Free Granulator II from Robert Henke for Max for Live; Another M4L Grain Instrument On Its Way

We’re spoiled by modern software as a canvas for experimental sound. Significantly, once constructed and encapsulated, these digital sound devices can fall away, allowing you to explore new noise frontiers through play, not only through calculated sound design. (That very question has come up in very different conversations with developers I’ve had in the last 24 hours or so, so I think it’s worth mentioning – whether it’s something you’ve created or downloaded, you can get to the point where you use your ears and intuition to find sounds.) Let’s talk about that in regards to Ableton Live and Max. …

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What NI Was Teasing: Monark Minimoog-Modeling Synth, Remade Battery, in New Komplete

Native Instruments has been teasing new instrument software in recent days, and now we get to see what they were previewing: a new virtual-analog monosynth and a remade version of their drum sampler. But, hold on, before everyone yawns and leaves the building – there’s reason to pay attention to this news. First, yes, there is something notably absent in today’s announcement. While NI is making Komplete, their bundle of their extensive stable of software instruments, available for preorder, there’s still no sign of a big upgrade to Reaktor. The fact that the Monark video showed Reaktor patching may have …

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Vio for iOS: Transform, Tune, Harmonize Vocals in a Cloud of Particles [Preview]

Vocal modification is a natural app for iOS, yet a lot of the offerings out there are complicated to use. (At least one that springs to mind has options for add-on purchases that can muddle the user experience.) Audiofile Engineering (via a new brand, Square B) has just released an app that looks like loads of fun. Turning the interface into a swirling vortex of particles might not seem to be a step forward for ease of use, but here, the reduction in interface clutter lets you focus on singing. I’m retreating into the studio in a quiet moment to …

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More Than Ever: Tour Dave Smith’s Monster Synth, the Prophet 12

The Prophet 12 from Dave Smith Instruments is a landmark synth: packed with polyphony and sound features, it’s the latest demonstration that “new” and “synth keyboard” can go together. So, for our first-look tour through the new Prophet, we get a special treat – writer, electronic musician, and mathematician Gina Collecchia got a hands-on look with the engineers who designed the instrument. Gina, who demystifies signal processing for all the rest of us in her book Numbers and Notes, get to talk with Chris, one technologist to another. -Ed. Meet the newest member of the Dave Smith Instruments family: the …

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Tech for Guitarists: What’s New, What’s Changing in Digital Guitar Tools [NAMM Report]

Who says guitar technology isn’t advancing? Joe Gore is a guitarist who’s unafraid of the bleeding edge, so he was a natural to report back to us from the hallowed halls of new musical instruments, NAMM. He takes a look at what’s new and what’s evolving through a guitarist’s eyes. And this stuff is interesting, indeed, with effects and controllers that might inspire gear desires in instrumentalists of all stripes, not just guitarists. We guitarists tend to be a technologically conservative bunch, yet there was no shortage of forward-looking products at NAMM 2013. Not that everyone was looking in the …

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mixconsole

Cubase 7 Brings Mixing, Harmonic Chord-by-Chord Features to Steinberg’s DAW [Preview]

It must be the season of the DAW. After a bit of a quiet spell, we have DP8 (and moving in on Windows turf), SONAR X2 (announced at about the same time), and Live 9 all coming into relief. And now, it’s Steinberg’s Cubase 7. The surprise: these audio tools that seem to do everything keep finding more things to do. Generally speaking, you have to twist yourself into a pretzel to describe all those “it does this new stuff” features. That’s okay – developers and users alike built a list of stuff they want, and getting it, under-the-Christmas-style in …

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If a Computer Were a Chanting Monk: Crazy Live Sounds from Kyma + Gametrak

If a computer could throat-sing, meditating on numbers, it might sound something like this. Electro-acoustic composer Jeffrey Stolet is Professor of Music and Director of the Intermedia Music Technology at the University of Oregon, but “sonic shamanism” might apply as well. Mysterious sounds emerge from his laptop as he tugs and pulls on a controller, as if extracting sounds from within. (The hardware in question is a Gametrak game controller – a toy game device that has become an affordable 3D music input. Apparently some 300,000 units were sold by 2006, but the controller never caught on as a mainstream …

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Modulation-o-rama: Rack Extension Tutorial with FXpansion Etch Might Make Knees Wobbly

Over the summer, a slew of new Rack Extensions has opened Reason’s modular, patchable rack to a variety of developers. I have to admit, I’ve been astounded by the quantity and variety, given this is just one host – it seems there was pent-up demand for Reason modules, and that Propellerhead made things developer-friendly. FXpansion do wonderful work, have some of the best synth modeling tools on the market, and I say really entirely too little about them. Now, the guts from their DCAM suite are available in a Rack Extension called Etch, a modeled filter with loads of modulation. …

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Switches and things you may or may not recognize... but, you know, don't worry, not only are there hundreds of presets, but randomly switching presets is a lot of fun.

Sonic Charge Permut8: All Your Lo-Fi Digital Mangling Effects in One Place

Permut8 is the kind of thing that inspires the dreams of people who love digitally-manipulated sound. From legendary Swedish developer Magnus Lindström (Malström in Reason, MicroTonic), it’s a digital delay gone very, very mad. Think delays, flangers, bit crushing, beat repeating, and “circuit-bent” digital insanity. The core of the idea is a 12-bit digital delay with variable sample rate, all controlled by a programmable processor. That lets you do things you … shouldn’t. Various digital operators let you mangle and manipulate sounds, for effects that can be sonorous and beautiful or clangy or hideously-distorted, subtle or extreme, or any combination. …

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xcomp

Circuit-Modeled Dynamics, Plus One Free Plug-in, From FXpansion

Quietly, FXpansion have been making some well-loved, circuit-modeling instruments in the DCAM series. They may not be a household name, but just ask around artists – producers I know consistently bring up the DCAM name and just talk about it sounding damned good. Now, DCAM turns to processing and not just synths. DCAM Dynamics is a suite of plug-ins, each based on models of analog circuitry. There’s a good range of stuff here, covering the gamut from fine-tune adjustments to more creative applications, and I’m eager to try them. Best of all, the freebie here isn’t just a cut-down throwaway, …

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