Usine is an overlooked gem in music making, a PC-based modular environment and live performance tool that runs as a host or VST plug-in. Pick the modules you need from a set of powerful building blocks, and build a custom musical rig, complete with multi-touch control on new Windows devices. It sounds like something you might request from a magical genie, but the thing is real, priced at EUR120 (or just EUR60 for educational users).

As with any modular environment, having ample access to powerful modules and some patches to get you started is everything. But that makes this week’s news worth noting: co-developer Olivier Sens has made some 200+ add-ons and patches free. All you have to do to grab them is register on the forum. The demo version of Usine is surprisingly capable, too, so if you’ve been waiting to test-drive and you have a Windows machine (or a dual-boot Mac), now could be a good time.

What’s included? Our friend runagate goes into details about the new patches and add-ons, as well as reviewing why Usine is worth some love and affection. And oh, yeah, a free update also promises a big boost in speed:
Usine 5.17 update available (it’s 20%% faster!?) and ALL 200 “add-ons” have been set free! [Digital Shiv @ noisepages]
(That blog is well worth adding to your RSS, by the way.)

Think touchable, monome-inspired multi-sequencers, multi-effects from dub to glitch, MIDI utilities, groove makers, synthesis, and … well, just a lot of stuff:
http://www.sensomusic.com/addons/

To whet your appetite even more, check out the Flickr goodness (photos and videos) uploaded by nay-seven, embedded at top, or at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/usine/

Usine users, we count on you — got some tips on starting with the tool? Add-ons from the list people shouldn’t miss? Shout out in comments.

And meanwhile, I’ll just keep dreaming of a multi-touch tablet worth getting; my bet remains on the HP TouchSmart TM2 revision expected any day now, though if something better came along, well, even better. Side note: if this is the first wish for a magic music tech genie, can my second be that Delphi-developed stuff would get a framework on other OSes (Linux/Mac) to make these tools easier to port?


  • http://Michaelchenetz Michael Chenetz

    This product looks really nice. I contacted the creator to see if I can get a copy to create a walkthrough for my sites. We will see. I see a lot of opportunity with usine. Very nice interface design environment with great multitouch support.

    Mike

  • http://www.3amnoise.net/runagate runagate

    Since I got a pingback I thought I'd say thanks for mentioning my favorite bit of software.

    And I have to add a couple things:

    Usine also exists as a VST which can be loaded into your host of choice.

    Usine comes in a free version with the following limitations:

    <blockquote cite="Sensomusic">Usine free is fully functional but limited

    1 stereo input/output. (16 in the pro version)

    2 midi inputs/outputs. (unlimited in the pro version)

    4 tracks. (32 in the pro version)

    no audio monitoring.

    no master section insert.

    no sequencer.

    no conductor.

    no surround.

    editing sub-patches is impossible.

    Also, Usine is has an unusual licensing stratagem. It lasts a year and you get all updates til it runs out. The versions you download before your "membership" expires are fully-functional. The last time I checked the price in USD was $43, converted from Euros.

    Usine is an amazing tool even when used very simply, for instance if you just need to set up a signal chain modularly, with two branches… for instance, if you wanted to assign a hardware MIDI button to switch between the A/B signal chains, one the effects for rhythm guitar and the other for lead/solo or somesuch. As steep as a learning curve as Usine takes to master things like the example above are quicker and easier with Usine VST than with anything else I've tried… which includes most DAWs and about 3000 VSTs ;)

    Two lesser-known feature of Usine that might be appreciated here moreso than other places are that (1) it's scriptable (though I've never tried it, myself, and don't grok such things) and allows one to include complex MIDI, math and logic, internal commands, OSC, etc. And (2) there's an SDK that allows you to simply create your own Usine modules if you're of the coder persuasion.

  • 23fx23

    yup same here thanks for mentionning my fav soft. Was never such wanting of sharing an awesome soft discover. Quite really addict now

    and man must let people be aware this is more dangerous for social life than ie cannabis.

    don't drive your car if got a usine patch in mind, forget your girfriend and prepare long coffee nights ;)

    Usine is much easier to learn than ie Max, but still any modular environment has a learning curve. I would say it took me a month or two to get into the logic, so don't be affraid ar start. if somz wanna try I higly recommand to follow the tutorial made by Nay seven "Learn usine in 13 minutes, or nearly, wich is really well made and is a very good starting point speeding a lot that time.

    can find it here:
    http://sensomusic.com/wiki/doku.php?id=manual:lea

    it's really rare/unseen patching pbs can't get fixed, some will always find a way much simpler than you thought about way of doing,so just post on forum and any case should be solved in the next 12 hours max, the community is really nice, open minded and ready to share, so don't hesitate at all asking on forum, personally i learnt a lot like this, and now it's my turn to 'teach' sometimes, and i love emulation of searching

    not " is it possible ", cause truly it's always possible with usine, but more " what's the best ways avaible".. if you're curious, wanna feel free of doing what ya want and want user friendly modular don't hesitate a second,

    usine truly truly worth that price. i would pers quasi have paid 120E for an ableton multitouch modular controller as example.

    now i can make it free with usine and this is just 0,02 percent of what usine can do..

  • 23fx23

    and well as we are here a little ad on my pers patchs all avaible free now if wanna see some exemples of what usine is capable of, still a fraction of what it can do:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/23fx232323

  • salamanderanagram

    anybody care to comment how this stacks up against reaktor, or max/msp? looks cool, not sure how it's been flying beneath my radar for so long.

  • 23fx23

    well they are not the same, neither prices really. max is 500$ reaktor 400, usine 120.

    Reaktor and Max have advantage for pure sample accurate DSP or synthesis, i would say all the rest is better in usine for 5x cheaper, and usine let any VST dedicaced for that do the job,being controlled in some insane ways. it has no equivalent in adaptative personnal multitouch setup,without being necessary a math, prgming or script killer.

    one more fair price/possibilities comparaison would be

    Max Vs (Usine+Reaktor)

    for the user friendly/possibilities/way of using i much prefer usine/reaktor combo.

    Max is awesome too , but well, it's a bit like windows, old bw compatibilities, too much various uses can have disadvantages of making

    a "too heavy big old factory"… Usine is sweety fresh to use every day.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Yeah, this is more of a performance environment. Contrast Reaktor and Core, which is really building things up from the DSP level. These are bigger building blocks. A natural comparison would be Plogue Bidule or AudioMulch, but neither of those has the touch, performance, and interface features of Usine. So maybe part of why it's been ignored is that it's sort of its own category.

  • poopoo

    Delphi on Linux was called Kylix but it seems to have pretty abandoned.

    Usine pissed me off. I paid the early price when it was first came out then the developer made some changes and wanted me to pay again. I thought that was lame.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @poopoo: Yes, developers should handle those situations carefully; sorry to hear you had a bad experience.

    Kylix — oh, yes. Like, way back in the Borland days. I think these days more developers will choose a framework like JUCE, so they aren't locked to any one OS.

  • s ford

    usine is excellent. IMO it's kind of similar to lloopp/ppooll which is a modular environment and contains a similar number of objects, but unalike usine is completely free.

    lloopp is max/msp based and can incorporate any patches made in max into lloopp via runtime.

  • ethnix73

    @poopoo: sorry for you. Really strange because olivier sens is taking care of his users…

    Usine workflow is really smooth. You can use the free add-ons with the free version of Usine, or build your own patch with it. You only won't be able to edit subpatches…

  • http://www.myspace.com/nayseven nay-seven

    @poopoo

    really surprised;

    do you talk about the Upgrade Licence ( 40€) after one year..?

    if so , can you please consider this :

    _ Usine is developed by only one person

    _ since January there was about 25 updates , bugs, but also new features, most of them asked by users. do you know others software like this..?
    ;-)

    @ peter : Thanks again for this post and yes , you're right , I also think Usine is unique..;-)

  • poopoo

    @ nay-seven – Nah, I was a premium member in 2006. At the time I felt a bit cheated. Anyway it was years ago.

  • nelson

    best feature in USINE is that you can directly wire every parameter of VST in patch. in Max you can also but in very complicated way. in USINE your VST is just a box with pins and wiring is very simple. For experimental purpouse with VST use – there is no beter software.

    if you want DSP abilities, make your own synthesis beter use MAX or Reaktor. However its possible in USINE too.

    It has also open architecture – you can write scripts in delphi like script language or compiled addons in C++ or Delphi and use it in your patch.

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