GameSoundCon 2014, the leading conference on video game music and sound design, has announced early bird discounts on all registrations until September 1, 2014. The organization’s 10th conference will be held October 7-8 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and feature two days of sessions, panel discussions and hands-on workshops from over twenty of the game industry’s leading composers, sound designers and audio directors.
“The video game industry has been changing rapidly,” said Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of GameSoundCon. “New consoles have been launched, casual and social games have exploded onto the scene. We’ve put together speakers and sessions this year that reflect the changing challenges of working in videogames for both aspiring and professional composers and sound designers. GameSoundCon continues to be the premier audio event for people who want to understand the creative, technical and business challenges of working in sound for games.”
GameSoundCon comprises four concurrent session tracks. “Game Audio Essentials” features presentations and panels on essential topics in game audio, specifically designed for professional composers and sound designers who want to expand into games. “Game Audio Pro” features talks and roundtables for seasoned game audio professionals, while separate sessions providing hands-on FMOD Studio training and hands-on WWise training allow attendees to bring their laptops and receive training on creating interactive music and sound effects using the industry’s leading game audio design tools.
This year’s featured keynote speaker will be Marty O’Donnell, creator of perhaps the most iconic game soundtrack of the recent era with his work on Halo. O’Donnell, formerly audio director at Bungie, now with his own studio, will talk about stimulating creativity, the video game business, and what it was like to collaborate with Sir Paul McCartney on the upcoming game Destiny.
That’s a good question. Between us, Paul and I have owned pretty much every classic (and some not so classic) synthesisers of the past fifty years. Synth players will always recall fond memories of the sonic capabilities of classic machines, shortly before remembering the lack of reliability/tuning stability and interfacing options! We wanted to create a ‘go to’ synth – an instrument which an owner chose to go to first in composing, an instrument which owners used to explore its sonic possibilities because of the advanced user interface and control surface, rather than just preset surfing. And, above all, an instrument that you want to keep with you for the long term – one which, every time you turn it on, reminds you why you spent your hard earned cash buying it.
Even with an absence of additional processing other than the filter the modulus.002 appears to be quite a deep synth. Was this intended from the beginning or did it build up during the design process?
002 has enormous sonic power. With two oscillators, the two sub-oscilators have a very unusual feature in that they can take on the waveform of the primary oscillators – giving you four oscillators with the same waveform. This is per voice. The filter provides very extensive and, for an analogue machine, unusual features such as the sweep function enabling you to morph from a fizzy one pole all the way through to a bombastic four pole. Then added to all of this, the Animator provides 12 channels of 32 steps of parameter sequencing – effectively providing a further twelve LFO’s per voice, on top of the two primary LFO’s – but with the ability to be sequenced rather than merely modulated by a waveform. Of course there’s our very powerful arpegiator that enables arpeggio sequences to be created by holding notes and then turning them off to create rhythmic sequences – which can then be saved ‘as sequences’ for later recall into the 16 track sequencer.
Finally, 002 adds a stunning UI which can also be accessed using a web browser – so there’s no need for a separate plugin – and online sync to the cloud. All of these features were set out from the outset of the design process when we started back in July last year. Other features we wanted from the start were high quality effects and digital interfacing into DAW’s – these will be provided by the 002 Digital Output Card which we aim to release at the end of this year. This card provides each of 002’s 12 channels over USB at upto 192kHz/24bit in addition to the master stereo output and a stereo input, which is processed pre-filter on 002.
With a glut of cheap and versatile synths having flooded the market in the past few years is there space for a monster synth with a price tag to match?
I can’t agree with your implied comment that ‘002 has a monster price tag’. This suggests that you can buy something comparable for less. I’d challenge anyone to find an alternative that offers everything 002 does for even twice the price of 002. If you listen to the sounds 002 makes, how much would a vintage synth capable of sounding like this cost? Probably two or even three times the price of 002. Also, 002 is made to be an ‘instrument’ – something an owner can have a long term connection with – and so is built to last for many years, using very high quality components throughout. Finally, we only intend to supply 002 to a relatively small (in the overall context of the £750m a year keyboard industry!) number of 002’s to customers and clients who want un-compromised sonic flexibility, build quality and user interface. We’re already selling 002 very well so we have no concerns about whether there’s ‘space’ in the market – customers are showing us there is and that 002 is the instrument they’ve been wanting for a long time.
Modulus Co-Founders Paul Maddox and Philip Taysom
Can you please explain the modulus.cloud and the decision to take it open source?
From the outset in the design process we wanted 002 to have the ability to interface in a new and more flexible way. We are all waiting for the ‘next generation’ MIDI standard to be ratified, but one key thing we can see is that the physical connection for ‘next gen’ MIDI is going to be ethernet. In order to give as much flexibility as possible to 002 owners, it was always logical to put ethernet on our instrument. We’d always dreamt of a platform where you can share content on your instrument with collaborators – and the cloud functions of Modulus 002’s OS do just that. As we were creating this platform, it just seemed logical to offer it to other manufacturers in the hope that, perhaps one day, we’ll have cloud storage, sharing and editing features across synths.
You’ve previously mentioned that this would be the first in a line of synths from modulus. Can you give us any details on the others?
I’m afraid we only talk about what we can deliver today, not what we’re going to do – this was one of the key reasons behind not announcing 002 until she was ready to ship. We don’t believe in marketing vapourware products that are not available for 12 to 18 months after they’ve been announced We do plan on making several announcements early next year so do watch this space.
Voting for the KVR Developer’s Challenge is now open! This year sees 37 entries ranging from the regular to the very different, all hoping to attract some of the same attention as previous winners. On top of the crowd sourced prize fund, which at the time of writing stands at $1581, this is the first time the KVR Dev Challenge is also offering a grand prize. KVR has teamed up with A3E for the winner to fly to the A3E show in Boston and present their plugin to the conference.
All entries are available for download from the KVR Developer Challenge page and it’s still possible to donate to donate to the prize fund so head on over and and get involved!
Modulus.002, the British designed and built new mega-synth from Bristol-based Modulus, is out now. Large in sound potential, physical size and financial cost, this synth was born out of a desire to create a synth that aimed for the high end, especially now as hardware synthesizers are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity but most new synths seemed designed for the low to middle ground. Modulus co-founder and principle designer Paul Maddox explains:
“This came about because I’ve had a long-held dream to build a polysynth since I was knee high. I’ve nearly got there several times, but it was a golden opportunity in July last year when my business partner, Philip Taysom, and myself sat together and said, ‘Now is a good time to do it.’ Both Philip and myself are passionate about synthesisers, and we feel that the synthesiser market has been neglected for a long time in terms of high-end, pro — in quality and feel — instruments. I quite often equate this to a PRS guitar. There is nowhere in the synthesiser industry that I’m aware of where you can go and buy the equivalent of a PRS. That’s what we’re aiming at — top quality, top to bottom.”
As an analogue/digital hybrid keyboard synthesiser (using an aftertouch-enabled premium Fatar semi-weighted, five-octave key mechanism), modulus.002 provides 12 discrete voices of polyphony with full multitimbrality if so desired. As such, it features two NCOs (Numerically-Controlled Oscillators) per voice for exceedingly high resolution and stability with wide-reaching waveform selections, together with two sub-oscillators, individually (and uniquely) switchable from a traditional square wave to having the same waveform as the main NCO to effectively produce four oscillators per voice; a Modulus-designed 24dB/octave fourpole transistor ladder filter featuring some very unusual morphing or ‘polesweeping’ effects, enabling ear-opening transitions from 24dB/octave four-pole to 6dB/octave one-pole filtering and anywhere in between; one LFO per voice as well as a global LFO; wide-ranging modulation options, all accessible directly via the front panel — no navigating convoluted and confusing menus; a pure analogue signal path from the oscillators right the way through to the combined XLR/TRS balanced/unbalanced outputs (with all 12 voices individually available for external processing via a dedicated D-Sub connector); and two audio inputs enabling internal audio processing from the VCF onwards.
There’s also an inbuilt MIDI-syncable 16-track, 12-row, 32-step sequencer with 16 front panel-positioned step-time editing controls can give any hardware rivals already out there a serious run for their money. For sequences can not only be transposed dynamically while running but sophisticated so-called ‘mini arpeggiator sequences’ created using the arpeggiator’s Hold mode can be quickly saved as sequences for recall and editing at a later date using the sequencer. Moreover, modulus.002’s Animator allows any control to be sequenced, enabling complex filter transitions, waveform changes, and modulation matrix changes to be sequenced.
Modulus.002 also features, somewhat uniquely, an Ethernet port meaning it can be connected to a network to enable updates via the Internet as well as access to the modulus.cloud. The modulus.cloud enables user profile
settings, sound patches, sequences, and other content can be easily replicated to a cloud-based server platform to enable rapid resynchronisation to another modulus.002, regardless of whether it is owned by the same user or a collaborator at a remote location.
Coming in £2995 GBP/€3795 EUR/$5200 USD (all prices not including VAT or local taxes) it’s not exactly an impulse purchase for anyone, even those with deep pockets, but considering the sound design features it could well be a synth that could happily be the only synth in a set up. The addition of the modulus.cloud is a great touch and takes away a lot of the headaches traditionally associated with patch management on a hardware device and enables plugin style sharing between users and profiles. Out now and available from Toys4Noise in the UK but directly from Modulus for international sales, go to the Modulus website for full details.
AudioEase have released version 2.1 of their industry standard speaker and environment emulator Speakerphone. This update is strictly for Mac users adding support for Retina displays, it now works in PT 11 AAX format, and is now 64bit! Big stuff indeed.
If you work in production, sound design, or any kind of post facility and you’ve not tried Speakerphone 2 yet it really is worth checking out. Trent Reznor has said it’s his “goto plugin to instantly un-Steely Dan any track”, and Joe Barressi called it “the thing that does sound like ass”.
Included here are a couple of video demos. Up top is Audioease’s latest and made specifically for this update. In their words, “… we’d like to share with you what we believe to be the awesomest audio-only ‘close encounters of the third kind’ tribute ever made by central-dutch music software developers using a single plug-in. (correct us when we’re wrong)”. Below is a straight up demo video and the rest of the official Audioease Speakerphone playlist – well worth the minutes.
Speakerphone is available as a download from Audioease or as a boxed product. Price is €477.95 inc. taxes. Upgrading from V1 costs €119.
MOTU have announced a new line of audio interfaces with the 1248, the 8M and 16A. As well as offering USB2 connectivity they can run over Thunderbolt and, most excitingly, offer Ethernet expansion. More on that in a moment.
As you might expect when comparing the units against each other they all offer varying I/O options but all 3 interfaces feature the latest generation ESS Sabre32 Ultra convertors, very low analog I/O latency (32 samples/0.66 ms at 48kHz), full metering on all I/O via the front panel 324×28 LCD screen, and the latest TotalMix software. With 32-bit floating point precision, the mixer’s 48 inputs can take signal from the physical inputs on the interface itself, audio channels from host software on the computer, audio network streams and mixer outputs. The mixer provides 7 stereo aux busses, 3 groups, a reverb bus that can alternately serve as a 4th group, a Main Mix bus and a separate Monitor bus that doubles a solo bus. Effects include classic reverb, 4-band modeled analog EQ, modeled vintage compression and gating. A flexible matrix routing grid makes it easy for users to route audio to and from the mixer, the computer and audio network streams, including the ability to split a single input (or input pair) to multiple destinations.
Hang on a minute, “audio network streams”?
Yup, these are the first MOTU interfaces to offer networking over ethernet. While there are a few “standards” currently available (Focusrite’s RedNet ethernet audio networking range uses Dante) MOTU have chosen to go with the AVB, Audio Visual Broadcasting, as developed by the IEEE. For these interfaces, what this means is that you can create your own audio network using upto 5 AVB enabled MOTU interfaces! You can create a network of two simply by connecting them with a CAT-5E cable or you can create a network of up to 5 interfaces using an MOTU AVB Switch (sold separately, obviously). You can also daisychain Switches to add more interfaces which becomes especially useful when you factor in that ethernet can offer cable runs of upto 100m enabling massive networks both in channel count and in physical distance. Any MOTU interface or Thundrebolt connected computer on an AVB network can send and receive 128 channels of network audio, with a maximum of 512 channels per network and all running at a fixed point to point latency of 30 samples (0.625 ms) when running at 48kHz. AVB allows network wide precision clocking and users can simply click the “Become Clock Master” button in the control software to immediately resolve all devices on the network to the chosen master device.
If, after stocking every room in your facility with interfaces and switches, you have a spare ethernet port left over on an interface or switch you can connect your WiFi router and access the all interfaces’ and network’s settings, routing options and TotalMix interface through a web browser on any web browser compatible device, and multiple can access these settings at the same time too!
While not the first manufacturer to bring ethernet capabilities to audio interfaces these extra controls definitely lend a unique spin to the interfaces. The main benefits of Ethernet audio technology really only cater to those with huge channel requirements or large spaces to cover but with the multi-user control possibilities offered by the web browsers MOTU might have found a further niche to explore.
Street price of all the interfaces are $1495USD or £1190UK with the Switch coming in at $295USD (UK price TBC). Full details can be found on the MOTU website.
The countdown is on to the launch of the new controller from Livid Instruments, Base II. And to mark the occasion Livid are having a pre-order sale. Not content with taking the price down, they’re also doubling the warranty to two years and throwing in the power supply for free! At $329 this all adds up to a saving of $90 and makes the controller an even more attractive proposition but get in there quick as the sale ends on Friday 11th July.
Variety of Sound and Tokyo Dawn Labs. Development teams that are famous for delivering plugins for little to no cost to the end user at a standard that would make larger companies overwork their PR teams for months on end.
A couple of months ago they released their first collaborative effort, the snappily named TDR VOS Slick EQ. It was free and made some relatively big waves in production and engineering circles. They have now released the Gentleman’s Edition. This is different in so much as it now costs €30 but it also improves on the free version in some significant ways. You know get five EQ models – British, American, Soviet, Japanese and German – rather than four, the HP filter now comes with an optional “Bump” and you also get an LP filter with two slopes and a Tilt filter with an optional “V” mode, six output stages – Linear, Silky, Mellow, Deep, Excited and Toasted – rather than four and you also get every single one of the other features as included in the original including the famous VOS “Stateful Saturation” algorithms, loudness compensated auto gain control, stereo, mono and sum/difference (mid/side) processing options, a frequency magnitude plot and a fully equipped tool bar with undo/redo, A/B options and easy preset management.
Dave Pensado said of the original, “This little guy sounds amazing” so it might well be worth your while checking this out if you have an EQ shaped hole in your arsenal.
Available now from the Tokyo Dawn Labs website, it cost €30 and is available for Mac OSX and Windows in 32bit and 64bit and in VST, AU and AAX varieties.
The Groovesizer Multiboard (or MB) just got some rather sparkly new firmware in the shape of Bravo which turns the instrument into a 4 voice drum machine with a 32 step sequencer.
Once loaded up, Bravo allows for pitch, volume, swing, tempo and distortion controls affecting the audio but you also get the ability to save and recall patterns, step repeat, and it also transmits MIDI clock data allowing for other devices to be synced up with the Groovesizer MB.
Perhaps this doesn’t sound like much to shout about but, much in the same vein as the excellent Soulsby Synthesizer Atmegatron, the Groovesizer MB allows uploading of different firmware that turns it into completely different instruments! In this case a 3 oscillator monosynth as well as a granuar synth. We here at BOS are massive fans of this approach.
The Groovesizer MB is available in kit form or ready built and starts at $168 US. The Bravo firmware is available now. Full details on the Groovesizer site.
After some very hard work over the past few months, Book Of Sound Issue 1 has been formally announced via an advert in our rather brilliant sister publication, Hungry Eye, and on our Twitter feed.
Our cover star is the “Godfather of Controllerism”, Moldover, and his collaboration with Livid Instruments, the Guitar Wing. Also interviewed is Paul Soulsby from Soulsby Synthesizers as he takes us on his journey from the Atmegatron’s inception right up to the present day, and we also speak to Jakob Erland from Gyraf Audio as we talk about his life, his passions, and his gear!
Martin Walker writes about his time as a soundtrack composer in the 8bit and 16bit era of videogames and the challenges of working with the chips of the time, and sound installation artist Esther Ainsworth tells us how she deals with working with audio in acoustically challenging environments.
Out very soon, Book Of Sound will be printed quarterly, is priced at the very reasonable sum of £6.99 GBP and is available from all good specialist magazine and bookstores and online here at www.bookofsound.com