Plug-ins

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

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

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

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

So, hat we’re talking about is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

About those new instruments…

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

Here’s a look at those additions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch for our hands-on soon.

Intro price and more new features

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

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

There are improvements throughout, Arturia say.

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

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

More:

V Collection

Buchla Easel V

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

Why Soda could finally make you take DJ apps seriously again

Soda for iOS is the first DJ app that is whatever you want it to be – with fully customizable interfaces, powerful specs, AU plug-ins, and Ableton Link.

The need for something new

Let’s be honest: we’re not exactly at the high water mark for DJ software. Even vinyl (not digital vinyl – like the stuff you hurt your back carrying) seems to be on a stronger upswing than DJ software. The Pioneer CDJ reigns supreme, to the extent that you can get laughed out of a club when you show up with a computer.

And software, instead of seeming innovative, is looking awfully rigid. You’re generally stuck with pre-fabbed interfaces and hardware mappings. Innovation seems to be slowing. And then there’s the laptop itself – requiring a separate audio interface, driver configuration, and physical space in the booth that often isn’t there.

Tablets running iOS and Windows could offer solace. But so far, iOS and Windows touch-based apps have focused on entry-level users, either to avoid cannibalizing high-end products (TRAKTOR, Rekordbox) or in an attempt to attract casual DJs.

Your way, right away?

A new DJ app called Soda goes a different direction – it’s built from the ground up to be a series, flexible app, but on a mobile/touch platform. It comes from the developers of the Modstep sequencer/production tool and Ableton Live controller app touchAble. And as a result, since those developers work… in my office – I’ve been watching it evolve from the very first sketch and have gotten some hands-on time with it. And much to my own surprise, it’s made me reconsider the value of touch DJ software at a time when I’d more or less written it off.

The basic idea of Soda: let the user tailor the DJ software to their needs, instead of the other way around.

First, how many decks do you want? You can choose from one to an absurd eight.
How do you want to mix? You choose: switch off sync and use pitch, or turn sync on and let everything be automatic. Time stretch to keep things locked to key, or use pitch to change speed. And when sync is on, you can even choose what quantization you want for tracks – just like launch quantization of clips in Ableton Live.

What should the screen look like? Vertical decks? Horizontal decks? Effects controls? Library? Instead of giving you a handful of pre-selected options, Soda ships with a complete interface editor, so you choose what you see and how, and every element on the screen can be moved and resized.

Do you want to focus on the screen and touch? There’s a color waveform display, which you can cue and zoom with your fingers.

Do you prefer MIDI controller hardware? Every single element on-screen can be MIDI mapped, opening up endless custom MIDI configurations.

Effects work more the way they do in traditional production tools. You get two send effects chains, with five internal effects (Delay, Reverb, Phaser, Flanger, EQ 3) and Audio Unit support (AUv3). And you can browse both the iTunes music library and new Files support on iOS 11.

Cue points and loop points are more powerful, too – you get 16 per deck and per track, you can name them, and cue points can be both cue points and work for loops.

From there, you have all the features you’d expect – recording, playlist management, key and BPM detection, compatibility with all iOS-compatible (Core Audio/Core MIDI) audio and MIDI devices, cueing, and split cable support (in case you don’t have an audio interface for separate cueing).

But let’s back up: this is generally more powerful than a lot of desktop DJ software available now. Certainly, it bests the deck and cue capabilities of leading tools Serato and TRAKTOR, and that’s before you get into the interface customization capabilities.

Here’s the key: endless customization of the UI, and modules for decks, effects, and more.

Promo video:

There’s also a video walkthrough from the beta:

Who’s this for?

I’m not suggesting iPads will unseat CDJs any time soon. But Soda doesn’t have to do that to be a radical new solution. I can see a number of use cases here:

On-the-go prep and mixing. For one, you’ve finally got an ideal mobile app for preparing music and practicing on the road. It’s also ideal for that situation where someone asks you for a DJ mix and… you’re not near decks. You get an interface that’s tremendously customizable, and the ability to differentiate that mix by adding effects and the like. Plus, while you can’t sync cue points this way, iTunes support means you can sync libraries with a desktop machine to bring into Rekordbox (for use with CDJs) or other DJ software (if you must).

Mobile computer replacement for DJing. Laptops are awkward in a booth, especially if the DJ software maker (cough) locks you into unwieldy, big controllers. But an iPad or Windows tablet is far easier. And you could pair Soda with some compact DJ controllers, like Faderfox.

Hybrid sets. Here, Soda really excels. The flexibility with decks and audio effect support make Soda a powerful DJ add-on. And Ableton Link support means you can wirelessly sync to live sets on a laptop running Ableton Live … or a laptop running Reason, or an iPad running Modstep, or whatever. There’s no MIDI clock support for running Soda alongside, say, an Elektron Octatrack, but developers say that should appear in an update soon.

Live sets and sampling. Of course, who says this is really even a “DJ app” in the conventional sense? With all that loop and name-able cue support, eight decks, and effects, you could use Soda with stems or backing tracks for your live set, or think of the “decks” as samplers. It could be an ideal production tool on iOS.

The iPad should be a great platform for this app, particularly with the rich app and effect ecosystem there. But if you prefer Windows, Soda won’t necessarily be wedded to iOS forever. The core software is developed in C, and is largely platform agnostic, with Windows support planned (and already privately tested). As Microsoft improves Surface and other partners deliver tablets and hybrids, that could be a strong option. It’s doubly encouraging not to be locked to one vendor, given Apple’s recent shaky OS quality and frequent updates.

Stay tuned – I’ll do a full hands-on / review soon. I’m also very interested in custom controller support, so we’ll talk about that soon – and possibly enlist some of the CDM community, if you’re interested.

For now, the app is a measly US$9.99 – for an app that (at least in some categories) objective bests alternatives costing many times that.

Developer site:
http://www.soda.world/

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Try AI remixing in Regroover with these tips and exclusive sounds

Regroover opens up new ways of transforming sounds and remixing materials, as powered by machine learning. Here’s how you can try that out, for free.

CDM got the chance to partner with developer Accusonus to help introduce this way of working. And it is a somewhat new approach: you’re separating audio components from rhythmic material, starting with a stereo file. It’s new enough that you might not immediately know where to begin.

So, to get you started, we’ve collaborated on a tutorial and a sound pack.

You don’t need to buy anything here. There’s a 14-day unlimited trial version for download:
https://accusonus.com/products/regroover#downloads

Then, the trick is really understanding the different creative possibilities of Regroover’s toolset. I put together a video – the challenge to myself being really to take a generic sound and do something new with it. I usually ignore all those loops that come with music software, but here it wound up being useful. Sure, I could have programmed my own loop here from scratch, but by working with Regroover, I got to chop up the groove/rhythmic feel and sounds themselves, independent of one another.

Here’s a fast step-by-step walkthrough of the interface:

First, to load the sound pack we’re giving you, choose “load project.” Then navigate to your download, which is grouped by different kits and loops (yeah, there’s a lot of stuff in there).

Second, check tempo settings. Sometimes it’s necessary to halve or double the detected bpm, just as in other time stretching tools. Also, you need to manually sync to the host tempo any time it changes – that’s because it takes a moment for those machine learning-powered algorithms to analyze the file.

You may want to transform the default analysis. The “split” tool allows for some creative manipulation of the number of layers, and how dense different layers are.

Not all Regroover manipulations have to be radical. You can start out just by emphasizing or de-mphasizing portions of the loop – adjusting its relative amplitude and mid/side and left/right panning. I suspect some of you will be happy just making subtle modifications to loops and otherwise leaving them as-is; if you don’t change the tempo, those will sound fairly close to the original. But this is still really different than the usual EQ and compression tools available to you.

As I demonstrate in the video, you can create polyrhythms inside an existing loop by adjusting in and out point on each layer. Again, that’s normally impossible with a stereo audio mix.

You can pull out individual portions of a sound by double-clicking, then dragging a selection. From there, you can drag and drop either into Regroover’s own sampler facility, or back into a host/DAW like Ableton Live.

You may want to check out Regroover’s built-in sampler tools. You’ll find all the usual facilities for amplitude envelope and so on, and you can create a playable pad of sounds you’ve extracted from a loop.

Exclusive CDM sound pack

Just for you, we’ve got a sound pack entitled “Hyper Abstract Electronica.” It’s the work of London/Surrey artist Aneek Thapar, who has an extensive resume in mixing, mastering, and teaching, and has also worked with Novation and Ninja Tune’s iOS/Android remix app Ninja Jamm.

Aneek created something that’s really special, I think, in that it seems perfectly suited to creative abuse inside Regroover. Putting the two together makes this feel almost like a unique instrument.

Aneek clearly thinks of it that way. Watch what happens when he controls it with gestures and the Leap Motion (plus Ableton Push):

The pack is free; we’ll add you to our respective newsletters (which have opt-out options, of course).

Download Hyper Abstract Electronic – CDM Exclusive

I am actually really, really interested if people make any music with this, so please don’t be shy and do send us tracks if you come up with something. (If you aren’t ready to invest, of course, you’ve got a nice 14-day deadline to keep you productive!) I’ll share any really good ones with readers.

For more background on the research behind this:
Accusonus explain how they’re using AI to make tools for musicians

Diclosure: Accusonus sponsored the creation of this content with CDM.

The post Try AI remixing in Regroover with these tips and exclusive sounds appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Waves give you the old-school VU meter your DAW is missing, for free

Funny thing about those old analog mixing desks: the VU meters gave really good visual feedback. Now you can add that to your modern DAW, for free.

In the latest “here’s free stuff because we want your e-mail address” play, Waves are giving away a handsome VU meter with simulated needle. And it’s not just some twee retro touch: the way these meters respond to audio signal is actually often easier to see.

Mixing is all about listening. But there’s no shame in giving your ears a little extra reinforcement. I’m actually very suspicious that metering is part of what’s to blame as people have trouble mixing on computers. You’ll hear comments like people moving from one DAW to another to improve how a mix “sounds” – which is peculiar, given most DAWs literally mix by adding together numbers, and most DAWs even share the same mix accuracy in terms of how those numbers represent. If you and a friend add two and two, one of your fours isn’t more awesome than the other one, so you get the point. (Also suspect: these very often involve Ableton Live, whose meters I find a bit hard to see, even after Live 9 refurbished them a bit.)

Now, of course, it’s (very) possible people just don’t know how to mix. But then, if you’re learning mixing, this kind of visual feedback may be even more useful to newcomers – and old-timers will appreciate its familiarity.

While we’re on the topic, you might also consider mixing down in the superb (and almost weirdly inexpensive) Harrison Mixbus, which includes lots of sonic and usability features from traditional consoles – metering included. It even runs on Linux.

Harrison Mixbus

In the meantime, though, have fun with turning back the clock for free with this:

https://www.waves.com/plugins/vu-meter#

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Regroover is the AI-powered loop unmixer, now with drag-and-drop clips

You’ve sampled. You’ve sliced. You’ve warped. So what’s left to do with loops? Accusonus have turned to machine learning for a new answer.

Software for years has been able to apply rhythmic analysis (like looking for transients or guessing at tempo), and frequency analysis (filtering by band). The more recent development involves training algorithms with big data sets using machine learning. That’s commonly called “A.I.,” though of course artificial intelligence makes most of us scifi fans start to think killer robots and Agent Smith and the like – and this isn’t really anything to do with that. Behind the flashy names, what you’re really dealing with is some heavy-duty mathematics. The “machine learning” element means the software that has been trained on pre-existing materials to give you results that are less brute-force, and more what you’d expect musically.

What is exciting about that is the results. With Regroover, what you get is a tool that analyzes audio into “layers” instead of just transients, slices, and bands. And now, it supports drag and drop into and out of the tool. So individual sounds and layers can now be dragged to your host, to an arrangement, or to a sampler – anything that also has drag-and-drop support.

Add Regroover to Ableton Live, for instance, and it’s a bit like having a new way to process sounds, on top of the warping techniques you’ve had for a few years. Instead of working with the whole stereo loop at once, you now are presented with various layers – which might separate out a melodic part, or even get as precise as specific pieces of percussion. It’s using time and frequency and that machine learning all at once.

Regroover joins a handful of tools providing this sort of “unmixing” capability, with a particular focus on percussive loops. If you didn’t get exactly the isolation you wanted, you can then adjust the density of the layers and run the algorithm again. Or for additional precision, you can select a portion and split the layers based on particular material.

Sometimes the “mistakes” are as interesting as the results you’re looking for: you get the chance to unearth portions of a loop you may not have even heard before.

Around this layers interface, the developers have wrapped various tools for mixing, processing, and slicing up the resulting materials. You’re given an interface that lets you then adjust the level and panning (both mid/side and left/right) of each layer, which lets you emphasize or de-emphasize parts of the loop. And you can route layers to effects, either in Regroover or by sending to external buses to your host.

You can just stop there, or you can take portions of a clip – individual layers, bits of time – and divide them up into pads. There’s a built in drum pad sampler, but now with version 1.7, you can also drag and drop out to your host. In Live or Maschine, to give two Berlin software examples, that means you can then use your favorite sampling tools to work with further.

This could mean everything from minor surgery on a clip to isolating individual parts of the groove or even individual percussion parts.

Sometimes, the simple tricks Regroover can pull are actually the most appealing. So while you could do some fancy sampling or kick drum replacement (takes one minute) or something like that, you can also just mess with polyrhythms inside a loop by dividing into layers, and changing length:

Production guru Thavius Beck has a great tutorial explaining the whole thing from a creative standpoint:

I’ve been playing with Regroover for a few weeks. It definitely takes a little getting into, because it is different – and you’re hearing different results than you would with other tools. Yes, there are other remixing and unmixing tools out there, too – and this isn’t quite that. It’s really geared for percussion and loops specifically, and the interface makes it a kind of AI-mad sampling drum machine loop re-processor.

The most important expectation to adjust is, this won’t sound quite like what you’ve heard before. Remember when you first played with warping in a tool like Live, ReCycle, or Acid? (Old timers, anyone?) It has that feeling.

There are some mathematical and perceptual realities of sound that you’re going to hit up against. You’re pulling out elements of a single audio file, which means because your ears are sensitive, you’ll start to hear the sound as less natural as you process it. The quality of the source material will matter – to the point that Accusonus are even producing their own libraries. On the other hand, that opens up some new possibilities. For one, some of the digital-sounding timbres that result have aesthetic potential all their own.

Or, you can look at this as a way not to just extract sound itself, but groove – because the results are very precise about rhythmic elements inside a loop.

CDM are teaming up with Accusonus to demonstrate how this works and give you some tips, so we’ll check in again with that.

As I see it, you get a few major use cases.

People who want to mess with loop libraries. If you’ve got loops that are stereo files, this lets you modify them in ways subtle or radical and make them your own – a bit more like what you can do with MIDI patterns.

A remix tool. Well, obviously. This gets really interesting, though, from a number of angles. There are some new options when someone says “oops, sorry, I have the stereo mix and no stems.” There are new ways of treating the stems you have. And there are new ways of treating additional materials outside the mix. (All of this holds whether it’s your music or someone else’s.)

A way to process your own materials. I’m fond of quoting something I overheard about French cooking once – that the kitchen was all about doing something to an ingredient, then doing something else. So if you’re in the middle of a project and want to take some of the material a different direction, this is a new way of doing that. And I think in electronic music, where we’re constantly getting away from the obvious solution, that’s compelling.

A groove extraction tool. Frankly, this works a whole lot better than the groove tools in conventional DAWs, because you can pull out elements of a loop, then use that either as a trigger or work with the audio directly.

An “alternative” sampling drum machine. Since you can pull out individual bits, you can make new drum kits out of sounds. And that includes —

Creative abuse. Regroover is really designed for drum loops – both in the interface and the way in which the machine learning algorithms were trained and adapted. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow the rules. Dropping any AIFF or WAV file will work, so you can take field recordings or whatever you can get your hands on and see what happens. There are some strange perceptions you may have of the results, but that’s the fun.

Next week, we’ll have a tutorial and a special giveaway so you can give this a try.

Regroover is available as a free trial, a US$99 Essentials version, or a $219 Pro version.

Here’s what’s new in 1.7:

A complete set of tutorials is available:

Product site:

Accusonus Regroover

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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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Two sequenced Max for Live devices go off the usual grid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Code: koog17

More: www.k-devices.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How it works

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

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

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

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

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

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

What it’s like to use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full specs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get it at Plugin Alliance:

https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/unfiltered_audio_zip.html

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

Ableton Live is going 64-bit only – so what does that mean?

Later this year, Ableton Live will only be available in a 64-bit version. But what does that mean for you?

This is a development that has some implications for Ableton Live’s compatibility, stability, the pace of features and improvements, and that question of “wait, which version am I supposed to choose on the Ableton download page?” Ableton invited CDM to their offices to discuss the change and give us a chance to understand the thinking behind the decision and to help figure out what users might want to know.

But first, it’s actually worth understanding what 64-bit music software actually does.

What are 64-bit and 32-bit, anyway?

First, you know, 64-bit is twice as much as 32-bit, which means it’s twice as … well, 32 more … double the …

Okay, let’s be honest, even lots of fairly tech-savvy don’t really know what these terms mean, let alone what impact they have in real-world use.

Software runs on numbers. So when we refer to “64-bit” or “32-bit” software, we’re talking about the word length, or precision, of the numbers the software uses to reference memory. If you have a higher word length, you have more precision, and the software can address more memory.

Think of phone numbers for comparison. Leave out the area code and country code, and you eventually run out of available phone numbers. But add some additional digits, and you have more available numbers – and you can call a greater number of individual people.

With 32-bit software, Ableton Live and all of its plug-ins can use only up to 4 GB of available RAM (or even less on some versions of Windows). But 64-bit software can address all of your RAM, on any computer sold today. (The theoretical limit is so high, you can’t even buy a computer that comes close to hitting the ceiling, at least for the foreseeable future.)

What does more memory mean when you’re making music?

If you have a computer with 8GB or 16GB or more of RAM, there’s some reason to want to use all of that memory. As you load big sample libraries, and add plug-ins or ReWire clients, and as your Live set grows, all of that uses up memory.

Oh, yeah, and one other thing – running out of RAM can cause a DAW to crash. You might not even know that was the cause of a crash: Live crashes, you curse, and you might not realize that the choice you made on that dropdown when you downloaded could be a factor.

32-bit and backwards compatibility

Live added 64-bit support way back at Live 8.4 – that’s the summer of 2012. So if 64-bit is better than 32-bit, why did Ableton keep making new 32-bit versions of its software for over five years?

Running a 64-bit DAW requires a 64-bit operating system – for Live, that’s a 64-bit version of Windows Vista or later, or Mac OS X 10.5 or later. (Microsoft has their own FAQ to help you figure out if you’ve got the right OS for 64-bit.)

64-bit DAWs also need 64-bit versions of plug-ins. Most plug-in developers have already updated their plug-ins for 64-bit, but some haven’t. (There are wrappers you can use, and these were more popular when DAWs first started to go 64-bit, but let’s not go there – especially since part of the idea here is to improve stability!)

Okay, so you need a 64-bit OS, you need to update your plug-ins, and you need to have more than 4GB of RAM for this to be useful. Back in 2012, a non-trivial population of Live users fit that description.

Years later, the picture looks different. Nearly everyone has more than 4GB of RAM, meaning they’re going to benefit from the 64-bit version of the software. And not everyone seems to be aware of that. Ableton tells us that 85% of current Live users who are running the 32-bit version of the software have more than 4GB of RAM. That means 85% of those 32-bit users are actually unable to take advantage of hardware they already own.

That tips the scales. Now Ableton Live’s user base may be better off without new 32-bit versions coming out than with them.

Why are these developers smiling? Going 64-bit only will make the development process faster – and the Live experience more crash-free. Also, Club Mate.

Why go 64-bit only?

First off, nothing is changing for versions of Live up through and including Live 9.7.4. You can still download and run those older versions in their 32-bit versions. And remember that you can install more than one version of Live on the same computer, side by side. So if you’ve got a Live set that uses some old 32-bit plug-in, you can keep a 32-bit version of Live on your machine to open it.

What’s changing is, that dropdown on the download page is going away for every version starting later this year. Ableton will only develop a 64-bit version of Live and Max for Live going forward.

The downside of this is pretty simple: you won’t be able to use some old 32-bit plug-in and the latest version of Live at the same time. (Though you can still use the older Live with the older plug-in.) You’ll also need a 64-bit operating system (though on the Mac side, Apple tends to drag you along to new OSes and new hardware, anyway).

But the upsides to forcing Live users to go 64-bit when they update may be bigger than you’d expect.

Fewer crashes. The 32-bit version of Live crashes more than the 64-bit version – a lot more. Ableton collect the number of crashes. The 32-bit version of Live crashes 44% more often than the 64-bit version.

Most of these crashes are as simple as Live running out of memory – not a bug, not a misbehaved plug-in, but just hitting that 3.5-4GB memory ceiling imposed by running a 32-bit version of the software. (Some may be the result of dubious old 32-bit plug-ins, too, but that’s also a reason to dump plug-ins that haven’t been updated to 64-bit.)

Fewer Live crashes overall means fewer people having to talk to support about these crashes, which is better for everybody.

Faster updates. I also spoke with Ableton’s engineering side about why they’d want to drop 32-bit development.

Supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Live adds overhead to the entire development process. More overhead can translate to us getting fewer new features, or getting them less quickly.

That overhead impacts the time spent coding and debugging Ableton Live, not only for the humans, but also for the machines those humans rely on to do their work. When engineers make a change in Live’s code, they have to wait while servers build, test, and output the results. Even with a room full of racks of pricey, powerful computer hardware making that happen, the process takes hours, especially at peak times.

Take away the 32-bit side of things, and developers get their results faster. In practical terms, that could mean they get their change back today, instead of having to wait until coming into the office tomorrow morning. Since engineers typically like to stay focused and in the zone, that’s important.

Add everything together – supporting more use cases, more old plug-ins, dealing with more crashes, added development time to support two versions, added time to test and build two versions of the software – and you get a lot of added drag to Live’s development.

This isn’t just about making Ableton happy. Removing that drag from the process means those engineers can work on Live more efficiently. The upshot for us is, we get more the stuff we want – fixes and new features.

What you need to do

It may actually have taken more time to read this article than it will to make the leap to 64-bit Ableton Live use. But hopefully it gives you some notion of what’s going on in the world of the people making the software we use.

For your part, assuming you aren’t already running the 64-bit Ableton Live, here’s what to consider:

On Windows, you might want to double-check you have the 64-bit version of the OS installed. (Click your Start button, right-click Computer, click Properties. Under System, you’ll see which version of Windows you’re running.)

As far as checking your plug-ins, Ableton have some resources on the topic:

Recommendations for using VST plug-ins on Windows

Recommendations for using AU and VST plug-ins on Mac

Since 32-bit plug-ins don’t show up in the 64-bit version, the easiest way to check compatibility is to launch the 64-bit version and see if the plug-in disappears. (Don’t laugh – this really is the easiest method.) If it’s invisible, odds are you need to go to the developer and download a 64-bit version, if available. And as mentioned earlier, you can still keep the 32-bit Live on your hard drive if you find a plug-in that requires it.

Relevant to versions from 8.4 [64-bit introduction] through now [prior to going 64-bit only], here’s Ableton’s existing FAQ:

64-bit vs 32-bit – FAQ

I hope this gives you some insight into how Live works, and ideally makes your Live use more productive and crash-free. If you have any more questions, let us know.

Thanks to various engineers and product managers at Ableton who contributed to this story, particularly Alex Wiedemann (former Ableton software engineer and now head of Technical Support Berlin).

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