SPICE is a one-stop modular distortion box – and it needs support

Saturation, distortion, warmth, fuzz – it’s what keeps a lot of us coming back to machines. SPICE is a modular distortion on Kickstarter, suitable for Eurorack or desktop use alike – and it’s getting reader attention partly because it isn’t over the funding line quite yet.

The big picture for SPICE from Plankton Electronics is modular distortion in an integrated, multifunctional design, with sounds ranging from digital crushing to tube distortion, ranging from warm saturation to grimy fuzz.

That functionality you can then get however you like. Want the whole thing as a single desktop unit? Go for it – even if you don’t own any other modular. Want to take that same integrated unit and rack it? Done – as a 38HP Eurorack. Prefer individual modules? Want them assembled? Want them as DIY kits you assemble yourselves? Every option is here.

This is all partly the story of a tube from KORG – the Nutube. This new Japanese-made tube, drawing from fluorescent display tech, sounds like conventional tubes but has an atypically long life and dramatically smaller size. And it uses a tiny amount of the power of tubes – think 2%. That’s not the only distortion / saturation on offer here, but it does allow a full complement of distortion types without requiring a bunch of power or space.

So you get to choose which distortion you want:

  • Clean amplification and filter, no distortion (“boost”)
  • Soft clip saturation
  • Hard clip saturation / distortion
  • Nu-tube distortion – one or two at once (for double double your distortion, double double your enjoyment… etc.)
  • Transistor fuzz (strong clipping)
  • Stomp box filtered high gain distortion, guitar pedal style

Distortion? Yes:

And you can combine these in loads of different ways – which is where the modular bit comes in. You can choose digital or analog, mix and prefilter, or apply an envelope follower to shape the sound.

And, of course, there’s feedback – lots of it.

It’s technical semimodular in that it’s prepatched for a lot of functions, but you can modify it from there.

Sliced into three modules, you get a choice [links to Modulagrid]:
NUTONE VCA and distortion based on the Nutube
SPICEVCF including the analog filter (LP, BP, HP) with tons of CV control and XMOD to self-modulate the filter
ENVF envelope follower

The tube module looks excellent on its own, but mostly I think the draw here is the combined distortion toolkit.

So how much does this cost? You’ll get actual hardware starting around 25EUR, and kits for around 55EUR+. Assembled modules start around 85EUR and then the full modular system will cost you around 450-500EUR, all in. (Prices will be more with VAT … and please, no more lecturing me about how the VAT system works, readers, I live in Germany and own a GmbH; most of our readers are outside the VAT system and don’t owe this tax. They’ve explained all the different prices on their site.)

Spice as modules.

I wasn’t so familiar with this Barcelona-based team before, but they’ve done some really nice work – and have gotten input here from a lot of our friends in the modular and synth community, from Endorphine.es to Befaco to Olivier Ozoux.

And even before I heard from them, a couple of readers wrote hoping CDM would cover this project as they want to see it funded. I hear you – I do, too.

I also love this idea – their SPICE Metapatch software is a Web-era take on the patch book. Instead of drawing with a pencil, you store patch ideas in a Web interface. (It’s still just a picture, but it means you’re free from erasures and terrible drawing skills. Hold on… that projecting thing I do, sometimes, that might be happening again.)

There’s 10 days left. They’re past the halfway mark, so let’s see if the CDM bump helps them out.

Plankton Electronics SPICE – Modular Saturation Unit [Kickstarter]

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Moog teases spectral shift invention for Moogfest

Moogfest is inbound, and that means some new, limited quantity creation of the engineers at Moog. This year it’s a fascinating looking spectral shift module.

The packed festival season is inbound, and whereas that once meant bands and crowd pleasers, now there’s a lot of advanced technology and electronic music – from SONAR to Superbooth to MUTEK to GAMMA to Moogfest, among others.

And Moogfest with a renowned synth builder in the name, of course some of the hardware is also “headlining.” Moog this year haven’t even named their creation yet, but it seems there’s some spectral/vocoder (check the carrier knob) processing going on. They describe it thusly:

This year’s design (shown here patched into synthesizers from previous years’ Engineer Workshops) explores how electronic instruments create an analog of the human experience, speaking directly to the way in which physical circuits resonate within one’s self to create a “Spectral Shift”…

Well, watch:

I’m in another country this Moogfest, but if you splurge on an Engineer Pass, you get to make this and take it home with Moog calibration included. The lineup is filling out, too, with the likes of Daniel Miller, nd_baumecker, Jlin, Martin Gore, GAS, Mor Elian, and others (just to name a few favorites).

More:

https://www.moogmusic.com/news/moogfest-announces-initial-2019-lineup

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The monster modular MacBeth Elements One, unleashed at last

It’s a module as big as Scotland and as loud as creator Ken MacBeth. But the module, spotted rarely like the folkloric monster it is, seems about to go from legend to product.

Ken MacBeth is a kind of esoteric mad genius of the synth world, so when he does flagship synths, he goes all out. The Elements line has come full circle; the Elements One was actually the first design, but it hasn’t yet seen the light of day. We got an all-in-one synthesizer in 2014 (now costing about five grand; originally listed at US$6499), the “Elements,” with a touch keyboard, and its successor, the EL2.

Ken’s vision: a “real sized” synthesizer (which for him means … very large) without “sonic compromise.” That original launch video:

That evolved into this thing with a keyboard:

But if what you want is the module that ate all the other modules, meet the Elements One.

And it is one module – a whopping 84HP / 3U in size. (I have a feeling the ideal Ken MacBeth skiff would arrive in the form of a tractor trailer. Comically, this was intended to be the first of five modules of this size – hence the number.)

Size of run: 50, planned.

Availability: “June/August.” (Those are … not consecutive months, Ken.)

We can go back to Synthtopia in December 2013 for some more clues. Think “spike” oscillators, noise, an “acidic” ladder filter, and ring modulator.

I poke fun (not poke so much as shove on something this size) – but there’s plenty to admire on these instruments, even if they’re not entirely mobile or cost conscious. They take a design nod from classic UK instruments in place of the fiddly, finger-challenging design of today’s Eurorack. And they afford tons of rich cross modulation and sound design options – fat sounding stuff.

That is, whether you want to adopt this and take it home, you do definitely want to play it. The new module will come to Berlin’s storied retailer Schneidersladen, says the manufacturer, and having played the touch keyboard iteration, I’m sure you’ll want to play this module there.

Even short of that, it’s gorgeous to behold, like seeing the Clo Mor Cliffs — okay, I’ll stop making trite Scotland references, it’s just I really would love a holiday to some natural landscapes and we’re all freaked out by Brexit. Apologies, Ken. Everyone makes 24/7 references to Kentucky Fried Chicken around me, so feel lucky.

Got distracted, cough —

Elements One!

And… presumably four more modules.

We await you.

Thanks Patrick DSP for the tip.

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Paramount Synth „Meira“ – analog und polyphon mit auffälligem Design und drei Oszillatoren

Paramount Synth "Meira"Paramount Synth "Meira"

Curtis-Chips und Polyphonie, sowas klingt nach den Achtzigern und ist es auch ein bisschen. Aber es fehlt das Geld und dieser Tage bedient man sich einer Bitte an alle, genug Kapital bereitzustellen, um das Projekt mit drei Oszillatoren zu realisieren.

Dass heute Curtis-Chips, die Basis für solche Projekte, wieder verfügbar sind, weiss inzwischen wohl jeder. Der Sound „soll“ etwa zwischen dem Jupiter-8, dem Prophet-5 und dem Oberheim OB-Xa liegen. Genutzt werden sollen CEM 3340 für den Aufbau der Oszillatoren.

Der Preis für einen solchen Synthesizer soll 1795 US-Dollar sein, was ziemlich ehrgeizig ist für eine unbekannte Firma. Der Sound wird offenbar durch die genutzten Chips in diese Richtung „geschätzt“. Das ein AX80 nicht wie ein Oberheim Xpander klingt, obwohl sie die gleichen CEMs nutzen, ist aber auch klar. Und bei den Filtern weiss man noch nicht, was verwendet werden soll. Offensichtlich ist alles noch eher in einer Art Entwurf-Phase.

Daten zu Paramount Synth Meira

Es gibt ein Panel und eine Optik, die etwa zeigen soll ,wie das Gerät aussehen soll. Es bekommt 3 LFOs, 2 Filter mit jeweils einer ADSR-Hüllkurve und noch eine weitere für die Lautstärke. Speicherung und Arpeggiator sind ebenfalls geplant und es ist offenbar noch ziemlich viel offen, was Preis und Machbarkeit etwas im Ungewissen lässt.  Es wäre nicht die erste kleine Firma, die sich etwas übernimmt, dennoch wäre es toll einen nicht so großen und vielversprechenden Hersteller zu begrüßen.

Das Panel sieht Umschaltung zwischen den 3 Oszillatoren vor, und mit einem Knopfset kann man jeweils alle Einstellungen erreichen. Dadurch wird die Oberfläche übersichtlich. Aber: Aktuell gibt es nur die Optik und keine Entwürfe. Dennoch schauen wir, was „Meira“ für eine Zukunft hat. Den Namen Meira haben wir einfach aus dem Video – auch der Präsentator scheint jemand zu sein, der einfach eine Art Freund oder Mentor zu sein scheint.

Ein Blick zu einer Firma, die durchaus auch fertige Angebote macht aber auch eine gewisse Zeit benötigt: Behringer. Die können mit ihren besonderen Produktionsmethoden sicher bessere Preise machen. Aber dort wartet man dann doch schon auch mal 1–2 Jahre, bis ein Gerät wirklich auf dem Tisch steht. Hier hingegen muss noch eine komplette Entwicklung folgen, und deshalb schauen wir uns das an und hoffen, dass etwas herauskommt.

Was es bereits gibt

Korg und DSI bieten durchaus schon Synthesizer an, die polyphon und analog sind. Ebenso gibt es hybride Synthesizer wie den Peak, der ebenfalls eine Konkurrenz wäre und der Erklärung auch durchaus „nahe steht“. $2k ist eigentlich wenig Geld für einen mindestens 4, 6 oder 8-stimmigen Synthesizer (es soll mindestens 4 Stimmen geben, aber offenbar auch Optionen auf 6 haben …)
Aktuell gibt es 100 Dollar im Topf, es benötigt aber 179.500 US-Dollar, um das Projekt umzusetzen innerhalb 35 Tagen. Es werden 11 Farben angeboten, die Lieferung soll im Januar 2020 erfolgen.

Mehr Information

Video

SSF Ultra-analoge Zufälligkeit und Gate-Prozessor Gatestorm

SSF Ultra Random AnalogSSF Ultra Random Analog

SSF aka Steady State Fate haben ein Update bezüglich zufälliger und besonders analoger und daher ultra-zufälliger Quellen zu bieten und das in einer klar wiedererkennbaren Optik. SSF Ultra Random Analog!

Die Drum- und Percussion-Module und auch alle neueren Entwicklungen von SSF mit bunten Hinterlegungen für Buchsen und Bezeichnungen, ohne übertrieben zu sein zu designen, sind von hohem Wiedererkennungswert. Und es gibt ein Update des SSF Ultra Random Analog Moduls, das in die zweite Runde geht.

Zufall und Noises

Es besteht aus zwei Teilen und erlaubt alle Arten von Zufall, Noise und Co. Daher hat es Bezeichnungen wie Integrate (Integr8) und B-Slew als Glättungseinheit sowie Clock Rate und Puls-Dichte (Pulse-Density) zu bieten und modellierbar sind R-Flux Einfluss und Wahrscheinlichkeit. Damit kann man allerhand britzelige IDM-Experimente, aber auch Steuerspannungen herstellen.

Leider gibt es noch keine neuere Demo. Aber um einen Überblick zu bekommen, was das Gerät macht und wie es intern mit S&H und dem 7-fachen Pulsgenerator „Zufall“ herstellt, eignet sich das  Video dennoch. Nur besser. Brutzeln, Krachen, Britzeln – ist alles möglich, kann auch die Basis für eigene Synthese-Experimente sein.

Dipole

Übrigens gibt es auch ein neues Doppelfilter namens Dipole mit zwei 12dB/Okt.-Filtern, Drive und mehr, das auch optisch imposant ist.

Gatestorm

Des Weiteren kurz vorstellen kann man noch den Envelope Follower Detect-Rx und den Gate-Prozessor Erogenous Gatestorm mit 6 CV-Eingängen, 6 Steuereingängen und 8 Gate-Ausgängen und einem Monster-Display für die Übersicht. Hier lassen sich Zufall, Gate-Abhängigkeiten und vieles mehr für algorithmische, aber auch ganz mechanische Auslösungen in neue Zusammenhänge bringen und auslösen.

Das Ganze ist weit mehr als ein Sequencer. Es ist eher ein Manipulator und Sequencer mit Regeln und kann natürlich auch eine Clock erzeugen und verändern. Mit Regeln ist die Verknüpfung von Spuren gemeint, die logische Schaltungen nutzen, um neue Spuren zu erzeugen oder umwandeln. Das Video erklärt das genauer.

Mehr Information

Die Website von SSF hält fast alles bereit, außer den Preis für die neue Version des Random-Moduls. Es wird bald offiziell vorgestellt werden und dann werden wir auch den Preis erfahren. Alle anderen Module findet man im Shop.

Video

Die alte Version des Ultra Random Analog im Videodemo

Gatestorm Demo

GRP zeigt überraschend den Entwurf des Vocoders V22

GRP Vocoder V22GRP Vocoder V22

Analoge Vocoder sind noch immer besonders und deshalb wird eher selten mal ein ganz neuer vorgestellt, GRP hat’s getan.

Über ihren Instagram-Account hat GRP die Frontplatten-Zeichnung gepostet, wir wissen, dass sie so etwas nicht nur so zum Spaß machen, sondern das Gerät wird Wirklichkeit werden. Sicher sind Preis und Datum noch lange nicht zu nennen, aber – er man kann genau sehen, was er können wird.

22 Bänder

Der Vocoder hat patchbare 22 Bänder, was recht viel ist. Diese Bänder werden analysiert oder genauer – so viele Frequenzgruppen werden patchbar auf einen anderen Platz steckbar, somit kann die kleine Gruppe für den Bass beispielsweise die oberen Mitten ansteuern und so den Klang verändern. Dieses System ist mal entworfen worden, um Sprache zu verzerren und zu codieren, damit man schön im Krieg sprechen konnte, wo welches U-Boot wieder irgendwas zerschießen soll – und heute ist es natürlich für die Klangmanipulation gut. So kann man beliebig Bänder verdrehen und verpatchen wie man das haben möchte.

Sicher gibt es Module, wie etwa das ebenfalls italienische Modul von Frap Tools namens Fumana. Aber sonst gibt es doch eher seltener neue Vocoder mit diesem technischen Aufwand. GRP ist für so etwas bekannt, es wird kommen.

Mehr Information

Webseite von GRP
Instagram von GRP mit dem Beitrag zum V22

Arturia’s new experimental synth – and Mutable Instruments’ role

It was only a matter of time before some of the craziness of the modular world came to desktop synths, too. Arturia’s new MicroFreak is a budget keyboard with a weird streak.

It’s also been the source of some confusion, because it in fact makes use of oscillators from open source hardware maker Mutable Instruments, but hang tight for an explanation there. (It’s not exactly the focus of this synth, but it is significant – and an interesting illustration of overlapping capabilities in the age of open source.)

$349 (299 EUR) – coming this spring.

Experimental features are making their way into the mainstream. Let’s count – and yeah, that product name MicroFreak fits:

A flat-panel metal touch keyboard (Buchla style), with poly aftertouch. (Doesn’t look like there’s MPE support, though, just poly aftertouch support?)

A matrix for modulation (something associated with synths like the ARP 2500).

Randomization features in the step sequencer – various functions along the top “spice” and “dice” and otherwise rearrange your patterns.

Oscillator features from Mutable Instruments’ open source Plaits engine – and modes like Karplus Strong (physical modeled strings/plucks), harmonic oscillators, and more exotic wavetables.

It’s still an Arturia design, no doubt – the digital oscillators get fed through an analog filter (this time the Oberheim SEM), and the preset storage and control knobs all look Arturia-like and more conventional. But it’s a blend between that and more leftfield hardware, in one very low-cost unit – $349 (299 EUR) this spring.

The resulting design looks a little like it was pieced together from different bits – an ornate keyboard versus a more staid gray body, plus four glaring traffic cone orange knob caps. But that price is terrific, especially considering a lot of modular cases start at that price – let alone what you’d need to even begin to approach these possibilities here.

And – the thinness is fantastic. It seems 2019 is a year of touch keyboards. Don Buchla would’ve been proud of us.

So let’s get back to the Mutable Instruments oscillators, which are one of the more interesting features here. We’ve confirmed that Mutable Instruments and founder/designer Emilie were not directly involved in the design, though she did sign off on the mention of the company name.

Mutable Instruments’ Plaits module code is available open source under an MIT license, so any manufacturer can pick it up and use it – even without asking, actually. That’s by design; Emilie tells us she intended widespread use. (An alternative for open source developers is to use “copyleft” licensing, which requires anyone reusing your stuff to release their source, as well. That would’ve been interesting – theoretically it would have meant Arturia would need to open source their additional oscillators and firmware. The GPLv3 license we’ve used on MeeBlip has this function, for example.)

Some of Arturia’s original copy was perhaps a bit overzealous and caused some confusion about whether Mutable Instruments was a partner on the design. They’ve since clarified that. For further clarification, read the statement on the Mutable forums:

So while it’s not a collaboration, it does show off the power of open source. As Émilie writes:

You can find Mutable Instruments’ DSP code in the Korg Prologue, the Axoloti, the Organelle, VCV Rack, and plenty of other bits of software or hardware. This is not stealing. Plaits’ code is a summary of everything I’ve learnt about making rich and balanced sound sources controlled by a few parameters, it’s for everyone to enjoy.

The important thing here is to differentiate between the open source Plaits modules, some new additions from Arturia, and then the Plaits sounds you get from Mutable’s updated modules. Let’s break it down:

Plaits oscillator modes:

  • VA, classic virtual analog
  • Waveshaper, triangle wave with waveshaping / wavefolding
  • FM (2-operator FM oscillator)
  • Grain, granular synthesis
  • Chords, fixed paraphonic harmonies (hello, trance music, then)
  • Speech synthesis
  • Modal (inharmonic physical model)

Those of us who have been playing with this on hardware or in the authorized versions inside VCV Rack will definitely appreciate seeing these elsewhere. (Really – can’t get enough.)

Arturia did add some pretty significant modes to those:

  • “Superwave” – detuned saw, square, sine, triangle waves, somewhat Roland-ish sound
  • “Harmo” – 32 sine waves for additive synthesis
  • Karplus Strong – physical string modeling
  • Wavetable – scan through wavetable modes

To me, those Arturia additions really anchor this offering, with some pretty fundamental ideas on offer. Put them together, and you should have something really versatile.

But okay, since Mutable Instruments doesn’t get any of your money when you buy the Arturia MicroFreak, did Mutable just give away the store by using an open source license? Well, no, not really – Plaits gives you a full 16 modes, an internal low pass gate, and does all its 32-bit floating point math in hardware that you can bolt into a modular case and interconnect via control voltage. Plus, you can get Plaits in software if you like – see the Audible Instruments Preview for VCV Rack, regularly updated.

Heck, that could compel us Mutable superfans into happily buying these same features multiple times, in Arturia’s hardware, in the pack for VCV Rack (which Mutable has elected to support charity), and in Mutable’s own hardware. Hmmm… a MicroBrute, a little skiff with some Mutable modules, a nice connection to the laptop, maybe again a Raspberry Pi. Okay, I’ll stop. Guess I’ll have to buy the White Album again…)

See:
https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/plaits/

And as for MicroFreak:

https://www.arturia.com/products/hardware-synths/microfreak/overview

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Moog’s Sarin is a limited Taurus-based synth that sings high, too

They’re calling it the “analog messenger of joy.” Moog Music’s latest synth is an extremely limited run – and it turns the Taurus bass engine into an instrument you can play in any range. Meet Sarin:

There will only be 2500 of these, so the Sarin is a rarity and a luxury item. And it’s cheery and colorful, as was the recent Grandmother synth.

But the idea is interesting. Sarin starts with two Taurus bass oscillators – arguably one of the better Moog instruments, Taurus – and then modified those oscillators so you can play both the characteristic bass and higher-pitched sounds. Insert various mythical flying discussion here, Moog ad copy writers. But we’re talking about a new range of E0 – D8.

And that to me is the big question here — say what? I’m not sure what they modified or what this means, though the basic notion is interesting. (On a digital synth, we’d assume something with anti-aliasing, but these are analog oscillators!)

They also ship it directly with an editor – which is a cue other manufacturers really might consider taking up. (Of course, Roland has it easy, since at least one third party keeps doing it for them!)

Specs:
Steel chassis
2 “modified” Moog Taurus analog oscillators with hard sync (saw/square waves)
A Taurus ladder filter
Two ADSRs
Multi-wave LFO with MIDI sync
Glide with selectable type
Modulation sources: Triangle, Square, Saw, Ramp, Sample & Hold, and Filter EG
Modulation destinations: Oscillator Pitch, Oscillator 2 Pitch only, and Filter Cutoff

Now more of an expectation – synths should have editors for integration with your projects on your computer and easier access to sounds.

CV / gate inputs: filter CV, pitch, volume, gate, and yes, CV to MIDI conversion of course

The price is steep, as you might expect from “Moog” and “limited edition” – US$599. That means you might check the Moog used market, and … it’s still tempting to get a DFAM or a Mother-32 instead; Moog have to compete with Moog here a bit.

But it’s a unique idea, and this is for someone wanting a special splurge anyway. It’ll be part of the pop-up Moog House of Electronicus Pop-up (not a typo, there’s a whole back story about “an experimental gathering that took place on the barrier island of Tierre Verde during the 1970s”). That’s in LA this week during NAMM.

You can pick it up there, or they’ll ship to you, as well. There’s quite a nice demo from Nick Sanborn. (He’s evidently in bands called Sylvan Esso and Made Of Oak but I ruined my life by moving to Berlin and getting sucked into techno, so I don’t know those bands. Mea culpa. Nice sounds, though!)

https://www.moogmusic.com/products/sirin

https://www.mooghouseofelectronicus.com/pages/sirin

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Bitwig Studio is about to deliver on a fully modular core in a DAW

Bitwig Studio may have started in the shadow of Ableton, but one of its initial promises was building a DAW that was modular from the ground up. Bitwig Studio 3 is poised to finally deliver on that promise, with “The Grid.”

Having a truly modular system inside a DAW offers some tantalizing possibilities. It means, in theory at least, you can construct whatever you want from basic building blocks. And in the very opposite of today’s age of presets, that could make your music tool feel more your own.

Oh yeah, and if there is such an engine inside your DAW, you can also count on other people building a bunch of stuff you can reuse.

Why modulaity? It doesn’t have to just be about tinkering (though that can be fun for a lot of people).

A modular setup is the very opposite of a preset mentality for music production. Experienced users of these environments (software especially, since it’s open-ended) do often find that patching exactly what they need can be more creative and inspirational. It can even save time versus the effort spent trying to whittle away at a big, monolithic tool just go get to the bit you actually want. But the traditional environments for modular development are fairly unfriendly to new users – that’s why very often people’s first encounters with Max/MSP, SuperCollider, Pd, Reaktor, and the like is in a college course. (And not everyone has access to those.) Here, you get a toolset that could prove more manageable. And then once you have a patch you like, you can still interconnect premade devices – and you can work with clips and linear arrangement to actually finish songs. With the other tools, that often means coding out the structure of your song or trying to link up to a different piece of software.

We’ve seen other DAWs go modular in different ways. There’s Apple Logic’s now mostly rarely-used Environment. There’s Reason with its rich, patchable rack and devices. There’s Sensomusic Usine, which is a fully modular DAW / audio environment, and DMX lighting and video tool – perhaps the most modular of these (even relative to Bitwig Studio and The Grid). And of course there’s Ableton Live with Max for Live, though that’s really a different animal – it’s a full patching development environment that runs inside Live via a runtime, and API and interface hooks that allow you to access its devices. The upside: Max for Live can do just about everything. The downside: it’s mostly foreign to Ableton Live (as it’s a different piece of software with its own history), and it could be too deep for someone just wanting to build an effect or instrument.

So, enter The Grid. This is really the first time a relatively conventional DAW has gotten its own, native modular environment that can build instruments and effects. And it looks like it could be accomplished in a way that feels comfortable to existing users. You get a toolset for patching your own stuff inside the DAW, and you can even mix and match signal to outboard hardware modular if that’s your thing.

And it really focuses on sound applications, too, with three devices. One is dedicated to monophonic synths, one to polyphonic synths, and one to effects.

From there, you get a fully modular setup with a modern-looking UI and 120+ modules to choose from.

They’ve done a whole lot to ease the learning curve normally associated with these environments – smoothing out some of the wrinkles that usually baffle beginners:

You can patch anything to anything, in to out. All signals are interchangeable – connect any out to any in. Most other software environments don’t work that way, which can mean a steeper learning curve. (We’ll have to see how this works in practice inside The Grid).

Any in can go to any out – reducing some of the complexity of other patching environments (software and hardware alike).

Everything’s stereo. Here’s another way of reducing complexity. Normally, you have to duplicate signals to get stereo, which can be confusing for beginners. Here, every audio cable and every control cable routes stereo.

Everything’s also in living stereo, reducing cable count and cognitive effort.

There are default patchings. Funny enough, this idea has actually been seen on hardware – there are default routings so modules automatically wire themselves if you want, via what Bitwig calls “pre-cords.” That means if you’re new to the environment, you can always plug stuff in.

They’ve also promised to make phase easier to understand, which should open up creative use of time and modulation to those who may have been intimidated by these concepts before.

“Pre-cords” mean you can easily add default patchings to get stuff working straight away.

What fun is a modular tool if you can’t explore phase? Bitwig say they’ve made this concept more accessible to modulation and easier to learn.

There’s also a big advantage to this being native to the environment – again, something you could only really say about Sensomusic Usine before now (at least as far as things that could double as DAWs).

This unlocks:

  • Nesting and layering devices alongside other Bitwig devices
  • Full support from the Open Controller API. (Wow, this is a pain the moment you put something like Reaktor into another host, too.)
  • Route modulation out of your stuff from The Grid into other Bitwig devices.
  • Complete hardware modular integration – yeah, you can mix your software with hardware as if they’re one environment. Bitwig says they’ve included “dedicated grid modules for sending any control, trigger, or pitch signal as CV Out and receiving any CV In.”

I’ve been waiting for this basically since the beginning. This is an unprecedented level of integration, where every device you see in Bitwig Studio is already based on this modular environment. Bitwig had even touted that early on, but I think they were far overzealous with letting people know about their plans. It unsurprisingly took a while to make that interface user friendly, which is why it’ll be a pleasure to try this now and see how they’ve done. But Bitwig tells us this is in fact the same engine – and that the interface “melds our twin focus on modularity and swift workflows.”

There’s also a significant dedication to signal fidelity. There’s 4X oversampling throughout. That should generally sound better, but it also has implications for control and modularity. And it’ll make modulation more powerful in synthesis, Bitwig tells CDM:

With phase, sync, and pitch inputs on most every oscillator, there are many opportunities here for complex setups. Providing this additional bandwidth keeps most any patch or experiment from audible aliasing. As an open system, this type of optimization works for the most cases without overtaxing processors.

It’s stereo only, which puts it behind some of the multichannel capabilities of Reaktor, Max, SuperCollider, and others – Max/MSP especially given its recent developments. But that could see some growth in a later release, Bitwig hints. For now, I think stereo will keep us plenty busy.

They’ve also been busy optimizing, Bitwig tells us:

This is something we worked a lot on in early development, particularly optimizing performance on the oversampled, stereo paths to align with the vector units of desktop processors. In addition, the modules are compiled at runtime for the best performance on the particular CPU in use.

That’s a big deal. I’m also excited about using this on Linux – where, by the way, you can really easily use JACK to integrate other environments like SuperCollider or live coding tools.

If you’re at NAMM, Bitwig will show The Grid as part of Bitwig Studio 3. They have a release coming in the second quarter, but we’ll sit down with them here in Berlin for a detailed closer look (minus NAMM noise in the background or jetlag)!

Oh yeah, and if you’ve got the Upgrade Plan, it’s free.

This is really about making a fully modular DAW – as opposed to the fixed multitrack tape/mixer models of the past. Bitwig have even written up an article about how they see modularity and how it’s evolved over various release versions:

BEHIND THE SCENES: MODULARITY IN BITWIG STUDIO

More on Bitwig Studio 3:

https://www.bitwig.com/en/19/bitwig-studio-3

Obligatory:

Oh yeah, also Tron: Legacy seems like a better movie with French subtitles…

That last line fits: “And the world was more beautiful than I ever dreamed – and also more dangerous … hop in bed now, come on.”

Yeah, personal life / sleep … in trouble.

The post Bitwig Studio is about to deliver on a fully modular core in a DAW appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer bringt einen TB303-Clone – ist er womöglich schon „fertig“?

Behringer TB303Behringer TB303

Da postet Behringer auf deren Facebook Account ein Video, und neben der RD909 steht eine 303 …

Robert Winterhoff ist Chef von Behringer und Bugera, der Amp-Company. Es gibt ein Video, in dem scheinbar wenig Neues zu sehen ist, außer dass es „ihn“ jetzt gibt. Aber zufällig steht eine RD909 (TR909-Clone) neben ihm und dahinter sieht man eine TB303 in silber – aber offenbar mit etwas anderem Design.

Könnte es nicht sein, dass das ein Hinweis ist?

Es gibt ein paar Mäuse, die das denken, und Behringer hat immer etwas Wahrheit und Neues in ihren Beiträgen, sei es ein Bild oder ein Video.

Preise und Veröffentlichungstermin ist nicht bekannt, man kann aber für die NAMM auf mehr spekulieren.

Mehr Information

Behringer Facebook Profil.

Video