So you’re on the bus lamenting the fact that it stinks and you have nothing to do for the next 20 minutes . . .
Miniak-editor is a software editor for advanced controlling over the Akai Miniak (analog modeling synthesizer) in your DAW. Miniak-editor is able to retrieve presets from Miniak memory or load it from hard drive into the editor. You can send a …
The sounds are alien and twisted. The user interface looks like engineers from Boeing and the Klingon homeworld got together to collaborate on a new spaceship cockpit. It can only mean one thing: GrainCube is here.
Built on sound designs and conception by sonic renegades Richard Devine and Josh Kay (Devinesound), with development by Rick Scott (Rachmiel), Igor Shilov (Twisted Tools), and a Lemur control-surface and additional input by Antonion Blanca (absoundscapes.com), this is a dream tool from a dream team.
The tool is free, a gift to people in the Reaktor and Lemur communities. (A Lemur isn’t necessary, though it is fun; Reaktor 5.x is required.)
I’m not just hyping this up for the sake of it, either. Seeing work like this is inspirational to me as a sound designer and sometimes-developer. I love the sounds they’re coaxing out of Reaktor and the insane mad-science of it all. At its heart, it’s a sample map of 400 mb of sample material, the sonic raw material for the work. An all-stops-pulled array of randomization and modulation then warps and melts and smelts that into audio ore.
For a sense of the tool in action, see the video at top, which Richard shot exclusively for CDM. If you’re a Reaktor user, you can then go grab it at the site below. If you use another tool or want to make some of your own samples, well, you’d better get patching and recording. That is all.
Obligatory monster screenshot:
The miracle of human hearing goes well beyond audiophile snobbery over “high fidelity,” or the machinations of sometimes-arbitrary, designed-by-committee industry specifications. But, in the context of my rant about perceived myths in audio, what can we hear, really?
And how much perceptible sound can you squeeze into an MP3?
For his master’s thesis at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Kyle McDonald investigated the deeper, existential issues behind common digital audio specifications. The question: what if you could play every single distinguishable sound that the MP3 specification can accommodate? (For the technically minded, that means iterating through every possible MP3 frame.)
The resulting sonic composition holds a mirror to the way the specification describes our own psychoacoustic capabilities. Just don’t expect to be able to process the answer if you’re in a hurry. Kyle’s “answer” to this ultimate question of noise, encoding, and everything takes some 10^450 years to complete. (That’s a lot of zeros, if you’re keeping score at home.)
The composition iterates through all the possible sounds MP3 can handle, and assuming that corresponds to our psychoacoustic limitations, all the sounds we can handle. I have some hour-long excerpts up, which should be easier to skip through than the live stream from last month 🙂
I wrote a short thesis exploring these ideas, too:
http://oelf.googlecode.com/files/mcdonald-thesis.pdf [link fixed]
Dealing with questions like “what is noise” and “how are biases embedded and revealed”.
I’m not as interested in copyright issues as I am in asking MP3: “what do you sound like, really?”, exploring the intersection of glitch art and enumerative pieces (Every Icon/Wishing Well) + “empty” conceptual art (4′33″, Duchamp’s “Fountain”).
The results aren’t going to settle any debates, but they might at least silence a debate. The results, to me, are strangely beautiful. The sonification vibrates and chirps like a small collection of half-cyborg insects, humming away a summer evening on an alien world. You could meditate to it. (If CDM ever starts a digital audio healing center, we’ll be set.)
The visualizations, at top, are just as aesthetically beautiful, and begin to provide actual information about the quantity and patterns of data that emerge.
A question like “does this MP3 sound good?” or “is this recording any good?” seems simple enough. Kyle’s thesis doesn’t answer any questions, so much as reframe those questions in a beautiful way. But that’s not to say this is all meaningless. The scale of real-world frequencies your ear and brain can perceive is immense and measurable. It’s enormous to conceive, but it’s a real thing. The potential data storage of our technology is vast, too, but it’s still no match for your mind. And if that doesn’t give you an excuse to invest in some ear protection before the next concert, or just give yourself part of this afternoon off, listen to an album, and let your brain relax a bit, I don’t know what will. If you’re still not convinced, breathe deeply and listen to some of Kyle’s sound excerpts for half an hour and get back to me.
12th May 2010: We are very pleased to announce that Berkleemusic, the online school of Berklee College of Music, is providing tuition for one free online music course of the recipients choice as a new prize addition…
12th May 2010: Best Service has released Cinematique Instruments, a new Best Service ENGINE-based sample library that sets a focus on weird, odd and rare instruments which add a subtle and individual character to yo…
12th May 2010: Best Service has announced the release Gu Zheng, a new Best Service ENGINE-based sample library developed in cooperation with Yellow River Sound. Gu Zheng is one of the most beautiful, traditional Chi…
12th May 2010: HyperSynth has announced the release of its new Miniak-editor VST plug-in for Windows and the availability of the HyperSID enhanced HW unit along with a special 33% discount offer for it until the end…
PG Music updates Band-in-a-Box 2010 to Build 299 (Win) / 16 (Mac) and PowerTracks Pro Audio 2010 to Build 4
12th May 2010: PG Music has updated the Windows version of Band-in-a-Box 2010 to Build 299 and the Mac OS X version to Build 16. The Windows version of PowerTracks Pro Audio 2010 has also been updated, to Build 4. …
12th May 2010: Variety Of Sound has announced the release of its new Virtual Console Strip plug-in NastyVCS. Inspired by the smooth dynamic and tone shaping capabilities of some high-end mixing consoles and channel …