Monday, November 30, 2009

Own a Piece of NIN

In case you haven't seen it in the eleventy-billion other places this has been posted on-line, Nine Inch Nails are auctioning off a TON of gear from their last tour on eBay. Apparently more gear will be posted in the coming weeks.

New Free Track from OMD

Via Side-line:

Synthpop legends OMD are apparently back in the studio and getting ready to release their first new album in ages later this year. As a teaser, they've released a free demo version of a new song called "Sister Marie Says".

Kawai K5m on Ebay

One of the first widely-available additive synths...

Akai AK-73 on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oberheim OB-1 on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Get the New Nitzer Ebb Album Early!

In case you've been living under a rock, you probably know that EBM legends Nitzer Ebb are releasing their first new album since 1995's decidedly lackluster "Big Hit". The new album, entitled "Industrial Complex" is a step back to their electronic roots and harkens back to the sound of their early work and is due out January 22nd.

However, if you can't wait until then, you can pick up the 'tour edition' of the album on iTunes right now! I guess they've been selling CD-R copies of the album on their current US tour as a 'tour edition', but so far as I know, there is no other difference in the releases, so this is your chance to get it a couple months early!

GET IT ON Nitzer Ebb - Industrial Complex (Tour Edition)

Korg Delta on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Roland SH-09 on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Free Sample Friday: Vocoded Drums

Most of my American readers probably have today off, but regardless, the weekend is almost here! So here's a small set of 16 drum sounds sent through a vocoder for your downloading enjoyment... All samples are 24-bit/44.1k.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Roland JX-3P on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers! No posts today, as I will be spending the day with friends as we stuff our faces with food until we lose consciousness and, most likely, a little of our self-respect.

In all seriousness, people often lose sight of what the holiday is supposed to represent, so I'd like to take the time to let you all know how thankful I am for you, the readers of my random little missives. Thanks for helping Waveformless to grow!

Access Virus B on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Korg MS-20 on Ebay

I realize it's an awesome synth in great condition, but are people really willing to pay these kinds of prices in the middle of a global recession?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

D16 Group Releases Toraverb 1.2 and Half Off Sale

Plug-in developers D16 Group have released version 1.2 of their Toraverb Space Modulated Reverb Plug-in. This will mainly be of interest to Snow Leopard users, as the plug-in didn't function correctly under it. Here's what they say:

" Since last
version following things has been changed:

- fixed compatibility with Snow Leopard (Mac OSX 10.6.x)
- improved performance (CPU usage decreased by 10-20%)
- other bugs fixed (preset name keyboard focus, VU meters animation,
working with other D16 plug-ins simultaneously on MacOS)

This update mainly focuses on MacOS version, however few things in
Windows' version had been improved as well (efficiency and few
problems with look'n'feel of menus)."

Additionally, D16 is running a sale until December 1st where you can buy any of their plug-in instruments or effects for 50% off.

Review: The Rogue Element - Twisted Electro Sample Library

Library: The Rogue Element Twisted Electro
Wav, Acid, Rex2, Reason Refill, Live Pack, Apple Loops, Halion, Kontakt, EXS, SFZ, Stylus RMX, Live Presets and NNXT
Genre: Electro, House, Dance
Distributed by:
Download £24.95
On the
product page

"The Rogue Element - Twisted Electro" is the latest in Loopmasters acclaimed Artist Series and features the technical wizardry of one DJ Medcalf who has is one half of the sleazy beat merchants Disco of Doom and has had his hands in collaboration with many other artists. As with most of Loopmasters collections, Twisted Electro consists of both loops and sampler instruments in numerous formats. Specifically, there are 30 sampled instruments (including drum kits), 137 electro drum loops, 32 bass loops, and 40 musical loops.

The sounds and production quality are, as we've come to expect from Loopmasters, excellent. What sets this collection apart from the myriad of other electro-oriented sample collections is the more aggressive, nasty sounds used. The bass loops are gritty and in your face without losing the funk and hookiness a dancefloor hit needs. The drum loops are an interesting combination of dirty, clean, and highly technical sounds and exhibit a lot more creativity than your standard 4 to the floor stomper. As a bonus, many of them are without a kick drum, allowing you to customize your productions the way you like them. It's unusual to find such a nice balance of glitch and stomp, but this collection has nailed it and is a good choice if you want to add some progressive, unusual elements to your beats. Helpfully, many beats include variations, and in any instances where the kick drum has a tone to it, the key is provided so you can fit it into your track without it clashing.

The individual sampler sounds consist of tons of nicely-produced drum hits, a couple basses, some tempo-based FX, and some eerie, atmospheric pad sounds. As always, I wished there were more of these instruments, but what is here is excellent and compliments the loops very well.

If you're a producer looking to add some grime and technical flourish to your tracks or remixes, this collection offers a good place to start. The sound quality if great and the entire collection is brimming with originality that is sure to catch your listener's ears. The drum and percussion loops in particular would lend themselves well to a number of genres, not just electro, and their creativity give a unique shot in the arm to just about anything track you throw them on. Highly recommended. [9/10]

Togu Audio Line Releases TAL-Elek7ro II

Everyone's favorite purveyors of free software synths and effects, Togu Audio Line, have released version 2 of their TAL-Elek7ro softsynth. Here's what's new:
  • Completely new filter types, 18dB LP, 24dB LP, 24dB HP, 24 dB BP (Version 2.0).
  • Completely new envelope (Version 2.0).
  • CPU optimations (Version 2.0).
  • Version 2.0 runs parallel to older versions of TAL-Elek7ro.

Octave: The Kitten Synth on Ebay

Info at the link...

Korg Mono/Poly on Ebay

Info at the link...

Today Waveformless is 1000 Posts Old!

Not much else to add that the title doesn't already cover. Boo-ya!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Processing Vocals With Alchemy

Last week I got an e-mail from my friend Daniel needing a remix done quickly for an upcoming EP his band Destroid is putting out. I was happy to oblige and thought it might be a good opportunity to try something out I had been thinking of ever since I first got Camel Audio's excellent Alchemy softsynth. If you're unfamiliar with it, here's an extensive review I did of it when it first came out. The Cliff's Notes version, though, is that Alchemy is a synth designed to manipulate samples in ways that had previously only been the domain of pricey systems like Symbolic Sound's ultra-cool Kyma platform. Basically, any sample becomes clay in your hands to twist and sculpt in tons of different ways. Since I work in a genre that often makes use of manipulated vocals, I wondered immediately what possibilities Alchemy had as a means of creating some twisted vocal effects?

A lot, it turns out. So today, I'll take you through the basics of this, but really, there are so many possibilities, you could fill a book covering it all. You might want to cancel any appointments, because once you try this, it's easy to get lost for hours tweaking and experimenting.

1. Although Alchemy can handle quite large samples, for the sake of keeping things manageable, you'll want to split the vocals up into different sections. Daniel provided me with the vocals already edited this way, so I had, for instance, verse 1 as a file to itself, the chorus as a file to itself, and so on. Of course, you can split the track into as many sections as you like if you want to get really crazy, but I kept it relatively simple, as I intended for the effect to be applied consistently. Be sure to have each file start on a bar marker so you can drop it into your arrangement and have everything time out correctly without any problems.

2. Once you have your vocal edited into sections, it's time to import them into Alchemy. Technically, you could load 4 different sections in each of the 'Sources' and crossfade between them using the X/Y pad or another modulator, but my computer is pretty new and I've got CPU to burn, so I used a separate instance of Alchemy for each part. To import a part, first click in the little Source name window which should default to a SAW wave. A menu will come up giving you a number of options. We want to import some new audio, so click IMPORT AUDIO. A window will come up allowing you to audition and load files from your hard drive. The important thing to remember when you're importing audio into Alchemy is that you need to select which playback engine you want to use to analyze the sound from the buttons at the top of the window. All have different advantages for different types of material, but for this instance, I decided to use the Additive engine to get a more 'artificial' sound. Select the file you want, hit Import, and Alchemy will analyze and load the file. (This might take a little while depending on the length of the clip...)

3. Now the fun can begin. What to tweak first depends on what you want to do with it. I wanted Daniel's vocal to play back in the original tempo, so I stayed away from the POSITION and STRETCH parameters, but with automation, you can definitely program some cool special effects this way - probably ones best used on a single word or fragment thereof. I mainly wanted to screw around with the timbre of his voice, so I stuck mainly to the buttons on the lower part of the SOURCE window. The first of these parameters I messed with was the SYM knob. SYM alters the symmetry of waveform of your sound. Think of it like a pulse-width control you can apply to samples. Turning it to either extreme produces a sort of harmonic buzz to the sound, but at lower levels, it adds a more subtle touch that already makes the vocal sound more mechanical.

4. The next fun parameter to try is the PVAR parameter, which stands for 'pitch variation'. I wanted the vocal melody to come through clearly, so I left this at 100%, but if you crank this down to zero, all pitch variations in a file are reduced to a single pitch, instantly 'robotizing' your sound.

5. The NOSC parameter lets you define how many sine waves are being used to resynthesize your sound. The highest values will give you the most accurate recreation, while extremely low values sound increasingly artificial. The lower values sound great, but it does reduce the high frequency content quite a bit, so if you play with these lower values, you may find you need to do some EQing to brighten things up to an appropriate level. Playing around with different combinations of values for the PVAR and NOSC parameters opens the door to all manner of Kraftwerkian goodness. I set mine at about 40%

6. Finally, I messed around with the PITCH settings a bit. There are different PITCH modes available from the drop down menu beneath the PITCH knob. Which one works for you depends on the application, but for my purposes, I found I got the best results from the 1245-1346 mode. I was almost there, but there were some sort of whistling harmonics present in the sound that I didn't care for, so I cranked the pitch knob all the way down for a more pleasing, buzzy timbre.

7. This already sounded really unique on it's own - almost like a really weird vocoder. So, to emphasize that quality further, I add an instance of Logic's built-in Pitch Correction plug-in to the insert on my Alchemy channel and restricted the scale to only the notes in the melody for less natural sounding transitions between notes.

Keep in mind, that what we did was just ONE of the different analysis engines Alchemy has and we haven't even gotten into using envelopes, LFOs, or step sequencers to modulate some of these parameters... we haven't filtered it... we haven't even delved into the effects section.. we haven't looked at the EDITOR that allows you to tweak things at the partial level. You can imagine how virtually limitless the possibilities are here. Like I said, you're going to lose yourself for hours once you try this. Daniel was kind enough to allow me to post a short snippet of my remix so you could hear the effect in action. The EP is to be released near Christmas on the German Scanner label. Enjoy!

Akai AX-60 on Ebay

Teisco S-60F on Ebay

Info at the listing...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Son of 'Vintage on the Cheap': The Sequel

Last week I made a post about vintage synths you could pick up for pocket change (relatively speaking). I got a ton of mail about this, as well as a lot of helpful suggestions in the comments both here and on Synthtopia. (Thanks, guys!) So, by popular demand, here are some more pieces of vintage gear you can get for a song and a dance. Enjoy!

Akai AX-60 - (typically around $300)
Akai were such a dominant force in the sampler market, that many people don't know that they made synths before sampling came along. And actually quite good synths, at that. The AX-60 was a six voice analog polysynth with a nice interface that people often compare to the Roland Juno-106. The AX-60 was actually quite a bit more flexible than the 106, though, as it included ring modulation and a number of other features not found on the Roland synth. Really nice resonant sweeps and a unison mode for super thick sounds. Also available in an 8-voice version called the AX-80.

Arp Axxe - (typically around $300)
This single-oscillator monosynth often gets overlooked given its relatively simple architecture, but everyone I know who has owned one absolutely loves it. Sure, it's not going to give you Arp 2600 levels of complexity or variety, but if you crave some of the famous Arp sound, this is probably the easiest entry point. There are two versions of this out there that sound a little different. The black and gold version has a bit more of a 'Moogy' filter, while the black and orange version is more typical of the later Arp sound.

Cheetah MS6 - (typically $100-$150)
Cheetah was a relatively short-lived British company and the MS6 was sort of their version of the Oberheim Matrix-1000. Eerily so, actually. The big advantage the MS6 has is that it is programmable right from the front panel, whereas the Matrix-1000 needs to be programmed from a software editor or a Matrix-6. To my ears, the MS6 actually sounded better than the Matrix. It just seems to have a thicker, occasionally almost "evil" sound. It can do some amazing synth strings and despite the envelopes not being super snappy, it can do some nice, meaty basses too.

Korg Poly 800 - (typically $100-$250)
The first synth I ever owned. The Poly-800 combines digitally controlled oscillators with a single analog filter. The single filter wouldn't be an issue, except that this is a polyphonic synth (4 voices if you use two DCOs, 8 if you only use one), which can cause some odd retriggering on sustained notes. It can be kind of an interesting effect, though. Practically speaking, you really need both DCOs to get the best results, as even with the built-in chorus, a single DCO by itself sounds pretty thin. Not an amazing synth by any means, but it can do very nice synth strings, pads, and simple basses. A Mark II version that included a built-in digital delay effect is also available. A rare reversed keys version was also available for the Japanese market only.

Sequential Circuits Six Trak - (typically $300-$400)
While it pales in comparison to Sequential Circuits more famous Pro One and Prophet 5, the Six Trak is capable of some really nice sounds. Six analog voices that can be stacked in a unison mode for more beastly sounds. It generally needs a bit of processing to get the best out of it in the poly mode, but nothing that a little chorus can't sort out. I've found the build quality of a lot of the old Sequential stuff to not be quite as robust as some other manufacturers, so be sure it's in good condition before you buy.

Yamaha TG-33 - (typically $150 or less)
Basically a slightly more beefed-up version of Yamaha's SY-22 keyboard, the TG-33 is a desktop synth that represented one of the first vector synths on the market. It combines 12-bit sampled sounds and FM and you can crossfade between layers using the joystick or various modulators. 8 part multi-timbral too! The biggest disadvantage it has is that it lacks a resonant filter. But if you can get past that, this can do some absolutely stunning pads and atmospheric sounds as well as giving you access to vector type sounds without having to spring for a Prophet VS or Wavestation.

Thanks, Anonymous Waveformless Reader!

A big thanks to the anonymous Waveformless reader who came up to me at the Nitzer Ebb show last night and gave me the nifty Harvestman patch! I had no idea you were based in Seattle. Very cool! Hope you enjoyed the show.

Yamaha CS01 mk II on Ebay

Info at the listing...