Drawing Sounds with New Experimental Synths (iOS from SunVox Creator)

Developer Alex Zolotov has been producing fascinating experiments for the iPhone. Today, we’re covering updates to Alex’s SunVox production tool, on iOS and desktop alike, but this pair of iOS tools deserves its own post. I could try to describe them, but there’s little to say that can’t be clearly seen in the video: you draw sounds, in spectral form (bottom) and waveform view (top), in order to produce synths graphically. The idea isn’t new, of course, but it’s beautifully implemented here in a way that’s immediate and sonically rich. Below, one other recent iOS creation, SoundFields, which also takes …

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Plug-in Watch: New Urs Updates and Videos, Images, and an Aalto Update

From the wonderful world of plug-ins, we’ve got some good news for soft synth lovers. I covered the forthcoming Z3TA+ 2 release from Cakewalk last week, and a number of readers pointed to the brilliant work of Urs Heckmann. As it happens, Urs has a number of updates releasing this week, adding 64-bit support, compatibility fixes, and new tutorial videos. Check out the mapping generator and “tap map” LFOs for one terrific example in ACE (the modular Any Cable Everywhere). New features in the ACE modular and More Feedback Machine delay/multi-effect:

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Your iOS Device Gets MIDI with Thru and Power – and 1 GB of Samples – from IK

For connecting music hardware from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today, you can’t beat MIDI and the standard MIDI connector (5-pin DIN). This week, both IK Multimedia and Line 6 announced adapters that support Core MIDI. Previously possible on iPad via the Camera Connection Kit, the new adapters support the 30-pin dock connector for the iPad (no additional adapter needed), iPhone, and iPod touch. IK’s iRig MIDI has a number of features that set it apart from previously-available iOS adapters: It’s got MIDI Thru. MIDI Thru means you can route MIDI into your iOS device, so an external keyboard can …

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Z3TA+ 2 Soft Synth for Windows Details, Pics from Cakewalk; Promise of Waveshaping Goodness

Cakewalk has shared some of the details of their upcoming Z3TA+ 2 soft synth. Z3TA has long been a favorite on Windows as a per-oscillator waveshaping synth with extensive modulation, filter, and envelope features – it’s just one of those nice, balanced soft synths to which you can return. But as the years have passed, it’s also faced a lot of competition. Z3TA+ 2 could put it back on the map. Cakewalk today made public some of the new features. I think it’s also important to note the design of the new UI. It’s nothing revolutionary, but what it is …

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Inbound: Z3TA+ Waveshaping Synth, The Next Generation

Cakewalk’s Z3TA+ has long been a favorite virtual analog / waveshaping soft synth, so much so that it consistently hits top 10 lists of software classics, even as it’s been (in past, at least) a Windows-only offering. Years, later, though, it’s most definitely due for an update. Cakewalk has released a video of what’s in store this week, with a redesigned UI, new effects, deeper editing options (which, incidentally, had been my disappointment with the first generation), and improved sound quality. Highlights: New sound content, many from original Z3TA+ sound designers New waveshaping functionality New filter types (check out the …

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For Lovers of Aalto, Semi-Modular Soft Synth, a Place to Share Patches

Producer Sam Greene was so in love with Aalto, the semi-modular, Mac and Windows soft synth whose developer we profiled last month, that he made his own place to share patches for it. Patches are free to download and use in your music, and you can upload your own; the only restriction is that the site asks that no one re-sell the patches themselves. Find the results: patchdump.com You can thank the synth for making it easy. While discussion of sharing features often turns to sophisticated cloud and social features, here’s one solution: just make exchanging files dead-simple. As the …

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Madrona’s Randy Jones on Aalto Soft Synth, Designing a New Instrument, Small Makers

Patching together unique sounds on the classic Buchla 100 was an impetus for a new software instrument by Randy Jones – just released for Windows. Photo (CC-BY) guiltyx/roll_initiative. Software can easily enough emulate, down to each knob and patch cord, a vintage synthesizer. But can a genuinely new software synth incorporate the ideas about instrument design beloved in a classic synth like the Buchla modular? How do you balance open-ended sound design with the sorts of limitations that give an instrument personality, limitations that inspire? And could all of this be meaningful even for someone first discovering synthesis, who may …

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Rob Papen Punch: Sample+Synth Drums, Now Shipping; Software Drum Machine Scene Looking Hot

In a sea of software and hardware, a handful of releases every year stand out. On the software side, one of the most promising is Rob Papen’s Punch. It reflects a number of trends in soft synth design – given a choice between sampling and synthesis, it choose both; 64-bit support comes standard; pattern sequencing is built in. But it’s worth examining for two reasons: one, independent soft synth designer Rob Papen has done some of the best work in recent years, and two, it appears to offer a rich set of practical features in equal measure. The video above …

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Piano Lovers: Ivory II’s Resonance Modeling a Winner, Says Keyboard Mag

Steinways in a row. One example of how pianos can be tough to model: the distinctive Steinway treble “sparkle.” Photo (CC-BY-ND) mypouss. For something with a row of keys, the piano can prove surprisingly hard to model perfectly. But computer software, blessed with lavish storage space for samples and now-ample processing power, has a decided edge. There are lots of good sampled pianos, but two products have really impressed me above the others: Synthogy’s Ivory and Pianoteq’s modeled instruments. After years of waiting, Ivory II is now here, and my friend and colleague Steve Fortner, at the helm of Keyboard …

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An All-Android Hip-hop Album, and the Tools Used to Create It

Now airport lounge layover-ready and musical – the Android platform. A hip-hop release that used these handheld tools exclusively is a good window into what’s out there. Photo (CC-BY) Laihiuyeung Ryanne. From an eBay-purchased Atari ST to your phone, you really can make electronic music however you like, wherever you like. Generally, I’ve therefore been skeptical of gimmicks like all-iPad albums, particularly as it seems fairly obvious that such things should be possible. On the other hand, albums produced entirely with less-obvious, less-popular options may lead to more unexpected solutions. And they can both prove my ultimate thesis: you should …

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