Open Circuit Free Windows SamplerIn today’s over-saturated virtual instrument market there are plenty of powerful samplers out there vying for the attention (and green) of your average music software consumer. This is much more apparent on the PC end of things where there are dozens upon dozens of alternatives both in plug-in (Kontakt, HALion, DirectWave, etc) and standalone (Gigasampler, Reason’s NN-XT, etc.) forms. It’s tough for a small company to really stand out amongst such strong competition. One such company that has been trying to make a name for itself is Vember Audio, makers of the powerful Surge synthesizer and Shortcircuit sampler. Their design philosophy bucks the current market trends in virtual instruments by delivering quality products designed around the needs of sound designers rather than preset users in much the same way as Native Instruments circa 2001. Their interfaces are logical, but stripped of much of the flash that the big names have (no 3D rendered hardware-style “pots” here). Instead of focusing on huge libraries of sounds, they deliver great platforms for users to create their own sounds from scratch.

Now their sleeper hit sampler Shortcircuit is being released for FREE!

Details after the jump.

Yes free folks. In a move similar to Mackie’s back in 2003 when it gave Tracktion 1 away for free, and DiscoDSP’s release of Highlife as freeware last year Vember Audio is releasing as freeware their now aging version 1 in an effort to generate buzz for the forthcoming version 2 (the beta of which is available for free as well).

This is not crippleware. This is the same full version of Shortcircuit 1.1.2 that used to go for $139 just a few days ago. Check the specs:

User interface

Streamlined user interface for fast editing at the sample-zone level.
Fast editing of multiple zones.
“In context”-sample preview.
Extensive drag & drop support (onto the keyrange-view or the list-view).

Sample/Intrument import

RIFF wave-files (.wav) (8/16/24/32-bit & 32-bit float, mono/stereo at any sample rate)
AKAI S5000/S6000/Z4/Z8 .akp banks (partial)
NI battery kits (partial)
Soundfont 2.00 (partial)
Propellerhead Recycle 1 & 2

Sampler engine

High-quality sinc interpolation
Oversampling used when needed to prevent aliasing
Double-precision float math (64-bit) used where it matters (IIR-filters).
Single-precision float math (32-bit) used elsewhere.
Supports any sample-rate.
Max polyphony per instance: 256 voices
Multiple outputs. (max 16 mono AND 8 stereo-pairs per instance)
Supported sample-playback modes:
forward loop
forward loop with crossfading
forward loop until release
forward loop bidirectional
forward shot
sliced (maps slices accross the keyboard)
on release
reverse shot

2 filters / voice:
Lowpass 2-pole (2 types)
Lowpass 1/2/3/4-pole ladder-filter
Lowpass 1/2/3/4-pole ladder-filter with saturation
Highpass 2-pole
Dual bandpass
Dual peak
Comb filter
2-band parameric EQ (2 types)
graphic EQ
mörder OD (overdrive)
Microgate (does glitch/loop style effects when the gate is open)
Ring modulation
Phase modulation (equivalent to FM)
Frequency shifting
Pulse oscillator
Pulse oscillator (with sync)
Sawtooth oscillator (with 1-16 voices in unison)
Sinus oscillator

3 stepLFOs / voice. Doubles as 32-step stepsequencer and wavetable LFO.
2 AHDSR envelopes / voice
Powerful modulation system with the ability to modulate itself. Destinations include envelope-times, loop-points in addition to traditional destinations.
Group LFO
Group modulation routing.
Group effects. (2 effects / group)
Effect types:
digidelay (feedback, filtering & optional midi-sync)
freqshift delay
freqshift flange
stereo width
MS decoder

System requirements

Microsoft Windows 2000, XP or newer.
Processor with SSE-support (includes Intel Pentium 3 and newer, AMD Athlon XP and newer)
Software capable of hosting VST-instruments.

Get it HERE.

If you play with Shortcircuit and like what you’re hearing please consider picking up Surge and Shortcircuit 2 when it’s released. Cats like these need the support of users like you and me to stay in business. If you’re a PC user, give it a shot… you’ve got nothing to lose!

  • cdr

    free as in beer, not as in Specimen, Chionic, SooperLooper..

  • Darren Landrum

    In the forums, Clae mentions that he is not really interested in developing SC anymore for various reasons, which means this sampler might be mostly abandoned before too long. If he does choose this path, maybe we can talk him into opening the source first. I doubt that would happen, but it's worth a try.

    As for me, I still have my dreamy eyes set on NI Komplete 5, but I'm not adverse to taking an a la carte approach to buying my studio software if I think the final result will be better.

  • anyone know if the runs under wine?

  • gains

    This is just what I've been looking for. An inexpensive sampler that's about processing rather than just regurgitating.

  • Adrian Anders

    I was wondering the same thing Raymond… Hmmmm I suspect since the copy protection has most likely been stripped off the freeware version that it would be MUCH easier to run on a Linux machine than the older protected version. Almost all non-copy protected music freeware for Windows (and in reality only ex-commercial progs still have some copy protection built-in i.e. ReBirth)can run fine on Linux through WINE from what I've heard….

    BTW props for the new blog Ray. Looks real dope man!

  • Yeah, see I was wondering because I've finally got wine running properly on my Intel MacBook and this would be fun to play with. I'll check it out tomorow.

  • There's also Yellow Tools' Independence FREE, which has some pretty powerful sound design tools, a 2GB sound library(!), and runs Mac/Windows — even Leopard + Vista. I'll try to write that up soon. I've already been testing their commercial version, but unfortunately that requires a commercial dongle.

  • Adrian Anders

    Dongles = Bad news. I'm glad PACE has a C/R option for certain programs (like Max/MSP). As much as I hate installing their drivers at all, I can at least live with a dongleless version of their copy protection on my laptop. The makers of various dongle cp methods could do so much better with less annoying ways to verify hardware than having a huge easy to damage USB stick on the side of one's computer. Pleanty of companies have lost my money because they use Syncrosoft USB dongles as the only form of copy protection. Virsyn, Korg, Eiosis just to name a few.

    So support Vember Audio folks. Their products don't have breakable dongles, or pain in the butt challange response systems. Just a simple serial… that's it! We need more developers to go down this road in the future.

  • Well, yeah, and this is even worse — you're stuck with a proprietary dongle that only works with one company's products, and they won't replace it if ANYTHING happens to it. In fact, if you do what they suggest and load all of their stuff on it, you could be out thousands of dollars. The iLoks / Synchrosoft are at least *slightly* better. But yeah — I only use software with software copy protection. There's so much choice out there, why not? Kontakt, for instance, costs the same as Independence and Mach Five, has a *bigger* sound library, and has a reasonable software copy protection scheme.

    The free software should be no worry at all, meanwhile, so long as you back up your copy in case it disappears from servers.

  • Adrian Anders

    In other news Highlife has gone Open-Source!

    So for all you Macphiles who complain you get no love from the freeware community here's your chance to get this PC-only goodie on the OSX side of things.

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  • Free is great. However, in my experience, I find that I get what I pay for, especially in terms of music software. Having said that, I'm happy that all of these links were brought to my attention.

  • I never paid for csound, supercollider, chuck and the like… and there's nothing in the proprietary for money software realm that compares to what they do as free software. (yeah, yeah. supercollider wasn't always free)

  • Adrian Anders

    @ Daniel

    Well, in the case of Short Circuit it's the exact same $140 commercial sampler that was on sale a week ago… only now you're getting it for free. I just don't see your point. If the product is good, use it. Regardless if it's (legit) free or payware. Don't knock it just because you're not paying a dime for it.

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  • mat

    love Independence so far thanks Peter…

    any one want to suggest other free sound design tools?

  • d batiste


  • Michael Knubben

    Actually, you mention that the SC2 Beta is being released to generate buzz, but it's actually the alpha (hasn't crashed on me yet, very stable) that's been released in its current state because the dev no longer feels like working on it fulltime, and therefore doesn't feel he has the right to charge money. He's already fixed a few bugs since releasing it as freeware though, and he says that people using it encourages him to keep working on it (for free). Despite sc2 lacking a few things from version 1 (slicing comes to mind, but I just add markers in wavosaur, which you can then drag to anywhere you want in sc2) I much prefer the latest version. The interface makes sense to me, and I just get things done swiftly in it.

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  • Richard McKnight

    I have been using SC2 since reading this post and I think it's far more user-friendly than something like Kontakt.

  • maxamillian

    I bought this sampler when it first came out, and the world is very lucky it is now free. I don't really begrudge spending the dough… I've been using this baby for the last couple of years very happily. In some ways I'm somewhat annoyed that my 'secret weapon' is now free for everyone but if it gives more exposure to Claes and hopefully fuels future sampler-based development, then that's the way it's gotta be.

    SC1 is essential for what I do but if you work in a certain way SC2 alpha might be very usable for you. SC1 is pretty complete except 1 or 2 bugs which have workarounds – the forum has info.

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