IK Multimedia Syntronik

Syntronik

 

In The Technofile Awards 2016, we implied that there are two ways to recreate vintage synths in software – modelling and sampling. However, that was then but this is now and, as ABC asked, why make the past your sacred cow? IK Multimedia certainly hasn’t. Instead they’ve devised a third way, by hybridising the first two, to produce Syntronik.

 

In developing Syntronik, IK Multimedia took the view that step A was to use their sampling expertise to painstakingly multi sample single oscillators and oscillator combinations (including sync and FM sweeps) from ‘golden’ examples of their 38 favourite synths and string machines.

 

The list of machines they sampled is pretty comprehensive, including, as it does, the Alesis Andromeda, ARP 2600, ARP Solina, Elka Rhapsody 490, Hohner String Performer, Micromoog, Minimoog Model D, Modular Moog, Moog Opus 3, Moog Prodigy, Moog Rogue, Moog Taurus I, Moog Taurus II, Moog Taurus 3, Moog Voyager, Multimoog, Oberheim OB-X, Oberheim OB-Xa, Oberheim SEM, Polymoog, PPG Wave 2.3, Realistic Concertmate MG-1, Roland Juno-60, Roland Jupiter-4, Roland Jupiter-6, Roland Jupiter-8, Roland JX-10, Roland JX-3P, Roland JX-8P, Roland RS-09, Roland RS-505 Paraphonic, Roland TB-303, Sequential Circuits Prophet-10, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Yamaha CS-01II, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha GX-1, and Yamaha SY99.

 

Step B saw IK Multimedia inventing and applying its brand new “DRIFT” technology to the resultant 50GB library of 70,00 samples, in order to vary the phase, timbre and pitch, temporally, as a means of emulating the way that analogue oscillators behave.

IK Multimedia Drift Technology

 

Step C involved IK Multimedia using its modelling expertise to create circuit-level models of the Moog transistor ladder (from the Minimoog and Modular Moog), Roland’s IR3109 chip (from the Jupiter-8 and Juno-60), the Curtis CEM3320 chip (from the Prophet-5 and Oberheim OB-Xa) and the Oberheim SEM state variable filter, through which these DRIFted samples are controllable.

 

And there you have it, easy as ABC; but not wanting to make the past their sacred cow, IK decided that instead of merely offering facsimiles of the 38 machines they sampled, they would instead mash things up a bit by distilling them into 17 machines, some of which (such as the ‘T-03’ & ‘Blau’) emulate one specific synth (the Roland TB-303 & PPG Wave 2.3 respectively), others of which (such as ‘Stringbox’) combine the characteristics and samples of several similar machines.

 

 

 

Each of these 17 virtual instruments, though visually representative of the instrument(s) it emulates, offers a common set of controls…including a filter section that sports all four of the aforementioned filter models, plus a phaser, a formant filter and the SampleTank filter. This means that you can essentially play a Jupiter 8’s DRIFTified oscillator samples through a modelled MiniMoog’s filter, and a Solina’s DRIFTizzled oscillator samples through a modelled PPG filter.

 

 

Notice we said ‘and’, not ‘or’, as Syntronik allows you to layer/split up to four machines, making for some complex sonic possibilities.

 

But it doesn’t end there, as Syntronik also includes 38 ‘lunchbox’ style effects, some of which are derived from IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube and T-RackS, others of which, such as ‘Ensemble Chorus’ are new and exclusive to Syntronik; and up to five of these can be applied to each machine.

 

There is also an (up to) 32 step note/chord arpeggiator with some fairly deep options.

 

As for how it sounds? Exquisite! The samples are pristine, the DRIFT is convincing, the filters are some of the best software modelled ones we’ve heard, and the effects are every bit as good as one would expect, given their provenance. We would have loved the ability to select initialised instruments, instead of being forced to choose from presets, but in mitigation the 2000 presets sound fantastic and are eminently editable.

Conclusion:

We think that Syntronik brings something genuinely new to the table by enabling the ‘DNA’ (as IK would have it) of 38 vintage instruments to be combined in new and novel ways. Programming is simple thanks to the common set of parameters, large friendly effects page, and easy to use layer/split/arpeggiator window; and the results sounds fantastic. It’s Driftification for D nation.

More info: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/syntronik/

© 2017, The Technofile. All rights reserved. Moral Rights Asserted.

Red Giant Trapcode Suite 14

Trapcode Suite 14

Red Giant Trapcode Suite has long been an industry standard package for creating motion graphics and visual effects in Adobe After Effects, but its latest incarnation – Trapcode Suite 14, takes things to the next level. Of the eleven products it includes, two – Trapcode Particular & Trapcode Form, see major updates (to v3.0), whilst a third – Trapcode Tao, sees a point upgrade (to v1.2), so we’ll concentrate on these.

Trapcode Particular 3

Particular 3

Particular is very much the go to third party particle generator for Adobe After Effects. Version 3 sees a raft of major new features.

Particular-GPU-Accelerated

Kicking things off is Open GL GPU acceleration. Red Giant say that depending upon your system this could result in a speed increase of 4X or more. Whilst we haven’t scientifically tested this claim, we can say that we saw a significant improvement on our Mac Pro, making this a godsend.

Particular Designer

Coming in a close second is the new ‘Designer’ interface, which owes much to Red Giant’s excellent Magic Bullet Looks. Clicking the ‘Designer’ button opens the ‘Designer’ window. On the right hand side of this is the pop up ‘blocks’ tab. Each block contains a preset behaviour/style for emitters, particles, shading, physics and aux particles. When a block is selected it appears in the scrollable ‘effects chain’ tab below, from which it can then be selected and adjusted in the ‘Master System’ tab. Alternatively, you can select one of over 300 complete particle effects from the pop up ‘Presets’ tab on the left. These include effects for creating fire, space flight, fireworks, muzzle flashes, explosions, & smoke, and all are customisable.

Particular Presets

As you select/tweak blocks/presets, the impressive results are previewed in Designer, in real time, thanks to the GPU acceleration. This level of immediacy is reminiscent of Apple Motion, making it easy for those who are new to or inexperienced with particles to create great results. In fact we’d go so far as to say that thanks to Designer, Particular 3 is to particles what Magic Bullet Looks is to grading. That said, Designer is optional and hardened pros can still use Particular the classic way, direct from the After Effects’ interface.

Particular Multiple Systems

Up third is the ability to combine multiple particle systems in the same 3D space. The interaction of these can results in some awesome effects. Adding multiple particle systems in Designer is as easy as clicking the plus button and adding blocks/a preset for each additional system; and we’re delighted to report that when you do this, the results remain viewable in real time, thanks to the GPU acceleration.

Particular OBJ Emitter

Up forth is something that will delight the 3D crowd, namely the ability to use 3D models and animated OBJ sequences as particle emitters. You can choose from Particular’s library of 60, or you can load your own, and particles can be emitted from the vertices, edges, faces or volume of your chosen OBJ.

Form Sprites

Fifth is the ability to use any image in your composition as a particle by assigning it to a 2D sprite or textured polygon. Particular 3 includes over 270 still and animated sprite images, which run the gamut from 2D shapes, to dust & debris, ‘light & magic’, organic matter, smoke & fire, water & snow, symbols, and 3D geometric shapes. There’s even a selection of ten festive baubles…for those needing particles for Jesus.

Particular Aux Systems

Sixth and finally, Particular 3’s updated aux system (which is great for creating effects like particle trails and traces, organic lines, and splashes) now allows you to add custom particles and has keyframable parameters, for more variation and control.

Trapcode Form 3

Form 3

Many of the cool new features in Particular 3 are shared with Form 3.

Form Designer

The most notable of these is Designer. Of course, the blocks and presets on offer differ between the two as they are different programs, with the blocks in Form 3 affecting base form, particle, disperse & twist, spherical field, kaleidoscope & world transform.

Meanwhile the 71 presets include fractals, landscapes, geometry, bokeh, lines, shape grids and spin dots.

Form 3 also shares Particular 3’s ability to use 3D models & animated OBJ sequences, and 2D sprites.

Finally, the updated graphing system allows you to temporally animate controls including colour, size, opacity, and particle dispersion. Best of all though, these can now be audio reactively animated, which is something we hope to see implemented in all of Trapcode suite’s components in a future release.

Tao 1.2

Tao

Rounding off the updates, is a new depth-of-field tool that makes it simple to create camera-realistic blurs for Tao objects, based on their distance from the After Effects 3D camera.

Conclusion

Mir

Trapcode EchospaceTrapcode Shine

Of course, that’s just part of the story, as Trapcode Suite 14 includes 8 other products – Trapcode Mir 2.1 for creating 3D Surfaces, Terrains and Wireframes; Trapcode Shine 2.0 for creating Ultra-fast 3D light ray effects for footage, motion graphics & text; Trapcode Lux 1.4 for creating 3D Volumetric point and spot lights; Trapcode 3D Stroke 2.6 for creating organic 3D Shapes and Lines from masks; Trapcode Starglow 1.7 for creating stylized glints and glows for motion graphics and text; Trapcode Soundkeys 1.4 for creating audio reactive motion graphics; Trapcode Horizon 1.1 for creating infinite 360 degree backgrounds; and Trapcode Echospace 1.1 for creating complex 3D shape animations. Together they make a compelling suite that is essential for After Effects based motion graphics and visual effects work. If you are doing either, we say get Trapcode 14, and if you are using an earlier version we highly recommend upgrading.

5 bagels

 

More info:  https://www.redgiant.com/products/trapcode-suite/

© 2017, The Technofile. All rights reserved. Moral Rights Asserted.

Korg Gadget For Mac

Korg Gadget For Mac

Korg Gadget has a rep for being one of the best iOS apps for making music. Recently it was ported to macOS, as the perhaps unsurprisingly named ‘Korg Gadget for Mac’. So what is it and do you need it?

What is it?

Korg describe Gadget for Mac as a “second DAW.” When you open it, you’re greeted with a unified single screen environment that’s divided into four quarters, comprising, from top left to bottom right, a ‘scene’ editor (which is akin to a simplified version of Ableton Live’s Session View), a MIDI editor, a mixer, and the Gadget window. Undoubtedly the lead vocalist in this 4 piece combo, is the latter, which displays your gadget of choice. Think of gadgets as virtual Volcas that Korg hasn’t made as hardware (yet). There are currently 31, that offer a dizzying array of everything from virtual analogues to classic digitals (and, of course, you can use a different gadget on each track). Some of the highlights include:

Darwin

Darwin – a virtual version of 90s classic, the Korg M1… with… and we can’t quite get over this…the sounds from every memory card that Korg ever released…not just for the M1, but for the T1 too.

 

Lexington – an emulation of the Lexingtonsecond most important mono synth in the history of electronic music, the ARP Odyssey, that features filters from all three of its hardware incarnations. Korg, you had us at preset 003 ‘Curried’ (NB for anyone under 35, google Ultravox).

 

MilpitasMilpitas – a virtual Korg Wavestation that, like Darwin, includes the patches and waveforms from every memory card that Korg released for this wave sequencing and vector synthesis giant.

 

Recife – a retro-futuristic MPC style RecifeDrum Module, whose 30 kits encompass pretty much every dance sub genre you can think of. Drum ‘n’ Bass, Trap, Tropical House, Dubstep, Glitch Hop, Grime, UK Garage, Techno, House, Electro, HipHop, Chillout, Nu Disco and even Indie Dance are all represented and all represent.

 

Chicago – a self confessed acid Chicagohouse ‘Tube Bass Machine’ that’s part 303, part Volca Bass, and part Electribe MX. However, switch on its arpeggiator and engage one of its multi effects, or choose and tweak one of its more curve ball presets, and it quickly becomes something greater than its sliver livery might suggest.

Brussels – a ravetastic Brussels‘Monophonic Anthem Synthesizer’. If its hoovers don’t inspire you to find the whistle and pacifier that you hid in your parents loft in 1993, nothing will.

 

KingstonKingston – a ‘Polyphonic Chip Synthesizer’ that offers an array of 8-bit chip tune style tones, chords & noises; with “Run” (arpeggiator) & “Jump” buttons and 12 effects to take things to the next level.

 

 

Kamata – a wave table synthesizer that uses 4 bit samples to emulate the NAMCO CUSTOM30 sound generator found in a some of the most famous arcade games of the 80s. Programmed by the sound design team at Bandai Namco Studios, it offers deeper programmability than Kingston, which it compliments.

 

MiamiMiami – a ‘Monophonic Wobble Synthesizer’ whose “X-MOD” oscillator and “CRUSH” filter have been created with the express purpose of delivering dancefloor destroying Dubstep basses.

 

PhoenixPhoenix – a virtual analogue poly synth whose lush pads and Oberheimesque good looks evoke the sound of the late 70s and early 80s.

 

Abu DabiAbu Dhabi – a ‘Dynamic Loop Slicer’ that lets you import samples, automagically slice, dice, and then manipulate them.

 

 

Other gadgets include Montreal – a vintage Fender Rhodes style piano, Alexandria – a Hammond style organ, Firenze – a Honer style Clavinet, Salzburg – an acoustic piano, and Gladstone – an acoustic drum module. All of the synth/keyboard gadgets include the ability to play notes and chords in an impressive 35 different scales, including every western mode and assorted ethnic ones. There are also two gadgets for recording audio – Zurich a general purpose audio recorder with 26 onboard FX, and Rosario – a guitar FX processor that features 19 modelled amps, 12 modelled cabinets, and 24 stomp boxes.

How do the gadgets sound?

In a word, fantastic! Running the gamut from retro cool, to cutting edge dance Korg’s Gadgets offer enough diversity to satisfy everyone from accomplished keyboardists to DJs and producers. Full details of all 31, together with soundclips can be found here

Why do you need a Second DAW?

Korg Gadget for Mac

Although Gadget for Mac offers more than enough to put together whole productions, it’s really intended as a musical scratchpad, on which to try out ideas. At this it excels, thanks to its combination of a single screen environment, and a DAW that embodies the Swedish concept of ‘Lagom’ i.e. just enough (functionality). Consequently you can concentrate on making music, instead of using software.

This in itself would be great news were it the full story, but it gets better because this release offers the option to export your work as an Ableton Live project; and because AU/VST/AAX versions of all of the gadgets are included, when you open your exported project in Live, it is a seamless and exact duplicate of your Gadget project. Naturally this also means that you can access all of Korg’s gadgets directly from within your DAW as stand alone plug-ins.

What do we and don’t we like?

Our one complaint about the otherwise perfect Korg M1 was that it lacked a resonance parameter, so we love the fact that Darwin has a resonance knob…or at least, we did, until we realised that it doesn’t actually appear to do anything? Also, our awe at Darwin’s inclusion of every M1 ROM card ever released is tempered by its lack of a full set of M1 parameters. That said, for many, Darwin and the other gadgets on offer will strike the perfect balance between simplicity and programmability. However we can’t help but think that if Korg were to add an advanced mode to at least some of these gadgets they would further enhance the appeal of this software, without compromising its usability.

The decision to name the gadgets (mostly) after places is somewhat confusing, as it provides no clue about what they do. To be fair though, when previewing and selecting gadgets, there is a helpful paragraph of text that clarifies this.

Whilst we like the fact that all of the synth gadgets include mini keyboards, because the black keys and white keys are all the same length, the former read visually as being parallel to the latter, instead of on top of them.

Those very minor points aside, we love everything about Gadget for Mac.

Conclusion

Korg Gadget for Mac sounds fantastic, is great fun to use, and provides a simple and elegant environment in which one can be highly productive. It’s a great adjunct to any DAW and for those making electronic music with Ableton Live, it’s practically mandatory.

More info: http://www.korg.com/uk/products/software/korg_gadget/for_mac.php

© 2017, The Technofile. All rights reserved. Moral Rights Asserted.

Music Production Expo 2015

Music Production Expo, or MPX, as the kool kids are calling it, kicked off recently at Emirates Stadium, in London.

The killer seminar was the misleadingly named ‘Music Producers Guild – About to press record?…are you ready?’. Given the title, I quite reasonably assumed this would be a technical seminar about how to master for vinyl. Instead it comprised a stellar lineup of producers discussing the finer points of the rehearsal, pre-production and production process.

The panelists were Danton Supple, who spent many years working with legendary producers such as Trevor Horn, Steve Lillywhite, Phil Spector, Paul Oakenfold, Mike Hedges and Gil Norton, at Sarm Studios, before moving into production in the late 90’s, and who is currently working with Dave Gahan at Strongroom Studios; Charlie Andrew, who started out as an assistant at Abbey Road, working on The Wall (Roger Waters Live In Berlin) and film scores for Gangs of New York, Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets and the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and went onto work with everyone from Alt-J to Madness, securing along the way, Grammy, Brit & Ivor Novello nominations and a Mercury Prize; Dan Cox, a sound engineer, music producer and co-founder of Urchin Studios in East London, who won Breakthrough Engineer of the Year at the 2014 MPG Awards and has worked with Laura Marling and former Sonic Youth front man Thurston Moore; and Catherine Marks, who has worked closely with Alan Moulder and Flood, and whose production, mixing and engineering credits include Wolf Alice, Foals, PJ Harvey, Kanye West, Ian Brown, MIA, Placebo, Ride and Killers.

If there was a central message of this seminar, it was rehearse more, edit less. People hear performance, not gear and all the expensive gear in the world won’t help a bad performance. In an era of ever shrinking budgets, the rehearsal/pre-production process is everything, as it provides an opportunity for production team and musicians to get to know and understand each other musically, refine structure and tempo, and polish performances, without the pressure of costly studio time.

Yamaha, who had the largest show presence of any of manufacturer, presented a seminar entitled ‘Synthesis Made Easy’, which encouraged musicians and producers to shun the never ending supply of presets and sample libraries in favour of growing your own (sounds), a sentiment with which I couldn’t agree more!

In a similar vein, MSL Professional presented a wonderful seminar entitled ‘Understanding Modular Synthesis’, during which Bryn Wildish taught everything you have always wanted to know about modular synthesis but were too afraid to ask, with the help of a colleague, who patched and re-patched a Studio Electronics modular synth like some kind of ninja geek.

Native Instruments‘ Product Owner for Komplete Kontrol software, demonstrated the new Komplete Kontrol S88 weighted keyboard and the Native Kontrol Standard (NKS), an SDK that enables third-party software companies to integrate their VSTs into Komplete Kontrol and Maschine. The benefits of this are twofold. Firstly, an ever growing list of third party plug-ins can take advantage of Kontrol keyboard features such as the keyboard Light Guide, Native Map and Native Browser Integration. Secondly, because the NKS SDK is incorporated by software authors, at Plug-in level, not as an extra layer, whenever a plug-in is updated, it will continue to work seamlessly with Komplete Kontrol/Maschine, without the need for driver updates. When I had a hands on with the Komplete Kontrol keyboards I found them intuitive, stylish and a pleasure to play. My only problem being which I wanted more – the S61 key semi weighted, or the S88 weighted?

Unlike MSL and Yamaha, who demonstrated methodologies for consciously and calculatedly designing sounds, Novation, presented its alternative philosophy of creating sounds and music serendipitously, with their brand new beatbox, ‘Circuit‘. This diminutive LAUNCHPADesque beatbox has, hidden under its hood, two full on Nova synths and a four part drum machine. It also has knobs on, that affect pre-mapped sound parameters…unlabelled knobs…and therein lies the serendipity. Given its price point, specs, and design, I predict big things ahead.

Meanwhile, on the show floor, my prize for most audacious stand went to Funky Junk, who, not content with displaying a healthy range of Eurorack modules, practically the entire DSI range, a Roland Jupiter 4, TR 808 and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, had…a fully functioning Yamaha CS-80 for attendees to play with (and good on them for taking it there)! Invariably I had to ask. The answer was a cool fifteen grand. Meine kleine gelt.

KMR Audio were sporting an equally extensive range of (non vintage) synths, including the Modal 008…which, quite frankly, paled into insignificance alongside the Prophet 6 they had on demo. Having spent a little time playing with Prophet 6s, I have to agree with Dave Smith – it truly is ‘vintage with a modern twist’, offering all of the character of a Prophet 5, without being a clone and providing more versatility and sound shaping possibilities than its illustrious predecessor.

Roland were showing the full schmeer of Airas (minus the System 500 modules) and the rather lovely sounding JD-XA; but not the Boutiques (which have, apparently, already sold out). Of course, some people will inevitably ask which is better, the JD-XA or the Prophet 6? The answer is that they are very different beasts and which is right for you depends upon your needs.

Korg‘s stand, which consisted of just two keyboards, was almost as diminutive as their Volcas. Apparently, this was because they have no spare stock, as everything they have is selling like hotcakes…which, I guess, is what happens when you give the punters exactly what they want.

Yamaha showcased a range of products including Steinberg Cubase and the entire Reface series, which seemed to draw considerable interest. Studiologic showed the Sledge, which sounds great, but should probably come with sunglasses. Sonic Distribution had a healthy range of items on show, including products from Waves, Apogee and Rupert Neve Designs. Novation wowed the crowds with their brand new Circuit and kept them there with their full range of synths and controllers.

Other keyboard controllers on display included Native Instruments’ Kontrol series, Nektar‘s comprehensive range, Akai’s Advance and Keith Mcmillen’s QuNexus. Beat controllers included Native Instruments’ Maschine and Akai’s new MPC Touch, which, at points, had people queuing to cue it. Pioneer were also well represented with their world class Serato controllers (and CDJ decks) in full effect.

Completing the lineup were more education institutions offering music tech courses than you could shake a bank statement showing a lifetime of student debt at; and if it all got a bit much, ACS were showing their all important custom made (and generic) earplugs.

© 2015, The Technofile. All rights reserved. Moral Rights Asserted.

Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB CF Card

Now that you can buy an APS-C camera with an 18MP resolution for a few hundred pounds, many full frame DSLRs offer over 20MP and some medium format cameras are resolving as much as 60MP, there’s a real need for large capacity media. Add into the mix high Megapixel RAW burst modes and the advent of DSLR video and there’s an equal need for speed. Sandisk soundly answer both of these needs with its Extreme Pro series which are available in capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. Continue reading “Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB CF Card”

© 2010, The Technofile. All rights reserved. Moral Rights Asserted.