zone-concept

In-depth: Cubase 9 adds integrated Sampler Tracks, lots more

Cubase 9 is here, and Steinberg are touting improved stability and performance, and lots of user-requested features. That includes new goodies like a built-in Sample Track for manipulating audio, plus history in the mixer. At last, all the Cubase releases are synced – Elements, Artist, and Pro all hit Cubase 9 at once. (Steinberg says it’s the first time that’s happened.) But this is also intended to be a clean break. 32-bit plug-in support is out – 64-bit only. There’s also meant to be improved compatibility as a result, and a scanner tool will hunt out plug-ins you’ve got that …

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xpand2

You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1

Sometimes, what you need is just a sound. And the best thing for your creativity is to get to that sound quickly – not to start thinking about which plug-in you’re meant to use. With that in mind, you can get AIR’s terrific XPand!2 almost for free. (Pricing around a dollar, depending on region.) First made for Pro Tools, but now available for any Mac or Windows host, XPand!2 kind of does everything. I remember that first joy in the early 90s of dialing through lots of sounds – wow, I can have brass, or strings, or synths, or some …

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araucann

Only a randomize button can save this synth with way too many knobs

araucann looks like what would happen if someone’s plug-in SDK … exploded on the floor. It’s a six-oscillator synth – okay, so far, so good – but then it also has 33 envelopes and 32 LFOs and things sort of get out of hand from there. This ocean of parameters is then encapsulated into a set of simple, musical controls that let you easily — ha, no, only joking. They made a knob for everything and called it a day. Each individual oscillator has its own bank of controls, and then even one of those banks is already slightly overwhelming. …

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screenshot_594

Finally, a different EQ model – and it’s free from Soundtoys

Vanilla. I love vanilla. But I don’t want to eat vanilla ice cream all the time. EQs lately have been like vanilla ice cream – you get the same old model over and over and over again. You can get really amazingly accurate models in digital form, enough that you might reasonably skip hardware. But it’s too much of one thing. The folks at Soundtoys apparently felt the same. And they’re giving us something different. Now, I’m happy with my Oxford plug-ins and my Pulteqs and so on – don’t get me wrong. Really; I use them all the time …

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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

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maclaunch

Here’s the story of how the Mac and Atari found their voice

There’s something magical about the moments in history when computers were able to speak (and sing) like a human. That’s certainly true of Bell’s famous “Daisy Bell” performance (the real-life moment echoed in 2001). But it’s also true of the Mac, which first spoke to uproarious applause.

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serum

Rent-to-own Serum means Kanye doesn’t have to pirate it

Somewhere – tonight, even – some unknown producer is going to make some brilliant new track using software. (Seriously, this is the world we live in.) And when they do, odds are they might well turn to a popular synth like breakout-hit Serum. The problem is this: someone getting started in producing is probably unwilling or unable to shell out US$189 for a single software instrument. So that individual is likely to pirate the software.

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screenshot_438b

iZotope Mobius and the crazy fun of Shepard Tones

I always figure the measure of a good plug-in is, you want to tell everyone about it, but you don’t want to tell everyone about it, because then they’ll know about it. iZotope’s Möbius is in that category for me – it’s essentially moving filter effect. And it’s delicious, delicious candy.

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screenshot_419

One plug-in combines all the classic vocal effects you want

There have been vocal effects before – your vocoder, your pitch shifter, what have you. But the folks at iZotope set a more ambitious goal: be all the classic vocal effects. Put them a single plug-in full of modules. Then combine them in a way that makes them accessible, whether you’re preset surfing or dialing in your own sound. Encourage exploration without even requiring some advance knowledge. The result of that is called VocalSynth, and it’s out today. And wow, is this thing big – big enough that I imagine I might spend the rest of the year playing with …

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(CC-BY) OddWeird.

This is the next-gen notation tool from original Sibelius team

It’s been a few years since the original development and management team behind Sibelius found themselves unemployed at the company they started, following a restructuring by owner Avid. Since then, Sibelius has continued to progress, but in a way that’s best described as incremental. It’s now a subscription product with an emphasis on the cloud, like other Avid tools, and updates have focused on features like pen support and small notation details. If you’re happy with Sibelius, that’s not a bad thing: it’s the recipient of a steady stream of updates. But what if there were to be something new …

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