Friday, June 29, 2012

Free Sample Friday: Wurlydist

Today's free sample is an atmospheric keyboard sound created using a distorted Wurlitzer type tone from Logic's built-in EVP-88 with a short decay setting and D16 Audio Group's Toraverb.
Set this up with a long release when you bring it into your sampler of choice for best results.  5 stereo WAVs @ 24 bits with the root keys listed in the file name.  Approximately 10.7 MB.


Sequential Circuits Prophet Remote on eBay

Keytar made for controlling the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5.  This appears to be a custom paint job, as I've only ever seen the all black version.

Jen SX-1000 on eBay

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Access Virus TI OS 5.0 Goes Public

Access Music has released the public beta of version 5.0 of the Virus Operating System.  The most exciting features consist of an additional 2 envelopes and 7 brand new filter types.  As always, the update is free to existing Virus users.

The Sound of a Dial-up Modem Slowed Down 700%

Must've missed this when it made the rounds originally, but here you have the sound of a dial-up modem (that's what grandmas and grandpas used to use to get on the Facebooks back in the day) slowed down 700% using the free Paulstretch program.  Reminds me of sounds from the original Star Trek series.

Arp Odyssey on eBay

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sequential Circuits Prophet VS on eBay

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Stream the New Dead Can Dance Album

It's been nearly 16 years since the legendary Dead Can Dance have released new material, but that is all set to change with the upcoming release of "Anastasis".  You can presently download a free track and stream the entire album from the band's website.  Like what you hear?  You can also pre-order the album including a pretty nifty looking deluxe edition.

Aging Your Softsynths

It's amazing to see what strides software synths have made in such a short time.  Synth engines are getting slicker-sounding, effects quality is improving, and now even huge, cinematic sounds are easily accessible to most people.  But there's something about old, vintage gear that offers certainly qualities that don't always come naturally to many softsynths.  Not everyone can afford the price of many of these beasties, though, and given how old some of them are getting, reliability becomes a concern, too.  So today, I thought we'd talk about ways to make your softsynths sound more like well-loved, vintage gear.

1. Drift
Back in the days before digitally-controlled oscillators, most synths were outfitted with the analog variety.  Analog is valued over digital because the oscillators are more imperfect and prone to tuning discrepancies than digital gear.  With extreme discrepancies, this can be an awful problem, but in general, this leads the oscillators to sound warm and more alive.  It's not uncommon for many new virtual analog softsynths to have a drift parameter, but even if it doesn't, you can still simulate it.  Set up an LFO to modulate the pitch of one of your oscillators.  You want to set the amount relatively low, so you're only detuning by about 20 cents at most.  For best results, you'll want to set modulating LFO's waveform to Sample & Glide.  Not all synths have this, but it is essentially like Sample & Hold, although where Sample & Hold modulates to different values with hard changes between values, Sample & Glide glides from value to value for a smoother sound.  Make sure your LFO is set to a relatively slow speed.  If you have a second LFO, set that up to modulate the second oscillator with slightly different settings.  Just be sure to keep it pretty subtle.  Of course, you can obviously experiment with more extreme values if you want that sea-sick, Boards of Canada sound, too.

2. Know Your Limitations
The synths of yesteryear, while sounding great, are undoubtedly much more limited than the synths of today, so try to keep that in mind while programming vintage sounds.  For instance, many of the early synths were monophonic, so program your sounds accordingly if you're after that sound. Most early synths weren't stereo either, so avoid big, wide unison sounds for the most part. Early synths only offered a handful of basic waveforms, so don't start with a 128-layer piano sample and expect it to sound like a vintage synth.  Start with sawtooth, triangle, pulse, or sine waves and go from there.  Velocity-sensitivity wasn't very common in the early days either, so be conscious of that.  If you're imitating the sound of a particular synth, check out a place liked Vintage Synth Explorer and read up on the features and limitations of the synth you want to imitate.

3. Output/Input
All manner of outboard gear can help add the imperfections of real, vintage gear to your softsynths.  Try feeding a softsynth sound out of your DAW, through a mixer, and back into your DAW again to add a little noise and coloration.  Have a real synth like a Virus that has filter inputs or even an old analog with filter inputs?  Feed your softsynths through these to lend a bit more of a genuine feel.  Want to get more extreme?  Find a crappy pre-amp, guitar-amp, or an old tape recorder and send your pristine synths through those.

4.  Effects
Part of the reason why synths sound the way they do on classic records is because of the effects used.  Like synths, effects were much more primitive in the 70's and 80's, so keep it basic.  Look for spring reverbs, tape delays, simple chorus effects.  And don't forget to try a bit of some of the effects that were much more common back then such as flanging and phasing.  Try to avoid big, sparkling, stereo effects in most cases.  There are lots of plug-ins that imitate classic effects, but you may also be able to wrangle some up on eBay for fairly cheap.  Look for something like the old Zoom or Alesis Quadraverb units.  Feeding softsynths through a real, cheap effects unit will definitely give you some flavor.

Have any tips you like to use for making your new synths sound more seasoned?  Share it in the comments!

Ensoniq ESQ-1 on eBay

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Korg Z1 on eBay

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

R.I.P. Jamie Duffy

Sad news for the underground music scene today as news reaches us that musician and engineer Jamie Duffy took his life last night.  While he may not have been well-known outside the music underground, Duffy had a decade plus career in the bands Acumen, Acumen Nation, and DJ Acucrack, as well as being a sound engineer on countless other albums.  Here's hoping he has found peace from his demons.

Get Your Free Minimoog-V Original from Arturia (If you can...)

For today and today only, you can download a special version of Arturia's Minimoog-V for absolutely free.  In theory, at least.  As pretty much anyone could've predicted, Arturia's servers have been getting slammed, making it all but impossible to actually get it.  Here's hoping they decide to extend the download period a bit, but I'm not holding my breath. (And yes, I'm fully aware of the irony that my posting this will only make things worse.)

Yamaha FS1R on eBay

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Korg Electribe ES-1 on eBay

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Access Virus B on eBay

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Togu Audio Line Working on First Commercial Release

For some time, Togu Audio Line has built a reputation as one of the highest quality freeware music software companies out there.  Now comes news that they are working on their first commercial release, U-No-LX, a completely redone Roland Juno-60 clone.  Many are already familiar with the company's already excellent "U-No-62", but the new version is a complete ground-up reprogramming of the simulation that promises an even closer sound to the original.  Here's what they had to say:

"We currently work on a new Juno-60 emulation with a fully rewritten new engine and GUI. Up to date zero feedback delay filters and carefully calibrated controls make this synth a good replacement for the analog device with all the advantages software plugins have. It’s even possible to recreate old Juno patches from an existing patch sheet. As an addition, the TAL_U-NO-LX also supports portamento and different LFO waveforms and some more useful features. An arpeggiator with different sync modes and hold function is also included. This new version will also be available as 64bit OSX AU and VST plugin. It was hard to calibrate a synth that has different envelope times on every voice, but we even copied this to some degree :)"
No pricing has been announced, but apparently anyone who had donated $17 or more to Togu prior to June 11, 2011 will receive a free license.  Still not convinced?  Check out this demo which compares the plug-in to the real deal. (The real Juno-60 is first in all examples with U-No-LX second.)

Cosey Fanni Tutti Piece Inspired by Boingboing Writer's Cancer Treatment

Legendary ex-Throbbing Gristle member Cosey Fanni Tutti has created an 18 minute piece called "Bioschismic" inspired by Boingboing contributor Xeni's recent cancer treatment.  Here's what Cosey had to say:

"Bioschismic" is created solely from audio and photographic documentation of Xeni’s time spent receiving chemotherapy. The repetitive drip drip rhythm of the toxic chemicals measured in precise doses over a specific period of time provide the prospect of extending (life) time. Time is the dominant force yet the effects of the drugs change the experience of time to a space that is other worldly -- a different time zone -- a schism within and for life itself.

[via BoingBoing]

Meat Beat Manifesto Tests Some Synths

Meat Beat Manifesto has had a long career over which they've accumulated an enviable stable of rare analog synth beasties.  Here is a short video/song that demonstrates some of them.  Which synths do you spot?

[via carrierfreQ on YouTube and Matrixsynth]

Korg Trident on eBay

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Roland SH-3a on eBay

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Roland JD-800 on eBay

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Yamaha CS-5 on eBay

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Monday, June 18, 2012


Since the dawn of recorded music, musicians spanning every genre imaginable have longed to harness the musicality of human burps and farts.  Finally, technology has advanced to the point where this dream can be transformed into a breath-taking reality.  Syncersoft has announced the release of a new VST instrument for Windows called Amusing Sounds of the Body.  Featuring 21 different "noise profiles", this instrument at last allows you to sprinkle sneezing & urinating sounds throughout your heretofore unfinished symphony.  Did I mention it's free, too?  Mark this day on your calendar, people.  One day people will talk about this in the same hushed reverence as they do the Minimoog.

Quasimidi The Raven on eBay

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Oberheim OB-X on eBay

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Free Sample Friday: Raw Modular Drone

Today's Free Sample Friday will actually require a little extra editing work form you (boo! hiss!).  Adam has provided the above 12-minute audio clip of him messing around with his DotCom modular synth.  Lots of chaotic goodness to choose from, edit, and turn into new instruments of your own!  Enjoy!  And thank you, Adam!

Arturia to Release Free Version of Minimoog-V

Arturia's license on the Moog name for their Minimoog-V and Moog Modular-V are about to run out.  They will shortly relaunch as Mini-V and Modular-V.

In the meantime, Arturia has announced that for one day only, they will release an absolutely free commemorative edition of Minimoog-V.  June 21st is the magic day when you can download this softsynth which has all the standard features of the Minimoog, but loses the extra features added in the paid version of Minimoog-V. As if that wasn't enough, 1,000 patches are included.  So mark your calendars, and prepare for lots of swearing and on-line complaints when their servers get overloaded!

Waldorf Microwave XT on eBay

Info at the listing...