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.

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.