podolski

Podolski is a Free, Full-Featured Virtual Analog Synth Plug-in from Urs Heckmann [Mac, PC]

Any instrument from software maestro Urs Heckmann seems worth a mention. This one, doubly so: it’s free. Podolski isn’t new; it has made appearances through the years in the excellent German-language magazine KEYBOARDS (no relation to the US Keyboard). But now, it’s available for everyone, with some nice updates and modernization and versions for just about any Mac or Windows host (or Linux, via WINE). Now, even if we’re talking only free plug-ins, there are a lot of virtual analog synths out there. But this one is special: it’s got the great sound of FilterscapeVA, and waveform morphing and short …

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ms20pi

The Awesome New KORG Not From KORG: Raspberry-Pi Plus MS-20 Controller, Making Dreams Reality

There’s a drool-worthy new keyboard synth this week bearing the name KORG. The surprise: it comes one day after a widely-anticipated product announcement, and it comes from a single hacker, not KORG. One $25 embedded computer plus one controller equals one hackable, lovely instrument – with knobs and patch cords, no less. So, it’s hard not to compare this to the announcement yesterday. KORG makes some wonderful products, and it’s safe to say that a lot of electronic musicians view them as a company that uniquely “gets” it. From the monotron line to releasing analog filter circuit designs, the ongoing …

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Raspberry Pi, Your Next $25 Computer Synth? First Hacks Appearing

Apple may have started the conversation about the “post-PC” age. But part of what this means is that a “computer” doesn’t necessarily have to be something costing hundreds of dollars, in a conventional desktop or laptop form factor. It could look more like the Raspberry Pi, at US$25 and squeezed into a tin of mints. Suddenly, all those years of music software development are liberated from the big, pricey boxes on which we’ve run them all these years. The Raspberry Pi Synthesizer blog documents a project dedicated to this particular device, with a clever UI and yes, even polyphony. There’s …

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Z3TA+ 2 is now available on Mac - and stacks up nicely against other modern synths, especially at US$99.  Go invent a replacement for dubstep (brostep?) with it, if you like.

Z3TA+ 2: With Mac Release, QuNeo Live Control, a Classic Soft Synth Gets New Life

Even in 2012, one of the great wonders of computers is, they sure make some damned awesome synthesizers. Z3TA+ 2, around for about a decade, is one of the soft synths you might fairly call a “classic.” (Not just in a press release, either – I’ll defend that moniker.) You’ve probably heard it used in productions. But unlike a sought-after piece of hardware, you can make it your own for a hundred bucks. But what makes Z3TA+ 2 “news”? How about the combination, seen recently on Synthtopia, with the QuNeo controller? Here, all of those timbral parameters become touchable, aided …

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TDZ_1

Rock Zebra2 Like Hans Zimmer: Dark Zebra Pairs Soft Instrument, Dark Knight Sounds [Video, Screens]

A shadow was unquestionably cast across the film by tragic events last week in Colorado. But while it became an unexpected stage for terrible events, The Dark Knight Rises itself is also a cultural object from artists we care about, and as musicians and sound designers, we value every chance to express ourselves. Composer Hans Zimmer and synth sound designer Howard Scarr are today releasing some of their work in a unique piece of software. It’s simultaneously a work of engineering – one of the most sophisticated software instruments available, Zebra2, and sound designs for that tool – and a …

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bayati

Sound With a Dose of Mysticism: Upcoming Sufi Plugs Explore Tonality, Call to Prayer, Drones

Could a piece of software make you think differently about sound? Could it reflect ideas, the culture of listening? The developers of the SUFI series of plug-ins seem to think so. In place of screencasts showing which knob to turn which way, they head with a video crew to Morocco. The “instruction” might be about the value of reflection or call to prayer, about living as much as how to use a tool. You can see the first two examples: a meditation on the idea of daily interruptions in the soundscape coming from God, and a collection of electronic drones …

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Padshop

Steinberg Padshop, Coming Soon, Granular Synthesis for the Rest of Us? Handy Intro Video Explains

Let’s get straight to it: granular synthesis, and the various processes based on the principle, is one of the coolest things about making music with computers. With the ability to take sounds and stretch, mangle, and reshape them into new textures, it’s one of the fundamental techniques allowing sound software and lots of terrific timbral techniques to work. Of course, explaining it to lay people is a bit of a trick. So that’s why, even before we get into talking about Steinberg’s upcoming Padshop synth, it’s worth watching the first few minutes. Sound designer Matthias Klag explains that coolness really …

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ds10

Deeper with DS-10: Using a Nintendo DS Cartridge from Korg, Surprising Live Electronic Music

Music making, child’s play. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Attila Malarik. You might not expect a handheld game console, the gadget kids use to play Pokemon, to prove much worth as a musical instrument. But even in the age of readily-available computer plug-ins and iPhone apps, the DS holds its own. In the hands of two sets of artists, we find music that stands alone, independent of the gimmick of the device on which it was made. For these artists, the limitations of a fold-up touchscreen – entirely independent of doubling as a phone, or a computer, or a Facebook-browsing engine, or a …

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Animoog, Moog’s First iPad Synth, in Videos and Instrumental Use

Something I always appreciated about classical music training was learning to appreciate the particulars of each instrument, whether or not you played them yourself. A French Horn, for instance, is not an instrument without challenges: everything from tuning to balancing dynamic range to how you look when you add and remove muting can be demanding. And in technology – whether acoustic instrumental or digital – every design is about tradeoffs. You very often can’t get one thing without giving up something else. So I stand by the questions I asked about iPad synths in general last week, particularly as I …

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IK Release iOS SampleTank, iRig; In Demo, Your Post-PC Future?

IK Multimedia this week is shipping both their SampleTank virtual instrument and iRig hardware MIDI interface for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It’s not the first software instrument for iThings, but it is arguably the first appearance of a major, conventional computer soft synth in mobile form. MIDI interfaces, likewise, would require a comparison of some competing gear, but it’s the combination of the two in IK’s demo video that I think might give someone pause. Music making tech has since the 1980s often involved some kind of computer. You might buy that computer in a piece of hardware that …

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