The wait’s been years long, but it’s over: SynthEdit is now officially out of beta. (via KVR) This US$50, Windows-only software lets you build your own instruments and effects via a modular environment — nothing new in and of itself, but wildly popular due to its simple design, low price, and easy ability to “save as VST.” (The last of these has proved so appealing that it’s flooded the Web with lousy homebrew Windows VST plugs, but pay that no mind. We know you’ll resist temptation and create *good* stuff. And if not, at least make it weird enough that you get blogged.)


I’m pretty stoked about the finished SynthEdit: it’s simple, but very flexible and capable. So, ready to roll your own plugins? Check out CDM’s previous coverage, including some Windows and Mac alternatives:

Build Windows VST Instruments with SynthEdit; Free VST Links


Buzz, a free Windows modular app (some CDM readers have complained about reliability, but worth a try)


Sonic Birth, a Mac-only “SynthEdit for Audio Units” (US$129)

And of course, while not as narrowly focused as these, there are the commercial apps Native Instruments Reaktor 5 and Cycling `74 Max/MSP, and the free/open source Pure Data (see our Pd roundup), just for starters. (Many other apps use patching interfaces to create instruments, too.) Reaktor deserves special mention for its ridiculously, insanely deep instrument creation facilities; expect more on the new Reaktor 5 once I can retreat to a cave and use nothing else for a few . . . years. Yeah, it’s that deep.

  • erichmond

    Whats pretty nice is that we have enough modular options now that we can pick and choose to what level we wanna take it.

    Personally I like Reaktor (5 is truly amazing) because there are so many amazing instruments to start with.

    Maybe one day I'll be that guy building midi controllers from scratch to interface CSound.

  • admin

    Eric, you're exactly right — it's all about level. But I would add, the other question is whether additional control really gives you more power, or just lets you reinvent the wheel. For instance, I'm not convinced you can do things with Csound that you can't with Reaktor — and I am convinced you can do things with Reaktor that you can't with Csound, and do things more quickly with Reaktor than you can with Csound. That's important. There's multiple issues here: the issue of interface (Csound the text-driven system, Reaktor the GUI), and then underlying capabilities of the synthesis engine (here, I think Reaktor's got Csound soundly beat).

    Long story short: more "advanced" isn't necessarily more advanced. So, in other words, stick with Reaktor. ;-) (or many other good options) Or, really, stick with whatever interface and underlying capabilities make you happy. That's why choice is good.

    Wasn't that a fast-food slogan? Oh, boy . . . maybe it's lunchtime . . .

    Peter
    ps — call me when you're building controllers from scratch . . . if I didn't take so many lunch breaks, maybe I would be, too!