Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arturia Announces Wurlitzer V

Hot on the heels of their Oberheim SEM emulation, Arturia has announced Wurlitzer V, an electric piano emulation with extensive effects.

"The Wurlitzer V is a high end software recreation of the classic Wurlitzer 200A electric piano.

Unlike sample libraries, its physical modeling engine reproduces the very acoustic properties of reeds, key action and amplification, bringing you high realism while offering maximum flexibility on sound.

As most producers know, the legendary bright and overdriven Wurlitzer sound heard on classic records also comes from the use of fine amplifiers, micing and processing. This is why the Wurlitzer V goes further by putting you in command of a studio from the 70’s, filled with vintage stompboxes and classic tube amps… everything you need to get a true classic vibe!

If you are looking for a lively electric piano combined with inspiring studio tools, the Wurlitzer V is the ultimate package.

  • Physical Modeling of the classic Wurlitzer 200A Electric Piano
  • Advanced parameters to allow in-depth control over your sound design
  • Includes 11 classic stompbox-type modeled effects
  • 4 Guitar Tube Amps and 1 Rotary Speaker modeling for vintage live sound 
  • Extensive MIDI mapping of pedals, effects and sound engine parameters"

Depeche Mode Studio Being Set Up

Here's timelapse video of Depeche Mode's synths being set-up in the studio for work on their new album.

[via Matrixsynth and DepecheMode on YouTube]

Roland SH-2 on eBay

Info at the listing...

Yamaha CS-15 on eBay

Info at the listing...

Yamaha SY-77 on eBay

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Band Releases Album on NES Cartridge

Talk about niche marketing - Alabama band Fort Atlantic has released a digital version of their self-titled debut album on an NES cartridge.  Well, kind of.  The  cartridge won't work in an NES console, it connects to any computer via a USB cable.  So it's essentially a cool housing for a flash drive.  Cool idea!

[via Geekosystem]

Men Without Hats Return with Skinny Puppy Producer

Canadian new-wavers Men Without Hats have reformed and completed their first new album in almost a decade, called "Love in the Age of War".  Ex-Skinny Puppy producer Dave "Rave" Ogilve handled production duties.  Above is a short interview with front man Ivan Doroschuk, followed by their first single, entitled "Head Above Water".


Rhys Fulber Shares Gear Demos

Rhys Fulber of Frontline Assembly, Delirium, and Conjure One has shared a handful of gear demos via Soundcloud of some of his most asked-about gear:  The Jomox Sunsyn, The Waldorf Q+, and the Serge Modular.

Thomas Dolby Explains Synthesizers on Kid's Show

"When Farkas buys a robot to help him get rid of the musicians of Faffner Hall on Make a New Sound Day, the gang borrows some parts from the robot to construct a synthesizer so they can make all kinds of new sounds. Fughetta doesn't understand how a synthesizer works so the Wild Impressario turns to his best source, Thomas Dolby, to explain it to her."

[via HensonCompany on YouTube]

Arp Odyssey MK II on eBay

Info at the listing...

Elektron SIDstation on eBay

Info at the listing...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sonic State Looks at the Nord Drum

[via Sonicstate]

Free Quasimidi Quasar Samples from Rhythm Lab

Cyberworm over at Rhythm Lab has posted a free sample set featuring sounds from Quasimidi's Quasar synth.  62 samples/100 MB in total.


Interesting Feature on Karl Bartos has an interview/feature on ex-Kraftwerker Karl Bartos worth checking out...

Profile of Rebecca Allen, Kraftwerk's Original 3D Artist

One could argue that Kraftwerk's image as a band was every bit as important to their aesthetic as their music.  Rebecca Allen was a big part of helping to cultivate their futuristic image with her ground-breaking 3D images and videos.  Check out this interesting profile of her work with Kraftwerk on Wired! [Thanks to Isaac for bringing this to my attention.]

Music from Nature by Diego Stocco

Sound designer Diego Stocco (the man who brought you the infamous burning piano samples in Omnisphere) was commissioned by Burt's Bee's to create a piece of music for earth day using sounds created by natural sources.  Just a reminder that you don't need the latest greatest equipment... there are sounds all around you just waiting to be made into music!

[via Burtsbeesvideos on [YouTube]

Moog Rogue with MIDI mod on eBay

Info at the listing...

Frostwave Resonator Prototype on eBay

Clone of the Korg MS-20 filter.  This was mass-produced, but this is apparently the original prototype.

Info at the listing...

Arp Odyssey on eBay

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Pre-NIN Trent Spotting

Here's some footage of Trent doing keyboard duties for a Cleveland band called Slam Bamboo.  You can spot him at about :58 plinking away on a Prophet-5 and looking as if he is realizing this video will one day come back to haunt him.  (Thanks for sending this, Matt!)

RIP: Greg Ham of Men at Work

Greg Ham, keyboardist/flautist/sax player for the Australian group Men at Work has been found dead.  Friends became concerned when they hadn't heard from Ham in awhile and they discovered his body.  A cause of death has yet to be determined.  He was 58.

[via the Los Angeles Time]

Review: Tone2 Saurus

Product: Saurus Analog Synth
Developer: Tone2
Format: PC (VST) and Mac (VST and AU)
Price: $119
Demo: Audio demos and Downloadable Demo 

Saurus is the newest release from German software developers Tone2.  This time out, their aim is to reproduce the analog sound of classic synths in an easy to program environment and without a lot of CPU overhead.  Let's have a look!

Installation and authorization is as simple as downloading the installer and locating the key file you're issued when you purchase Saurus.  Once you've done that, so long as you don't move or delete the key file, you're good to go!

Documentation comes via a concise, but thorough PDF manual.  No complaints here.

As you might expect, the interface of Saurus is made to look like the lovely knob-laden vintage synths, right down to the dust rendered on the keyboard (a nice touch).  Everything is easy to read and clearly laid out and should be more or less immediately familiar to anyone with a background in subtractive synthesis.

The top left of the interface hosts the patch browser.  Here you can increment sound by sound, select sounds from a drop-down menu, switch banks (which are organized by category), initialize sounds (or just the arpeggiator or mod matrix.  You can also load sounds manually from another drive here.

Below this, you'll find the oscillator section.  Saurus's voice structure consists of 2 analog modeled osciallators, each with it's own dedicated sub oscillator.  All of the expected classic analog waves are found here in addition to some variations similar to some of the waves on the Roland Alpha Juno synths.  The main oscillators include pulse width controls, and the ability to use hard sync or ring modulate.  Additionally, there are the F/A Noise controls.  These allow you to create noisy timbres using FM or AM.  Unfortunately, there is no proper white noise generator on Saurus.  While the FM and AM can get close, the noise that results from these processes sounds a bit more like the digital noise produced by old video game chips.  Cool, but not a substitute for the real deal. [EDIT: Actually, there turns out to be a white noise generator, but it's only accessible from the modulation matrix.  This is very unintuitive and unnecessarily complicated.  A dedicated knob, please.]   In addition to tuning and mixing controls for the oscillators, there is a button to activate the analog drift to simulate the imperfections of analog oscillators.  I'd have preferred an amount knob here to let me control the amount of drift, as it seems a bit subtle at its current setting.

Saurus is equipped with a single multi-mode filter featuring 12 and 24db variations on lowpass, bandpass, and highpass filters.  The expected cutoff, resonance, key and envelope amounts are all here in addition to a drive effect for dirtying up sounds, filter FM, a feedback control, and a dedicated ADSR filter envelope.

There are additional ADSR envelopes for amplitude and an aux envelope for modulating the parameters of your choice. The amplitude envelope section also includes all the voicing controls allowing you to select mono and poly modes, glide, and controls allowing for 2 or 4 times unison with spread control.

Two LFOs are available for modulation purposes including all the standard analog waveforms, phase and frequency controls, as well as an option to sync to note values of the host DAW.

The arpeggiator/step sequencer shares a window with the modulation matrix.  You can switch between them easily using tabs.  The arpeggiator (which can be used as a modulation source) is fully featured and easy to program.  Lots of fun to play with and really more like a step sequencer than a lowly arp (although it does that job well, too).  The mod matrix provides tons of sources and destinations making this a mod freak's dream. A total of 15 slots split across 3 tabs are available, meaning you aren't likely to run out.

Finally, Saurus is equipped with a simple effects section providing chorus, reverb, delay, and tube effects.

I really have to hand it to Tone2 here, as they've managed to find a very nice balance between lots of sound sculpting options and simplicity.  While I never would've recommended a synth like Gladiator 2 to a beginner, Saurus is much easier to pick up and logically laid-out.

I have to admit that when I first started going through the presets, my first thought was, "Well, this definitely sounds like a Tone2 synth."  Now, I happen to be a fan of their previous instruments, so that's definitely a compliment.  What I wasn't hearing, though, was that analog vibe that they had sought out to replicate.  On the contrary, many of the sounds sounded like standard virtual analog to my ears.

It wasn't until I really spent some time with the synth that it's analog nature started to reveal itself. This is a synth that is very capable of creating convincing analog emulations, but it can also go beyond that, and unfortunately for Tone2, I think more of their presets fall into this "beyond" category than do the convincing analog sound.  Don't get me wrong, the non-analog sounding patches sound fantastic, but I think it would've been a wiser decision to restrict the factory presets to sounds that really pop out as sounding vintage versus stuff more akin to a Virus.

The filter of Saurus is the real star of the show in my opinion.  The lowpass filter in particular has the nasty screeching quality the MS-20 had and the drive can really beef up the synth's sound.    The oscillators sound good, although they still sound a bit too perfect to my ears.  There is a "living" quality to the oscillators in FXpansion's Strobe or u-he's DIVA that I'm just not hearing here.  Maybe a little more control over the amount of imperfection would be helpful here.

The modulation capabilities are really generous and open up lots of fun possibilities for eager programmers.  Effects are simple, but sound good and can really add some dimension to sounds.  It might be nice to see some more vintage type effects here like a phaser or a spring reverb.  A simple EQ might be nice too, as I sometimes felt the sounds could use a little more low-end warmth.

Soundwise, it's difficult to compare Saurus to classic instruments.  It certainly can pull off Alpha Juno sounds convincingly.  It can do vaguely Moog-y and ARP-y sounds, but overall Saurus kind of has it's own sonic identity.  I should also mention that Saurus has quite modest CPU requirements, so if something like DIVA brings your computer to its knees, this'll likely work better for you.

Saurus is proof that your first impressions aren't always correct.  The abundance of modern sounding presets Saurus ships with mislead me to think this was just another bog standard virtual analog. If you know what you're doing, though, you'll find there are lots of convincing analog tones in here waiting to be discovered.  So how does it compare to other contenders such as Strobe or DIVA?  I'd say it's not quite at the level of those two, but it's damn good, cheaper than either of those, and less of a hit to the CPU.    If you just want a preset machine that is going to give you tons of vintage tones, you might consider looking elsewhere, but if you like to program your own sounds, you should definitely give them demo a spin.  It's a lot of fun to program! [8/10]

Korg 800DV on eBay

Info at the listing...

Roland Jupiter-6 on eBay

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Akai AX-60 on eBay

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Korg Poly-61 on eBay

Info at the listing...

Free Yamaha SHS-10 Samples from Bedroom Producer Blog

One of the best thing about the internet is that it has made sounds from rare, old, or weird gear easier to come by than ever.  Case in point, this free sample set from Bedroom Producers Blog that samples Yamaha's toy keytar, the SHS-10.


Sequential Circuits Pro One on eBay

Info at the listing...