Leading manufacturers Bitwig and Arturia have combined their considerable resources to create the Producer Packs.
Comprising of a full version of Bitwig Studio, an Arturia Keylab keyboard, Arturia’s Analog Lab software, and a full copy of the Arturia Mini V synth (the new, improved and rebranded MiniMoog recreation), this promises to be a combination that covers all bases in production and sound design scenarios.
Taking full advantage of Bitwig’s welcoming attitude towards controller integration, Arturia have managed to embed the Keylab into Bitwig Studio at a very deep level which allows for direct hands on control of the Bitwig software as well as the devices within Bitwig. You can navigate between tracks, control your transports, have direct access to device parameters, mix your audio, you can control pretty much anything you might want to straight from Keylabs physical interface! Couple this strong integration with the 5000 sounds in the Analog Lab and the sound design possibilities with the Mini V and you have everything you need to make music in a very small and well rounded package.
The Producer Packs are available in 3 different flavours, corresponding to which size Keylab you want, with 25, 49 and 61 keys available. This also affects the price of the packs which, by the way, are incredibly low. At €/$349, €/$399, and €/$499 (for the 25, 49 and 61 key versions, respectively) you’ll be saving upwards of 40% on each package!
Only available until stocks run out, watch the promo video above to get a flavour of the package, the tutorial video below to see just how easily it is to get things moving, and then head on over to the Producer Pack page to get involved. If you’re still unsure then make sure to pay a visit to the Bitwig and Arturia sites to get full details. Honestly, if you’ve not tried Bitwig yet you really need to. It’s pretty amazing.
Online store turned developer, Plugin Boutique, have released their second synthesizer, the VirtualCZ.
Casio synths were big business in the early 80s and in 1984 Casio launched a new line with the release of the Casio CZ-101. It was notable on its release as it used Phase Distortion synthesis, had a 49 minikey keyboard (rather than the more familiar full size 61 keys), and was one of the first synths to put a fully programmable polyphonic synthesizer within reach of the general public with a price point of under $500. It was a massive success and Casio then went on to launch 7 more models in the CZ series culminating in the CZ-1. Perhaps because of some of the features found on some of synths in the range – miniature keys, built in speakers – they never really quite got the same respect afforded to other digital synths of the time but the CZs were fantastic keyboards and became a great weapon in lots of producers arsenals and were in LOADS of techno, house, rave and synth-pop records in the late 80s and early 90s. Little wonder then that the CZs have been brought back to life in the VirtualCZ.
The VirtualCZ mirrors the Phase Distortion architecture and provides all the original features and controls of the original models while adding some very welcome features of its own. You get switchable envelopes between the original 8-stage design and the more familiar ADSR, stereo panning, upto 8 voice unison, there are 2 chorus effects, and while it models the CZ-1 “out the box” you can also choose to emulate either the CZ-101/1000 or the CZ-3000/5000! Intriguingly, the VirtualCZ can also act as a SysEx editor/librarian for any of the hardware synths meaning the original hardware also gets a new lease of life.
Phase distortion synthesizer
Sysex patch editor and librarian for all CZ hardware versions
Mono and Legato modes
2 oscillators per voice, 8 wave forms
6 loopable envelope generators per voice
Tempo syncable LFO for vibrato with 7 forms
Ring and noise modulations
Unison and detune features
Vintage stereo chorus/ensemble
200 presets in different formats (FXP, AU Preset, VST Preset, TFX)
Ability to download CZ patches online
Priced at a very reasonable £59/$99 it’s available now directly from the Virtual CZ product page where you can also find full details and feature list. Check the demo at the top of the page and a walkthrough below.
iZotope have just announced that the latest version of their highly acclaimed audio repair and enhancement suite, iZotope RX 4, is available now.
Headline new features in the new regular edition include:
Dialogue Denoiser – Reduce unwanted hum and background noise from dialogue recordings, in real time and with zero latency
Adaptive Hum Removal – Remove fundamental hum frequencies from problem audio
Clip Gain – Non-destructively balance audio sources against each other
Updated UI – A cleaner and flatter look designed especially with ease of use and long sessions in mind
The Advanced edition rolls out with:
Leveler – Automatic balancing of vocals, dialogue and voiceovers.
Ambience Match – Match the environment noise of one clip and apply to another! You can also create long sections of ambient noise to apply under inconsistent recording
Loudness – Comprehensive loudness meters ensuring that all your work will comply with the new(ish) international loudness standards
EQ Match – The same thinking as Ambience Match, but with EQ! Quickly learn the EQ of one clip and apply it to another clip
Also included in both versions are exporting marker regions as files, FLAC and Ogg Vorbis codec export support. updated timeline ruler that displays original recorded source timecode, support for 24fps timecode, and the ability to display ID3 tags and Broadcast WAV metadata. For a full breakdown on what version has what features go here.
It appears that iZoptope have really gone all out on making RX 4 not just better on the audio side but also for workflow which is a massive deal for any professional.
Available for purchase now, iZotope is running a special early bird discount of $50 on the regular version bringing it down to $299 (from $349), and saving a whopping $200 on the Advanced version making it $999 (down from the usual price of $1199). Prices will go up to the regular points on September 25th so get in there before it’s too late. Special upgrade pricing is on offer but users will need to access their user accounts on the iZotope website to get their offer. Also, iZotope are offering a free upgrade to all registered users of iZotope RX 3 if they purchased it on or after 01 July 2014.
To buy, get full details and try out the full 10 day demo of both version go to the RX 4 home page. Also, if you’re going to IBC in Amsterdam over the next few days, check out the AVID Booth which can be found in Hall 7 | Stand 20 for a viewing of RX 4 in action.
Also available is the CPUG Amsterdam Supermeet on Sunday 14 September. Featuring a stellar line up of industry and professional speakers and special guests, for only €20/€15/€10 it looks like a Sunday well spent. And there’s free food! Cheaper than a meal out in Amsterdam, for sure…
Native Instruments have formally announced a double whammy of Komplete Kontrol S alongside Komplete 10.
It’s been no secret that NI have been developing a controller to debut this autumn, leaks and teasers have been appearing the past couple of months, but now it’s officially been announced that the project was for the Komplete Kontrol S keyboard and controller. Looking a lot like NI wanted to have this stand side by side with Maschine, it comes in 3 sizes – 25, 49 and 61 Fatar keybed keys – and all control options appear to remain intact across the three lengths.
Main features on Komplete Kontrol S are a browser that will, no doubt, integrate heavily into both sound, sample and preset selection a la Maschine, automatic parameter mapping via Native Map, 2 multi-purpose touch strips, an arpeggiator, integrated scale mapping, a scale mode, and the ability to control 3rd party software much like, I imagine, Novation’s Automap software. The real fancy bow on this particular present appears to be the Light Guide, multi coloured LEDs above every key. While backlit pads have been a staple of controllers for a while now this is, and please correct us if we’re wrong, the first large scale usage for keyboard keys. This is a seemingly awesome feature as it has so many potential applications and NI seem to have thought long and hard about how these lights can be integrated. For instance, they can correspond to different coloured groups within Battery and display the actual colours, they can display which notes will be played in an Arpeggio, they can show key splits, they can easily guide a player through a particular scale… You get the scope of possibilities. Komplete Kontrol has, apparently, been designed with Komplete 10 in mind so this will give some idea of the level of integration given. Speaking of which…
Komplete 10 is also here. It offers 3 new synths and 3 new acoustic instruments. In the synths you get: Rounds – a sequencer with both analogue modelled and digital synth engines, Polyplex – a sampler built in conjunction with Twisted Tools, and Kontour – a phase modulation synth designed by NI co-founder Stephan Schmitt. With the acoustic instruments there are 3 pianos: an 1908 upright called The Gentleman, a concert grand called The Grandeur, but most interesting of all is The Maverick, a 1905 concert grand make especially for the Prince of Prussia!
Komplete Kontrol S is available for £429, £499, or £599 for 25, 49 or 61 keys, respectively. Komplete 10 is available in either regular or ULTIMATE editions which clock in at £429 or £849 respectively. Upgrades and crossgrades are available. For a full breakdown of the difference between Komplete 10 and Komplete 10 Ultimate check here. All will be available on October 01, and for full details check the Native Instruments website.
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.
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.
International event The Sonic Arts Award announced their winners for this year’s competition. There were a total of four categories – Sound Art, Digital Art, Soundscapes, and Sonic Research. Explore the winning entries below and, for full details on this years awards and previous winners, go to The Sonic Arts Award website.
Sound Art – David Hochgatterer, Time To X
Digital Art – Tim Murray Browne, The Cave of Sounds
Soundscape – Anna Raimondo, La Vie En Blue
Sonic Research – Matija Strnisa, Particles of Accordeon
UPDATE – Matija confirmed his winning piece so listen here! Although Matija has an active webpresence (which includes an updated Soundcloud page and website) it’s not immediately clear whether his winning entry is available to listen to. We’ve reached out to Matija and will update as soon as possible.
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