Friday, April 29, 2011

Free Sample Friday: Microtonic Meets Decimort

Today's Free Sample Friday consists of synthesized drum sounds created in Sonic Charge's Microtonic and then processed (all at the same setting) with D16 Group's Decimort to dirty them up a bit. 11 24-bit WAV samples weighing in around 650k.


Camel Audio Alchemy Gets Major Update and Alchemy Player Goes Free

Nearly a year in the making, Camel Audio has released Version 1.20.1 of its flagship Alchemy synth. This is a major update adding 64-bit support, RTAS support, vastly expanded sample format, among a ton of other fixes and features. (Check out the complete list below...) Existing users can log in to their accounts on the Camel Audio web page to download the free update.

And in other news, Alchemy Player, the playback-only/limited waveform version of Alchemy, has been made absolutely free. This will definitely give the curious a great way to get a feel for the sound of the synth before buying it.

Now for those new features:

New formats - 64-bit and RTAS
64-bit support for Mac and Windows - access unlimited memory
RTAS Support for Pro Tools on Mac and Windows

SFZ Sample Playback Support
SFZ support - high quality loading of 3rd party and converted SFZs
Key switching for fast access to articulations
Round robin support for added realism
Unlimited zones for velocity, round robin, key switches...
Intelligent sample memory handling halves the sample memory required
Multiple audio file import when holding down 'Shift' with automatic mapping to keys
Easy SFZ loading via File -> Load

Improved GUI and New Skin
New 'Nightshade' skin by BitPlant
Switch skins from the file menu
Volume level meters for master filters and sources
Zoom size remembered for all editors
MSEG curves reset by double-click

Other New Features
Additional mod source for polyphonic aftertouch
Improved auto-assign for performance controls
24 new acoustic reverb presets
Randomise snapshots option
Support for shortcuts or aliases to folders
Improved MIDI program change implementation
Easier, faster, more reliable sound library installation
Supports new '.CamelSounds' file type for easier installation
Improved stability and GUI handling in all hosts
Improved Cameleon preset import
Increased MSEG editor maximum zoom
MSEG stretch mode now allow horizontal dragging
Demo period increased to 4 weeks
Effects rack now supports mouse wheel
Reduced mouse sensitivity when editing breakpoints
Allow use of different spectral palettes
Save consolidated no longer copies factory samples
User details only displayed once per instance
Faster updating of re-mix pad and other controls
Additive editor phase value reset on left click
Copy to all snapshots now works for snapshot volume
All submenus now display a check mark
Comment lines now supported in SFZ files

Tutorial Videos:
New 'Importing Audio' and 'Granular' tutorial videos - over 100 mins of tutorials
Videos now embedded in relevant page of manual

User Library Additions:
Now over 500 presets in User Library
WAV to oscillator and LFO waveform utilities available in user library

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Magic Echo Music PALette Synth on eBay

Info at the listing...

Arp Axxe on eBay

Info at the listing...

Roland EF-303 Step-Effects Processor on eBay

Info at the listing...

Review: Sample Magic NuDisco

Product: SM22 NuDisco
Format: Digital Download of Apple Loops, REX, Stylus RMX, plus Reason NNXT, Logic EXS-24, and Kontakt 2.
Genre: Nu-Disco, Electro, Retro
Distributed by:
Sample Magic
Price: £39.90
Demo: Audio demos on product page.

NuDisco is the latest release from Sample Magic and covers the sound of a style I was previously unfamiliar with. If you're as uninformed as I was, NuDisco mixes elements of 70's disco with 80's funk and electro and gives the resulting music a more modern, polished sounding remix utilizing current dance music techniques such as side-chaining, bit-crushing, and glitching. Got it?

Sample Magic's NuDisco library aims to provide the user with all the elements they need to build their own NuDisco tracks. Nearly 400 one-hit drum sounds and nearly 500 loops are divided up into categories for basslines, drum loops, guitar loops, full music loops, synth loops, tops loops, and vocal loops. The drum loops tend to favor typical 80's electro favorites such as the Roland TR-707, the Emu SP-1200, and the Oberheim DMX. Very 80's sounding reverbs (gated and otherwise) are used throughout, but the compression and punch/stomp of the loops is more consistent with current production standards.

The musical loops are similarly well constructed, and more importantly, the elements they provide are ones you might actually want to use. Almost all of the riffs are extremely catchy and could be just the spark you need to get started on a new track. The juxtaposition of cheesy 80's synths with modern stutter edits and other studio trickery is an interesting one and everything here is beautifully done.

I really had no complaints with this library. The music is catchy, the production quality is excellent and current, and the individual elements work with one another extraordinarily well. As always with Sample Magic libraries, this also includes a helpful PDF booklet containing info on the equipment used to make these loops, as well as tons of very helpful production tips to help you polish your tracks further. If NuDisco is your game, definitely give these a look! [10/10]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Wilhelm Scream

Having worked in video editing and being a bit of a film buff, I'd long known about the industry "in joke" known as the Wilhelm Scream. But if you've never heard of it before, check out this video and you'll notice it EVERYWHERE. Basically, it's a stock sound of a man screaming that has appeared in literally hundreds of films. Synthtopia, has my favorite description, though, referring to it as "the Amen break of cinema."

Piano Undergoes "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"

TORTURED PIANO from tim prebble on Vimeo.

Saw this posted over on MusicOfSound, a fantastic sound design/film sound blog and thought it might be up the alley of my readers. May cause piano players to cry.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Yamaha CS-5 on eBay

Info at the listing...

Quasimidi Raveolution 309 on the eBay

Info at the listing...

Listen to Royksopp's Remix of Depeche Mode's Puppets

As any of you Mode-o-philes out there probably already know, Depeche Mode is releasing an album of remixes of their hits throughout the years. The collection includes remixes from former Depeche Mode members Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, as well as Eric Prydz and other big names. Pitchfork has Royksopp's extremely creative remix of 1981's "Puppets" available to stream and they more or less turn it into an entirely new track by placing the vocal in a very different context. The album will be released on June 7th.

[via Pitchfork]

Wolfram Alpha Releases Wolfram Tones

You may already be familiar with Wolfram Alpha, the so-called "computational knowledge engine", which allows you to ask full questions, solve math problems, etc. Now they've released Wolfram Tones, which uses mathematical formulas and cellular automata to create entirely new pieces of music. Users have control over the style of music, instrumentation, and a handful of other parameters, then Wolfram Tones takes care of the rest. If you like the results, you can download the new composition as a ringtone. The results still sound like something generated by a computer, but it's an interesting bit of technology to be sure!

Happy Birthday, Andy Bell!

Happy Birthday to Erasure's Andy Bell, who turns 47 today!

Sequential Circuits Pro One on eBay

Info at the link...

Oberheim VCF-200 Analog Filter on eBay

Info at the link...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rob Papen gives us a sneak preview of the 'Punch' Virtual Drum Machine

[via Synthtopia]

Free Sample Friday: Cross Mod Bass

Today's free sample selection is a sort of hybrid digital/analog sounding bass created using cross modulation. 5 multi-samples as 24-bit WAVs, weighing in around 1.6 MB.


New Free Tape Korg KPR-77 Sample Set from Wave Alchemy

British sample developers Wave Alchemy have released a brand new free sample set featuring sounds from the vintage Korg KPR-77 drum machine.

Here's what they have to say:

"Tape KPR-77
by Wave Alchemy serves up over 280 free drum samples (recorded directly to 1/4" analogue tape) from the Korg KPR-77 drum machine.

The KPR-77 was originally manufactured by Korg in the early 1980’s and was advertised as a cheaper alternative to Roland’s successful TR-606 drum machine. Surprisingly this quirky little analogue machine is capable of producing quite powerful drum sounds, we are especially fond of the toms, snares and claps!

Tape KPR-77 contains three pre-mapped drum kit patches for use with Kontakt 2, 3, & 4 and Battery 3. Each kit makes use of extensive velocity layering, round robin sample playback and choke groups which in turn capture the quirkiness and expressiveness of the original unit.

The Kits
  • Tape Clean - Includes 127 KPR-77 drum samples which have been recorded directly to 1/4" tape via a Studer A80 Mk1 analogue tape machine at a clean / neutral level. This kit includes 5 round robin samples per sound as well as 3 velocity layers per hit!
  • Tape Saturated – Includes 127 KPR-77 drum samples which have been recorded at a hot level (providing obvious tape saturation) to 1/4" tape via a Studer A80 Mk1 analogue tape machine. This kit includes 5 round robin samples per sound as well as 3 velocity layers per hit!
  • Driven Kit – Includes 27 KPR-77 drum samples which have been recorded and processed through a variety of Wave Alchemy’s outboard studio collection!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moog Polymoog on eBay

Info at the listing...

FutureRetro XS on eBay

Info at the listing...

ARP Educational Modules on eBay

Wow, I've never even heard of this one...

Price of Monotribe Revealed?

Since it was announced at Musicmesse, there has been a lot of speculation about what the price of the Monotribe would be. Now we have some idea, thanks to alert reader Psyche Poppet, who spotted this on the Hard to Find website.

Looks like about £169, or roughly $275. I don't know about you, but I'd say the price is right!

Putting Together a Live Rig

I get a lot of e-mails from new artists and bands asking about how to put together a good set-up for live performing. Given that record sales seem to be on a slow death spiral, the importance of playing live is becoming more important these days. So today, I'll share some thoughts about things to consider before hitting the road.

Backing Tracks
Most electronic acts have at least a portion of their set in one pre-recorded format or another, whether it's coming off a tape machine or a high-powered laptop running Ableton. There are a few important considerations you should mull over before deciding on a format to host those tracks.

• How Much Are You Doing Live?
This is most important in choosing a means to play back your backing tracks. Do you need to change the arrangement on the fly while you're performing or will the song structure remain consistent from night to night? If you need to change things while you're performing, then a laptop is really your only option. However, for most people, something a lot simpler might make sense.

• Replacement Cost
I'm going to share with you a universal truth about touring. Sooner or later, your equipment will get stolen, get left behind at a venue, or simply stop working (usually at the most inopportune moment). Everyone thinks they'll be the one lucky enough to never have something like this happen to them, and soon they learn the hard way. So something to consider when choosing a playback method is how much is it going to cost you to replace it? Do you really need to have a $2,000 MacBook onstage among the heat, stage smoke, and errant fan drinks, or could you get away with using something like an iPod which would cost a fraction to replace and can be found damn near everywhere?

• How Easy to Back-up?
It is imperative that you travel with as many back-ups of your set as possible. So the more possible ways you have to retrieve a corrupted set, the better. A full set-up in a sequencer with audio tracks, samples, etc. is going to be rather large. A great back-up option is to have all your files available on a server to grab as you need them. The weakness here is that you may not have Internet access where you are (and if you scoff at that idea, tour eastern Europe some time). My band uses mastered WAV files to play our backing tracks. Everyone on the tour has copies of the songs and playlists on their personal laptops, they're backed up as both audio and data CDs, and the files are saved on my phone.

For 90% of the bands out there, using the same house monitors that everyone else uses will do just fine. However, you will quickly learn that all monitors are not the same. I've played venues where all but one of the monitors was busted, I've played giant venues with monitors that were so under-powered, you could only hear the echo of the house speakers, and I've played tiny, sketchy-looking venues that had amazing monitoring. You just never know what you're going to get. For some people (especially vocalists), it is worth considering springing for your own in-ear monitoring set-up. There will be some variation here, too, but much less so than relying on the house system, and since it pipes directly into your ears, you don't have to worry about monitors with super narrow "sweet spots" or weird room acoustics messing you up. The downside of these systems is that they're quite expensive and not always easy to replace on the road.

A lot of this is going to be dictated on what your existing band is like, but choosing between acoustic and electronic drums is worth thinking about if you're not married to a particular approach. There is no question that acoustic drums sound amazing live - very powerful and expressive. But if you're playing mostly small club venue, they can occasionally overpower the PA (cymbals especially). Acoustics are also going to take up more room in the van, require a longer soundcheck, and leave you open to a lot more technical problems if your sound guy sucks. If you can get away with it, consider using an electronic set.

Vocal Effects
This is a tough one. On the one hand, most small to mid-sized venues have pretty bare-bones options when it comes to vocal effects. On the other hand, a vocal effects chain you programmed in your home studio may sound like absolute garbage live. I would say the rule of thumb should be, don't try to do your own vocal effects unless you have your own sound guy. I've lost count of the number of bands who tried to control their vocal effects live who ruined otherwise great sets with horrible-sounding vocals swimming in a total overkill of effects. Remember, you're playing live... you're supposed to sound a bit rawer and more immediate. Spend more time working on your voice and less time trying to haul a rack of effects around with you that might just end up making a mess of your vocals.

My bandmates and I have a bit of a running joke where we can tell how long an opening band has been performing by how much gear they have onstage. The more gear, the greener the band. Unless your last name is "Jarre" and you have an army of techs and roadies to haul all of that stuff around, you're going to find that keeping it simple is usually the best option. Aim to get the most out of a smaller amount of gear. The more gear that's on stage, the more channels you'll need, the more the sound guy can potential screw up, and the more stuff you have to load in and load out. That wall of 6 keyboards looks significantly less bad-ass once you've had to carry it up 5 flights of stairs in a venue with no elevator. It takes up room in your trailer/van too. As the old axiom goes, KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

These are just some random thoughts that came to mind on the matter. Anyone else out there have some handy tips from the road?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oberheim OBSX on eBay

Info at the listing...

Paia Stringz n' Thingz on eBay

Info at the listing...

Hotto Engineering Releases Free Spring Reverb Plug-in

German plug-in makers Hotto Engineering have released SpringReverb, a free spring reverb plug-in for Mac and PC in AU and VST format.

[via Rekkerd]

Saving Patches on Pre-Memory Synths

We sort of take it for granted today that our synths have patch memory on them. In fact, for those of us working with software synths, we even take for granted that the exact settings for a particular song will be restored every time we open a song.

But for those of us with a love for vintage synths, patch recreation can be an issue since not many of them include the ability to save patches. So how to remember those crucial settings so you can dial those settings in when you need them?

In the past, you'd write the settings down on a piece of paper or a patch sheet, but since just about everything in existence has a camera built in to it these days, now all it requires is a well-lit overhead shot of your patch panel. Even better? You can name the photo files with synth name, patch name, or descriptors that make searching for it on your computer a breeze!