Cherry Audio Voltage Modular: a full synth platform, open to developers

Hey, hardware modular – the computer is back. Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular is another software modular platform. Its angle: be better for users — and now, easier and more open to developers, with a new free tool.

Voltage Modular was shown at the beginning of the year, but its official release came in September – and now is when it’s really hitting its stride. Cherry Audio’s take certainly isn’t alone; see also, in particular, Softube Modular, the open source VCV Rack, and Reason’s Rack Extensions. Each of these supports live patching of audio and control signal, hardware-style interfaces, and has rich third-party support for modules with a store for add-ons. But they’re all also finding their own particular take on the category. That means now is suddenly a really nice time for people interested in modular on computers, whether for the computer’s flexibility, as a supplement to hardware modular, or even just because physical modular is bulky and/or out of budget.

So, what’s special about Voltage Modular?

Easy patching. Audio and control signals can be freely mixed, and there’s even a six-way pop-up multi on every jack, so each jack has tons of routing options. (This is a computer, after all.)

Each jack can pop up to reveal a multi.

It’s polyphonic. This one’s huge – you get true polyphony via patch cables and poly-equipped modules. Again, you know, like a computer.

It’s open to development. There’s now a free Module Designer app (commercial licenses available), and it’s impressively easy to code for. You write DSP in Java, and Cherry Audio say they’ve made it easy to port existing code. The app also looks like it reduces a lot of friction in this regard.

There’s an online store for modules – and already some strong early contenders. You can buy modules, bundles, and presets right inside the app. The mighty PSP Audioware, as well as Vult (who make some of my favorite VCV stuff) are already available in the store.

There’s an online store for free and paid add-ons – modules and presets. But right now, a hundred bucks gets you started with a bunch of stuff right out of the gate.

Voltage Modular is a VST/AU/AAX plug-in and runs standalone. And it supports 64-bit double-precision math with zero-latency module processes – but, impressively in our tests, isn’t so hard on your CPU as some of its rivals.

Right now, Voltage Modular Core + Electro Drums are on sale for just US$99.

Real knobs and patch cords are fun, but … let’s be honest, this is a hell of a lot of fun, too.

For developers

So what about that development side, if that interests you? Well, Apple-style, there’s a 70/30 split in developers’ favor. And it looks really easy to develop on their platform:

Java may be something of a bad word to developers these days, but I talked to Cherry Audio about why they chose it, and it definitely makes some sense here. Apart from being a reasonably friendly language, and having unparalleled support (particularly on the Internet connectivity side), Java solves some of the pitfalls that might make a modular environment full of third-party code unstable. You don’t have to worry about memory management, for one. I can also imagine some wackier, creative applications using Java libraries. (Want to code a MetaSynth-style image-to-sound module, and even pull those images from online APIs? Java makes it easy.)

Just don’t think of “Java” as in legacy Java applications. Here, DSP code runs on a Hotspot virtual machine, so your DSP is actually running as machine language by the time it’s in an end user patch. It seems Cherry have also thought through GUI: the UI is coded natively in C++, while you can create custom graphics like oscilloscopes (again, using just Java on your side). This is similar to the models chosen by VCV and Propellerhead for their own environments, and it suggests a direction for plug-ins that involves far less extra work and greater portability. It’s no stretch to imagine experienced developers porting for multiple modular platforms reasonably easily. Vult of course is already in that category … and their stuff is so good I might almost buy it twice.

Or to put that in fewer words: the VM can match or even best native environments, while saving developers time and trouble.

Cherry also tell us that iOS, Linux, and Android could theoretically be supported in the future using their architecture.

Of course, the big question here is installed user base and whether it’ll justify effort by developers, but at least by reducing friction and work and getting things rolling fairly aggressively, Cherry Audio have a shot at bypassing the chicken-and-egg dangers of trying to launch your own module store. Plus, while this may sound counterintuitive, I actually think that having multiple players in the market may call more attention to the idea of computers as modular tools. And since porting between platforms isn’t so hard (in comparison to VST and AU plug-in architectures), some interested developers may jump on board.

Well, that and there’s the simple matter than in music, us synth nerds love to toy around with this stuff both as end users and as developers. It’s fun and stuff. On that note:

Modulars gone soft

Stay tuned; I’ve got this for testing and will let you know how it goes.

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Universal Audio just made their interfaces into a live vocoder, more

Why would you want near-zero latency on an effect? Well, maybe you want to run something like a vocoder – and that means the latest addition to Universal Audio’s offerings is a big deal.

Universal Audio continues churning out software updates with new analog emulations and other add-ons to buy; 2018 has been a huge year for them. But those effects often don’t come cheap, and they are tied to UA’s own hardware. So one of the selling points of working that way has been that UA offers near-zero latencies, letting you track through those effects. That is, plug-ins are great – until you need real-time performance, since they can add loads of latency.

This is meaningless, of course, if you’re just applying effects to recordings after the fact. But a vocoder is an entirely different story, so I suspect that the new vocoder included in this month’s UA update will matter to a lot of people.

Interesting, UA are so locked in the studio paradigm that they say you’ll want to “track” through the vocoder – record while monitoring. But I imagine this vocoder may find its way onstage. Lots of vocalists perform with laptops for greater flexibility, and the UA vocoder has real-time MIDI and keyboard control.

The new Vocoder comes from Softube, those Swedish masters of emulation, who have made themselves a big name both as a provider to UA and as an independent vendor (including with their own native platform, though it doesn’t provide the same real-time possibilities).

The result is a vocoder that looks promising in the studio and onstage. I need to test this, so disclaimer – this isn’t a review. But here’s what they’re promising.

Any vocoder is a combination of synth and vocal input, by default. Here, you get an emulation of an analog polysynth, and then a number of unique tools specific to this offering.

  • 12-voice polyphonic “carrier” synth (that’s the synth you’ll combine with your vocals)
  • Analog synth emulation
  • Four waveform types, pitch modulation, pulse width modulation (and octave and attack/decay controls)
  • Variable bands – 4-, 8-, 12-, 16-, and 20-band modes – for simpler retro “robotic” effects to richer, modern digital vocoder styles
  • Resynthesis parameters – emphasis, spectral tilt (which adjusts how you shift between frequencies), shape, and parallel bend controls
  • MIDI control of notes and chords (also available from their built-in keyboard onscreen if you don’t have a MIDI source handy)
  • Synced freeze function – so you can capture a snippet of sound, and then use different clock divisions synced to a DAW or MIDI source

“Freeze” a snippet of sound, then manipulate that freeze in sync with your DAW or a MIDI source, with various clock division options.

Spectral controls give you more contemporary sounds, retro robot sounds, or anything in between.

And yeah, you can use this on vocals if you’re a terrible singer. You can use it if you’re a great singer. You can use it on things that aren’t vocals (hello, drums). And so on. Here are some nice tips from their even nicer studio:

This wasn’t the only addition to UA’s latest software. See also an AMS Neve console built especially for emulating the desk preferred by big budget Hollywood productions. That gives you the whole console strip you’d find at, say, Skywalker Sound – with Compressor, Limiter, Expander, Gate, and Dynamic EQ, plus four-band parametric EQ. Will it make you sound more Hollywood? No idea. Will it give you a psychological boost to try? Probably.

AMS Neve DFC Channel Strip.

And also in this release, they’re unveiling the first-ever authorized emulation of the legendary Lexicon 480L. If you don’t know that 80s-era reverb by its model number, you might know it from its beige case and faders – it’s one of the more recognizable effects in history. Being authorized in this case matters, because they were able to derive the results directly from the original’s firmware. (Oh yeah – digital means a “model” can be very accurate indeed.) And again, you can use this live. First thing I would do would be to map some faders to those parameters.

Lexicon 480L – the original hardware.

9.7 additionally includes an emulation of the Suhr SE100 tube amp, plus from Brainworx the bx_masterdesk Classic chain.

But I do think the vocoder will be the one that gets people’s attention, because everyone —

Oh, no, I’m going to be interrupted by Robert Henke again.


(PS, if it’s an Auto-Tune effect you’re after, they also have a real-time edition of Antares’ Auto-Tune.)

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Behringers Suche nach Synth-Neuland: Angriff auf die Digitalen und Hybriden?

Behringer DigitalBehringer Digital

Behringer sucht nach eigenen Angaben „Spezialisten für FPGA Programmierung“. Damit sind sie dann offensichtlich noch ganz am Anfang, aber …

Angesichts der nicht mehr so breiten Palette von digitalen Synthesizern und dem großen Analog-Trend muss etwas kommen. Waldorf hat sich den Kyra an Bord geholt, den früheren Valkyrie von einem exzellenten Coder aus UK. Wie man auch an Software-Synthesizern hören kann, ist die Qualität solcher Synthesizer, die nicht zwingend Simulanten sind, sehr unterschiedlich und trägt stark die Handschrift von Individualisten. So klingt Arturia-Software nicht immer genau so wie das Original. Sie ist aber brauchbar und hochwertig, während U-He, Creamware schon vor Jahren und Roland seit Start der Boutique-Serie offenbar gefunden haben, was man braucht. Wie sieht die nahe Zukunft von Behringer aus?

Behringer Digital-Synthesizer – der nächste Schritt?

Behringer arbeitet aktuell irgendwo zwischen der Herstellung beliebter Synthesizer und Neuentwicklung eigener Konzepte wie dem Neutron. Sie werden auf Dauer ihr Image verbessern wollen und auch Synthesizer auf breitere Füße stellen wollen. Dazu gehört eine gute digitale Einheit. FPGA ist nur einer von mehreren Wegen, wie man Synthesizer heute in Hardware gießen kann. Aktuell gehen viele Firmen in Richtung ARM-Chips. Die Klassiker sind hingegen auf Motorola-DSPs oder Sharcs aufgebaut. Selbst Sequential verwendet Sharcs für den Oszillator-Block des Prophet-12 , so wie es Creamware damals, später Soniccore auch versuchten.

Wenn die richtigen Leute gefunden sind oder auch nur ein guter Coder, wäre ein neues Projekt für einen Behringer Digital-Synthesizer in einem halben bis ganzen Jahr soweit, vorzeigbar zu sein. Manchmal kann es auch länger dauern. Ab da müsste man eher mit ganz neuen Maschinen rechnen können, die sicher eher nicht so stark an anderen orientieren, jedoch sich den Markt genau ansehen. Ob es für Innovationen reicht, die auch ein Wagnis darstellen, kann man auch bei positivem Blick erstmal nicht annehmen. Schließlich operiert Behringer schon sehr, sehr lange eher nahe an gut funktionierenden Konzepten.

Sie können günstig Dinge herstellen und auch hybride Synthesizer wären kein Problem. Sie wären generell günstiger als alles andere, jedoch ist die Messlatte für ein sinnvolles neues Konzept relativ hoch. Ob man eher eine Art Nord Lead, Virus oder Kyra bringt oder sich auch an ganz anderen Synthesekonzepten versucht, könnte man anhand bisheriger Produkte eher nicht erwarten. Aber wieso sollte Behringer uns nicht überraschen wollen?

Behringer stellt neue Leute ein

Behringer sucht mehrere Leute und zwar sollen diese sich laut ihrer Facebook-Information in Willich bewerben, dem klassischen deutschen Gründungsort. Ganz sicher meint man das ernst und sicher möchte man mit mehreren Leuten schnell vorankommen und vielleicht mehrere Projekte bringen. Wenn die mal gefunden sind, könnte man auch FM-Synthesizer, Mischformen wie den Fingersonic oder auch High-End-Maschinen wie den Waldorf Quantum schaffen. Aber – gut klingende Instrumente brauchen auch teilweise unkonventionell denkende Coder.

Wir tippen auf die Ergänzung der analogen Reihe, Aufwertungen der analogen Elemente über digitale Oszillatoren mit Wavetables, FM und Co. Aber auch komplett digitale Konzepte sind möglich, die aber stark an den Spezialitäten der Coder hängen werden oder, je nach Firmenstruktur, des Leitenden oder des Chefs. Die Erwartung ist daher: günstige Mischformen und digitale Konzepte mit dem Besten aus allem, was es bisher gab. Wenn wir als User die Firma unterschätzen und sie bringen sehr innovative Instrumente, dann haben sie auch die Chance auf mehr gute Karmapunkte. Vielleicht tun sie genau das (auch), lassen aber auch ein paar Klassiker auf den Stand von 2018 bringen.

Vadim is a master of the dark arts of DSP – listen to him explain filters

DSP is a secretive art form. But maybe its best-kept secret is, musicians can learn it. You just need a great teacher – and Vadim Zavalishin of Native Instruments, working in Reaktor, is a perfect place to start.

This talk is from June, but just came online – and it’s a rare chance to hear from anyone like this in the industry, let alone in a way that’s this clear and friendly from someone who’s one of the better DSP artists around. Even if you have little interest in programming, you can skim through this video and learn how Vadim made a lot of NI’s recent stuff sound better through analog-style filter modeling. But it might just get you into some casual toying about with core DSP, because Reaktor makes it easy – and Vadim makes it clear why it’s relevant to music and sound.

Some background first: Digital Signal Processing describes the transformation of sound through math, now inside your plug-ins, your hardware, and quite a lot of of Eurorack modules.

DSP is math, but the math itself often is straightforward. Take summing. You know the equation for summing signals, because it’s literally adding. That’s 1+1 adding – that one. (For years I listened to DAW programmers chuckle as people posted on forums about “summing engines,” because very often it is really the stuff you did in first grade. Well, if in first grade you used floating point numbers instead of integers, but you get the idea.)

Depending on the task in mind, of course, this can get to doctoral-level stuff instead. But if there’s only a handful of people doing DSP in audio, the reason may be that it requires overlapping expertise. You need to get the math part and the coding bits, but you also need a musical ear and a sense of art. (And you need to be willing to work with music instead of take a high-paying job for, say, the petroleum business or defense contractors.)

Music is very often about sophisticated results from simple building blocks. And so it is with DSP. DSP is a unique intersection between music, sound, science, art, and alchemy.

Then again, that’s why it could be a lot of fun to explore as a musician, and not just as an engineer. There’s not time for everything – that’s why it’s great to be able to “stand on the shoulders of giants” and use existing DSP code, and existing research, to say nothing of going out and buying a nice guitar pedal or using the modules in environments like Reaktor or SuperCollider or Max/MSP or Pd or checking out a new plug-in or soft synth or keyboard.

But Reaktor’s visual environment, structured tools, and the ability to plug your latest filter or distortion into a larger context make this software an ideal way to learn or experiment. I think it’s more fun than brewing your own beer or something, anyway, and I kill plants when I try to grow them. Filters it is.

I’m experimenting myself with Reaktor and also the lovely free FAUST environment. If anyone else is, too, let us know how it goes.

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UA unveils a maxed-out Thunderbolt 3 Apollo – and it’ll monitor surround sound

Universal Audio’s Apollo flagship audio interface and DSP platform is getting a big generational refresh and Thunderbolt 3. There’s a lot here, but maybe the most significant development is that 5.1 and 7.1 surround monitoring support is coming later this year.

It’s the Apollo X line for Mac and Windows – the x6, x8, x8p, and x16, all with Thunderbolt 3 connections to the computer and loads of I/O.

“UA’s hardware are just dongles for their plug-ins” – yeah, I hear that a lot. But the Apollo line was from the beginning the hardware that changed that. It said to users, hey, what if that add-on was also one of the best audio interfaces you can buy, even before adding in the DSP benefits. And then, over time, we’ve seen UA bake in greater functionality using that DSP horsepower.

The new Apollo really speaks to the high end of the market. These are the people who do depend on the reliability of the DSP hardware – because native processing, while enormously powerful, lacks the same predictability. (That’s a nice way of saying your CPU will suddenly peg and make a horrible glitching noise out of your sound.) That’s good to have anywhere, but especially in production environments in studios, in TV and video and games, in live tracking. A “studio” isn’t what it once was, to be sure, but then that’s also been the advantage of UA’s mobile interfaces. This is still about those situations where time is money and quality is everything, even if that use case may or may not be a studio per se.

Nicely enough, UA has managed to price out these systems for that full range, from the entry-level model at two grand (in reach of at least some serious independent producers) up to a maxed-out $3499 model.

In the process, we also see UA’s move from its more iterative, provisional approach of the past to a top-to-bottom hardware upgrade and greater software integration we get now. Having been on the UA train for a while, their stuff is just way more useful and way more reliable and easier to configure than when it started.

So here’s what you get:

All new A/D and D/A conversion which UA claims now best the industry for dynamic range and low signal-to-noise.
More DSP. 6-core processing boosts DSP by 50% over the past generation.
Mic preamp emulations. So, here’s another reason to run dedicated DSP – you can track through integrated preamp emulations of Neve, API, Manley, Fender, and more, saving money and space and adding flexibility in the studio, and then letting you take that studio rig on the road in a way that was previously impossible.
Surround formats up to 7.1, with speaker calibration and fold-down.

The surround thing is coming quarter 4, and obviously makes this way more appealing to exactly the sort of production environments likely to be attracted to UA in the first place.

There’s also various nice little touches: a built-in talkback mic and cue support, +24/+20 switchable operation, and a nice software bundle which interestingly now includes Marshall and Ampeg models. (I’m guessing that’s part of this focus on producers.)

The various models:

Apollo | x16 — US$3,499
133 dB dynamic range, THD+N -129 dB, 18 x 20 interface.

Apollo | x8p — $2,999
8 Unison-ready mic preamps, 129 dB dynamic range, switchable +24 dBu headroom settings, 18 x 22

Apollo | x8 — $2,499
Like the above but 4 Unison mic pres, 18×24.

Apollo | x6 — $1,999
The “producer one” – 2 Unison mic pres and Hi-Z ins, still surround support up to 5.1 (the others do 7.1), and 16×22 I/O.

The full range looks like a winner to me; I think we will see a lot of these show up in the studios, mix rooms, post facilities, and a lot of producer rigs, as UA promises.

There just isn’t anyone else doing this kind of platform. (The closest, Softube’s Console 1, in fact works perfectly with the UAD so it’s less a rival than a part of the same ecosystem.) It’s not going to be for everyone, but it does continue to look better for the people it’s for.

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Tangible AE Modular bekommt MultiFX-Modul unter 99 Euro

Tangible AE Modular MultiFX

Nachdem ich auch selbst mal auf dem Happy Knobbing das AE anhören konnte, musste ich allein wegen der Größe durchaus immer wieder sagen : „Das nicht kaufen, du hast doch schon.“, Aber es gibt jetzt dafür auch einen Effekt-Bereich!

Die Module sind kleiner als beim Eurorack. Es ist extrem smart mit dem kleinen System zu arbeiten, und es klingt auch überzeugend. Der MultiFX hat einen Auswähler mit Anzeige, um welchen Effekt es sich handelt. Es gibt insgesamt 15 Effekte, die auf dem FV1 Chip basieren, den auch Tiptop in ihren Modulen verwenden.

AE Modular MultiFX – Effekte für Tangible AE Modular

Drei Parameter sind per CV direkt erreichbar und damit sehr leicht zu beeinflussen. Viele Effekte bieten lediglich zwei Parameter an. Außerdem kann das AE Modular MultiFX auf LoFi gestellt werden, um so auch absichtliche Glitch-Sounds zu produzieren. Hall, Delay, Ring Crusher und Glitch Delay und weitere findet man auch dort inkl. dem „Valhalla-Reverb“.

Weitere Module werden aktualisiert, es wird also auch noch immer an dem System gearbeitet und verbessert. Mit unter 500,– Euro bekommt man ein komplettes System, dieses Modul kostet 89,– Euro als Einführungspreis. Später soll es dann 95,– Euro kosten. Es ist möglich, sich selbst ein System zusammenzustellen oder man kann wählen und einzeln kaufen.

Wer das AE System noch nicht kennt: Es ist Ergebnis einer Crowdfunding Aktion.



AE Demos

und auf dem Meeting Happy Knobbing – ab 21:40 etwa…

Watch this $30 kit turn into all these other synthesizers

DIY guru Mitch Altman has been busy expanding ArduTouch, the $30 kit board he designed to teach synthesis and coding. And now you can turn it into a bunch of other synths – with some new videos to who you how that works.

You’ll need to do a little bit of tinkering to get this working – though for many, of course, that’ll be part of the fun. So you solder together the kit, which includes a capacitive touch keyboard (as found on instruments like the Stylophone) and speaker. That means once the soldering is done, you can make sounds. To upload different synth code, you need a programmer cable and some additional steps.

Where this gets interesting is that the ArduTouch is really an embedded computer – and what’s wonderful about computers is, they transform based on whatever code they’re running.

ArduTouch is descended from the Arduino project, which in turn was the embedded hardware coding answer to desktop creative coding environment Processing. And from Processing, there’s the idea of a “sketch” – a bit of code that represents a single idea. “Sketching” was vital as a concept to these projects as it implies doing something simpler and more elegant.

For synthesis, ArduTouch is collecting a set of its own sketches – simple, fun digital signal processing creations that can be uploaded to the board. You get a whole collection of these, including sketches that are meant to serve mainly as examples, so that over time you can learn DSP coding. (The sketches are mostly the creation of Mitch’s friend, Bill Alessi.) Because the ArduTouch itself is cloned from the Arduino UNO, it’s also fully compatible both with UNO boards and the Arduino coding environment.

Mitch has been uploading videos and descriptions (and adding new synths over time), so let’s check them out:

Thick is a Minimoog-like, playable monosynth.

Arpology is an “Eno-influenced” arpeggiator/synth combo with patterns, speed, major/minor key, pitch, and attack/decay controls, plus a J.S. Bach-style generative auto-play mode.

Beatitude is a drum machine with multiple parts and rhythm track creation, plus a live playable bass synth.

Mantra is a weird, exotic-sounding sequenced drone synth with pre-mapped scales. The description claims “it is almost impossible to play something that doesn’t sound good.” (I initially read that backwards!)

Xoid is raucous synth with frequency modulation, ratio, and XOR controls. Actually, this very example demonstrates just why ArduTouch is different – like, you’d probably not want to ship Xoid as a product or project on its own. But as a sketch – and something strange to play with – it’s totally great.

DuoPoly is also glitchy and weird, but represents more of a complete synth workstation – and it’s a grab-bag demo of all the platform can do. So you get Tremelo, Vibrato, Pitch Bend, Distortion Effects, Low Pass Filter, High Pass Filter, Preset songs/patches, LFOs, and other goodies, all crammed onto this little board.

There, they’ve made some different oddball preset songs, too:

Platinum hit, this one:

This one, it sounds like we hit a really tough cave level in Metroid:

Open source hardware, kits available for sale:

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A simple, classic channel strip, Mr. Putnam’s mic collection, and more

Universal Audio have dropped another of their semi-annual releases of high-end digital sound toys. And this one is revealing of how studio production is becoming more accessible. Plus, you get to steal Bill Putnam’s mic collection. Well, virtually.

A handful of players in this space always stand out – the likes of Universal Audio, WAVES, Eventide, Softube, Soundtoys, and more recently Slate Digital are all competing to give you clever digital emulations of studio gear. These tools command premium prices, at least compared to the stuff bundled with your DAW, but they also deliver results that can match massively expensive studio access or used equipment. UA’s value proposition has always been tying its stuff to hardware. And on audio interfaces in particular, that has advantages, like real-time tracking (no latency!) and gain behaviors that act more like the real thing.

The thing is, while these things aren’t terribly cheap, they’re also not outside the budget of a lot of producers. So developers now find themselves appealing to both seasoned producers and engineers – even those with a fair number of hours on the original equipment, or maybe a Grammy or two in the closet – alongside musicians who have decided to pretend they know what the knobs do. (Trust me, I’ve been in that latter category – I feel you.)

This could go horribly wrong. You could get a giant knob that says “make more loud.” But oddly enough, if you maintain a commitment to sound and ease of use can make both groups happier. The absolute beginner still wants stuff that sounds like their favorite records. And the person who produced those favorite records is the least likely to have time to deal with unfriendly user interfaces. (We’re all getting older. Yeah, those producers even often use presets – of course, because they know what the presets actually do and how to adjust them to taste.)

So, all of that is to say, I have to notice the Century Tube Channel Strip looks a lot simpler than a lot of high-end channel strips.

Century Channel Strip – hardware-style controls and behavior, simple UI, classic sound, and works in real-time with UA’s audio interfaces.

One singular channel strip

It’s actually ridiculously simple. But funny enough, that simplicity comes from UA’s experience with modeling decades of vintage gear, which in the days of analog circuits and higher per-component prices (to say nothing of real knobs instead of computer screens), tended to economize.

So it just looks like one channel strip with a vintage-style tube microphone preamp, equalizationfor sound shaping, and dynamics control (a compressor/limiter). It’s skeuomorphic – sorry Jony Ives – but with the general effect that things are easier to see and relatable in a general sense to hardware you may have used before.

One plug-in just does the bulk of what you need, in one interface. This contrasts with Arturia’s (completely excellent, by the way) “Preamps You’ll Actually Use,” which have sprawling UIs – here, the model is still vintage gear, but the controls are far simpler.

UA wants to do more than say you can use this with their real-time tracking. They want to tell you why:

You’ll use real-time tracking so you’re more likely to get the sound you want on the first take, as you play/sing, and then keep that take without second-guessing it.

At EUR/USD 149, this looks like an instant hit for UA owners, and with the Apollo Arrow a lower-cost, more portable hardware entry, I think the combination could be grand.

Vintage mics, in the box

The other nice news in this update is the Bill Putnam microphone collection. That’s Bill Putnam, Sr., the legendary engineer without whose contributions modern recording is hard to imagine. And yes, apart from being the guy who founded UA, Mr. Putnam worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Ray Charles.

So, here’s the cool part: now you can track through models of his actual mics, including the Telefunken Ela M 251E, AKG C12A, Neumann U47, RCA 44, and others, with all the controls over proximity and pattern, before or after the fact.

Again, UA have a case for making you spend more on their software and combined hardware, because the payoff is that you can get near-zero latencies and hear the effects as you work. Computers could pull that off, but until they do so reliably, you’ve got this.

The magic of this working is all the work of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone. Short, non-engineering explanation – that mic picks up everything, so that then software can model the unique frequency and spatial response of a particular mic.

Just get ready: the list price of the L22 is US$1,799. Hey, you want a bunch of classic mics, you’re going to have to pay for one good mic.

That UI means you can choose the behavior of the mics, virtually. Just don’t smoke, kids. Bill Putnam, Sr. (pictured at right) smoked, and he’s not alive any more.

And the rest

Also out in this release is a Suhr PT100 amplifier. That’s notable not only for the Suhr moniker, but also plug-in effects capabilities included – syncable lo-fi delay, noise gate, tight and smooth filters and power soak, plus a preamp. And yes, there’s a bypass switch – thank you. I’m… mostly eager to try this one on drums. I’ll get back to you on that! US$149.

Suhr amp emulation, also from Brainworx.

Plus, from Brainworx, there’s the rather nice all-in-one analog-style mastering chain bx_masterdesk, at $299. Also notable for Arrow users, the DSP usage on this will work on just one DSP chip. Brainworx makes some great stuff; there’s a ton of competition for mastering, but this still looks like a solid option.

All of this is part of UAD Software 9.6 – download directly:

UAD Powered Plug-ins


UAD for everybody: Arrow sound box is Thunderbolt, PC or Mac, $499

The post A simple, classic channel strip, Mr. Putnam’s mic collection, and more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Punctuate, saturate, EQ, and elevate with the latest Eventide plugins

Sound processing machines have always tread a line between necessary tool and creative effect. The latest mixing and mastering bundle from Eventide promises on both those fronts.

It’s called the Elevate 1.5 bundle, with two new plug-ins, and two major updates to existing plug-ins (including the titular Elevate). And it’s made for mixing and mastering, though there’s clearly appeal for production, too.

Kudos to Eventide for coming up at least with clever titles for the stuff in their most recent bundle, in an industry that, like carmakers, so often resorted to unintelligible combinations of letters and numbers. (BMW 325i? UA 1776 LN revision H? Who knows?)

So, you get the Punctuate, the Saturate, the Elevate … which are at least descriptive, if slightly sounding like EDM festival stages or energy drink flavors. (I’ll meet you at Saturate! E!-vent1d3 is on in 30! PLUR, bro!) And the … EQuivocate. Okay, that one earns extra points on pun factor, minus a few by sounding like what happens when you get yelled at by your mixing and mastering engineer.

But it’s what the Eventide processors do that’s very cool. Rather than simply emulate vintage gear – since you’ve got plenty of options for that – these are modern processors that focus on redesigning processing in a way that’s closer to how your human hearing works.

And appropriately enough, then, they’re part of a collaboration between Eventide and Newfangled Audio, a sort of boutique DSP algorithm house founded by veteran Eventide engineer Dan Gillespie. (Science!)

EQuivocate is a “human ear” EQ – so a graphic equalizer that’s designed not around a set of theoretical frequency bands, but around frequencies that you actually hear.

Elevate is a combination of multi-band limiter (so you get frequency-specific dynamics if you want), that “human ear” EQ, and audio maximizer. The idea, then, is to control both dynamics and frequency domain to max out your sound in a way that’s human-focused, bringing those integrated tools to bear on the mastering process.

New to those tools, EQuivocate has more controls and range adjustments, and Elevate adds a true peak limiter – so you get the futuristic features but without clipping or becoming broadcast unsafe in the process.

Added in this release, while the new bundle is only dubbed “1.5,” are two fascinating all-new creations. And they’re both all about driving the sound, in a day and age that calls for louder sounds, without squashing.

Saturate is a spectral clipper – so in addition to the 24dB drive, you can continuously control the way the sound curves and distorts. (Hey, I said some of this stuff could be fun to abuse in the production phase.)

Punctuate is a transient emphasis plug-in – so you take 26 bands, again shaped around the human ear, and emphasize or suppress attacks. And that seems really appealing – the idea that you dig into shaping the envelopes of elements in a mix, beyond just applying conventional dynamics processing or compression with some blanket controls over everything. It’s less “big hammer,” more precision tool. (I think it’ll also be interesting to compare this to Accusonus’ Beatformer which – while not the same thing has some related ideas. DSP zeitgeist, basically.)

I always get a little nervous when magic tools for mixing and mastering are unleashed on producers who don’t entirely know what they’re doing. I should know – I’m one of those people. But on the other hand, the hearing-focused design of these tools and the ways they let you work with dynamics and frequency domain make them interesting to the creative process, too, when it’s actually okay that you’re messing around and breaking the rules.

I wanted to go ahead and write up this news in advance of a review, because I’m going to take a look with a couple of other producers/engineers so we can go 360-degrees on how you might use this. Let us know if this raises any questions you’d like answered (and anything else you’d like to see us review).

AU/VST/AAX, macOS 10.7 and later, Windows 7 and later.

US$139 promo, $199 after that; upgrade from EQuivocate US$99 intro, $149 after. (It’s a free upgrade if you have the original Elevate.)

For you Eventide devotees, here’s the full list of what’s new in the existing two plug-ins in the bundle:

Elevate 1.5 Release Notes:
1. Added True Peak Limiting mode to Elevate as well as True Peak output metering
2. Added new Saturate Spectral Clipper plug-in
3. Added new Punctuate Auditory Transient Emphasis plug-in
4. Alt click now sets sliders to default in both DRAW CURVE on and off modes.
5. Updated some graphics
6. New UPDATE button will inform user when further updates are available

EQuivocate 1.5 Release Notes:
1. Added Range Parameter which will allow you to scale and invert the EQ curve, even after MATCH EQ is locked in.
2. Added Band Activate/Deactivate switches to allow you to hear the effect of each band in context.
3. Alt click now sets sliders to default in both DRAW CURVE on and off modes.
4. Updated some graphics
5. New UPDATE button will inform user when further updates are available

The post Punctuate, saturate, EQ, and elevate with the latest Eventide plugins appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bivalvia Mini Modular Design Synthesizer-Box auf Axoloti-Basis

Bivalvia Synthesizer Box

Eine kleine Holzbox ist die Heimat des kleinen Bivalvia Synthesizers. Er ist ein digitaler und sehr fähiger und prinzipiell modularer Synthesizer in einer Box mit Lautsprecher.

Den Kern bietet der 60-Euro-ARM-Modularsynthesizer, der ein Johannes Taelman-Projekt ist, das wir schon vorgestellt haben. Den hat Love Hultèn genommen und in eine farbige Kiste gebaut, die es in verschiedenen Ausführungen gibt. Außerdem können im Deckel Fader oder Potis verbaut werden. Die Tastatur ist im unteren Teil und farbig auch als solche erkennbar. Es gibt wegen des modularen Hintergrundes von Axoloti sehr unterschiedliche Sounds und Möglichkeiten, die natürlich nicht so von außen verändert werden können.

Aber wer so was eh mal haben wollte, kann es damit quasi mitkaufen und hat gleich auch eine schöne Verpackung dafür. Genau das sollte man ja selbst tun, da das ursprünglich ein DIY-Projekt war und ist und dazu noch Open Source.

Bivalvia –macht einfach nur Spaß

Die Box hingegen ist eher eine Art Endprodukt, die einfach nur Spaß machen soll und kann – aber der Zugriff ist nach dem Aufschrauben theoretisch auch möglich. Man findet einige sehr verschiedene Sounds vor, die mit dem gebotenen Set von Knöpfen optimiert sind. Die Sounds basieren auf FM oder subtraktiver Synthese.

Auf der Produktseite für die Synthesizerbox kann man weitere Optionen sehen und weitere Bilder.

Ein Preis ist nicht direkt angegeben. Sounds, Patches und Co. können per SD-Card und USB übertragen werden. Es wird von MIDI-Noten gesprochen, die Tastatur in der Box sendet am Ende auch genau diese, dennoch ist das Gerät nicht als „Masterkeyboard“ gedacht. Aber man kann es eben darüber spielen.

Man kann noch weitere stilvolle Gerätschaften finden, zum Beispiel Spielekonsolen und ähnliches. Die Preise sind übrigens nicht sehr niedrig, es handelt sich offensichtlich um Designprodukte. Man sollte also nur nachsehen, wenn man das nicht nur gut findet, sondern diese Idee mehr als mag. Man sei gewarnt.