Finally! Now you don’t have to wait for your computer to start glitching out – you can make it happen yourself, with this inexpensive Max for Live device.
Okay, so technically what we’re talking about is a “stockastic sample freezing effect.” Since it’s a Max for Live Device, you can drop its audio-munching powers on any track you want, making for glitched out percussion, vocals, or whatever you like. But if you’ve ever watched a computer melt down and listened to the resulting sounds and thought, “hey, actually, I could use that” – this is for you.
The reason it matches a BSOD is, computer stability issues cause the digital audio buffer to “freeze” on particular sounds rather than continue to process buffered audio normally. (Digital audio systems give the illusion of running in real time, without losing a continuous stream of audio, by dividing digital audio into chunks and feeding those chunks in sequence to the audio card… so that if the machine falls behind a few samples, you won’t notice.)
This creation is the second Max for Live invention from Isotonik Studios today – happy Valentine’s Day, y’all – and carries the price of €9.52. For that, you get some control over the effect – especially since it isn’t actually crashing your machine. The developers describe the parameters as follows:
Freeze: control the gate frequency in time signatures
Width: make the gating wider or tighter
Dry/Wet: master dry/wet control
And all of this is MIDI-controllable.
If you want to live more dangerously, the classic Smart Electronix effect Buffer Override actually does screw around with your machine. The work of developer Sophia Poirier, this is the opposite of what would normally constitute a stable plug-in. The idea: it “overcomes your host app’s audio processing buffer size and then (unsuccessfully) overrides that new buffer size to be a smaller buffer size.”
Beware, as that will actually cause some hosts to, you know, crash. But Buffer Override is free. (Well, it’d be a bit strange to charge for that!)
You’ve got your synth sounds. You’ve got your orchestral sample libraries. And they’ve always been separate – until now.
Output, the California-based sound design shop, have already built a reputation around sound libraries that mix this with that and bank on novel and on-trend sound design concepts. And roughly this time last year, they took this approach to combining string orchestras and synth strings.
But bringing the analog + acoustic blend to wind and brass may be even more vital because, well, brass and winds are a fairly particular thing to have to design… I mean, let’s be honest, how many people really look forward to brass and winds?
So, what you get are sounds that will genuinely get you excited instead of make you cringe. And oddly, combining in tape loops and vintage instruments makes this category sounds more contemporary.
As per usual, the Output experience isn’t just about calling up a preset you like, but being able to easily dial in exactly the blend and flavor you want.
Let’s break down that interface. Even from the overview screen and macro controls, you get a view to the layered sample-based sound engine beneath (plus some pretty abstracted brass wind bodies):
As in past Output products, once you get into Sources, you see the core of the sounds. Output’s products start with a wide arsenal of sounds that feel a bit like getting to steal a top producer’s hard drive. (Please don’t do that. But you get the idea.) Here, this includes one-shots, more continuous textures (“pads”), and crunchy tape loops, which basically involve the acoustic sources, the vintage synth sources, and then “everything else” / more off-the-wall bits (categorized as “creative”). That’s what gives the resulting stew a forward-thinking sound.
“Rhythm” is where invariably you can go from “oh, isn’t this sound cool” to “oh, I can actually finish this entire track with this plug-in.” Note that you have both synchronized and free (“flux”) modes, and the ability to layer modulations atop your modulated sounds.
This is, again, why Output stuff so nicely merges between preset-dialing and creative sound design – just changing an individual element can have an enormous impact, if you like.
There’s also the usual, tasty-sounding effects section.
If there’s any criticism here, it’s that Output have stuck with their existing sample-based architecture, rather than open up the possibility of, say, some physical modeling. (Underneath the hood here, it’s all the Kontakt sampler.) On the other hand, those models can be processor-intensive and unpredictable, whereas you can dump all of Output’s products on a quick external drive (which is inexpensive these days) and be assured of reliable sound results. I am curious what Output may have next, though, whether they’ve got more ideas for this approach or something else altogether.
Oh, one more thing – this all supports Native Instruments’ NKS, which means I’ll give it a try with the likes of Maschine and the new Komplete Kontrol keyboards, as there’s some interesting potential for live performance with the snapshots and such. Stay tuned for that!
Cost: US$199. But betcha earn that back on a good commission with it.
Universal Audio just brought their DSP platform – and top-notch audio interface tech – to a box that’s Thunderbolt, bus-powered, and under US$500.
Here’s the thing: if someone asks you the age-old question “which audio interface should I buy,” it’s actually pretty hard not to mention Universal Audio. While the company may have gotten started selling pricey high-end DSP cards for their platform of vintage gear emulations and sound tools, starting with Apollo, they also happened to make one of the best audio interfaces. The Apollo line boasts high-end converters and audio circuitry and rock-solid performance. And it’s been steadily reaching more and more people, with the smaller Twin bringing the price down, and Windows support following Mac.
The Apollo Twin is good enough, in fact, that you can almost recommend it just for its audio interface capabilities – not only as a gateway into the catalog of UAD studio effects and sound processors and the like.
But the Apollo Twin still represents some outlay of cash. And it’s portable, but not quite throw-it-in-a-laptop portable – especially once you figure in that power brick.
So, the Arrow starts to look really smart as an entry level device. Its estimated street is just US$499. It’s still 2×4 like the Apollo Twin – so you can have a separate monitor mix. And there are two mic preamps.
But it’s sleeker, prettier, more portable, and it runs on bus powered Thunderbolt 3 on both Mac and Windows. (Gone are the days of interface companies catering just to Apple – the press kit even came with shots both of a MacBook Pro and a Razer Blade, my respective favorite high-end Mac and Windows choices.)
Now, if you were just spending $500 on an interface alone, this might still not make sense. So then you have the value-add of the UAD DSP platform. While native processing is powerful these days – running VST and AU plug-ins and the like – it still means contending with some latency. So, you have to listen to the dry signal of your instrument or voice while you’re recording, and then add compressors and reverb and pitch correction and whatever else afterwards.
UA’s ongoing argument is that they can deliver their signal processors with near-zero latency, thanks to their onboard DSP (the “UAD SOLO” is what they call it). The mic preamps feature Unison technology, which models gain structure on the hardware for more accurate emulation of studio tools. And you can take your vocals and guitars and synths and keyboards and everything else and add their library of effects as if you’ve got the actual gear there, without hearing a delay as you track.
Those plug-ins don’t all come cheap, once you buy a lot of them. But the Arrow has newcomers to UAD in mind, bundling a full 14 full-featured “Realtime Analog Classics” in the box.
Ah, remember the days of expensive hourly studio time? Meet the bundled analog gear – software UAD form.
The bundle’s not too shabby, either. You don’t get the latest models of everything, but you do get the full UA 610-B channel strip for taking advantage of that Unison technology, ideal for recording. And there’s a nice selection of EQ, compression, and the like (from the still very decent previous generation), plus excellent Marshall Plexi and Softube Bass Amp room additions (great on instruments). You’ll want to budget more if you’re really in this for the UA stuff, but it’s not a bad start. UA of course hopes this gets you hooked so you buy more, so – here’s their explanation of their various hardware/software bundles: UAD-2 / Apollo Plug-In Bundles Explained [scroll down]
Really, the only catch is that the Arrow has just one UAD SOLO processor. That means you can’t layer on a whole lot of those UAD effects at once – you’re limited by available processing power. I like the form factor of the Arrow enough that I hope UA will offer a DUO version with two DSP cores – my experience has been that on the Apollo Duo that’s more than enough horsepower for solo musician/producer needs. The single core, though, I suspect will feel a bit cramped for UAD addicts. (Those Legacy models in turn will be lighter on the SOLO, so there’s a certain wisdom to their inclusion.) Oh, and one other niggle – that extra x2 out is only on the stereo headphone jack, though – it’s missing the Twin’s separate rear channel jacks, useful for spatialization or other external outputs.
As a live device, though, and as an entry point to UAD, this one looks like a winner. UA keep iterating on their accessibility, and this one is sure to be a big breakthrough. That real-time functionality and library of plug-ins also makes it more fun to buy than competing audio interfaces, which only act as, you know, audio interfaces.
Arrow is shipping now. I’ll try to get one in to review.
Arturia now offer these classic instruments individually – with another 50% off through January 10 – and have video tutorials to teach you how to use them.
Let’s have a big round of applause for democratization. There was a time when something like the Fairlight CMI was so out of reach, just owning one would probably land you some big gigs. Now, you can get software recreations that offer you the musical possibilities of these instruments, for the price of a nice date night.
We already had a look at the full update of Arturia V Collection 6 – basically, the software versions of a whole bunch of keyboard instruments and synths, plus tools for organizing and playing them.
The story here is, maybe you really just want the Fairlight, or just the Clav, or just the Buchla, or just the DX-7. Now those three instruments are available individually.
The Buchla story is especially interesting. Apart from getting the authorized stamp of approval, Arturia say they’ve gone component by component modeling the original Easel. And while full rack modulars are all the rage these days, it’s really the way the Easel distilled that sound into a single, integrated design give it a singular vision. It’s not just the “West Coast” idea in terms of signal flow: it’s a West Coast instrument.
Then, take the reboot from Arturia and its new features, and you get a relationship that’s a bit like Bob Moog’s reimagining of the Minimoog as the Minimoog Voyager. It’s authentic, but it’s also modern.
The overview video explains the basic idea:
But now there’s a tutorial series with Glen Darcey. (End of an era: Glen, who managed a lot of Arturia’s recent successes including the Beatstep and ‘Brute lines, announced early this month that he’s moving on to start a new brand. We wish him the best!)
Glen also takes us on a tour of the Fairlight CMI, the ground-breaking digital instrument that defined digital as we know it. I always admired the Fairlight’s unique interface and workflow, so this seems to me as much a chance to get your hands on that as the distinctive sounds it made:
Flashback: a few weeks back we featured Steve Horelick showing off the same hardware back in the early 80s. Steve here is speaking to kids (hi there!), but you might know his voice from his terrific Logic videos from our present decade.
The DX-7 sees a terrific recreation here, one that makes editing uncommonly accessible – just in time for FM to see a full resurgence:
Clav fans, there’s a tutorial series on that, as well (plus announcement video to give you the big picture):
Pricing: 50% off the individual instruments makes them each US$/EUR 99, through January 10 only.
The full version of V Collection is US$/EUR 399 (normally 499), same.
Upgraders: you’ll need to log in to see customized pricing.
You’ve seen kick drums that emulate the 808 and such, or synths with a couple knobs. UltraKick goes way past that, for complete sound control.
If you’re content to just drop four Roland sounds on the floor and leave them there, move along – nothing to see here. UltraKick represents months of obsessive work by creator Daan Pothoven for a different breed of producer – someone who wants to dive deep inside a sound and transform every detail.
That doesn’t mean it’s intimidating, though. Oh, sure, you might forget that it was a kick you were trying to make in the first place, because this is kind of an interesting experimental synth for all sorts of deep sounds. But everything’s graphical, it’s loaded up with some useful presets, and it’s intuitive enough to make minor or major tweaks inside that bang of the drum.
Here’s a little tour of the UI:
The architecture is simple but much more open than most kick drum synths out there. There two oscillators plus one noise generator. Each oscillator gives you control over 8 partials for additive synthesis-style kick sculpting. Then by overlaying envelopes for pitch and amplitude in the same UI, and updating the resulting waveform onscreen as you make adjustments, you can draw in the way you want your kick to sound and get instant results.
It’s also uncommonly easy to tune, thanks to this architecture, since you can move things up and down with a single click.
From there, there’s a rich semi-modular “audio flow” section you can use for distortion, effects, spread, and the like.
Everything is organized in an easy, “what-if” format, so you can click to randomize settings or transpose or punch in precise values or call up presets for different sections.
The main display places envelope overlays (for pitch and amplitude) atop a graphical display of the resulting waveform.
Hey, there’s a two-oscillator additive synth in here! Graphical editors for partials lets you shape each of two oscillators. There’s a noise oscillator to mix in, too.
An interactive EQ tab is included, as well, to filter and sculpt the sound you want.
As if that weren’t enough, a modular section allows routing of additional effects. It’s fully integrated with the architecture, rather than feeling like an add-on.
My only gripe with the whole thing is, this being built as a very elaborate Max for Live patch, performance can be a bit sluggish at times. I rather hope this catches on enough to merit a ground-up native plug-in. On the other hand, I think there’s no doubt that if you own Max for Live, you’ll get your thirty bucks’ worth. (Pricing is £23.99 / €30 / US$36).
You can also count on exceptional support, as the tool is seeing release via Isotonik Studios, who have built various monster tools for Novation and Ableton (and seen some regular coverage round these parts).
Full specs from the developers:
100% synthesis: no samples involved.
8 partials per oscillator with unprecedented options for sound design.
AUDIO FLOW tab: reveals all audio routing, makes synth easily understandable.
Tuning: move all frequency-related envelopes up or down with a single click.
Envelopes overlay: maintaining overview at all times.
Spread settings for frequency envelopes: create organic sounds with no effort.
Action menus for quick actions like envelope randomization and osc partial presets.
Accurate waveform image rendering.
Flawless sound retriggering: absolutely no clicks, even at high retriggering speeds.
Numerical envelope point programming for high precision sound design.
Built-in help/tips section and mouseover hints throughout the interface.
Robust preset system with easily interchangeable preset files.
Native Instruments has a free phaser plug-in called Phasis as a holiday special – and, wow, definitely don’t skip this one.
Here’s the deal: as NI do yearly, they’ve got a holiday special going. This year, there’s an e-voucher and a giveaway contest and blah blah — let’s skip to Phasis.
Phasis is a free plug-in (VST, AU, AAX) for Mac and Windows. You’ll need to sign up for the mailing list, then get a serial number to enter into Native Access, NI’s latest all-in-one software for managing licenses and updates. That tool works well, though one note on Windows: look for the phasis.dll file on your hard drive, as I had to manually copy it to the correct VST plug-in folder.
Phasers may call to mind cheesy guitar effects and overused pop sounds, but this one’s different. Here’s how NI describe it:
PHASIS is a brand new phaser. It offers timeless phasing sounds – adding movement, soul, and creative magic to any signal. PHASIS draws inspiration from classic phasers but adds powerful new features for never-heard-before results. The Spread control changes the spacing of the phaser’s notches, for vocal-style effects. Ultra mode pushes modulation to ultra high rates, producing unique FM-esque tones. Download the VST/AU/AAX plug-in for free now!
It’s the combination of the phaser with those notch filters and “ultra” extreme audio rate modulation that produces something genuinely novel. I apply it here to a bland 909 drum loop, and already you get some more radical results:
Wow, Windows backwards compatibility has gotten way easier than the Mac… Mac users will need 10.11 or later (10.13 if you use Cubase); Windows runs back to Windows 7. Well, once we find the darned VST plug-in folder. I’ll put it on both my machines. I only wish we’d gotten a Reaktor ensemble here so we could play around with the innards.
Now, all your realistic pipe organ dreams are about to be solved in software – without samples.
MODARTT are the French firm behind the terrific Pianoteq physically modeled instrument, which covers various classic keys and acoustic pianos. That mathematical model is good enough as to find applications in teaching and training.
Now, they’re turning their attentions to the pipe organ – some of which turns out to be surprisingly hard to model.
For now, we get just a four-octave preview of the organ flue pipe. But that’s free, and fun to play with – and it sounds amazing enough that I spent some part of the afternoon just listening to the demos. (Pair this with a convolution reverb of a church and I think you could be really happy.)
The standalone version is free, and like all their software runs on Linux as well as Mac and Windows. Stay tuned for the full version. Description:
ORGANTEQ Alpha is a new generation physically modeled pipe organ that reproduces the complex behaviour of the organ flue pipe.
It is a small organ with a keyboard range of 4 octaves (from F1 to F5) and with 2 stops: a Flute 8′ and a Flute 4′ (octave).
It is provided in standalone mode only and should be regarded as a foretaste of a more advanced commercial version in development, due to be released during 2018.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.