The overview screen, for navigating - some overtones of both Kai's software from the 90s and the better stuff from Apple (Sculpture).

Substance is a new software approach to every kind of bass

There are those desserts that are subtle. And then there are the ones that are layered chocolate and peanut butter and cream that you drench in still more chocolate sauce, but in a way that holds together. You know – layering. Substance, a new soft synth from Output, is all about layering. It’s about making enormous bass things out of other already pretty-large bass things. And it represents a nice latest chapter in what the boutique software developer has been doing with sound design


Get a library of floppy drive sounds for almost nothing

You’ve been watching those wild YouTube videos of people performing tunes with hacked floppy drives – most recently Star Wars and Nirvana. Now get those sounds in a sample library for nearly-free donationware.


Grab free sound samples of Montana’s ringing rocks

I’m going to let you start off with whatever bad rock puns you can think of. (Rolling Stones, rock music, uh whatever.) Done? Great! Okay, now let’s talk about the mysterious ringing rocks of Montana – and how you can grab some free sounds to use in your music right now, just in case you can’t make it out to the great American west at the moment.

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Ableton hacks: map anything, even Kontakt and Reaktor

Isotonik’s £22 PrEditor is the powerful mapping functionality Ableton forgot. It lets you customize the mappings of a variety of controllers to your music software, opening up custom controller arrangements and tailored interactions to support the way you play. And the latest version does still more. Hackers and patchers will love this – whatever tool they use. If you use Reaktor, that environment is available – doubly useful now because of Reaktor’s beautiful Blocks modular environment. (There are quite a few things I prefer in Reaktor, so being able to map its controls to my Push means I may completely …

It's all acoustic technology. But, at last, it's 21st century acoustic technology. Photo: CDM.

Watch Una Corda, a software piano with a difference

The piano has been living with a beautiful legacy, but that legacy can double as tyranny. The Steinway Model D, favorite instrument of mine that it is, has also frozen the technological development of the keyboard instrument. And that’s why the Una Corda is different. Built custom by David Klavins, and associated with that builder’s collaboration with pianist Nils Frahm, this lightweight piano is unlike any you’ve seen or heard before. And now, you can get a taste of playing the real thing with a software instrument.


Free Plug-in Makes Music from Serial Numbers – And Sounds Awesome

Careful what you joke about on the forums. It just might turn into reality. Somehow, it all started with some discussion about what software serial numbers “sound” best. Apparently developer SzcZ / Fairly Confusing Waveforms decided to take the idea and run with it. The result is a free plug-in that’s good enough that you can safely ignore how it’s working and just have fun creating gorgeous, percussive, granular cinematic soundscapes. You could easily make a whole album out of this stuff. Listen:


Grab Some Free Analog Drum Samples, Featuring MFB-522

60 24-bit WAV drum samples with presets are yours for the asking, free. And the source is worth mentioning on its own. If you want a hardware drum machine that’s compact, unique, and affordable, your options are surprisingly few – analog or otherwise. But one that tops the list is the Berlin-made MFB-522 Drum Computer. Now, it seems that part of the whole point of “analog” in drum machines is having something you can tweak directly. But… well, there are those times when you don’t want to pack cables and power and boxes. And, for that matter, sample kits can …


Fake Your Own Lord of the Rings with an All-Elven Software Instrument

The Lord of the Rings movies have come to a close, but that doesn’t mean the elf sonic action has to stop. Yes, there really is a sound sample library called Shevannai, The Voice of Elves. It’s 3.6 GB of nothing but elven samples, adapted to a Kontakt 5 instrument. From a technical standpoint, it shows what Kontakt can do. For any TV and film composer who suddenly gets a call from a client saying “elves!” (I’m not kidding; I’m sure that happens), it’s an emergency solution that will get you there under deadline. For the rest of us – …


Exclusive Hands-on with Komplete Kontrol S25 Keyboard [Pictures, In-Depth]

That NI is making a keyboard to provide access to its Komplete line of production tools should surprise no one. And not just because of numerous leaks – it’s the next logical step for the Berlin software developer. After all, NI has an entire line of hardware that makes access to Traktor easier for DJing. And it developed Maschine, a software tool that from the beginning was built to facilitate hybrid hardware/software workflows. The thinking is simple: computer software offers terrific versatility, but when it comes time to actually explore sounds and play, you want knobs and faders and buttons …


NI Officially Reveals Komplete 10, Kontrol Keyboards [Details, Gallery]

You’ve seen the leaks; now here’s the official announcement. Native Instruments is releasing an update to its Komplete suite of production tools (including Massive, Kontakt, Absynth, Reaktor, and others). And while the software update is largely composed of some (nice) new instruments, the banner news here is hardware. As NI has done with its DJ line (Traktor Kontrol) and Maschine groove workstation, the company is unveiling integrated hardware that makes for a hybrid hardware/software solution. The Komplete Kontrol instruments come in 25, 49-, and 61-key variations, coupled with touch strips for pitch and mod, 8 encoders paired with interactive displays …