Modal goes from craft and boutique to sub-$300 SKULPT power synth

Modal Electronics have done ultra high-end boutique, and they’ve done cute, cheap craft synths. But now they’re gunning for a sub-$300 instrument that looks consumer-friendly – and packs some 32 oscillators and more.

If it’s successful, it looks like the first portable power polysynth that has an entry-level price tag – no exposed circuit boards, no cutesy features, no stripped-down sound sources. And it also has some parallels to IK Multimedia’s UNO, introduced at Superbooth Berlin in May. It even has a membrane keyboard like the IK piece. But whereas IK chose to go analog – and thus have just two VCOs – Modal have beefed up the architecture with by opting instead for virtual analog guts.

What you get, then, is a monosynth, paraphonic, or polyphonic instrument. You can route modulation into elaborate combinations. You get FM, PWM, tuning, and ring mod. And it has a built-in sequencer plus arpeggiator, which seems to be fast becoming a standard feature these days – but a lot of extras for each that definitely are anything but standard.

And with all that complexity, of course you’ll also be glad for the included patch storage and recall.

But it’s the pricing – projected under US$300 – that make this so aggressive. You can buy an iPad and load it with a powerful polysynth for that price, but there’s not anything I can think of that does this.

Full specs:

4 voice – 32 oscillator virtual analogue synthesiser
8 oscillators per voice with 2 selectable morphable waveforms
Mixer stage for osc levels along with FM, PWM, tuning and Ring Modulation options
Monophonic, Duophonic and Polyphonic modes available
Multi option Unison / spread to detune the 32 oscillators for a huge sound
8 slot modulation matrix with 8 sources and 37 destinations
3 x envelope generators for Filter, Amplitude and Modulation
2 x audio rate LFOs, one global and one polyphonic
Realtime sequencer that will record up to 128 notes and up to 4 parameters.
Fully featured arpeggiator with division, direction, octave, swing and sustain controls.
Resonant filter that can be morphed from low pass, through band pass, to high pass
Delay and distortion (wavehsaping overdrive, not bitcrushing) effects
Optional MIDI clock sync for LFOs and Delay
128 patch and 64 sequence storage locations
16 key touch MIDI keyboard
MIDI DIN In and Out – Analogue clock sync In and Out connections
Class compliant MIDI provided over USB connection to host computer or tablet
Headphone and line output
Power by USB or 6 x AA batteries
Optional software editor available for MacOS, Windows, IOS and Android
Portable and compact design

The design looks contemporary and stylish, too, if perhaps recalling 80s Frogdesign for Apple. And you might expect some compromises on I/O or something like that, but … there aren’t.

Sounds:

I’ll be curious to see how it’s received – while slick looking, the membrane keyboard and that diagonally oriented control panel may not be for everyone. But it’s hard to argue with the price and all that power underneath.

It certainly means Modal Electronics are game for any market segment. I can’t think of another maker that’s gone quite this quickly from “sell your compact car to buy our high-end synth” to “actually, maybe just fold it together yourself” to “let’s crowd-fund a slick, inexpensive design object.” (Okay, maybe Moog Music counts – but it took them some years to span from theremin kits to rockstar-priced modular reissues.)

The Kickstarter launches next week.

http://www.modalelectronics.com/skulpt/

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Waldorf überrascht mit Kyra Synthesizer

Waldorf Kyra

Zack – Waldorf überrascht uns alle mit einem neuen Synthesizer auf Basis von FPGAs. Das sind Chips, die jedoch nicht einfach DSPs sind. Auf diesen arbeiten noch wenige Hersteller, aber Waldorf sind nach Exodus die ersten mit einem großen Produkt.

Ja, der Paradigm Synthesizer sollte auch auf FPGAs laufen und das Einzelstück Airbourne AVS04 von Martin Hollinger ebenso. Aber kommen wir nun zu dem was der Waldorf Kyra können soll. 128 Stimmen, 4.00 Schwingungsformen und 2- bzw. 4-Pol-Filter soll er bieten. Das liest sich ein bisschen wie die Features des Valkyrie. Echt stereo mit FM, Sync und Ringmodulation sind die Oszillatoren ausgelegt, von denen es 10 geben soll. Dazu kommt eine 18-fache Modulationsmatrix. Und im Waldorf Kyra sind bis zu 8 Effekte vorgesehen.

Waldorf Kyra – kennen wir den etwa schon?

Tja und was ist hier passiert? Der Valkyrie IST Kyra – denn Manuel Caballero ist der Entwickler, und somit kennen wir die Features und Möglichkeiten. Nur die Optik wird etwas anderes sein als jene, die man uns zeigte. Und alles wird unter Waldorf laufen!

Das Gerät ist sehr hochwertig, wir konnten es schon auf der Musikmesse hören und sehen, es klingt hervorragend. Viele vergleichen das Gerät mit dem Virus, was aber nicht so passend ist. Denn hier sind die Rechentiefe und Qualität um einiges höher und der Ansatz ein vollkommen anderer. Die Qualität der Effekte ist in der Tat sehr hoch, und das Gerät hat einen Multimode und kann deshalb mehrere verschiedene Klänge abspielen, was heute ja schon fast ein besonderes Feature ist.

Der Waldorf Kyra soll 1.899,– Euro kosten und zur NAMM 2019 erhältlich sein oder zumindest dort zuerst gezeigt werden. Hier wird vermutlich primär das Design ein anderes sein. Die vielen Einzelausgänge sind ebenfalls ein Merkmal, das man schon jetzt nennen kann zusammen mit dem vollständigen Editor für alle Betriebssysteme.

Infos

gibt’s auf der Waldorf-Webseite bisher noch nicht.

Musikmesse: Valkyrie – digitaler Synthesizer mit 128 Stimmen und endlich wieder Multimode

Exodus Digital Valkyrie

Wie selten ein Multimode geworden ist, sieht man an faktisch allen Neuerscheinungen der letzten Jahre. Sie klingen zwar alle etwas besser als in den Neunzigern, aber mehr als zwei verschiedene Klänge können sie nicht mehr herstellen. Valkyrie ist anders. 

Zur Musikmesse, die morgen eröffnet, soll er zu sehen sein, und bis da hin hat ihn noch keiner wirklich gesehen. Der Exodus Digital Valkyrie ähnelt ein wenig dem Virus in der Optik, jedoch ist er „von heute“.

Exodus Digital Valkyrie Facts

Der Exodus Digital Valkyrie hat zwei Oszillatoren mit 4096 Waves bzw. Wavetables. Dazu gibt es drei Grundwellenformen. Die beiden Suboszillatoren haben sogar vier Schwingungsformen. Mit FM, hartem Oszillator-Sync und Ringmodulation sind alle klassischen Syntheseformen abgedeckt. Darunter befindet sich auch die Hypersaw. Diese kann man von 6 auf 12 „simulierte Oszillatoren stellen“.

Der Valkyrie nutzt zwei Channels in der Synthese, sodass Oszillatoren jeweils in getrennte Filter fließen können. Deshalb gibt es derer zwei. Sie sind mit drei Filtertypen und 12, bzw. 24 dB / Oktave Flankensteilheit ebenfalls klassisch und orientieren sich an der analogen Welt.

Drei Hüllkurven mit ADSR-Charakteristik und ebenso viele LFOs bilden einen guten Grundstock an Möglichkeiten. Die Zentrale bildet eine Modulationsmatrix mit sechs Modulationsbussen und drei Zielen. Das ist in der Anzahl wenig aber in der Zielanzahl viel. Es sind 9 Stereo-Effekte möglich, also für jeden Multimode-Slot einer und ein Master-Effekt. Es gibt 27 Effekttypen.

Das alles liest sich gut, jedoch nicht spektakulär. Der Klang ist offenbar neuerer Art, also nicht etwa wie der Sound der Neunziger wie im Virus und einem doch typischen „digital-virtuell“-Grundklang. So zumindest erscheint das Klangbeispiel-Set was man grundsätzlich verteilt. Die Ohren an die Walküre halten können wir morgen.

Preise und Verfügbarkeiten sind noch nicht klar. Auch davon erfahren wir sicher etwas. Richtig – auch morgen.

Exodus Digital Valkyrie Sound

John Bowen Solaris bekommt aufwendiges Update

John Bowen Solaris

Den Solaris gibt es schon einige Zeit, doch zuletzt wurde es ein wenig “ruhiger” um ihn. Aber John Bowen hat nicht geschlafen. Dieses Update ist allen Usern empfohlen, da es eine Reihe von Bugfixes enthält und generell ein großer Sprung ist. Außerdem spornen solche Updates auch an, sich mit dem Synthesizer zu befassen.

Solaris Update 1.31

In Worten gibt es mit dem OS 1.31 folgende Funktionen und Updates:

  • Die Position des Joysticks und die Zuweisungen der Taster für Unisono Akkord stacking wird mit dem Patch gespeichert.
  • Es gibt eine Zufallsfunktion fürs Tuning im globalen Bereich und im Patch, diese wirkt jeweils auf die gesamte Stimme.
  • Patch-Namen und Kategorien werden jetzt schneller behandelt, da sie nun anders umgesetzt sind.
  • Es gibt neue MIDI-Realtime-Befehl-Schalter im MIDI-Sende/Empfangsbereich.
  • Das Ribbon sendet MIDI-Controllerdaten auf #18 und #19.
  • Der Solaris behält das zuletzt verwendete Klangprogramm beim nächsten Einschalten.
  • Es gibt Änderungen, um global Fußpedale anzuschließen und die Einstellungen an anderer Stelle zu überschreiben.
  • Außerdem wurden die Bezeichnungen eindeutiger gestaltet (Ped1 Ped2 heißen nun ExpPed und SusPed).
  • Der Bypass schaltet nun tatsächlich die Effekte aus – ohne Umwege. So wird der Klang dadurch nicht mehr verändert, wenn sie abgeschaltet sind.
  • Und natürlich wurden viele Updates vorgenommen, die Bugs beseitigen. Davon auch einige, die Darstellungsverzögerungen oder -fehler verursachten.

Das ist eine recht lange Liste, nicht alles davon erscheint absolut wichtig. Dennoch sind kleine und mittlere Ärgernisse damit beseitigt und der Solaris nun viel angenehmer zu verwenden. Der Solaris ist nach meinem Test vor vielen Jahren ein sehr unterschätzter Vertreter der digitalen DSP-Maschinen. Er kann auch sehr “analog” klingen, was die Presets und Einstellungen damals absolut nicht zeigten.

Ein unterschätzter Synthesizer

Man hat also einen extrem unterschätzten Synthesizer vor sich, der mit wenigen Handgriffen tolle Sättigungs- und Basis-Klangeinstellungens-Tweaks braucht und dann deutlich lebendiger, besser und “schöner” klingt. Das ist vielen nicht bewusst, weshalb er heute auch nicht mehr so bekannt zu sein scheint. Das Update ist selbstverständlich kostenlos und kann beim Hersteller heruntergeladen werden.

DRC Synth – Free für iOS – schön schlicht designt

DRC Synth App, iOS

iOS-Apps gibt es einige, manche entpuppen sich als in-App Kauf-Falle. DRC ist ein klassischer “analog ähnlicher” Synthesizer.

Auch wenn man dieser App anschaut, tauchen die Klänge als In-App-Kauf auf, man erhält den Synthesizer quasi “leer”, wenn man dies nicht macht. Doch damit kann man hervorragend leben. Heute scheint die Synth Engine, welche laut App-Store 12,99 Euro kosten soll, nicht gesperrt zu sein, denn es lassen sich alle Fader schieben und Klänge speichern. Man hat also Zugriff auf den kompletten Synthesizer.

Die Möglichkeiten sind nicht mal so spartanisch, wie die Site das ankündigt. Ringmodulation ist im Mixer-Bereich einstellbar und die beiden Oszillatoren lassen sich hart miteinander synchronisieren. Diverse Filtertypen mit 4- und 2-Pol Steilheit (also 12- und 24 dB pro Oktave) werden angeboten.

Die beiden Oszillatoren haben Unterstützung durch einen Suboszillator und die Modulationsmöglichkeiten sind durch zwei LFOs und ebenso viele ADSR-Hüllkurven faktisch der Umfang eines klassischen “analogen” Synthesizers. Das Rauschen kann vor dem Einsatz noch gefiltert werden. Die LFOs reichen nicht ganz in den Audiobereich hinein, aber der Klang ist absolut gut und brauchbar, ziemlich neutral und wegen der Optik nicht anstrengend zu bedienen. Das könnte auch ein sehr schöner Einstieg in die Welt der Synthesizer sein.

Der Arpeggiator ist mit 1/128 sehr schnell. Die Art der Auswahl, was gerade editiert werden soll, ist in 4 kleine Segmente unterteilt, was immer eine handvoll Parameter frei gibt und niemanden überfordern wird. Pulsbreitenmodulation und ein paar einfache Modulationsverbindungen beherrscht er ebenfalls, sodass er sich auf dem Niveau eines klassischen polyphonen Synthesizers befindet. Die Art, wie die Hüllkurven reagieren, ist gar nicht mal schlecht. Also am besten jetzt laden, vermutlich ist die Engine offiziell irgendwann wirklich gesperrt und 12,99 Euro wäre etwas zu viel – außerdem läuft die App auf iPhone und iPad. Unterstützt wird auch Ableton Link und Audiobus. Offenbar gibt es den DRC auch für Android. Wie auch immer – ein sympathischer kleiner Synth.

Hier kann man ihn finden. 

You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1

Sometimes, what you need is just a sound. And the best thing for your creativity is to get to that sound quickly – not to start thinking about which plug-in you’re meant to use.

With that in mind, you can get AIR’s terrific XPand!2 almost for free. (Pricing around a dollar, depending on region.)

First made for Pro Tools, but now available for any Mac or Windows host, XPand!2 kind of does everything. I remember that first joy in the early 90s of dialing through lots of sounds – wow, I can have brass, or strings, or synths, or some “ethnic” thing as they’re calling it that I may or may not recognize, or other oddities or whatever. Now, this category, called derivatively “ROMpler” for providing simple playback, actually can remain useful. Maybe you just need one of those sounds, or maybe you want a simple sound like that to route through effects and turn into something else.

But that said, XPand!2 is a lot more than a ROMpler.

You can set up sophisticated performance features (zones, arpeggiators), modulation, and effects. You can combine voices. There are “Smart Knobs” and other useful features for pulling that together. It’s kind of like getting a workstation keyboard for a dollar. There are powerful features, and dozens of effects.

It’s also got other sound engines in there – FM synthesis and virtual analog and tonewheel.

It’s all pretty ridiculous to get this for $0.97. There’s a full gigabyte of sounds.

In other words, I can’t think of much else out there that’s in the “free or nearly free” zone that does what this does.

Reverb.com is selling instant downloads:
Air Music Technology XPand!2 Workstation

It’s a Cyber Monday sale, through today the 29th only.

The post You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

This is Clavia’s New Analog Modeling Synthesizer, the Nord Lead A1 [Pics, Sounds]

NordLeadA1

We love analog. But for all the talk about analog synths, there are some advantages to modeling analog sounds in digital – like getting a handmade hardware synth that still has 24-voice polyphony.

So, the Nord Lead A1 is an analog-modeling synth, not an analog synth. It builds on the Swedish firm’s knowledge of analog modeling, reproducing the sounds of analog synthesizers, but by doing the work in digital form, still delivers up to four parts and 24 voices, for more thickly-layered sounds.

The selling point Clavia is pushing on the Nord Lead A1 is speed. And this is a Nord, so that means not only working in the studio, but manipulating sounds onstage. If you’re already a fan of Nord, of course, well – more of that. But the Oscillator section now includes configuration shortcuts – basically, macro controls on a knob that allow for speedier sound tweaking. (See the pic below for a closer look.) Here’s how it works: first, you select your waveform, then use the shortcut knob to choose what you want to control – Pitch, Detune, Shape, Sync, FM, AM, Dual Osc or Noise. Then, the red-backed OSC CTRL knob lets you tweak that particular parameter.

Beyond that, you get a fully-loaded synth keyboard with all the extras, and Clavia’s latest analog models. Specs:

  • 8 oscillator configurations
  • Pitch, Detune, Shape, Sync, AM, Noise, Dual OSC, FM controls
  • Full modulation section: 5-waveform LFO, mod envelope, or use the LFO as a modulation envelope
  • Multiple filter models: Low pass (12- and 24-dB), high pass and band pass, plus new modeled Ladder M and Ladder TB filters (think Mini, TB-303).
  • Effects: Phaser, Flanger, Ring Modulator, Drive, plus two new effects: Ensemble, Chorus. Each in one of four independent slots.
  • Master Clock Sync of Arpeggiator, LFO and Delay
  • Morph with velocity or mod wheel
  • USB MIDI
  • Four independent arpeggiator slots
  • Four independent outputs
  • Master Clock sync to LFO, delay, arp
The new oscillator section. Choose a parameter you wish to control, then tweak it with the knob marked in red on the bottom left. All images courtesy Clavia.

The new oscillator section. Choose a parameter you wish to control, then tweak it with the knob marked in red on the bottom left. All images courtesy Clavia.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Filters have a huge impact on the sound and character of a synth, so the filter choices here are especially relevant. And when Clavia says “four-part multi-timbral,” they really mean four independent parts – you get separate slots for independent effects, independent arpeggiators, and even independent outputs. That may be overkill for some, but it means parallel options for sound creation. Combine that with the new Oscillator section and existing Morph controls for quick sound design, and this is a rather nice piece of hardware.

US$1799 estimated price, available in April 2014, “handmade in Sweden.”

www.nordkeyboards.com/a1/

NordLeadA1-connections

NordLeadA1-profile

The post This is Clavia’s New Analog Modeling Synthesizer, the Nord Lead A1 [Pics, Sounds] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Leaks: Roland Aira-08 Will Be a Virtual Analog 808 Synth

tr-08

The “new” 808 successor from Roland will be virtual analog, modeled in digital form. Roland’s Aira-08, as readers noted, is already leaking in product descriptions as a virtual analog synth. (Among other sources: there was a Dutch retailer that revealed the info, before removing the page.) Unless Roland has managed some epic disinformation campaign, that means you won’t see an analog remake as KORG did with their MS-20 last year. What you should expect instead is one that uses digital models to capture the sound of its predecessor, in a new design. We’re even hearing from sources that it’s in fact a SuperNATURAL synth, as I speculated yesterday. (But that was almost certain, anyway.)

So let’s consider for a moment what a modeled 808 from Roland would look like, at least while we wait to talk to them about specifics.

“SuperNATURAL” is simply catch-all marketing to describe a variety of Roland technologies. For acoustic instruments, this has to do with behavioral modeling, building a set of sound models that go beyond just looping PCM samples and the like. You can read Roland’s blog post on the topic, though it focuses on the acoustic:

What is SuperNATURAL Technology? [Roland Blog]

The results are very, very good, perhaps not exceeding what’s possible with big sample banks on computers, but certainly a leap forward in playability and expression for dedicated Roland hardware.

It’s not just acoustic instruments that get this moniker, though. In Roland’s virtual analog instruments, each analog SuperNATURAL sound is made up of a series of models of components, from oscillators to filters.

And those sounds are very good, too. Let’s take a moment to give Roland some credit. The recent Jupiters have some terrific virtual analog engines in them, and the Aira will almost certainly use similar technology. Many electronic producers aren’t likely to go buy a Jupiter 80 or Jupiter 50, because these are workstation keyboards that are overkill for what you do. And the modeled acoustic instruments unfortunately distracted from some of the nicer work Roland did on the Jupiter’s VA components, associating those Jupiters with cheesy instrumental demos and not on the sound design and voicing underneath. For a good take on that, read Gordon Reid’s reviews for Sound on Sound. (David Lovelace also has a good review, focusing on its use as a stage keyboard, for the American Keyboard Magazine.)

These reviews take on new relevance as you can take what they say about the sound design for keyboards and apply it here to drum machines.

The question now is just how much Roland has put into the modeling on the new instrument, and what that means for sound and playability. We’ll know soon enough. (There are some good signs. GearSlutz, who leaked this back in the fall, suggested collaborations with the likes of acid pioneer A Guy Called Gerald.)

I think if Roland can hit an affordable price with this, and if it’s reasonably playable, they’ll have a hit on their hands. And the form factor has a reasonably-nice layout, with big triggers.

The market should still be open for a faithful 808 clone, however. Producer Michel Morin, aka Sneak-Thief, reflected on this privately (and provided CDM permission to recall his thoughts). He deals with some of the more idiosyncratic features of the 808:

The big question if it’s modeled digitally: will it breathe like a real TR-808?

1. You see, the capacitors for the VCAs don’t always fully discharge before the instrument is next triggered which creates a kind of pumping effect. Also, the original clap circuit was poorly designed and you usually can’t hear the clap reverb on the first couple hits. Will they mimic this?

2. Some of the oscillators are free-running, meaning that the beginning of the waveform can differ each time the hats, cymbals and cowbell are triggered. Also, the kick drum uses a bridged T-resonator circuit – a fundamentally unstable analog arrangement where the trigger pings/excites the circuit which bursts into resonance then slowly fades. It’s a beautiful, natural & organic-sounding sound. Will this be emulated?

3. There are also many audible variations between drum hits due to the trigger circuits. Not only that, seeing as most of the original components have 5-20% tolerances, temperature changes create variations in the sound.

I don’t imagine these are important to Roland. Nor should they be important to someone who just wants a drum machine. They are important to people whose attraction to the 808 is to a specific instrument. The Aira, as Roland is already saying, is something new.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I am amused that people are criticizing Roland’s mid-1990s MC-303 groovebox, as that was a very nice instrument for its day. (It’s still a pretty good deal used.)

So if purists won’t be happy and people wanting a drum machine will, what about

The post Leaks: Roland Aira-08 Will Be a Virtual Analog 808 Synth appeared first on Create Digital Music.

What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

What you can see: something that looks a lot like a Minimoog. What you can't: this decades-old synth was actually recreated using fairly new, cutting-edge digital filter research. Images courtesy NI.

What you can see: something that looks a lot like a Minimoog. What you can’t: this decades-old synth was actually recreated using fairly new, cutting-edge digital filter research. Images courtesy NI.

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler.

But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news.

First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have confused matters further. In fairness, Reaktor did get a couple of important upgrades recently; both simply had the misfortune to be labeled as point releases rather than “Reaktor 6.” (Reaktor 5.7 is nonetheless a major new version with a substantially new UI, and Reaktor 5.8 brought an industry-leading, user-friendly OSC implementation.) But fans of the modular software no doubt want more.

What you do get, though, is still big news. Monark may seem like just another modeled virtual analog synth, but under the hood, it represents significant advances in modeling technology, a labor of love from some of NI’s DSP mad scientists. And Battery 4 shows that NI is committed to an instrument in a category all its own.

Oh, yeah, and Komplete is still a ridiculous amount of software, though that’s not exactly news. Let me explain.

Battery 4: still the most advanced drag-and-drop drum sampler out there, now upgraded. In fact, still one of the only dedicated drum samplers out there, since others tend to be general-purpose samplers or drum machine-oriented.

Battery 4: still the most advanced drag-and-drop drum sampler out there, now upgraded. In fact, still one of the only dedicated drum samplers out there, since others tend to be general-purpose samplers or drum machine-oriented.

We’ll be looking more in detail at Monark with the engineers at NI who built it. What NI can’t say, legally, I can: this is clearly a model of the classic Minimoog. (NI has to legall call it “a classic analog monophonic synthesizer that has shaped four decades of popular music.”)

CDM got an exclusive hands-on with the instrument, and it sounds extraordinary in a way software virtual analog instruments usually don’t. For people just looking for vintage sounds, it’ll fit the bill, because the Minimoog is such a part of music. But I think it could also appeal to synth lovers. Now, the Minimoog is perhaps the most-modeled, most influential synth ever, in some way influencing the design of countless hardware and software designs that followed, so the idea that a new model is “revolutionary” may seem downright odd. From an engineering standpoint, though, NI is applying the latest research in digital filter models. In fact, you can read research on the technique, if you like such things:

The Art of VA Filter Design, by Vadim Zavalishin

There are years of modeling work that went into Monark, which explains some of NI’s press materials on this. They’ve modeled not only the individual components, but the way those components behave together, including filter overload, filter/oscillator drift, and envelope behavior.

What NI has that its rivals don’t is the person who authored that book. (Ahem. In fact, for anyone complaining about Reaktor upgrades, my question for you is, have you mastered Core yet? DSP science? No? Then you should make your own five-year plan wrapping your head around Vadim’s extensive DSP tutorials.)

Many models of the Moog, while aesthetically copying the front panel, are fairly generic in terms of how they actually model the sound. That’s perfectly fine for musical purposes, but it means you don’t get the sorts of dynamic behaviors and sounds you did on the original. So, when Arturia announced they were porting their Minimoog models to the iPad, while that’s nice enough, you could choose instead something that sounds more like a Moog on your computer (Monark), or Moog’s own more creative take on what an iPad could be (Animoog). As far as modeling, Monark simply goes a lot further. (The best competition, as readers observe, is Urs Heckmann’s DIVA. An A/B of those two could e fascinating. But DIVA, unlike Monark, eschews the classic Minimoog front panel for a more complex, knob-laden design, which destroys some of the elegance of the original from a usability perspective. The flipside: DIVA also does more than the Minimoog original, so could appeal to those who want something that extends the original concept.)

None of this will mean much if you’re just tired of monosynths. But even looking to more futuristic instruments, Monark should give you hope. The same filter tech that works here to replicate a classic, decades-old synth could also be applied to more ground-breaking digital instruments to come, too.

(I have more to say about filters, virtual analog, digital, and real analog in regards to the MeeBlip, our own hardware synth project, but that should come … another day.)

Battery 4, for its part, is good news for people who rely on drum samplers. This category is beginning to look threatened, replaced by more general-purpose samplers on one hand, or drum machines on the other. Battery 4, then, fits a significant niche for people who want sophisticated, complex drum samples. You get a workflow designed as such, with drag-and-drop editing to create drum patches and route effects. To that, Battery 4 adds more NI effects, including NI’s recent “Solid Mix” EQ and compressor, a transient follower/effect, tape saturation, low fidelity processor, and convolution reverb. The UI has also been overhauled and looks far clearer and more modern, with a new color coding system to make it easier to follow what you’re doing.

komplete9

Komplete 9, as the latest version of Komplete, remains utterly massive, with 370 GB of soundware for some 65 instruments and effects. You now get the Mix Series for use in your favorite DAW, a string ensemble, the “world’s largest upright piano,” and other additions. In fact, while Native Instruments gets a regular flogging in comments on this site (cough), there’s still not anyone else who offers everything from Reaktor-based interactive instruments to traditional soundware of horns and bass, the full-featured Reaktor development environment and Kontakt sampler and Massive synth in one box. The real challenge for Komplete as a product remains that almost no one would need or even find a way to use all those things. But if you can find some way to use just a fraction of it, the value remains, especially as Komplete is sticking with its reduced price: $559 / 449 € for the basic edition. (Ultimate runs you closer to a grand.)

Upgrades start at $149 / 149 €, and the software arrives toward the end of the month.

Stay tuned for more details inside the process of designing Monark; I think you’ll like what the engineers have to say.

Komplete @ Native Instruments

Podolski is a Free, Full-Featured Virtual Analog Synth Plug-in from Urs Heckmann [Mac, PC]

Any instrument from software maestro Urs Heckmann seems worth a mention. This one, doubly so: it’s free.

Podolski isn’t new; it has made appearances through the years in the excellent German-language magazine KEYBOARDS (no relation to the US Keyboard). But now, it’s available for everyone, with some nice updates and modernization and versions for just about any Mac or Windows host (or Linux, via WINE).

Now, even if we’re talking only free plug-ins, there are a lot of virtual analog synths out there. But this one is special: it’s got the great sound of FilterscapeVA, and waveform morphing and short “Click” filter attacks.

Specs/highlights:

  • One oscillator, one filter, one envelope, two LFOs (though sometimes just those kinds of restrictions – rare in software – can be nice)
  • Arpeggiator/sequencer, as seen in Zebra
  • Chorus effect
  • Delay effect
  • Click parameter for short filter attacks
  • Three waveform morphing with WaveWarp
  • New presets by Howard Scarr
  • New skins (brown and blue)
  • New English-language manual
  • Mac: VST2, VST3 or AU, 32- and 64-bit
  • Windows: VST2 or VST3, 32- and 64-bit
  • Automatic installer for Mac and Windows

http://www.u-he.com/cms/podolski

Thanks to Jan OS on the Facebook Synth Experts Group for the tip!

Here’s a look at that arp and some of the other features packed into this gem: