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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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There’s a new wave editor for Mac and Windows, and it looks promising

Most hardware and software for music making has generally gotten better, but not the dedicated audio editor. This once-proud genre of music software has fallen on hard times. Tools have been acquired, discontinued, received too-few updates. Some of the better tools we’re left with look like they came from another decade. And that’s too bad. Because having a tool devoted solely to day-to-day audio chores is a really good thing. Maybe you’ve got a set of samples you want to crop and clean up to load onto your drum machine or into a software sampler. Maybe you’re sorting through a …

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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 …

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Get a powerful step sequencer as a Windows VST, free

Quick! You need a step sequencer! Sometimes you want a full-featured sequencing tool and your host doesn’t have one (or it doesn’t do what you want). HY-SEQ16 is a terrific, versatile option. I could talk about the whole feature set but: randomize. Probability controls. There you have it. Okay, also, preset management, separate randomization per parameter (ooh), sequence direction – basically everything you need. If you really fall in love with this one, US$28 buys you 3×16 steps and an LFO. This looks great to me, not least for controlling external hardware. Heck, I thought I didn’t need it, and …

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Roland does subscription plug-ins and cloud rendering

Perhaps the most unexpected product news this month is Roland’s unveiling of RolandCloud. It’s a subscription service from the hardware maker, the biggest component of which is providing access to a range of software plug-ins. Roland, while one of biggest names ever in hardware and synthesizers, is still a relative newcomer to software. But their PLUG-OUT line has steadily built up to library of a few instruments. That includes modeled remakes of classic synths (SH-101, PROMARS, SH-2, SYSTEM-100) and one new synth (SYSTEM-1). Those instruments – and two just-announced new ones – are the first additions to the subscription service. …

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The PO-32 Tonic is a complete drum synth in your pocket for $89

Teenage Engineering have been charming us for a couple of years now with handheld, pocket calculator, Nintendo Game&Watch-style synth and drum machines. And you might think they’d be out of weird ideas. You’d be wrong. The PO-32 looks to be both the most surprising, and most serious entry yet. It has an entire drum synth in there. And it’s not just any drum synth – it’s Magnus Lidström’s Microtonic, more or less squeezed into $89 hardware. Now, at this stage, anyone who’s ever used Sonic Charge’s desktop drum percussion synth pattern sequencer plug-in is going to be a little confused. …

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Why KORG Gadget on the Mac is a big deal

Remember when some pundits thought we were all going to dump our laptops and switch to tablets and iPads? So – not so much. But mobile platforms are having a big impact on music software – and KORG Gadget, now making the leap from iOS to Mac, may be most emblematic of that. Who is KORG Gadget for? Well, sort of for everyone. Beginning users can find it a nice way to play around – and might well try this before desktop software. More advanced users are likely to find it an appealing set of tools, but would want to …

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