Music on the go – Auxy app now has tweakable sounds, Ableton export

For all the app choices in music, a lot feel like plug-ins crammed onto the mobile screen. Auxy may have the essential combination of ingredients – a simple, quick UI, but now the ability to make sketches you finish in Ableton Live, and sounds you can more easily tweak.

Auxy always had an elegant, approachable UI. The tool basically strips the essential function of the familiar piano roll-style view so you can quickly sketch ideas with your fingertips.

But just being simple isn’t quite enough. Mobile apps all face the common problem of having to satisfy two very different use cases or workflows. Some people want to focus on music making right on the phone or tablet, stay away from their computers (or other gear), and yet make finished tracks. Others want the app to be a rough sketchpad for ideas they can use on the go, then finish in the more comfortable environs of their computer rig or studio. The problem is, of course, those come with different demands.

Swedish app Auxy has had two updates that address some of these cases.

First, Auxy 5.4 in April added direct export to Ableton Live projects. Cleverly, this exports both audio and MIDI, so you retain your sound designs from the app as stems, but can also use patterns to work with new sounds inside Live.

Auxy 5.4 also represents a new high water mark for Ableton’s SDK. Auxy encouraged Ableton to add features for populating the Arrangement, so that song ideas and arranging choices you make on the go are reflected when you open up your project in Live. These features will be available to other developers, too, so if you’re a dev, you can get in touch with Ableton. (And that’s important, too – the better this support works in different apps, the more useful mobile-to-Live workflows become.)

5.4 also added improved import/export for samples, imported samples that share when you share projects, and updated Ableton Link support.

Auxy 6 is a major update just released this month, focusing on giving you more control over sounds and effects. And that addresses the other thing that might have kept you from adopting Auxy in the past – the simplicity is great, but you might feel constrained by the available sounds.

Auxy launched as a kind of preset machine. That makes things simpler, but might be uninspiring if you feel like you can’t shape your own sounds. That changes with some significant features:

More effects for instrumental sounds: distortion, delay, reverb, chorus, filter, ducker, and EQ sounds everywhere – customizable, not locked to presets.

More effects for drums, too: delay, distortion, compressor, filter, EQ, and ducker are now available on drums.

Shape sound envelopes: attack, release, glide, offset. (works on drums, too)

Free grid mode: move notes and automation freely as you edit.

Browse sounds by category.

This isn’t going to sound so revolutionary, but of course that is always the challenge when trying to keep things simple – there’s a lot to think about adding even simple features.

All in all, Auxy has really evolved into one of the easiest, most elegant sketchpads for music on mobile. There’s many things it isn’t – it’s not really about live playing, it’s not a full-featured DAW (and doesn’t try to be), it’s not really an audio multitrack. But what it is, it really focuses on. And with Live export, that could prove invaluable.

Auxy regularly select favorite user tracks, which is a nice way to get a feel for what people are doing. Here are the Staff Picks for last month:

Plus one creation made in this latest release:

Check out Auxy for iOS (no Android version, sorry):

https://auxy.co/

The post Music on the go – Auxy app now has tweakable sounds, Ableton export appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special

The last time Native Instruments released a synth called Massive, they accidentally helped define genres (EDM, dubstep). But MASSIVE X returns to the original vision: make it easier to get deep with wavetables and modularity and go wild with sound. And now, the wait is over.

It’s been years in the making. But the original team behind Massive are back with a sequel to one of the most influential software synths ever made.

I was actually the very first press meeting for Massive, back in the day. But what that tells you is, initially they thought they were making something for nerds, not what would become EDM mainstages.

In 2019, MASSIVE X enters a world that’s not only been shaped by the first Massive, but is also far more comfortable with digital sounds and modularity, the staples of the original. Even inside NI, you’ve got REAKTOR and BLOCKS. There are plenty of other wavetable synths, plenty of semi-modular plug-ins. There are semi-modular synths – heck, Moog alone has three just in one line. There are Eurorack modulars in pricey hardware racks that require a screwdriver and modeled in software so you just need a laptop.

I mean, basically, those of us who love synths are all really spoiled. And like any spoiled child, little wonder there are bunches of those people whining and crying and rolling around on the floor like a toddler who ate too much candy. Well… if you read message forums, which I try not to.

So is there a place for MASSIVE X? You’ll hear plenty of talk from Native Instruments and reviewers alike, but let’s boil this story down.

MASSIVE X is a rarity – a kitchen sink digital synth plug-in that keeps its front panel easy to read.

Deep routing lets you path when you want to. But unlike a full-blown modular, that doesn’t stop you from creating sounds (and even modularity) straight away – and your sound design remains within a consistent interface and architecture.

Bigger on the inside than it is on the outside

Basically, the latest MASSIVE gives you this: it makes an argument for a semi-modular design by packing the oscillators with features, and then giving you ways of playing and modulating and inter-connecting all that depth easily. It walks that balance between complexity under the hood and legibility inside a coherent interface. So while other people might easily dismiss adding another semi-modular plug-in when you could just patch, there is a fundamentally different method to constructing sounds based on this architecture:

All about those oscillators. 170 wavetables, 10 oscillator modes, submodes for each of the oscillator modes – Massive focuses you on one architecture and one UI, but then gives you loads of choices once you’re there.

Get weird without even patching. It’s a true semi-modular, so you can make sounds without patching anything – and you can use its phase modulation oscillators to start that modulation just from the oscillator section. (Yeah, you’ll wind up doing some sound designs where you never get past those oscillators. And that’s fun, anyway.)

Route and patch in ways conventional modulars can’t. With a huge routing matrix and a unique approach to insert effects, you can swap all sorts of unique processors inside an individual sound – and recall all of those as presets. Any control output can be connected to any input; audio can go to and from anywhere you like. It’s enormously flexible.

There are plenty of synths out there with deep architectures, but MASSIVE X allows you to then take that depth and work with it:

Trackers give you sophisticated control over how MASSIVE X behaves as an instrument – by designing how it responds as you play.

Make uniquely playable instruments. NI have added a number of tools for tracking input from performance, as in velocity, and then scaling and mapping that where you like. This means you can make sounds like instruments, and ‘play’ a lot of that sonic depth live. (There are four Tracker modules to accomplish this.)

Add variety in performance and modulation. Tracker modules let you play live; Performer modulators let you draw in up to eight bars of modulation patterns and use those without playing. That can mean either unattended modulation in the sound, or can be triggered live with your controller.

You have 9 slots for LFOs, voice randomization, and then a bunch of potential sources and shapes for those variations.

The original MASSIVE isn’t going anywhere. And that’s important, because it’s light on the CPU in a way the new X – and other plug-ins – aren’t.

But MASSIVE X is simply a beast. As a flagship for Native Instruments, it enters some competitive waters – not the least being the fact that NI itself has, effectively, more than one flagship.

Performer envelopes give you the kind of extensive, visual modulation you expect from 2019 flagship software. The Remote Editor lets you trigger those envelopes live, making this a tool for improvisation or onstage.

Inside the Voice

Having said MASSIVE X is all about having a consistent architecture and UI – there is definitely a candy store inside. Just some rough ideas of specs, to give you an idea:

Wavetable modes: Standard, Bend, Mirror, Hardsync, Wrap, Forant Capture, ART, Gorilla, Random, Jitter

Insert Effects: Anima, BitCrusher, Correction Filter & VCA, Fold Wrap, Frequency Shifter, Distortion, Track Delay

Unit FX: Dimension Expander, Flanger, Nonlinear Labs, Phaser, Standard EQ, Stereo Delay, Stereo Expander

The Voice page. You can also find some possibilities messing about with Noise Restart, Oscillator Restart, Spread and Engine Reset – think serious sound design with phasing. Combine that with the various oscillator types and modes and poly/mono/unison modes, and a really wild option called Unisono (for unique, analog-ish drifts and detunes), and you could probably devote a whole month in the studio just on this page and be perfectly satisfied.

Filling a Massive niche?

The thing is, MASSIVE X makes even more sense in 2019 than it did when it first arrived. And if MASSIVE demonstrated that a larger slice of the population was ready for edgy, hyper-modulated experimental sounds, MASSIVE X might demonstrate that more people are ready for experimental sound design..

This isn’t a straight modular workflow. It isn’t a Eurorack. It isn’t REAKTOR. And it shouldn’t be any of those things. Instead, MASSIVE X brings back what made the first MASSIVE compelling – drag and drop routing, easy visual “saturn ring” modulation – and adds more sonic depth, the kinds of organic quality now possible on today’s CPUs, and more visual feedback. We all spend too much time staring at screens, but MASSIVE X gives us a good reason to look back – and is far easier on the eyes (and brain) in the process.

So, sure, we are spoiled for choice, which I’m sure means MASSIVE X will get some significant hostility from the sorts of people who lurk in comment threads instead of make sounds. But I’m happy to have my cake and eat it, and my other five cakes, too.

From my own vantage point, having not been entirely swayed by would-be contenders to the plug-in throne, I think MASSIVE X will be ideal as a complement to open-ended modulars. Having a single oscillator section that does this much means you don’t get lost window-shopping modulars. And that matrix and the depth of Trackers and Performers means MASSIVE X is manageable when other modulars (hardware or software) turn into messes of spaghetti-routing, at least for sounds you want to pack to the brim with subtle shifting transformations over time.

More details of this as I spend more time with the now-finished build. (Sound design, too – just give me some time on that!)

[watch this space, we should have the overview video from NI shortly…]

https://native-instruments.com/

Cost:
USD / EUR 199
USD / EUR 149 upgrade from the previous version
Included in KOMPLETE 12 (and greater editions)

The competition

There’s indeed a lot of competition. Look to:

U-he‘s ZEBRA2, Hive 2. Also deep modulation, but with a single window mode – more like Massive 1 – to MASSIVE X’s various pages and options.

ARTURIA Pigments We’ll be looking more soon at the sound possibilities of this one. It’s perhaps more conservative than MASSIVE X, but its virtual analog/wavetable hybrid is a crowd pleaser, there’s a unique and easy-to-follow interface, and it has a clear high-contrast dark look to the all-gray/beige Massive approach.

Serum of course arguably stole the bass crown from Massive as NI bided their time on an update. It is focused on wavetables (and custom wavetables) compared to MASSIVE X’s fascinating sprawl.

Who else would you want to see up for comparison? Let us know.

To me, at least my initial impression is all this mayhem of choice makes MASSIVE X stand out, but we’ll be interested to dig deeper and get feedback from other sound designers.

The post MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Sonarworks Reference 4.3: more headphones, features for calibrating your mixes

Sonarworks Reference 4.3 has a bunch of new features – more headphones, better performance, and it won’t blind you in a dark studio. The goal: make sure your mixes sound consistent everywhere. And with both high-end and consumer cans on the supported list, they seem to want everybody to give this a go.

I think the biggest challenge Sonarworks has here is that even I would have imagined calibration was something for engineers, but not necessarily producers. But once you hear the results, anyone can hear what this does. The thing is, headphones and studio monitors really aren’t flat. And especially outside of perfectly tuned studio environments, neither are working environments. Testing and calibration improves that enough that anyone can hear.

I’ve been using Sonarworks Reference religiously since the fall. The biggest challenge has been that there are two modes. One sounds really great, but adds a ton of latency. That’s especially rough if you want to work with calibration switched on all the time. The other is low-latency, but doesn’t sound as good. Those differences are, again, noticeable to anyone.

The big improvement in Reference 4.3 is to let you have both – with a mixed filter mode that operates with minimal latency but still delivers accurate results. That for me makes Reference way more useful. In fact, given this involved a ground-up rewrite, I’m surprised Sonarworks didn’t call this Reference 5. (It’s a free update, though!)

You also get new headphone profiles, which show both some high-end Beyerdynamic models but also the sort of consumer listening cans a lot of us use on the go with our smartphones and such. Those seem to target new users as well as ones traveling.

Beyerdynamic Custom Studio
Beyerdynamic MMX 300
Direct Sound EXTW37 Pro
Direct Sound Serenity Plus
Direct Sound Studio Plus
Marshall Major III
Marshall Major III Bluetooth
Marshall Monitor Bluetooth

More important than the addition of new individual models, though, they’ve added on-demand profile delivery, so you can add support inside the tool. There are already over a couple hundred of these, and they keep adding more.

There are some other improvements, too:

Dark mode – some people hate these; I love them, since I work in a lot of dim / late night environments

A better menu/tray bar, which is critical as you modify settings as you work

Integrated room measurement inside the Systemwide and plugin tools

Better virtual sound device performance (I need to test this across my Mac and Windows machines)

The little tool that gets you up and running when you start I already liked, and wrote about previously, but they’ve enhanced that even more

Previously, I did some deep dives into this software and answered reader questions:

What it’s like calibrating headphones and monitors with Sonarworks tools

Your questions answered: Sonarworks Reference calibration tools

I need to follow up with them on how Linux support is coming, as CDM was the first to write about that and some of you I know were interested (as am I)!

Also since I last covered Reference, Sonarworks has started offering a bundle with pre-calibrated headphones. These theoretically deliver more precise calibration than what you’d get from any profile, since they’ve tested the actual harder. It’s pricey, because it includes the already-expensive HD650 headphones from Sennheiser.

But those are terrific headphones, and headphones are crucial to precise mixing and mastering. I imagine these would be a great investment for a producer or especially studio or engineer wanting to invest in a full calibration package at once. (Feel free to shout about whether Sennheiser or Beyerdynamic are better in comments, though!) In fact, I think if you’re thinking of buying the HD650s, you should spring for the bundle.

The bundle, with Sennheiser HD650.

I have talked to more producers about this tool than engineers (though my mastering engineer collaborator is a believer), so I would be interested to hear about that use case more.

And yes, this is another member of our music tech industry now located in Riga, Latvia, along with Gamechanger, Erica Synths, and others. It’s a surprising new hotbed.

The post Sonarworks Reference 4.3: more headphones, features for calibrating your mixes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Logic Pro X 10.4.5 is all about huge projects, with or without a Mac Pro

Logic Pro X 10.4.5, seen onstage at WWDC, is now available. And yes, it supports the new ultra-high-end Mac Pro – but there are fixes and performance optimizations for everyone, with or without new machines.

10.4.5 looks like the most pro-oriented Logic Pro in a long time. Apple has been aggressive with its update cadence for Logic for years running now, even with free upgrades, and this version is no exception.

This release also marks the end of the road for Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra. The new minimum OS requirement is 10.13.16 High Sierra. (Mojave is seeming stable these days, and it’s summertime, so maybe now is a good time to do a full backup and take the plunge.)

First up – yes, the banner feature from Apple’s perspective is that the new Logic runs on the new Mac Pro. Under the hood, that means support for up to 56 cores, the kind of massive multiprocessing the new Mac Pro can do.

The use case for this kind of processing power is slim, but then, that’s what the ‘pro’ concept is all about. Doing artist relations, you may have a film composer with advanced technical needs and a shelf full of Academy Awards. Even one user in your user base can be critical.

That said, I think the real story here is that Apple is shaking the tree across the whole code base – meaning these performance optimizations and fixes could benefit you even if you’re running on a beat-up older MacBook, too.

So, think really big track counts – which could be meaningful since even some mid-range CPUs can theoretically churn through a lot of tracks, to say nothing of that shiny Mac Pro tower.

Increased Number of Tracks and Channels, up to:
1000 stereo audio channel strips
1000 software instrument channel strips
1000 auxiliary channel strips
1000 external MIDI tracks
12 sends per channel strip

Way back around 2006, I heard from a Macworld reader complaining about lifting exactly these limitations and how I didn’t mention them in a review. (See above: that one user thing.)

There’s a bunch of other new features that are serious DAW improvements – and almost no mention mention of any fictional artificial drummers.

An all-new DeEsser 2 plug-in

16 ports of MIDI clock, MTC, and MMC from Logic – yeah, expect to see a Mac Pro in broadcast/film/TV applications running audio

Mixer configuration can be set to your own user-definable defaults (huge time saver there, finally)

A clever automatic duplicate erase when you’re merging MIDI recordings

And some new keyboard shortcuts to save you time when editing:

  • Option + Shift while rubber-band selecting in the Piano Roll: new time Handles selection.
  • Option-click track on/off button: loads/unloads the plug-ins on the channel strip (wow, easy A/B!)
  • Shift-double-click Tracks background: start playback from that position.

And for the “I have an old beat-up MacBook you can pry out of my dead fingers” crowd – finally Freeze works the way it should. (How many of you were desperately freezing tracks while cursing Logic as the CPU meter refused to go down?) From the release notes:

“Freezing a track now unloads its plug-ins to free up resources.”

There are also fixes and performance optimizations and workflow and display improvements throughout. As you’d expect, fixes are concentrated on newer features – Smart Tempo, ARA, Flex, and the like.

So you don’t get any earth-shaking new features unless you’re really into de-essing, but what you do get is some evidence the Apple engineers are working through their log of stuff.

Logic Pro X 10.4 release notes (Apple support, 10.4.5 stuff is right up top)

Full disclosure: I will now this week refresh my MacBook Pro’s OS and then Logic release.

Hey, say what you will about Apple, but Logic Pro these days is pretty accessible from a user experience perspective. There’s some powerful and numerous competitors that either fail that ease of use test or that simply lack features you need to get big jobs done in scoring and the like. Maddeningly, a lot get the ease right but lack features, or have insanely powerful features but demand you contort your brain to use them. (Once upon a time, an earlier version of Logic was also far harder to use.)

I know from CDM’s own site stats and plenty of anecdotal evidence that all this matters to music makers. It’s not just Apple brand loyalty that makes Logic last.

The post Logic Pro X 10.4.5 is all about huge projects, with or without a Mac Pro appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Everything you might have missed in Apple’s latest announcements

There’s a giant expensive cheese grater Mac and display and new versions of all Apple’s platforms. But what’s going on with iTunes? iPadOS? And what else might matter to musicians and visual artists? Here’s a round-up.

macOS Catalina

iTunes is getting split into Music, Podcasts, and TV. This you probably heard – Apple is breaking up iTunes and releasing fresh new Mac apps with more focus. That’s caused some people to panic – but don’t panic yet. Apart from the likelihood that you’ll be able to continue using iTunes for now, the new Music app may give you reason to switch – without losing existing functionality or libraries.

iTunes download sales aren’t going away. Apple made a big change when it went from the iTunes Music Store – which offered paid downloads – to the ability to stream most of its catalog in Apple Music, for a subscription fee. But that announcement was made in June 2015. Apple confirms you’ll still be able to buy downloads and access purchases in the new Music app. The music industry is still torn between the download and streaming models, but this week’s announcements don’t really change much as far as Apple.

Apple Music may turn out to be more iTunes than iTunes.

Music Store is “a click away.” Here’s the thing: far from being bad news for download sales, if the Music app is cleaner and more pleasurable to use than iTunes, it could actually improve visibility of the Music Store and give a little boost to sales. You still see streaming options by default, and Apple is promoting their own recommendations. But that’s the trend with Spotify, too – it’s not necessarily good for music producers and independent music, but it’s also not news.

In fact, the real news is, Apple might be more interested in growing music revenue, not less. Here’s the thing to remember – Apple is an iPhone business ($31 billion in the second quarter of this year), but it’s also a services business. Services are what is growing, and services are what set records in the quarter Apple just reported. In fact, Services outpaced the Mac and iPad businesses in that same quarter – combined.

$11.45 billion: Services
$5.51 billion: Mac
$4.87 billion: iPad

Apple releases Q2 2019 earnings, announces revenue of $58 billion [9to5mac]

Killing downloads makes no sense for Apple. If anything, it makes sense for them to find ways to grow music purchases. Basically, Apple cares about music revenue just as musicians care about it – even if Apple’s goal is to get a bite of that, uh, fruit.

Music appears to do what iTunes did. All the major playlist, library management, and sync and conversion features of iTunes appear to be coming to the new Music app, too. It reportedly will even burn CDs, a feature dating back to the early iTunes “Rip, Mix, Burn” days. Apple also says you’ll see updated Library pages and easier typing to find what you want, plus a refreshed player. (9to5mac called it weeks ago.)

Ars Technica got some clarification of this. The main thing is, you can import your existing library without losing anything. And you’ll sync in the file system (which makes more sense, frankly). Apple Music may turn out to be more iTunes than iTunes.

Answers to some of your iTunes questions: Old libraries, Windows, and more

Devices are now in the Finder, not iTunes. Sync, backup, update, restore in Finder, plus get cloud sync options – rather than digging around iTunes.

Music may even work with your DJ software. Many DJs currently manage libraries in iTunes, then sync with desktop software like Rekordbox, TRAKTOR, and Serato. We don’t have a specific answer on how this will work – specifically, if something like the current iTunes XML format for metadata will be available. But the fact that the new Music app syncs using Finder, in the file system, is encouraging. Watch this space for more information.

It’s not clear what happens to iTunes on Windows going forward. If you think iTunes on the Mac is due for a refresh, you should see the clunky Windows port. Since Apple is making “Apple Music” part of macOS, and building as it always does with native tools, it’s unclear what Windows users will get going forward. Given the new sync stuff is all tied to the file system, this gets even murkier.

In the same Ars piece, Apple confirmed they’re keeping iTunes for Windows for now. But that goes without saying – otherwise Apple would break their music product for a huge number of their users – and still doesn’t answer the future situation.

Sidecar looks very cool – for everything from sketching and drawing to a new gestural input method and shortcuts.

Apple’s Sidecar will make it easier to use your iPad with your Mac. It’s what Duet Display already does – and that app was made by ex-Apple engineers – but Apple is promising native integration of the iPad as a second display, plus support for Apple Pencil. I’ll keep using Duet on my Windows machie, but I’m betting the Apple-native integration will dominate on the Mac. Sidecar also does more than Duet ever did – with additional gestures, inserting sketches into apps, modifiers for pro apps, and native developer support.

(So far, of pro apps, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Illustrator are listed – though not Logic, in case you think of a way of sketching into your music arrangements.)

Zoom a second display. Independent second monitor zoom should come in very handy in multi-monitor editing of both video and music.

Uh, this might break some drivers. I’ll quote Apple’s documentation here: “Previously many hardware peripherals and sophisticated features needed to run their code directly within macOS using kernel extensions, or kexts. Now these programs run separately from the operating system, just like any other app, so they can’t affect macOS if something goes wrong.” Obviously, we’ll need to check in on compatibility of audio drivers and copy protection for audio software.

Sophisticated voice control. Apple is significantly developing everyone’s “Tea, Earl Gray, Hot” Star Trek voice command fantasies with new, more accurate, more powerful, more integrated lower-latency voice control. There’s no sign yet to how this might get used in pro audio or visual apps, but you can bet someone is thinking about it.

QuickTime gets an update. It’s probably been since the days of the long-lamented QuickTime Pro 7 that we got QuickTime application features to write how about. But there are some compelling new features – turn a folder of images into a motion sequence in any format (yes!), open a more powerful Movie Inspector, and show accurate Timecode, plus export transparency in ProRes 4444.

Snapshots with restore. I’ve long complained that macOS lacks the snapshot features of Windows – which let you easily roll back your system to a state before you, like, screwed something up. There’s now “Restore from snapshot.” Apple only mentions third-party software, but it seems recent file system changes will mean this should also work with ill-behaved OS updates from Apple, too. (Yes, sometimes even Apple tech can go wrong.)

https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/

iOS and now iPadOS

Apple not only announced major updates to iOS in iOS 13, but also a new more pro-focused iPadOS.

Expect more sharing between macOS and iOS/iPadOS development AudioUnit is listed as a shared framework allowing developers to target Mac and iOS with a single SDK. You can also expect AV frameworks like Core Audio, and other media and 3D tools. Of course, that was always the vision Apple had with its mobile OS – and even can trace some lineage back to early work done pre-Apple at NeXT. That said, while this SDK is appealing, many developers will continue to look elsewhere so they’re not restricted to Apple platforms, depending on their use case.

You’ll need specific devices to support the new OS. iOS 13 requires iPhone SE / 6s or better, or 7th-gen iPod touch. iPadOS is even more limited – the iPad Pro, iPad Air 3rd gen or Air 2 or better, iPad mini 4 or better, and 5th-gen or better iPad.

iPadOS: external storage. Finally, you can plug USB storage into your iPad and navigate the external file system – a huge boon to managing photos, video, audio recordings, and even USB sticks for DJ sets. Yes, of course, Android and all desktop OSes do this already, but it’s definitely welcome on the iPad.

iPadOS: better file management. The Files app has been updated with columns, and you can share whole folders via iCloud Drive. (Finally and … finally.)

iPadOS: ‘desktop’-style browser. Apple says you get something more like the desktop Safari on your iPad – so you can use more sites and you get a download manager.

iPadOS: mouse support. This is an accessibility feature, but the combination of touch and mouse will be useful to everyone – like so many accessibility features. I expect it’ll also make working with tools like Cubasis way more fun. Basically, your external mouse or trackpad gets to behave like a very accurate finger. It’s not a desktop mouse so much as it is a way to access touch via the mouse:

Spotted other interesting details in recent Apple news? Let us know.

The post Everything you might have missed in Apple’s latest announcements appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get going with MOTU’s DP10 with these videos

DP10 for Mac and Windows, unveiled this spring, brought breakthrough features to the long-standing favorite DAW called Digital Performer. So now it’s time to dig in and start using the new stuff.

DP has never been short on updates, but some of them certainly felt iterative. And the software had to make the jump from Mac to Windows, which initially got tricky with Windows’ archaic high-density display support and left the screen hard to see.

DP10 is interesting because it brings some genuinely new ideas. There’s a Clip View that looks an awful lot like Ableton’s Session View, but with some new twists – and in a more traditional DAW, with stuff like proper video and cue support which Live so sorely lacks. There are more ways to manipulate audio and pitch without jumping into a plug-in. There’s a substantially beefed-up waveform editor. If you missed it before, I covered this when it debuted in February:

DP10 adds clip launching, improved audio editing to MOTU’s DAW

Or watch Sound on Sound‘s breakdown of the upgrade:

I’m a great fan of written tutorials, but some of this stuff really does benefit from a visual aid. So let’s get started. As it happens, while it’s a bit hidden, you can now download a 30-day demo – enough time to try finishing a project in DP and see if you like it. They’ve got a US$395 upgrade from competing products, so DP fits nicely in a mid-range price point when some competing options have crept up to a grand or more. (Cough, you know who you are.)

http://www.motu.com/download

First, Thomas Foster will hold your hand and walk you through a total-beginner walkthrough of how to get started with DP10. And unlike MOTU’s own videos, this one is also oriented toward in-the-box electronic production – so it’ll be friendly to a lot of the sorts who read this site.

From the absolute beginning, here’s a look at actually creating something, using the Model12 and the BassLine instruments:

(If you want to get more advanced with BassLine, check the MOTU videos below.)

And also at the 101-level, importing audio and applying audio effects to vocals:

VCA Faders are one of the more unique new features – here’s a walkthrough focused on that:

Lastly, round about March MOTU posted a huge trove of demos and tutorials from seminars at NAMM. It’s maybe doubly interesting for including some industry heavyweights – Family Guy composer Walter Murphy, LA producer/composer David Das, Mike McKnight who programs and plays keyboards for Roger Waters, music tech legend Craig Anderton, and more.

It’s easier to navigate what’s available from MOTU’s blog than in the distracting maze that is YouTube, so have a look here:

MOTU demos from NAMM 2019

I expect some CDM readers out there are DP users, so I’d love to hear from you about how you feel about this update and how you use the software in your work.

And as always, if there’s a tool you want to see featured, don’t hesitate to write.

The post Get going with MOTU’s DP10 with these videos appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ableton Live 10.1 arrives; here are the first things you should try

Ableton Live 10.1 is here, a free update to Live 10.1 with some new devices, streamlined automation and editing, and new sound features. So what should dig into after the download? Here’s a place to start.

There’s no surprise reveal here since 10.1 has been in public beta and was announced in the winter. Here’s the full run-down of what’s in the release from February (still accurate):

Ableton Live 10.1: more sound shaping, work faster, free update

I’ve been working with the beta for some time, to the point of not wanting to go back even to 10.0 (or even getting a bit confused when switching to a friend’s machine that didn’t have 10.1).

So let’s skip ahead to stuff you should check out right away when you download:

Refresh a track in Arrangement View

I will shortly do a separate story just on getting around Arrangement View quickly, but — there’s a lot of fun to be had. (Yes, fun, not just screaming at the screen as you painstakingly move envelopes around.)

Ableton have accordingly updated their Arrangement View tutorials:

(Video is actually a terrible medium for shortcuts, but more on those soon.)

Here are some quick things to try:

Resize the Arrangement Overview (that’s the bit at the top of Arrangement View)

Draw some shapes! Right click, pick some shapes, and you can draw in envelopes. Try this actually two ways: first, select some time and draw in shapes. Next, deselect time, and try drawing with different grid values – you’ll get different corresponding quantization.

Get at fades directly. Press the F key.

Clean up envelopes. Right click on a time selection and choose Simplify Envelope.

Stretch and scale! Select some time in automation, and you’ll see handles so you can move both horizontally (amount/scale) and vertically (in time).

Enter some specific values. Right click, choose Edit value, type in a number, and hit enter.

There’s a lot more. But all of this is an opportunity to duplicate one of your projects and give it a refresh by going nuts with some modulation because – why not.

You know, conventional wisdom says, don’t mess with your existing tracks too much. The hell with that. If I were a painter, I would definitely be the kind constantly scraping away and painting over canvases. You can always save a backup. Sometimes it’s fun to mess around and take something somewhere else entirely.

Everything Freezes

Go ahead and freeze whatever you want! Track has a sidechain? It’ll freeze. It’ll even still be a source for other sidechains. (There are actually a bunch of things that had to happen for this to work – check Arrangement Editing in release notes if you’re curious. But the beauty is you don’t really have to think about it.)

Here’s a new explanation of how it works:

Try your own wavetables

User wavetables make the Live 10 Wavetable synth far more interesting.

Like arrangement, this probably deserves it’s own story, but here’s a place to get started:

And for extra help exploiting that feature, there are some useful utilities that will assist you in creating wavetables:

Generate wavetables for free, for Ableton Live 10.1 and other synths

While you’re in there, Ableton quietly added a very powerful randomization feature inside Wavetable for glitching out still more:

Added a new “Rand” modulation source to Wavetable’s MIDI tab, which generates a random value when a note starts.

Pinch and zoom

Trackpads and touchscreens (most of them, anyway) now support pinch gestures in Arrangement View, so try that out. It works for me both on a Razer and (of course) Apple laptop; lots of other hardware will work, too. It’s a little thing, but zooming is a big part of getting around an arrangement.

Try Channel EQ as a creative tool or live

There are already a lot of EQs out there. The Channel EQ however has some draw as a potential equivalent for live PA / experimental sets of what the EQ Three has been for DJ sets.

Stop futzing around with sends when you export stems

Okay, see if this is familiar:

You output stems – say for a remix artist or to mix in a different tool – and suddenly everything sounds completely differently than you expected because you used sends and returns and/or master effects.

That’s no longer an issue in 10.1, as there’s now a new export option that addresses this.

So, time to go make some stems, right?

Make some new sounds with Delay

Okay, Delay at first glance may seem like a step backward from the excitement of Space Echo-ish Echo in Live 10. Isn’t it just a combination of Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay into one Device?

Well, it is that, but it also has an LFO built in that can modulate both delay time and filter frequency.

These modes were there before, but you now surface Repitch, Fade, and Jump modes as buttons.

So put all of this together, and the combination of things that were there that you didn’t notice, with new things that are simple but very powerful, all together in one unit becomes very powerful indeed.

That is, if you’re modulating something like delay time, then changing between Repitch, Fade, and Jump actually gives you a lot of different sonic possibilities. And yes, this is the sort of thing people with modular rigs like to do with wires but… if you’re a Live 10 owner, it’ll cost you nothing to check out right now.

Specifically, maxforcats pointed us to some cool granular-ish sounds when you choose Fade mode and start modulating delay time.

And keep using Echo. The big challenge with an effect like Echo is balancing loudness. As it happens, there’s a little right-click option that solves this for you in Echo:

In the Echo device, the Dry/Wet knob now features a context menu to switch to “Equal-Loudness”. When enabled, a 50/50 mix will sound equally loud for most signals, instead of being attenuated. In the Delay device, the maximum delay time offset is now consistent with the Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay devices.

Discover Simpler, again

Simpler is weirdly a lot of the time a reason to use Ableton Live for its absurd combination of directness and power – in contrast to mostly overcomplicated software (and harwdare, for that matter).

Now you can mess around with volume envelopes (even synced ones) and loop time, previously only in Sampler – for both powerful sound design and beat-synced ideas:

Added a Loop Mode chooser, Loop Time slider and Beat Sync/Rate slider to the Volume Envelope in Simpler’s Classic Playback Mode. Previously, these controls were exclusively available in Sampler.

Oh, and go map some macros

You’d probably easily miss this, too – it means that now mapping macros works the way you’d expect, in fewer steps:

When mapping a parameter to an empty macro, the macro assumes the full range of the target parameter, and will be set to the current value of the target parameter.

— and while using mice for everything is no fun, macros are also a great intermediary between what you’re doing onscreen and twisting knobs on controller hardware (Push, certainly, but lots of other gear, too).

Speaking of which, that nice compact NI keyboard controller works thanks to this update, too, making it an ideal thing to throw in your bag with a laptop for a mobile Ableton Live work rig.

Where to find more on 10.1

Detailed ongoing release notes on Live 10 are here:
Live 10 Release Notes

The post Ableton Live 10.1 arrives; here are the first things you should try appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Reason 10.3 delivers on VST performance promises

We’ve been waiting, but now the waiting is done. Propellerhead has added the VST performance boost it had promised to Reason users – meaning plug-ins now benefit from Reason 10’s patchable racks.

I actually flew to Stockholm, Sweden back in the dark days of December to talk to the engineers about this update (among some other topics). Short version of that story: yeah, it took them longer than they’d hoped to get VST plug-ins operating as efficiently as native devices in the rack.

If you want all those nitty-gritty details, here’s the full story:

Reason 10.3 will improve VST performance – here’s how

But now, suffice to say that the main reason for the hold-up – Reason’s patchable, modular virtual rack of gear – just became an asset rather than a liability. Now that VSTs in Reason perform roughly as they will in other DAWs, what Reason adds is the ability to route those plug-ins however you like, in Reason’s unique interface.

Combine that with Reason’s existing native effects and instruments and third-party Rack Extensions, and I think Reason becomes more interesting as both a live performance rig and a DAW for recording and arranging than before. It could also be interesting to stick a modular inside the modular – as with VCV Rack or this week’s Blocks Base and Blocks Prime from Native Instruments.

Anyway, that’s really all there is to say about 10.3 – it’s what Propellerhead call a “vitamin injection” (which, seeing those dark Swedish winters, I’m guessing all of them need about now.

This also means the engineers have gotten over a very serious and time-consuming hurdle and can presumably get onto other things. It’s also a development for the company that they’ve been upfront in talking about a flaw both before, during, and concluding development – and that’s welcome from any music software maker. So props to the Props – now go get some sunshine; you’ve earned it. (and the rest of us can tote these rigs out into the park, too)

Reason: what’s new

The post Reason 10.3 delivers on VST performance promises appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What could make APC Live, MPC cool: Akai’s new software direction

Akai tipped their hand late last year that they were moving more toward live performance. With APC Live hardware leaked and in the wild, maybe it’s time to take another look. MPC software improvements might interest you with or without new hardware.

MPC 2.3 software dropped mid-November. We missed talking about it at the time. But now that we’re (reasonably certain, unofficially) that Akai is releasing new hardware, it puts this update in a new light. Background on that:

APC as standalone hardware? Leaked Akai APC Live

Whether or not the leaked APC Live hardware appeals to you, Akai are clearly moving their software in some new directions – which is relevant whatever hardware you choose. We don’t yet know if the MPC Live hardware will get access to the APC Live’s Matrix Mode, but it seems a reasonable bet some if not all of the APC Live features are bound for MPC Live, too.

And MPC 2.3 added major new live performance features, as well as significant internal synths, to that standalone package. Having that built in means you get it even without a computer.

New in 2.3:

Three synths:

  • A vintage-style, modeled analog polysynth
  • A bass synth
  • A tweakable, physically modeled electric piano

Tubesynth – an analog poly.

Electric’s physically-modeled keys.

Electric inside the MPC Live environment.

As with NI’s Maschine, each of those can be played from chords and scales with the pads mode. But Maschine requires a laptop, of course – MPC Live doesn’t.

A new arpeggiator, with four modes of operation, ranging from traditional vintage-style arp to more modern, advanced pattern playback

And there’s an “auto-sampler.”

That auto-sampler looks even more relevant when you see the APC Live. On MPC Live (and by extension APC Live), you can sample external synths, sample VST plug-ins, and even capture outboard CV patches.

Of course, this is a big deal for live performance. Plug-ins won’t work in standalone mode – and can be CPU hogs, anyway – so you can conveniently capture what you’re doing. Got some big, valuable vintage gear or a modular setup you don’t to take to the gig? Same deal. And then this box gives you the thing modular instruments don’t do terribly well – saving and recalling settings – since you can record and restore those via the control voltage I/O (also found on that new APC Live). The auto-sampler is an all-in-one solution for making your performances more portable.

Full details of the 2.3 update – though I expect we’ve got even more new stuff around the corner:

http://www.akaipro.com/pages/mpc-2.3-desktop-software-and-firmware-update

With or without the APC Live, you get the picture. While Ableton and Native Instruments focus on studio production and leave you dependent on the computer, Akai’s angle is creating an integrated package you can play live with – like, onstage.

Sure enough, Akai have been picking up large acts to their MPC Live solution, too – John Mayer, Metallica, and Chvrches all got named dropped. Of those, let’s check out Chvrches – 18 minutes in, the MPC Live gets showcased nicely:

It makes sense Akai would come to rely on its own software. When Akai and Novation released their first controllers for Ableton Live, Ableton had no hardware of their own, which changed with Push. But of course even the first APC invoked the legendary MPC legacy – and Akai has for years been working on bringing desktop software functionality to the MPC name. So, while some of us (me included) first suspected a standalone APC Live might mean a collaboration with Ableton, it does make more sense that it’s a fully independent Akai-made, MPC-style tool.

It also makes sense that this means, for now, more internal functionality. (The manual reference to “plugins” in the APC Live manual that leaked probably means those internal instruments and effects.) That has more predictability as far as resource consumption, and means avoiding the licensing issues necessary and the like to run plug-ins in embedded Linux. This could change, by the way – Propellerhead’s Rack Extensions format now is easily portable to ARM processors, for example – but that’s another story. As far as VST, AU, and AAX, portability to embedded hardware is still problematic.

The upshot of this, though, is that InMusic at least has a strategy for hardware that functions on its own – not just as a couple of one-off MPC pieces, but in terms of integrated hardware/software development across a full product line. Native Instruments, Ableton, and others might be working on something like that that lets you untether from the computer, but InMusic is shipping now, and they aren’t.

Now the question is whether InMusic can capitalize on its MPC legacy and the affection for the MPC and APC brands and workflows – and get people to switch from other solutions.

The post What could make APC Live, MPC cool: Akai’s new software direction appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

TidalCycles, free live coding environment for music, turns 1.0

Live coding environments are free, run on the cheapest hardware as well as the latest laptops, and offer new ways of thinking about music and sound that are leading a global movement. And one of the leading tools of that movement just hit a big milestone.

This isn’t just about a nerdy way of making music. TidalCycles is free, and tribes of people form around using it. Just as important as how impressive the tool may be, the results are spectacular and varied.

There are some people who take on live coding as their primary instrument – some who haven’t had experiencing using even computers or electronic music production tools before, let alone whole coding environments. But I think they’re worth a look even if you don’t envision yourself projecting code onstage as you type live. TidalCycles in particular had its origins not in computer science, but in creator Alex McLean’s research into rhythm and cycle. It’s a way of experiencing a musical idea as much as it is a particular tool.

TidalCycles has been one of the more popular tools, because it’s really easy to learn and musical. The one downside is a slightly convoluted install process, since it’s built on SuperCollider, as opposed to tools that now run in a Web browser. On the other hand, the payoff for that added work is you’ll never outgrow TidalCycles itself – because you can move to SuperCollider’s wider arrange of tools if you choose.

New in version 1.0 is a whole bunch of architectural improvement that really makes the environment feel mature. And there’s one major addition: controller input means you can play TidalCycles like an instrument, even without coding as your perform:
New functions
Updated innards
New ways of combining patterns
Input from live controllers
The ability to set tempo with patterns

Maybe just as important as the plumbing improvements, you also get expanded documentation and an all-new website.

Check out the full list of changes:

https://tidalcycles.org/index.php/Changes_in_Tidal_1.0.0

You’ll need to update some of your code as there’s been some renaming and so on.

But the ability to input OSC and MIDI is especially cool, not least because you can now “play” all the musical, rhythmic stuff TidalCycles does with patterns.

There’s enough musicality and sonic power in TidalCycles that it’s easy to imagine some people will take advantage of the live coding feedback as they create a patch, but play more in a conventional sense with controllers. I’ll be honest; I couldn’t quite wrap my head around typing code as the performance element in front of an audience. And that makes some sense; some people who aren’t comfortable playing actually find themselves more comfortable coding – and those people aren’t always programmers. Sometimes they’re non-programmers who find this an easier way to express themselves musically. Now, you can choose, or even combine the two approaches.

Also worth saying – TidalCycles has happened partly because of community contributions, but it’s also the work primarily of Alex himself. You can keep him doing this by “sending a coffee” – TidalCycles works on the old donationware model, even as the code itself is licensed free and open source. Do that here:

http://ko-fi.com/yaxulive#

While we’ve got your attention, let’s look at what you can actually do with TidalCycles. Here’s our friend Miri Kat with her new single out this week, the sounds developed in that environment. It’s an ethereal, organic trip (the single is also on Bandcamp):

We put out Miri’s album Pursuit last year, not really having anything to do with it being made in a livecoding environment so much as I was in love with the music – and a lot of listeners responded the same way:

For an extended live set, here’s Alex himself playing in November in Tokyo:

And Alexandra Cardenas, one of the more active members of the TidalCycles scene, played what looked like a mind-blowing set in Bogota recently. On visuals is Olivia Jack, who created vibrant, eye-searing goodness in the live coding visual environment of her own invention, Hydra. (Hydra works in the browser, so you can try it right now.)

Unfortunately there are only clips – you had to be there – but here’s a taste of what we’re all missing out on:

See also the longer history of Tidal

It’ll be great to see where people go next. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can dive in now:

https://tidalcycles.org/

Image at top: Alex, performing as part of our workshop/party Encoded in Berlin in June.

The post TidalCycles, free live coding environment for music, turns 1.0 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.