Past To Future Samples releases Untamed Drums Psychedelic Pop Vol. 2

Past To Future Samples Untamed Drums Psychedelic Pop Edition Vol 2

Past To Future Samples has announced the release of Untamed Drums Psychedelic Pop Vol. 2, a new sample library featuring punchy, crunchy and crisp drum sounds. This new volume in the Untamed Drums Psych Pop series continues with another vintage kit and samples, mixing electronic drums with untamed realism of acoustic drums. Hip-hop flavored hand […]

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The Casio CZ is a huge highlight of Arturia’s V Collection 7

Arturia’s V Collection 7 continues to expand as the go-to software library of every vintage synth you would ever want. But let’s focus on one new gem: the brilliant CZ-101 remake.

First off, V Collection 7 is worth a look. Arturia keep making their mega-bundle software instrument bundle better. That means both reworking the modeling inside these tools, and adding new features, as well as – of course – continuing to expand the library of available instruments. As modeling has improved, these instruments have gotten more and more like the originals in sound and not just in function and look. At the same time, Arturia keeps beefing up those originals with new features – so the authentic sound engines get new sound design features atop them.

The EMS Synthi V makes an appearance in the new V Collection, too – if your tastes go more 70s than 80s. And it’s a big deal.

Version 7 continues to balance the desires of the casual keyboardist and the obsessive synth sound designer – and everything in between. So if you just want to add a convincing Mellotron or B-3, you’re covered – with an all-new Mellotron and a total ground-up sound engine overhaul for the B-3 V2. Jimmy Smith Strawberry Fields Forever, check and mate.

If the idea of a whole bunch of unfamiliar keyboards and control layouts is unappealing, V Collection 7 also includes the new Analog Lab 4, which consolidates all these things into easy presets and macro controls, and hundreds of new presets in their “Synthopedia.” That way if you do want to look up the way a familiar sound was produced – then tweak it yourself – you can.

Of course, if you read CDM, your favorite preset may be “default template,” and the idea of getting lost for hours in a vintage synth control layout may be the whole selling point. For that crowd, the V Collection 7 adds the EMI Synthi V and the CZ-101 from Casio, circa 1985.

Photo (CC-BY-SA) Neil Vance, via WikiCommons.

The ability to just dial up a menu and say, “do I want an Oberheim SEM or a CS-80” is already pretty crazy, and the number of choices continues to grow. So my approach to V Collection is actually to ignore all those presets – apologies, dear sound designer friends – and try to focus on one instrument. It’s a bit like what you do in a packed studio – you pull out one piece of gear, and say, hey, tonight is going to be about me and this instrument and very little else.

I want to talk about the CZ-101 because it’s long been one of my favorite instruments, and it’s a fairly unsung one. The CZ is somehow too easy, too friendly, too compact, too inexpensive to have the kind of adoration of some of the other 80s and 70s throwbacks. It’s not a collectors’ item. You can still find them at flea makrets. So yeah, Arturia are quick to drop names who have used it, like Salt-N-Pepa and Vince Clarke. But to me the whole appeal of the CZ-101 is that it’s for people who love synths, not people trying to emulate their heroes.

Of course, you could for these reasons go get an actual CZ-101. That means Arturia has to sweeten the deal a bit so the software can compete. They did just that. Let’s dive in.

CZ V reproduces the simple hardware interface (at bottom) but also expands to this view with lots of additional visual feedback and features, at top.

Phase Distortion lovers, rejoice

The original CZ-101 is about two things: a simple front panel layout, and phase distortion. If you just want to drop the CZ into a session as-is, CZ V does that.

Phase distortion synthesis isn’t so much a different synthesis method as it is a compelling way of mucking about with two digital oscillators. It’s easy enough to dismiss PD as Casio’s cheaper, non-patented answer to Yamaha’s DX7 and frequency modulation (FM). But now as we grow more accustomed to digital, non-harmonic timbres, PD is better appreciated on its own terms – as a way of producing unique digital color.

In short, what phase distortion does for you is to add rich harmonic content to sound. It can be a distortion. It can sound something like a resonant filter – in its own way. And because it’s normally using synced oscillators – here’s the important bit – it’s way easier to control than FM generally is.

On the Casio, this allows some unique filtering and sound shaping and distortion sounds that can easily be controlled by macros. And on the Arturia remake, graphical access to envelopes and expanded power means that you can use that shaping creatively.

The CZ V kind of goes a bit nuts versus what an original CZ-101 would give you. Let’s compare 1985 and 2019.

Arturia’s effects mean you don’t have to listen to the CZ dry.

The modulation matrix makes this feel as much modern soft synth as 1980s hardware.

The original oscillators are there – sine, saw, square, pulse, resonance, double-sine, saw-pulse – as are the 8-stage envelope generators and vibrato and LFOs. You can even import SysEx from the original. But being able to program these features on a display makes sound design accessible.

In addition to making hidden CZ features more visible, Arturia have expanded what’s possible:

  • 32-voice polyphony (the original had just 8).
  • A modulation matrix – no, really.
  • More modulation: a Sample and Hold module, 2 LFOs with 6 waveforms, 3 sources combinators and an Arpeggiator
  • New effects – while an authentic approach to the CZ might leave it dry, now you get all the Arturia multi-effects (adding things like chorus and reverb sound especially nice, for instance)

There’s visual feedback for everything, too.

Where the CZ fits in

In some ways, the CZ-101 is weirdly going from dated 80s thrift store find to … ahead of its time? After all, we’re seeing modular makers embrace these kinds of digital oscillator effects, and phase and phase distortion even inspired the upcoming sequel to Native Instruments’ Massive, the new Massive X.

Envelope editing is powerful – and includes animated visual feedback.

The CZ architecture is uniquely suited to making a lot of different sounds – including percussion and modulating timbres and edgy digital business – with a minimum of resources. So there’s a noise source built-in. You can modulate with the noise source. There’s ring modulation.

Using the CZ, DADSR, and multi-segment envelopes, you can them sculpt those percussive and metallic timbres over time – including using the DCW (Digitally Controlled Waveform) envelope that morphs between a sine wave and distorted wave.

The reason I’m using the CZ V to talk about the new V Collection edition, though, is that it’s an instrument where it feels like Arturia’s authentic side matches up with the “vintage on steroids” additions. So, by the time you have something like the new Synthi, you’re already presented with tons of sound design possibilities. Arturia has added some amazing ideas there – a step sequencer, a beat-synced LFO, plus onboard effects, atop all the new graphical options for working with envelopes and modulation.

The thing is, on a Synthi, that starts to feel like too much. I almost was tempted with the Synthi to force myself not to expand the tab full of new stuff. If I want an open-ended sound environment on a computer, I can use Reaktor, not try to recreate a 1970s take on the idea.

On the Arturia edition of the Casio, though, all these additions help the CZ graduate from fun toy to serious sound design tool. The visual envelopes make more sense. Effects are something most CZ owners invested in anyway. And more polyphony means you can run one instance and do a lot with it. Heck, even the matrix is easier to follow than on the original EMS Synthi because the architecture of the CZ-101 is so straightforward. In other words, because the original did less, it’s both a good match for software remake and for some thoughtful additions – which Arturia delivers.

Check these templates for an easy way to get started making your own sounds.

Here’s a little sketch I made with this. This is all one patch – noise and ring modulation and layering the ring source, plus some DCW and pitch envelope use, are what generate all those sounds. I added Arturia’s Trid-A Pre and some reverb from Softube’s TSAR-1 Reverb and … that was it.

More on the products:

V Collection 7

CZ V

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Soniccouture releases The Attic 2 vintage synth collection for Kontakt

Soniccouture Attic 2

Soniccouture has announced the release of The Attic 2, a Kontakt library featuring 18 vintage synthesizer and keyboard instruments. The update extends the original collection with 8 brand new instruments: ARP Omni 2, Cheetah MS800, Crumar DP80, Farfisa VIP 345, Moog MinitMoo, Siel Orchestra 2, Solina String Ensemble, Logan Vocalist. Deep inside the history of […]

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Tronsonic’s Solino String Proto Ensemble MK 1 is on sale for $8 USD!

Tronsonic Solino 70 OFF

Plugin Boutique has launched an exclusive sale on the Solino String Proto Ensemble MK 1, a virtual instrument library for Kontakt that offers a recreation of an imaginary Eminent Solina String Ensemble ‘prototype’. The library was sampled from the original MARK1 version of the polyphonic multi-orchestral synthesizer, with ensemble effect always on. You can configure […]

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Kontakt Hub releases Blossom instrument library for Kontakt from Audiowarp

Audiowarp Blossom

Kontakt Hub has announced the release of Audiowarp Blossom, a Kontakt instrument library featuring the sounds of vintage analog synths captured using various recording and post production methods such as tape compression and artifact manipulation. Blossom is inspired by old tapes in the attic, the golden age of analogue synths worn down by the hands […]

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Drone Synthesizer-Box – neu vs. vintage: Was hat sich wie entwickelt?

Drone Box 1970Drone Box 1970

Es gibt heute eine Menge Drone-Synthesizer. Sie sind meist günstig und haben eine reduzierte Oberfläche um einige Oszillatoren, sind manchmal mit FM-Möglichkeiten oder speziell für Flächen oder Texturen auch mal mit anderen Optionen ausgestattet. Aber eben bewusst als Dauerton ausgelegt. Eigentlich sind die moderneren Drone-Boxen so gut wie der Soma Lyra 8, den man spielen kann und bei dem die Töne sogar stimmbar sind. Ebenso bei Game Chargers Motor-Synth, der ebenfalls als Drone-Synthesizer arbeiten kann, aber nicht muss.

Gab es so etwas eigentlich früher schon? Fast gar nicht. Wenn, dann gab es in klassischen Synthesizern eine VCA-Hold Funktion oder aber ein Initial-Level, was man entsprechend hochdrehen kann. So etwas gibt es im Roland SH-5 von 1975, aber auch im Oberheim Xpander und Matrix-12, beides sehr teure High-End-Synthesizer der damaligen Zeit.

Vintage-Drones?

Gab es so etwas denn als reine Oszillatorbank? Ganz ohne Filter? Irgendwie eher nicht. Aber dieses hier habe ich gefunden, eine selbstgebaute Oszillator-Bank mit drei Sektionen, die fast wie Module aussehen. Hier gibt es Pulsbreitenmodulation und diverse Schwingungsformen, Panorama für jeden VCO und auch Pegel und eine mögliche Steuerung durch einen Sequencer.

Was hier auffällt ist, dass die Steuerung und Einstellungen anders sind, als wenn es sich um einen Oszillator als Modul handeln würde. Man hat also schon an Dinge gedacht, die sinnvoll für Drones sind und sogar essentiell oder eben in klassischen Synths fehlten. Darunter sind natürlich das Panorama und auch der Clock-Teiler, der für sechs, aber auch jede andere Anzahl agieren kann oder könnte. So entstehen Schwebungen und Stereo-Effekte, die in normalen Synthesizern nur möglich sind, so sie auch eine Panorama-Steuerung anbieten oder aber so geschaltet werden.

Heute?

Zu kaufen gibt es dieses Gerät nicht. Es ist eine Einzelanfertigung eines heute nicht mehr bekannten Herstellers, also eines Einzelkämpfers. Die Siebziger werden anhand der verwendeten Bauteile so spezifiziert, dennoch lässt sich sonst wenig darüber sagen. Aber was es kann, das können wir hören und fragen uns, wie viele Leute heute bewusst Drone-Synths einsetzen und diese ggf. weiter verarbeiten oder filtern. Oder nutzen sie die Klangerzeuger als Basis eines klassischen Synthesizers oder eben zu dem, wofür sie gebaut sind?

Video

XLN Audio’s RC-20 Retro Color & DS-10 Drum Shaper are 40% OFF each!

XLN Audio Flash Sale 40 OFF

Plugin Boutique has announced a flash sale on XLN Audio, offering 40% off on the RC-20 and DS-10 effect plugins for a few days only. RC-20 Retro Color is a creative effect plugin that adds life and texture to any recording. It easily recreates the warm, cozy feeling of vintage recording equipment, but also works […]

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XLN Audio’s RC-20 Retro Color & DS-10 Drum Shaper are $47.95 USD each!

XLN Audio Flash Sale 40 OFF

Plugin Boutique has announced a flash sale on XLN Audio, offering 40% off on the RC-20 and DS-10 effect plugins for a few days only. RC-20 Retro Color is a creative effect plugin that adds life and texture to any recording. It easily recreates the warm, cozy feeling of vintage recording equipment, but also works […]

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It’s 606 day – remember when Roland made a drum machine like a 303?

808 day, sure. But let’s pause for 606 day – the logical anniversary of the 1982 TR-606, a drum machine squeezed inside a tiny enclosure that looks like a 303 but isn’t. It’s the lesser known runt of the Roland family, and you kind of love it for that alone.

If you think about it, the 606 was way ahead of its time. Now selling customers on buying a little bass machine, then buying a little drum machine to go with it is par for the course. But in the early 80s, the music that would make the 303 and even the 606 desirable … hadn’t been made yet.

Why 606?

The TR-606 is certainly simple. It’s got all analog circuitry inside, for seven parts – kick, snare, two toms, open and closed hats, cymbal. There’s an accent control. It isn’t the most sought-after sound of the TR series, by any stretch, but now that you’ve heard way too many 808 and 909 hats, you might appreciate this just for some variety.

It can trigger other gear. It’s got accent. It was designed so you could chain 606 models together. So it’s not a terrible little machine. And it is – I’ll stand by this – the cutest drum machine Roland ever made. (I have to admit, I just went back to my boutique TR-09 this week and had a blast. Sometimes getting something tiny and restricted is oddly inspiring. An itsy bitsy teenie weenie silver TR drum machine-y?)

It’s famous, and yet mercifully no one has ever called it iconic. It just is what it is. Here’s Tatsuya of KORG fame giving it a one-over – as he should, as nothing channels the spirit of the 606 (even from Roland) quite like the entry of the KORG volca series he helmed:

And here’s Reverb.com giving it the once over:

The 606 has been in some great music – Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails, Autechre, Orbital, plus one favorite artist that shares its name – Kid606. Moby I think also used one, probably in that spell when he and I were dating that he doesn’t like to talk about. (Man, did that beetroot smoothie we shared together while programming 606 patterns mean nothing to you? Nothing?!)

It’s also been heavily modded and copied. It’s a reminder, basically, that drum machines need not look like a truck. They can be a funny sidecar you can easily squeeze into spaces where no one else can parallel park. When people talked about buying unloved Roland drum machines for $50 in pawn shops in the 80s – the TR-606 was one likely candidate. This was one of the machines cheap enough to enable people without cash to change music.

You know the sound. Because it was tinnier than the 808 and 909, the 606 often stood in when someone wanted something with an even thinner Roland sound.

Put that sound with the 303, and you really do get a combo that makes sense.

Bonus – this bit. You can swap between PLAY and WRITE pattern modes while the TR-606 is running – so you can edit as a pattern is playing. The other TRs would ideally work that way, but they don’t.

Here’s a guide to the controls:

Samples and software

There have been numerous software recreations, too, like this iOS app mR-606:

Or this one, which also runs on iPad:

EGDR606 Drum Machine

Most famously of all, there is Propellerhead’s ReBirth, which cloned the 303 and 606 and launched, arguably, the entire electronic dance music production revolution on computers. Roland must have taken note, because they convinced Propellerhead to remove the iPad port. (Okay, that was probably more about the TB-303. But still.) If you’re ambitious, you can still run ReBirth on recent Windows versions, with some effort.

And here’s a free sample set:

http://www.rolandclan.com/library/tr-606/

Samples From Mars also have a sale on their much broader sample library, which resamples the 606 through various gear. Check it:

https://samplesfrommars.com/products/606-from-mars

Adverts

It may not have translated into sales, but Roland had a slick presentation for its 1982 product line.

Check out those specs:

Dear advertisers – please create stuff like this, which is what people saw if they flipped open a glossy issues of Keyboard Magazine in 1982:

Source: https://retrosynthads.blogspot.com/2010/08/roland-tb-303-and-tr-606-keyboard-1982.html

And yes, Roland at various times has brought this back in … strange ways, like on the SP-606 which really … has nothing to do with the TR-606. But here it is, because D-Beam! It’s also been spotted inside the recent recreations like the TR-8S and even the Serato-collaboration DJ controllers.

Image at top:

Roland TR-606

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MGF Audio offers sample packs at only $1 AUD each through June

MGF Audio

MGF Audio has announced that all sample packs and multi-sample libraries are available for only $1 AUD each during the month of June. MGF Audio focuses heavily on vintage synthesizers and electronics. There is a large collection of multi-samples of vintage synths as well as more general packs with hits, chords and SFX. During the […]

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