their own hands-on showing how you can sculpt sounds with this:

Full specs

More details – though the quick way to say this would be, you always have control over the sound and visual feedback on what you’re doing at each stage:

Continuously variable Color control provides post-dynamics processing in seven modes, respectively offering phase-modulated distortion, soft saturation, bitcrushing, and four 2-pole pass filters (two of which feature cutoffs modulated by Zip’s Analysis modes).

Internal and external sidechains are equipped with High Pass and Low Pass filters and an Audition button for hearing the signal the detector acts on.

Controls for wet/dry mix (for parallel compression), lookahead (affecting both sidechains), switchable peak or RMS detection, and automatic makeup gain.

Informative real-time display graphically depicts the current threshold, ratio and knee, and shows multi-colored traces for sidechain, output and gain reduction levels.

Price: US$149
Promotions: $99 through the end of November 2017
Available Formats: VST2, VST3, AU, AAX Native

Get it at Plugin Alliance:


The post Getting creative with a different kind of compressor: Zip [Plugin premiere] appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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:

The post Those standalone MPCs do wireless Link and MIDI and it’s the future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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.


The post Reason 10 is a return to form: all about the instruments appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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:


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

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.


The post Resolume 6 is big news for VJs and live visualists; here’s why appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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