What if your DAW were completely open-ended and modular, allowing you to send audio and control anywhere, and control from any device – including touch? Now Windows – and Mac users – find out.

Driven by musicians’ need to do a lot of the same things, and expecting certain ways of doing those things, DAWs have traditionally been mired in the same molds. Sensomusic Hollyhock, an upcoming DAW from the makers of Usine, promises to be genuinely different. Like Usine, it’s built around an entirely open-ended, modular environment – you can patch together only what you need, and can patch together just about anything. But building on Usine, Sensomusic have created an entirely rewritten app, with new audio engine, rebuilt interface, new MIDI management, and, among other things, cross-platform 64-bit support for Windows and the Mac.

Public beta comes early next year, with a preorder now (for those hard-core Usine fans, I presume). But what we can see already looks promising.

One thing I really like about Bitwig Studio is the idea of having any device be a patch – so the entire environment can be customized. But Bitwig says they won’t have public access to that functionality in their first version – and even the first version is promised only for some time in 2013.

Building on their existing modular app, Sensomusic might get there first. And they offer uniquely flexible input from hardware.


  • Arbitrarily route audio, MIDI, and even stuff like cameras, joysticks, or the Nintendo Wii remote, right in the device window. (Other apps have tried similar things, but generally requiring scripting or Max patches or the like.)
  • Drag and drop devices and inputs and create multiple instances of a device. (Remember, everything here is essentially modular.
  • Each device doubles as a patch, with subpatches for different levels.
  • Record anywhere – even with quantization.
  • VST (Mac/Windows), AU (Mac) plug-in support, video support, and even Freeframe plug-ins for video – this is shaping up to be a fully modular audiovisual environment.
  • Workspaces, playlists for workspaces, Start page…

The rack is reminiscent of what you’d see in, say, Ableton Live – but get in there, and you can route any control or audio you like.

A lot of what you get does come from Usine, or iterates on that tool, though that could be a good thing – there’s a long experience of development and user feedback here. In fact, if Usine did nothing other than come to the Mac, it’d be news. Now, it’s I’d say fairly big news. (My only complaint: I just wish that UI could get some added polish. Minimal is great, but this is … well, awfully minimal. The functionality is great, though.)

And that brings us to the beautiful automation features, physics, and touch – all building on the stuff that made Usine cool in the first place. That’s best seen in videos, not bullets, so see below for some of my favorites.

Mac users are going to wish for a touch display. (An external display could be one way to go.)

In Hollyhock, each device is also a patch. That will eventually true in Bitwig Studio, its developers say, but it appears Hollyhock will get their first. Here’s a compressor. (I hope the similar discussion in these two tools means more modular goodness, generally!)

Patching interface – there if you want it.

New browser functions, modules.

One tasty sampler with zoom abilities – especially nice with touch.

Complete details from developer Olivier Sens:

Special preorder price, at a discount, including beta access, and double the free updates (2 years instead of 1), as well as a chance to influence the design: 119€, or upgrade 49€.

  • https://plus.google.com/112767041460502214504 Greg Miernicki

    “Now Windows – and Mac users – find out.”

    Linux users found out a long time ago with JACK and LADISH :)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Usine alone went beyond what LADISH did. There’s some interesting stuff here – including things the open source community might want to look at.

  • http://marcoraaphorst.nl/ Marco Raaphorst

    VERY interesting.

  • slabman

    Great stuff though I have to say it reminds me of Soundscape and, later, Bars and Pipes on the Amiga.

    Come back, Todor Fay!

    • nayseven

      thanks, Whaoo Bars &Pipes ! was my first DAW ! 😉

  • a

    I’m not clear, if I pre-order today, when do I get access to the beta for OSX?

    Also, there are a few apps that let you use the iPad as an external monitor for OS X with touch input. Wouldn’t give you multitouch, though.

    • nayseven

      if you pre-order today you’ll be the first to get your Hollyhock’s beta versions,(first month of 2013)

    • Lloyd Barrett

      If you pre-order today, you also get a copy of Usine Pro 5 which I presume will run in Bootcamp / Win7?

    • nayseven

      yes, you’re right of course, all the advantages of a pro member,5.80, VST version, Easine..;-)

  • Lloyd Barrett

    Mulab already does this modular patch-based DAW thing though I’m assuming to a lower level of complexity.

  • Attic

    I use Synthedit and Synthmaker / Flowstone and have been watching Usine with great interest. You can export Vst’s with it … so that makes it one of the few.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robin-Parmar/100000245432932 Robin Parmar

    So this is like a very limited version of Reaktor?

    • nayseven

      No, you can’t compare Hollyhock to Reaktor, Hollyhock is a Daw ,VST Host, add multitouch , at least for the windows version, multisurround, drag & drop of devices on each rack, video support…etc, and made for live performance with your own interface 😉

  • http://twitter.com/drakh Lubomir Panak

    Usine is really great, but as mentioned nor usine/nor bitwig are the first to use modular capatibilities. Have you tried Mackie Tracktion and “racks” in it for complex audio routing? It’s really great. And usine takes this modularity much more to the future

  • nayseven

    A quick post to gives you some news about the work in progress :I have update the wikipage and add some infos about the new features added:

    One of the interesting news is about the new local network system,
    which lets you share your patches with any other Usine session
    connected to your local network.

    Each shared patch becomes a remote
    version of this patch.

    Cool for multi computer sets and Lan party with friends !

    more info on the wiki page: