Friday, August 30, 2013


Free Sample Friday: Jupiter-8 Martian Cello

Today's free sample selection is sourced from Arturia's Jupiter-8v.  This is a vaguely stringish synth sound with an interesting attack I programmed from scratch.  You'll want to program a long release on this for best results.  And if you happen to own Jupiter-8v, you can click on the picture above to copy the original patch.  6 samples @24-bit/44.1k with a long sustain for looping weighing in at around 12.9 MB.


Roland SH-2 on eBay

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Future Retro 777 on eBay

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trent Reznor Offers Two Different Mastered Versions of New Album

Nine Inch Nails has been getting a lot of press in recent days now that iTunes is allowing fans to stream the full album before it is officially released, but it's one of the technical details of the release that has me more interested than the actual music.  In response to the infamous "Loudness Wars" (read about it here, if you're unfamiliar), Trent Reznor has elected to make the digital release of his new album available in two different versions.

The first, which will be the version available via iTunes, Amazon, and the other big digital music retailers, is the standard "loud" master that tends to be the standard for mainstream music these days - loud at the expense of dynamics.  The second version, which will be available via, will be an "audiophile" master which, while not as loud, preserves the dynamics and represents the music more faithfully.

I applaud Mr. Reznor for this decision and hope other artists will follow.  The only way we're going to dial back from the "turn everything into a brick" mentality, is if larger artists reject it, or at least offer their fans the option to buy a copy with preserved dynamics.

[via Synthtopia]

Korg Prophecy on eBay

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Roland System 100m on eBay

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Impact Soundworks "Juggernaut"

Product: "Juggernaut"Cinematic Electronic Scoring Tools Sample Library
Developer: Impact Soundworks
Format:  Native Instruments Kontakt 5 and Kontakt 5 Player
Price: $179
Demo:  Audio demos on product page.

"Juggernaut" is a Kontakt-based instrument aimed at providing fresh new bass, drum, and FX sounds for composers of electronic scores for games, trailers, commercials, television, and movies.  It is divided into two custom Kontakt instruments, "Bass Juggernaut" and "Drums and FX Juggernaut", the purpose of if each being fairly obvious from their names.

Bass Juggernaut consists of about 50 bass patches divided into selectable categories for Solid, Mover, Disto, Fuzz, and One Shot.  Patches are selected by a custom preset window, which also includes octave controls to knock the sound up or down by octave in pitch.  A master volume dial sits to the right of this.  Below and to the right is a simple ADSR envelope to control the Amplitude, Coarse and Fine tuning controls, selectable pitch bend amount, Mono/Poly mode, a global limiter effect on/off switch, and a control to delegate whether the modwheel triggers a vibrato effect or opens the filter cutoff.

To the right of that are two panels.  The first of these is a very simple gate sequencer that allows you to create rhythmic patterns of varying velocities.  There is no way to re-assign the sequencer to modulate any other parameters, but it is still quite useful for creating dynamic rhythmic patterns.  A handful of knobs allow you to select the number of steps, the sync note value, and other timing-oriented parameters, and a drop down menu includes a handful of very good preset patterns and the ability to save you own brand new patterns.

Below that is a multi-effects section that consists of filter, reverb, delay, bitcrush, EQ, chorus, amplifier, and phaser effects, all with individual on and off options and a handful of adjustable parameters per effect.   As with the sequencer, you can save presets for your effects combinations.

Sonically, the source sounds tend to fall into the categories of sub basses, distorted or overdriven synth basses, FM basses, and Massive-like wavetable timbres.  Everything is well-recorded, looped, and mapped, but I have to be honest that most of the sounds left me a bit underwhelmed.  There is nothing especially heinous here, but I found most of them to have a rather static, digital feel to them.  For instance, there are some nice Massive-like wavetable basses, but after the initial attack, they settle into a smooth, but boring sustain.  Part of what makes Massive so appealing is how much you can make the sound evolve just through modulation alone.  Sadly, there just aren't many modulation options available here, so you're kind of stuck with what you've got.

There is potential here for sure.  Adding a second layer/oscillator and allowing the user to select waveforms and tunings for each would expand the potential number of sounds a lot.  Expanding what can be modulated with the sequencer beyond just gates would be great, too, although you can get some very cool-sounding stuff out of the gate sequencer alone.  More, and more-interesting source material would be great, too.  I'd just love to hear some more "alive" sounding sounds.  These definitely sound like sampled sounds to me.  There is just a certain sterility here that reminds me a bit of early ROMplers.


Fortunately, the Juggernaut Drums & FX instrument fares much better.  The center of the interface consists of four sections of 8 virtual mixers channels each.  A different drum or FX sound can be loaded into each slot with individual tuning, levels, and pan position, allowing you build complete kits. And, unlike with Juggernaut Bass, there is actually the option to save your patches.

To the right of the virtual mixer are some controls for auditioning sounds.  A switch allows you to switch between the drums and FX samples, while category buttons allow you to audition specific types of sounds all at once.

Below that is an effects section similar to that of Juggernaut Bass, but with a few additional options. In this case, your effects are saved with any patches you save versus being loaded and save on a separate menu.  Also found here is a simple ADSR amplitude envelope and a "1-Click Hype" button that instantly adds transient, saturation, and exciter effects to whatever the loaded kit is.

The quality of the sounds on offer here are tons more interesting than the bass section, in my opinion.  Although there is no round-robin or multi-velocity samples here, the sounds themselves are far more compelling and also far more deserving of the "cinematic" description.  Make no mistake, these are no subtle drum sounds, these are all aggressively processed and in your face.

The Effects section is just as excellent as the Drums section with a huge selection of drops, sweeps, uplifters, impacts, and more, all of which have a great sense of oomph.

Juggernaut is a bit of a mixed bag.  On one hand, the bass instrument kind of left me cold.  Your mileage may definitely vary here, but there is nothing here I would reach for before firing up a softsynth or a hardware synth.  This wouldn't be as much of an issue if there were more options to layer and sculpt your sounds, but, with the exception of tweaking the effects, Bass Juggernaut is more or less a preset machine.  I think there is great potential here for a hypothetical Juggernaut 2, if Impact Soundworks expands that flexibility a bit.

The Drums & FX section, on the other hand,  is fantastic.  Again, these are heavily-processed, loud, in your face sounds.  If you want something subtle, you'll probably want to look elsewhere, but if you want some aggressive drum, percussion, and FX sounds, this has those in abundance.

Pricewise, I think Juggernaut is a bit over-priced for what it offers.  There is some good stuff here, but probably not $179 worth.  I'd find it much easier to recommend at the $99 price point. (Or perhaps offer the Bass and Drums & FX instruments separately at a lower price?)

Impact Soundworks has made some fantastic sample libraries, and I feel like they will continue to improve if they stick with it.  "Juggernaut" feels like an instrument in transition to me as it presently stands.  A Juggernaut 2 with more dynamic samples and increased sound-tweaking capabilities could be a monster indeed.  As it stands, this is a great place to look if you need some hard and gritty drum samples.  [7/10]

Sequential Circuits Six Trak on eBay

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Korg Poly-800 on eBay

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Free Sample Friday: Synth Pluck

Today's free multi-sampled instrument is a plucked sawtooth synth through some light reverb.  Perfect for trance or any style that would benefit from some tightly rhythmic sequencing.  8 mono WAV samples @24 bit/44.1k weighing in around 2.4 MB.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Oops: Steve Aoki Caught Using Kracked Software

Stoneyroads broke the story today that Steve Aoki got caught using pirated software in his newest promo video.  In the video, you can clearly see a copy of Lennar Digital's Sylenth 1 synth marked with the words TEAM ARCADE, a well-known kracking group.  Aoki is not only the 11th highest paid DJ in the world, he is also the son of the owner of the Benihana's restaurant chain.  Tsk tsk.

The Funniest Thing You'll See All Day

So, in case you hadn't heard, Nine Inch Nails released another track from their upcoming "Hesitation Marks" album.  Many fans were taken surprise by the song's unusually upbeat sound, and this being the internet, you can believe the hyperbole about how "horrible" it was on full tilt.  So here's a video having a bit of fun with that.  Happy Thursday.

D16 Group Announces Sigmund Multi Delay Effect

Hot on the heels of their excellent LuSH-101 synth, D16 Group has announced Sigmund, a high quality, full-featured delay effect.    Sigmund is based around 4 individual delay lines, each of which can be independently processed with feedback, multi-mode filter, overdrive, and amplitude modulator allowing for creative effects that reach beyond standard delay effects.

Sigmund is set to be released in mid-September.  Pricing is TBA.

Roland SH-2 on eBay

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Kawai K5 on eBay

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Roland SH-101 on eBay

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Logic Pro X Updates to 10.0.2

Apple has released an update to their newly released Logic Pro X software.  The 10.0.2 update contains a number of bug fixes and CPU boosts:

  • Logic Pro X should no longer quit unexpectedly when:
    • Resizing a movie window while in full screen mode.
    • Opening a Text Style window in the Score Editor.
    • While making adjustments in the EXS Editor.
    • Inserting notes in the Step Editor.
    • Going back a large number of steps in the Undo History.
    • Double-clicking the Drummer button in the Add New Track dialog.
    • Selecting all audio files in the Bin and then using the Copy/Convert command to relocate and convert them to another format.
    • Clicking an Apple Loop in the browser while another loop was playing back in the project.
    • Exporting a video with a cycle region active in the project.
    • Changing the Slope parameter in the Space Designer plug-in while using very long synthetic impulse responses.
  • Resolves an issue in which Logic Pro X might consume an unexpectedly large amount of CPU power while downloading content.
  • The Capture Last Take key command no longer erases a MIDI recording.
  • Improved CPU performance with audio plug-ins.
  • Fixes and issue in which changing the bypass state of a plug-in while Logic Pro was playing caused a CPU spike that might lead to an overload message.
  • Fixes an issue in which starting playback of the Ultrabeat sequencer could cause CPU spikes.
  • Using the Eraser tool to delete large numbers of notes in the Piano Roll no longer causes a long delay.
  • Improved CPU performance with MIDI plug-ins.
  • Fixes an issue in which playing notes into the Arpeggiator might lead to CPU overloads.
  • Includes various fixes to improve performance in Full Screen mode.
  • Specific Zoom and Snap functions in the Piano Roll now behave as expected when using a graphic tablet input device.
  • The Apogee Control Panel is again accessible in Logic Pro X when using an Apogee Duet connected via Firewire.
Flex Editing
  • All tracks in a phase-locked edit group now remain in phase after using the "Reset all Flex Edits" command.
  • The "Set to Neutral Position" command is now correctly applied to all regions in a phase-locked edit group.
  • Tracks in a phase-locked edit group which have been flex edited now remain phase locked after changing a project's tempo.
  • Improved formant preservation when shifting notes up or down by several semitones with Flex Pitch.
Track Stacks
  • Fixes an issue in which changing patches on a track that was soloed would cause any other soloed track stacks to become un-soloed.
  • Arming and disarming the main track in a Track Stack now reliably affects all sub-tracks that are part of the same group.
  • Changing the font for Numbers & Names and then subsequently changing the font for another Text style no longer causes the second edit to be incorrectly applied to the Numbers & Names style.
  • Note heads now display as expected in the Note Attributes window when using Sigler Jazz or Swing fonts.
  • The Score preference previously labeled "Auto split notes in multi staff chord styles" is now labeled "Auto split notes in polyphonic staff styles.".
  • Tablature for 5-string banjo now displays correctly.
  • The Staff Style window now behaves as expected when Link mode was disabled.
  • Resolves an issue in which the text header and footer in Score were incorrectly positioned when printing or saving to PDF.
  • Fixes an issue in which the window focus unexpectedly jumped to the wrong area when editing a Staff Style with Link mode on.
  • Resolves an issue in the Score Editor in which it was possible to sometimes inadvertently select multiple notes when clicking on one note.
  • Fixes an issue in which the Fills and Swing knobs in the Drummer Editor were accessible in cases where no region was selected.
  • Double-clicking on a Drummer region now opens or closes the editor.
  • Patch merging now works with Drummer patches.
  • Drummer regions are now created properly in songs with a start position before 1 1 1 1.
  • The movie inspector now shows the correct move when two songs with movies are open at the same time.
  • Resolves an issue in which some supported movie files did not play in Logic Pro X.
  • Improves the chase behavior of movies when repositioning regions.
  • Movies containing a timecode track are now properly clipped to match an active cycle zone when exported from Logic Pro X.
User Interface
  • Resolves several issues in which Logic Pro X might display the wrong cursor.
  • The cursor now displays the correct tools when it is placed between transient markers while working in Flex Time mode within a Take folder.
  • Resolves an issue in which objects in the Environment window might snap much too far to the right when moved.
  • Increased window sizing flexibility when using Logic on portable computers.
  • Resolves an issue in which sliders in various preference windows had no effect until they were released.
  • Addresses a graphic issue in which the Piano Roll Editor could display an empty window.
  • Right-clicking in the Piano Roll now correctly brings up the Tool menu when the "Right Mouse Button: Opens Tool Menu" preference is set.
  • When a region color is changed, the color in the Step Editor now immediately updates as expected.
  • Resolves an issue in which the Playhead might not appear if an editor in the Main window is opened, closed, and then opened again.
  • Fixes an issue in which the Key Commands window might become inaccessible after entering and then leaving full screen mode.
  • Resolves an issue in which selecting a note in the Piano Roll might cause the visible area to jump to notes below the selected note.
  • The insert guideline now appears at the correct position when clicking with the Pencil tool when working with Flex Pitch in the Audio Editor.
  • The screen now redraws as expected when using the Select Next Event and Select Previous Event key commands in the Event List editor.
  • It is again possible to open plug-in windows while recording.
  • Fixes an issue in which AU plug-in names might incorrectly display as 4-character IDs in the mixer insert slot on systems running in Russian or Czech.
  • The LCD now properly displays minor song keys.
  • Fixes an issue in which it might not be possible to set the Mixer window to use all the vertical space on a display.
  • Resolves an issue in which the transparent overlay when dragging a region might not be visible in cases where the visible area is scrolled by dragging past the edge of the screen.
  • Fixes a screen redraw issue when the Edit > Move > To Selected Track command was used.
  • It is now easier to reveal the Toolbar by dragging down with the mouse cursor.
  • Clicking the Q button in an editor now correctly applies the Local Inspector setting instead of the setting in the Region Inspector.
  • Fixes an issue in which click-holding on a region might cause it to improperly shift slightly when Alignment Guides were active.
  • The "Limit Dragging to One Direction" setting now works as expected in the Piano Roll editor.
  • Undo commands work as expected after Flex Pitch editing.
  • Improves the reliability of of the Velocity tool in the Piano Roll when editing multiple notes at one time.
  • Resolves an issue in which the wrong sequence was sometimes pasted when using the Paste Sequence command in the Ultrabeat sequencer.
  • Fixes an issue in which Arrangement Markers could not be edited if the Marker track was protected.
  • Changing a stereo track patch to a mono patch now properly sets the channel strip input to mono.
  • Resolves an issue in which double-clicking in the MIDI Draw editor did not create an automation point if there were no existing automation points in the region.
  • Resolves an issue in which the "Export/Move active Comp to New Track" command created a track stack.
  • Region track assignments are now properly maintained when merging folders in the Main window.
  • It is again possible to copy/paste data between takes within the same MIDI take folder.
  • The region play button in the Piano Roll now works reliably when working with MIDI takes.
  • Fixes an issue in which enabling the Protect button for any track disabled volume and pan adjustments for all tracks in the project.
  • Resolves an issue in which the Velocity setting in the Track Inspector might cause all notes to output with a velocity of 127.
  • Resolves an issue in which MIDI note off events might not be sent resulting in stuck notes when a large number of MIDI events were being processed in a short time.
  • Option-dragging a region to copy it in a project with a song start before 1 1 1 1 now works as expected.
  • Resolves an issue in which the snap setting was not reliably used when dragging regions with Alignment Guides visible in the Main window.
  • It is again possible to change the length of a loop in the Tracks area at small vertical zoom settings.
  • When multiple channels in the Mixer are selected, double-clicking on a fader's value no longer causes the faders to move unexpectedly.
  • Resolves an issue in which pressing Enter to confirm text entry into the Mixer Track Notes caused the Playhead to jump back to the song start.
  • Fixes an issue in which using the Return key to confirm renaming a channel in the Mixer caused Logic to enter Play mode.
  • Resolves an issue in which the Piano Roll editor might be unexpectedly displayed if an audio region was selected and its position was outside the active cycle zone.
  • A track's audio waveform display no longer changes when its Match Groove Track checkbox is toggled.
  • When multiple new tracks are created at once, all the new channels are now selected in the Mixer.
  • In songs created in GarageBand, changing the name of a channel on the Mixer now updates the corresponding track in the main window and vice versa.
  • Fixes an issue in which tracks that were muted in GarageBand Mobile songs were turned off when opened in Logic Pro X instead of muted.
Audio and Plug-ins
  • Changing the level or mute status of an Aux used as a submix no longer improperly changes the level or mute of an Aux set as a send destination from the same source channel strip.
  • Resolves an issue in which key click on the Vintage B3 Organ got softer at higher sample rates.
  • Fixes an issue in which the Rotor Cabinet in the Vintage B3 Organ got louder at higher sample rates.
  • Resolves an issue in which notes might hang when playing the Pedal manual of the Vintage B3 Organ with a sustain setting greater than 100 ms.
  • Fixes an issue in which Continuous Controller messages sent from a Roland VK77 controller might be sent to the wrong Manual in the Vintage B3 Organ.
  • The Vintage B3 Organ Upper Morph slider now updates properly when changing presets.
  • The Vintage Electric Piano plug-in now performs correctly at all sample rates.
  • The Adaptive Limiter Output Ceiling control again works correctly when Inter Sample Peak Detection is not enabled.
  • Resolves an issue in which the Gain meter did not reliably go back to "0db" when the Inter Sample Peak Detection checkbox was enabled.
  • Fixes an issue in which there might be an unexpected audio tail when un-bypassing a Software Instrument.

Roland Paraphonic-505 on eBay

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Novation Bass Station on eBay

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Yamaha CS01-II on eBay

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kraftwerk: The Early Days

There's a nice little profile of Kraftwerk's "hippy" period in the years preceding their classic "Autobahn" album over on Dangerous Minds.  Casual fans might not even be aware that there were three, largely-forgotten albums that came before that seminal album that were quite different in style.  Thanks to Tobey for sharing this with me!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Hit Factory: The Stock, Aitken, and Waterman Story

During the 80's, the production team of Stock, Aitken, and Waterman were an almost unstoppable pop music hit machine.  Their heavily-sequenced, kinetic sound propelled some of the biggest hits bands like Dead or Alive, Bananarama, or Bronski Beat ever had.  This is a great look back at their legacy with lots of input from those who worked with them. (And fair warning, you WILL get Rick-Rolled, since they also produced Rick Astley.)

[via Digivoka on YouTube]

Review: Sample Magic Chillwave Guitars

Product: Chillwave Guitars
Developer: Sample Magic
Format: Digital download in WAV, Apple Loops, or Rex2 format.
Price: £14.95
Demo:  Audio demo on the Product Page

Today I'll be having a listen to the "Chillwave Guitars" library from Sample Magic.  This is a collection of 284 guitar loops divided into both processed and unprocessed versions, should you care to apply your own effects chain.  A variety of vintage acoustic and electric guitars were used in the recording sessions, and in the case of the effected loops, processed heavily with reverbs, chorus, delay, and the like.

Musically, the riffs are fairly minimal and "open" sounding.  These are less the sort of riff that is going to be the main hook in your song and more the sort of thing that adds a special extra something to inspire and build the rest of your arrangement around - arpeggios, melody fragments, textures.  While simple, the parts are played extremely well and sound thoroughly professional.

Throughout, the guitar sounds themselves bring to mind the distinctive tones of the Cure, the Cocteau Twins, or even the types of guitar tones all over Junkie XL's "Today" album.  While the influence of a lot of the tones are reminiscent of the 80's, the recording and production quality is definitely current. "Warm", "Dreamy", and "Atmospheric" are all descriptors that come to mind.   Surprisingly, given the atmospheric nature of these riffs, most of them loop pretty seamlessly.

Given the almost comically-short shelf life for most electronic music genres, you may wonder if this library will be useful to those outside the chillwave genre and the answer is a resounding yes.  Producers of ambient, soundtrack and commercial music, dreampop, downtempo, and other genres where dreamy guitars are a must, will all find something to like here.   [9/10]

Friday, August 16, 2013

Free Sample Friday: Minibrute Bass 03

Today's free multi-sampled instrument is yet another synth bass from the Arturia Minibrute.  Sorry for all these recently, but I just bought one and have been having a great time programming sounds on it.  The picture above has the settings for the patch I sampled in case people who own a Minibrute want to replicate the patch on their own machine.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Advanced Techniques for Programming Modular Synthesizers

While the site is ten years old, it wasn't until Reaktorplayer's Tweet that I had seen this.  James J. Clark made this thorough programming guide with the Nord Modular in mind, but the techniques he outlines can be applied to a whole ton of synthesizers, hardware and software.  If you're looking for a beginner's guide on how to program a synth, this probably isn't for you.  Instead, Clark's guide covers more advanced synthesis techniques such as audio rate modulation, using filters in parallel and series, different types of noise, etc.  Of course if you DO have a Nord Modular, he provides numerous example patches to illustrate the concepts he is talking about.

Yamaha SY-85 on eBay

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Roland JD-800 on eBay

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Film Collaboration from "Koyaanisqatsi" Director and Phillip Glass

"Thirty years after "Koyaanisqatsi," Godfrey Reggio—with the support of Philip Glass and Jon Kane—once again leapfrogs over earthbound filmmakers and creates another stunning, wordless portrait of modern life. Presented by Steven Soderbergh in stunning black and white 4K digital projection, "Visitors" reveals humanity's trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species. The film is visceral, offering the audience an experience beyond information about the moment in which we live. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, "Visitors" takes viewers on a journey to the moon and back to confront them with themselves."

[via Cinedigm on YouTube]

Access Virus TI2 Polar on eBay

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