Saturday, January 20, 2007

Metasonix Scrotum Smasher

Metasonix the devolpers of most recently the S-1000 Wretch Machine have brought out a new pedal called the Scrotum Smasher. Previously they had pedals called The Vacum Tube Agonizer and the Butt Probe. Knowing the sound of the Metasonix stuff the Scrotum Smasher will live up to it's name as a rowdy tubed up speaker damager.
I presume like the other pedals it will fit into one of the metasonix mounting kits which will allow you to put it into one of the 3 major analogue modular racks, the eurorack, fracrack or the MOTM rack.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cool from NAMM

Isn't this thing very strange indeed. Its a custom made guitar from Ulrich Teuffel displayed at this years NAMM. The pitcures are thanks to Moose on the Waldorf forum. This are custom made and only available by contacting Ulrich directly. Super cool really.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Numark Total Control

Numark have announced Total Control. A desktop controller for computer DJ's. It features 31 buttons, 20 knobs and 5 faders all of which send MIDI data from the controller to your DJ software of choice. Total Control comes prepacked with Traktor LE and Cue LE. Numark assure Total Control will automap all its controls to the correct software parameters. This should make set-up very straightforward. A good feature is the Kensignton security lock to prevent against theft. I could see that being very useful if one of these was installed in a bar. No as of yet. Numark will have to situate itself fairly well in terms of price considering the competition from Vestax and M-Audio.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Arturia's new line-up

Arturia have also announced a new hardware unit called Origin. Origin is the first Arturia Hardware synthesizer. It is a modular system of a "new generation opening innovative avenues in sound design". Origin uses modelled components from a number of Arturias softsynths (Moog Modular, ARP 2600, CS-80, minimoog and Prophet VS). In concept it seems like the Origin will be a mix between the Nord Modular and the Creamware ASB. Like Creamware ASB its is a software synth in hardware form but also like the Nord Modular it is modular and allows you to edit patchs on a computer and then store them on the Origin hardware for live use. Sounds good to me.

Origin has up to 32 voices of polyphony. It lets you open dedicated software on your Mac and PC and use it as an AU or VST plug-in which is always appealing to computer users. All the sounds are calculated on the machine while you work on your computer as you would do with a native application which means no or at least very little CPU load. It has a large number of audio connections 2 analogue ins, 10 analogue outs, SPDIF out and USB 2.0. It comes with plenty of effects Phaser, Chorus, Delay, FX Reverbs, Distortion, Param Eq, Compressor, Bitcrusher and a 16/32 step sequencer. The row of 16 knobs running along the bottom look especially useful for sequencing. Hopefully it will be easy to control the pitch, filter, amp, gate lenght and fx send of every step from this knobs.

As long as it's not too expensive I think the Orign could be very cool. Arturia's emulations are not perfect but they are still very good synths with plenty of great presets and well written manuals. I think audio software developers are moving in this combination of hardware-software direction. We have Creamwares ASB series, NI's Kore, Focusrites' Liquid Mix and now the Origin. Obviously good for the developer as it cuts down on piracy but also god for the consumer as it give them a piece of hardware which is easier to use, can be used live and easier to sell.
"The Jupiter-8V is the newest addition to the family Arturia’s analog synthesizer recreations. Offering the unique sound palette of the Roland Jupiter 8, this virtual version is a sound designer’s dream. The Jupiter-8V also offers a host of modern features: an advanced step sequencer, a new line of dynamic effects, a module combining LFO’s (called Galaxy), and lots more…"

The Jupiter-8V unlike it's namesake has 32 voices of polyphony. It features the same 2 oscillators per voice (16 oscillators in total), 2 filters, 2 envelopes. Arturia have increased the LFO count to 2. It also has analogue and digital style effects with some of the effects having the ability to modulated by audio sources from the synth.

This could be seen as just another modelled synth however as far as I know this is the first softsynth that has been liscened by Roland. Previously Roland have taken a hard stance against clones of their classic synth lines. They even put a halt to Refxs' Junox2 simply because the name sounded similar to the Juno series and presumably it had a Hoover patch. The Jupiter-8 is a very sought after synth so hopefully this will give some of that Roland flavour.

New M-Audio DJ Controller

M-Audio's MySpace page lets out a sneek peek of their new controller to be previewed at this years NAMM. Although there has been a lot of speculation as to what this picture is showing us I think it's fair to say it's a DJ control device. I assume it is some kind of USB generic MIDI DJ controller that can be used in Ableton, Traktor or Torq.

It looks to have a left and right channel with controls mirrored on either side. It also seems to have a cluster of buttons that look like they could be very handy for clip triggering in Ableton. As you can see with all the controls illuminated it is geared towards live performance in dark venues. I must say I think it looks very smart. I've always been a sucker for flashing lights.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Waldorf Rebirth continues

Waldorf have put out another teaser. It shows 3 new synths at some stage of development. As of now the BLOFELD, ZARENBURG and STROMBERG synths are CAD mock-ups on THIS pdf file.
The Stromberg, pictured above, is a 3 oscillator wavetable synth with standard analogue stlye filters (24/12/6dB), exclusive PPG, comb and cascade filters, 100 note polyphony and 2 built in effects blocks. Also outlined are 2 optional expansion cards. There first card expands the Stromberg with 16 analogue filters. The second card is a valve amp that can be put over the master for that elusive fatness factor.
The second synth, the Zarenburg, is a electromechanical physical modelling synth similar to the Nord Electro. It offers 5 models of classic electric pianos including effects (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Echo, Autowah & Overdrive). Possibly one of the main draws will be the synths stlying. It has 76 real wood keys (optional), very simple/intuitive layout, build in speakers designed by EMES and optional colour specification.
The third synth, the BLOFELD, is a cool looking little desktop synth. The Blofeld is an analogue modelling synth prepacked with 1000 presets and the ability to load sounds from the Q. It features 3 oscillators, 2 filters, 2 effects blocks and an arpegiator. On the box it seems to be very similar to the Micro Q. It also has USB 2.0 for patch editing/back-up and MIDI control.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Vids of the Octopus

Here are 2 short little movies featuring the Genoqs Octopus. The Octopus is an experimental MIDI sequencer in a similar vein to the Latronic Notron. With 238 buttons, 21 rotary encoders and more lights than a Christmas tree, I could imagine this being a whole lot of fun live.

via Analogue Heaven

NitroTracker - Fastracker Update

NitroTracker is a FastTracker II style tracker for the Nintendo DS. If you didn't understand that, you might want to read up on trackers. For starters, NitroTracker is a versatile tool for creating music - everywhere! It supports the popular XM file format that is used by many PC trackers and that can be played on many PC audio players such as Winamp or XMMS. Version 0.2 added a small sample editor and now version 0.3 offers a realtime wireless MIDI sequencer to control sounds on the DS or external MIDI gear. It's free so if you don't have it and have a Nintendo DS get over there now. This is what it looks like.

"Tracking on a handheld console? Sounds like a pain in the ass." You might say. But because of the touchscreen and stylus of the DS, it's quite easy. You can compose your melodies using an on-screen keyboard, directly edit your patterns by making selections, copying and pasting - all with the stylus. And that's not where it ends: If you don't have any samples at hand, make your own with the DS's microphone. You can even replace the samples in existing songs with your own recorded ones.

Nebula Free 2

Nebula Free 2 is a free VST plugin based on Volterra Kernals Series or put in not math terms a system of Physical Models. Essentially Nebula 2 Free is a very cool 80's/90's looking digital fx unit. It emulates various types of vintage gear: Equalizers, Filters, Compressors, Phasers, Flangers, Chorus etc. . It's uses internal 64bit floating point calculations with a very wide frequency rates range from 6kHz all the way to 384kHz.

It also comes with a 22 page manual although it looks straight forward enough. Unfortunately PC only.

New Roland V-Synth

Roland have put up a teaser for the new Roland V-Synth. The V-Synth GT will indeed premier at NAMM with some exiting new modeling technology. The AP Synthesis will be incorporated into the synthesis chain, and show up in an enhanced Vocal Designer, which will be built-in (no card) and reportedly takes the whole Vocal Processing paradigm to the next level.

The other exciting spec is that the new V-Synth GT will feature Dual Core Technology. Dual Core is indeed dual processing in the form of two individual V-Synth engines in one keyboard! This is confirmed by the Upper Tone/Lower Tone screen shot below. Thus, you can stack two elastic V-Synths on top of each other for unprecedented sonic force.

The original V-Synth was already a fantastic synthesiser to begin with and now with 2 of them, new models and more to come I think it will be a serious contender.

Apple announce new iPhone

Apple this week announced the iPhone at this year Macword Expo. iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. The iphone uses a touch screen display so no more plastic buttons.

Apple have been repositioning themselves since they released the iPod in 2001. There was much speculation on the forums when Apple Mac moved from Motorola chips to Intel chips that Apple were easing out of the computer market and moving to a more consumer electronics stance.This repositioning was formalised last tuesday when Apple changed their name from Apple Computers Inc. to simply Apple Inc.

I wonder how long it will take to get a killer audio app on the iPhone and we will see tracker jams on the moves. The iPhone is set for release June 2007 with an 80GB iphone costing €599.

Future Retro XS Semi Modular will be announced at NAMM

Future Retro well known for the Revolution, 777 synths and the Mobius sequencer will be announcing the new XS Semi-Modular analogue synth at this years NAMM. In it’s simplest form the XS is a monophonic synthesizer including 46 controls with internal signal routings pre-wired in a way which allow the unit to act similar to traditional synthesizers. However the XS is a semi modular meaning it also provides 7 inputs and 15 outputs which can be connected in various ways to override the pre-wired signal routings, and interface the unit with other instruments in a modular fashion, and even process external audio.

The XS provides 2 VCO's, ring modulation, a white noise source and a sub oscillator waveform on Osc B. It also feature Pulse Width Modulation, Sync and FM. Dedicated outputs are provided for oscillator A and B as well as the sub oscillator and noise. Also it feature 1 LFO that can be free run or synced to MIDI clock. There is a 2-pole multimode filter providing 4 filter types including low pass, band pass, high pass, and notch settings. Also with high resonance settings the filter will self oscillate. The XS accepts MIDI/CV & Gate.

All in all it looks like a very desireable analogue semi-modular... guesses have it coming in around €700-€1000. I suppose we'll know more early 2007.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Yamaha XS series

It has been let slip before this years NAMM convention that Yamaha are releasing a new keyboard workstation as an upgrade to the Motif series. The Yamaha XS series is a further devlopement of the Motif Rompler style workstation.

There are a lot of rumblings on the forums as this seems to have found ill favour with many lifelong Yamaha supporters. Improvements are 355mb Rom up from the Motif's 178mb, Colour LCD screen, new ethernet connection, 4 arpegiators and updated multisamples especially the Piano patch which many found a bit weak on the earlier Motif workstations.

The major problem is that Yamaha have not included any of their synthesis engines. The physical models on the VL-1 are gone, no AN as in the ANX analogue modeling series and no FM. Breath control has been removed. To many it seems as if Yamaha are offering a slightly better keyboard with a few more samples.

One thing that may go in Yamaha's favour is that the XS series comes bundled with an LE version of Cubase. Since Yamaha bought Steinberg in late 2004 it is expected the XS series will feature some tight intergration with Cubase. Also the XS series supports Yamahas mLAN firewire protocol so if you have anything else with this Protocol it should work seamlessly with your current set-up.

Obviously Yamaha have decided that synthesis is a niche market and this product is squarely aimed at gigging musicians, players, tv/film and media composers. However I cannot help thinking that Yamaha are going to have an uphill battle with this workstation. Most will see it as a technological step backwards especially considering the Alesis Fusion offers Physical modeling, Romplers, Sampling, FM, Analogue Modeling and a cut down onboard sequencer for $999. The Yamaha coming in at $2799 is gonna have a rough ride. It's success is going to hinge on it's onboard sample library and it's intergration with Cubase.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Eliosound announces the ELS Vocoder

Eliosound the company behind AIR EQ has just announced the release of the ELS Vocoder a software vocoder. As you can see from the picture above its a very stylish affair with a very straight forward analogue style console. It's a 22 band vocoder with the level of each band controllable by one of the 22 sliders. The formants or shape of the sound can be controlled using the pin matrix. Overall it features a 22-band Vocoder, Input Gate, Pitch Extractor with detune on notes option, Voiced/Unvoiced detector, 2 VCOs (Oscillators), Noise generator, 2 LFOs, Frequency Shifter with source selector and advanced stereo settings, Slew/Freeze adjust, Level Slider and VuMeter for each band, Output Mixer, and Keyboard with key hold.

There are a few audio examples on their webpage. When I see a softsynth like this I can only dream of being able to afford an actual analogue hardware version but for now this is probably the most straight ahead vocoder I have seen. Should have loads of scope for all your Cylon and Daft Punk stlye voicings.

No price as of yet. Elisound will announce the price when they release the ELS Vocoder which is promised for early 2007.

New Nord to be showcased at NAMM 2007

Clavia have a teaser on their site for a new synth. "It is new. It is red. The countdown has begun... Watch this space, or come visit the world launch at NAMM - January 18th, Anaheim Convention Center, Hall B booth 5914."

It looks from the picture like it's going to be an upgrade to the popular Nord Electro series. Previous Nord Electros featured emulations of classic electro-mechanical instruments such as the Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet and of course the Hammond B3. This version of the Electro looks like it's going to feature a dual keyboard for some proper Hammond B3 chops. Whatever it is we'll know more on the 18th when news from this year NAMM start filtering out.

Doepfer updates prices and modules

Due to a VAT increase in Germany (up to 19% from 16%) Doepfer have updated all their prices. Some prices are increased/unchanged or reduced. Also on their front page they are now selling a new minicase. At 28TE wide it can fit three 8TE sized modules and one 4TE sized module just like the picture across. So if you are looking for a specific little box like a processor or a simple oscilator/filter combination you can now get it on the cheap. A standard 2 X 84TE eurorack costs €300 whereas the new minicase costs just €60.

Doepfer also highlight all the modules they developed in 2006. The most interesting of the new modules is the A-111-2 Dynamic VCO. It is a single module containing a VCO, 24dB VCF, VCA, Pan and Stereo outputs. If this is 28TE or less then this would fit nicely in a minicase offering a 1 oscillator analogue monosynth for around €300/400. This has to be a good thing. Also it's so tiny you could carry it to gigs and have a sweet little monosynth for all your basses, leads and weird special effects. As of yet there is no release date or prices for the A-111-2 as it is still in the R&D stage. One of the good things about Doepfer is he always posts the modules schematics so as users can suggest improvements. These improvements are costed and then put to a user forum vote. If the users want it at that price Dieter Doepfer will change the module. At the minute the A-111-2 is being redesigned to encorporate an octave switch similar to those found on the standard A-111 High End VCO.

Hack to convert your Nord Modular 1 to a G2

The people on the Electro Musician forum have been trying to get a hack together which will allow you to be able to convert your old Nord Modular 1 to a G2. They have just now released a fairly stable conversion. You can find out details HERE and HERE.

Not bad for free... For those of you who haven't tried out the Nord Modular environment you can download it for free and give it a go.

Computer Music launches new synth The Dominator

Computer Music magazine is starting the new year with a new free software synthesizer. It has been given the rather hardcore title The Dominator. "Dominator takes the venerable sound of classic analogue synths and beefs it up with modern routing, modulation and waveshaping options. Totally uncompromising, the Dominator is a synth for musicians who like to push the boundaries of what's possible with virtual instruments, and will bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded knob-tweaker."

So what is it... Well it's a 3 Osc synth with 2 filters, 3 envs, LFO, mixer, some FX and a little routing section. Although it looks mostly bread and butter the option of the waveshaper should offer it a little more bit than most. If you want to get your hands on it you have to buy this month Computer Music.

For those of you who are on an even tighter budget or are just too stingy to fork out the cost of a magazine wht not head over to KV331 and download SynthMaster. KK331 have just upgraded SynthMaster Free to V. Synthmaster is an even more advanced synth with a 32 step pattern sequencer and a 16 step arpegiator... very nice.

O2 Ireland Launches Napster Mobile

On the 12 December 2006 O2 Ireland became the first mobile operator in Europe to offer Napster Mobile with the launch of Napster Mobile on 3G i-mode handsets. Basically this means you can stream music to your mobile handset. Later this month Napster are upgrading the subscribtion so that when you stream a track to you handset it can be simultaneously downloaded to your computer.

This is a clever move and shows Napster actively pursuing the streaming media market. Currently there are 2 competiting MP3 markets. The first and so far most popular is the pay per download option offered by companies like I-Tunes and Bleep and Beatport. The second is the subsribtion option offered by companies Napster, Audio Lunchbox, MusicMatch.

Napsters deal with O2 see the company moving into the European market and trying to get an early lead on what is sure to become the next hotly competed sector in music i.e. subscribtion based streaming media. Why would you bother downloading thousands of MP3 tracks if instead you can just hear them whenever you like.

Waldorf ships Nano SynCard synth expander

Small steps again as Waldorf release the Waldorf Nano SynCard, a plug-in sound expansion module designed for use with the CME line of MIDI keyboard controllers.

The new card, which provides 24-note polyphony and contains over 1000 classic Waldorf MicroQ synth sounds, easily installs into the back panel of CME's UF-series keyboards. It is unique in that it is the only product on the market that allows a controller keyboard to be turned into a full-on synthesizer, complete with real-time control.

Up to two Nano SynCards can be installed in each keyboard and independently controlled via the CME's front panel knobs and sliders. When two cards are present, splits and layers can also be created. The cards feature left, right, and stereo (headphone) audio outputs; power is supplied by the CME controller. The 1000 sounds include a wide assortment of trademark Waldorf basses, solo tones, pads, percussion, and effects.

As recent posts have suggested Waldorf have been making a slow but sure come back into the pro synth world. Introducing themselves into the market again they are re-releasing older soft synths and selling them as the Waldorf Edition for a meager €49. The Waldorf Edition consist of 3 soft synths Waldorf reknowned soft emulation of the PPG Wave 2 (as close as you can get to the original hardware wavetable synth), the Attack (a drum synth) and D-Pole (a soft filter).

Vestax release VCI-100 MIDI DJ controller

Vestax have brought out a new DJ MIDI controller called the Vestax VCI-100. Vestax were late to the laptop DJ game and possibly spurred on by Ranes TTM57SL or the Allen & Heath Xone 3d have decided 2007 is their year. According to them "the VCI-100 is highly PROFESSIONAL with a JOG wheel built with sensor and control technology from our turntables. Also featured is a variable curve generator that controls the crossfader curve from the hardware with original faders. The VCI-100 is built with high quality mechanical parts and a PCB designed for accurate and stable operation."

It has that same ulitarian look of the Mac books a sleek grey with a soft blue underlight on the jogwheels... very futuristic. Bundled software includes Native Instruments Traktor 3 LE and Intergrated Beatport store access. It'll run on OSX 10 and XP2... so this one is only for newer laptops but at least it will work on Mactels. The Vestax VC-100 is earmarked to retail at $499.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Convolution Reverbs to start the New Year!

I was looking into convolution reverb and I thought I'd share what I came up with. Convolution reverb as you probably know is the process of recording the reverb response of various real spaces such as churches, halls, bathrooms, telephone speakers or once I even saw an IR (impulse response) made from a spoon. You can then use that IR and apply it to your music like a standard reverb. The end result being that your music now sounds like it was recorded in that space.

Not only can you record the response of real spaces you can also record the reponse from real and expensive high-end audio equipment such as classic algorhtymic reverb units or spring/plate reverbs, compressors, channels strips, mics, cabinets, amps... pretty much anything you can think of.

First up your going to need the fantastic and free SIR convolution reverb. If you have a PC and you haven't already downloaded this then make your way to and download it now.

To get a better understanding of what Convolution Reverb is and how to create your own Impulse Responses then head over to Emusician and read THIS great article. A very straightforward easy to read how-to and why of Convolution Reverb.

Once you have you downloaded SIR yo can find free impulses all over the net. I have listed a few places below and what you can expect to find.
HERE is a great resource with many IR's including real spaces, lots of pro gear like compressors, amps, cabs, springs, lexicon, quantec, emt... loads. The Kurzweil KSP8 IRs really sound fantastic.
and HERE TCM3000 and stranges spaces like Lorentz Attractors
and HERE Free IRs from Voxengo HERE Very cool Analogue Delay's and Reverbs
and HERE Instrument IR's not reverb but actual instrument response
and HERE Mostly special effect
and HERE Very cool Analogue Delay's and Reverbs great on snare.
and HERE Mostly IRs of pro gear Lexicons/TC/Timeworks and a few Manley Passives
and HERE Speakes/FX an EMT244, Roland RE 201 and a Lexicon PCM60

To get you inspired and thinking about reverb in a positive way there's an excellent radio program from BBC Radio 4 about acoustics, reverb and the effect of reverb on people and music. You can listen to it at Unusual to hear a program about reverb... good ol' Brian Eno even turns up to have his say.