Hell freezes over, Reason 9.5 adds VST support

For those who fear we might live in the End Times, I have some really terrible news. Propellerhead is adding VST plug-in support to Reason. Yep, that’s Propellerhead who for years had sworn they’d never add plug-ins because of concerns about stability, compatibility, and even simple features like undo implementation – and because conventional plug-ins don’t integrate the way that native devices in Reason’s trademark rack do. So what happened? Well, first, Propellerhead found they had something of a hit in their own Rack Extension format and accompanying store. Based on conversations I’ve had with developers, the business opportunity there …

Suren's Circuit, in the studio.

This editor unlocks all the power of Circuit as synth and groovebox

Novation’s Circuit is a budget marvel. As a drum machine alone, it’s a steal – particularly with the ability to load your own samples. But also hidden inside are two synths based on the Novation Nova. There’s one piece of software that really lets you maximize all these capabilities: the Circuit Editor plug-in from Isotonik. It’s got two major advantages. One, it lets you get inside all the hidden powers of the synths and drum machine locked into the Circuit hardware, not only as an editor but with extras like randomization and morphing. The upshot of that: you can use …


BT’s Phobos is a scifi synthesizer using something called polyconvolution

We’ve reached a new era in software instruments. For years, designers had produced instruments that either relied primarily on sampled sound, reproducing existing acoustic instruments, or worked mainly with synthesized sound and short wavetables, like a typical synth. What’s happening now is we’re getting a bumper crop of hybrid instruments – ones that use extensive multi-gig sample libraries and combine them with synthesis and processing to form sounds that hadn’t existed before. I’ve written at some length about the approach of LA-based Output on these lines – and relied on their instruments when under painfully short deadlines, in particular. Now, …

Carla, an existing plug-in host for Linux. These apps could be getting a lot more plugs soon.

Steinberg brings VST to Linux, and does other good things

The days of Linux being a barren plug-in desert may at last be over. And if you’re a developer, there are some other nice things happening to VST development on all platforms. Steinberg has quietly rolled out the 3.6.7 version of their plug-in SDK for Windows, Mac, iOS, and now Linux. Actually, your plug-ins may be using their SDK even if you’re unaware – because many plug-ins that appear as “AU” use a wrapper from VST to Apple’s Audio Unit. (One is included in the SDK.) For end users, the important things to know are, you may be getting more …


The UAD just got OTO 8-bit effects, Moog filters, and booty-shaking bass

Universal Audio has been a name in recreations of classic studio gear for some time. But now, here’s something that will appeal directly to producers. Included in a slew of updates today, you get crunchy, wild 8-bit effects (emulating the now-discontinued boutique OTO BISCUIT hardware), Moog multimode filters paired with powerful modulation and filters, and a subharmonic synth from the disco age you can use to add booty-shaking low end to tracks. In other words, it’s like Christmas for producers with UAD, with a whole bunch of delicious stuff you might want. This isn’t a review, yet – will follow …


Analog Strings from Output melds string orchestras, string synths

There are string synths. And then there are sample libraries of orchestras. The strings synths produce sounds that are recognizably vintage, and more or less unrelated to actual orchestras. The sample libraries can get into obsessive compulsive detail and sound like an orchestra. But either way, we’ve been there before. There are great string synths around, but they tend a certain direction. And sampled orchestra libraries, while great, give you that feeling that what you’ve really done is to skimp the musicians of the Bratislava Radio Orchestra on a gig (and your feeling of being in the room with a …


Sloo is the maddest, most swarming soft synth you’ve ever heard

When was the last time you just got lost in a synthesizer? Like, when you forgot everything else you were doing and just turned knobs and forgot what hour it was? Well, if it’s been a while, you might want to try Sloo. If you want, you don’t actually need to read any more. Just know that Sloo is a thing for Reaktor from Tim Exile, and it involves a gazillion oscillators, and it will make totally mental noises. It feels like someone has just heated up a giant, hot, steaming Jacuzzi of oscillators and you’ve jumped in and dunked …


Eventide want to change how you think about processing audio

Digital signal processing is some futuristic stuff. It may not be able literally to let you traverse space and time as relative dimensions, but it can treat time and frequency separately and mash them back together. And that’s already freaky enough. Now, Eventide – the folks you know probably for their classic hardware and reverbs – are pushing that notion right into their marketing, dubbing their approach “structural audio.” Structural audio sounds a bit like a panel presentation you went to at an Audio Engineering Society conference that sounded fascinating but completely lost you and then you went looking for …


Dispersion makes it crazy easy to get that bouncing ball delay sound

You know the sound. Bah bah bahb bh bh bhbhbbbbdddd… And you’ve heard in … some track. Somewhere. Okay, you know, words really aren’t the greatest thing for describing particular audio effects. So just listen: The “bouncing ball” delay is just one of the sounds available in Dispersion, a new thirty-dollar audio effect plug-in for the Mac. You get organic sounding delays that are all synced together to match a groove. That gives you tight choruses and stereo widening, nice crunchy-grainy delays, and other shuffles and diffusion and, you know, delay sounds. It’s an especially nice combination of very useful …

Photo (CC-BY) Martin Hearn.

Get the sound of an abandoned US surveillance tower, free

Over fifty years ago, it was built in West Berlin atop a mountain of rubble to listen in on the Communists in the East. And now, the infamous Teufelsberg UA National Security Agency tower can lend its cavernous sound to your tracks. It’s available as a free plug-in for Mac, Windows, and even Linux, and it’s open source. Someone found this idea appealing already, as the impulse samples we wrote about previously became the creators’ most popular download. But now, you get a plug-in you can drop in your host. It’s actually a pretty nice array of stuff here: Lush …