Yamaha just bought amp and pedal maker Ampeg

Yamaha’s guitar group is growing. Alongside products on their own brand and Line 6, they now will own one of the most legendary brands of all time: Ampeg.

That guitar group itself is nicely trans-Atlantic, with co-presidents Marcus Ryle, formerly of Line 6, and Shoji Mita.

And Ampeg is quite the acquisition. The company originates in 1940s New Jersey, and includes a heritage of products like the SVT amp. They’re best known for bass amps, but they’ve long had a portfolio of respected guitar amps and a history of instruments. Lately, that has rebooted some classic monikers for amps, alongside pedals.

The deal also means that LOUD Technologies Inc. – the company formerly known as Mackie Designs (as in the mixers) – will unload Ampeg, which it has owned since its 2005 purchase of Saint Louis Music.

Basically, you should expect to see Ampex’s amps (and presumably pedals, too) slotted in alongside Yamaha’s bass guitars and the full fleet of Line 6 modeled amp and effects products. Maybe down the road we’ll see an Ampex with built-in modeled Line 6 stuff. That’d have a nice historical precedent, as Ampex was the first company ever to add reverb to an amp internally, back in the 60s.

Now, we just have to wait to find out whatever the heck is happening over at Gibson.

https://yamahaguitargroup.com/

http://ampeg.com/

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iZotope adds modeling features to Vocal Synth, makes a creative bundle

Singing – it’s the simple most important human instrument, but it’s too often overlooked in technology. iZotope has doubled up on innovations there with Vocal Synth 2 – and in case you haven’t been keeping track, they’ve bundled all their production tools together into the new Creative Suite.

Vocal Synth 2 upgrade

Vocal Synth was already a compelling, semi-modular set of tools for processing vocals and applying vocal tech to incoming signal – something you can do creative stuff with whether you’re a singer, or a producer who sings, or a producer working with vocalists, or a producer pretending you can sing. (Yes, it’s useful even on other inputs, even if you lack the vocal chops yourself.)

It’s really, really good, but – the one thing I sort of expected when I first heard about the product was something like physical vocal modeling in the box. Now, sure enough, they’ve added just that.

So, Vocal Synth 2 delivers:

Biovox: A module for physical modeling of the human vocal track (with “science,” say iZotope), from nasality to formants. This isn’t something like Vocaloid – it’s not about voice synthesis or faking vocals – but in a way, it’s something more musically useful, a model of all the good stuff that happens inside your vocal tract and the resonant cavities in your head, delivered as an effect. That’s really important, because our perception is trained to take all this sort of nuance for granted.

There’s more, too…

Chorus and Ring Mod effects. Yep, less futuristic than Biovox, but very essential.

Improved Shred effect.

Advanced sound, advanced controls. So, hiding controls doesn’t always make things more intuitive – sometimes you actually want to dive down and get something that’s missing in the panel. iZotope say they’ve both improved the sound model, and added the ability to get advanced control over parameters, including “access to Vocoder band controls, per module Oscillator presets, and per module panning and filters.”

Integration with other plug-ins. Since iZotope are selling their production stuff as a suite, they’ve also added the ability for Vocal Synth 2 to show up in Neutron 2’s Masking Meter and Visual Mixer, and in Tonal Balance Control. That means a nice chance to apply Vocal Synth where it does – and doesn’t – belong.

I definitely will review this one soon; this stuff is very much up my alley, and a lot of yours’, I’m sure, too.

Creative Suite

Okay, those of us who also do design or video editing work may shudder and think of big monthly subscription fees from Adobe when we read those words but – don’t panic.

Creative Suite is just the new bundle of iZotope production tools. While they may be more well known for mastering and post production offerings, iZotope have applied sonic science to an impressive and unique stable of stuff you’d use when actually making the music and designing sounds. So, what had been “Creative Bundle” is now the more complete “Creative Suite.”

Included: VocalSynth 2, Iris 2, Trash 2 Expanded, BreakTweaker Expanded, Stutter Edit, DDLY, and Mobius Filter. (I’m pretty sure someone caught on that filter, because I’ve heard it cropping up in new releases. Don’t know if that’s CDM’s fault in part or not. But it is great fun.)

You can buy Creative Bundle for US$349 now, a steep discount, and then get the bigger Suite when it ships – including the new VocalSynth 2. See:

https://www.izotope.com/en/store/deals.html#vox

There are of course equivalent suites for the other interest areas – an RX Suite for post production and correction/cleanup, plus the O2N2 Bundle that covers mixing and mastering, including the industry favorite Ozone.

Yeah, Ozone – there are definitely some mastering engineers out there keeping big racks of impressive looking gear, then, like, doing most of the mastering on Ozone. (And why not? Just sayin’. Ducks…)

More:

Coming Soon: VocalSynth 2 and New iZotope Creative Suite

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Universal Audio get two Neve preamps – in two knobs

Turn a knob, dial in a sound – that particular magic associated with specific hardware is showing up in software, too. Or such is the promise of the latest Universal Audio mic model.

Maybe that makes sense. As software gets better at modeling nonlinearity – the particular character of a sound, one that may lie a little outside rational, predictable behavior – it’s also possible to have fewer knobs.

Certainly, leading vendors keep upping the ante when it comes to believable models of classic gear. For Universal Audio’s part, the latest addition is a new set of models of classic Neve mic preamps. In UA’s case, they can tout not just their usual modeling prowess, but also the ability to integrate with their hardware – down to matching the model to the impedance of whatever you’re connecting, so it’s even more like plugging into real hardware.

And case in point: the press release sells you on “clarity,” “grit,” and “complexity” – even though those three things wouldn’t normally make sense together. (It’d be like describing lunch as “fresh,” “greasy,” and “subtle.” At the same time, I totally understand what they mean. There’s sound for you.)

Oh, and there’s a red knob, because who doesn’t like that?

So let me put it more clearly: this gets your sound dirty without getting it muddy.

The basic idea – start with a class-A Neve mic preamp, and combine both the 1037 and 1290 designs.

The original models.

Say what now? Well, the stock 1290 had just a mic input. Here, it gets combined with a padded input you can use with line ins, plus the 80 Hz cut filter from the 1073. That plus some additional signal modifications and impedance behavior borrowed from the 1073 have prompted the new moniker “1290A.” (UA confirmed some of those details to CDM.)

Or, for lay people, UA have cross-bred the best bits of two favorite Neve amps into a single model that never existed before.

Impedance matching with the hardware, though, is everything. A good mic preamp model is pretty meaningless if all you can do is feed it raw signal into your DAW. One place where UA unquestionably has an edge – at least technically speaking – is that they’re able to couple the impedance of their audio interfaces with behaviors of the software. On the Neve, that’s particularly important, because the character of the mic preamp will depend on what’s plugged into it.

Part of the UA pitch – their software is designed to emulate a mic preamp thanks to integration with hardware settings.

This is only meaningful in practice, though, so I’m interested to try it with UA’s new Arrow interface (as well as the other Apollos).

And while it’s meant to model historical gear, my feeling is, if it works, you should feel something even if you never used the originals.

This particular mic model also promises lower DSP hardware requirements than some other Unison plug-ins. So I’m curious to see if it’s a good match for the new Arrow, which has only one DSP chip – meaning it can’t normally run quite as many plug-ins at once.

The Neve is US$149, exclusively from UA for their UAD-2 DSP platform and Apollo interfaces.

https://www.uaudio.com/uad-plugins/unison/neve-preamp.html

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Tour the goodies in Universal Audio 9.4 – including an Empirical Distressor

Universal Audio are here with their winter lineup – the latest processing tools for their hardware platform – now including a sought-after compressor.

I know we’ve got some pretty hard-core UAD fans in our readership. For those of you just joining us, the idea is, you buy plug-ins that operate on dedicated hardware – DSP chips in various rack-mount and portable gear. Most popular among producers I know are the Apollo line, particularly the Twin models small enough to fit in a rucksack, which connect via USB or Thunderbolt.

The value proposition is, you get real-time tracking and monitoring on the hardware, plus a selection of the highest-end models out there. UA have made their name in specializing in classics and sought-after studio sounds, especially with collaborations and authorized recreations.

Making that investment isn’t cheap, and because they’re tied to the DSP hardware, you do need the interface connected. So that definitely creates two “camps” – watch our comments selection for a taste.

I haven’t tried these particular recreations yet, though I do know and love the original Distressor hardware. Word is, this is the most-requested device UA have added yet. But let’s run down the whole lot, as a number are interesting. Then I’ll leave it to commenters to decide whether this is good news or not.

Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor

The original: 1993, Empirical Labs. This is one of the compressors by which others are measured, and there’s a good chance there’s one in a recording studio near you. It’s based on a gain reduction circuit that uses transistor circuitry (FET, or field effect transistor) to control an analog amplifier (VCA).

The recreation: UA says they’ve built an “end-to-end” emulation of the circuitry. They have the exclusive endorsement of Dave Derr, the Empirical Labs founder who made the original circuit.

Cost: €/US$299 / £228

Softube Dytronics Tri-Stereo Chorus

The original: 1980s. Dytronics CS-5 “Tri-Stereo” Chorus. You know how chorus was … kinda overused in the 80s? This was what they were overusing on a lot of those recordings. The hint it in the name – you get three channels, so it’s thick. Clapton had one, plus… actually, Clapton’s enough, right?

Under the hood, it’s bucket-brigade delay lines that make the difference. That’s a distinctive sound – left, center, right, each independent and with its own delay response and feedback parameters. It wouldn’t be much of a chorus without some modulation, so the delays are swept by an LFO, with separate or parallel operation. The two modes are oddly named “preset” and “manual” – preset gives you a cool, “shimmery” sound.

(If you want to nerd out about this sort of stuff, I just bookmarked this article.)

Blame 80s guitar on this original.

The recreation: Here, UA are turning to Swedish DSP mavens Softube for the modeling, to recreate the sound of those three independent delay lines. It’s also an exclusive.

New in this version: stereo input, feedback (found only on rare MkII hardware), and a Rate knob for Preset mode modulation.

Cost: €/US$199 / £152

Gallien-Krueger 800RB Bass Amp

The original: 1982, 800RB. It’s legendary. Okay, I’d never heard of it – but I definitely have heard it, and so have you. Think Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, No Doubt, Guns n’ Roses, and more. Also, look at that nice panel.

Now, just because they don’t have their own line of consumer Bluetooth headphones (cough, Marshall), don’t overlook them. Who’s Gallien-Krueger? It may sound German, but it’s not – it’s a late 60s American company founded by an HP engineer (so it oddly shares that lineage with Apple Computer).

The sound is described as a “dry growl.” Like the chorus, there’s a distinctive 80s sound here, made possible by improved amplifier tech.

The original 800RB.

The recreation: Also a UAD exclusive, this time with Brainworx, another of the world’s top DSP developers (they’re in Germany). And this is also officially licensed, as Gallien-Krueger are still around.

New on the plug-in version, not on the original hardware: dedicated Recording Chains for each power amp, physical input impedance, and hands-on control of Gain staging (which in turn integrates with UA’s hardware via their Unison technology). There’s actually a lot in there: you get a bunch of included cabinet and mic options, and some 64 chains were recording with multiple speaker cabinets, so you have a little virtual studio in there.

Cost: €/$149 / £114.

Ocean Way Microphone Collection

The originals: There are different mics here – Neumann, Sony, RCA, AKG, and so on. (You probably guessed that from the pics.) They’re all from the collection of Allen Sides, the engineer/producer behind the Ocean Way Studios after which this series is named. Allen Sides produced… uh, kind of more stuff than there’s space to list.

Ocean Way Hollywood says their mics are so sensitive they’ll “pick up the sound of your soul.” That means you should let me absolutely nowhere near your recording session.

The recreations: This is actually really the bargain buy of the collection, as the idea is, you get a whole closet full of vintage microphones – albeit virtual ones. The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone system is a set of models of those classic mics. In order to use these, you will need a specialized spherical mic from Townsend. What makes it work is that that mic picks up everything, allowing you to emulate the behavior of different mics, in software.

Townsend have developed this new software for the UAD platform in order to extend that mic’s capabilities. So this is the first-ever microphone to be powered by the UAD. Because it’s a spherical mic, you get off-axis response. You can actually change polar patterns after you record – like turning a directional mic into an omni or visa versa. And you can even adjust proximity effect, for some easy vocals. (I like sounding like God, don’t you?)

I know a lot of people imagine these DSP hardware systems are some kind of big dongle – hardware you have to buy to use the software. But when it comes to real-time performance, there’s objectively a major advantage. You’re able to track in real-time with the lowest latency available – something that’s comparatively far less useful on native systems.

That in combination with the spherical mic is something that promises to be really revolutionary. It’s sort of like microphone VR: one mic can transform into any mic, and then transform again after you’ve recorded. Bad for people who have trouble making decisions, but good for everyone else.

Cost: €/$249 / £190

For more, check out UA’s site. Let us know if you want some reviews of these – or more history of the gear involved.

http://uaudio.com/

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Get a terrific Little Plate reverb from Soundtoys, free

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.

More:

http://www.soundtoys.com/product/little-plate/

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Genelec and IDA Audio to redefine immersive 3D Audio for professional headphone users

Genelec  and IDA Audio are joining forces to create the world’s first truly accurate immersive audio experience for professional headphone

Syntronik is the new monster softsynth from IK; hear from its creator

IK Multimedia’s all-new Syntronik isn’t just one vintage synth – it’s up to 38 of those, plus loads of filters and effects, in one plug-in package.

This isn’t the first time IK has offered this sort of “models of everything” approach. But this time, there’s a ground-up approach to modeling original analog circuits, combined with sampling – new engine, new presets. And since there’s a free version, you don’t have to be afraid of commitment before you test drive.

That technological explanation alone doesn’t say that much, though. Part of what makes any synth playable – whether that instrument is analog or digital, hardware or software – is the humans who worked on it.

Erik Norlander, one of the lead sound designers of Syntronik project, makes a particularly special sound programmer. Norlander was the lead on the legendary, multitimbral Alesis Andromeda. When it was released in 2000, analog had largely been abandoned by the mass market – this is two years before even the Minimoog Voyager. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say the Andromeda was the instrument that changed the course of the industry (well, changed it back again, that is). Unique analog sounds and hands-on controls (rather than digital sound and menu diving) were finally back in the game, paired with a more modern architecture and pitch correction.

That is, even if the Andromeda doesn’t trigger warm, fuzzy feelings, you can thank it at least in part for a lot of the character of synths today.

I’ll even forgive Erik some bias and sales jargon here, because he’s got some points about the IK offering. To find out what he has to say, we’re going to try something different. Norlander and IK talked first to Japan’s IKON Magazine. Here, we have an edited, English-language edition of that interview.

This is an experiment for us, but hopefully allows us to share more content with our friends in Japan at ICON. (The original is at bottom, if you do speak Japanese.)

Erik Norlander. (Photo: Erik Nielsen.)

Full list of synths:

Modular Moog, Minimoog Model D, Moog Voyager, Moog Taurus I, Moog Taurus II, Moog Taurus 3, Polymoog, Moog Opus 3, Moog Rogue, Realistic Concertmate MG-1, Multimoog, Micromoog, Moog Prodigy, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Sequential Circuits Prophet-10, ARP 2600, Oberheim SEM, Oberheim OB-X, Oberheim OB-Xa, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha GX-1, Yamaha CS-01II, Yamaha SY99, Roland Juno-60, Roland Jupiter-8, Roland Jupiter-6, Roland Jupiter-4, Roland JX-10, Roland JX-8P, Roland JX-3P, Roland TB-303 Bassline, Alesis Andromeda, PPG Wave 2.3, ARP String Ensemble, Elka Rhapsody 490, Hohner String Performer, Roland RS-505 Paraphonic & Roland RS-09 Organ/Strings

CDM English-language ICON.jp article

ICON: Why did you choose to release a vintage synthesizer and string machine instrument as the first virtual instrument after MODO BASS?

Erik Norlander (EN): We want to be the total solution for virtual instruments. To reach this goal, IK has created major updates to our instrument product line, starting with SampleTank 3 in 2014. We released several SampleTank Custom Shop Instrument Collections after this, including the spectacular Cinematic Percussion and Brandenburg Piano. Then we released Miroslav Philharmonik 2, our orchestral / symphonic virtual instrument recording in Prague, along with the follow-on Orchestral Percussion Instrument Collection, recorded in Hollywood, California. MODO Bass is a brilliant product that had been in the works for many years, while developing this amazing new modeling technology.

So, we have covered most acoustic instruments with SampleTank 3, Miroslav Philharmonik and the Custom Shop Instrument Collections, and electric bass with MODO Bass. The next logical step was a synthesizer product to provide our users with the best electronic sounds available. Rather than simply update SampleMoog or Sonik Synth, we took a different approach and made a completely new and far more extensive instrument called Syntronik. Syntronik combines the best of sampling and modeling to recreate our favorite classic synthesizers and take them even farther.

ICON: IK Multimedia has been selling vintage synthesizer instruments like SampleMoog. What are the main differences between Syntronik and those vintage synthesizer instruments released in the past?

EN: First, we should establish that Syntronik is not just a vintage synthesizer instrument. Of course you can get all of the vintage sounds, but Syntronik is a modern instrument intended for creating all kinds of music, including the latest cutting-edge pop and electronica. We have sampled 38 timeless, classic instruments that form the foundation of Syntronik, and then those get processed by our amazing IK modeling technology which includes both classic filter emulations and modern digital filters. Our new DRIFT algorithm adds life to our samples in a truly animated and compelling approach.

We add to this an engineer’s dream collection of effects, including models of the famous Pultec, Urei, Teletronix, Fairchild EQs and limiters, guitar amps and modulation effects including our new Ensemble effect modeled especially for Syntronik. This one recreates the beautiful analog chorus-ensemble effects of the famous ARP String Ensemble, Roland Juno-60 and Roland string machines such as the RS-505 Paraphonic Ensemble. All of this puts Syntronik light years ahead of our past synthesizer products.

IKON: Syntronik is using sampling technology, apart from the modeling of filters and effects. Why didn’t you make it by 100% modeling like MODO BASS?

EN: IK is a leader in both sampling and modeling, and we chose to use the best of both worlds for Syntronik. We have found that the best way to truly capture and recreate the sound of classic analog hardware is to sample it using our finely-tuned recording techniques and editing workflow that has been developed over decades. Modeling can give you more flexibility in some cases, but there is nothing like hearing an audiophile sample of the actual instrument. When you hear our samples of the Oberheim OB-X, it really sounds just like an Oberheim OB-X. Because it is an OB-X. The tone is undeniable. Our DRIFT algorithm removes many of the limitations of sample playback, and the modeled filters and effects add a further dimension.

IKON: How did you choose 38 instruments? Do we have a plan to expand it with more instruments?

EN: We started with the ten most famous classic synthesizers, the Minimoog, the Prophet-5, the CS-80, the SEM, etc. and then we expanded on that base to add related instruments like the Multimoog, Micromoog, Prodigy, Rogue and similar synths that are less known but still sound amazing. In the case of our String Box synth, we started with the most famous string machine, the ARP String Ensemble. Then we expanded that synth with other great string machines, like the Roland RS-505 and RS-09, the Elka Rhapsody, Hohner String Performer, and Univox Multiman, which is a variant of the famous Crumar Orchestrator. We started out with a smaller set, but we just kept adding synths because they sounded so great, and it made sense in the context of the product.

IKON: How did you have those 38 instruments themselves? Were they owned by IK? Or are some of them rented from someone?

EN: I own most of the hardware instruments as you can see in the photo on our Syntronik product page on the IK web site. I sampled a few rarities like the Yamaha GX-1 and then the tiny CS-01 (incidentally, the biggest and smallest synths in the collection!) during other sessions over the years when I could find the opportunity.

IKON: Are all samples included in Syntronik new? Or are you using some samples from previous products like SampleMoog?

EN: 98% of the samples are new. We included some legacy sounds from SampleMoog that I recorded several years ago that we felt were good enough to include in Syntronik. And in some cases, we even went back to the original recording sessions of the SampleMoog material and made larger versions of the keymaps.

IKON: What is the bit depth / sample resolution, — bits/–kHz? Are you using Pro Tools | HDX to record those samples? Could you also tell us which A/D converter are you using?

EN: All of the samples were recorded into MOTU Digital Performer, and the original sessions were done at the highest resolution available. Some downsampling was done in some cases to create more manageable file sizes, where there was no perceivable audio quality loss. In the case of bit depth, in general, the looped, sustaining samples are at 16-bit, since they do not have more amplitude resolution than that and it would be a waste of disk space and memory to keep all 24 bits of data. Our Syntronik internal audio path is 32-bit, so our envelopes have more dynamic range than any DAC can even reproduce! So when our envelopes decay a looped sample to silence, it is with extreme dynamic resolution. Then for the samples that decay to silence, we kept them at 24-bit to preserve the full dynamic range of the sampled analog decays.

IKON: Please explain what is the Drift technology.

EN: DRIFT is a very sophisticated algorithm that the IK team developed after over a year of transcontinental discussions. We debated what it should do, what it should not do, how to do it, and how not to do it. DRIFT modulates multiple aspects of the sound to authentically recreate the behavior of free running oscillators.

On an analog synth, the oscillators are running all the time. It is the envelope that gates them on and off. So unlike a digital sample, the waveform does not always start at a zero crossing. The synth envelope will often catch the wave in the middle or somewhere else in its cycle. Simple sample start point modulation doesn’t quite work for this, because you get clicks when a sample starts far away from its zero crossing, so some kind of smoothing is necessary to recreate the rise time of an analog VCA. Then there’s the famous pitch drifting of analog oscillators that cannot be duplicated by a simple LFO. So using everything we know about sampling and modeling, we came up with an algorithm that combines multiple treatments to a sample to give it the organic life and animation of an analog oscillator. It’s proprietary technology, so I can’t go into more detail than that. But suffice it to say, it sounds amazing.

IKON: When did you start developing Syntronik? What are the biggest challenges to finish making it?

EN: It took less than a year from the time we conceived the product to the time it was released. But we’re building on 20 years of IK Multimedia technology, so we had some pretty amazing resources at our disposal. In this sense, it was not like starting from zero. And many of the samples come from a private, unreleased library that I have been crafting over many years. I was looking for the best time and platform to release the the library, and Syntronik is it.

IKON: There are many virtual instruments of vintage synthesizers in the market. What are the main advantage of Syntronik over those products?

EN: There are so many excellent virtual synthesizers. We love the Spectrasonics, Arturia and UVI products, and so many others. But comparing Syntronik to these is like comparing a Ferrari to a Porsche, or comparing a California Cabernet to an Italian Barbera. They are different approaches borne from different visions and different inspirations. We set out to capture the feel, the style, the essence of our favorite classic synthesizers with a specific sonic intention and present them in a powerful, easy-to-use virtual instrument that would put the real sound of 38 amazing instruments at your fingertips. I really think we achieved that.

IKON: Propellerhead announced to stop selling ReBirth-338 due to some intellectual property issues. We see the names of synthesizers in Syntronik pages. Aren’t you worried about the intellectual property issues?

EN: We are tremendously respectful of the original hardware manufacturers. Moog Music has of course been a partner with us in the past, and we have the highest regard for them as well as Roland, Yamaha, Dave Smith and Sequential, Tom Oberheim and his companies, Wolfgang Palm and PPG, and all the rest. I was the original product manager for the Alesis Andromeda hardware synth, so naturally I have tremendous respect for that brand and product. Our GUIs are all homages to these great hardware synths. They provide visual elements that harken back to the originals and give you the feeling of those great hardware instruments, but they are most definitely not copies of the original designs. And you will never see us using the term “Jupiter” or “Juno” in the product. We have also been very thorough with our legal disclaimers to state who owns which trademark and to clarify non-affiliation when appropriate.

IKON: What’s behind the name Syntronik?

EN: It is the logical next step from our “Philharmonik” product. Both of these instruments end in “ik” which of course is a reference to IK Multimedia. So Philharmonik is the orchestral instrument, and Syntronik is the electronic instrument. Who knows, there may be more of this theme to explore. And in the case of the “Syn” part, this very much follows Bob Moog’s excellent definition of synthesis meaning simply “many parts.” In our case, the “many parts” are the samples, the modeling, the effects and the super-user-friendly graphical experience. “Syn” here does NOT imply “synthetic” — the opposite of organic — or “artificial” in any way. Syntronik is very much a living, breathing musical instrument full of expression and animation.

IKON: Syntronik can be used as SampleTank 3 expansion instruments. Do you have a plan to publish an open SDK so that third party developers can make SampleTank 3 instruments, Native Instruments KONTAKT and UVI Engine?

EN: We are discussing this, and there is a good possibility that we will open up the platform at some point.

IKON: Can you tell us a bit of the update roadmap of Syntronik?

EN: You can of course purchase the full version, which I recommend. The 17 synths in the product were all chosen to be complementary, and we don’t expect any one synth to provide every synth sound you would want.

But you can start with Syntronik Free which includes 50 instruments and 1GB of samples. It is truly free, and it is fully functional — there are no limitations in the functionality, it is only the samples and instrument count that is reduced. And the free version is pretty spectacular, I have to say! If anyone has any doubts about the product, please try the free version, which will give you a very good feeling of the full product. With the free version, you can purchase individual synths, any of the 17, and custom-build your own library. So, if you only are interested in Roland® TB-303-style synth bass sounds or Moog Taurus® pedal-like timbres, you can buy just the T-03 or Bully synths.

IKON: Lastly, please give us a message for IK Multimedia fans in Japan.

EN: Syntronik was a lot of work to create, and it required some very heavy lifting on every side, from the recording to the editing to the modeling to GUI developing to the coding. But it was an exciting and rewarding project, truly a labor of love for all involved. We have a really inspired vision for this product, and we can’t wait for our musicians friends in Japan to play our beautiful instrument. We look forward to hearing the wonderful music you will make with our instrument, and we hope that it inspires you as much as it has inspired us.

http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/syntronik/

http://icon.jp/archives/14191

Photos: Erik Nielsen.

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Dub Machines gives you powerful delays as plug-ins; get Diffuse free

The right delay is more than a filter. It’s an intoxicant; it’s a powerful hallucinogenic trip. We’re not so much technicians when we use them as we are shamans.

Now, of course, the right way to do this theoretically has been to lug some vintage analog gear, or some specialized digital equipment. But in the recent past, the computer has gotten better at providing rich analog models and digital effects. Not a little better – a lot better.

Having a good analog model also opens up something else. We’re starting to see effects and production that combines analog effects (like tape delays) with digital effects (like diffusion echoes). And that can produce space-y sounds unlike any heard before.

Surreal Machines out of Berlin are a boutique software shop making some of the better models available right now. Dub Machines is simply excellent – a one-two punch of a Roland-style modeled tape delay (Magnetic) with a digital diffusion delay (Diffuse) that can double as a reverb. And uniquely, Magnetic applied an approach of incorporating the characteristics of real machines, including samples. This applies famously to dub music, yes, but — really all sorts of things, from trippy techno to experimental sounds.

Dub Machines is so good that the advice was simple for Ableton Live users – you’ve got to have it. Not only was that the advice from me, but people would literally stop me in the street and tell me to go get it. There’s just one problem: it’s only available for Max for Live, meaning other DAWs are left out of the fun.

Enter the new Dub Machines plug-in version. It now supports VST and Audio Unit on Mac and Windows (I’m testing on Windows at the moment), and it’s a total refresh of what was there before.

And just for CDM, in case you missed the free intro deal on Diffuse, you can get it this week for free with code: CDMDIFFUSE

(No promotional fee paid to CDM here – I just loved this thing but was late writing it up! Ha!)

Meet the two plug-ins

So they took something that was already very good, made it run in more places, and made the sound much better. That has instantly earned this a place among my other two favorite delays of the moment, the hybrid/multi-mode Replika XT from Native Instruments, and the H3000 plug-in from Eventide (not to mention using it alongside an actual Space Echo I’ve been borrowing).

modnetic-vst

Magnetic gets reworked as Modnetic, with extra features – like a BBD-modeled modulation section, which they say is practically a plug-in on its own (I agree). And Diffuse gets a total refresh, too.

Modnetic is really several effects bundled together: tape delay, spring reverb, chorus/flanger/phaser, and analog tone modeling. So you get:

Echo/tape delay: Three virtual tape heads you can combine in different ways, with two reverse delay effects, hold for looping
Reverb:: 35 impulse responses for different spring reverbs
Modulation: Chorus, flanger, phaser, including modeled BBD (bucket brigade) models, and various analog and digital and ‘broken’ flavors.
Tone: Four selectable “characters” that give you the feeling of different machines.

About those changes:

Compared to the Ableton M4L version (Magnetic), the new VST/AU plugin Modnetic has been completely rewritten from scratch in C++ for better performance and higher quality. We’ve painstaking created brand new ‘character modes’ that affect the whole system, provided a new set of reverbs and colors (keeping the best from before) and made everything completely smooth and click free in realtime performance, not to mention plugin features like AB compare and mix lock… but the biggest change has to be… our new modulation system!

Modnetic has a fully featured and easy to use modulation section with chorus, flangers and phasers. In each type you get many modes that go from analog modeled BBD circuits to clean digital and character modes for each type.

diffuse-vst

Diffuse by virtue of being a diffusion delay can easily morph into rich delays or reverbs and some fairly crazy special effects.

It’s an analog/digital hybrid, modeled on machines from the 70s and 80s. Now, of course, reverbs other than convolutions are generally speaking just lots of clustered delays. Here, you can use that design to morph between the two easily. It’s also meant to be modulated live – as you change between distinct and smeared delays, adjusting time and feedback controls.

Spread, damping, and compression controls let you control the output.

Get Diffuse for free

For a limited time (through tomorrow the 14th of June), you can get Diffuse for free.

Go to the Surreal Machines website, put the ‘Diffuse’ plug-in in your cart and apply it on checkout to make the price zero. The coupon code is:

CDMDIFFUSE

https://www.surrealmachines.com/

Where to start learning

Inside the presets menu, you’ll find extensive help – including some of the back story on history. They advise us thusly:

The manual is dense, we know. But there’s lots of tips and tricks and a ‘walk through’, plus details we hope you don’t need to know, but give you expert control, like how our level dials automatically have a secret life as dry/wet knobs when needed, etc.

501-guts

Making the effects

For those of you interested, there’s also an additional to story to tell behind the scenes.

Diffuse is the first commercial plug-in made using the Cycling ’74 Gen “code export” function. This powerful feature lets you graphically code DSP inside Max, then use it in your own software. Just as Pure Data’s libpd has allowed that tool to become a powerful prototyping environment for things like mobile apps and game engines, Cycling ’74 is set to transform how people work with DSP and plug-in development.

An aside on that for interested developers:

Maurizio Giri (of ‘amazingnoises.com’) actually made an iOS app using Gen code export last year. For that he used some of our Gen code from our Max ‘Package Manager’ Library, ‘smFilterPack’, a set of modern ZDF filters in Max/Gen, available through the File menu of Max 7, released about 18 months ago. Timo Rosendal will be using some of this code library of ours for an upcoming software release through ‘EboStudio’ soon, too.

And as for preparing these updates:

The whole process took about two years of research and development, lots of gear rental, two UI redesigns and a new web page …plus blood, sweat, tears and trans-European travels).

Here’s a photo gallery for you of the process:

the-mess

gear-from-echoshall

flanger-study

chorus-lfo

blown-capacitor

501-study

501-routings

501-lid

srm_tape

Let us know what music you make with this!

https://www.surrealmachines.com/

The post Dub Machines gives you powerful delays as plug-ins; get Diffuse free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The UAD just got OTO 8-bit effects, Moog filters, and booty-shaking bass

Universal Audio has been a name in recreations of classic studio gear for some time. But now, here’s something that will appeal directly to producers. Included in a slew of updates today, you get crunchy, wild 8-bit effects (emulating the now-discontinued boutique OTO BISCUIT hardware), Moog multimode filters paired with powerful modulation and filters, and a subharmonic synth from the disco age you can use to add booty-shaking low end to tracks.

In other words, it’s like Christmas for producers with UAD, with a whole bunch of delicious stuff you might want.

This isn’t a review, yet – will follow back up with that. But here’s a quick look at what’s in store.

And, look, I’m heavily biased in that this is exactly the sort of stuff I love to use, personally.

uad-oto-biscuit-screenshot

OTO BISCUIT

The OTO BISCUIT is one of the most unique bits of hardware to come out in recent years, a gorgeous boutique 8-bit effect processor packed with options. The problem is, this limited run French hardware is very difficult to find. The developer simply ran out of chips.

biscuit

While “8-bit” may evoke thoughts of chip music, really this is about creating something sonically rich in the contemporary digital world. And while it may sound strange to think of a digital effect as rare and requiring specific modeling, the particularities of certain chips have actually made instruments and effects built on integrated circuits some of the most endangered among sound tools.

The Biscuit for its part was a digital/analog hybrid, finding unique elements of each technique. On the digital side, it’s an 8-bit bitcrusher with bit-by-bit control. On the analog side, there’s a nice-sounding stereo multimode filter.

In this version recreated by Softube, you get everything – even emulation of the diode clipping on input that gives the original its character. There’s Waveshaper, Delay, Pitch-Shift, and Step-Filter.

Have a listen:

See our original story on this hardware’s unveiling:

OTO Machines BISCUIT: 8-bit + Analog Filter Effect; Designing New Hardware

The only thing missing, actually, is a later synth firmware for the Biscuit. But I might have to dig up a friend’s unit and combine that synth with this modeled effects unit for some real good times.

This also seems ideal for live use, too, coupled with UA’s hardware.

OTO BISCUIT 8-bit Effects

Price: US$249

mmf-xl-main2x-1

Moog Multimode Filter Collection

The Moog ladder filter is one of the most versatile out there, just in terms of breadth of applications. To be honest, sometimes in a synthesizer I think the ladder filter can feel a little boring – and we hear it a lot. So some synths actually benefit from something more specific and individual. But the point is its smoothness across the frequency range means that you can do a lot with it.

The cleverness of what Universal Audio have done here with the Multimode Filter Collection is to give you a complete set of tools. It’s not just a multimode filter loaded up with options – it’s also a multi-lane step sequencer, which can use to modulate each parameter. So endless Tangerine Dream-style sounds are very, very possible here – and you get a lot of the modular filter benefits without having to do anything. Paired with their hardware, I can even see this getting some live use – like routing outboard instruments and synths into a computer onstage for modulated effects.

And, oh yeah, this with something like Reaktor Blocks and/or Softube Modular mean your computer are an affordable, portable alternative (or complement) to Eurorack modular setups.

It sounds terrific:

Universal Audio Moog Multimode Filter

Price: US$249 ($99 upgrade from the legacy Moog Multimode version from UA)

screenshot-bx_subsynth-action-4x-1

Brainworx Subsynth

Sometimes it’s hard to describe the addictive appeal of Universal Audio’s platform. And, frankly, out of the huge range of tools they offer, for a lot of producers I talk to (and myself) it’s about coming back to a very small handful of tools and applications that you then use over and over.

So, Subsynth – made in collaboration with Brainworx, who have also done some of the nicest processor development lately in software – seems to be another in that category. It’s intended to solve a simple problem: how do you really bang the low end, without producing distortion or screwing up the track and mix?

It’s hard to describe, in that this leads to a lot of different, equally fun applications: saturation, adding bass, beefing up kicks, and so on.

But it does it in a way that’s really clever – by building on the classic dbx 120XP’s waveform modeling approach to synthesize additional subharmonic content. And Brainworx have added some thoughtful additions, in the form of an additional band and M/S processing. This will definitely need a review and … well, I live in the vicinity of the world’s favorite club sound systems where we can check it out definitely.

It’s one of those magical mastering tools that’s just lovely to have. I can’t wait to try this one out … even if I’m afraid I may never leave the studio once I do.

Here’s the original, in case you’re interested (discontinued, but often rented for this very purpose):

http://dbxpro.com/en/products/120xp

Then again, this is easier to get at US$149:

bx_subsynth Subharmonic Synth

Note that this is the one plug-in here that’s non-exclusive. I hope to get my hands on the native version, too, to compare. But I think there is some advantage for live and live tracking use to having DSP hardware integration.

Plus more updates and additions

There are, as usual, other OS/firmware/plug-in updates and offerings bundled into today’s release.

Mac users get fully-qualified macOS Sierra support, plus a new console for multi-unit FireWire. And Windows 10 continues to look better, with support for Thunderbolt chaining (up to 4 audio devices, up to 6 DSP devices) for adding extra horsepower and up to 64×64 I/O.

On the plug-in side:

The SSL 4000 E is arguably the signature channel strip among UA’s offerings, one modeled on a classic original. The key here is it gets a ground-up rewrite and support for Unison, which integrates the channel strip behavior with the hardware. That’s a pretty big deal for hardware owners looking to fully exploit Unison in their recordings:

SSL 4000 E Channel Strip Collection

Price: US$299

So, that’s the no-latency, hardware-integrated channel strip. For guitarists and instrumentalists, look to the new model of the Fuchs Overdrive Amp, a boutique amplifier:

Fuchs Overdrive Supreme 50

Download

http://www.uaudio.com/uad/downloads/

The post The UAD just got OTO 8-bit effects, Moog filters, and booty-shaking bass appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The $499 Softube Console 1 now looks like a great buy for producers

Softube’s Console 1 was an intriguing offering when it came out, but I suspect some people balked at the price – and simply didn’t know what it was or what it was for. Now, at five hundred bucks, the audience should be bigger. And Softube are working on making the “what is this anyway?” story clearer.

So, what is it? Let’s back up.

First, imagine a big mixing desk – like a big Solid State console.

Now imagine what that console would look like a computer accessory. Obviously, you’d want it to be a whole heck of a lot smaller, and you’d want it to work with software. The need for lots of physical faders is eliminated by making things work in software form, and then having them in software would let you use the console functionality seamlessly in your DAW.

What you’d want to keep, of course, is the sound of the console, and the feeling of being able to control things with your hands.

console1_software

Well, that’s the Console 1. It isn’t an audio interface. It isn’t a DSP platform like Universal Audio’s – everything runs on your computer CPU, natively. It’s physically just a big box with knobs and LEDs and such. But the package combines a bunch of software models of console sound with that high-end control surface. Then you use your existing computer hardware and interface to complete the studio.

The control surface itself is high-end, made of steel, literally. It feels terrific in my brief hands-on sessions; I do want to review this thing (now more than before, but more on that below). And it looks nice enough (thank you, Sweden).

softube_console1_mk2_back_extreme_left_xw5a1404

You also get a model of the Solid State Logic SL 4000 E console and everything that entails – so the bundled software includes its onboard compressors, EQ, and so on – as produced in combination with SSL themselves. And maybe that’s all you need – SSL model, control surface, done.

The new list price: US$499. This is nowhere near as affordable as something like Harrison MixBus, but that doesn’t include controller hardware.

More likely, though, you’ll mix and match your own plug-ins. Softube provide their own software which you can use with any DAW, and there’s integrated support both for Cakewalk SONAR and and the up-and-coming Presonus Studio One. (Anyone considering the Windows switch, here’s an ecosystem that might make you not look back – with apologies to Apple’s Touch Bar, the Console 1 looks more like what I’d want to mix on.)

Softube also supports their own ecosystem of models, all of them running natively on the CPU – including Chandler Limited, Fairchild, Teletronix, Tube-Tech, and Abbey Road Studios.

I want to see more full DAW integration – Cubase and Logic being obvious options, though Studio 1 and SONAR are a good start. But since it’s the plug-ins your controlling, that’s really key to making the Console 1 worth it.

And apart from the price break, the deal maker I suspect is the addition of UAD powered plug-in support. That’s a perfect combination: what holds the Console 1 back is plug-in support, and what holds the UA solution back is the lack of hands-on control.

softube_console1_mk2_closeup3_xw5a1425

softube_console1_mk2_front_extreme_left_xw5a1363

Softube doesn’t support everything of UAD’s, but there’s a lot – including crucial channel strips, the Fairchild and Harrison models, the Pultec (you got me there), Teletronix, and 1176 and 610 lines.

So now, pairing an Apollo Twin with a Console 1 makes for a pretty complete home mixing solution, one that sounds and behaves like a high-end studio but has a cost in reach of a lot of individual producers.

In fact, the hands-on Console 1 mapping of the UA 610-B, plus the Unison modeling of the 610-B on the Apollo Twin means you can plug in these two pieces of gear and have a complete experience. The complete list is now in an updated Q&A (ignore that 2013 date — the UAD stuff was announced just last week).

So, I’m eager to test this, absolutely. What I love about this is that it lets you recreate an entire console workflow in a totally different context. And that in turn means you can apply that sound and behavior to music and musical genres that never got into those studios.

softube_console1_mk2_closeup4_xw5a1460

Softube has more work to do here. The value of the Console 1 is totally dependent on expanding compatibility and integration. And I also think they’ve more to do to tell the story to a broader audience of producers beyond the usual studio pros and press.

But it looks really promising with these updates. Maybe you think I’m crazy and you’ll stick to your native plug-ins and mouse. But stay tuned for that review.

Console 1: Q&A

Softube Console 1

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