How much do you love that stompbox? Or, more to the point, how long do you expect to love it? Electro-harmonix owners are a rare bunch, apparently tattooing their favorite boxes with some frequency. There are some sophisticated, elaborate tattoos in the bunch, as well. But I have to say, I think my favorite are the circuit diagrams (and there’s more than one – of different models, even). Respect.
In music software, you have things that are modular, and things that aren’t. Modular environments like Reaktor and Max/MSP let you build things from scratch with essentially unlimited flexibility. DAWs tend to lock you into fairly rigid options for how you combine different instruments, effects, and other tools. Well, Reason sits somewhere in between. Every virtual synth, effect, and signal tool can be patched into another in a single, integrated environment – even as it still remains a production tool with a timeline and mixer (or mixers). In a great example of why that’s cool, hard-core Reason expert Marco Raaphorst …
I always figure the measure of a good plug-in is, you want to tell everyone about it, but you don’t want to tell everyone about it, because then they’ll know about it. iZotope’s Möbius is in that category for me – it’s essentially moving filter effect. And it’s delicious, delicious candy.
There have been vocal effects before – your vocoder, your pitch shifter, what have you. But the folks at iZotope set a more ambitious goal: be all the classic vocal effects. Put them a single plug-in full of modules. Then combine them in a way that makes them accessible, whether you’re preset surfing or dialing in your own sound. Encourage exploration without even requiring some advance knowledge. The result of that is called VocalSynth, and it’s out today. And wow, is this thing big – big enough that I imagine I might spend the rest of the year playing with …
You are probably equipped with ears as sharp and precise as the world’s top sound professionals. What you lack, then, is training.
In the latest chapter of “people on the Internet doing cool things for electronic music,” here’s a creation by Polarity. It lets you rapidly trigger effects parameters via MIDI. And if you’re a Bitwig Studio enthusiast, it’s available for free.
Movement is here – and it’s a little scary. The folks at Output have some weird way of dialing directly into the zeitgeist of what we want from production these days, and delivering it in an easy form. They did that with reversed samples (REV), with vocals (EXHALE), and now they’re doing it in an atypically musical multi-effect with loads of rhythmic and side-chaining features. This isn’t just another delay or something like that. It’s an entire effects toolbox built around rhythm and modulation, in a way that’s unusually accessible.
The art of modeling at a handful of the best software shops continues to progress. And so it is that Universal Audio say they’ve simulated every tiny detail, “from speaker paper and heat dissipation, to filter caps and transformers,” of one of the world’s best-known amplifiers – the Fender Tweed. It’s the cranked sound of Neil Young; it’s the clear lead of Larry Carlton. It’s a lot of other things. It’s now on a computer, too.
Imagine you had a DAW with lots of live tools and synths and effects – a bit like FL Studio or Ableton Live – and it was completely free. (Free as in beer, free as in freedom.) That’s already fairly cool. Now imagine that everything in that environment – every synth, every effect, every pattern maker – was built in SuperCollider, the powerful free coding language for electronic music. And imagine you could add your own stuff, just by coding, and it ran natively. That moves from fairly cool to insanely cool. And it’s what you get with LNX_Studio, a …
It’s no longer an either/or proposition: physical, digital, choose both. It’s now a natural for something like a guitar brand to expand both in the physical and virtual realms, and for the name to matter in both. So in the same week we saw synth legend Dave Smith connected with DJ brand Pioneer, Universal Audio is adding Fender to their signal processing lineup.