Touchable, open-ended, modular sounds and music – it’s an appealing idea. I’d be remiss in talking this week about touch apps if I didn’t mention the free/cheap Windows tool Usine, which has recently made the jump to a touchscreen-optimized version. (Big thanks to alby75 in comments on our Kore minisite for the nod.)

Usine is a modular, patchable music and sound app that runs as a portable, USB-key-ready standalone app and VST plug-in. A free version is limited in I/O and track-count, with a pro version EUR50. The 4.0 “stable beta” offers touchscreen features, with management for interfaces, custom layouts, and other features that make it work well with touchscreens. This is generally single-touch at this point, but as hardware evolves, I imagine the software will, as well.

Other highlights of Usine:


  • Sound analysis for reacting to pitch, peaks, and dynamics in your patches
  • Scripting support
  • Custom modules via C++ and an open API
  • OpenSoundControl support
  • Virtual mixing table, modular mixing mode, unlimited internal audio
  • SMPTE, MIDI, MTC, MMC sync and control
  • Patch organization by track and on a timeline, so you can sequence your sounds and presets
  • VST hosting, VST parameter modification, MIDI automation
  • Built-in patches: Auto Pan, Bass Liner, Bit Crusher, Break Beat Maker, Compressor, Expander, Filter Bank, Synchronized Filter, Forward & Reverse, Freezor, Kaos Player, Limiter, Master meter, Metronome, Phaser, Random Delay, Resonnator, Step filter, Stereo enhancer, Midi Clock synchro.
  • Direct-to-disk recording

And that really just scratches the surface. Having recording and audio analysis built in, plus extensive options for easy selection of presets and sequencing presets and sound modulation is really nice, I have to admit. (Developers of other modular environments, you listening?)

I’m embarrassed not to have spent any time with Usine; hope to correct that soon. (I know what you’re saying, because it’s what I’m saying … too … many … tools …)

More on Usine at Sensomusic’s site:

Usine Product Page

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  • Angstrom

    I know it's a little tiny bit off topic, but …
    I found myself drawn into the hideous brass music wailing away in the background of that video clip.

  • runagate

    I must thank Olivier, the developer, for making what was already my favorite live DAW, do what I was ranting about for over a year and a half to the Usine fraternity.

    My touchscreen broke before this update was even hinted at, my year-long licence expired right before v4 was released, but eventually I'll be doing exactly what I've imagined for 15 years with Usine now.

    Check out insertpizhere on KVR's touchscreen-GUI midi VSTs (freeware) he made excellent beyond what I even requested – the perfect complement to Usine touchscreen edition.

    I really can't believe it's all come together and I can't participate yet!

  • alby75

    what they say in the manual about the touch-screen mode:

    -No more editing with [dbl click] allowed on Interface Builder windows. This prevent accidental double clicks.
    -It increases the precision of faders, knobs, etc and make them compatible with a finger utilisation.
    -The combo boxes behaviour is different and becomes closer to a fader.

  • nay-seven

    yep , was me who point you before on this fantastic appz …( v2 of the lemur topic), just want to tell you that the big difference with this one is the fact that there are special features , really done for touch screen ( and usefull on stage )like the scoll function ( i-pod like ),big knob and fader , direct access to preset and so…, and you can make as many interface you want and access them directly from one window…awesome..

  • vivens

    a very smart software!
    as far as you can design what you want, mix midi and audio equaly in a patch,you can use differents patches on a same track and switch between them in a single arrow click.
    Usine is able to manage up to 16 tracks surround files,and a clever audio routing allows to switch between several configurations (surround concert,headphones,home,etc…)without making some more patching.
    i'm addicted to this software and try to save up money for a touchscreen!

  • davidfloat

    this is so good to hera and see.

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  • rgeller

    Don't know why, but just somehow the French performance in the second video brings to mind Ross Geller from Season 4, Episode 7:

    I.e. is it always music if you have beat on the background..

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